Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: March 06, 2020
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).
Hello, my friends and welcome to HBS.
Let’s review last week’s Bible lesson.
“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ” (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Last week we learned Paul wanted the saints at Colosse, and elsewhere, to fully understand the great conflict he had for them. Paul wasn’t conflicted He’s talking about those folks who rejected the sufficiency of Christ, the preaching of the mystery, and persecuted him for preaching it. Paul labored, striving, and endured great conflict so the Colossians and all those who had not yet seen his face in the flesh might be comforted, i.e. encouraged and built up in the truth of the mystery, having, “the full assurance of understanding.” To attain “the full assurance of understanding” (in the Grace Age) it’s important to know God does not ask us to do something, He asked us to understand something, and again that is, “the acknowledgement of the mystery” (2:2).
Once again, Paul emphasizes the sufficiency of Christ, the distinctiveness of his ministry and his gospel over and above that which the Spirit-led twelve preached to Jew only with a few gentile exceptions: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,)” (Ephesians 3:1-3).
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest (clearly visible to the eye or obvious to the understanding; apparent; not obscure or difficult to be seen or understood), and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.” Amen.” (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
********Please open your Bible at Colossians 2:5-7.
“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
Chapter 2 was written to guard these saints against the seductive influence of the false teaching making inroads at Colosse because it had the tendency to draw them away from Christ Jesus and the truth of the gospel. If you recall, Epaphras had traveled to Rome seeking Paul’s guidance re: this issue. So in Colossians 2:1-15 Paul states the reasons why they should not allow themselves to be deceived by the rhetoric circulating in Colosse and in the outlying regions.
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”
“…joying and beholding” is literally, and I’m paraphrasing, “rejoicing and seeing your order and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.” The word “order” means: “order; fixed succession, discipline, and unbroken ranks.” Most people understand this to be a military term. This is how Paul meant it to be used here. Discipline and order go hand-in-hand in the military because without them you have disorder (chaos). For example, disorderly certainly describes the church at Corinth, Greece. In 1 Corinthians 14:39-40, having spoken about the free-for-all that was taking place in their meetings, Paul summarized in saying: “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.”
Paul was elated to hear the Colossians were growing in grace and in their knowledge of Christ Jesus. This, to him, spoke of order, that is to say, spiritual discipline. He joyed in the fact that these new converts were holding onto the truth they had heard from Epaphras despite the false teaching (doctrines) that were circulating in Colosse.
Now let’s look at the word “steadfastness” because I’m fairly certain most of you never use this word in a sentence. This word means firmly fixed; unmoveable, spiritually grounded in the faith” (See 1 Peter 5:8-9). This thought takes us to verses 2:6-7:
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (2:6) - here Paul is addressing not only the Colossians he’s speaking to every Believer in Christ, so we ought to pay close attention to what he has to say. These saints were holding fast to the church doctrines they had been taught, so they had the head knowledge. But the best way to prove doctrine is to live it, that is, walk the walk. This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. These Believers had been taught about Christ and His teaching now they need to practice those teachings in their everyday life if it’s to have any effect. So, it’s more than just head knowledge; it’s life knowledge. In short, these doctrines need to be put to the test.
For example, the other day I bought a piece of electrical equipment. To see if it worked I plugged it in and turned it on. I let it run for a while to make sure it stayed working and didn’t quit on me because you never know how something will perform right out of the box. Well, it worked as advertised. Now you can apply that example to the Believer’s walk in Christ. Unless you faithfully put the church doctrines you’ve been well-taught to the test in your life how are you to know if they work or not?
The Colossians, and others, had been well-taught; Paul used the word “rooted,” and they’ve been comforted (encouraged), now they need to put into practice those teachings Paul mentioned here that dealt with their faithfulness and thanksgiving. Now they’re being challenged, things are not running smoothly in Colosse, they are being tested to see if their faith is true. So, Paul’s encouraging them to hang-in-there, so to speak.
It’s often been said there are two things in life you can count on death and taxes; and I agree, but for the true Believer there’s a third thing you can count on, i.e., you’ll be tested. Now, you might encounter a period of time where there are no storms/trials in your life, everything appears to be going your way. But please know sooner or later, if you’re a faithful Believer, you will be tested somehow, some way.
