Tuesday, May 29, 2012

All the bible is for us

I appreciate your teaching and have learned so much.  Now the bible makes so much sense!  But, I do struggle with the idea that Genesis through Acts 9 and Hebrews through Revelation is 'for' us, but not 'to' or 'about' us.

Let me see if I can help.  When it comes to “for us,” all 66 books of our King James Bible are for our learning.  God wants us to know them.  But then I will say that not every book of the bible and not every verse in the bible is written directly to us and about us, today in the body of Christ.

When we rightly divide the word of truth, we understand that it is the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul (Romans through Philemon) that are both for us and speak directly to us and are about us living today in the present dispensation of the grace of God.

It is not just Genesis through Acts 9 that is for us; it is Genesis through the entire book of Acts.  The audience of those books, the people to whom God is directly speaking (to them, for them and about them) is the nation of Israel.

Genesis was written by Moses, the great deliverer of the nation of Israel out from Egypt, the great prophet and law-giver.  Acts was written by Luke who also wrote the gospel of Luke.  The focus of the entire book of Acts is on, to, and about the nation of Israel.  Although the account of our Apostle Paul being saved is in Acts, every bit of Acts has a Jewish focus.

For example, the account of the Jerusalem council is in Acts 15.  The focus of that is Jewish.  But when you hear about it again in Galatians 2 written by Paul, the focus is on the primarily gentile body of Christ.  Titus is mentioned in Galatians 2.

Galatians 2:1 

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

He is not mentioned by name in Acts 15.  Because he was an uncircumcised gentile, Titus is only referred to as ‘certain other of them,’ although he was a believer in the body of Christ.

Acts 15:2 

When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.


So Genesis through Acts is written directly to, about, and for the nation of Israel.  It is the same with Hebrews through Revelation.  The context is the future of the Hebrew people.

But, there are only 13 books that carry the name of Paul.  God began every book that Paul wrote with his name.  God wants us to know who wrote them—it’s for our learning.  He wants us to know that they are not only for us, but they are to us and about us.

Romans 11:13 

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:


So in those 13 letters God is magnifying Paul’s office.

1 Corinthians 14:37

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.


So Genesis through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation speak directly to and about the nation of Israel; but the 13 letters of Paul – Romans through Philemon – are for the mystery dispensation of Grace and they are not only for us, but they are to us and about us.  Paul tells us that in Romans 15.

Romans 15:1-3
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.   Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification [building up one another in Christ].   For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

Paul, our apostleI is speaking to us gentiles in the body of Christ and he uses the Lord Jesus Christ as an example for us to follow.  He is going to quote an Old Testament passage.  Why would he do this?  Because the book of Romans was written during the transitional period of the book of Acts.  There were both Jews and gentiles in the church (the body of Christ) in Rome.  When Paul says that he is the apostle to gentiles he is telling us his main purpose; but when you study the book of Acts, you’ll see that most of the early members of the church, the body of Christ, were Jews.  Paul would first go into the synagogues and some of those Jews would be saved and become members of the body of Christ like Paul.

Paul begins chapter seven by saying that he ‘speaks to them that know the law’ (that would be the Jews in the church at Rome).  In Paul’s early epistles (1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans), the focus is on both Jews and Gentiles.  So because there were Jews in those assemblies at the time, Paul would quote the old testament quite a bit in his first six epistles.  As far as we know, Paul had only written those five books before he wrote Romans, but they contained a whole canon of Scripture from the old testament.

Romans 15:3
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, [here he is going to the authority of the written Word of God—the old testament...] The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

This is a quote from Psalm 69:9.  This is in context of Israel’s Messiah.  Psalm 69 is a Messianic psalm that speaks of the suffering of Messiah for the sins of his people Israel (Isaiah 53).  We know from the progressive revelation of the mystery of Christ that he died not only for the sins of many (Israel), but for all.

1 Timothy 2:6  

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.


It is in that context that Paul goes back and quotes the old testament, even though the book of Psalms is not written directly to you and me as members of the body of Christ.  We’re a part of the mystery program, and Psalms is part of the prophecy program to Israel.  It’s about their earthly kingdom and what their Messiah is going to do for them.  But the application of the spiritual principle does apply for you and me today for our learning.  The ‘for us’ part is that it is for our learning.

Reading Genesis through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation is for our learning.  God wants us to know that information and by knowing that information we are able to rightly divide the word of truth.  God wants us to know all of his word and he wants us to rightly divide it.  And when we know all the information in Genesis through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation, and we can see how different it is from what God has said to us through Paul, it makes it easier to rightly divide the word of truth.

In Romans, Paul—speaking to us, the body of Christ—tells us that we ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves.  He gives us the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 15:3
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written [that is, on the authority of the written word of God in the old testament), The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

The spiritual principle is that we need to bear the infirmity of the weak; bear their burdens and build them up.  Our example is the Lord Jesus Christ.  We “know” that because it was written in the scriptures that he did that—we “learn” from that Scripture.  That reference in the old testament is not written directly to or about us, but we can read it and “learn” from it because it is for us.

Verse 4 is the explanation of what Paul had just taught us in Romans 15:1-3:

4For whatsoever things were written aforetime [the scriptures] were written for our learning, that [here is the purpose] we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope….

What God has written down (in the old testament including Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is written for our learning.  What is going to help us patiently endure and give us comfort?  The scriptures!  God has already written down in advance in our King James Bible what he is going to do in the future.   We can trust it.

