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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday AM
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS.
I’ve mentioned a time or two before once you reach Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon in your Bible you’ve reached that portion of scripture known as “the deeper spiritual” things of God. But, please bear in mind we have new people visiting our Bible study daily and from all points of the globe, so I repeat things that are important. Scripture does the same thing. The other thing I need to bring up is Paul no longer mentions the Jews or the Old Testament because God is dealing with all of mankind as a whole again just as He did in the beginning (Genesis 1-11; 1 Corinthians 10:32); For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; (Romans 10:12).
Let’s begin by reviewing Ephesian 1:5-6 to refresh our minds and because these verses flow right into verse 7.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (= the Lord Jesus Christ).
Among other things, these verses explain how God the Father sees every true Believer; each one is accepted and is coequal with Christ because they are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17). This means God the Father cannot reject the Believer without rejecting His Son. This explains our position or current state according to the kind intention of His will, and His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. I remind you this language isn’t found in the four gospels or the O. T. folks. This is strictly Pauline.
Please open your Bible at Ephesians 1:7
7: In Him (in the Beloved) we have (we’re not striving for it; it’s ours now positionally) redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
The first thing I want to mention here is one of the most common descriptions in this book of a follower of Jesus Christ is that he or she is “in Christ.” The expressions “in Christ,” “in the Lord and in Him” appears 164 times in the letters of our Apostle Paul alone. This term doesn’t mean the Believer is actually inside of Christ. It means the Believer is organically united to Jesus Christ, as a limb is attached to the human body. It speaks of a unique personal relationship with God’s Son that is the distinctive mark of His authentic followers. You are either in Christ Jesus or outside of Christ. There’s no middle ground.
In contrast, the word Christian occurs only 3 times in the Bible. Because of its common misuse I seldom use the word. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul never used the word; at least I have not found it in their communications. What distinguishes the true followers of Jesus Christ is not their doctrine, their principles, or their ceremonies or rites related to their religion but Jesus Christ Himself. Put another way we’re not to imitate (a religious system such as Christianity but a Person, namely the Lord Jesus Christ; the very Person God commands every true Believer to imitate, as they walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
In Him we have redemption – the Koine Greek word for redemption is Apolutrosis (Ap-ol-oo’-tro-sis), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek # 629, meaning: liberation procured by payment of a ransom. Redemption in Paul’s day referred to the release of a slave or a captive taken under hostile circumstances upon receipt of a ransom. However because Paul used the phrase “forgiveness of sins” here it shows us the word means the deliverance from sin and the negative consequences of sin. The atoning work of Christ procured our liberation from sin and the second death.
Let’s quickly turn to Romans chapter 3; I want you to see what this book says for yourselves: Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
The primary result of redemption for the true Believer is forgiveness of sins. Believers are released from their enslavement to sin and God’s divine wrath. We constantly hear of God’s love in this age but we seldom hear a word about God’s divine wrath. I remind you God is longsuffering, not wanting any to perish, however, His wrath will be revealed one day against all ungodliness (Romans 1:18, 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Through His blood – I know Paul doesn’t mention the O.T. or the Jews anymore, but this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop using this entire book to explain what it’s saying. Quoting St. Augustine: “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.”
The sacrificial system was ordained by the LORD God in the O.T. In God’s holy temple animal sacrifices is prescribed in the Torah not only for various minor sins that were committed daily but for the serious sins as well. Suffice to say, the LORD sought to give His people a way to approach Him, i.e. to have a meaningful relationship with Him, and to worship Him. To be blunt, Webster’s dictionary doesn’t have it quite right. The Hebrew word for sacrifice (Korban) is from the same root word as “to come near, to approach; to become closely involved with in a relationship with someone.”
The English translation has led to a great misunderstanding. We allow ourselves to use the word “sacrifice” to mean: an offering, a gift, or present; giving up something of value for another’s benefit, or going without something of value yourself for the benefit of another. This gift-giving idea is not present in the meaning of Korban because, first of all, it is a word that never conveys the meaning of a gift or present. It is used exclusively in the Bible in the context of man’s relationship with God. Thus, since Korban means to come close to God, the Temple sacrifices is God’s attempt to teach man how they can draw near to Him (Psalm 72:28). I sense further study on this topic is required.