Speaking for myself, I’ve realized in my own life, the best and most effective first step when you are tested is to recognize the fact you are being tested. Again, for me, the first thing I usually do when a road-block appears in my life is get angry and upset. I start talking to myself. In fact, you might overhear me saying, “Why me; why now Lord? Things were running smoothly; I don’t need this right now. Can’t you see how busy I am?”
My recent heart surgery is but one example of this instruction. And again, that’s usually my first reaction; I am human after all. But if Christ’s teachings are any good, if my spirit is in tune with God’s Word, eventually I recognize what’s happening – this is a test. This awareness doesn’t make things easier; it does not make whatever is happening go away, however, it does put it into context. I know not only what’s going on, I know how to deal with it, spiritually speaking. By that I mean to say I stop complaining and ruing the day, after all Paul makes it known afflictions, persecution, and suffering are part and parcel of the Believer’s walk (Romans 5:3-5, 8:18; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 12:8-10;
So, with that knowledge firmly rooted in our minds, I’ll proceed from here saying, “Expect your faith to be tested on a regular basis so deal with it in Christ-like fashion.”
One of the ways my faith was put to the test was when during one of my Bible studies a group of people in attendance renounced my teaching re: once saved, always saved. These weren’t seekers looking for answers. They were professed Christians who believed they had all the answers. I was the one that needed to be educated… The Colossians and the church at Laodicea were dealing with this same mindset not from within the church itself, but from those of other faiths outside the church.
I don’t think you need me to tell you the thousands of so called Christian churches in operation today all believe something different than their neighbor down the street. They are not on the same page. Speaking for myself, I have lost track of the number of times people have told me they acknowledge the only way to be saved is by the grace of God through faith in what Christ has done for them. But then in the next breath say, “I have to do things to please God.“ That belief does not line up with what God has clearly said, what’s more, Paul said that’s “foolishness.” Please turn to Galatians 3:1:
“Oh, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched (charmed) you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
There’s a similar passage in Galatians 5:7: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”
Said differently, and I’m paraphrasing, “Why is it that you’ve come to disobey the truth?” The fickle Galatians had professed to believe all that Paul had taught them and yet here we find them disobeying the Word of God and opting to live their lives under the Mosaic Law. Think this through my Christian friends. Back when you were a lost, rebellious sinner, i.e., before you received the grace of God through faith in the gospel, this was done without Him requiring you to do one single thing which includes obeying certain religious rites. Since this is true, isn’t it both strange and illogical to presume now that you are His adopted child, a member of His family, and a member of the Body of Christ positioned eternally in Christ, isn’t it illogical to think now God requires certain works from you in order to be saved? Once again, Paul described this mindset as “foolishness:”
“Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
The Believer’s in sight, whether he or she is a babe in Christ or a carnal Christian, is that of a full- grown son and daughter, simply because God sees them in Christ Jesus, His perfect Son (Colossians 2:10). It is in light of this glorious truth that we are to live, walking worthy of our high and holy calling; worthy of our position in Christ (Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:9). For the Colossians (and any Believer for that matter) to place themselves under the Law would be to renounce their position in Christ. Nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in Galatians 4:1-7 (see the passage below) where our apostle Paul dealt with the Believer’s position in Christ, as full-grown sons, and their resulting freedom or liberty in Christ (Galatians 2:4, 5:1):
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
One of things I’ve consistently found over the years is people don’t take the time to define a word or phrase in a passage of Scripture. Instead, they assign a definition to it that they are familiar with. This might work in some cases, but it certainly does not apply in every case. The word “adoption” is one example. People see this word and attach a meaning to it that is relative to today. Although it’s true a stranger could be taken in and given a place as a son, the word “adoption” here means “placing as a son,” (a It affects those who are children, a member of the family. In the Galatian passage above it does not refer to mere acceptance into one’s family, but to a declaration of full sonship, an heir, with all its accompanying rights and privileges. son).
