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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: May 07, 2021
“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.
Last week we left our study of 1 Timothy 2:1-7 at verse 2:4 answering the question did the Lord Jesus Christ die for “all men” or was that just for a lucky few, as some believe. I reiterate it amazes me to hear someone say God chooses who He wants to save and the rest of mankind has no say in the matter. If you read this passage of scripture just as it reads, without adding or taking away from it, Paul clearly said, “the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” and not just some (1 Timothy 2:6).As a side-note because this information is important, I suggest y’all re-read the previous lesson to refresh the mind and to ensure we’re all on the same page moving forward.
Please open your Bible and then meet me at 1 Timothy 2:5-7.
I visit CTN on occasion not because I’m a fan or a follower but to keep abreast of all the false teaching circulating in the churches today. The subject of false teachers and false teaching is one of the most addressed themes in the N.T. and warnings about them are found in the four Gospels, and the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John. This is so because false teachers and false teaching present a major danger to the Church.
This danger was evident in Ephesus where Timothy was the pastor, i.e., the man in charge just as Paul predicted (Acts 20:25-31). Our Apostle Paul warns about false teachers and teachings several times in his first letter to Timothy. For instance, in 1 Timothy 1:3, Paul urged Timothy to command false teachers to stop teaching false doctrines (paradosis, a.k.a. traditions), i.e., any doctrine that contradicts Pauline doctrine. At this time there were certain Jewish men that were devoted to myths and endless genealogies and were abusing the Law (1:4, 7). Then, in 1 Timothy 4:13, he warns of demonically inspired teachers that forbid marriage and the eating of certain foods as the Mosaic Law directs, thereby slamming shut, as it were, the door to the Believer’s liberty in Christ (Deuteronomy 7:3; 1 Kings 11:2; Leviticus 11:4-8; Acts 10; Galatians 2:4, 4:1-7, 5:1). Know this, every true Believer in this present dispensation, whether Jew or Gentile, stands in the infinite grace of God for He, “hath made us accepted in the beloved,” “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” far beyond the reach of any and all accusers and even the law itself; what’s more, Paul affirms that we are now, “complete in him,” (Ephesians 1:6, 2:6; Colossians 2:8-15).
False teachers are identified by their false teaching. Thus, it should come as no surprise to learn false teachers and their teachings have presented a danger/threat to Believers in every dispensation and that includes this present age. To that I add this ever-present danger is on the increase as the world-stage is being made ready for the arrival of the counterfeit Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; 2 Timothy 4:3).
One Mediator Between God And Men
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:5-7).
The Apostle Paul soundly rebuked all the naysayers and dissenters or all those that “twist the Scriptures” in teaching the Lord Jesus Christ did not die for “all men” (2:1-4) and followed that up with the strong argument or counterclaim in verses 2:5-6:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
These words are certainly clear, so clear that a child in the fourth grade can understand. The Lord Jesus Christ died a death that was not His to die for “all men,” not just some, or all kinds of men, but “men;” i.e., mankind, the human race.
Every human being born into this world enters as an enemy of God because of their sinful nature or “lost state.” Therefore, in its present condition, mankind is not fit to stand in the presence of the holy God. Thus, God presents the solution to this dilemma and that is a go-between, i.e., someone that can represent mankind in the presence of God. Job of the O.T. came to this realization when he accepted this fact and the truth there was no one to help him overcome this spiritual shortfall, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, That might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33).
Praise and thanksgiving to “God our Savior” that the “daysman” or “mediator” has been provided, a go-between, who can act as an intermediary between lost mankind and God. Paul informs us here that Mediator is none other than “the Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (1:1b).
