“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” – 1 Timothy 4:6
There is so much going on around us in our day. It’s very possible that the church age is in its final chapter. It’s very possible we are living in the Last Days. And because of that there are perils the Christian should be aware of. One of the perils is that we get so caught up in current events and what is going on today as it pertains to God’s prophetic calendar, that we focus more on articles and information of this world, to the neglect of God’s word prophetic or otherwise.
I do a monthly prophecy update at the church where I pastor. In my most recent update, I noted the following. (I’ve included links to the online news articles by way of footnote for you to do follow up verification or investigation.)
- A second locust infestation (plague) from the one that spread from the East Coast of Africa to the Middle East and into Asia. This new plague of locusts is in South America and moving north toward North America.
- A gigantic plume of dust is moving from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean toward the United States. “One expert says that this is ‘the most significant event in the past 50 years.’”
- The Southwest is beginning to shake again with earthquakes. One measured 5.8 on the Richter scale. There have been a number of aftershocks. Mexico in “the ring of fire” area recently has an earthquake of 7.4 magnitude. 
- China has increased its military deployment on the Indian border where tensions are mounting. India has a population of 1.36 billion. China has a population of 1.4 billion. Should these two powers go to war, it very well may drag other nations into a global conflict.
- In the month of May 2020 four times Russian warplanes were intercepted by United States scrambled fighter Jesus moving toward our Airspace in Alaska. Adversarial nations frequently probe other nations to measure their response. Could Russia be probing to see if the internal national unrest of the United States is distracting from a possible enemy attack? 
- In the month of May 2020, 32,000 Christians were murdered for their faith mostly in Islamic nations. 
- In our nation, leftists are imposing their will on conservative Americans with little repercussions. A cultural and political revolution is being pushed. 
- Instagram deemed Christian Worship as “harmful” and removed it from their social media platform. 
- The Black Lives Matter organization’s Marxist agenda is being supported by unwitting people who simply and rightly believe that the lives of people of color matter. 
- On January 10th, 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr. of Florida read a list of 45 communist Goals into the congressional record. These “Goals” were found in Cleon Skousen’s book The Naked Communist. When you look at these goals, they provide an incredible connection and accurate picture of much of what is happening in our nation today. 
Now keep in mind this is all on top of the COVID19 pandemic and all its trappings, the George Floyd related unrest and rioting, and intense political tension in an election year. And these events weren’t even the main point of my message! You can see how it might be very easy to be distracted from your Bible when so much is happening in the world today. What was my main point? Read on.
I recently saw a statement on Face Book that exhorted – “Pick up your Bible and start reading it like your life depends on it, because it does!” The statement is true, and becoming more and more critical given the changing-for-the-worse social environment in which we live. Some in this chaotic time are searching. They say “God is silent!” To those another anonymous Face Book quote corrects, “Don’t say God has been silent when your Bible has been closed.” A cartoon shows a man crying out to God saying, “Oh God. . . please talk to me.” A Divine hand from heaven then offers him a Bible.
A famine of “the words of the LORD.” In the Old Testament book of Amos, God through the prophet speaks of a unique kind of famine saying:
- Amos 8:11 – “’Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”
I believe history is repeating itself. And it’s all the more damning because the Bible has never been so accessible. We have access to Bibles in book as well as digital form. We can access the Bible on our phones, IPads and computers by way of Internet from almost anywhere in the world. And yet, according to a 2017 study, only about 50% of people in America read the Bible:
- According to a study, “The Bible in American Life,” conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, 50% of Americans read some form of scripture in the past year, and 48% of those read the Bible. Four in 5 read it at least once a month, and 9% of Americans say they read the Bible daily.
We need to study God’s word. But not reading the Bible is only the tip of the iceberg of the problem. If we just read God’s word, we are missing the mark. D.L. Moody (1837-1899) pointed this out when he said:
- “Merely reading the Bible is not what God wants. Again and again we are exhorted to “search.” Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17: 11) They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8: 8) We must study the Bible thoroughly and hunt through it, as it were, for some great truth.”
