The POWER of the Word of God

60854458c4d1acdf4e1c2f79c4137142d85d78e379bdafbd69bd34c85f5819adLast night I had the privilege of teaching the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to his beloved disciple, Timothy. The lesson was based on chapter two. The previous lesson was also based on chapter two on the importance of entrusting the Word of God to faithful people. Second Timothy is a treatise on discipleship. According to Paul in his famous epistle to the Romans, he declared:

For . .  the gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

There is power in the Word of God. It is the source of which we must remain connected in order to be useful to the Master. As I was teaching, I was reminded of the words of Jesus to the church of Laodicea.

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  (Revelation 3)

According to Jesus, hot is good and cold is good. Lukewarm is a problem. The closer to the source hot water is, the warmer it is when it reaches its destination. The closer to the source cold water is, the cooler it is when it reaches its destination. When hot water and cold water are too far from the source, they both arrive at their destination lukewarm. The key is remaining close to the source. Paul wanted Timothy to stay close to the source, the Word of God. This is what motivated him to write to Timothy. This is the key to success when it comes to obedience to the Lord.

I. Be a diligent student of the Word

Paul begins with encouragement. Timothy needed encouragement. We all need to be encouraged.

Remind them of these things, (II Timothy 2:14)

What does Timothy need to be reminded of and what does Timothy need to remind the church of in his daily teaching? If you examine the previous verses, Timothy was encouraged to remember the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that He is faithful to accomplish His promises. Timothy was to remind the people of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His faithfulness. The Gospel and faithfulness of Christ is found in the Word of God. This was a challenge to Timothy to stay in the Word and teach the Word to the people. Remaining connected to the source will help Timothy avoid something that could wreck his effectiveness in the ministry.

. . .  solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. (II Timothy 2:14)

If Timothy falls into the trap of wrangling about words, he will no longer be effective in teaching the Word of God. Timothy was not called to win arguments. He was called to entrust the Gospel to faithful people. It’s impossible to do both. The word “wrangle” in Greek is “logomacheo“. It means to argue or content with an opponent. It is composed or two Greek words, one of which is “machomai“. That means armed, hand to hand combat. Our sin nature likes to argue. It will be a major temptation for Timothy and to the people in whom he invests the Word. They must be reminded that we are not called to argue and defeat others like they are our opponents. We share the Gospel with potential brothers and sisters in Christ so they are not our enemy and we must not treat them that way. Arguing and entrusting are opposites and you cannot do both at the same time. You have to pick one or the other. How do you know if you have crossed over from entrusting to arguing? You become ineffective in making disciples. Instead of winning people to the Lord, you end up ruining them. You may “win” the argument but what have you accomplished? In order to stay away from arguing with people and giving in to your sin nature, you must stay focused and be intentional.

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 Timothy 2:15)

How do you satay focused? You have to be a diligent student of the Word of God. That involves reading and studying the Word of God consistently. This will help you be approved to God. Approved means tried, tested, and declared genuine. A diligent student of the Word will stay away form arguments with others as he seeks to proclaim the Gospel to the people around him. Winning arguments may well win the approval of others but it will not win the approval of God.

16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. (II Timothy 2)

As Timothy remains connected to the Word of God, he will be able to avoid another pitfall, worldly and empty chatter. The word “worldly” is the Greek work “beblos” and it means low talk. We have an expression today, “you have stooped to a new low in saying or doing that“. It is a word picture of being on the ground, meaning that you cannot get any lower than that. The second word is “empty” and it is the Greek word “kenophonia“. The idea is of discussing useless things to fill the silent void. As a kid, I remember that my mother would say that if we did not have anything nice to say then do not say anything at all. Timothy had eternal things to discuss since he was a follower of Jesus Christ and a diligent student of the Word of God. Practically speaking, if you are not a diligent student of the Word of God then your conversations will end up being about menial matters that really do not have any eternal value. What are most of your daily conversation about, the weather, the latest sports event, movies, video games, social media trends etc.? I noticed that there are two extremes here when it comes to conversations with others when a person is not a diligent student of the Word of God. Either everything seems to turn to arguing or all of the talk is about nothing of real eternal value. It’s easy for us to fall into this trap because of our sin nature. Timothy had to be intentional not to fall victim to this and he had to teach the believers not to fall victim either. The final warning in this paragraph is:

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (II Timothy 2:19)

Timothy was to remain connected to the source, the Word of God so that he would not fall victim to wickedness. As the old saying goes, “idle hands are the devil’s playground“. If Timothy chose to entertain arguments and silly talk then he would not have time to be a diligent student of the Word. Ultimately, that would manifest in wicked actions. Did you notice the progression of events? The word wickedness in Greek is “adikia“. It means to violate the laws of the Word of God. It is the inevitable outcome of not being a diligent student of the Word of God. Stay busy reading, studying, and sharing the Word of God and you will not have time for arguments, silly talk, and wickedness. If you do not have time to be a diligent student of the Word then you will follow this path of arguing, silly talk, and wickedness.

