We had some problems with our recording the last couple weeks. I really felt like what I talked about last week was important enough to try and recreate it in written form.
It’s long. I warn you in advance. I’m sure most folks won’t have the desire to read it all, but pray about it and see if God would lead you to take some time and go through it. I believe it’s important. Especially for those who have misunderstood what I’m saying about not studying the Bible. (I’ve gotten your emails:)
forgive the typos. i wrote it all in one setting from memory.
In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul tells Timothy that He should be diligent in dividing the Word rightly.
Dividing it, a word that means to cut straight. To handle it properly. The Bible is so huge (and using the analogy from Hebrews of it being “meat”) it’s almost like a gigantic roast. You can’t just pick it up and eat it all at the same time. You’ve got to divide it, cut it up into bite size pieces so to speak.
It’s interesting to note that we’re to divide the Word rightly, and that Hebrews 4 promises us that the Word will divide us as well. It divides us up between the soul and spirit. The soul, that part of you and I that is what relates to people. Our personality. The spirit is the part of us that relates to God. There are things that are in our soul that have to be divided by the Word away from the spirit.
There are things that I would justify in my own behavior simply based on the thought of “that’s just who I am. “ We all have our battles and our struggles but there appears to be a movement that suggests that I have to live authentically because that’s just who I am. But going to the Word allows me to let that stuff be divided and made clear to me that it is sin. It’s sin that has been covered by the blood and forgiven, and sin that according to Galatians 5 will reap a harvest or corruption if I continue it.
Whether it’s a temper that I say is “just me being honest, just who I am” or if it’s sexual perversion on which I say “that’s just who I am, I have to live authentically” I have to let the Word speak into me and let it divide my soul and spirit. If the Word has something to say about it, then that is where I must come down on the struggle. I must let the Word be the judge of me and not me be the judge of the Word.
GOOD TIME TO TAKE A BREAK….
AND NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOGRAM.
If you approach the Word as just a book of theology or like a normal piece of literature, you really miss the point. It’s bigger than that. It’s much more sophisticated and creative. It’s much more supernatural than that.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the author of our salvation. This book, this Bible, is that story that he authored. At my church we’re going through the entire Bible from the big picture. I love the name of the series. It’s called “The Story”. That’s exactly what the Bible is. The story of our salvation, authored by a best selling author… Jesus Christ himself.
This story is divided up into several segments, or as Paul called it in Ephesians, dispensations.
There are many folks who believe that the term “rightly dividing” the Word refers to us knowing specifically about the dispensations. I’m not 100% sure that is what it’s talking about, but it is good for you to know, to understand about the dispensations.
Paul said that he (meaning you and I) are under the dispensation of Grace. God has spoken in different methods at different times that theological types call dispensations. When you look at them from the 30,000 foot view it’s almost like the story unfolds like this:
You and I desperately and imperatively need a savior. But on the whole, the human race has said we don’t need a savior. If given enough time, or ingenuity that we can make it on our own. And throughout history that story has played out perfectly and you can see it in the dispensations.
1. INNOCENCE – GENESIS 1-2
There are those that would say we just need to get back to the simpler time. The time of innocence. Adam was brought into the time of innocence. A time of purity. There was no sin nature. A loving God placed Adam in a loving environment. Love is not forced and it requires a choice. For Adam to love God back it required him to have an option. God did not force Himself on Adam and He does not force himself on us. That tree was the one thing that God said not to do, it was the one choice that Adam had and of course He chose the tree and we know the consequences.
At that point, all of creation groans Paul tells us. We’re in a fallen condition.
And so the idea of having an innocent environment didn’t work. Man, with no sin nature, still managed to blow it even in the most pristine of conditions.
2. CONSCIENCE- ADAMS FALL TO THE FLO0D
The idea of live and let live. We see that in much of society to this point. This idea that we can let our conscience be our guide. God told Cain that if you do well, you shall live. Of course we see exactly how that went. You can’t live by your conscience. As that dispensation came to an end we see exactly where mans conscience gets society. Right before the flood God declared that mans imagination was evil continually.
And at the end of this act, God says the whole world has to be cleaned up. A cosmic “redo”
#3 GOVERNMENT- NOAH TO TOWER OF BABEL
The idea of innocence didn’t work, and the conscience thing blows up so it’s now time to give government a try. God was given the command to govern, but here is a guy that can’t govern himself personally how is he ever going to govern politically. That’s a problem we see today even in our own government.
Ultimately we see exactly how this goes as it crescendos with the Tower of Babel. A tower that was built with bricks and pitch. Pitch was slime. The ultimate government project: solid ideas covered with with slime.
No matter what your political affiliation, no matter who your guy or girl is for what office they’re running for, they’re flawed. They’re not going to be perfect.
#4 PROMISE- BABEL THROUGH THE EXODUS
God made a grand promise to Abraham. A promise of a beautiful tomorrow. Sounds a little like what we hear today with the promise of change. If we can just live on the idea of the great beautiful tomorrow. We hear it blasting at us from presidential campaigns. “Change you can believe in.”
God said let’s let that play out for a few hundred years. God promised Abraham this amazing nation. This grand life. He only asked him to not go down into Egypt which is always a type of the Word in scriptures. And what happens? Famine hits the land, Abe freaks, and goes right to Egypt where he picked up a slave girl by the name of Hagar. Hagar with whom he would later conceive a son named Ishmael. And the rest as they say, is history.