By the by, and while we’re here, permit me to point out the simple truth Paul’s declaration here refutes the claims of Rome as to the mediatorship of her priests and Mary as co-mediatrix with Christ – for, again, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” “One” means “one,” y’all and not many others…
Moving on, Christ Jesus became the Son of man so that the lost sons and daughters of men might become the adopted children of God (Romans 8:15-17; Ephesians 1:3-9, 3:20). I say might because “free will” exists and people might not choose to believe and be saved. Believe what? The answer: Paul’s gospel most clearly revealed to mankind in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” This is the good news of God our Savior that saves all people today.Although the Son of man (the Lord Jesus Christ) was without fault (sin,) He died upon Calvary’s cross, was publicly disgraced as a wrongdoer, so that His payment for sin might be credited to the sinner’s account and we then might stand before God without so much as one sin to our account (Romans 5:17, 19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).
“… to be testified in due time.”
What does this mean? Paul’s saying the message or truth about the Lord Jesus Christ giving Himself up as “a ransom for all,” had not been proclaimed, i.e., “testified” in the previous dispensations or “time past.” Furthermore, and contrary to what some people teach, the Apostle Peter and the other apostles did not even know that the Lord would suffer and then be put to death, even after He told them (See Luke 18:31-34). There is no record of Jesus of Nazareth saying He would become “a ransom for all,” i.e., Jew and Gentile alike before Paul. Therefore, this good news was not proclaimed on the day of Pentecost. Check the written record for yourselves and you’ll find Peter’s remarks were directed to his kinsmen, i.e., his Jewish brethren, and I seriously doubt that there was even one Gentile in that crowd. Let’s review his remarks starting at Acts 3:11:
“And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this?”
Now, drop on down to verse 3:19:
“Repent ye (Jews) therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord…”
And now verses 3:25-26:
“… ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
This is certainly “Jewish ground” for the prophets, the priesthood, and the covenant promises belong solely to the nation of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13). Knowing this, at this time, i.e., under the Dispensation of Law, the only way a gentile could find salvation was through the only nation the Lord God gave a “religion” and that was the nation of Israel (Malachi 4:4; Romans 9:1-5). And that was done by taking hold of the “skirt” of a Jew (Zechariah 8:3), a figurative way of saying “become as a Jew,” meaning: the gentile voluntarily placed themselves under the Mosaic Law, which included the rite of circumcision, the dietary restrictions, keeping the sabbath day holy, etc. (Isiah 56:6-7; Mark 11:17). But when the nation of Israel rejected even the resurrected and glorified Christ, and God put her, along with the unbelieving gentiles into the same unbelieving mix, as it were, He then raised up another apostle to proclaim the amazing truth that: “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32).
A great many Scriptural problems would be solved and the seeming contradictions explained away, if people would carefully note the time element that is emphasized strongly in the Word of God. For instance, in Romans 5:12 we learn that sin entered the human race by “the man” (Adam). Then later “the law entered” (5:20). But still later the Apostle Paul enters with this message: “But now, (speaks of a time element re: this side of the cross of Christ Jesus or this present dispensation of God; see Ephesians 2) the righteousness of God without the law is manifested” (Romans 3:21).
Under the Law the Jews were required to make blood sacrifices for their wrongs in order to be accepted by YAHWEH, the LORD God, (See Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4), the males were required to be circumcised 8 days after their birth (Genesis 17), and still later, repentance and water baptism were required of the Jews (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). But not until the calling of the Apostle Paul do we learn of salvation by grace through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s finished, all-sufficient work of redemption on Calvary. This is why Paul refers in Galatians 3:23 to “the faith which should afterward be revealed.” This is why he declares the Lord “gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” and adds: “whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle” (2:6-7).
It is only as we recognize the time element in Scripture that we see the difference between “the kingdom of heaven” and “the Body of Christ,” between “the gospel of the kingdom” and “the gospel of the grace of God,” between the “dispensation of law” and “the dispensation of the grace of God.”
Once again I refer to the comparison of Romans 3:21 and 3:26 for it clearly shows how this time element is emphasized in Scripture. After discussing the function of the Law in Verses 19 and 20, Paul declared: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…” Then, in 3:26 he said it is God’s purpose: “To declare, I say, at this time His (Christ’s) righteousness; that He (God) might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
What’s the flip-side of believing? That would be unbelief, so let’s look at that issue.
