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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Back to Basics: We Must Rightly Divide to Understand the Bible

The following is representative of something one might hear about Bible commands. We must get back to the basics of carefully handling the Word of God. 

If God says we should do it, we should do it!

Just using this as a jumping off point (allowing that the point may be that we should do whatever God commands us, regardless of how we feel about it), we have to be careful with how we handle Bible commands and instructions. "It's a Bible command" is looking backward at scripture. How about cooking your bread over dung? Another Bible command... etc. We do not do something just because it is in the Bible. We know not to follow these commands, but what about the countless other commands and instructions in the Bible? How do we handle them?

When we approach the Bible, we must first see the Plan of God. It is only then that we can find our place in that Plan and discover what the Lord would have us do for our own calling. So if God says "build an ark," we have to recognize where it fits in God's Plan. Did God say "we" should do it?

Let me use our example to stress this point. 

God commanded Noah to build and ark because of the age and conditions in which he lived, for a specific purpose. Building an ark today would be wrong on two counts:
  1. There is no flood coming
  2. God wasn't speaking to us

This is part of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The same is true of the promises. Clearly, no one is going to start building an ark (at least I hope not), but we too often fail to apply the same reasoning to other commands, promises, and plans of God in scripture.

Do we claim the following Bible promise from the lips of our Lord?

And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29-30)

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

No, we don't claim that because he wasn't speaking to us. This is a very important lesson. We don't build and ark, we don't bake bread over dung (Ezek 4:12-15) , we don't refuse to preach to Gentiles (Matt 8)... all "Bible commands," because the Lord was not addressing us or our age. Further, can I come to your church and make the following promise:

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-23)

The resurrected Lord taught the disciples (who had their understanding opened) for 40 days about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). After 40 days of being taught about THE KINGDOM, they had one question, "will you, at this time, restore THE KINGDOM to ISRAEL?" (Acts 1:6). He does not correct them. That was their calling and ministry.

The whole of Acts 3 should be read. Note the context:

Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. (Acts 3:12-13)

Can I come and warn only Gentile believers of the following:

For I speak to you Gentiles... Be not highminded, but fear: 21 for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:20-22)

We must draw lines in scripture where God draws lines and in line with his purposes. We must recognize that the Lord's earthly ministry as recorded for us in the synoptic gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke) are given with Israel as "first." The "gospel of the Kingdom" was for Israel alone.

The Gospel of the Kingdom was for Israel

Note that when the Lord preaches the "gospel of the Kingdom" it is at the start of his ministry (Matt 4) and before he sends out the twelve (Matt 9). He doesn't even tell them he is going to die until chapter 16. They were not preaching what we preach. They were preaching "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is not the gospel for today. It was for Israel alone at that time (and will be again in a coming age).

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Matt 4:23)

Then he sends out the twelve (including Judas, btw) with these instructions:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt 10: 5-7)

Not going to Gentiles is a "Bible command" from the lips of the Lord. But we know it is not for this age. In the same way, the gospel of the kingdom of heaven is not for this age.

As noted, this gospel of the Kingdom is again preached in the coming Tribulation age (Matt 24:14) by Israel.

We see Jews in Matthew address him as "Son of David" and he responds (Matt 9:27-28, after he proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom again). They had that right. That was part of his calling. But Gentiles had no such calling. Watch what happens when a Gentile tries the same thing:

And, behold, a woman of Canaan [Gentile] came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But [the Lord] answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:22-28)

When does he answer her? When she drops "Son of David" and calls him only "Lord." For he is Lord of the Gentiles, but "the promises made unto the fathers" were not made to Gentiles. He did not lie to her and the Lord is not a racist. He was moving accordance with God's promises and plans.

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. (Romans 15:8-9)

Side note, the Lord heals two Gentiles in Matthew, he sees neither one of them. They are both healed at a distance. There is great lesson concerning the Centurion's son and the "sons of the Kingdom" (Jews) in Matthew 8, which we will look at briefly below.

The Lord's ministry to Israel always had Gentiles in mind (Luke 2:32; Rom 15; Gal 3; etc.), but in their place, in regard to the earth and the promised land and Kingdom. In my previous posts in this thread I laid out the conditions of the Acts age wherein Jewish believers were keeping the Law (not for Life) and Gentile kept the four "necessary" things of Acts 15 and 21 (with no Sabbath).

Back in Romans 15, Paul tells Gentiles they were responsible to care for Jewish believers. Is this a command for today?

But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. (Romans 15:25-27)

The Lord came to Israel alone for he was sent to them alone (as he said). It was not until Acts 10 that Gentiles were grafted into Israel's BLESSINGS, not into salvation. The centurion in Matthew 8 was "saved." Cornelius didn't open the door to Gentiles getting saved, he was first to get the SAME GIFTS as Jews (as Peter testifies in Acts 11). This shocked Jewish believers. (Side note: Cornelius spoke in tongues BEFORE he was baptized.) God tells us the purpose, "to make ISRAEL jealous." (Romans 10:19-20)

This takes us back to Romans 11 and the "grafting in" of Gentiles into the Olive Tree (ISRAEL) and why Gentile believers are warned they can be "cut off." They could never be "cut off" from life, but from the coming blessings of Israel in the Kingdom age to come.

Everybody talks about "heaven and hell" when the scripture is almost entirely about the earth. Even the New Jerusalem (the hope of the Jewish patriarchs, Heb 11) comes down TO EARTH. God has a plan for Israel laid out in the prophets. He has an earthly kingdom planned and eventually a new heavens and a new earth.

Side note: Paul mentions "Hades" twice. Once in regard to the Lord in his time in the earth and the other in regard the resurrection of believers. Believers are in "Hades" until resurrection. It is not God's torture chamber. We also note that Isaiah 66 tells us what and when bodies are thrown into "Gehenna fire." These are DEAD BODIES (corpses) thrown into a literal fire, on the earth, in Israel. This takes place after Israel are made priests and Levites, at the time of the end (read all of Isaiah 66).

In that coming kingdom, Israel will serves as a kingdom of priests (God's covenant, read Exodus 19:5-7) for the nations. If you have priests they must be priests for somebody. Yet, some "sons of the Kingdom" (Jews) will not qualify. They will be deemed "wicked servants" (etc.) and "cast into outer darkness." That is, cast out of the land and among the nations (darkness). Some gentiles will come in and sit down with the patriarchs at the great supper in that Kingdom.

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the [sons] of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant [whom the Lord never saw] was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:11-13)

We must "rightly divide the word of truth." We can't just say "the bible says it and I'm claiming it" or "the Bible commands it, I'm doing it." Unless we plan on building that ark... and that temple... and... plan on sitting on one of the 12 thrones... and one of our offspring will sit on David's throne... and... and... and... etc.

Rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15) and compare the things which differ (Phil 1:10).