The Law of Atonement
The ritual Day of Atonement (Hebrew “Yom Kippur”), described in Leviticus 16 was and is the most holy day of worship on the Hebrew calendar. I say “is” because even though the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and the Israelites have been without temple worship since then, the LORD GOD commanded His people to perform annual atonement forever, i.e. it is a permanent statute (16:29). Of course the N.T. reveals the Lord Jesus Christ was the end of the Law and our Perfect sacrifice; He has made perfect those who are now justified by faith (Romans 10:4; Hebrews 10:14). Plans are underway at this very moment in Israel for the rebuilding of the third Jewish Temple and it will happen; this book says so. But not until the nation of Israel signs the peace treaty arranged by the anti-christ with their enemies, which will be broken. Satan is a liar after all. This book says the peace treaty was a sham from the get-go. But it is also clear the Jewish priesthood and all that entails will resume again for a time.
The Day of Atonement was an O.T. foreshadow of a future N.T event. I’ll explain: first, this ceremonial ritual conveys a powerful message. On the Day of Atonement, there was a message being relayed between the parts of the ritual and the spiritual meaning they represented. There were two features that distinguished this day of worship. First, it was the one day of the year that the High Priest, (Aaron) and only the High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle).
“Aaron (Israel’s first high priest) shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering (16:3).
“He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering” (16:5)
“Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household” (16:6).
Inside the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant that represented the resident presence of the LORD God. The High Priest sprinkled blood on the “mercy seat” of the Ark of the Covenant, achieving the forgiveness of sin for the priest and the worshippers.
Next the priest sprinkled blood in the outer room of the Tent of Meeting. The blood “decontaminated” the ceremonial impurities accumulated by the sins of the people and the ceremonial uncleanness committed for that year. This means the purification of the Tent of Meeting was national in scope, providing comprehensive purging of sins and impurities.
Second, the Day of Atonement included a ceremony that involved the expulsion of a living animal from the camp, traditionally translated “scapegoat” (Leviticus 1-22).
The various aspects of this holy day’s ritual help us appreciate and understand the atonement we have in Jesus Christ. N.T. allusions to this day give a pictorial anticipation of the death and mediatorial role of Christ whose sacrificial blood which was shed on Calvary for all achieves our salvation and sanctification (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 10:10, 13:11-12).
In Hebrews 9-10 we have been given a sustained explanation for the significance of the Day of Atonement and the parallel ministry of Christ. Our Apostle Paul, the writer of Hebrews, refers to the roles of Christ as our eternal High Priest, God’s Perfect sacrifice, and His blood's everlasting purging of sin and corruption of the heavenly Tent of Meeting by the sprinkling of His own blood based on the one-time act of His death and ascension into the heavenly throne room of God (Hebrews 9:1-10, 18; Psalm 110:1).
The provision made by Christ enables us to enter the heavenly Most Holy Place where we offer our prayers to God (Hebrews 10:19-20). However, our Apostle Paul doesn’t mention the scapegoat. What was the reason for the scapegoat, and what is its meaning for the ministry of Jesus Christ?
The actual meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain; it occurs only in Leviticus 16:8, 10, and 26. Some versions render it the traditional "scapegoat," and it means: "the goat that departs." Others simply record it as the Hebrew Azazel, referring to a location in the desert or to the name of a goat-demon in the wilderness. I disregard this notion though because there is a specific prohibition against making an offering to a goat-demon in the next chapter of Leviticus (17:7). This makes scapegoat the likely choice since it reflects the role the goat played in the religious ceremony.
By the high priest placing his hands on the head of the goat and confessing the sins of Israel, the priest symbolized the transference of the people's sin to the scapegoat (16:20-22). Together the goat sacrificed and the living scapegoat showed that the goats were substituted for all the people and these animals bore the penalty of all their sin.
By now I pray you are starting to understand the message within this ceremony. The sacrificed goat perished and the scapegoat took away the impurities and sins into the wilderness (16:8-10). The scapegoat symbolizes Jesus Christ who bore all our sins, and by taking them away, frees us from the accompanying penalty and guilt. The Day of Atonement foreshadowed the ultimate atonement Jesus Christ provides for all who believe.
On the Day of Atonement in the O.T. when the animal’s blood was carried into the Holy of Holies for the sins of the people, the sins were covered over with the blood. Their sins were not “taken away.” From the LORD God’s perspective He no longer saw their sin; He only saw the shed blood that covered their sin. Shed blood is keynote. One of the absolutes in Scripture is: without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (of sin) - Hebrews 9:22.
