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Basic Bible Doctrines

Chapter 1, The Bible

    The Bible is unique in all the world—it alone is the written Word of God! The word Bible comes from the Greek word biblios, which means a book; but what a book it is! It is absolutely supernatural and divine in every way. It was written in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) over a 1600-year period by over forty men and covered thousands of years of history; yet it stands as one book—perfect in continuity from beginning to end.

      The Bible alone declares the glory of God in His triune Being and all His attributes. It alone declares His glory in creation and in the redemption of sinful man through the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible alone truthfully answers the age-old questions, “Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?”

      The Bible calls itself “the Scripture” (Romans 4:3) and “the Holy Scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15); and over and over it says, “Thus saith the Lord.” It calls itself the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and, of course, the Word of God.

So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

      Only the Word of God makes this claim of being living, powerful, and sharper than a two‑edged sword, and that it divides asunder (or really, lays open) the soul and the spirit. This verse is not saying the Word of God divides asunder, or divides apart, the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It is saying that the Word lays open the soul, lays open the spirit, lays open the joints, and lays open the marrow. The Word is a critic or a discerner and lays open the very heart and soul of man and all his thoughts and intents. Nothing can be hidden from the Word of God. The Scripture goes on to say:

Neither is there any creature that is not made manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).

      Verse 13 gives clear commentary on verse 12. In both verses 12 and 13, God and His Word are declared to be one and the same. The Bible does not just contain the Word of God, but it is in its entirety the Word of God. Men may deny and disbelieve this, but they should not misunderstand: The Bible alone claims to be—and is—the Word of God.

      The written Word is inseparable from the Incarnate Word—the Lord Jesus Christ—in that the written Word points to and declares the Incarnate Word. The Lord Jesus says:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39).

      Just as the Incarnate Word—the Lord Jesus Christ—is God, so the written Word is the Word of God. When men read this book, they are dealing with God Himself.

      The Bible also differs from all other books in that it is inerrant. The Lord Jesus said:

Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth (John 17:17).

      As God is perfect and cannot lie, so His Word is also perfect and cannot have errors.

      A proper study of the Bible covers at least these seven points:

      •      Revelation

      •      Inspiration

      •      Authority

      •      Illumination

      •      Interpretation

      •      Animation

      •      Preservation

      Obviously, in this short chapter we cannot hope to address all seven topics in their entirety, but we will seek to address the main issues of several of these points.

REVELATION

      The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis, which means to uncover or unveil. Concerning the Word of God and its being God’s divine revelation, we offer this definition:

Revelation is the act of God imparting to the writers of the Bible truth incapable of being discovered by man’s unaided reason.

Revelation Is Divine

      Though we understand that not all of the Bible is direct revelation (such as some historical accounts), all Scripture is nonetheless God-breathed. But concerning the Person and work (or purpose) of God, that truth can only be known by direct divine revelation.

      Let us examine this first point about revelation.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have en­tered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit;  for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things [Greek = bathe, i.e., depths] of God. For what man knoweth the things of man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:9–14).

      In this portion, the primary interpretation has to do with the Bible writers and revelation to them concerning God’s truth that only the mind of the Spirit can give. Natural man in his unaided reason could never know the deep things of God because only the Spirit of God knows such things of God; they had to be revealed by God’s Spirit. Verse 9 is a quotation from Isaiah that many apply to today. But the wonderful truth is that God has revealed these secret things, the depths of Himself (as Paul said in verse 10), to the Bible writers:

But God hath revealed them [the depths of God] unto us [the Bible writers] by His SpiritÉ (1 Corinthians 2:10).

      In this passage, Paul was defending the fact that the revelation of the mystery—the secret things that he, Paul, had made known to the Corinthians—could not have been received or known by mere human minds.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God... (1 Corinthians 2:14).

