Authored By :
Published On :
September 22, 2001
Last Updated :
May 13, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Bereans - Faithful Students Of God's Word, Importance Of Recording And Teaching God's Word To Others, Everlasting Shame, Being Acceptable To God, Study And Believe, Having Open Minds, New Wine For New Bottles, The Endtime Apostasy Truth Shall Make You Free, Jesus Is The Truth, Freed From Sin And Death, Members Of God's Royal Household By Faith, Lazy Children Or Industrious Workers, Faithful In The Least The Price Of Christian Discipleship, Christian Persecution
A short while ago, I took a small break from answering correspondence from our Christian mailing list, and I went into the kitchen in order to prepare a small bite to eat. While doing so, as often happens, my mind turned to the Lord and His Word. I don't recall exactly what I was thinking about at the time, but the Lord's Spirit suddenly brought the following verse to my mind:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
As our regular readers and mailing list members will already know, I have often quoted that verse from Paul's Epistle to Timothy, both on our mailing list, as well as throughout my many articles; however, each time that I have shared it, my point has usually been to emphasize the fact that we are supposed to undertake a serious study of God's Word, just as the Jews in the ancient town of Berea did when they were visited by Paul and Silas. Allow me to refresh your memory regarding that incident, as it was recorded by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles:
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few."
Acts 17:10-12, KJV
As I stated a moment ago, while I have usually used Paul's words to Timothy to emphasize the fact that we each need to be serious students of God's Word, this time the Lord saw fit to present the verse to me in a different light, and He pointed out another part of the verse to me; and that was this: ". . . a workman that needeth not to be ashamed". Why did Paul use that phrase, and what did he mean by it? As I stood there in the kitchen, listening to the Voice of the Spirit, the previous verse was immediately followed by this one from the Gospel of Mark:
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:38, KJV
With that second verse, the meaning of Paul's words began to become clear to me; so I immediately rushed back into my computer room, so that I could enter all of my thoughts into a text file before I forgot what the Lord was showing me. As a result of many previous experiences of this nature, I have come to learn that whenever the Lord begins to pour down His Spirit upon me, and opens my spiritual eyes to a particular truth found in the Scriptures, as a faithful guardian of His Word, I need to always be ready to make a record of whatever it is that He is showing me, so that I can accurately share it with others as I have been called to do. As Paul states only a few verses earlier in that very same Epistle to Timothy:
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
2 Timothy 2:2, KJV
If it weren't for the fact that the First Century Apostles and Disciples were faithful students, recorders and teachers of God's Word, where would we be today? I think we all know the answer to that question. To continue then; as I sat here all excited, and entered into my computer what the Lord had begun to show me, He continued to reveal more to me; which I am sharing with you now. Allow me to explain.
In writing this part of his letter to Timothy, it seems that Paul may have been referring back to what Jesus Himself had stated regarding His Second Coming. In short, the Lord was saying that if we are ashamed of Him, He will most certainly be ashamed of us at His Coming. You may recall that in some of His other Lessons and Parables, Jesus also warned:
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Matthew 7:23, KJV
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"
Matthew 25:41, KJV
I am also reminded of the words which the Lord gave to the ancient Prophet Daniel, in the twelfth chapter of that book where he wrote:
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Daniel 12:2, KJV
What a dreadful thought indeed! But let us go back and look at the original verses which I shared with you. As we do so, your understanding of Paul's words will be greatly expanded, just as mine has. First of all, Paul states "Study to shew thyself approved unto God". In this particular phrase, the word "approved" is derived from the Greek word "dokimos", which is pronounced dok'-ee-mos, which basically means to be accepted. In other words, if we diligently study God's Word, we will be acceptable to Him. Why would we be acceptable to God? The answer becomes rather clear when we examine exactly what happened to the Jews of Berea after they also looked to the Scriptures, in order to verify the message which was being delivered to them by Paul and Silas. Once again, we are told ". . . that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed . . ."
And that, friends, is the secret: they believed. In other words, when we believe, we become acceptable to God. Why does Luke tell us that the Bereans believed? He states that it was a result of their studying the Scriptures daily in order to verify what Paul and Silas had been preaching to them.
Allow me to draw your attention to another important point which is contained in this account of the travels of Paul and Silas. Please notice the phrase "with all readiness of mind". The word "readiness" is derived from the Greek word "prothumia", which is pronounced proth-oo-mee'-ah, which my Greek lexicon defines as meaning zeal, spirit or eagerness. In other words, we are being told that the Bereans eagerly accepted the message which was being preached to them; they had open, receptive minds to what the Lord's Spirit was revealing to them through Paul and Silas.