If all we do is read the Bible like a periodical or common book, we won’t get the most out of it and we will likely miss a lot of what God desires for us to know. It takes Bible study to get the most out of God’s word. The Bible says:
- 2 Timothy 2:15 – 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Work in the word of God. The word “diligent” (Greek spoudason [Aorist/Active/Imperative] of spoudadzo) means be eager, be zealous, be diligent, make every effort, do your utmost, do your best. To “present yourself” (Greek paristemi) means to present ourselves for service.” “Approved” (Greek paristemi) means approved after testing, tried and found acceptable (Greek dokimon) to God. We are to be a “worker” (Greek ergates) or doer, a workman, laborer. We are to labor in God’s word so that we won’t be “ashamed” (Greek anepaischuntos) or wont’ be put to shame, having no cause to be ashamed. We are to labor in God’s word so we are “rightly dividing” (Greek orthotomounta [Present/Active/Participle] of orthotomeo) or straight cutting, rightly dividing, correctly handling. The metaphor to have in mind here is “the farmer who plows a straight furrow or the road builder who cuts a road across country in a straight direction. Timothy was to be a person who goes straight ahead, not veering to the right or to the left.” Correctly handling, “refers to Timothy’s call to the correct exegesis of God’s Word. He must not twist or change the truth.” “The word of truth” refers to the “gospel.” (cf. Ephesians 1:13 and Colossians 1:5). “The word of truth” could also refer to God’s word more broadly, the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), Genesis to Revelation.
The idea of this verse is that we are to dig into God’s word. We are to know it. We are to make our best effort to handle it properly so we will not be put to shame by misusing it in some way. In our technologically advanced day, we have so many resources and helps to Bible study that mishandling God’s word is unnecessary and inexcusable.
I believe our problems today are directly correlated to the neglect and willful ignorance toward God’s word. We are lost without direction. We don’t know what the problem is or how to fix it. And that is because we have failed to consult God’s manual for life, the Bible. If we’d go to God’s word, we’d discover with clarity our problem is and what the solution to it is.
What we need is a revival. We need an intervention from God. We will not find the answer to our questions or solution to our problems in politics and power struggles, environmentalism or education, rioting or revolution. What we need is a revival; a move of the Holy Spirit of God. A Great Awakening revival in the mid eighteenth century is closely connected to the birth of America. There have been a number of great awakenings in history that have impacted society for the better.
What is a revival? I like the definition of revival given by Charles Finney. He said, “Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.” That’s exactly what we need. That’s exactly what this lost world needs. But that isn’t going to happen unless we get serious about the word of God.
Prophecy is Important
Prophecy and knowing the times and seasons in which we live, is very important. In Paul’s first letter to his pastor in training and son in the Lord, Timothy, he is inspired to comment, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
“A good minister of Jesus Christ”
Paul goes on to say in this same context:
- 1 Timothy 4:6 – “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”
Verse six gives us a standard of “a good minister of Jesus Christ.” “Good” here (Greek adjective kalos) means good, beautiful, excellent, advantageous, noble. The word “minister” (Greek noun diakonos) means servant. So really, this applies not only to pastors like Timothy, but anyone who would want to be a good, beautiful, excellent, advantageous, and noble servant of Jesus Christ. What does Paul go on to say such “a good minister of Jesus Christ” consists of?
First, a good minister of Jesus Christ is an instructor. Paul says, “If you instruct the brethren in these things.” What things? Based on this context, the things regarding the “latter times” (1 Tim 4:1). The word “instruct” (Greek hupotithemenos [Present/Middle/Participle] of hupotithemi) means to place under one’s feet as a foundation or beginning, to put down as a pledge, laying before, making known, counseling. The good minister of Jesus Christ provides a firm spiritual foundation which includes what God in His word pledges to prophetically come to pass in the latter times.
Second, a good minister of Jesus Christ is a trainer. Paul goes on to use the phrase, “nourished in the word of faith and of good doctrine.” “Nourished” (Greek verb entrephomenos [Present/Middle/Participle] of entrepho) means being nourished, bringing up, being reared, being trained, being nurtured. This is an ongoing progressive ministry of training people in a way that gives them every opportunity to be spiritually healthy.
