A Worker Unashamed

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (v. 15).

- 2 Timothy 2:14–15

Authentic gospel proclamation includes the content Paul has outlined in 2 Timothy 2:8–13: the incarnation of Jesus as the Son of David, His resurrection, eternal life as a result of being in union with Christ by faith, and the perils of not keeping our commitment to the Savior. Mentioning these elements of the gospel moves the apostle to begin instructing Timothy in how to deal with the problems in the Ephesian church he is pastoring, for the sound preaching of the apostolic faith answers any difficulty in the covenant community.

When Timothy receives his second letter from Paul, the false teaching the apostle discusses in his first letter to him — quarreling about words that do not edify the flock of God (1 Tim. 1:3–7; 2 Tim. 2:14) — is still a problem. Paul’s charge to Timothy to avoid such quarrels reveals that while pastors and other Christian leaders must be able to refute the speculations and heresies that may fester under the radar in any congregation (1 Peter 3:13–17), there is a point when talking to erring persons becomes counterproductive. Teachers, if they are not careful, can be so engaged in refuting heresy that they are sidetracked from the systematic explanation of the orthodox, biblical truth that keeps falsehood from becoming entrenched in the first place. Church discipline is designed to deal with the unrepentant when they refuse to hear the truth (Matt. 18:15–20; Titus 3:10–11) so that ministers can focus on equipping the saints for ministry.

Excessive arguing with strong-willed heretics results in our stooping to their level. The only antidote is to refuse to allow these kinds of people to drag us away from the diligent study of the Word of God. Satan has all sorts of distractions designed to get in the way of the Lord’s appointed work, and we must not let anyone pull us away from the consistent study and application of Scripture. That is why teachers, primarily, and all believers, secondarily, must also labor hard so as not to be ashamed of their studies (James 3:1). We must be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), which means that we are to handle Scripture according to its intention and communicate its teaching properly. Let us study so that we know the Word thoroughly.

Coram Deo

Surveys routinely report that while a large percentage of people affirm the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible, only a small percentage of such persons are actually familiar with its contents. Regular Scripture study should be a part of our lives and there are scores of ways we can be engaged in it. Aside from personal study, we should be looking for every opportunity to hear the Word of God preached and taught in our local churches.

Passages for Further Study

Ezra 7:10
Nehemiah 8:13–18
John 3:1–14
Acts 17:10–11

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.