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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: January 24, 2020
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS. It’s good to have all of you back again.
I appreciate you and your faithfulness to God’s Word especially these past few months. Please know my health continues to improve.
In Colossians 1:14 Paul reminded the Colossians of the enormous price and sacrifice Jesus Christ paid to secure their redemption saying: “In whom we have (not hope for) redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Paul speaks again of Christ Jesus’ redemptive work in Romans 3:23-26:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness (not ours) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
We need to get a handle on two terms Paul used before we proceed. Redemption” means: the purchase of God's divine favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law by the atonement of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:23).
The word “atonement” means: agreement; peace; reconciliation, after enmity or controversy (See Romans 5). Everyone born into this world enters on the wrong side of God. Due to our sin nature we are anti-God and therefore in the state of enmity. The only exception is God’s Son who was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15).
Since the first century people have been trying to get right with God by adding their best intentions and their good deeds to Christ’s perfect sacrifice hoping to please God and be saved. But the Bible clearly says you can’t earn God’s Grace it’s the “free gift of God” to all who believe (Ephesians 2:8-10). The Romans passage above supports this truth and declares the propitiation (the sacrifice that fully paid) for our sins is applied through faith (belief in what God has said) in “His shed blood” (alone). But, what does it mean to have faith in His (divine) blood? It has been said, if you have “faith in His blood,” you have many things. First, since the Bible is the source of God’s command to have “faith in His blood,” and you have that faith, then clearly you understand the Bible is true and worthy to be believed even to the saving of your eternal soul, which is no small detail.
Next, you understand His blood is not only unique it is powerful; therefore, God’s Son is extraordinary and not like us. He entered this world fully God and fully Man which means unlike us He did not possess a sin nature. It also means you understand that salvation is not a work of your own but only comes through the sacrificial death of God’s Son. You also acknowledge that sin itself is such a grievous offense against the righteousness of God the Father that only the blood, the very life, of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for its price.
Finally, if you have “faith in His blood,” you must have a dispensational understanding of the gospel of grace (whether you’re aware of this or not) since salvation by “faith in His blood, alone, is known only through the writings of Paul.
So, encompassed in these four words, “faith in His blood,” is nearly the entire statement of faith held by every dispensational Bible believing church. So then, salvation is not of works, but of faith in what God has revealed to man, dispensationaly speaking. In the Church Age, salvation is realized only through the gospel delivered to us through our Apostle Paul (Romans 16:25-26, 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Add in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and The Virgin Birth (both of which are implied above) and you’ve got the whole package simply by having “faith in his blood.”
********Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:19-20.
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through (what) the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
As Paul closes out chapter 1, he gives the Colossians (and us) two valid reasons for Christ Jesus’ preeminence (1:17-18): 1) All the fullness of deity exists in Him. 2) By His death (His shed blood) God “reconciled all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
Paul is the only apostle that emphasizes the redemptive power of Christ Jesus’ blood:
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7).
In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul speaks of the great message he alone proclaimed and prays we might comprehend in order that we may know “the love of Christ Jesus” and be “filled with all the fullness of God:”
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Romans 5:1-11).
The O.T. Believers did not know God the Son as we know Him today. Truth be told, He wasn’t known at all. Jesus Christ was there, but only in veiled phrasing and types. The nation of Israel expected the promised One, i.e., their Messiah (God’s anointed) but they certainly weren’t expecting God’s Son to arrive on scene. But just because this isn’t spoken of in plain language in the O.T. doesn’t mean the Son of God, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, didn’t exist. We learn through the progressive revelation of Scripture there’s never been a time when He didn’t exist.
I just thought of a biblical example in support of my statement above that the Israelites didn’t know God had a Son even though the O.T. Scriptures indicated His existence. Please go to Luke 24:25-27. This is where the risen Lord on the day of His resurrection appeared and walked along with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Then he (the risen Lord) said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).
You’d think the twelve chosen apostles and His disciples knew His true identity, and His plan and purpose, but you’d be wrong. Please turn to Luke 16:13-17:
“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? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias (Elijah); and others, Jeremias (Jeremiah), or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?”
The silence that ensued could be felt, I imagine, until the spokesperson for the group, Simon Peter, chimed in with this statement:
“Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (See also Luke 18:28-34).
The Israelites alone had the oracles and ordinances of God but they didn’t see Jesus Christ in them (Romans 3:2). Paul remarked on this fact 1 Corinthians 2:6-8:
“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Had the Romans and the Jewish leaders fully understood Christ’s character, the truth in respect to His incarnation, and seen the wisdom of His plan and His work they would not have put the Son of God to death (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 3:17). Therefore, even though Israel didn’t recognize Christ Jesus as God’s Son, and many still do not today, clearly He is the great “I AM” (Jehovah - Yahweh) of the Old Testament. He’s the One that dealt with the nation of Israel from day one through Moses and the prophets.
By the way, you’d be hard-pressed to find the term “Trinity” in the Bible too, but that doesn’t mean the concept isn’t there (See Genesis 1:1:2; Matthew 28:19; John 1:1-3; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-7). The Jews missed this truth as well. They insisted there is only one true God, that is, Yahweh.
“Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye †go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:” (Deuteronomy 6:1-4).
“Then said I, Lo, I come: In the volume of the book written of me,” (Psalm 40:7;).