In the life of the Hebrew boy there came a time, appointed by the father, when “adoption” proceedings took place and the boy was formally Prior to that time he had been a son, indeed, but “under tutors and governors.” He had been instructed by these people as to what he might and might not do. In this he differed nothing from a servant, even though he is the heir apparent. But finally the child developed into a grown son and the “time appointed” by his father arrived. He would no longer need overseers to keep him in check. There would now be natural understanding and cooperation between father and son. And so the “adoption” proceedings took place—a formal and official declaration that the son had now entered into all the rights and privileges of full-grown sonship. Such is the meaning of the word “adoption” in the Galatian passage above.to be the father’s son and heir.
The simplest Believer has a standing before God in grace. This should not be forgotten. In the O.T. the word grace is scarcely used. We find that Noah, Abram, and Moses found grace in the eyes of the LORD, but beyond that there is little to speak of. Then when you come to the four gospels you find the word grace mentioned a few times. The apostle John used it once in a theological way. The other times it speaks of how Jesus Christ grew in grace and in favor with the Father and with man. But when you arrive at Paul’s writings what a change! The word grace is used more than a hundred times. Paul had a great deal to say about God’s free gift of grace to all and what this meant to the Believer, in Christ. I provided three examples below:
“Being justified freely by grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
“Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
In his letter to the Galatians Paul’s argues that it is no longer by works of the Law that we are saved, not that the Law in and of itself held any power to save anyone, but now it is entirely and only by the grace of God. Furthermore, all of Paul’s letters open, and nearly all of them close, with this declaration from God, “Grace be to you, and peace.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, especially in chapters 2 and 3, we read a great deal about God’s grace and all the spiritual blessings that flow from His grace to each and every true Believer:
“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:2-3).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) – Ephesians 2:4-5.
“For by grace are ye saved 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).
What’s more, in Ephesians 2:7 our apostle talks about God’s great purpose for all those who stand in God’s grace:
“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”
Permit me to ask you, my friend, how did you receive Christ Jesus? This is a valid question based on my past experiences. I’ll explain. I’ve attended several churches over the years and they all taught a different way for the professed sinner to be saved and remain saved in a few cases. Perhaps you’ve heard one or more of these: accept Jesus into your heart and walk the church aisle, pray the sinner’s prayer, be water-baptized for the remission of your sins and in some cases actually be saved, join the right church; and one particular denomination taught you had to keep God’s commandments to be saved and remain saved.
So, this begs the question, and I’ll borrow Paul’s terminology, “How did you receive the Lord Jesus Christ?” If you received Him any other way than by God’s grace through faith (alone), then I suggest you return to step #1 because God has clearly said, “For by grace are you saved through faith (plus nothing else).”
In other words, you had to come to the end of yourself, you had to see and understand any so called good work you do for God is without any spiritual value, and this includes practicing certain religious rites. You had to understand those practices were nothing more than physical exercises and had no effect on your salvation. No one who has ever done any of these things has been sure of their salvation for the simple reason they could not be absolutely certain they had done enough, or that it was done correctly, that is, in a way that pleased God. So then, if you were saved by trusting in God’s grace through faith in Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16), then you are on solid spiritual ground for by grace are you saved and that through faith, not in things you do, but steadfast faith in Christ Jesus’ finished work.
So then, when Paul said, ““As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” he means to say, “Since you have embraced the doctrine of Christ, continue to live your life accordingly. Do not permit yourselves to be deceived by Judaizing teachers or worldly philosophy.” (Ephesians 4:14-24; Colossians 2:8).
I believe I mentioned last week that truth originates with God, false teaching comes from men. The believer’s new life in Christ Jesus begins with an act of faith, i.e., we believe Christ Jesus will redeem us if we trust in His sacrificial work alone (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). But Paul wants the Colossians, and others, to know that is only the beginning. From that point it’s a life-long journey Paul described as a stedfast walk. So then, “as ye have received Christ Jesus, so walk ye in Him:” That is, continue in those Pauline truths which you have been well-taught; let them regulate your manner of living, and remember to thank God often for all the great things He has done for us through His beloved Son, our Savior.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved