Sowing the Faith

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11p> Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:10-15, NIV)

In verse 15, the words in English, “who correctly handles” is one word in Greek, which means, ‘guide along a straight path’. How can Timothy guide the word of truth along a straight path? Jesus, we remember, likened the word of God to seed that a farmer sows. The purpose of seed is to grow and produce fruit. A farmer plows the field to prepare a place to receive the seed. He wants to sow the seed into good soil where it can succeed. In the case of Timothy, he must first break up the fallow ground in his own heart and receive the word of God, and let it grow and bear fruit in his life. The idea is that Timothy stay straight on the course laid out for him in order to make it easier for others to follow. The Bible urges us not to receive the word of God in vain.

The Word of God is also described as a 2-edged sword, that makes a clear distinction or division between good and evil, friend and foe, thus keeping us with God and away from the devil who wants to deceive us and steal life from us. So, Timothy would first receive the protective and corrective guidance of the word of truth, which would clearly mark the narrow division between life and death. Having received and learned from God, he will be able to teach, encourage and urge those who follow him to set their hearts on Jesus, who alone can keep them on the one true path that leads to life.

This course that Paul is talking of is the one that leads from this life into eternity, and the “dividing” or “plowing” of the Word is two-fold.

In one respect we see that the work of God’s Word is desperately needed. In other words, our lives are not perfect. All of our ways are crooked and none of us walks a perfect way. Also, this life is bumpy and troublesome and though people do their best to make this life as smooth as possible, we can’t escape the trials and stresses that are a natural part of this world.

So what is the work that Paul is telling Timothy to occupy himself with? Why all this plowing? The plowing serves only one good purpose, that some good seed might be sown and bear fruit to life eternal. Jesus said that the seed is the Word of God and the Bible—God’s Word is rightly planted where trust in Jesus Christ grows.

The rightly dividing or “plowing” of the Word into our lives must never stop. One, we are constantly wrestling with sin and temptation to sin, and two, God wants us to remember that we are His people bought with Christ’s own blood. This is why Paul speaks of it as a process that we must diligently attend to. So as Paul concludes his letter to Timothy, he writes, “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy3:15-17, NIV).