      No amount of imagination could have come up with these ideas. God’s Word was revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Revelation Is Progressive

      God’s revelation is progressive. God did not reveal all the truth at one sitting, but progressively unfolded His truth from the earlier to the later books of the Bible. We do not believe that God revealed stories and myths that eventually ended in truth. We believe that God revealed truth in progressive stages until finally the full secret purpose of His will had been made known. Note Peter’s words:

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, which things the angels desired to look into (1 Peter 1:9–12).

      Even the prophets themselves whom God used to reveal truth awaited further revelation for understanding. As the Lord preached the kingdom program to and through the Twelve Apostles, greater understanding was received. Later through another Apostle (the Apostle Paul) an abundance of revelations was given concerning what God calls “the mystery of His will” in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:9).

      The Bible is a dispensational book, and “progressive revelation is basic to the dispensational character of the Bible.”1 We know that not all the Bible is written to one group of people, nor does all the Bible concern one particular program; but rather, God has dealt with man under several different economies or dispensations. “The fact that one dispensation has succeeded another necessitates added revelation for the succeeding dispensations. In this sense, progressive revelation becomes almost synonymous with dispensationalism.”2

 

Revelation Is Complete

      God’s revelation is complete. The Apostle Paul said:

Of which I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill [complete] the word of God, even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Colossians 1:25,26).

      Paul declared here that he was a minister of the church of God, the Body of Christ, according to a special dispensation, a revelation given to him by God which he said was “given to me for you to fulfill the Word of God.” The word fulfill here means to fill full or to complete the Word of God. The revelation that God gave to Paul, even the revelation of the mystery, actually completed the Word of God. Thus, we reject all those who claim to receive extrabiblical revelation in this dispensation of grace. There are many who would claim to receive signs, visions, dreams, prophetic utterances, and even supplements to the Word of God (such as the Book of Mormon). We reject all these as false on the basis of this verse which says that the mystery (the revelation of God’s secret purpose in Christ) revealed by God through Paul completes the Word of God.

      We understand there are those who would say that the Book of Revelation was written by John after Paul completed his Epistles. To that we would answer that the Book of Revelation completed the prophetic purpose of God. John wrote:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18,19).

      John’s revelation completed God’s dealings with the prophetic program and the nation Israel. The writings of Paul completed God’s full scope of revelation concerning His secret purpose in Christ Jesus. Thus, the Word of God stands complete, and no extra revelation will be given from God concerning either His earthly or His heavenly purpose and program.

 

INSPIRATION

      The entire Bible in its original writings is verbally inspired of God and is of plenary authority. We offer this definition of inspiration:

Inspiration is God the Holy Spirit enabling the writers of the Bible to write down in God‑chosen words, infallibly, the truth revealed.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim­othy 3:16).

      We believe in verbal inspiration—this refers to the exact words of Scripture. In the Greek the words given by inspiration of God are really one word, God-breathed. This verse is really saying “all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable.” It should be pointed out here that inspiration refers to words, not to men. God did not inspire men in some poetic sense. No indeed! The very words of Scripture were breathed out by God! Peter told us how God used the men who wrote down the Bible:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved [borne along] by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20,21).

      God did not inspire the men. He moved them or bore them along by the Holy Spirit, and He used them to write God‑breathed words. Verses 20 and 21 have to do with Bible origination. Verse 20 is really saying that no prophecy of the Scripture is of anyone’s own private origination (interpretive composition), but holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit and wrote down God-chosen, God-breathed words.

      Of course, the Bible in its original writings was not written in English. The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew (with some Aramaic) and the New Testament was written in Greek. What we have now in our hands is a translation. However, we believe that God carefully guarded and preserved His Word down through the ages so that we can say that the Scriptures we hold in our hands, even now, are the Word of God. We want men to know assuredly that when they face this book in whatever language, they are facing Almighty God.

AUTHORITY

      We believe that the Bible is of plenary authority. The word plenary means full, complete, or absolute. Therefore, by definition, plenary authority means full, final, and complete authority. We believe that the Bible, not the visible church, is the final authority in all matters of truth and doctrine, of faith and practice.

