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The Garden and the Gospel

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“Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” 2 Tim 2:15


Having now brought us to salvation by the Word of God, and having given us the assurance of our salvation through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit now begins the sanctification process whereby we are changed into the very likeness of Christ. By the Word of God He changes us “into the same image from glory to glory.” He does this by “the renewing of” our “mind”—transforming our thoughts and ideas from those which were after the old man of sin, into “the mind of Christ.” By the Word of God we are taught to understand our two natures, and to discern between those things which are of the flesh and those things which are of Christ. He brings us, through the Word, to understand what it means to live “by the faith of the Son of God”; and to “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Holy Spirit teaches us, through the Word of God, how to fulfill the Great Commission of our Saviour. Those who would go and preach or teach, those that would labor together with God to harvest lost souls, those who would be a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, or a good soldier of Jesus Christ’s, must be equipped through the Word. We must not only have sufficient truth to be able to withstand our adversaries, but we must have the wisdom and knowledge that comes from the Word, in knowing what to teach and how to teach it. Who would send a soldier to war without any training? Who would hire a worker and not give him the tools to do the job, or show him what to do and how to do it? Even so a believer must “study to shew (him)self approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Not a novice,” but “perfect (mature), throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you
: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 Cor 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Tim 3:15 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.

1 Tim 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

I well remember, to this day, my first attempts at sharing my faith. I was as Apollos, “fervent in the spirit,” but without the understanding or wisdom to be effective. In my fleshly zeal, I blundered about, trying to convince others of my faith, but often doing more harm than good. I offended many people needlessly, and was mortally wounded myself, time and again. Likewise, I have often sat in a church service when a new convert has just professed Christ, and then is told to ‘Go out and do something for God.’ It is like telling a young man, who desires to serve his country in the military, to go out and fight, without giving him any weapons or training—he is sure to be slaughtered. As believers, we need to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” and “tarry” until we “be endued with power from on high,” if we are to be effective and victorious.

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue:
whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

2 Pet 3:18 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.

Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

However, we are not trying to discourage those who would tell what Jesus has done for them, in the simple terms that they understand. As the blind man who was healed said, “one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Or as the woman at the well proclaimed, “come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” We can tell what we know, but to venture out beyond that will lead us “into the condemnation of the devil.” The problem with most of us is that, when witnessing, we end up trying to win an argument, or trying to convince someone to come to Christ, without using the “sword of the Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirits work to draw men to faith, but He does use our testimonies in this process. Let us simply “shew how great things God hath done” for us, until God gives to us the proper training in using the “twoedged sword” that is “quick, and powerful, and sharper” than all of our human arguments.

John 9:24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

John 4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Luke 8:38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

One thing we must remember, as those who would be taught of God to serve others, we must not neglect to be feed ourselves by the Word of God. The downfall of many a preacher, is to spend all of their time studying to minister to others, and neglect their own soul. As believers, we need the spiritual food of the Word of God to sustain our spiritual man, as much as we need physical food to sustain our bodies. We must not allow ourselves to become as the seed which fell among the thorns, which “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” The daily study of God’s Word—which is when we allow God to talk to us; and our daily prayers—which is when we talk to God—are vital to the Christian life. The neglect of either of these will lead to spiritual poverty, and a fruitless life.

Matt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Matt 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Prov 24:30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Just as a newborn baby depends upon, and desires his mother’s milk to sustain his life and to grow, even so as believers we are to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” God, our Heavenly Father, has given to His newborn children, nursemaids as it were, to watch over and feed infant believers. Pastors and Bible teachers are primarily taken up with feeding us the milk of the Word, until we are able to begin to feed ourselves. As a young Christian, one should, by all means, begin to study the Bible on their own; but we must “remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.” Those, whom God has used to bring us to Christ, have a certain responsibility to watch over us and feed us; “whose faith” we are to “follow, considering the end of their conversation.” We need to be teachable, as young children. We are not to become know-it-alls, resisting those who would lead us into the truth—especially those that have “in Christ Jesus” “begotten” us “through the gospel.” Pride is a deceptive force, and Satan would like nothing better than to cause one of God’s “little ones” in the faith, to think that they are strong enough to stand on their own. In the glorious days following our salvation, it is easy to be lifted up in pride, and begin to think that we are a “special child of God,” and have no need of those ministers that God has given to instruct us.

1 Pet 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation

1 Cor 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

1 Tim 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

The more we grow and mature however, the more we will find it necessary to search deeper into God’s Word on our own. The teaching of most churches, though not all, is geared towards the “babes in Christ,” those who are still weak in the faith, and those who are “carnal, and walk as men.” It has been my experience, as the Lord has allowed me to be a part of several churches, that most do not get “beyond the principles of the doctrine of Christ.” You will find that most teaching becomes rather repetitious, no matter where you may go to hear it. You will find yourself stagnated in your Christian life if all you are doing is being bottle fed.

1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

As a young believer, who was seeking to know the truth, God spoke to me through His Word in a most intimate and precious way. As I had been praying and searching His Word, I was led to this verse, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” It was one of those times when the Word seems to pop right out of its pages and speaks directly to your heart; and I have, since then, continually claimed this promise in my quest for truth. As we begin our search for truth, we must begin it prayerfully, looking to God, depending upon Him to teach us, asking Him to “lead me in thy truth, and teach me.”