II. Be cleansed by the Word

As we observed in the previous section, the Lord wants to keep us busy in the Word so that we do not have time for arguments, silly talk, and wickedness. There is a beautiful process that takes place in our lives when we are diligent students of the Word of God. It called the process of sanctification. In order to become more and more like Christ in our daily lives, the Lord has to remove the impurities in us.

19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (II Timothy 2)

Did you notice in verse nineteen that the Lord knows who are His? What is the proof that we are His? What is the proof that we have been adopted into the family of God and are now His children? The Apostle Paul gives the answer and his answer is the process of sanctification. Sanctification is the idea of us becoming more and more like Christ in our attitudes, actions, and words. It is a process. It does not happen overnight. In fact, it is a life long process. It is like the process of refining silver. When silver is mined, it is mixed with the earth and is not a pretty site. It has many impurities. That is the way we are when we come to Christ. There is a lot of work to be done in us to refine us. When silver is refined, it is put over an ever increasing fire and as the fire heats up, the impurities rise to the surface and the silversmith scrapes out the impurities and turns the fire a little higher, repeating the process until he can see his perfect reflection in the silver. That is how he knows that his work is done. The same things happens in our lives. God refines us as we devote our time to reading, studying, and sharing His Word. He wants to see His perfect reflection in us.

What about those who claim to be children of God yet they are not walking through the refining process? What does the Bible have to say about them? What does Jesus have to say about them? Let’s turn to the famous Sermon on the Mount to discover our answer.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7)

The fact that you have learned the lingo and call Jesus Lord does not mean that you have surrendered to the leadership of the Lord Jesus. There are many people who call Jesus Lord and Savior yet, He is not the actual Ruler of their lives. They went to great lengths to imitate the Christian life, preaching and serving, along with calling Jesus Lord, yet, this was all imitation. They learned the lingo. They learned the right activities to be a part of yet they were never children of God because there was never a lifestyle transformation. The remained slaves to their sin nature even though they were doing all the right “service” projects and saying the right things.

When we belong to the Lord and walk through the process of sanctification, we become useful to the Master. As we remain diligent students of the Word of God, He refines us and prepares us for every good work. If we are not diligent students of the Word and walking through the process of sanctification then we will not be useful to the Master because we will not be prepared for every good work. Are you being cleansed by the Word of God? Are you a child of God? Is the Lord using His Word to refine you, that is, to make you more and more like Jesus Christ in you attitude, actions, and words? Or, have you simply hung around the church long enough to learn the lingo and go through the motions? These are serious, eternity changing questions that all of us need to ask ourselves and meditate on right now. Maybe you should pause for a moment and talk to the Lord about these things. It will do you much good.

III. Teach the Word

The final section of this passage deals with teaching the Word of God to others. Remember, the goal of chapter two is to train us how entrust the Word of God to faithful people who will teach it to others.

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (II Timothy 2)

The Apostle Paul returns to the subject of arguing again. Why? Because it is so easy to get into arguments with others. We are naturally inclined in that direction because of our sin nature. Arguing with people and teaching the Word of God to people are two vastly different things. Over the years, I have encountered quite a few people who claimed to be teaching the Word, but, in reality, they were just engaging in arguments. I sat in a Sunday School class one time and almost witnessed a fist fight break out because of an argument over Romans chapter one. In order to teach the Word to others, Timothy was going to have to be patient with very impatient people. The word patient means slow to boil. As Timothy was attempting to teach the Word of God, he was going to encounter people who would try to push his buttons. His response to the button pushing would make all the difference. How about you, how do you respond when people push your buttons? Are you patient with people. Are you gentle with them. The word gentle means power under control. You may have the ability to destroy someone with your Biblical arguments but, will you harness that power and use it for good, to teach and encourage that person instead of destroying him or her? We like the encouragement part of the process of teaching. It is very important. One thing that I have noticed over the past twenty years of ministry is that there are two major pitfalls when it comes to entrusting the Gospel to faithful people  and teaching them the Word of God. One pitfall is to teach by only encouraging. Encouragement is very important but what if the person is headed in the wrong direction and all you do is encourage him or her? He or she will continue going down that incorrect path and suffer the consequences. The other extreme is to be Mr. Confrontation to the point that you beat people down with the Word of God. That is not good either. There needs to be a balance between encouragement and correction. Both are important and both are necessary. Timothy was to confront those in opposition with the purpose of seeing them repent. After repentance took place, Timothy was to encourage them the same way that the Apostle Paul continuously encouraged him. We must do the same today. There has to be a healthy balance between correction and encouragement.

What about you, my dear friend, are you a diligent student of the Word of God? How much time do you devote daily to the reading, studying, and sharing of God’s Word? What are your conversation like on a daily basis? Endless arguments? Silly talk about nothing? Are you walking through the refining process of sanctification? Are you becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in your attitude, actions, and words? Are you being useful to the Master? How is He preparing you each day for the good works that He wants you to accomplish? Are you confronting others with the Word and encouraging them too? What changes do you need to make after studying this lesson?

May the Lord help us understand and apply what we have discovered in this beautiful passage from His Holy Word!

One comment on “The POWER of the Word of God

  1. Pingback: Fulfill your ministry | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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