What is the good minister of Jesus Christ train people in to assure their spiritual nourishment? “The words of faith,” which is not what “word of faith” has been corrupted into meaning in our day. Clarifying what “the words of faith” means is in and of itself part of this nourishing ministry. “The words of faith,” refers to God’s revelation of what “faith” is (e.g. Hebrews 11:1) as well as a content based in the word of God that brings and builds up faith (e.g. Romans 10:17).
“Good doctrine” is important for the good minister to identify and distinguish from not good doctrine. “Good” also comes from the Greek term kalos. This adjective is important here because it implies that not all doctrine is good doctrine. There is bad or rotten doctrine (e.g. Greek kakos). “Doctrine” (Greek didaskalia) refers to teaching. Paul instructed Timothy not just to nourish people in “doctrine,” but in “good doctrine.” Good doctrine, good teaching, is teaching that is firmly based on scripture in its context. So, this nourishing training diet for the saint would include Biblical teaching.
Third, a good minister of Jesus Christ is a guard. The final phrase used by Paul is “which you have carefully followed.” “Carefully” (Greek verb parekolouthekas [Perfect/Act/Indicative] of parakoloutheo) means you have closely followed, you have kept close, you have closely traced, you have closely examined. According to Paul, Timothy would be “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” if he continued to do what he had already been doing, closely following, keeping close, closely tracing and closely examining “the words of faith and of the good doctrine.” A good minister of Jesus Christ pays close attention to what is taught and guards from false teaching or that which deviates from the word of God.
The Bible in One Hand
Instructor, trainer, guard, that is what a good minister of Jesus Christ needs to be characterized by. In his second letter and last thing Paul was inspired to write before his martyrdom, he again spoke to Timothy about the “last days” saying:
- 2 Timothy 3:1–5 – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
The “last days” would be a time of human-centric, people-centered, a time of self-love, self-obsession. And that is what we see in our day. So human-centered has our world become that people defy logic and identify themselves not according to how they have been created by God, but according to how they feel or want to be. All the things listed by Paul in these five verses are rampant in our world today.
2 Timothy 3 goes on to further mention the state of people in the last days as: manipulating people through their ignorance and lust (3:6); perpetual “learning” but unable to arrive at truth (3:7); resisters of truth, corrupt in mind, disqualified or disapproved concerning the faith (3:8); and not progressing but being exposed as foolish (3:9). But says these ungodly things are to be combatted by carefully following Paul’s teaching and lifestyle, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance, persecutions and afflictions and how God delivered him (3:10-11). Paul warns of the certainty of persecution for those who week to live a godly life (3:12). He says evil men “will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (3:13).
The Bible in one hand. The key for Timothy and for all who would be “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” is to “continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of” (3:14). Timothy had been brought up in the scriptures (3:15). And it is these scriptures which would thoroughly equip him for every good work:
- 2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The person who would be “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” is the person who holds the Bible in one hand to reference and scrutinize everything else encountered in life. For instance, we need to be informed and aware of what is going on in the world, especially in what appears to be the latter days. But the events of the day change. Life changes, personally, individually, corporately, globally. Things change. But God’s word does not. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33; Mark 13:31; Matthew 24:35). God’s word is constant. God’s word is reliable. God’s word is foundational. Therefore, we need to go through life holding God’s word in one hand, scrutinizing everything in life through the lens of God’s word.
A.W. Tozer exhorted Christians on the importance and centrality of God’s word when he wrote:
“Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit. Don’t read too many other things. Some of you will say, “Look who’s talking!” Well, go ahead and say it, I don’t mind; but I am reading fewer and fewer things as I get older, not because I’m losing interest in this great, big, old suffering world, but because I’m gaining interest in that other world above. So I say, don’t try to know everything. You can’t. Find Him in the Word, for the Holy Ghost wrote this book. He inspired it, and He will be revealed in its pages.”
There is good reason to give priority to the Bible. Paul gives us a number of reasons.