Psa 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Psa 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Therefore, by faith, trusting in God to lead us and teach us through His Word, what is the best approach to understand His Word? I would make this suggestion to those that are young in the faith, that they acquire an inexpensive Bible, such as one that is given away by a Bible society, or that is purchased cheaply from a bookstore. This is to be the Authorized King James Version of 1611, and preferably one that has no notes or references. This Bible will be one which you can mark up, underline, write in, highlight, and make your own references in. By faith, let it be just you and God’s Word alone, without the influence of other men’s thoughts. I still have my first such Bible, and although it is well-worn with the cover taped on, I have never experienced God’s fellowship in His Word as deeply, as in the reading and studying of that Bible.

Isa 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

If you are new to the Scriptures, many would suggest that your reading begin in the New Testament, with maybe also a reading from the Psalms and Proverbs. However you feel led to read, and with whatever system you may utilize, the important thing is to get an understanding of the Bible as a whole. The thing to realize is that the Bible is one book. Even though it may be divided up into sixty-six books, with the Old and New Testament divisions, it still has One Divine Author and one message. As someone has said, “The Bible is a Him book, it all about Him”—Jesus; and again, “The Old Testament is Christ concealed, the New Testament is Christ revealed.”

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

Next to be understood is that, although the Bible is a history book, poetry book, book of wisdom, and prophecies—and can be read as such—it is more importantly a spiritual book; and we are looking for the hidden treasures that it contains. The Bible is also a self-teaching book; we build upon our understanding of it “precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” A verse from the Old Testament may give us added light to one in New. A verse in Hebrews may give meaning to a verse in Psalms. As we discover interconnecting thoughts we should make our own references to them. Furthermore, single words and phrases, most of the time, carry the same symbolism throughout the Bible. Words such as water, light, darkness, tree, serpent, and such, are rich in meaning, and give light to the passage as a whole. Many times whole phrases are similar and teach the same truth; but in comparing both, one instance may give the true meaning to another. For example, those who question, in the parable of the sower, whether the seed sown among the rocks was truly saved, they need only to compare it to a similar verse from the book of Acts. That is why much of the meaning of God’s Word has been destroyed in the modern translations, whose concern is said to be—‘To make the Bible easier to be understood.’ However, in their aborted attempt to simplify the Scripture, they have actually muted the spiritual message. Jesus said that even the tiniest letter and punctuation mark is important to the meaning of Scriptures. For those of us who adhere to the King James Bible, we accept it all as being inspired, even the italicized words.

Prov 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Matt 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Another important concept to the meaning of words in the Bible is that of the first mention. Are we trying to understand the symbolism, or the import of a certain word, then go to where it first occurs in the Scriptures; a concordance, or a computer program that has word searches, is useful for this. Also, to examine every instance, where a word occurs throughout the Bible, will give to us great insight into its spiritual meaning. Finally, are there words of which you do not understand the meaning, such as “concupiscence,” or “lasciviousness”; or are there words that have lost, or changed their meaning such as “letteth”? Then a good Bible dictionary is useful for this. The important thing is to let God speak to you and teach you, for “it is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.”

2 Tim 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Another important element in knowing God’s Word, is to begin a program of Scripture memorization. To have God’s Word embedded in our minds is a great resource for the Holy Spirit to use, not only in teaching us, but in witnessing to others also. One preacher, whom I have had the personal acquaintance of, Jack Van Impe, is known as “The Walking Bible,” because of his extensive memorization of much of the Scriptures. His sermons and teachings are filled with Scripture quotation, which gives great validity to what he is saying. Also, by keeping our minds occupied with memorizing, we keep ourselves from thinking about worldly things, lustful things, or from worry. We should consider memorizing whole Psalms, or significant chapters from the Bible. Single verses are great for children, but adults will find a greater challenge, and a greater blessing in memorizing entire chapters or books of the Bible. The small New Testaments with the Psalms and Proverbs, that are given away by the Gideons, are great tools for this. One can easily remove the pages, make a protective jacket of clear plastic or a small baggie, and keep it in ones pocket throughout the day. You will be amazed at how much Scripture can be learned in even a week. You will also be amazed at how much insight you will gain into God’s Word by this discipline, as you spend time digesting its truths.

Psa 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Psa 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.

Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Another ingredient in understanding the Scriptures is to take notes during Bible classes, or during the sermon in your church service. We would not dare go to a college class without taking notes on the lecture; why do we think that what we hear in church is any less important? Are we going to church just to be “religious” or to “feel good,” or are we going to be taught something from the Word that will benefit our spiritual life? By taking notes, it helps us to concentrate on what is being said; or maybe the Lord will speak to you personally about some other truth that the sermon may bring to mind. Writing these thoughts down insures that we don’t forget them. Also, how often do we find our minds wandering from the message by not concentrating? The thoughts and cares of the world creep into our minds, and we are miles away from hearing what is being said. By taking notes, we are less apt to fall asleep, physically or spiritually. Furthermore, how many Christians are there, who could tell what the sermon was about on Sunday, even the very next day? It has been proved that when we involve more than just listening with the ear in the learning process, we retain more of what is being said and taught. Again, a legal notepad the size of a Bible is convenient for this, and easy to carry. Keep it with your Bible so you don’t forget to take it with you, and soon you will have a great handwritten resource of your own.

Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Mark 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.



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