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Old 10-06-2008, 03:51 AM
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George George is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Posts: 891
Default Rightly Dividing Godís Words

Aloha all,


So much of the “confusion” over Scriptural Truth stems from the “baggage” that we carry at the moment we are saved. By “baggage”, I mean all of the things that we have been taught, embraced, believed, emulated, and accepted as “truth” BEFORE God regenerated us and we became His children.

When we are “saved” (born again) God doesn’t take a “magic wand” and “erase” every false way that we may have believed, embraced, and followed before we got saved. He doesn’t take an “eraser” and erase every false doctrine that we may have accepted before we got saved. And herein lays the primary reason for most of the “differences” amongst the brethren (even amongst genuine Bible believers). {See my Post #10 on “Garbage & Baggage” under “DOCTRINE” > “Should Christians confess Their Sins?” > Page #1}

Just exactly WHAT is some of that BAGGAGE?
  • Home Environment
  • Friends
  • Neighbors - Neighborhood
  • Country, Town, City, etc.
  • Media (Television, Radio, Internet, etc.)
  • Schooling, Education (or lack thereof)
  • Avid Reader, TV Junkie, etc.
  • Physically Active, Couch Potato, etc.
  • Government Lived Under (“Democratic”, Socialist, Communist, Dictatorship, etc.)
  • Political Leanings (Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, etc.)
  • Social Leanings (Left, Right, “Independent”, etc.)
  • “Career” (a fancy name for just a “JOB”!)
  • Religious Upbringing or Teaching (or lack thereof)
All of these things do not make us who we are, but they definitely influenced us in the past, and more often than we like to admit – they often influence us still.

In the not too distant past in the Western world, “Religion” was the predominant influence on most people in determining their “belief system” (or “world view”). That is no longer true today. In the Western world the predominant influence on most people today is (not necessarily in order of importance): The Media; Schools; Government, and “Friends”. Religion and Family are generally secondary.

You may not be aware of it, but HUMANISM has become the undeclared and unofficial “religion” of ALL the governments (and people) of the Western world (with no exceptions!). This means (in the Western world) that most people who get “saved” today are already Humanists and have accepted and embraced much of the Humanist Philosophy BEFORE receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

These facts have grave consequences for those of us who genuinely believe the Holy Bible; and that is we are going to be “marginalized” (as “kooks”, “Bible fanatics”, “bigots”, “racists”, “homophobes”, etc.) more and more as time goes by for not believing "like everybody else” does.

Even those people coming from strong “religious” backgrounds (Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) have been heavily influenced by Humanism (often without consciously being aware). What do you think the Muslims are so afraid of in the Western world? Humanism! Muslims can see the “corrupting influence” of Humanism in the Western world and want no part of it!

So you’re probably wondering by now: What’s the point? The point is that, when a person from America gets saved, he/she generally has a whole lot of baggage (Humanism, Religion, etc.) that they have accumulated, and they sometimes have great difficulty “jettisoning” all of it.

The “baggage” that we have accumulated along life’s way will often determine how we “define” and understand the “meaning” of WORDS - The following are just some examples:

The word CHURCH:
  • A Catholic thinks the word “church” means – “the one and only holy Roman Catholic Church” - to the exclusion of all others. (And that a “building” is a “church”)
  • A Protestant thinks the word “church” means – Whichever particular Sect they “belong” to. (And that a “building” is a “church”)
  • Evangelicals generally think the word “church” means – Whichever particular Sect they “belong” to. (And that a “building” is a “church”)
  • Landmark Baptists believe the word “church” means – the local Baptist church that they belong to – to the exclusion of all others. (And that a “building” is a “church”)
  • Southern Baptists (with some exceptions) think the word “church” means – The “Southern Baptist Convention”. (And that a “building” is a “church”)
  • Most Independent Baptists believe (with some exceptions) the word “church” means – a local assembly of professing Christians – (And that a “church” is made up of people – and CANNOT BE A BUILDING!)
  • Plymouth Brethren believe that the word church means (with some exceptions) – a local assembly of professing Christians and that there is a larger church - the body of Christ, which is made up of all born again believers. (And that a “church” is made up of people – and CANNOT BE A BUILDING!)
  • Many “Fundamentalist” Christians think that there is only one kind of “church” in the Bible – the “New Testament” church, but a thorough search of the scriptures reveals there are several kinds of churches.
  • Most people in America think of a “church” as being a “building” or a particular Denomination or Sect.
  • The definition of the word “church” is as varied as the number of Sects, Denominations, and Cults claiming to be “Christian”. (I gave just a few examples – And there are so many “variables” within a particular "Christian" Denomination or Sect that it is practically impossible to nail down exactly WHAT they really do believe about the word “church”!)
Sooo, – what, are we, as Bible believers, to believe? Set aside the “baggage” that you may have, and forget all of the varied “opinions” and “beliefs” of others, and search the Holy Scriptures for the answer. The Bible is its own best “Dictionary” whenever it comes to any issue of spiritual importance. Let’s first look at the verses where the word “church” is used – and NOT in reference to a “New Testament church”.