2 Peter 1:19 

We have also a more sure word of prophecy [that which is spoken by God];


Romans 15:4
…, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

What is hope?  A confident expectation!  When God says he is going to do something, we can trust him.  God has made promises to the nation of Israel and he will fulfill them.  He is not fulfilling those promises to Israel today because he’s doing something different.  Paul’s epistles are scripture and in them he is telling us that.  So, God wants us to learn from his word.

Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 10.  Again, this is an early book of Paul’s in which he is rebuking the saints at Corinth because they were very carnal and they rejected the Apostle Paul’s authority.  Remember, there are Jews and Gentiles in the assembly.

1 Corinthians 10:5

But with many of them [the nation of Israel that came out of Egypt with Moses] God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [You will see in Exodus through Deuteronomy many of God’s nation provoked God to wrath.] Now these things were our examples, [How were these things examples for us the body of Christ?…] to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Interesting!  God put that information in the scriptures for an example to you and me today that we should not lust after evil things.  He did that so we could know God’s attitude toward sin.  It is a written account of how God dealt with the nation of Israel under the law.  He did not like their sin and they were severely punished for it.

Now God will not punish us the same way today.  We can only understand that, if we rightly divide the word.  We are under grace.  But sin—whether it is under the law or under grace—is still not pleasing to God.

1 Corinthians 10: 6

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

God is not pleased by lusting after evil things whether you were under the law back then or under grace today.  But the consequences are different.  He brought direct, swift consequences to them; but he doesn’t do that with us today.  Even so, sin does have consequences through the ‘sowing and reaping’ principle.

Galatians 6:7 

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.


We also learn that we are not to be idolaters…

1 Corinthians 10:7

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

He is telling the Corinthians, and us, don’t be idol worshipers.  The Corinthians, even as members of the body of Christ, were returning to idol worship because of their culture.  They were going to temples of idols and eating food sacrificed to idols with the idolaters.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

Paul is telling them not to be idolaters “as it is written.”  We can go back and read and learn about God’s attitude towards idolaters.  God’s attitude towards idolatry never changes.  Look what else Paul calls idolatry:

Colossians 3:5 

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

1 Corinthians 10:8
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

They committed fornication and many of them died instantly.  Don’t you do it…not because you will die instantly (you won’t) but…because you know God’s attitude toward sin.  All scripture is for us because we learn God’s attitude towards sin.

1 Corinthians 10:9-10
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. [Numbers 21:6]  Neither murmur ye [speaking to the believing Corinthians], as some of them also murmured [we are not to go against Paul’s authority as they went against Moses’], and were destroyed of the destroyer.

Now here is the conclusion…

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples

Ensample is a sample of the whole—like a small sample of food you can try at the store so you will know what the whole tastes like.  All those things happened to the nation of Israel for ensamples to them.  The other Jews were supposed to see it and know that if they did what their brethren did, God would punish them the same way.  But notice how Paul separates it:

…and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

He is speaking about two different groups of people.  The things written in the old testament were written for Israel as ensamples unto them; but they were also written for our admonition (the church, the body of Christ) as an ‘instructive warning.’

Genesis through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation are written to let us know and understand God’s plan, purpose and program for the nation of Israel.  When we rightly divide and see his promises fulfilled for Israel, we are confident that he will fulfill his promises to us as well.

Without Hebrews through Revelation in the bible, we would have Genesis through Acts where God is making all these promises to Israel and then we would have the epistles of Paul bringing in of a new dispensation of grace through the Apostle Paul.  We would think that God is done with Israel—but he is not done with Israel!  So, how do we learn that?  After Paul’s epistles we have Hebrews (to the Hebrew people) through Revelation that show that he is not done; and, that He will in fact give them their promised earthly kingdom.

Romans 11:29
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Without Hebrews through Revelation, we would be left to think that God had made all kinds of promises to the nation and didn’t fulfill them.  Yes, they were in unbelief, but God made promises.  It is in the books of Hebrews through Revelation that we know and learn God will complete His plan and purpose for the prophetic program (as spoken by the prophets since the world began), and bring in the Kingdom.

Luke 1:70
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

Acts 3:21
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Genesis through Acts gives the promises for the nation of Israel, and the beginning of the promises being fulfilled with the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the book of Acts, Israel falls.   And when they fell, God did something different.  It is in Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) that we learn that salvation comes to the Gentiles and God builds the church, the body of Christ, in the heavenly places.

But is God finished?  No!

Romans 11:11, 25-26

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles


For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

So Hebrews through Revelation is written for the future to say that God will continue his plan and purpose with Israel when he is done with the body of Christ.  He will fulfill that Kingdom promise.  We learn about God’s faithfulness from Hebrews through Revelation.

1 Corinthians 10:11 

Now all these things happened unto them [Israel] for ensamples: and they are written for our [the body of Christ's] admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.


He is talking about the different dispensations.  There was the dispensation of Law to Israel.  But now, we are in the dispensation of grace.  He is talking about the culmination of all that God is doing in Heaven and earth.  When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians, he did not realize that the dispensation of grace would be as long as it is.  In his mind, it would end with the rapture in his lifetime.  God wants every believer to believe in the immanency of the Lord’s return.

In conclusion the ‘for us’ is so that we can learn about God’s attitude towards sin through Israel’s example, even though he isn’t judging us immediately today.  We can also learn about God’s faithfulness and have hope because when we read Hebrews through Revelation we realize that God will complete his plan and purpose with Israel; but before he does that, he has to finish his plan and purpose with us by taking us to the heavenly places based upon grace.

Titus 2:13 

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;


Titus 3:7

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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