Study To Show Thyself Approved

(2 Timothy 2:15 KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The above verse is the verse that is most often used to say that we are to study our Bible, rightly divided. But this verse does not say, "study your Bible"; it is assumed that one is already studying the Bible This verse tells us to "study to show yourself approved unto God." The number one priority in our lives ought to be making ourselves approved unto God.

How do we show ourselves approved unto God? By being a workman that is not ashamed. A workman that is not ashamed will have a finished product of quality material and workmanship.

The main tool that we have is the word of truth, the Bible. We are instructed to "rightly divide the word of truth". This means we are to recognize the distinctions that God has placed in His word. For example, when Paul wrote to the Romans he made a very distinct division between law and grace. Under the dispensation of the Law, it is necessary to do the works of the law for justification; but under the dispensation of grace, justification is by faith not works.

As we read the Bible, we ought to be able to see that there are two main distinctions, prophecy and mystery. In Acts 3:18, 21 and 24; Peter said that all the events that happened were that which was spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Paul, on the other hand, was given the revelation of the mystery, which was not made known in other ages (Ephesians 3:5).

Workmen that need not be ashamed rightly divide the word of truth. If we do not rightly divide, that is understand the distinction between prophecy and mystery, then we will not understand which scriptures are for our learning and which are for our application and we would be using the wrong materials. Understanding the difference of prophecy and mystery is understanding what God was doing in the past, is doing today, and will do in ages to come. Without this understanding, we may be living our lives scriptural but contrary to what God is doing and our labors will be in vain.

(1 Corinthians 3:9-15 KJV) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. {10} According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. {11} For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. {12} Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Paul, as a wise masterbuilder, laid the foundation that we are to build upon. Paul's foundation is Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25). There is another foundation that is Jesus Christ according to the prophecy. In Romans 15:20, Paul says that he strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest he should build upon another man's foundation.

As workmen laboring together with God we need to take heed what we build upon that foundation. There are different building materials that we use to build upon that foundation but each man's work is going to be tried by fire and if any man's work remains, then that workman will receive a reward. If a workman's work has been burned then he will stand before the Lord ashamed. He will be saved but suffer loss.

Paul uses building as an illustration of applying doctrine in our lives. When we apply doctrine, are we laboring together with God or are we off doing our own thing? The building materials that will endure the fire are those things which God has done through us not what we do in and of ourselves.

Every believer has eternal life but not all believers walk in good works.

(1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul says that the grace of God that was bestowed upon him was not in vain, but he labored more abundantly than them all. Paul's labor was not in vain, because he understood God's plan and then labored together with God.

We are saved by grace and we need the grace of God in order to live our lives pleasing unto Him.

(2 Timothy 3:12 KJV) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Those who live godly are thinking like God, doing things God's way and laboring together with God. Living godly will infuriate the adversary. This verse seems to imply that if you are not suffering persecution then you are not living godly in Christ Jesus. It does not say you will suffer persecution if you are in Christ Jesus but if you live godly in Christ Jesus.

There are three components to godliness (God-like-ness):

  1. To think like God
  2. To do things God's way
  3. To labor together with God

This is why it is important to rightly divide the word of truth. Today, we are in the dispensation of grace and if we apply the instructions for prophecy then we are ungodly, that is we are not thinking like God, not doing things God's way and not laboring together with God. The scribes and the Pharisees are good examples of being ungodly because they resisted learning what God was doing during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry; they were not laboring together with God.

(2 Timothy 2:7-13 KJV) Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. {8} Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: {9} Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. {10} Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. {11} It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: {12} If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: {13} If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Paul writes to Timothy a doctrinal issue and then says that because of that he suffers trouble. Then he goes on to say that if we suffer we will reign with him. Suffering comes when we live godly in Christ Jesus and if we suffer then we will reign with Him. This has to do with our walk. Are we living our lives in such a manner that we are thinking like God, doing things God's way and laboring together with God? If we are, then we will suffer persecution and we will have the reward of reigning with Christ Jesus.

Paul also said that if we deny Him then He will deny us but we know that this is not referring to our salvation because verse 13 says that if we believe not He will remain faithful, He cannot not deny Himself. 1 Corinthians 3:15 tells us that if our works are burned we shall be saved but suffer loss. What is this loss? It is a denial to reign with Christ Jesus. We deny Him when we do not live godly, when we are not laboring together with God; we then become a workman that will stand before Him ashamed.

(Philippians 1:27-30 KJV) Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; {28} And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. {29} For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; {30} Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Paul offers encouragement when we suffer. It is a privilege to suffer when we live godly and we should not be ashamed.

(Philippians 3:10 KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

God wants to walk in us; He wants to walk that resurrected life in us. This happens as we labor together with God.

(2 Corinthians 6:16 KJV) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

We are God's building (1 Corinthians 3:9) and the material we use is the doctrine that we apply. Are we applying the doctrine that was given to the Apostle Paul in the dispensation of grace or are we applying the doctrine that was given to Israel to establish the earthly kingdom? It is only as we labor together with God, that is doing the things He is doing in this dispensation of grace, that we will be using building material that will withstand the fire.

The word which God has given us has a clear division of prophecy and mystery and it is our responsibility to understand what God's plan and purpose is for both. Ephesians 1:10 says that in the dispensation of the fulness of times God will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven (mystery) and which are on earth (prophecy). Colossians 1:16 tells us that things refer to positions of government, that of ruling and reigning.

(Colossians 1:3-12 KJV) We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, {4} Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, {5} For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; {6} Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: {7} As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; {8} Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. {9} For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; {10} That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; {11} Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; {12} Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

We have an opportunity to reign. God is going to fill positions of rank and authority in heaven. If you are to fill one of those positions then you must be an approved workman, rightly dividing the word of truth, so that your works are not in vain.