“Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the [W]ord of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Our method of exposition will be 1. Demonstrate other passages and other words that have been abused and misinterpreted. 2. To answer this question: Can one ever be approved of God in their own person? 3. Provide the incorrect interpretation, and 4. Provide the proper interpretation, 5. Compare Scripture with Scripture. This method will cover our bases and will give us a sound understanding of this, all this often, misinterpreted passage of Scripture.
This passage along with others are all to often taught inaccurately. “Without a vision, the people perish,” is another Scripture that is abused. This verse is usually taught by a young pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist….both seeking funds. They will say to the congregation, “without your vision of the future this church/mission/ministry will fail….don’t you care?” BUT what they mean is this, “without your vision of my future, I will fail….don’t you care about me? ….so, support me, please.
Let me be clear, there is no-thing wrong with supporting ministries, in fact, there is much wrong with NOT supporting ministries. If you are not a church attender, you should….must give to other ministries lest you rob God!
Back to, “without a vision…” The proper meaning behind this passage is “without [a God-given vision to a prophet; the people will perish.” In other words, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every [W]ord out of the [M]outh of God. (Matthew 4); and “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32).
A word that is often abused…mostly by legalists…normally, I would called them Fundamentalists but I have been asked to call them legalists by a pastor friend of mine. I greatly repect and love this man therefore, I will (DV) call them legalists. Legalist tend to abuse the word, “peculiar” as in peculiar people, as in 1 Peter 2:9. The legalist, in order to maintain power and control interprets this verse as directing us to be peculiar or strange. However, if this legalistic preacher…I’ll not call him pastor, did his homework or preached expositorally, he would know that peculiar means peculiar treasure, enclosure, beyond ordinary, or for acquisition.
In Exodus 19:5 God says to the Israelites, “Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto [M]e… Then in Titus 2:14, we will be a peculiar people that is purified unto God. Finally in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a peculiar people…” This time peculiar means acquistioned or purchased and kept. Therefore, As Christ-ians we are a purchased people…I am/you are a purchased person. Wehave been purified and presented to God as a peculiar treasure and we are kept safely within a treasure’d chest. The closest the legalist comes to being accurate is, “beyond ordinary”. But that does not mean strange or odd, though we may be viewed as strange and odd to non-Christ-ians. Beyond ordinary means extraordinary or above being ordinary. Therefore, we are treasured by God….. above the ordinary.
I wrote that we may be viewed as strange or odd, though peculiar does not mean strange or odd. On one hand we are strange and odd because we are a minority, humanly speaking. The truth is, Spiritually speaking, we are what what God wants us to be and the onlookers are the “freaks of nature” They are the people and persons that are going against God’s grain. As it has been said, “(1) one with God is Majority.” Ask Athanasius. Really, look up Athanasius and you will see (1) + God = Majority, actually, (0) + God = Majority.
On the other hand, persons and peoples have come to know what to expect from us. In that vein, we are not so strange and odd. By comparison, the demon possessed, animalistic Muslims, have made us almost lovable but that will change. By the way, when talking heads say, “radicalized,” they mean converted. Soon, methinks, born again will = Radicalized Christian. All it will take is someone/thing to be attacked by a “Christ-ian(s)”, in name only or a “Brother- so called.”
Is it possible for a person to show himself or herself approved by God in his or her own person? The answer is obvious, is it not? Cain was not accepted in his own person nor was his sacrifice accepted. It is written, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Even today when you go for a job you bring along a resume which is other persons speaking for you. In the Proverbs it is stated, “Let another praise thee,” meaning your word does not equate to much until one knows you.
Christ will say to those who trusted Him not, “I never knew you.” Not only does your word mean nothing but He never knew you or loved you to begin with . If it was written, “Abraham never knew Sara” it would mean Abraham was never intimate with Sara. The answer to the question, “Can a person be approved by God in his or her own person? Is NO.
The manner in which this passage has been presented to many is this: Study, study, study your Bible and other good Christian books and in so doing you will find God’s approval. This also extends to the “right” music, the “right” hair length, the “right entertainment”, etc. This teaching is heretical. It is a perversion of the Gospel.
The Gospel has already made you and I approved in Christ. There is no adding to. To add to is to say, “Christ is insufficient,” to say that is to blaspheme. In the O.T. The Israelites added flavouring to the manna and God was greatly offended and angered. “How much more” will God be offended and angered if someone seeks to add something to Christ’s finished work?…..hmmm, Catholic?….hmmmmm?…hmmmmm?…..nudge…nudge….elbow…elbow.
The correct interpretation: Be diligent to do right, as a pastor, rightly dividing the [W]ord of truth. This means to know and understand the Scriptures for it is your trade, pastor. As a carpenter knows his trade so must a pastor know his. Rightly dividing the [W]ord of Truth, This I learned from Pastor Ron Ruben: To rightly divide the truth is to know which passage is appropriate for what need. In other words, there is a person who is struggling with x. I, therefore, need to rightly divide the [W]ord of Truth and share with this person the proper Scripture so they can be helped.
By helping others on this journey, I am (ap)proving myself to be a trusted and experienced servant of God and there is therefore, no reason to be ashamed.