Ironically, and sadly, in our modern world, it seems that, as is his custom, Satan has totally reversed the situation. How many times have we heard of Christians being accused by their antichrist enemies of being close-minded, prejudiced, narrow-minded, bigoted, old-fashioned and out of sync with the times? I know that it happens to me all the time. What a travesty of the truth! This tactic is nothing new. Looking to the Old Testament, we discover that in exposing the liars and deceivers of his day, the Prophet Isaiah was inspired to write:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20, KJV
Truly, this verse aptly describes our own time as well. You may also recall that in the Gospels, when the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked Him why the Pharisees, as well as they, fasted, while His Disciples did not, the Lord cryptically told them:
"No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved."
Matthew 9:16-17, KJV
In other words, not everyone is able, or willing, to accept the truth of God's Word. As I point out in other articles, such as in "Are You Just a Baby Huey?", some people prefer to cling to their false ideas, their false ways, and their false doctrines and traditions; even when those beliefs are not based soundly upon the truth of the Scriptures. Not only do they prefer to cling to them due to their pride, arrogance and spiritual blindness, but they also rabidly fight against those people who dare to proclaim the truth. In fact, as I have pointed out on a number of previous occasions, the time is coming when this world will be totally overtaken by a spirit of darkness and apostasy. Tragically, it has already begun, as anyone who is in tune to God's Spirit can see. The Lord Himself, as well as His Apostles, were well aware of this coming time of evil, when men would blaspheme against God, cast His truth to the ground, and even persecute His children. Thus we find it written in the Scriptures:
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ's Second Coming] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, KJV
"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 10:22, KJV
So the lesson is clear: If we are going to study God's Holy Word, we need to do so with an open mind and heart, and like the Bereans, with an eagerness to know the truth. We cannot, and must not, approach the Scriptures with our minds already made up. We cannot allow our preconceived ideas to get in the way of our accepting the truth which the Word reveals to us, as otherwise, we will be just like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, and our spiritual growth will not only be stunted, but it may in fact be halted altogether. On the other hand, if we study the Scriptures, and if we have an open heart to what they reveal to us, a very wonderful thing is going to happen to us; and that is this:
". . . If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31b-32, 36, KJV
So what we see then, is that if we study God's Word with an open heart, first of all, we are going to learn the truth; and second; if we accept and begin to live that truth, it is going to set us absolutely free. Exactly what is the primary truth which the Bible reveals to us? Namely this:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6, KJV
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16, KJV
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8, KJV
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
John 6:37, KJV
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
John 10:28, KJV
So as I point out in such articles as "True Christianity: A Religion Of Peace", Jesus came to set the spiritual captives free; free from the lies and delusions of Satan, and free from the spiritual bondage and penalty of sin. Exactly what is the penalty of sin? Again, the Bible tells us plainly:
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 6:23, KJV
Jesus frees us from the wages of sin; He frees us from death; and He offers us Eternal Life, which He paid for with His own Blood on the Cross. That is why in quoting from the Prophet Isaiah, He said at the beginning of His Earthly Ministry in the Gospel of Luke:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Luke 4:18, KJV
Following is the Old Testament version of the same verse:
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"
Isaiah 61:1, KJV
What we have seen then, is that by diligently studying God's Word, we can know the truth; and by accepting that truth, as well as acting upon it, we can be set free from the penalty of sin, and inherit Eternal Life. Furthermore, by believing in the truth of the Scriptures, we become acceptable to God. In fact, not only do we become acceptable to God, but, as I point out in such series as "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", we actually become His adopted children through faith; we become members of His Royal Family. Once again, please consider the following verses:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
John 1:12, KJV
"And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."
