From: Bob Williams
The Apostle Paul encourages us to: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” in 2Timothy 2:15. This is the only verse in the Bible that tells us to study, and how to study the Bible to get the profit out that God put in His Word. Paul goes on to inform us in 2Timothy 3:16-17 that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The objective of “study” is for us to be “perfect,” or complete and mature as believers in order to be of profit in our walk and service to God.
It is not generally understood that “study” is an imperative, not just a suggestion, and study is work. Also, study is personal and is how God communicates His will to believers today through His Word in His dispensation of grace. In order to be an “approved” workman when studying, several questions need to be asked about every verse of Scripture. The most basic is to ask who is speaking, whom is being spoken to or about and what the speaker is addressing or its purpose. Once the who and what have been determined, the when, where and how questions can be looked into. Asking these questions on a regular basis will help alleviate some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that cause confusion to the reader.
While all the Bible is written for us, and is “profitable,” not all of it is written to and about the Body of Christ. The church at large is equally confused about which scriptures apply universally and which are addressed specifically to either Israel or the body of Christ, the church of today. An example is the book of James, which as stated in verse one is written to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” James goes on in the next verse as well as the beginning of the next two chapters to address his “brethren.” Obviously he is writing to Israel, yet Christianity claims the admonitions and promises as doctrines for today. No wonder the church is confused over the works of law, grace and the role of faith.
Paul’s letters, by contrast, are addressed to believers in the current church dispensation, which he states are “called saints.” The error committed by many Christians is to think that when Paul says “we” that it refers universally to all people, not just the saved, or the “saints.” If that were the case, there would not have been a reason to include the book of Romans, which some refer to as the handbook of salvation, in the canon of scripture. God put Paul’s writing in His Book in a particular place and in a specific order for a purpose. More on this topic in future submissions.