With the Lord Jesus Christ’s substitionary sacrifice, His blood does away with sin for all (2 Corinthians 5:15). It blots the sin out completely. It also clears our conscience and takes away the guilt. In addition to this Christ Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to every true Believer. Every true Believer is clothed in the righteousness of God’s Son; and nothing can change that! (Romans 8:1-2)
According to the riches of His grace – I’ve been asked, more than a time or two, does the true Believer continue to sin? My response is, “Does a dog bark?” Your patience may wear thin with your children because they disobey you occasionally, but it doesn’t change the fact that you love them. Similarly, every true Believer needs to know God the Father loves them as His adopted children. He’s not going to disown you one day because you failed to “walk” the straight and narrow once too often.
Believers will fall for Satan’s schemes on occasion. We’re human, we make mistakes. Old Adam is alive and well and is part and parcel of our nature; you’re not going to shake him. We’re also living in Satan’s world; that’s two strikes against us. But our Apostle Paul has shown us we need not worry about “striking out.” Our sin will not cause God’s grace to expire. “Where sin increased (Paul assures us God’s) grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Paul’s saying, in brief, the true Believer cannot out-sin God’s grace; it’s immeasurable and He lavishes it upon all those who trust in His Son (Titus 2:11-14).
8: which He lavished on us. In all wisdom (of God) and insight– Paul’s still talking about God’s grace. When he speaks of God’s wisdom and insight, it has to do with the sovereign God making known to every true Believer the mystery of His will (Colossians 1:9-11).
The word wisdom (Sophia) refers to a knowledge of the true nature of things. Insight has to do with the practical application of this wisdom leading to the right course of action. But here’s the thing, the specific wisdom and insight Paul has in mind concerns a future aspect of God’s will which he describes in verses 9 and 10.
Paul’s saying God not only forgives those who believe the gospel, He gives each Believer all the necessary tools to understand Him and to walk through the world day-by-day in a way that reflects His will and in a way that glorifies Him. How so? We’re getting ahead of the lesson, but because of the indwelt gift of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the ability to understand His written Word and the desire to obey it. Put another way, God doesn’t leave us where He found us. When He removed our sin as far as the East is from the West, and positioned us in Christ Jesus, He doesn’t leave us in a mental, moral, and spiritual vacuum expecting us to work these things out for ourselves.
To illustrate, when I was a young man in the U.S. Navy I traveled to many foreign ports. I visited many countries I’d only read about growing up. And here’s the thing: upon my arrival I was left to my own resources. I didn’t have so much as a guidebook to assist me. I couldn’t read or speak the language. The currency in each country was different and no one offered to explain it. I knew next to nothing about the people or their customs. In each new port of call, I had to fend for myself. The adage, “A fool and his money are soon parted” is true. I learned from my mistakes. God has a better plan. He lavishes wisdom and insight upon us according to the riches of His grace just as He lavishes forgiveness on us according to His riches. Praise God!
9: He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Verse 9 identifies that wisdom and insight God lavished on the Believer. These blessings are associated with God making known to us the mystery of His will.
Again, the Bible is a progressive revelation; God reveals His truths and builds on them as we move along through His Word. But here’s the thing, because God is Sovereign, He chooses not to reveal all His truths to mankind quite a few were kept secret. The Bible says God brings us into the picture, so to speak, after revealing all or part of His plan to certain individuals such as His prophets; Paul would be another. I liken this to my parents who shared information with me and my siblings as we were growing up, but they did not tell us everything that was going on in their lives or in the household. Much of the knowledge was not for immature ears and the other information we wouldn’t have understood, if we heard it. They told us what we needed to know when we needed to know it.
Always bear this verse in mind when you study your Bible: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The word mystery if from the Koine Greek word Musterion which means: a secret, rite, or teaching which the initiate knows but no one else knows. It refers to information which has been kept secret, or veiled (Romans 16:25-26).
Of course in the N.T., in most cases, it refers to God’s secrets, His counsels and purposes which are not known to humanity apart from special revelation in Scripture or by His prophets (Daniel 2:18-23, 27-30).
When you reach the N.T. God’s secrets most often refer to the church which was concealed in the O.T., but has become revealed in the N.T. (Ephesians 3:1-9). The O.T. prophesied the death and resurrection of Christ and the salvation of the gentiles (Psalm 2:1-8; Isaiah 49:6), but there was absolutely nothing about the church or the Church Age. These were mysteries.