Luke 20:34-36, KJV
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Romans 8:15-17, KJV
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:26, KJV
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Ephesians 1:5, KJV
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;"
Ephesians 2:19, KJV
But you see, the story doesn't exactly end there. No parent likes to have lazy children; and our Heavenly Father is no different. As I point out in some of my other articles which deal with Christian Discipleship, such as "Parable of the Sower: Salvation and Service", once we become members of God's Household, we also become symbolically drafted into His elite work force. Throughout the New Testament, we find God's workers described as fishers of men, as farmers who plant the life-giving seed of His Word, as teachers and evangelists, as holy priests, and even as soldiers in His Royal Army. While we receive the Gift of Eternal Life freely through the Blood of Jesus Christ, from that point on, God expects us to work diligently and faithfully for His Cause. This brings us back to Paul's letter to Timothy. In reading that same second chapter, we find the following verses:
"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier . . . The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things . . . Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 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. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself . . . Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth . . . Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
2 Timothy 2:1-4, 6-7, 9-13, 15, 19-21, KJV
Please notice some of the key points of Paul's remarks to Timothy. He tells Timothy to stand strong in his new faith; he instructs him to impart the doctrine to others; he en- courages him to endure hardness as a good soldier of the Lord; he admonishes him to work diligently in the harvest fields of the Lord; he tells him that he must be willing to suffer persecution for the Lord's sake and for the sake of those sheep who will come to know Christ; and he tells him that he must faithfully study the Word and skillfully teach it to others. In conclusion, Paul tells Timothy that God knows those who belong to Him, and that if Timothy does all of these things, and is not ashamed of his faith, he will become a very useful and honourable vessel in the House of the Lord. In his Epistle to the Corinthian church, Paul also writes:
"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
1 Corinthians 4:2, KJV
Of course, we know that Paul is only reiterating the very same lesson concerning faithfulness, which Jesus taught in some of His very own Parables, as we see by these verses:
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?"
Matthew 24:45, KJV
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Matthew 25:21, KJV
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"
Luke 16:10-12, KJV
"And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities."
Luke 19:17, KJV
From reading Paul's Epistle to his dear son in the faith, we know that because of his hard work and faithfulness, Timothy did in fact become the first bishop, or leader of the local body of believers, in the city of Ephesus. In the final chapter, we find the following commentary:
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV
Jesus likewise tells us that Christian Discipleship is not for the weak, and that it is not just a part-time job. Once a person is called into the Army of the Lord, he is expected to remain faithful and true until the very end of his life. He must be willing to sacrifice all, even his very own life if need be, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of bringing the lost to Christ. It is for this reason, that the Lord admonishes each of us to count the cost before we make a serious commitment to a lifetime of Christian Discipleship, as we see by the following verses:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:34-38, KJV
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26-33, KJV
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:29, KJV
As you can plainly see, being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ does come at a price. While Jesus paid the full price for our Salvation almost two thousand years ago, we must be willing to pay the price of alienation, and persecution, in order to bring God's message of Love and Salvation to others. As we saw earlier, and as I also point out in a number of my other articles, such as in "Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution", not everyone is interested in hearing the Good News; and not everyone wishes to be freed from their lives of sin, so that they might inherit Eternal Life. In fact, as Jesus clearly pointed out, the vast majority of people will strongly reject the message which we offer them, and they will resent us, and they will continue to blindly march down the broad road which leads to their own destruction, in spite of our endeavors to stop them. Once again, please consider these verses:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Matthew 7:13,14, KJV
"Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied."
Proverbs 27:20, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?"
Luke 6:39, KJV
It is a matter of Biblical as well as historical record, that since two thousand years ago until this present time, God's Children of Light have been continually persecuted by the Children of the World; that is to say, the Children of Darkness. Sadly, in our current time, because of the fact that many Christians have forsaken the serious study of God's Word, and have instead chosen to embrace the lies of modern politicians and the false prophets of organized religion, a serious compromise has occurred in their lives. Many are no longer willing to pay the price which is required to be a bona fide Disciple of Jesus Christ; they have become fearful of the opinions of men; but if we truly wish to please and be acceptable to our Lord and Saviour, and the God whom we worship, we simply cannot worry about the opinions of men; and we cannot be afraid of what they might do to us. In speaking of the persecution which would originate with the enemies of the Gospel, Jesus offered this warning to those who might be tempted to save themselves from their enemies through their compromise of the truth:
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28, KJV
In quoting from a Psalm of King David in the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul also wrote the following in his Epistle to the Hebrew brethren:
"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
Hebrews 13:6, KJV
In its original form, King David wrote:
"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?"
Psalm 118:6, KJV
As we conclude this article in part two, we will be looking at such topics as the Sufferings of Christ, our willingness to become of no reputation for Christ's sake, Christian persecution, remaining steadfast in our faith, backsliders and failures, Peter and Jeremiah, preaching the Gospel boldly and allowing our lights to shine brightly before the world, exposing lies and deceptions, being accountable, avoiding compromise and political correctness in our lives, ostracism and being tried in the fires of faith, and the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks. I trust that you will join me.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .