Equipped to All Good Works
The following article by Rev. James D. Slopsema appeared in the Sept. 1, 2013 edition of the Standard Bearer.
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
– II Timothy 3:17
The apostle Paul instructs Timothy to continue in the things that he had learned from his mother and grandmother. These godly women had, from Timothy’s childhood, taught him the Scriptures, which are able to make one wise unto salvation. They are able to make one wise unto salvation because they have been given by inspiration of God and thus are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.
According to the passage we consider for this meditation, God’s purpose in giving the Scriptures and its wisdom is that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished or equipped to all good works.
How important this passage is for the training and rearing of children! The man of God here is not just the adult believer but also his children. Children of believing parents are children of the covenant and therefore little men and women of God. They also must be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. The calling to do this comes primarily to their parents. For this purpose God has given the Scriptures, which make one wise unto salvation.
How timely this instruction is as another year of schooling and catechism is about to begin for our children.
The man of God!
In the Old Testament this term was limited to those who served in the office of prophet, priest, or king. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, every true believer has the anointing of the Holy Spirit and becomes a prophet, priest, and king in and under Christ. That gives him the right to the title “Christian.” It also makes him a man of God.
There is much involved with being a man of God.
One becomes a man of God, first, through redemption. On account of our sins we all belong to the prince of darkness, both legally and spiritually. He owns us and so controls us that we can only serve him in sin. But Christ has brought redemption through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. He has purchased all that the Father has given Him, so that they no longer belong to Satan but to Christ. This purchase makes them men of God.
Those whom God has redeemed in Jesus Christ He also makes to be His children.
We are naturally the children of the devil. So much is this true that we are the very image of the devil. Spiritually we look like him and behave like him. But God adopts those whom He has redeemed in the blood of Christ to be His own children. And through a spiritual rebirth He also transforms them into his own image. This adoption and rebirth also makes them men of God.
Those born again of grace are also given the gift of faith that leads them to cling to Jesus Christ as their Savior. This spiritual union with Christ makes them partakers of Christ’s anointing, so that they become prophets, priests, and kings in and under Christ. As prophets, priests, and kings in Christ they hold the office of believer. This, too, makes them men of God.
It is important to understand that the children of believers are also men of God. This is one of the glorious realities of the covenant. God’s covenant is with believers and their seed, so that God ordinarily brings salvation to families in their generations. This does not mean that salvation will always come to every member of a covenant family. But according to the promises of the covenant, God does give covenant parents elect children whom He will save in Jesus Christ. These children are redeemed in the blood of the cross. Ordinarily they are born again to be the children of God at a very early age. True faith in Jesus Christ soon becomes evident in their life, to the joy of their parents. In Christ they become little prophets, priests, and kings. They are men of God!
And this is how believing parents must view and treat their children, until such a time as they clearly show themselves to be otherwise.
Thoroughly furnished unto all good works!
God has work for His men to do. They are prophets, priests, and kings who hold the office of believer in God’s kingdom. This office involves work, kingdom work. Often kingdom work is viewed as belonging to a minister of the gospel in the church or to a missionary who brings the gospel to faraway lands. That certainly is kingdom work. But kingdom work is much broader than this, and the work of preaching the gospel is given to only a few in the kingdom. Kingdom work is any work that the Lord calls us to perform in His kingdom to serve Him. There is the work of being a husband or a wife, of being a parent, of being a teacher in the Christian school, of being a bread-winner to provide for the financial needs of one’s home, of supporting the gospel ministry and helping the poor, of ministering to the sick and elderly. The list of kingdom work is as broad as life. The work that is given to each man of God varies from individual to individual. This work also varies from one time in his life to another time as the circumstances of his life change under the providence of God.
When men of God do the work that God has laid before them according to God’s law, in loving service to God, then it is a good work. It is good in that it is pleasing to God. It is also good in that it is useful for the promotion of God’s kingdom.
It is important that we be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all these good works.
To be perfect and thoroughly furnished are really the same idea. Both phrases come from the same word in the original and speak of being completely furnished or equipped. “Perfect” describes the state of one being completely equipped for a task. This comes only after he is “thoroughly furnished,” which speaks of someone being equipped over a period of time, so that he is now ready for the task at hand. Think of a soldier who goes through a period of intensive training, and then, having received all the equipment he needs, he is now ready for battle.
The Lord will have us be fully equipped for the work He has for us in His kingdom. We must be completely equipped for all good works. We must not be content to be partially equipped for the work of the kingdom. Nor will it do to be equipped for some of the kingdom’s work but not all. We must be equipped for all good works. And this is not accomplished in a day. It is a lifelong process that requires great work and effort as the changing circumstances in our lives modify the work God has for us to do.
For this purpose God has given us the Scriptures. “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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The God-inspired Scriptures are essential to be fully equipped for the good work of the kingdom. Notice how profitable the Scriptures are. They are profitable for doctrine or teaching. The Scriptures teach us all that we need to know about our God, about our sin, and about salvation in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are profitable for reproof and correction. The Scriptures reprove or rebuke us concerning our sin and are used by God to correct us, so that we turn from sin to God. In summary, the Scriptures are profitable for instruction or training in righteousness. The Scriptures are the means whereby God trains us in the way of righteousness.
How essential the Scriptures are to be equipped to all good works!
And so we must give ourselves to know the holy Scriptures. We must frequent the house of God on the Lord’s Day, where the Scriptures are expounded in all their riches and truth. We must be busy with the Scriptures in our daily life, studying them at home with our families and individually. And do not forget to study them in the broader fellowship of the church. Make sure you attend the Bible studies offered in your church. Living close to the Word is the only way to be thoroughly equipped for all the good works that the Lord will have you do in His kingdom.
With the same care that we have to equip ourselves for good work we must also seek to equip the children of the covenant. Scripture is full of instruction both for believing parents and for the church to equip the children of the covenant for their future work in the kingdom. These years must not be squandered.
For the children of the covenant to be fully equipped to all good works requires that they be instructed in various natural skills. In our society the work of the Lord requires that we have a number of skills such as reading, writing, mathematics, and a host of other skills. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide these skills for their children. For those skills that the parents are not themselves equipped to teach, they must provide training through others. This has given rise to the day school.
But, above all, parents must instruct their children in the Scriptures. The Scriptures alone are able to make our children wise unto salvation. The Scriptures are absolutely necessary to equip our children for all good works. The parents must be busy instructing their children in the home, beginning at an early age. And they must bring their children to church to be instructed in the worship service as well as in the catechism classes that the church offers. Make sure you attend a church that provides biblical instruction to children on their level with a good catechism program. And, whenever possible, it is important that the instruction that little men of God receive in the day school is from the viewpoint of the inspired Scriptures. How important good Christian schools are to equip the children of the covenant for all good works! Let us support and use the Christian schools!
What a blessing it is to be equipped for all the good works that God has for us in His kingdom.
And what a joy it is to see our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren being equipped for the good work God has for them.