(18) For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
(19) That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
(20) Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
(21) That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? (Prov. 22:17-21)
Five Steps to Knowing the Certainty of the Words of Truth:
- Submission – Bow down (2 Tim. 3:16)
- Reception – Hear (Rom. 10:17; 1 Thess. 2:13)
- Application – Apply thine heart (2 Tim. 2:15)
- Meditation – Keep them within thee (1 Tim. 4:15)
- Confession – Fitted in thy lips (2 Cor. 4:13)
A Twofold Purpose for Gaining this Knowledge:
- That we might trust in the Lord (v.19) – How can we trust a God we don’t know? Learning the Bible should be about knowing God.
- That we might be able to answer others (v.21b) – Every believer should be able to communicate what the Bible says to those that ask (Ps. 119:42; Prov. 15:28; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:15). You aren’t rooted and grounded in the truth if you can’t teach it to others.
Guidelines for Personal Work
- Have God’s word in our heart (Col. 3:16)
- Care for others (Phil. 2:4-5)
- Have a testimony that doesn’t hinder the message (Phil. 1:27)
- Speak up (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:3-4)
- Depend on God (2 Cor. 4:7)
- Deal with people where they are (e.g., Acts 17:22-31)
- Experience is a great teacher (Gen. 30:27)
- Be Patient (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
- Pray for and follow-up on those we talk to (Acts 15:36)
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4)
Sharing the Gospel
- Turn the conversation toward spiritual things
How do we bring it up? Do we just bluntly ask out of nowhere, “Are you saved?” The starting point can be difficult, but once we turn the conversation to spiritual things it gets easier to talk to people about the gospel. I find the best way is to ask the person what they believe about salvation. Most people like to share their views on important matters. Ask them something like, “What do you believe a person needs to do to be saved and have a home in heaven?” How they respond will immediately give you a basic framework concerning the beliefs of the person you are dealing with. If they believe works are required for salvation, say something like, “We all have views about God and salvation, but the authority on what is true is the Bible.” As you begin to deal with a person, endeavor to keep the conversation focused on the gospel of Christ. Only deal with questions that directly relate to the gospel. Don’t allow questions like, “Where did Cain get his wife?” get you off track. Respond to such questions by saying, “That’s an interesting question, but let’s talk about that later.”
- Establish the foundation
The word of God is absolute truth (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, it is the final authority. Explain that we can only know the truth about salvation by the word of God, and not by personal opinions or church traditions.
- Show from the scripture that they are a condemned sinner
The first step in leading a soul to Christ is showing them from the scripture that they are lost (Heb. 4:12). Romans is the doctrinal book on salvation for this age of grace. In the first main part of it, Paul proves that all are guilty sinners in need of salvation (Rom. 3:10, 23; 6:23a). Explain that God is righteous, and we all come short of His standard of righteousness, and therefore we deserve death and hell (use specific examples of lying, Rev. 21:8). If a person will not accept the bad news, they will not believe the good news (e.g., Acts 24:24-25). A person will not get saved if they don’t truly realize they are lost.
- Explain that they cannot be saved by works
As long as a person is trusting in any works that they can do, they will not trust the finished work of Christ (Rom. 10:1-4). Salvation is not Christ PLUS anything: it is Christ ALONE (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
- Present the gospel of Christ clearly
Once a person knows that they are a condemned sinner, and there is nothing they can do to save themselves, they are ready to hear the good news of the salvation Christ accomplished for them through His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21). The keywords are “Christ died FOR our sins.” He shed His blood and died for ALL of our sins. Explain that salvation is about being reconciled to God, not just going to heaven when we die.
- Invite them to TRUST Christ as their Personal Savior
How do people get saved? When they hear (or read) the gospel they must personally choose to trust Christ as their Saviour (Eph. 1:12-14). There is no example of leading someone in a sinner’s prayer in the Bible. The problem with that is people are religious by nature and can easily be misled to say a prayer without trusting Christ. We can trust the Holy Spirit to work in hearts when we plant the gospel seed.
Sharing Right Division
We must face the reality that we can only reach the reachable and teach the teachable. Some people are not receptive to the truth. We need the discernment to know the type of person we are dealing with (which comes through spiritual growth and experience). The apostle Paul did not unload the whole dispensational wagon on everybody that he talked to (1 Cor. 2:1-3:3). Only saved people who are spiritually minded will see the truth of the mystery.
We should only try to show people the mystery if they are walking in the light that they have with a desire to learn more truth (e.g., Acts 18:24-26). It is important that we are motivated by charity and not pride as we try to teach others (2 Tim. 2:24-26). There was a time when we didn’t know this truth either (1 Cor. 4:7).
Example of a conversation starter: Have you ever wondered why there are so many different denominations? How can so many groups, who all claim to believe the Bible, have so many different beliefs (1 Cor. 14:33)? They are trying to interpret the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to interpret itself (2 Pet. 1:20). The Bible is God’s word and therefore it must be studied God’s way. God did not start any denominations. He is only building one spiritual church (Eph. 4:4-6).
Example of how to introduce right division to someone: Did you know there is a verse that tells us exactly how to study the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15)? Notice that it does not say divide truth from error, but rightly divide the word of TRUTH. All scripture is the truth and is FOR us (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not all written directly TO us. God never changes in His person and moral principles (Mal. 3:6), but He has changed in His dealings with man through the ages as He gave progressive revelation. If you don’t understand this, the Bible will be a confusing book to you.
We cannot possibly obey everything in the Bible. Consider the basic issue of what we are to eat:
- Adam (Gen. 1:29) = no meat
- Noah (about 1500 years later, Gen. 9:3-4) = meat with blood
- Moses (about 1000 years later, Lev. 11:46-47) = clean meats
- Paul (over 1500 years later, 1 Tim. 4:1-5) = nothing is to be refused (note to teach otherwise in this age is a doctrine of devils)
We must not try to invent our own divisions or ignore the ones God put in His word. Everybody divides the Bible (OT/NT), but we must rightly divide it.
- Prophecy concerning Israel: SPOKEN since the world began (Acts 3:19-21)
- Mystery of the Body: SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25)
The mystery of the Body of Christ was first revealed and made known through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-13; Col. 1:24-27).
There is one family of God, but there is a difference between God’s earthly people and heavenly people (Eph. 1:10; 3:15). If words have any meaning, there must be a difference between the nation of Israel who is destined to reign on the earth over the nations (Isa. 60:1-5) and the spiritual Body of Christ (neither Jew nor Gentile, Gal. 3:27-28) who is seated in heavenly places and is destined to reign there eternally (Eph. 2:6-7; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-4).
David O'Steen has been the pastor of Hope Bible Church in Jackson, GA since 2005. Pastor O'Steen believes that the King James Bible is the inspired and preserved word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and that rightly dividing (2Tim 2:15) is the key to understand the Bible.