“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.” 2 Timothy 2:15
When you think about it, God’s inspired command through Paul to Timothy and to all of His followers gives us so much guidance about the proper goals Christians should have. Disciples of Christ must have the right aim: to be approved by God. They must also have the right attitude: a studious mindset which motivates them to diligently do their best to meet the goal to be approved by God. Christians must also be involved in the right activity: accurately handling God’s Word. Only by diligently working to accurately handle the Scriptures will any professed follower of Christ take the first step towards truly being approved by His Father.
It all comes down to the need to understand biblical authority. The fact that many do not understand the authority of the Bible is one of the main reasons the Bible is viewed in so many different ways today. Take the efforts of some to make the Bible fit Darwinian theories of macro-evolution, the notion that humanity evolved from completely different kinds of animals over millions of years. They say that God exists, but so does macro-evolution. However, the Bible says, “But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). In other words, God’s Word says humanity was on the scene right from the very beginning rather than arriving later after millions of years. The Bible also says that God made the animals “according to their kinds” (Genesis 1:21, 24-25). The fish and other water-dwelling creatures procreate “according to their kinds.” The birds and other winged creatures procreate “according to their kinds.” The land-dwelling animals likewise procreate “according to their kinds.” In other words, fish will not produce cows. Dogs will not mate and produce a cat. Birds will not produce insects. And apes will not produce humans.
Thus, one can’t have it both ways. We can’t accept Jesus while denying His teachings. This is why it is so important how one views the Bible. It has a direct impact on how one obeys what is written within it. If one views the Bible as containing great stories which aren’t necessarily factual, or as a collection of ancient writings which contain in certain areas commands from God while in others the thoughts of men, then one will not accurately handle it. This is because the Bible claims that its totality is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus, we must view all of it as being God’s Word and thus authoritative.
Scripture manifests its authority in several ways. For example, within its pages are direct statements, statements which are declarations (Matthew 5:3-11), interrogations (1 Kings 18:21), commands (Matthew 5:25), encouragements (Hebrews 4:1) and wishes (Romans 6:1-2). Also within its pages are examples of what the followers of God in biblical times did with His approval, such as partaking of communion every Sunday (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17), and what they did which met His disapproval, such as the exhortation to Christians to not follow the example of the Old Testament Israelites and their desire for evil (1 Corinthians 10:6-11). Scripture also authorizes by inference, an indirect indication of what to do and what not to do, such as the command to treat others the way you yourself would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Matthew 19:4-9 illustrates all of this. Jesus was asked about divorce. He answered by first reasoning from the Scriptures and applying their teachings to His answer (Matthew 19:4), the definition of inference. In doing so, He looked at what God had done with the marriage of Adam and Eve at creation (Matthew 19:4), thus seeking a divinely approved example. He then concerned Himself with what God had directly said about marriage (Matthew 19:5-6) before giving a direct command about divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9).
Accurately handling the word of truth which is the Bible is very important. Is that what you strive to do? How do you look at God’s Word? Is it the authority for everything you do in life? It must be, because in the end it will be the only thing which judges your eternal destiny (John 12:48).