Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Heaven and Earth--The Two-Fold Purpose of God

The believer who desires to know God and his purposes, as we discussed in a previous article, does well by following the Bereans' approach to seeking knowledge and understanding of the Scripture--search the Scripture daily to test the material they were being taught (Acts 17:11 KJV) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The word for search, anakrino, means to scrutinize and by implication to investigate,interrogate,determine and further: ask, question,examine, judge,discern, search. One of my early Bible Teachers, Oscar M. Baker, said of this verse that the word "search" almost meant that the Bereans "ransacked" the Scriptures daily, in my words they left no leaf unturned in trying to get to the Truth, and the meaning of what Paul was teaching regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why do we need to approach the study of Scripture thusly? In order to believe someone and what they might say, we are told to do exactly what the Bereans were doing in their study of God--investigate and scrutinize. Why? Because the Word of God has been under attack since the very beginning and this attack on the Word is first evidenced in Genesis 3:1 when the Serpent says to Eve, "Yea, hath God said....?"Who was this Serpent? "He is the Devil, Satan and the one who has deceived man from the very beginning."(Rev 12:9) Many say of Scripture that it is confusing. I must remind the reader that the confusion regarding the understanding of Scripture does not come God who is not the "author of confusion", but as we see in Gen 3:1, it is the Devil. He is our hindrance, our adversary, in coming into "a knowledge of the Truth"(1Tim 2:4)which is the desire of our God and Savior. So earnest student and workman, let us consider the topic of this article which will lead us into a better understanding of what God is doing with His creation and us, His creatures.

The Two-fold purpose of God is set forth for us in the first few words of Scripture, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth". What an attention getting opening. The student in reading this opening would be wise to begin to search to see what the purposes regarding these two spheres mentioned here may be. Well, that will be the basis of our future studies. For in the end, we will see that God has been exacting His purpose both in the Heavens and in the Earth from the beginning of Time(Age Times)and will continue to do so until the end of Age Times. (Eph 1:10 KJV) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

So, from the very beginning of Scripture, we are faced with two spheres to consider and to marvel as God unfolds for us the what, why, how, when, and with whom He will purpose during the Age Times. It is well, as we have noted, to realize that there is a being, Lucifer/Satan, that early on has caused doubt regarding what God is doing and saying, and as much as he is able, Satan has set forth to challenge and hinder the fulfillment of God's plan for the ages. What follows in the pages of Scripture is the account of the challenge by this creature, his strategies to ultimately ascend to the control of creation, and how God has countered this challenge with His purposes or strategies, to achieve the end of his creation, which is God, all and in all 1 Cor 15: 24-28.

As said in a prior article, understanding the Scriptures is a primary purpose that God has set forth in his creation. Understanding God and His purposes can only come through the "approval" of God, 2 Tim 2:15, as when Job had seen "the end of Lord", he had knowledge and understanding of God's plans for His Creation and His Creatures. Remember, understanding and knowledge of God and His purposes do not come from superior intellect, but from an understanding of how God's Righteousness is gained. Paul reminds the Corinthians of these tenents in Chapter One of his first epistle to them. 1 Cor 1:17-31.

With the foundation laid for "approved study" by Paul, let us then move forward into "coming to a knowledge(acknowledgement) of the Truth" of the great purposes that God has for His earth and for His Heavens.

More to come.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Joy of the Lord and the Word Rightly Divided

(Neh 8:8 KJV) So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
(Neh 8:9 KJV) And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
(Neh 8:10 KJV) Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

The believer who seeks to hold onto the belief that all scripture is "God-breathed" must surely one day come to study the verse in scripture in 2 Timothy where Paul exhorts Timothy in the mannner and method of his study of the Word of Truth, (2 Tim 2:15 KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It was through the study of this very verse of scripture that the writer began to see that all of the supposed contradictions, all of the supposed errors of the writers, and all of the challenges to the literacy of the Bible, began to fall away.
Every day, it seems, articles are written by believers and others that question the veracity of Scripture, and I am sure that this article will come under scrutiny of these same people who just can't quite believe that, (2 Tim 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
(2 Tim 3:17 KJV) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works
--no matter how sincere their desire may be to believe these verses.

Without applying the principles of "rightly dividing", it becomes immediately a challenge to discriminate between the tenants of the Law and Grace, of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, and "the Church which is His body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" from all other references to "Churches". Early in my studies, someone gave me a tract regarding the interpretation of Scripture and in that tract I found great insight from a quote of a student of Scripture who lived over 500 years ago. The author I quote is Miles Coverdale and this is what he wrote:

It shall greatly helpe ye to understande Scripture,
if thou mark not only what is spoken, or written,
but of whom,
and to whom,
with what words,
at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstance,

considering what goeth before, and what followeth".

When one considers the greek word translated "rightly divide", orthotomeo, the root comes from temno meaning to cut and this root is also found in the Greek word for circumcise and is used by Paul in Col 2:11 where he likens circumcision to the believer's baptism into Christ, both Christ's death and resurrection. In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament (Greek Translation) this same word used for "rightly divide" in 2 Timothy 2:15 is found in Proverbs 3:6, "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Considering these three verses together, the believer is left with the idea that "rightly dividing" the Word of Truth is meant by Paul to be a journey, not alone, but with God himself taking the believer on the journey of discovering the meaning of His Truth. This was the awakening that I received as I studied these verses together and when I knew that I was not alone in the study of God's Word, but was being directed and lead by the Holy Spirit in study, relief, and then great joy came unto me.

As we see in the example of Nehemiah and Ezra, that by being distinct in their reading of God's Word(possibly even reading in Chaldee as well as Hebrew as some of the returnees from captivity may not have been conversant in Hebrew), the people could understand what had been read and as a result the people were exhorted not to "sorry" (worry) but receive "The Joy of the Lord" and He would be their strength. My hope for anyone who wants to understand God's Word and His purpose for all the ages, is that one would prayerfully consider Paul's charge to Timothy to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" and be strengthened by the Lord and receive His Joy!

More to come.