Saturday, February 2, 2013
Lesson 7.1 of Bible Interpretation.
This lesson is borrowed from the booklet “Seven rules for Bible Interpretation”, written by REV. M. L. LOWE, D.D. with supplemental material by David W. Holden.
(Words in Bright red, mine)
Rule 7.1: The Scriptures Must Be Rightly Divided.
This booklet proposes “SEVEN RULES FOR BIBLE INTERPRETATION”, and this seventh link in an unbreakable chain readily divides itself into seven additional areas of detailed study! (Each will be a different blog post) We might emphasize the analogy of comparison to a seven-link chain, anchoring this link to the solid rock of Holy Writ by a seven-fold grapple (the end link of a chain connected to its object by seven individual grapples).
The key verse on which this indispensible “link” is fashioned is, of course, the theme of all Bible research:
2Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
This prompted the question which Dr. Lowe presented to his class:
*When is the Bible Rightly Divided?...
This is the vital consideration of the student of the Word.
What follows is perhaps the most important set of distinctions needed by every earnest student of the Word. Follow these points very thoroughly. Dr. Lowe answered his question, “When is the Bible Rightly Divided?” as follows:
The Bible is rightly divided when we take note of the great highways, the continental divides, the natural water sheds which are clearly evident along the way from GENESIS to REVELATION.
Since those Bible school days, the American road patterns have shifted from the first New York to San Francisco “Lincoln Highway” to the modern Interstate System! Even though not yet completed, the practicality of the network is unsurpassed. Look for the great highways of traffic through the Bible – the roads which connect the important centers! Travel those thoroughfares!
America is blessed with two “Continental Divides” of major proportions, the Apalachins and the Rockies, and numerous other smaller “divides”. Two drops of rain can fall side by side, and one end up in the Mississippi river and the Gulf of Mesico, and the other in the Ocean! The Bible has one great spiritual “Continental Divide” with mount Calvary as the highest focal point! Everything in the Old Testament leads to this peak; everything in the New Testament is dependent upon that marvelous summit of God’s Grace!
There are Dispensational differences which must be always taken into account before any passage is given an interpretation. There are differences in the Covenants, each of the eight covenants have their own place, their own references, and their own applications. God has divided mankind into three groups, and each is handled differently in the Word.
In a similar mosaic, through the center of our country flows the Mississippi, north to south, with hundreds of tributaries from east to west. Likewise, all “tributaries of prophecy” shall flow together (the regathering of Israel, for example) and shall flow into their culmination in the coming kingdom of our Lord! The natural “watersheds” of other Biblical truths similarly fulfill their intended purpose. So, in Bible study, don’t try to pick a channel of spiritual truth flowing into the Atlantic and place it along side the great Columbia River of some far removed other truth. To more accurately expound this, follow along the notes of our teacher:
1. We Must Consider the Dispensations, Especially Law and Grace…
There are seven dispensations, periods of time when God deals with man in respect to his obedience to some specific revelation of Himself. There is an abrupt change in God’s dealing with mankind at Calvary! The dispensation of LAW ended—the Dispensation of GRACE began. They are entirely separate, they do not an they CANNOT mix! It is just this simple:
John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
The believer now lives in…
Eph. 3:2 “…the dispensation of the grace of God…”
It is from this vantage point that the Bible student surveys the Book from GENESIS through THE REVELATION. These are the faithful instructors notes:
The Lord is the same at all times (Hebrews 13:8), but He deals differently with men at different times. Yet He never contradicts Himself or His promises. If, in one dispensation, He legislates capital punishment for man, He does not do away with that regulation at another time. However, for the one who receives his salvation, He deals with a newly-revealed grace; yet, the unrepentant man is still under the earlier provision.
The Law was given to Israel, and to Israel alone. No other people could keep the law; the Jews could not keep the law. It’s purpose is to show us how unable we are to earn our salvation, thus to bring us to the place where we are willing to receive the redemption Christ offers in grace.
We stand now near the close of the Dispensation of Grace. The dispensation of the LAW ended at Calvary; this Dispensation of Grace will end shortly at the Rapture. Just as it is folly to try to bring in the LAW again, so it is also folly to try to “live in the kingdom” before that final Dispensation, the Dispensation of Christ’s great Kingdom on earth! Study the Dispensations! Keep each separate from the others—they are each separated by a specific Biblical boundary! Today, live in the revealed truth of this AGE OF GRACE! Know about the others, keep them in their Biblical perspective. In Grace we have all we need to live triumphantly, looking for our Lord’s return! Especially, “Don’t live in the past” (the LAW) applies here.