II Timothy 2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Paul was directed in these verses to remind Timothy of his calling. He was called to lead others according to God’s Word. We, as people, are quite forgetful. We need to be reminded of the importance of serving God faithfully. Timothy needed to be reminded of this and he needed to remind others of this as well.
Paul also reminded Timothy to help others not to waste time on useless debate. This has been a problem for man for centuries. Man’s presumed intelligence gets in his way and he wants to prove his intelligence by getting into discussions that are a distraction from the truth.
Acts 17:21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
The Athenians were not better off for their assumed intelligence and their undisciplined curiosity. They were pre-occupied with things that did not matter and they were not pursuing that which does matter. However, God directed the apostle Paul to meet them and turn their attention to that which was important. Paul did not entertain their foolishness. He directed them to the true God.
We need to be careful not to assume that this warning is with regard to what some people suggest are primary doctrines and others that are secondary doctrines.
II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
God does not divide His doctrine into primary and secondary doctrines. All of God’s Word is inspired by Himself, and it is all profitable. The problem is when people want to get into debates about things that are wrong. There are many discussions that are designed to subvert or overturn the hearts of the hearers. There is no profit in turning someone away from the truth. That is a wicked thing. We do not need to be exposed to lies and false teaching to test our faith. We need to spend time in the truth and when we are fully convinced of the truth in our hearts we will know to reject the false teaching.
There is a book entitled “The Bait of Satan” that was brought to my attention this week. The author of this book is apparently a well known person. I do not know if I had ever heard of him before. That is not that important. It seems that people are impressed with people who write many books and who sell many books.
If you stop and think for a moment, why would a Christian want to purchase a book that is about the bait of satan? A Christian would want to read books that encourage a faithful walk with the Lord. The author of that book knew the curiosity of people. He chose a title that would catch certain people’s attention.
The author of this book is a New Evangelical and his writings are a reflection of this fact. His books may get the attention of some people, but those who get drawn to men like this are not being taught the truth. Dabbling in all kinds of false teaching is enticing for those who do not know the truth. It is important to note that when a person does not attend a good church, they will search the internet and because they do not have the discernment they should have, they will be drawn to people or to books with catchy titles.
The danger God points out here is that people will be subverted by false teaching. That is why Paul was directed to write Timothy to warn people not to get involved in studies that are designed to subvert. The person leading the study may think he is quite sincere. We need to keep in mind that we can be sincerely wrong.
In verse 15 we see the antidote to being led astray by false teaching. We need to study in such a way as to meet God’s approval. That is again why we need to be in a good church. There are people who have come to the conclusion that there are no good churches around so they will just stay home and maybe invite some people over to have a “Bible Study”. People that have this attitude are deceived. Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18:
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
A church is more than a few people getting together with their Bibles to have a discussion. Unless there is someone who is called of God to lead the Bible study, it is bound to go off track. In fact it will be off track before it even gets started. You cannot learn God’s Word when you choose to act in defiance of what He has declared. A true church honours God’s Word. God’s Word will expose false teaching and false ideas. It will reveal sin.
As we noted in II Timothy 2:15, our study needs to meet God’s approval. We have already looked at Ephesians 4:11ff and seen that God has set in place those He has assigned to help the saints to grow in Him. This is not man’s idea. This is God’s Word. If we want God’s blessing, we need to follow His way.
We see also in verse 15 that proper Bible Study is work. There are religions that believe it is a sign of pride if you study God’s Word prior to teaching or preaching it. They believe you are limiting the work of the Holy Spirit in guiding you in your teaching. The same Holy Spirit that guides the faithful preacher or teacher is the same Holy Spirit Who guides the preacher or teacher in his study of God’s Word. Studying God’s Word is not a means of trying to find fault with God’s Word. It is a matter of seeking to understand God’s Word more accurately. That is what Paul tells us here. We need to rightly divide the word of truth. God’s Word is truth.
I remember some years ago talking to a man who wanted to defend the use of the NIV. I pointed out some of the problems with that perversion and then he came back to me trying to tell me that there are mistakes in the KJV as well. He tried to show me some of the “problems” which he had been shown, but none of them were mistakes.
The fact of the matter is that God has promised to preserve His Word from this generation and for ever (Psalm 12:7). Either God is true or He is a liar. If He is true, and He is, then there can be no mistakes in His Word. I understand that God gave the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, with a few passages in Aramaic. His desire is for all people to know Him through His Word. He does not expect everyone to learn the Hebrew and the Greek in order to know the truth. He has graciously worked through God-fearing men to translate His Word into the common language of the people. Today the common language is English. God has watched over His Word so that it has been brought over into the English language in a manner that it remains true to the original writings. Through study, we can know where that Word is preserved. God has also watched over the translation of His Word into other languages, but the main language is English.
The study of the Bible is required by God. There is good material on the market that shows us why the KJV is the Bible for the English speaking world. We do not need to wonder about that. We can know that. If a person has no interest in that important matter, they give a clear indication of where their heart is at. God makes much of His Word and of the accuracy of His Word. Those who know Him will also be led by Him to be sure they are studying His Word and not some perversion of His Word.
We are commanded to rightly divide the Word of truth. We need to have the Word of truth in order to divide it properly. We need to have the Spirit of Truth in our hearts in order to be able to divide God’s Word properly.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
It is important to submit ourselves to God’s authority. God loves man. He wants man to know Him. We cannot know Him if we are fighting against Him. Don’t waste time on useless study. Get into a good church and study God’s Word wth a humble heart that desires the truth. God’s Word will bring the lost sinner to repentance and salvation. It will also bring the saved person to greater understanding through faithful study of His Word.