The Reliability and Profitability of God’s Word
Inspiration. Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” “Inspiration” (Greek theopneustos) which means God breathed. The idea behind inspiration is not a literal mechanical dictation of God’s word but more of God working in and through the individual personalities of people to direct them to write what He wanted written. Inspiration conveys the idea of wind moving a ship as it blows into its sails. We may be able to discern the unique ways of Peter and Paul and James and Luke but there is a holy uniqueness and singular continuity in what God moved them to write. When you read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation there is a conformity, a One Authorship nature to the Bible that reveals God, while He chose to use human agents, is the True Author of the Bible.
It should be noted that inspiration applies to the autographs or original first letters of scripture. At the present we have no autographs of Old or New Testaments. We have no first original issue of Paul’s letters for instance. However, while there are some very minor deviations in our copies , the thousands of manuscripts we do have make a way for us to come to an extremely high confidence that the copies we have contain the inspired message God breathed through the human agents He chose to use to deliver the Scriptures. For example, if we lacked the original copy of a paycheck but had five copies with some variations in them, we could still arrive at a confident conclusion of what had been originally indicated on the paycheck. If copy one gives a figure of “$2_01.53,” copy two, “$_501.53,” copy three, “$2501.__,” copy four, “$2501.5_,” and copy five, “$2501._3” then by comparing each copy we could come to a very firm conclusion that the original paycheck was in the amount of $2501.53. The same principle is applicable to Scripture manuscript evidence. We may not have the original autograph manuscripts, but given that we have nearly 30,000 manuscripts and portions of manuscripts we can compare them to each other and conclude what was in the original with a tremendous amount of certainty.
Canonicity. What does “All scripture” mean? We need to ask the question of canonicity. How can we know that the 66 books of the Bible (Old and New Testament) are the books God has ordained? How can we be sure that the Bible we have is God’s word? Who determines that the Bible is the word of God? How did we get our Bible? How was the canon of Scripture, the accepted 66 books of the Bible, determined? In 2 Timothy Paul writes to pastor Timothy about this very subject.
Norman Geisler provides the proper perspective on canonicity when he states, “Canonicity is determined by God. A book is not inspired because men made it canonical; it is canonical because God inspired it.”  Geisler provides a contrast to differentiate the correct from incorrect view of canonicity:
INCORRECT VIEW CORRECT VIEW
The Church is DETERMINER of Canon The Church is DISCOVERER of Canon
The Church is MOTHER of Canon The Church is CHILD of Canon
The Church is MAGISTRATE of Canon The Church is MINISTER
The Church is REGULATOR of Canon The Church is RECOGNIZER of Canon
The Church is JUDGE of Canon The Church is WITNESS of Canon
The Church is MASTER of Canon The Church is SERVANT of Canon
How was canonicity discovered? Geisler states were five criteria used by the early church to discover the canon of Scripture.
- Is it AUTHORITATIVE? Did it come with the authority of God? (E.g. “Says the LORD” Is. 1:18; Mk. 1:22)
- Is it PROPHETIC? Was it written by a man of God? (2 Peter 1:20; Heb. 1:1)
- Is it AUTHENTIC? Did it tell the truth about God, man, etc.? The Bible does not contradict truth. (Acts 17:11; I John 4:1-6)
- Is it DYNAMIC? Did it come with the life-changing power of God? (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23)
- Was it RECEIVED? Was it collected, read, used and accepted by the people of God as the word of God? (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
Geisler adds that canonicity is based on “The witness of the Holy Spirit. He states:
- The recognition of canonicity was not a mere mechanical matter settled by a synod or ecclesiastical council. It was a providential process directed by the Spirit of God as He witnessed to the church about the reality of the Word of God. Man of himself could not identify the Word of God, but the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of their understanding so that they could recognize God’s Word. Jesus said, ‘My sheep will hear My voice’ (John 10:27). . . . In the providence of God, the principles were used to determine the extent of the canon, while the Holy Spirit gave assurance as to the reality of its message.” “The Old Testament canon was probably completed about 400 B.C. . . . At the councils (of Hippo -A.D. 393 and Carthage – A.D. 397) the New Testament canon which was ratified agreed with the present-day canon of twenty-seven books. It should be remembered, however, that the canon was actually completed when the last New Testament book was written. “ 
Profitability. “All Scripture . . . is profitable.” “Profitable” (Greek ophelimos) means beneficial, useful, that which accomplishes its purpose. Scripture is our God-given practical instrument to know Him and His heart and truth and to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. Scripture helps us to know right from wrong, truth from falsehood and how God’s will is carried out in life. Paul lays out seven useful purposes of Scripture:
- “Doctrine” (Greek didaskalia) means Scripture is the basis and resource for what is to be taught to God’s people. The Scriptures are what we use to train disciples in the ways of God’s truth and salvation.
