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    STUDY to show yourself APPROVED unto God...

    STUDY To Show Yourself APPROVED Unto God

    2 Timothy 2:15
    Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    Most view this verse as a commandment to "academically study" the Bible and become proficient and knowledgable in all its doctrines and sayings. This cannot be the "standard" of God for those seeking His "approval". If it were, then anyone who aspires to simply apply themselves in "academic" study of the bible will find God's approval through their own efforts despite the fact that God teaches in His Word otherwise.

    This means that this verse has been sorely misunderstood by most and taught by those who were so deceived, to others as the ONLY requirement of God in gaining His approval. For a better understanding of what "kind" of study is being spoken of in this verse, let us first look at an expanded version of this verse as shown in the Amplified bible:
    2 Timothy 2:15
    Study and be eager and do your utmost to present YOURSELF to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
    It is somewhat widely known that "truth" cannot be "known" simply through mental acknowledgement of that truth. The only way truth can be "known" is through the actual "doing" of that truth. The results of this obedience is a more complete knowledge than could be attained simply through academia.

    As far back as the Old Testament, it has been shown that unless a man's heart is changed, he is left to his own devices and attempts at righteousness which, according to the law, is impossible for mankind to achieve. For the blood of bulls and lambs have not the power to rid a man of his guilt although his sin is forgiven for up to a year at a time through that blood sacrifice nor does it have the power to "change" a man's heart.

    It is because of this that God promised through His prophets a new covenant based upon a heart change instead of external observances. Before, His commandments were written in "stone" but then, in this new covenant, He promises to write His laws upon the fleshly tables of the heart by exchanging the heart of stone with a heart of flesh.

    Had this new covenant simply required the learning of the laws of God and outward show of practice as did the Old Covenant, then a NEW covenant would no longer be necessary. The reason the learning, studying and examining of the Old Covenant was insufficient and required a heart change was because, as holy and perfect as the law is, it had not the power to "change" the nature and make up of the heart. The law's only power was to expose the nature of sin and after exposing it, condemn all those who sinned. No true redemption was effected and the guilt of sin was not erased nor further replaced with God's perfect love.

    If the above is true, then how is it that men today will view this verse above as teaching that all that is necessary to gain the approval of God is to make an academic study of God's Word? God has already shown in the prophets that it is not within the ability of mankind to direct his own ways that would find pleasure with the One who created him. Also, He has shown in His word that the content of a man's heart was evil continually throughout his life. Considering these two things, how then can man achieve the approval of God in all holiness and righteousness simply through the academic study of His Word?

    God spoke to Joshua and gave this leader of Israel explicit instructions on how he may attain the approval of the Father shown through his success...
    Joshua 1:8
    This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest OBSERVE TO DO ACCORDING TO ALL THAT IS WRITTEN THEREIN: for then thou shalt make -- thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
    It was not enough to simply read God's Word but to speak and meditate on it all the day and night for the express purpose to obey that word and put it into daily practice and by doing so, achieve the success promised.

    This has not changed today in that God is still calling for us all to obey all His commandments. Jesus Himself stated this truth as well. For anyone not doing such is not considered worthy of Him.
    Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (19) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 19:17-19 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (18) He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, (19) Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

    John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

    John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
    Getting back to the verse in 2 Timothy:
    2 Timothy 2:15
    Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
    There are certain portions of this verse in the Amplified version that stand out as speaking of something other than an academic exercise that enlightens only the mind. Those are:

    ---tested by trial
    ---no cause to be ashamed

    Both of these speak more of a personal experience and transformation which falls directly in line with the overall teachings of Christ as well as those of the other letters of the New Testament. The "testing by trial" speaks of the maturation of our faith as "trials" or "testing of" our faith can bring. Jesus revealed that what He desires can be achieved on this wise:
    Matthew 11:28-30
    Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find REST unto your souls.
    For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
    In this, Jesus is focusing on those things that will produce REST. Apparently, this is His desired goal for all those who believe in Him. Those steps He outlined are plain and simple: 1-Come unto Me, 2-Take My yoke upon you, and 3-Learn of Me

    None of these speak to a purely academic approach but of an experiential form of learning that involves first of coming to Him in faith believing that He is the Savior and that it is by His Blood shed on the Cross and that God has raised Him up from the dead. "You must be born again..." This is how the process begins. One must acknowledge they have sinned, perverted or twisted to their own advantage the truth and found that this did not profit them. In essence, they have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in themselves that is worthy of redemption and thus, no longer put any confidence in themselves or all their own actions outside of faith in Christ.

