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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: December 17, 2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS everyone.
First, a prayer of thanksgiving: “For our daily needs when so many walk in hopelessness, for faith when so many walk in fear, for the love of family and friends when so many walk alone we give God thanks.”
I need to skip the lengthy review of the previous lesson because typing hurts my left hand. However, I urge y’all to revisit it to refresh your memories.
********Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:3-5.
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;”
If a title was required for this scripture passage I’d call it The Truth of the Gospel. What I had been taught by my church during the first nineteen years of my life was anything but the truth, that’s why I left it behind. This was after my conversion in 1996. At that time I began a diligent search for the truth about my Lord and Savior. To that end I attended Bible study classes whenever the lights were on at church, read my Bible daily, and visited Christian websites on the internet. But I still felt “left out” because the Bible didn’t make much sense to me. Then one day I happened upon an individual teaching the Bible rightly divided online. He helped me understand what I had been taught before was someone’s version of the truth. In other words, their preaching and teaching stemmed from denominational traditionalism rather than what God actually said, dispensationaly speaking. Now I have a healthy respect for certain traditions, but as our Apostle Paul I have an unwavering passion for the truth of the gospel “…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile)” – Romans 1:16b.
In the introduction to Colossians I mentioned the people living in Colosse lent an ear to the heresies of their day, i.e. those people heralding an extreme form of legalistic Judaism and an early form of Gnosticism. These Jews retained the Mosaic Law (2:14), imposed circumcision (2:11), adhered to strict dietary restrictions and calendar observations (2:16), and they encouraged asceticism (2:21-23). Those advocating an early form of Gnosticism (2:8) described matter as evil, denied the divine creation of the universe, held to many angelic beings or spiritual intermediaries existing between God and man, and promoted the worship of these angelic beings (2:18). The Christian component of these heresies did not deny Christ, they dethroned Him. He was not regarded as divine or as the Creator God, and His death, therefore, did nothing for man’s salvation. Paul was not going to permit these heretical teachings (untruths) to take root and thrive in Colosse, so he criticized them in this writing.
Let’s begin this study at Colossians 1:2.
“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The word Grace, as it pertains to God, is used in a number of different ways in the N.T. It can mean the free unmerited love and favor of God, which brings about man’s salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8), the spring and source of every spiritual blessing received from him (Ephesians 1:3), the divine influence of the Holy Spirit in renewing the heart and restraining Believers from sin (2 Corinthians 12:9), the state of Grace in which the Believer eternally stands, that is, being in God’s favor (Romans 5:2), and others. Here Paul most likely used the term Grace to mean the latter.
Peace means different things, depending on the context. In a general sense, it might mean a state of quiet, tranquility, or harmony with one another (1 Corinthians 16:11); freedom from conflict, such as, freedom from war with a foreign country; and salvation in that the individual is no longer considered an enemy of God. Here Paul is saying the Colossians are at peace with God (Romans 5:1).
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,”
Once again we have Paul praying with a thankful heart as he does throughout this letter (Colossians 1:12, 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2) demonstrating his Christ-like attitude. What’s more, Paul begins each of his writings with thanksgiving and praise to God the Father (the only exception is his letter to the Galatians). In verse 1:3, He’s indirectly thanking God for the Colossians’ salvation. His prayer then blends into several petitions for these saints, in Christ.
But how did Paul know these people were truly saved? He’s not able to look upon their hearts and neither are we. So, what did he consider the true evidence of their salvation? Was it because they had been baptized with water? Did they possess the ability to perform miracle healings, did they speak in tongues and prophecy? Not so much. The answer is found in verse 1:4-5a:
“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…”
Paul never visited Colosse (2:1-2), so when he said “we” he means to say he heard about the current state of the churches in Colosse from Epaphras. Then he cited the evidence of their salvation. He had heard of their faith, their hope, and their love.
