January 15, 2014.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
(II Tim. 2:15)
Today is a call for further study. I do not believe that God intended for us to be fed our beliefs. It is my fear, however, that we as Christians today all too often are fed our belief system and no questions are ever raised due to fear of the brethren. There are already so many issues that divide us, if we were to come to some conclusions on our own that differ somewhat from other’s, that would be detrimental to the brotherhood. Whereas this philosophy has some truth behind it’s intention, I don’t think it is healthy to our spiritual lives.
Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy (a youth that had been Paul’s child in the faith) that he should study, or be diligent to show himself approved unto God. Paul expected no less from Timothy and I believe that God expects no less from us. Diligence is an interesting word here, and some would include diligence in the virtues listed out by the Apostle Peter:
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moralexcellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(I Pet. 1:5-9)
Many start quoting this verse at “add to your faith virtue…” but Peter uses the word diligence before he starts his list. I believe that there is a reason for this. God expects us to come to know him and what he wants from us not only though our experience, but also through diligent study of his word. He providentially preserved it in written form for us to read. If not for this reason, then what other reason could there be? For all of my life I have been taught (and do teach) that we are to base our faith and beliefs on scripture as opposed to what man says or argues. Find it in scripture, and believe it from there. This is a blessed teaching. All men are fallible and fall short in our understanding, especially when it comes to heavenly wisdom. In this sense, all men could indeed be wrong about a point of their doctrine.
So, should we not listen to anyone and only read for ourselves? No, of course not. Wise council from those who have studied more than us can indeed prove very profitable and useful. However, we must know from the beginning that just because a person has studied the bible in its entirety and thereby has obtained a terminal degree in the discipline, does not make he or she infallible. The truth holds true (sorry for the redundancy) regardless of who agrees with it (or even if everyone disagreed with it).
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
(II Tim. 3:16-17)
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
(I Pet. 3:14-17)
Why are you a Christian? Why do you help others? Why do you believe in heaven? What do you believe about heaven? All these are questions that we need to have answers to, along with a myriad of others. I’m not suggesting that you need to become a scholar in the bible over the next few weeks or even over the next few years. What I am suggesting, however, is that we all need to be studying the word of God and finding out what we believe based on scripture and not what our Preacher or Pastor tells us (again, I’m not saying that the preacher is necessarily wrong, just that we need to search the scriptures ourselves). It is our job as Christians to mediate in the word. This is a job for each of us individually and also for the church collectively. I plead that we do not pass it on to another.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Corinthians 1-3, II Timothy 2-3.
May the Lord grant us wisdom and thirst for knowledge.