Learn to Cut Straight
DTS teaches many things and it remains firm on accuracy—living an accurate life, communicating accurately, and presenting biblical information carefully in a way that people can get it. The training for that is invaluable. It’s just priceless.
Students who study here learn to think more in-depth than ever in their lives. They soon understand a system of interpretation they’ve not learned previously. It is a deliberate process. It’s carefully thought through, and it’s consistent. Over the years it’s been carefully honed. The reason all of it is important is because ministers of the gospel must be trustworthy.
Consider what Paul wrote to Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15, nasb).
When Paul wrote this letter, he was in a dungeon. He was pulling Timothy up close, and saying, “Get this straight. I’m soon going to be gone. You’re on. As you take the baton, run well, do it right!” So I’m not surprised that he starts with “be diligent.”
If there’s a profession in the world where laziness hits hard, it’s in ministry. So start by being a good student of yourself. Pay close attention to yourself (1 Tim 4:6–16). Toxic leaders have no self-awareness. They don’t care. They’re in it for the money or for the glory or for other wrong reasons.
Paul tells us here, “Present yourself approved to God as a diligent workman.” Stay at it. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, stay at the study. Continue to do solid work. Don’t cut corners. Stay away from shallow, sloppy theology. That’s lazy—dig it out, build your library. Go to the hard work of preparing well. Remain above reproach as a leader.
You don’t need to copy other people’s messages; you need God’s message. Learn to be diligent when you study here. Make certain that you’re authentic, tried, and true. And as you handle the Word, be sure you handle it accurately.
Now, what does that mean? As best I can understand, it has in mind the idea of cutting something straight. It was used three different ways among the Greeks in the first century. If you drove your cart or chariot across a field, you went in a straight line. A farmer plowed a straight furrow. A stonemason would cut a rough stone straight to fit into a wall. Think straight. Talk straight. Live straight.
Those who “accurately handle the Word” cut a straight path to the truth as carefully as they’re able to do. Be clear about what God has written, what it meant to the people to whom He wrote it, and what it means to us who live today. If you remain committed to do that faithfully and regularly, people will love you for it. Believe me, they are starving for accurate, trustworthy teaching and teachers!
“It is blessed,” wrote Charles Spurgeon, “to eat into the very soul of the Bible until at last you come to talk its scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord so that your blood is Bibline—the very essence of the Bible flows from you.”
People will love it when you take them into the Word, when you stay in the Word, when you correctly explain the Word, and then when you apply the Word. That Bibline approach is in high demand in every generation. It was when I graduated. It is now. And it will be when you graduate.
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now Chancellor Emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.