    The 2nd part is to take the same yoke upon ourselves as was put upon Christ. 1 John states this very thought that if we should follow Christ, then we must also walk as He walked, in the same manner. Then it comes to us, "How then should we walk in the same manner as Christ?" What is that manner? To understand this, we must consider that Jesus did indeed come from His Father in heaven and as such, left behind all the "glory" shared with the Father.
    Philippians 2:5-11
    -- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
    But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
    And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became OBEDIENT unto death, even the death of the cross.
    Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
    That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
    And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    Obedience then was that key in understanding what the nature of His walk was. And by His own testimony...
    John 5:19-20
    Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can -- do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
    For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

    John 12:49-50
    For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
    And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
    He speaks the same of those who would follow Him...
    Matthew 12:50
    For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
    And even more clearly, He shows us that if we truly are IN Him, then the way we live will reflect that as our dependence upon Him is the same as His dependence upon the Father...
    John 15:1-11
    Jesus Is the True Vine
    ​ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
    Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
    Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
    Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can -- do nothing.
    If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
    If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
    Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
    As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
    If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
    These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
    Finally, after looking at all this proof, it appears to me and I hope to you as well, that the kind of "study" we are to partake in to gain the Father's approval which results in our rightly dividing the word of truth and not being ashamed and having the ability to teach others RESTS on our diligently examining ourselves and judging ourselves to see whether or not we are walking wholly and completely according to the Father's will or our own.

    Entering into life, although it is given to us as a gift through faith in the finished work of Christ, is but the beginning of our journey of faith in Christ. It is, after all, a new birth and as such, implies that it is simply a new beginning with much growth and maturity to be attained to "finish" that work that was started in us.
    Philippians 1:6
    Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
    Academics, although an important part of our growth and maturity, is not the only tool that God uses to bring us to maturity and to that place where we find His approval. Like children, we grow up in Him as slaves to the law but when grace is revealed, we no longer are under the law but become true sons and as sons, will remain as slaves until the time comes that the Father Himself sees that we have reached that place in our relationship with Him that we can now be viewed as fully grown and mature sons. This is the time that is appointed by God and not we ourselves. Like the wedding of Cana, we are but earthen vessels filled with water and until we are sent by our Savior to the Lord of the Feast, the Father, we shall remain as water turning into wine without our own recognition or will but declared by the Father for all to see and hear. The servant never knew when that transformation of the water to wine took place. In the servant's mind, he was bringing water to the Lord of the feast. Not until that "water" was poured before the Lord of the Feast did the servant realize that it had turned to wine. This transformation did not take place through that servant's will nor his efforts but only as he obeyed Jesus. The same is with us.

    So, until that time arrives, let us continue to filling up of our vessel with the water of God's Word and let that Word transform our lives in our thinking and our actions. Let His perfect Word have that perfect work in us to change what was once dead into that which will be able to walk fully in that newness of life promised to us through the Son of God. We have put on His garment of righteousness to cover our sinful nature and through this, the Father has accepted us. Now let the working of God's grace bring about the transformation while covered in His Righteousness until the day comes when the Father will see that all of our garments underneath that Righteous Covering of the Blood of His Son as been fully exchanged.

    This process is similar in scope as what we see when Lazarus was raised from death to life. When he came out of his tomb, Lazarus was still clothed in the garments of the dead. Jesus instructed those closest to him to remove those garments. Since Lazarus was not otherwise clothed, only portions of those grave clothes could be removed, those portions that constrained him so that he could then return home, remove the remainder of those grave clothes, wash his body and put on the clothing of the living. What killed Lazarus was the result of a condition called sin of which we are all condemned to death. Once sin was removed, life was restored but the shadows of sin continued to bind him until they too were fully removed.

    In like manner, faith in Christ has removed the stain of sin and its results of death but now must begin the transformation of that life to think like Christ, walk like Christ and act like Christ in all that we do, having no confidence in our own strength but relying completely upon the Spirit for guidance and instruction in righteousness.

    Study to show ourselves approved unto God now takes on a new and different meaning where the word "study" does not point to academia but rather self-examination to see if every part of our lives, our thinking, our actions are in conformity to the same precepts lived by Christ, complete and utter dependency upon the Spirit of the Father, aka Holy Spirit, to lead us and guide us into all truth so that we will be fully equipped for every good work.
    2 Timothy 2:19-21
    Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
    But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
    And what shall we say of those who have labored long and hard at achieving that level of education and knowledge of the Bible and through this, have as much as declared their own fitfulness for the task of becoming ministers of the Gospel without ever seeking for God's final approval but basing their stance upon meeting the requirements for office through that regimen established by others of academia? Shall they not convince one another that they have met this requirement through their studious labor in knowledge without first seeking their heavenly Father for His approval? Many today have approved of themselves or been approved by those like themselves who have labored many years in their academics to earn their right to lead others in this most holy profession.

    These who have done this are likened to those who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness, men like Korah, who deemed himself as worthy as those selected by God and through this episode of vain glory, cast upon themselves an eternal separation and damnation from God. They too were of that holy order of priests and they too brought their offerings of incense before a Holy God but they were rejected by God, not having sought God's approval but were satisfied and convinced of their approval of and by themselves. Unless it is by God's appointment and through His approval, all efforts of men, regardless of their status in the community of men, will ultimately fail. Only through the seeking of the approval of the Father can any truly succeed and His approval will only be given to those who yield themselves fully to Him and the working of His grace in their lives to transform them from death unto life in Christ.
    2 Corinthians 13:5
    Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

    Jerry Sundberg

    Soon after I received the Lord in 1976, I started receiving prophetic visions and warnings about the future of the church and the United States. I share my visions on my Hidden Manna websites and offer free of charge my two ebooks entitled “Hidden Manna” and “Hidden Manna 2”.

    Website: Hidden Manna

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