Breaking this down, faith is built upon the truth of God’s Word, rightly divided. Those who are truly convinced by God’s truth are saved by it (2 Timothy 1:3-4). So the word "faith" in verse four refers to the Colossians’ initial trust in the Person and finished saving work of Jesus Christ. That is to say, they have a saving relationship with God because of Jesus Christ.
Personally, I’ve heard several preachers say, “People are saved by faith,” but is this true?
The short answer is “No.” Faith in and of itself doesn’t save you. People believe all sorts of things and place their trust in them for their salvation, such as, I’m trying to be a good person, I’ve been water baptized, I joined the right church group, I can speak in tongues, etc. Please note the multiple usage of “I” in these declarations. What they’re saying is I can gain God’s favor and salvation by doing something. Thus, faith built upon one’s emotions or life experiences is false faith (Isaiah 64:6). What you believe and who you believe on matters a great deal to God. If you could believe whatever you wanted for your salvation, why would God send His Son to die on the cross for your sin (Romans 4:25)? It doesn’t make sense, what makes perfect sense is the truth we find in God’s Word. Please turn in your Bible to Romans 2:11-16:
“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Your salvation and mine is linked with Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work of the cross, through faith not because of faith. Thus, an individual’s faith in Paul’s gospel merely creates a bridge by which God can crossover to save us… for without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But what does this book say?
“For by grace are ye saved (not by your faith, but) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Another piece of evidence that demonstrated these folks were saved is their “love to all the saints…” A Bible verse immediately comes to mind, so let’s visit it. Please turn to 1 Corinthians 13:13:
“But now faith, hope, love, abide (to be, or exist, to continue) these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Here again we find the abiding trinity of faith, hope, and love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul taught the supernatural communication gifts which God gave the early Church, i.e., the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and the gift of knowledge, would vanish “when that which is perfect is come” or once the Word of God was complete:
“Charity (agape love, i.e. seeking another’s highest good) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Once the Bible was complete, the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ would function on the basis of the written Word of God through faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. With Paul’s conversion and commission as God’s apostle to the gentiles the Scriptures were complete:
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;” (Colossians 1:25).
Thus, the supernatural gifts of Acts and 1 Corinthians 13 ceased by the time he wrote his final communication, 2 Timothy. Evidence of this truth is found in 1 Timothy 5:23. Paul couldn’t perform a healing miracle on his son in the faith; he suggested Timothy drink a little wine to soothe his stomach. Today, no one in the Church legitimately exercises the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, or tongues. They have been replaced by things both permanent and superior, which is the complete Word of God, and faith, hope, and love.
God did something entirely new by saving Saul of Tarsus and appointing him to be the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). Included in his commission was that Paul would establish God’s Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-7) and its doctrines. This new creation required new truths. New wine cannot abide old wineskins (Matthew 9:17). Paul wasn’t taught these new revelations by man. They were revealed to him by the risen and glorified Lord (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul referred to these revelations as “mysteries.” The Lord also established Paul as the pattern for all Believers to follow in regard to living the Christ-like life.
In addition to the blessing of the complete Word of God, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 of the blessings of faith, hope, and charity (love). Believers are to put on these blessings and live by them. Two other passages, both found in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, contain this abiding trinity. You’ll find them below:
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” ().
The phrases “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “steadfastness of hope” are the basis of Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians ( This prayer also reveals how Believers are to pray today. Not only are we to imitate Paul’s behavior and his walk with the Lord we are to mimic his prayer life:).
“But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
In this scripture passage, Paul repeated the blessings of faith, hope, and love to the Thessalonians. Paul viewed faith and love as their breastplate. A Roman soldier put on the breastplate to defend his vital organs. Paul had the Believer’s heart in mind here for it is the source of their faith and love.
