Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15—NIV)

The rules for preachers are the same as for all saints. No Bible text was given by private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20–21) but every Bible text was communicated by the Holy Spirit. Since the Bible is the only source of special revelation and final authority from the Creator to all men it behooves all men to be painstakingly precise in interpreting it.

Where to begin? First, in general terms, the Bible is communication in the arena of human language, logic, and experience. Second, it is designed for all men (all ages, intellects, cultures, etc.) and not for a specified few. Third, it is a revelation and so is through-and-through a teaching document. Fourth, it is God-breathed (inspired) and it is imbued with divine power. Finally, it is the Word of Truth and therefore must be handled accordingly.

With these general, simple and widely accepted thoughts in mind we turn to the text at hand. Paul reminds his student Timothy of the overriding attribute of the Bible, it is the Word of Truth. Truth is the principal quality which Timothy must strictly employ in his use of the Bible. It is to be honored as truth, studied as truth, tested as truth, communicated as truth, applied as truth, and obeyed as truth. Truth is to be distilled to a simple precept for the neophyte so that it may be applied on the most basic level. But the beauty of truth is that as a man applies simple truth and matures he gains wisdom and finds more places and ways to apply that simple truth. Like the growing of a towering tree from the tiny acorn, so is the effective applicability of the Word of Truth in the life of a man. Such truth in order to be of universal value must be literal.

Paul also implies that, since it is God’s Word, God will require strict account (hence "need not be ashamed) for every individual’s use of it. God is the final arbiter of every application and communication of His Word. The idea of presenting oneself approved is quite instructive. The student of the Word is to stand beside and put himself at the disposal of God. The student is under the command and at the bidding of the Author of the Word. Communication is useless if it does not abide by the intention of the speaker, abide by rules of language and make itself apparent to the listener. God always gives literary clues as to whether what He is stating is a command, a poetic illustration, a prophecy, or such like. Take care not to let your experience interpret Scripture, or your current culture interpret Scripture, or what you have "always been taught" interpret Scripture. We must let Scripture do the interpreting of Scripture. In short, let God interpret His Word with the rest of His Word and you will not err. This implies that literality is the anchor for all interpretations of Scripture.

A literal interpretation of Scripture is the best way to understand how to develop a consistent biblical theology. Paul says that Timothy was to be a workman (a tradesman like a leatherworker and maker of tents) rightly dividing (cutting straight in preparation for creating an enduring tent) the Word of Truth. Precision, accuracy, quality, expert craftsmanship, enduring value, and approved of God were the benchmarks of excellence for Timothy, and still are for us today. Any thing less was shameful because the imperfect product must poorly represent the most excellent Creator.

How do these words to Timothy effect your approach to your devotions today and your attentiveness on Sunday? Do you fear to be literal with God’s Word for what it may cost you? What sort of living masterpiece are you producing to stand the test of time as you live, illustrate, and teach the truth of God’s Word wherever you go? Trust and obey.