- “Reproof” (Greek elegchos) means proof, conviction, the measure of what is and isn’t sin, conviction of sin. Scripture is useful to test and prove, to convict people of sin. We know what sin is by God’s word. And we know where confession of sin and repentance are necessary based on God’s word.
- “Correction” (Greek epanorthosis) refers to straightening up again, rectification, restoration to an upright position or right state with God. Scripture doesn’t only negatively point out sin in life, it also provides the counsel on how a sinner can be restored to proper standing.
- “Instruction in righteousness” – “Instruction” (Greek paideia) refers to educational training, disciplinary action. Scripture is our primary instrument for discipleship. “Righteousness” (Greek dikaiosyne) refers to what is necessary for a person to be in a state of rightness with God; acceptable to God.
- “That the man of God may be complete,” “Complete” (Greek artios) means complete, capable, measuring up to what it should be, perfect. The disciples Jesus desires to be made via the fulfillment of the Great Commission are people of the Scriptures.
- “Thoroughly equipped” (Greek exartizo) means having been fully fitted and furnished, to furnish perfectly. to have everything needed. Scripture provides us with everything we need. We don’t have to supplement it. We simply have to study it and know it better. If we come to a situation where we can’t find an answer or solution in God’s word, it doesn’t mean the Scriptures are deficient. It means we simply need to prayerfully study God’s word more deeply.
- “For every good work” – “Good” (Greek agathos) refers to that which is beneficial, good, a good thing, good in the sense of being pleasing to God. Whatever good thing we desire to do we can find what we need on how to do it in God’s word.
The Sword in Hand
God’s word is referred to as “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). We need to keep the Bible in one hand at all times because it is our weapon against all the deceptions and tactics of the devil (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). The weapon of God’s word is our primary weapon. God has given us this incredible and effective weapon. Therefore, we should take good care of it.
It is always a dangerous thing to try to bend God’s word to fit human opinion. That is what we will see happening in some segments of the church today. This is especially the case when the world is approving of behaviors the Scriptures define as sin. Pressure is brought to bear on the church to be “relevant” and comply with the ways of the world. If the church doesn’t comply, doesn’t depart from the truth of Scripture, then the world brings out the big guns of false accusations of being evil such as were levied against Paul by opposition in his day (e.g. 2 Tim. 2:9). No matter how much we are referred to as “haters, bigots, intolerant,” etc., we must speak the truth in love and not compromise.
God in His word warns against altering or deviating from HIs revealed truth in His word. From the beginning God has commanded this very clearly. For instance:
- Deuteronomy 4:2 – 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
- Deuteronomy 12:32 – 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
- Proverbs 30:5-6 – Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.6Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
- Revelation 22:18-19 – 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
If you wrote a letter to someone and the person who read it changed your words and altered its meaning to mean something other than what you clearly and simply intended, you would probably find that offensive and even criminal. If a general sent orders to the front lines and when they got there the orders were altered by those in lesser command, the offenders would face a court marshal and more importantly victory in the battle would be put in jeopardy. Changing God’s word is like changing orders or changing a letter, it puts people at risk and jeopardizes God’s intended purposes, it is offensive and it is criminal.