The word “church” cannot be found in the Old Testament and yet Stephen spoke of the “church” in the wilderness in reference to the Nation of Israel. [Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mountSina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:] What “kind” of a “church” was this? It wasn’t a New Testament church of professing Christians – that’s for sure! Stephen’s use of the word “church” here lays the groundwork for the Biblical definition of the word.

In regards to the Israelites (Hebrews-Jews), there was first a FAMILY (NOT referred to as a “church”); and then a TRIBE (still NOT referred to as a “church”) and then a NATION (referred to as “the ‘church’ in the wilderness” – ONLY ONCE!) What was “peculiar” about the NATION of Israel, in the wilderness, that was not true at any other time? It is the ONLY TIME in their entire history when the ENTIRE NATION was altogether in ONE PLACE and at ONE TIME!

So what does that tell us about the word church? A “church” is an assembly of people gathered together in one place. Notice: The nation of Israel at that time did not consist of only believers - just like any church today, does not necessarily consist of only believers. (Remember – the First "church" in the New Testament had “a devil” for a treasurer! There may be lost people in a "local" church – there are none in “the body of Christ”.)

In Acts we have the word “churches” used by the town clerk of Ephesus in reference to Pagan places of worship (or in the case of Ephesus - an assembly of Pagan people in a particular place to worship a “Female Deity”. Sound familiar? ). [Acts 19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.]

The only place in the four Gospels that word “church” is used is in the Book of Matthew (and only in two places!) [Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.] If this is a “New Testament church” – why the reference to the “heathen” man, or even more particular the reference to “a publican” - References, to people, that are peculiarly “Jewish” in nature? Although there are “heathen” in the “church” today – there are no “publicans”! But there were Jewish “publicans” in Christ’s time, which were part of the culture of the Israelites. And the Jews considered all other people (even the Samaritans – part Jews) as “heathen”.

And so the word “church” here again signifies an assembly of people (in this case – only Jews) not a building, and NOT A New Testament church (with born again Christians).

Matthew 18:17 is NOT “doctrine” for the New Testament church, but since it doesn’t run contrary to any church doctrine taught by the Apostle Paul, I see no harm in this practice, if a New Testament church deems to employ it.

We now come to the most difficult verse in the Bible in regards to the word “church” (at least the most “difficult” for me!)

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

I believe that the word “church” in Matthew 16:18 is in reference to the “New Testament church” that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to build after His death burial, and resurrection - but which was not yet in existence. At this point in time in the Lord’s earthly ministry, Christ’s disciples were referred to as the “children of the bride chamber” – NOT THE BRIDE! They could not have been both! {Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34}

All of the rest of the verses in the New Testament with the words “church” or “churches” plainly indicate that a church is an assembly of professing Christians meeting in a particular place. I don't have space to get into the “local” church - “universal” church debate at this time except to say: ON EARTH: God has a “church”, and He has chosen to manifest that “church” locally – BUT, the “localchurch is not all there is to the “church of God.”

Can you see why I say that if a person fails to “rightly divide the word of truth”, they cannot truly understand God’s word, and will in the end have to change it (somewhere) in order to make it “harmonize” with their private interpretations? This kind of “division” takes “work” and a familiarity with the Holy Scriptures – NOT just a 2-4 year Bible College or Seminary “education”.

