What does it mean to be faithful to the Word? What does one need to do, or be, to be faithful to the Word?
II Timothy 3:14-17 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and
hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 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.
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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Paul tells Timothy to continue in the things he has learned. Now from whom did Timothy learn? He learned a great deal from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (II Timothy 1:5). Though Timothy’s father was a Greek, his grandmother and mother were Jewish. And they had been diligent to instruct Timothy in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The apostle Paul, however, was his spiritual father (I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 2:2; I Corinthians 4:17). Timothy had met Paul and was converted to Christianity under Paul’s ministry at Lystra, during his first missionary journey. Later, he traveled with Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. At the time of the writing of this epistle, Timothy is the overseer of the church in Ephesus.
Timothy received his spiritual training for the ministry from Paul. The most significant thing about Timothy was his submissive spirit toward Paul. He was always aware of the spiritual treasure that God had placed in him. In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, he told them that he would send Timothy because I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state (Philippians 2:20). Timothy’s steadfast relationship with Paul proved to be to his own wellbeing. Because of his submission to the apostle Paul, he also became an apostle.
How would you like to have a teacher like Paul, to have him establish you in the things of God? Do you think it would be beneficial to have such a man as that today? If God was to give us a man like Paul, would you submit to his ministry as Timothy did to Paul? Another question – how would you like to be a Paul?
We’re talking about being faithful to the Word. You cannot be faithful to the Word without being faithful to the vessel of the Word, the channel through which the Word comes. In Matthew 23:39 Jesus said, For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. To His disciples He said, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me (John 13:20). When Jesus sent the seventy out two by two, He said, He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me. Luke 10:16. That is really saying something! If the one the Lord sends is rejected, then He is rejected, too. If the sent one is received, then Christ is received. In like manner the Father is received or rejected. That is Divine order. Jesus believed so much in Divine order that He said, You’ll not see Me (or, have a revelation of Me) until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. It doesn’t matter if they are ugly, have a different color of skin, or if their personality clashes with ours, we have to receive His “sent ones.” If we do not, then we are rejecting Christ. This is where the fate of many people will hang in the balance in the days ahead. God is going to send forth a company of men, just like Paul and Timothy in these last days of the Church Age. There will be some who will receive them, but many churches will reject them, because they are not wearing the same label as their church organization.
We are coming to the time when God is going to go through His Church, and once again He is going to drive out the moneychangers and those who are buying and selling. He is going to establish righteousness in His house. Jesus cleansed the temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-17). He did it again near the end of His ministry (Matthew 21:12-13). He took a scourge, went into the temple, and drove them all out, saying, You’ve taken the house of prayer and made it a den of thieves. He will do it again in our day. This time it won’t be the temple in Jerusalem that He cleanses; it will be His Church.
Faithfulness to the Word is important. One could say, “I’ll be faithful to read the Scriptures.” That’s good, but it still isn’t being faithful to the Word. “Alright, I’ll do my best to do what the Scripture say.” That’s good, too, but being faithful to the Word is coming to the place where you become an epistle of Christ (II Corinthians 3:2). Jesus is our pattern, and He was the Word made flesh. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… John 1:14.
Revelation 10:9-11 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me
the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make
thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
The angel tells John, “You’re going to speak the Word! You will prophesy to many peoples in the days ahead. Therefore, take this book and eat it. Eat it up!” What does the angel mean by that? He is saying, “You take this Word and assimilate it until it becomes a part of you. It is not something to memorize and speak by rote. It must become a living part of your being.”
Ezekiel 2:7-8 And thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they
will hear, or whether they will forebear: for they are most rebellious.
8 But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.
Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.
You can merely read the Scriptures, or you can eat them. In Psalm 34:8, David said, O taste and see that the Lord is good. You can study the Gospels and know what Jesus did during His three and one-half years of ministry, understanding all that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had to say about Him; or, you can eat and assimilate the Word until He becomes that in you. It is one thing to know what He did then; it is another thing to have Him living and actively ministering through you now. It is the difference of an historical Christ and a present Christ, one of the past or one of the “right now.” If we only read the Scriptures to see what He did in the Bible days, we are missing it. What we want to do is eat the Word and assimilate it until He becomes alive in us.
John 6:57-58a As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the
Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.
