Sunday, March 26, 2017

You cannot rightly divide what you have not rightly defined! II

The predominant way of looking at the scripture within evangelical Christianity is in a legal constitutional way. The question we should be asking is as follows; is this correct, and how much difference does it make? My short answer is as follows: it is not definitely correct, and it makes such a significant difference as it literally changes the entire paradigm. With this in mind, let us examine Paul's concept as found in 2 Timothy 2:15. He writes: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Of course this means to rightly divide or correctly handle the scripture right? Wrong! Paul most definitely meant that one should rightly divide the gospel. In other words, were I to give a translation of this verse today, I would write it this way: Be careful to show that you are approved by God, correctly handling the gospel. Paul defined the word of truth as the gospel in Ephesians 1:13. In this verse he writes, "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation."

In the mind of Paul, he meant gospel when he wrote word of truth. James appears to concur with Paul's definition in James 1:18 it reads as follows; "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." In the James passage, it is clear that he meant gospel. James is not saying they were begotten by the scripture but rather, they were begotten or born again by the gospel. So then, by 2 Timothy 2:15 the follower of Christ has the obligation to rightly divide or correctly handle the gospel. Let's try to flesh out what that means, can we? There must be a correct way to handle the gospel, and an incorrect way to handle the gospel. Paul defines the gospel as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. What does the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus mean to people? Quite simply put it means that humanity has been reconciled to God by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

As stated above, the predominant way of looking at scripture is as a legal constitutional document from God to humanity. The reality however is that it is the redemptive narrative. According to Jesus, the scripture is all about him (John 5:39-40 & Luke 24:27, 43-45.) When one looks at Ephesians chapter one, one finds that redemption was God's purpose in creation, and that the gospel was the plan from before the foundation of the world, in other words, before creation. So when one looks at rightly dividing the word as rightly dividing scripture, one has an erroneous way of looking at the 2 Timothy 2:15. It follows that one can NEVER rightly divide what one cannot rightly define. However, if one shifts the definition to the correct one, defining the the word of truth as the gospel, then one at least as the definition right.

What does rightly dividing or correctly handling the gospel mean? Well, to begin with, one can only, really divide the gospel with the cross and resurrection event. Prior to the cross and resurrection, the gospel was simply a promise. Afterward it was a fulfillment. The gospel is the news of the promise to Abraham in which his seed would bless the world. But, the way in which his Seed was to bless the world, is with a New Covenant that was based on BETTER promises. What specifically? 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 HCSB (19) For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us--by me and Silvanus and Timothy--did not become "Yes and no"; on the contrary, a final "Yes" has come in Him. (20) For every one of God's promises is "Yes" in Him. Therefore, the "Amen" is also spoken through Him by us for God's glory. ALL of God's promises in Christ Jesus is "YES and AMEN!

It is time to stop the legal-constitutional reading of scripture. It has never been a legal-constitutional document for Gentiles. And, since the advent of the cross and the destruction of the temple, it has not been a legal-constitutional document for the Jews either. In Christ, ALL of the promises of the Old Covenant have been fulfilled. All of the Old Covenant promises were types and figures. Old Covenant ways of atonement have been eliminated with the resurrection of Christ, and since the destruction of the temple the methods of atonement have been done away with by the sovereign act of God.

Incorrect definitions keep us locked in a mixture of old and new covenant which leads to error and renders the New Covenant of no effect! The word of truth is the gospel not the scripture.

Here is a link to Part 1 Comments are welcomed always!

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