Study to shew thyself approved…

I get a lot of comments on my own comments about education in the ministry.  I agree

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

with having an education, but aren’t we misinterpreting the Scriptures?

II Timothy 2:15 study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Being one of those with out a Doctorate or Masters degree in theology of Doctrinal Studies, I do feel insecure but not ashamed of my preaching.

I have relied on the Holy Spirit and many books to get me through.  When I’m preparing for a message, there is MASSIVE prayer, study in God’s Word, commentaries, online commentaries, and often books written on the topic I am preaching on.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says about verse 15 “The care of ministers must be to approve themselves unto God, to be accepted of him, and to show that they are so approved unto God.  In order there-unto, there must be constant care and industry.  Ministers must be workmen; they have work to do, and they must take pain in it.  Workmen that are unskilful, or unfaithful, or lazy, have need to be ashamed; but those who mind their business, and keep to their work, are workmen that need not be ashamed.”

Is he not saying we must basically be about ‘the Father’s business’ and not people’s?  Is he not stating that we must as ministers be careful to work for the kingdom, not sit home and watch TV, read the paper, and do nothing but take a paycheck?

Our skills are many times developed through experience.  Experience and the Holy Spirit are tremendous ‘teachers’ of any type of work, especially when we are working for God, the Creator of the universe.

If we are about the Father’s business, then we must be teachable, observant to hear from the Holy Spirit, and develop our skills of ministry.

Holy Spirit painting

Holy Spirit painting (Photo credit: hickory hardscrabble)

“rightly to divide the word of truth”, today,we hear many ‘gospels’.  The Gospel according to John, to Joel, to Billy, to any other preacher on TV or in the most honorable and Holy desk…the pulpit.

We are not to “invent a new gospel, but rightly to divide the gospel that is committed to their trust.  To speak terror to those to whom terror belongs, comfort to whom comfort; to give every one his portion in due season, Matt. 24:45Matt. 24:45
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  

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and Matthew Henry”

1.  The word which ministers preach is the word of truth, for the author of it is the God of truth.
2. It requires great wisdom, study, and care, to divide this word of truth rightly; Timothy must study in order to do this well.

In today’s life of a minister, preacher, evangelist, prophet, apostle, we must all be cautious about inventing new gospels.  We are not to invent new theology, but to dissect, engulf, devour, and then regurgitate back to the people what we have learned.

As I sit here meditating on these verses, I see my library of nearly 500 volumes, various authors,  topics, paperback, hardback, commentaries, 3 different concordances, dictionaries, and even a Haley’s Bible Handbook.  (Anyone use that one anymore?  Mine is from 1969 when I was at Boys’ Ranch in Amarillo!)

Daily, I have a ritual of study, prayer, phone calls, and yes, writing notes for future sermons.

Study is an important part of my life.  I have taken some Bible courses more than once and other from universities for non-credit.

“Study to shew thyself approved” is to be approved and worthy of the calling from God on our lives, not to be approved by man.

Yes, as an evangelist, I must have the Holy Spirit move to open the doors for me to


pulpit (Photo credit: ndrwfgg)

minister, meaning favor and acceptance of man.

The man behind that awesome, holy desk is responsible for protecting God’s sheep in his pasture.  He must not protect denominational guidelines, but God’s guidelines and doctrine.

So, today, will it be Internet, family and friends, sleeping or will you be studying, praying and digesting?

Consider that….

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