The apostle Paul writing to Timothy his own son in the faith, exhorting him to be a good student of the Scriptures, says in his first letter, “Give attendance to reading” (1 Tim 4:13), and in verse 15 he says, “meditate on these things.” Then in his second letter, he says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), and, “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned” (2 Tim 3:14) – all sound and wise words from the apostle who himself was a student. As we see in 2 Timothy 4:13, he is asking Timothy to bring with him the books, but especially the parchments. However, in all this he seems to be stressing above all else that Timothy would show himself approved unto God.
The Pharisees and hypocrites sought the approbation of men and the Lord said, “they have their reward.” How infinitely vast the difference in value are the approval of God and the approval of men. In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and said, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you,” and in Peter’s first epistle he says, “He was disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” Furthermore he goes on to say, “He was the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner” (a man indeed approved of God).
But then we would like to mention another man who briefly appears only once in all the Scriptures and could easily be overlooked. All that is written of him is couched in five words. In Romans 16:10 the apostle says, “Salute Apelles approved in Christ.” Could there be any higher commendation than this?
“Approved in Christ” tis all we know,
And all the record gives
Of one who stood and walked with Christ,
And who now with Him lives.
A better record who could wish
Than to this stranger given;
To men in honor, all unknown,
Yet much esteemed in heaven.
I would, O Lord, that grace to me
Be granted so to live,
That when my record is complete,
And Thou its issue give,
When in Thy presence I shall stand
At judgment’s solemn tryst;
That I may hear the judge repeat
That word “Approved in Christ.”