Paul then referred to hope as their helmet, which is another vital piece of the soldier’s armor because it protects their head in battle. Here Paul isn’t referring to the Believer’s head he has their mind in view. But what does hope mean? I’m glad you asked. Hope (as love) is a word that needs to be rescued from a world that has overused and misused it for so long its intended meaning has been nearly lost. As it’s used today, the word hope implies an uncertain or vague outcome. Therefore, in our society the word hope and maybe are interchangeable. For example, if a person says, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” they likely mean “I wish it wouldn’t rain” or “It’ll probably rain but it sure would be nice if it didn’t.” Here is another example: If a person is asked, “Are you planning to attend the meeting tomorrow?” and responds, “I hope so,” they are actually saying, “Maybe I will.” So, the biblical meaning of hope means “a positive expectation” or “a certainty:”
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience await for it” (Romans 8:24-25).
When the world uses the word hope it’s expressing their desire or wish for something but they’re not expecting it to happen. However, depending on the context, the biblical meaning of hope is an earnest expectation of something unseen, yet foreseen, such as “the hope of our salvation.” This is based upon the fact that God will keep all His promises for “it’s impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).
Just as “the breastplate of righteousness” guards the heart of the Believer, “the helmet of our salvation” guards their mind. A person without hope is vulnerable to Satan’s schemes, which includes the lie you are not truly saved. As a Christian counselor at Camp Cherith, one of the most frequent questions asked of me by the children was, “How can I know I’m really saved?” They needed reassurance not once but often. I remember one such occasion very well because he was the camp pastor’s child. He didn’t bring this doubt to his father for some reason he felt comfortable discussing it with me, his camp counselor. The next summer I designed all my Bible lessons around this topic but that didn’t make the problem go away. Additionally, this problem isn’t unique to children, even godly men and women will experience the devil’s attacks against their hope of salvation.
In 1 Kings 18-19 the prophet Elijah succumbed to defeat and depression after a great victory over the false gods of Baal on Mt Carmel. He ran for his life and then hid from queen Jezebel, believing he was the only Believer left alive. So Elijah asked the LORD God to let him die, but the LORD comforted him instead at a place called Cherith (1 Kings 17:2) reassuring him he was not the only true Believer left. The LORD God had preserved a remnant of Believer’s numbering 7,000 (1 Kings 19:18). Because Satan is bombarding the Believer’s mind with negative thoughts there will be times in their life when he or she feels defeated and uncertain about their salvation, as Elijah did. This is where the helmet of our salvation comes into play because our hope is in the salvation of the Lord, meaning it’s of God, and cannot be hindered by Satan or anything else:
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:2).
Galatians 5:5 says, “ For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Thus, our hope and confidence is in God’s ability to complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
So, no matter what we’re currently facing, Paul encourages us by saying, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:1).
These Bible verses and others are meant to give us hope and remind us the salvation of the Lord will surely come, not only when Christ Jesus returns for His Church, but also in our present moment of need:
“O the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle” (Psalm 140:7).
Therefore, faith produces hope. In a world of hopelessness and fear, the Believer may “abound in hope.” And this hope is no mere wish, for it is founded on the Word of God, “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...” (Heb. 6:19). In other words, it is the here and now, by faith, of the spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ that one day future will be fully realized.
Summing up, the genuineness of our conversion to Christ is evidenced by “faith, hope, love,” the three abiding evidences of our salvation. And hope, in turn, produces charity (love). Verse 1:5 speaks of this: “the love which ye have to all the saints, for (because of) the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” The closer we are drawn to Christ Jesus, the closer we are drawn to one another. Have you noticed whenever you meet a like-minded Believer on the street or in church there’s a sense of comradery that exists between you and them? This is because you have the Lord Jesus Christ, “the author and perfecter of our faith” in common, along with faith, hope, and love the three abiding evidences of salvation. Any local church where these three characteristics abound is a full church indeed, even if it only contains a handful of members. Remember, it’s not about quantity but quality (Matthew 7:13-14).
Each member of the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace are “complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10), “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), resurrected with Christ” (Colossians 2:13), and “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6) and for this we give God thanksgiving and praise!
(To be continued. Publication date uncertain.)
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