God’s word is holy, unique, and ought to be approached with the utmost reverence. God says His word is holy which means it is unique. To the Romans Paul spoke of God’s promises, “which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, (Romans 1:2). There is no book like God’s Bible. No other book is verified and validated by the combination of manuscript evidence, archeological evidence, prophetic evidence, the preservation in the face of persecution evidence and the logical statistical rational of the combination of these factors considered together. No book can match the 66 book Bible for truth and reliability. God’s word is holy and we ought to have reverence for it.
We should inductively look to learn from God in His word not deductively look to use God’s word to support our views. The proper way to approach God’s word is inductively. This means we come to it open and eager to learn what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us through the word. This means we come to the word of God first and form our beliefs and opinions based on what the word says, not the other way around. When a person approaches God’s word deductively with preconceived beliefs and then seeks to support their particular opinions with God’s word, it leads to scripture twisting, misinterpretation, misunderstanding and manipulation of God’s Holy Word.
We are the ones who must learn from God; we cannot teach God anything. At the root of the problem is that we live in a sinful world with man at its center. Unfortunately, this man-centered mentality has crept into the church. The Bible refers to this as the works of the flesh, walking according to our own understanding rather than walking in the Spirit and being guided by God (1 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:1-5; 5:16-26). We shouldn’t look to shade God’s word to fit our preconceived opinions. Rather we should look to the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s word to our understanding (1 Corinthians 2:9-15).
When people try to contemporize God’s word under the premise that it needs to be made “relevant” to the peer pressures, people and beliefs of the day, what they have done is they have become people pleasers and consequently stopped being servants of God (Galatians 1:10). This is the problem we see especially in the area of the creation-evolution debate. Some have accepted that science has proven the age of the universe to be billions of years old. They therefore come to God’s word with this preconceived belief and superimpose it on God’s word. They look for gaps where they can fit “millions of years.” They look for loop holes to stretch twenty-four-hour days into millions of years. All of this is done by leaving the common-sense clear meaning of scripture for complicated reinterpretations of God’s word. It is interesting that efforts to alter the understanding of God’s word to fit modern “scientific” findings coincide with the prevailing fads of the day and in reality, the ever-changing notions of the time. For instance, the theory that there is a gap in Genesis 1 where millions of years could be fit coincided with the rise in the scientific community of the belief that the earth was millions and then billions of years old.
God’s word is true and unchanging like He is (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17; Hebrews 13:8). Rather than trying to change God’s word to fit the prevailing human opinion of the day we ought to be trying to see how what human beings say fit according to God’s word. When you look at human fields of learning you find an ever-changing unstable series of “facts” that with time prove to be wrong or off for the most part. God’s word is dependable and has stood the test of time. We need to respect it when we approach it because it is indeed, God’s word.
Know Your Sword
A good crafts-person knows their tools. If you work in construction, you know how to use your tools to build. You know your hammer or nail gun, you know your saws, and you know where your tools are. If you are a surgeon, you know how to use your tools and instruments to bring healing. You know your scalpel, clamps, and a host of other instruments used to bring healing to the sick. If you are a professor, you know your books. You know what books are best to teach various subjects. Whatever trade, vocation, or business you are in, you have tools you use. And if you are to succeed and be effective in whatever you work, you have to know your tools. The same is true of the good minister of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is an incredible gift and tool for ministry from God. It is a Holy Book. There is no other book that is like it. No other book compares to the Bible. But unless you know your Bible, you won’t be able to use it effectively. Therefore, in an effort to be a good minister to you, below I have listed some important life and ministry topics along with certain chapter which are foundational to these life ministry areas. These are the “words of faith and good doctrine” we need, especially in these latter days in which we live.
Now, I would encourage you to make a habit of reading through the Bible. Familiarizing yourself with God’s word in context, is vital to properly interpreting its contents. But there are a few portions of scripture which stand out as primary and necessary to grasp the foundational truths of God. This is not an exhaustive list but only a rule of thumb to assist you in your studies.
- Creation and beginnings – Genesis gives us the account of God’s creative work as well as the roots of humanity, sin, redemption, and everything else in life.