It is also used of spiritual-truth revealed in Scripture, Old or New Testament truth, but which remains a secret, veiled truth to the unbeliever because he or she cannot spiritually understand it (Luke 18:31-34). The entire Bible is a mystery to the unbeliever (Mark 4:11; 1 Corinthians 2:6). They can’t understand God’s Word or His invitation of salvation to the world because their heart is far from God (Psalm 14:1; Jeremiah 17:9).
Why did God choose to disclose these mysteries about the church and church doctrine first to our Apostle Paul and then to each one of us subsequently? This book says it was according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him. God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden and that unique relationship was lost because of his transgression. God decided right then and there His relationship with His creation would be restored, so He immediately put His plan of salvation in motion (Genesis 3:15). You may ask, “What took so long?” My response is, “We are slow learners.” The majority still hasn’t “caught on” to God’s Truths. God has revealed His plan of salvation to us and He expects us to act upon it (Deuteronomy 29:29). There is only one gospel that saves today and I know from experience if you approach ten people on the street with the question, “What’s the gospel that saves today?” People will stare at you as if you were growing horns, or you’ll get ten different responses.
The Many Gospels Being Preached Today
Depending on which church denomination you are affiliated with, i.e. aligned yourself with through the ritual of water baptism to become a member of their church, you had to first believe the gospel. Now this gospel takes on many forms in today’s church. They all teach you must have faith, but faith in what. That’s the thing.
1: Believe there is a God
2: Believe in Jesus
3: Believe in God, in Jesus, and in the Bible
4: Believe in Jesus’ name (John 3:16)
5: Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)
6: Believe in Jesus and be baptized (Acts 2:38)
7: Believe in Jesus, be baptized, and repent
8: Believe through Jesus’ shed blood, His death and His resurrection we are saved
9: Ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved
10: Ask Jesus to change your life and you will be saved
I could go on; there are literally dozens of gospels circulating today. Since the unsuspecting public isn’t reading their Bible, they have no idea what the gospel of their salvation is. Once again, for the benefit of those who are unaware, the clearest example of the gospel that saves you today is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, (in other words, this isn’t Paul’s opinion the gospel came from the Risen Lord – and here it is) that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 2:16).
We don’t add to this and we certainly don’t take anything away from it. It is the only gospel that saves today, per the risen Lord. I find it remarkable so many people choose to ignore it.
According to His kind intention which He purposed in Him – with this statement Paul declares God’s reasoning for saving lost mankind. He didn’t do it because it was the logical thing to do or because we deserved it. Paul’s saying it pleasured Him to do it. The other thing worth noting is it was the will of God from the foundation of the world (Acts 2:22-24). This was His plan and no one else’s.
Looking back, why has God blessed us with every spiritual blessing? Chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (means: God foreknew those who would respond to His salvation invitation. It does not mean God hand-picked certain people to be saved without their consent)?
Made us holy and blameless? Predestined us to adoption as His children? Redeemed us through His blood and lavishly given us forgiveness, wisdom, insight according to the infinite riches of His grace? Verse 10 answers these questions.
10: with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
This verse refers back to God’s kind intention in verse 9. With this in mind, verse 10 becomes a bit clearer if you read it this way, “with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, and God’s kind intention, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth,
Keeping the Big Picture in mind, based on the LORD God’s plan and purpose which begins in Genesis 3:15, God redeems (saves) us in order that He might gather all things to Himself. God lost His creation, when Adam “fumbled the ball,” but the good news is the Lord Jesus Christ “picked it up” and scored the ultimate victory! His conquered sin and death defeating Satan, which guarantees the same not only for each and every true Believer but for all creation actually:
For we know that the whole creation groans together and travails together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:22:23).
But here’s the thing, this won’t occur until the Rapture for us. The rest of creation waits until the arrival of the millennial kingdom which will be an administration suitable to the fullness of the times. With the completion of the history of man, the kingdom arrives, and God’s plan plays out. After the new heaven and the new earth are established, there will be a summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the goal of history, which finds its resolution in Him. Put another way, God’s paradise was lost in Adam; it is restored in Christ Jesus.
When the time is right, God will put His kind intention into effect and carry it out. His kind intention is the restoration of universal unity, when all things are brought back into harmony with Himself and under the Headship of Christ. We Believers are all one in Christ, whether we are Jew or Gentile, male or female (Galatians 3:28).
(To be continued)
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