Answering honestly, when was the last time that you did an in depth study of the Scriptures? I am not asking when was the last time you read a verse or two. Instead, when was the last time that you dug deep to gain a better understanding of God and His Word. Did you know that you are commanded to do such? In the last verse of what we called Second Peter, the apostle wrote, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18). That was not a mere suggestion to those in the first century. That was a command given by an inspired apostle that is still binding today. To be faithful as God would have us to be, we must learn more and more of His inexhaustible Word.
As one does his studying, he will eventually learn of a great friendship that existed between two Christian men. Those two were Paul and Timothy. Perhaps referring to them as mere friends is not sufficient. After all Paul wrote, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith…” and “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2). Their relationship was like a father and a son. It seems very similar to a young ward and his mentor. I write that because I want to emphasize something that Paul knew was very important for Timothy to do. He penned, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). For Timothy to mature in the faith as Paul desired, the younger preacher was going to have to spend ample time learning how to use the Scriptures appropriately. In other words, Timothy needed to put forth great effort to increase his knowledge. Why? Paul covered that point, and the reasons are quite simple. Continuing his letter to Timothy, Paul taught, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction inrighteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:14-17). Did you catch all of that? The Scriptures/the Word of God/the Bible is worth studying because It instructs us in the ways that we should live. It shows us when we are not living as we should. It informs us how to make things right again, and then It shows us how to stay right. I would say that anything that powerful is worth our attention and diligence!
Unfortunately, though, there is a great ignorance of God’s Word today. Not only is that the case amongst those of the world, but in many places that is true of the body of Christ as well. It is similar to, if not worse than, the way things were during the lifetime of the prophet Hosea. He once wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6). Too many members of the church of Christ struggle with teaching others because in some ways they have not learned enough themselves. The writer of Hebrews addressed this problem in the first century. He indicated, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (Heb. 5:12-13). I write this article with the hope that it will spark a renewed interest in gaining more knowledge and growing more spiritually. Paul had that desire for the Christians in Colosse. He explained, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9-10).
So, we end where we began. When was the last time that you did an in depth study of the Scriptures? If it has been too long, then you can begin to do better by starting today. If you are currently doing such, then friend, keep increasing in the knowledge!
~ Corey Barnette