One morning, as I was reading 1Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon (they are all such short letters!), I noticed some repetition of certain themes and words, things that Paul was trying to emphasis in his letters. He was encouraging his brothers, and the church to live godly lives in a world that despised God, to fight with faith and with the word of God. Paul desires, in line with God’s will, that as many as possible should lay hold of eternal life, to which they have been called, laying up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come [1 Timothy 6:12, 19). Hebrews 13:21 reminds us how God will “…make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ…” Keep this in mind as we explore what it means to be equipped for every good work, to be:
- Equipped with God
- Equipped with Character
- Equipped with God’s word
Equipped with God
The offer is there – God offers to equip us for every good work. These are works which are pleasing to Him and which are in accordance with His will. They are good because they glorify God and they have eternal consequences. They are the evidence of faith [James 2:26], a demonstration of obedience to God, and they occur more and more as we love Him more and more [1 John 5:3]. It is a conscious work because we look for opportunities and follow God’s leading, but it is also instinctive as a heart filled with purity of God’s spirit cannot help but live according to His way. These good works are the result of God’s love in us and through us. Being equipped for good works begins with being equipped with God. Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” If we are to do good works, pleasing in God’s sight, we need to first know Him, love Him and understand His will.
[Titus 1:15-16] – “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”
Equipped with Character
Consider the following verses:
- [1 Timothy 6:11] – “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
- [2 Timothy 2:22] – “Flee also from youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
- [2 Timothy 2:24-25] – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…”
- [2 Timothy 3:10] – “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance…”
- [Titus 2:2-3] – “…that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things…”
- [Titus 2:12] – “…teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
From these verses, I get a picture of the character a person develops and is equipped with as they seek to serve the Lord.
- Teachers of what is good/of God’s way
- Humility with authority (and I think this is difficult to grasp in understanding)
- To persevere in all the above qualities in pursuing a manner of life worthy of our calling [Ephesians 4:1]
These are qualities that come from Christ, are a good work in us, and result in good works toward others, giving glory to Christ. These are qualities of a lifestyle that honours God and stands as a witness of His goodness, and of the good things He promises.
[Philemon 1:5-6] – “… hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus”
When I measure myself up against this list, I find myself lacking. It is a tough list to fulfil by willpower alone! However, with God’s grace, we can be transformed, and we can be built up in all these characteristics. Let us then submit our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, so that we may be renewed by His spirit, and clothed with the armour of light.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.”
Equipped with God’s Word
Consider the following verses:
- [2 Timothy 3:16-17] – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
- [2 Timothy 4:2] – “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
- [Titus 1:9] – “… holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
- [Titus 1:13-14] – “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”
- [Titus 2:7-8] – “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
Ephesians 6:17 describes being equipped with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. In the verses above, I find some instruction for how we are to wield this sword, the word of God:
1. We recognise that the Scripture is from God and that He has a purpose and plan for its use – that it is to be used to build man up in completeness.
- God has given His word to us as instruction – it is HIS word, and He gives warning not to add or take away from His word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19)
- God says, in Isaiah 55:11 that His word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish what He please, and prosper in the purpose for which He sends it
- Being equipped with God’s word involves recognising His authority in His word and understanding that its purpose is for the building of man up in completeness, to direct God’s church towards fullness in Him, and thus, to accomplish His will.
2. We must be ready to wield the word of God both in and out of season.
- What does it mean to be ready both in and out of season? The original Greek meaning describes being ready for both a convenient situation (“in season” – Greek eukairos/εὐκαίρως) and for an untimely one (“out of season” – Greek akairos/ἀκαίρως)
- While there may be times when we expect we need the word of God and prepare accordingly, there will be other times when we come across an unexpected opportunity or situation that requires God’s word.
- Being ready in season requires that we keep watch for and recognise situations where we might convince exhort or rebuke, and that we prepare ourselves in advance.
- Being ready out of reason requires that we are continuously, and with all longsuffering, reading, and learning and being taught about the word of God so that, even when we least expect an opportunity, we are equipped to preach the word.
- In order to be ready both in and out of season, we must be continuously immersed in the word of God.
3. We must understand the qualities of our sword, the word of God before we can use it appropriately. These qualities include:
- Greek: elegchos/ἔλεγχος
- Meaning: for proving or persuasion, also to expose what is not true
- Ie. To test preaching, spirits, way of living against God’s word in order to determine the truth. Also, for proving the validity of Jesus.
- Greek: epanorthosis/ἐπανόρθωσις
- Meaning: to make straight again, reform or correct
- Ie. Gently, and in love, helping the believer who is in sin, to overcome in Christ, thus encouraging them to continue walking in God’s holy way
- Greek: paideia/παιδεία
- Meaning: training, or discipline (of children) in order that they might become mature
- Ie. Helping the immature believer in understanding God’s vision of fullness of their life and helping them in their pursuit of this, requiring at times, correction and discipline
- Greek: epanorthosis/ἐπανόρθωσις
- Greek: didaskalia/ διδασκαλία
- Meaning: applied teaching, the giving of information or function
- Ie. Giving practical application for doctrine in how we live our lives set apart in Christ
- Greek: parakaleo/ παρακαλέω
- Meaning: in this context, refers to encouragement and comforting
- Ie. We spur one another on toward Christ through encouragement, and through supporting one another
- Greek: antilego/ ἀντιλέγω
- Meaning: to speak in opposition, or contradict
- Ie. To boldly defend God’s way when faced with something that goes against His truth
- Greek: antilego/ ἀντιλέγω
Examples of the word of God in use, in all these functions, can be found throughout the scripture. Furthermore, we can experience and witness these functions are work today, and in our daily lives. The word of God is powerful because it is truth, and truth cannot be refuted. One day, Jesus will return, and all things will be revealed for what they are in His light. In the meantime, however, many people will turn their ears away from the truth and embrace “fables”, things they find in line with their own desires rather than God’s. We see this in the embrace of war, homosexuality, divorce, prostitution, abortion, atheist “megachurches” (which in truth, cannot be called a church) and so much more. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 tells us what we are to do while living in such a time:
[2 Timothy 4:3-5] – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heaps up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.”
Ephesians 6:18 gives one last crucial element for the armour of God to be complete – prayer. That is, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” So, I want to share with you the “Key Apostolic Prayers and Prophetic Promises” that the International House of Prayer (IHOP) identifies, and which I also, have incorporated into my prayer language. http://www.ihop-ac.org/docs/apostolic-prayers.pdf
I also reformatted these in my own, coloured version: APOSTOLIC PRAYERS
I pray that we will all be better equipped with God, with character and with His word every day – that we would never cease to attain to the fullness of who we are in Him, and never cease to have overflow of His good work in us toward others.