      We believe that the Bible is of plenary authority for at least three reasons:

•   According to 2 Timothy 3:16, the Bible is God-breathed, and so it is authoritative in that it is the very Word of God.

•  The Lord Jesus Christ attested to its authority.

•  The Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures.

      Note the words of the Lord Jesus:

...Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29).

...These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures (Luke 24:44,45).

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39).

Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth (John 17:17).

      Thus, the Lord Jesus Himself vindicated the authority of Scripture.

      There are many other verses that indicate the Bible’s authority.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).

      When it says “these were more noble than those,” it means these Jews in Berea were more noble than those Jews in Thessalonica in that they received the word (that would be the word spoken by Paul) with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily. The Scriptures were the authority. They did not go to the priest or some other man, but rather they went to the Word of God and searched diligently whether Paul’s words were so. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

      To study or to give diligence to God’s Word is what is required to be approved workmen. The Word of God is the only thing fit for this purpose.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God [is God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

      Again, this clearly indicates the authority of Scripture. Turning again to 2 Peter, we read:

We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your  hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19–21).

      Peter was an eyewitness of the transfiguration of the Lord, yet he said to his readers “we have a more sure word” than his testimony, and that is the Word of God!

      We believe the Scripture is of final or plenary authority because it is the only means that the Holy Spirit uses in the conviction and the salvation of sinners, and for the perfecting of the saints.

So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

      The Scriptures never lose their authority or become out-of-date. The Psalmist wrote:

Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled [or established] in heaven (Psalm 119:89).

      God has preserved His Word. It is eternal and authoritative. We possess it, and we can obey it and proclaim it with confidence.

 

ILLUMINATION

      The next point we will consider in our study of the Bible is illumination, which means to enlighten. The word illumination comes from the Greek word photizo, which literally means to lighten or turn the light on. This has to do with understanding. We offer this definition of illumination:

It is the act of God the Holy Spirit enabling believers to understand the truth given by revelation and recorded by inspiration.

      In Ephesians we read:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:17–19).

      Here Paul prayed that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened and asked that God would give us the “spirit of knowledge and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” This is revelation in the secondary sense.

      This is not God giving direct revelation to us as He did to the Bible writers. This is revelation in the sense that God would unveil His truth through enlightening, as it says in verse 18. We need to understand first of all that this operation of enlightening is a work of the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers, having taken permanent residence in them the moment they were saved. Paul asked:

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

      Paul also stated:

But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness...the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:9,10,16).

      Thus, the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer, and one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten. However, the Holy Spirit cannot do this unless believers read and study the Word of God.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed... (2 Timothy 2:15).

      Without our coming in contact with the Word of God, there can be no understanding. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul spoke concerning the revelation of the mystery given to him:

How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in few words, by which, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) (Ephesians 3:3,4).

      As we read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit can enlighten us. One thing that must be joined with our Bible reading is our belief of and trust in the Word of God. Without accepting what we read, the Holy Spirit is hindered from enlightening us to further understanding. First, we must read the Word with a believing heart, then study it, and then by faith practice it. We should recall that the Bereans were more noble because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Romans 10:17 also still applies:

So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

      As believers we must be willing to receive and study the Word and then place our faith in what God says, even if it causes us to have to say we were wrong! We must be willing to believe and obey God’s truth that He seeks to teach us.

 

The Goal of Illumination

      God wants us to have knowledge and understanding but with a certain view, a certain purpose. We would say emphatically that this view is our maturity and establishment in the Word in order to draw us closer to Him—our blessed Lord! In Colossians 1 we read:

...and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of GodÉwhom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:9,10,28).

      The word perfect in verse 28 refers to completeness, or a maturity of understanding in Christ Jesus. In this passage Paul was speaking of the body of truth that God had revealed to him, the truth which completed the Word of God, the mystery. This revelation of the mystery concerned our risen, glorified Lord whom Paul said we preach, warning and teaching every man, to present everyone mature in Christ Jesus. Paul went on to say:

[That we should be] rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7).