The Sin of Unbelief
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s answer to “unbelief.” The changed attitudes and boldness of the eleven apostles after they saw the Lord standing and eating in their presence in the upper room, the 500 witnesses who saw Him alive and well after His crucifixion, and the sudden and dramatic change in the life and mission of Saul of Tarsus who saw Him “last of all,” rank high among the “many infallible proofs” of His resurrection. Cowards were made bold, doubters believed, the sorrowing were made glad, those suffering persecution became some of His most devoted followers. The broken Roman seal on the empty tomb, the failure of the enemies of Christ to produce His dead body, and a hundred other facts add their testimony in confirmation of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has been “declared to be the Son of God with power… by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:7-11).
The resurrection of Christ, then, not only proves His divinity it assures us that His payment for sin is all-sufficient and complete, for “when He had by Himself purged our sins (He) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrew 1:3). “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
Next in line is this, the resurrection of Christ gives us a living Savior and more than a few religions are unable to say this with verity. Comparing the O.T. priests with Christ, Scripture says, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth (for)ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make (what?) intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25; Galatians 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:5).
The resurrection of Christ Jesus is also the pledge of the Believer’s resurrection in glory. In I Peter 1:3 the Apostle Peter breaks out in a doxology saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
And the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, said what no other false idol of man could say, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
Finally, the resurrection of Christ stands as a warning to this Christ hating world of judgment to come: “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation)” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31a).
This subject offers an opportunity to discuss “the unpardonable sin,” which is one of those seeming controversial subjects found in Scripture. I personally know a few people who are struggling with this teaching, so I know they would welcome “the truth” of the matter. But to do this requires more time than we presently have on hand. Perhaps we can look at this next week. For now, let’s turn our attention to verse 2:7:
“… Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (i.e., truth).”
This “truth” confirms and shows us, in this letter to Timothy, that God the Father has now assumed toward this world (mankind, the human race) the role of Savior (See verses 1:1, 2:3-4, 4:10; and 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). Therefore, with regard to all those folks who persistently refer to the “sovereign grace of God” yet fail to observe this aspect of His amazing grace, fail to see that with the calling of the Apostle Paul the door was opened wide to outcast Gentiles and outcast Jews alike, to come to Christ Jesus, and in faith alone, trust Him as their Savior. The O.T. believers knew of the LORD’s sovereign grace for God’s grace is evident in every dispensation, but they were never told of His secret purpose, they knew nothing about “the revelation of the mystery,” that was finally revealed to and through Paul, the chief of sinners, now gloriously saved, concerning the “abundant grace,” the grace offered freely and indiscriminately to “all men,” of which he was “chief” (Romans 16:25-27; 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Considering all that we have learned, to deny God loves “all men” and that Christ Jesus died for “all” is not only to commit a grave theological error, but in like fashion denies the unique message and ministry committed to Paul for this present “dispensation” (Ephesians 3:1-9).
This two-word question is the most important question in N.T. Bible study. It is not an overstatement to say that without a correct answer to this question little can be realized of God’s purpose and plan for Believers in “the dispensation of the grace of God.” His creation of the Church, the whole doctrine of God’s Church, the Body of Christ, rests in the balance of this question. In terms of biblical revelation, it ranks in importance with God’s call of Abraham and the giving of the Mosaic Law to Moses and the Israelites.
The vast majority of Christendom view Paul simply as an extension of the twelve. Some have gone so far as to say that Peter and the other apostles were wrong to choose Matthias to replace Judas. These folks say and believe they should have waited for Paul to fill that vacancy. They view Paul as the legitimate 12th apostle. The problem with this view is the biblical record does not support it.
When Paul was called of God to be His apostle to the Gentile nations (Acts 9), he was not sent to proclaim the fulfillment of prophecy. Both his apostleship and his message were heavenly in their origin (Galatians 1:11-12), and there were no Scripture passages he could point to in confirmation of his proclamation of “the mystery.” Thus, he often speaks under oath, as it were, calling God, or Christ, to witness, both as to his ministry to both Jew and Gentile and his distinctive message for “all men” (See Ephesians 3:1-9).
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