Abraham failed miserably and ultimately his descendants are going to spend a few hundred years working in the hot baking sun of Egypt as slaves themselves.
And so the age of promise comes to a close.
5- THE LAW- MOSES THROUGH JESUS- FROM MT SINAI TO MT CALVARY
So we can’t make it work with Innocence, nor with Conscience, nor with Government, nor with Promise maybe if we just had a list of things to do. Perhaps if we had 10 of them.
Which brings us to the next dispensation, The Law.
If we just knew how we were supposed to do it. If we just had a set of laws that we could keep then we could make it work. Even on that first day when Moses brought down the law, they were already breaking it, dancing around a golden calf. Moses broke those tablets that first day, symbolizing that they had already broken the law.
The law was never meant to be kept though. It was always meant to show us that we couldn’t keep it. That we indeed were not good enough. Paul called it our school master. I had one of those teachers, maybe you did too. Mine was German, tall, walked with a limp and was meaner than two snakes.
She was a constant reminder that I was not good enough. She made it crystal clear that my penmanship was never going to measure up to the standards she had set forth. And she reminded me with a yard stick that hurts on the wrist much more than you would suppose.
I can not keep these rules, I can not be good enough. I am cosmically screwed.
When you’ve been to a theme park with little kids you see these signs that say you have to be a certain height to get on the ride. When you’re 8 years old it’s a constant reminder that you’re not tall enough. But what if you had a booster seat? What if you had something that made you taller?
# 6 GRACE- MT CALVARY TILL NOW-
What if you had Grace?
Once your realized that innocence, conscience, government, promises, or keeping a bunch of rules isn’t going to work, what are you left with? You’re left with the answer. You’re left with Grace.
This is the dispensation that we’re living under right now Paul tells us. That God loved the world so much that he gave His only son to pay the price. If the wages of sin is death, Jesus cashed the check. By Grace you are saved Paul tells us. We admit we need a savior. We admit we’re not good enough.
We played out all those other scenes and they didn’t work out, it leaves us with the only answer. With Grace.
#7 TRIBULATION- 7 YEARS- YET TO COME
There are those who would still reject this amazing gift. And it brings us to a dispensation which is yet to come. Rev 6-19 describes it and you and I don’t want to be anywhere near it.
God in his Mercy is setting things in the world right. Even in the middle of His wrath being poured out onto the Christ rejecting world there is mercy. There are 2 prophets who will be killed and raised again from the dead, preaching the gospel. The whole world will watch.
There will be 144,000 Jewish men who are indestructible preaching the gospel.
At one point angels will fly through the atmosphere preaching the gospel.
You want to see some action? You want to see signs? Jesus said it is a wicked person who asks for a sign, and He’s going to give it to them. And he’s going to give them a chance for salvation too.
Ultimately the ones that are left. The ones who after God showing Himself real, live and in person who still reject Him after that. They are the ones who would say I will not have you Lord over me. God will not force them, He will give them what they want.
#8 THE KINGDOM PERIOD. – 1,000 YEARS.
After that dispensation, we see the Kingdom period. It’s a very specific thousand years of peace on earth. Believers will be on earth ruling under Jesus. Those that were saved and survived the tribulation period will be there. They’ll be repopulating the earth. The Bible says that men will not study war. It says that if a person dies at 100 during that period it will be like they died as a baby. The conditions for humanity will be perfect.
At the end of that period. Satan will be released one more time. Nobody knows for sure why, but I think we can safely speculate. There are those born during that period that haven’t had the chance to choose. Those that weren’t alive during the dispensation of Grace. They must have the chance to choose God. Love demands a choice. As crazy and unfathomable as it seems, there will be those who will not choose the Lord.
It says that they along with death, Hades and Satan himself will be thrown into the lake of fire forever..
Which brings us to the final dispensation.
#9 NEW CREATION PERIOD
People are allowed to play out their fantasies. They’re allowed to get a first hand look at the “well if I had it this way then I could make it work” thoughts. If I can just see God if I can just get back to the Garden, If I can just get the right government in place, If I can just let my conscience guide me, and on and on we can go.
We get to the final scene of a new heaven and a new earth coming together. We finally get that the only conclusion is receiving Christ as my personal Lord and savior that I am clothed with His righteousness and not my own. We get to see that is the ONLY way it works. We get to see that we really did need Him all along. And we get to see that He was there for us all along.
We just had to take the scenic route.
That’s the whole sweeping story. The Bible from 30,000 feet.
The reason we need to get this isn’t so we can be “right” and can win theological arguments. 2 Tim 2 :13 (the verse right before rightly dividing the word) says we’re to avoid those kinds of arguments anyway.
The reason it’s important to know how to rightly divide the word is so we won’t be ashamed. Not ashamed here on earth or not ashamed when we stand before Jesus.
You can understand that the reason we don’t have to go to church on the biblical Sabbath was that during the dispensation of the law. Paul says we don’t let people judge us on the days of the week, festivals, etc. We would know that if we were trying to go to church on Saturday to obey that dispensation that we aren’t supposed to walk more than 100 yds on the Sabbath so we couldn’t go to church at all.
You can understand that
You won’t waste your time with silly stuff like making sure you’re hair is short enough or that you have to dress in suit and ties to “look your best” for God. You won’t throw your money into crazy places based on false promises of getting rich. You won’t beat up your brothers and sisters in condemnation nor will you allow someone to do it to you.
You won’t waste your time with useless arguments.
You won’t be ashamed.