- Sinful beginnings – Genesis 3 is essential to understand the Fall of humanity into sin. Satan throughout scripture repeats his initial temptation to trip up people and separate them from God.
- Israel – Genesis 12 and the book Exodus provides us with the birth of the nation of Israel which is a primary instrument of God in history to accomplish His plans.
- Messiah – God, from the beginning (cf. Genesis 3:15), has promised a Deliverer for humanity. This Deliverer, is referred to as Messiah or Anointed One, Christ. God’s promise and predictive signs of Messiah are found most thoroughly in the prophetic book of Isaiah. Because of this Isaiah is often referred to as “The gospel of the Old Testament.”
- History – Joshua through 2 Chronicles provide the history of Israel
- Praise, Prayer and Worship – The Psalms provide us with some incredibly comforting words from God, as well as come convicting and cautionary words.
- The Word of God – The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119. This longest chapter is all about God’s word. If you want to know how important God’s word is and why we should always keep it in hand, read this chapter.
- Wisdom – Proverbs had 31 chapters, one for each day of the month. It is a book of wisdom. If you want to know how to live life wisely, read this book.
- Prophecy – There are certain chapters in the Bible which are critical to understanding God’s prophetic plans. 27% of the Bible is prophetic and speaks of future things, so I could mention many portions of scripture. But the chapters which are critical to understand prophecy are Daniel 9, Matthew 24-25, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and the Book of Revelation.
- Jesus Christ – If you want to understand Who Jesus is and come to know Him personally as Savior and Lord, read the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (cf. below on Hebrews 10:7).
- Salvation – If you want to know how to be forgiven and saved from your sins and know God, read John 3 and the book of Romans.
- The Holy Spirit – If you want to know the Holy Spirit read what Jesus had to say about Him in John 14-16 and Acts 1.
- Power for Life – Read the book of Acts to see how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be good ministers of Jesus Christ.
- God’s Promises and Provisions – Ephesians.
- Love – 1 Corinthians 13
- The Relationship between the Old and New Testaments – Read the New Testament book of Hebrews, also Galatians and Romans. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The New Testament is the best commentary on the Old Testament.
- Life and Ministry – If you want to know how to effectively serve the Lord, read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.
This is not meant to be a substitute for reading the Bible as a whole. It’s also important to study books or letters as a whole in order to properly interpret and understand scripture. Don’t get in the habit of jumping around the Bible. Study the Bible inductively, systematically, thoroughly.
It’s All About Jesus
In the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament it states, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – To do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:7 quotes Psalm 40:7-8). This tells us that its all about Jesus when it comes to studying God’s word. The volume of the book speaks of Jesus. So, when we read and study the Bible, a question we should always consider is, “What does this tell me about Jesus?”
Test All Things
In the last chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is inspired to write the church about “the times and seasons” of the end times (1 Thess. 5:1-3). He provides in this chapter exhortations to live by such as not to sleep but live in an awakened way; awakened to the truth of scripture as it applies to the “time and season” in which we live (1 Thess. 5:4-13). He concludes the chapter with a series of short exhortations in rapid fire succession one of which is, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). He says, “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). And then He closes with a benediction to holiness by saying:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 – 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
A big part of fulfilling that benediction is “test all things; hold fast what is good.” We do that with Bible in hand scrutinizing everything through the lens of God’s word.
God’s Holy Book
As we come to the end of our study, I’d like to share a description of God’s word that will hopefully help to further convey the truth of how God’s word is so vitally important to life. It is one of the best descriptions of God’s word and its usefulness for the Christian that I’ve come by.
THE BIBLE – GOD’S HOLY BOOK
“This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good it’s design, and the glory of God it’s end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.”
Remember that the next time you hold God’s precious Scriptures in your hands. Remember and approach the Holy Ground accordingly. We need a revival. God’s word is integral to that. So look at the world and its many events but do it with the Bible in one hand!
 Complete Biblical Library Commentary – The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.
 Complete Biblical Library Commentary – The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.
 A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William E. Nix, Moody Press, p. 136-147.
 Ibid. p. 146
 Ibid. p.161, 192,194