Let’s look at a few more Bible words or doctrines that are misunderstood by many people or may have “multiple meanings”:
  • JESUS CHRIST (Only a man; a Prophet; a “Revolutionary” - NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • CHRIST’S BIRTH (“On December 25th.” – Not on your life! No Scriptural date is given for Christ’s birth, but you can be absolutely sure that the Lord Jesus Christ’s virgin birth did NOT occur on the SAME DAY AS THE PAGAN SUN GOD!
  • CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY (“Was to the Gentiles Also” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • CHRIST’S DEATH (“Christ died on a Friday” – NOT SO According to Scripture. The Lord died on Wednesday – NOT “Friday” - a Catholic “myth”)
  • CHRIST’S RESURRECTED BODY (“Only a ‘spirit’ not Physical” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • CHRIST’S BLOOD (no “different” than anybody else’s - NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The LAW (“Applicable to Christians also” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • OLD TESTAMENT JEWISH PROPHETS (“Wrote to and about the church” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The Kingdom of heaven & the Kingdom of God (“Are the same” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The GOSPEL (“Only One” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • FAITH (Always the same since Adam – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • SALVATION (“Always the ‘same’, under every covenant” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The SAINTS (“Only Christians” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • BAPTISM (“Only One Kind = Water” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (The Evidence = “Tongues” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • SHEEP (“Only Christians” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The BIBLE (“Only ‘Original Manuscripts’ – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • GLASS (“Always a Mirror” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • FACE TO FACE (“Not always the same” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • “CHARITY” (“Always the Same as love” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The CREATION (“Self creating, without God” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The HEART (“Equated with the physical brain” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The MIND (“Equated with the physical brain” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The CONSCIENCE (“Equated with the physical brain” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The SPIRIT (Not accepted by most “educated” people, or else “multiple meaningless definitions” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
  • The SOUL (Not accepted by most “educated” people, or else “multiple meaningless definitions” – NOT SO According to Scripture)
We could do the same kind of study and comparison on each of these subjects as I have just presented concerning the word “church”.

Now - can you not see that “rightly dividing the word of truth” takes work? There is only one verse in the entire Bible that commands us to STUDY and along with that command, the “method” or “way” we are to study is clearly laid out for any sincere Bible believer to get a hold of (“schooling” is not necessary or required to “rightly divide” – a sincere and honest heart is the only prerequisite). [2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.]. We are NOT told to HARMONIZE the word of truth – we are COMMANDED to: “rightly DIVIDE the word of truth.” {Not just the Old & New Testaments and NOT just the individual Books of the Bible.}

Elsewhere on this Forum I have gone into more depth on how to “rightly divide” the word of God, but the information I have listed above should demonstrate to any honest person that Bible study is not something that can be “mastered” in a 2 or 3 or 4 year Bible Institute or Seminary. I have been a Christian for 50 years and have been engaged in serious Bible study for over 40 years and I still am learning.

There are men on this Forum who have been saved for 10, 20, or 30 years from whom I have received instruction on some Bible issues that I hadn’t “settled” in my heart or mind before. There are men on this Forum who have edified me in some manner (either by word or by their conduct). This Forum is not a church, but I believe that God has used it for the edification of the brethren and I, for one, am thankful for the opportunity to fellowship with “likeminded” brethren from around the world {Even with those brethren that I might disagree with on some issues that I don't consider "major" issues. }

On the other hand, there are a few people who come on this Forum who have a personal “agenda”, and who try to “push” their “personal opinions”; “private interpretations”; or “pet doctrines”; and in the course of pursuing their “agenda” they either get personally insulting or belligerent in their presentation or arguments. I believe that if these people are not confronted and dealt with, eventually they will have a detrimental effect on the Forum as a whole, and might become a “stumbling block” for a young Christian or “babe in Christ” that might have come here for edification.

There is so much leaven & false doctrine, and so many false teachers & false brethren out in the world today that it has become wearisome, and sometimes discouraging having to deal with it all. BUT, deal with it we must, or this Forum will just turn into a “debate society” (like so many other Forums) – with no FINAL AUTHORITY other than someone’s opinion as to what God’s word “MEANS”, rather than what it “SAYS”!

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Last edited by George; 10-06-2008 at 03:57 AM.