58a This is that bread which came down from heaven…
In the same manner that Jesus partook of the life of the Father, we can partake of His life. Jesus was so one with the Father that He could say, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John 14:9). The Church also must come to the place where it can say, “He that hath seen us hath seen the Lord.” When we learn to assimilate His life by eating the Word, then His life will be manifested through us. Then will the manifold wisdom of God be made known to principalities and powers in the heavenly places through the Church (Ephesians 3:10).
John 5:37-39 And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne
witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at anytime, nor seen His shape.
38 And ye have not His Word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not.
39 Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.
Do you understand what Jesus was saying? The Pharisees did study the Scriptures. They studied them diligently. If you gathered up all the theologians from every seminary in the whole world, you probably wouldn’t find a half dozen men that knew the Scriptures as well. Have you studied the first five Books of he Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy? Do you find them easy to read? Most people have trouble reading those books. In fact, many Christians won’t even read them. The Scribes, on the other hand, could quote or rewrite the Pentateuch from memory and not miss a jot or tittle. Is that knowing the Scriptures, or not? Yet Jesus said, “You err! You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; but they are they which testify of Me.”
He could say the same thing today. “You study the Bible, because by doing so you think you will have eternal life, but the Bible speaks of Me.” It is not just studying the Bible and committing scripture to memory that counts. What counts is how much of the Word we assimilate into our being. It is only when we eat the Word that we receive a revelation of Christ. Revelation does not come through the mind; it comes to the heart. And when we receive a revelation of the Lord Jesus, then He becomes an active living being in our lives.
Those same Scribes and Pharisees that knew the Scriptures so well did not know Jesus when they stood face to face with Him. They didn’t know He was the Christ, and they rejected Him. As diligent as they were to study the Scriptures, they were still not faithful to the Word. They had not eaten the Word.
II Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the
knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…
Do you grasp what Peter is saying here? We can be partakers of the divine nature! We can partake of His life. In the same way that our sins were transferred to the cross, His nature can be transferred to us. We are given the Word in order that we might become partakers of His divine nature. Therefore, being faithful to the Word also means being faithful as a partaker of His divine nature.
II Corinthians 3:2-6 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and
read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.
Within the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, which was built under the direction of Moses at God’s command, was the Ark of the Covenant. The two tables of the Covenant were placed inside the Ark. The tables of stone, written on by the finger of God, were God’s righteous demands on man. However, man could not meet those commands, for there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Thus the law showed that man was sinful by nature. But while the law exposed the sinfulness of man, it could not change his corrupt nature. Man, therefore, being guilty was condemned. This is why Paul said, And the commandment…I found to be unto death (Romans 7:10). The law declared what man should be, but did not give him the ability to become that. The law, then, revealed God’s righteousness, but not His grace and mercy. To compensate for that, and also to prophesy of the covering of grace that was to come, a mercy seat made of pure gold was placed upon the Ark. The mercy seat covering the law, which was the ministration of death, prevented it from breaking forth in vengeance and judgment upon the people. The mercy seat prefigured the grace which would come by Jesus Christ. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
Now we can see what Paul meant when he said that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. The letter of the Word condemns and brings death. On the other hand, the Spirit of grace upon the Word brings life and change. It ministers the life of Christ to us, that we might be partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). When a minister preaches the letter of the Word, you walk away feeling condemned and guilty. But when you hear a living Word, you are aware that an open door has been set before you, that you may know the Lord and walk with Him.
If we are going to be faithful to the Word, we cannot just quote scriptures. We must speak by “the Spirit that giveth life.” It must be a living Word – a Word that brings life! And if we are going to speak a living Word, then you must feed upon a living Word. Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39.
In our text, Paul exhorted Timothy to continue in the things that he had learned, that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (God-breathed)…that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. If we want to be spiritually mature, adequately equipped to work with God in the days ahead, then we must be faithful to the Word. Let’s not just read or listen to it intellectually, but let’s eat it and assimilate it until Christ becomes an active, living force in our lives.
What we eat and assimilate is what we become. We clearly see this principle in the relationship between Paul and Timothy. The apostle Paul was an epistle of Christ. Timothy’s relationship to Jesus Christ and to Paul, the sent one, enabled him to also become an epistle of Christ. Timothy also became an apostle. He was faithful to the Word!
Copyright © 1995 by Henry DuBose