      Establishment in the Word comes with the full knowledge of the mystery of Christ, and this coupled with a walk of love and obedience to our loving Savior is the true Christian’s life and service. Paul also stated:

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement [full knowledge] of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ (Colossians 2:2).

      When accepted, this revelation brings a believer into maturity of wisdom and understanding concerning God’s purpose in this dispensation of grace. This establishes the believer and keeps him from being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” Keep in mind, however, that sometimes it is not more doctrine we need but rather, to obey the truth we already know and do so in genuine love for our Redeemer.

How Illumination Is Hindered

      We ask, “What can hinder illumination?” There are several things. First of all, a lack of proper study of the Bible would hinder God from enlightening one to His truth. An unwillingness to accept what God has said will also hinder one’s illumination. This was the problem of those addressed in Hebrews 5:11–14. It is “by reason of use [believers] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (verse 14). This use is to come to the Word, study and believe the Word, then of course to put it into practice. This passage in Hebrews also speaks of going on from the milk of the Word to deeper things of God’s fuller revelation of truth. Dullness of hearing will most certainly keep us from pleasing the Lord and progressing in our understanding of Him and His Word.

      Another thing that can hinder the illumination of the Spirit is carnality. Paul said:

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food; for to this time ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (1 Corinthians 3:1,2).

      Carnality is living in the flesh. Immaturity can lead to carnality, and carnality can keep one immature. Carnality is a terrible state for the saint of God. Not only will it displease our heavenly Father and bring sorrow to our lives, it can result in being able to assimilate only the milk of the Word. We trust that the Lord will help us to occupy ourselves with the Word of God, to hear it, to obey it, and to walk in the Spirit, so that we will please Him and be able to grow in service and knowledge of the Word of God.

 

INTERPRETATION

      For the final point of our study, we will look at interpretation.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

      We have addressed this verse many times, but now we are going to expand and define this principle. What does it mean to rightly divide? Without a doubt, this is the most important principle in interpreting the Bible. Rightly dividing (Greek, straightly cutting) at the very least means to recognize the dispensational divisions and distinctions that God has revealed in His Word.

      Some say rightly dividing really means to accurately handle the Word of God. We heartily agree with this, but does that detract from our above definition? Can we accurately handle the Word of God without recognizing the dispensational distinctions between God’s past dealings with the nation Israel under the kingdom program and His present dealings with the world and the Body of Christ under the dispensation of grace? Can we say Peter and Paul preached the same gospel and ministered the same dispensational program and be accurate? To say we could would be folly indeed. Failure to handle God’s Word accurately with regard to His dispensational instructions will surely bring His disapproval.

      We would, however, not exclude that to rightly divide God’s Word means to give diligence to know, believe, and be true to all of its principles—in the light of its dispensational teachings and distinctions.

      It is not man but God who has established these differences and divisions in His Word, and He asks us simply to recognize them. There can be nothing but confusion if we ignore this.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable... (2 Tim­othy 3:16).

      Keep in mind that Paul gave this verse to Timothy in light of 2 Timothy 2:15. Right division of the Word goes hand in hand with 2 Timothy 3:16. The Word is profitable when it is rightly divided.

      Another way to address this is to realize that all the Bible is for us, but it is not all to us or about us. People usually accuse dispensationalists of cutting up the Bible, throwing part of it away, and only recognizing a certain portion. This is incorrect. We do not throw away part of the Bible. We recognize the profit in all of the Scriptures—for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Right division is the key that unlocks the Bible, puts everything into proper perspective, and makes it understandable. We believe that all the Scriptures are for us but that they must be interpreted in the light of  Paul’s Epistles. We accept all the Scriptures as for us, but we recognize that a specific portion of the Bible is to and about this program of grace for today. In Romans we read:

For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning... (Romans 15:4).

      And yet, in contrast to this we read:

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13).

For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles—if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you (Ephesians 3:1,2).