We don’t learn who “Me” is until the Son of Man appeared incarnate (Luke 2:1-21; Philippians 2:7-8). Nowhere in the four gospels do you find Jesus Christ being recognized as the Son of God. Instead, you learn Jesus had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). From His birth to His death you find Him subjected to humiliation and ridicule by the very people He came to redeem. The multitudes followed Him for the show and the free lunch. The Jewish leaders plotted against Him, Martha rebuked Him, Peter denied Him 3 times in succession, and Judas betrayed Him. Here we learn His deity is veiled by His humanity. But after his baptism in the River Jordan He spoke of another type of baptism to come; we understand this to be His Cross:
“But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished” (Luke 12:50).
Thank God we know Him no longer “after the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16) for, it’s been said, how could Christ in straitened circumstances mean so much to us as the Lord of glory who lovingly dispenses the riches of His Grace and every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies to all who believe His gospel in this dispensation.
Even in Christ Jesus’ resurrection His glory was veiled, how else could the eleven have seen Him in the upper room and elsewhere? Probably the greatest display of His glory, while on earth, took place at the Transfiguration when appearing with Moses and Elias, His face shone like the sun and His clothing was white as light! Yet, we find Peter seeing this and saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (Matthew 17:4).
Compare that episode with the bright light that blinded Saul of Tarsus when the glorified Lord appeared to him on the Damascus RD (Acts 9:3-4, 23:13-16). Once again, it is Paul, and no one else, who says, “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). The Jews who believed in Christ Jesus’s name knew Him as Israel’s suffering Savior, however the Body of Christ knows Him as the glorified and risen Lord of glory:
“God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
Paul doesn’t speak of Christ Jesus in veiled terminology; he tells it as it is. For instance, we just learned through Pauline revelation that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (1:15), He’s the Creator God (1:16), the Great Sustainer (1:17) and in relation to the Church, the Body of Christ, He is the supreme Head and the Master of death (1:18).
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;”
What is Paul saying? I’m glad you asked. Some people believe Paul’s referring to the Lord’s incarnation, while others think the subject is Christ Jesus’ completed work of reconciliation, and they base that belief on Paul’s declaration in verse 1:20:
“And having made peace (past tense) through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (1:20).
This Bible teacher believes Paul’s referring to the Lord’s work of reconciliation. So, it might be better to understand “fullness” as referring to the fullness of God’s plan of reconciliation in Him:
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
In other words, Paul is declaring the fullness of God’s saving grace and provision of salvation resides solely and totally in the saving work of Christ “through the blood of the cross” (1:20).
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5).
This Pauline teaching is significant because the false teachers in Colosse were saying something totally different. They insisted Christ’s death (His saving work of the cross) was insufficient for salvation. The legalistic Jews for instance retained the Mosaic Law (2:14), they imposed circumcision on the gentiles (2:11), and followed strict dietary restraints (2:16). This program was set forth in the Dispensation of Law in times past, and the nation of Israel was obligated to obey all the LORD’s commands *Leviticus 26:3). But now, Paul is saying the Cross is enough. In the Dispensation of God’s Grace, works of the flesh, of any kind, cannot please God. Faith in what He has said, dispensationaly speaking, does please Him (Hebrews 9:22, 11:6).
“And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (1:20).
Do you see what this verse is saying? God “made peace” with the world through Christ Jesus’ shed blood and “reconciled all things unto himself;” and this was accomplished while we were yet sinners and enemies of God (Romans 5:7-9).
In Ephesians 2:12 Paul speaks of the gentiles who in times past were alienated from the covenant promises of Israel, without God, and without hope in this world. In Ephesians 4:18 we find the Gentiles “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.” In Ephesians 2:17 we read the Lord sent His servants to preach peace to them which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. Those who were afar off were the gentiles who were counted dead in trespasses and sins.
Furthermore, between the Gentiles and the Jewish nation there had been a middle wall of partition (Ephesians 2:14). This wall of exclusivity was erected at Mt. Sinai. It was a wall made up of the law, ordinances, and the Jew’s religion. The Israelites themselves were nigh to the LORD. They were called “the Commonwealth of Israel.” Then in Ephesians 2:15-16, we learn that Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, broke down the middle wall of partition, the law of commandments in ordinances; that He might reconcile both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one Body by “the blood of His cross.”
This same truth is found in Colossians 2:13-14 where we read, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (gentiles), which was contrary to us, and took it (the ordinances) out of the way, nailing it to the cross.”
If we did not have other Scriptures to teach us otherwise, we might believe what many churches are teaching these days, i.e., the risen Christ, immediately after His death, sent the eleven apostles to preach the ministry of reconciliation to the Gentiles; that these eleven apostles knew that the law had been nailed to the cross, and that all religious barriers had been removed and all national preferences and racial distinctions had been eradicated. But in studying the ministry of the apostles in the first thirteen chapters of Acts, we learn that this is contrary to the facts. For instance, in Acts 10:28 we have the Apostle Peter saying it was not lawful for him to enter a Gentiles’ home let alone preach the gospel to them, and this was about eight years after Christ’s death on the Cross. There’s a Bible verse in Acts 11:19 that I dare say most of Christendom is not aware of. It says the gospel was being preached to “the Jews only.”
Note Peter’s message in Acts 5:29-32. There Peter preached to Israel that God had raised Christ from the dead to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour there is no reference to the Gentiles being included in God’s salvation plan at this time. If we compare Acts 5:29-32 with Ephesians 1:19-23, we find that significant difference I spoke of earlier. In Acts 5 we learn from Peter that God raised Christ from the dead to be their Prince and a Saviour to give Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins, whereas, in Ephesians 1:19-23, Paul said God raised Christ from the dead to be Head over all things unto the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
(To be continued).
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