      We recognize that all Scripture is for our learning, and yet it was the Pauline Epistles that were written to and about the Body of Christ. We believe the confusion existing in the professing church today is the result of failure to apply this principle of right division. Many wonder if the Pentecostal sign gifts are still in order. Many wonder if water baptism is still in God’s program for today. We realize through right division that neither of these is part of God’s program for us today. Some wonder if the church, the Body of Christ, will have to go through the tribulation. Again, through right division we see that the answer is “No”! When believers recognize the authority of the Pauline Epistles, the confusion on all these issues vanishes.

      We believe the most important division in the Bible is not between the Old and New Testaments, but rather between prophecy and the mystery. The fundamental professing church makes three serious mistakes in Bible interpretation:

•  They begin the Old Testament at Genesis 1.

•  They begin the New Covenant at Matthew 1.

•  They begin the church, the Body of Christ, at Acts 2.

      All three are mistakes in right division.

      The Old Testament did not begin until Exodus 24 when the blood that inaugurated the covenant was sprinkled. In like manner, the New Covenant did not begin until Matthew 27 when Christ’s blood was shed. Both of these covenants had to do essentially with prophecy and the nation Israel.

      The church, the Body of Christ, did not begin until the salvation of Paul and is only revealed in Paul’s Epistles.

      This mystery was not revealed until God had proven the nation Israel in unbelief along with the Gentiles. It was only then that He began the ministry of reconciliation to all men without distinction or preference.

      People often ask, “How can I understand the Bible?” The answer is to recognize the principle of right division between prophecy and the mystery. This will help make the Bible understandable.

      Prophecy is that program which God made known through the prophets concerning the blessing of the earth through the nation Israel and her established king­dom. This is an earthly program. Luke 1:67–75 points out clearly that this is a program which God made known by the mouth of all His prophets since the earth began. We understand that most of the Bible has to do with this earthly program. The entire Old Testament, the four Gospels, the Book of Acts (chapters 1–8), and the general Epistles (Hebrews through Revelation) all have to do with this prophetic, earthly program. Prophecy involved:

•  The blessing of all the earth, including the Gentiles, through Israel and her established kingdom (Isaiah 60:3; Daniel 2:44; Zechariah 8:20–23).

•  The message was the gospel of the kingdom as preached by the Lord and His Apostles (Matthew 4:23; 10:7).

•  As a demonstration of the kingdom power, the Pentecostal sign gifts followed those who believed (Mark 16:17,18).

•  There were Twelve Apostles to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 10:2; 19:28).

•  Water baptism was required (Acts 2:38).

•  The hope, of course, was the hope of the earthly, millennial kingdom (Genesis 15:18–21; Isaiah 9:6,7; Acts 1:6; Revelation 20:4).

      On the contrary, the mystery or secret program has to do with God’s purpose for the heavenlies. This program was kept secret within God Himself. This program was hidden from all previous ages and generations until finally revealed to and through one man—the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1–9)—and his Epistles alone. We suggest a comparison between Ephesians 3:1–9 and Luke 1:67–75 to see the distinction be­tween these two programs. Under the mystery or secret program, God is building the church, the Body of Christ. This church is made up of both Jews and Gentiles reconciled to God by the cross. This church is to occupy not the earth but the heavenly places themselves. Under the mystery we find:

•  The nation Israel has been temporarily set aside and now is to be looked upon as individuals, i.e., as individual sinners, the same as the Gentiles (Romans 10:12; 11:25).

•  The gospel is the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

•  The blessings are all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3).

•  There are no sign gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8–10; 2 Timothy 4:20).

•  We have only one Apostle, the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13).

•  We have only one baptism, not with water but spiritual as expounded in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4:5.

•  There is one hope, the secret calling away of the Body of Christ, which we call the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

      We pray this brief study will help us to better understand, appreciate, and profit from the most unique book in all the world, God’s precious Word—the Bible! We also pray that our knowledge of the Bible would never be just a collection of facts but rather truths that will deepen our relationship with God Himself—our Father—and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

 

________________________

1. Baker, Charles F. A Dispensational Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Grace Bible College Publications, 1972:  p.37

2. Ibid.

 

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