DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH #7
By Joseph L. Watkins
In this paper we would like share a few suggested outlines for dividing the word of truth - Rightly. Ask the next 100 saints in Christ Jesus you meet how we should divide the word of truth rightly, and 99 will start by saying the Old Testament should be divided from the New. And yet out of the 6,000 years that God has been working with mankind, only about 2,000 have anything to do with the Old or the New Testament, or we should say the old covenant or the new covenant.
For the truth of it is the first 2,000 years and the last 2,000, or 4,000 out of the total of the 6,000, the Creator has not made any covenant agreements with mankind. Only the people of Israel had such a contract relationship. Rightly, we should set aside to itself both the old and the new covenant times, which had its start in Gen. 12:1 and ended, or was set in abeyance, at Acts 28:28 (A.D. 70) with the "lo-ammi" judgment brought on that nation Israel. And with that nation went the covenants - both of them.
So today we are working to identify the words of God that were given to all the world of mankind. First, we see that Gen. 1 through Gen. 12 was given with the whole of man, or the world, in view. We next identify the Words of God that were given after the nation Israel lost her favored position among all nations. A unique message that the Saviour of the World gave unto all men the world over. Yes, it is true that the Creator did use an Israelite to put it in written form, but the message was given of God with the WORLD of MANKIND in view. We call this Dispensation the gospel of JOHN - The Dispensation of LIFE.
The message is profound, yet any child of Adam's seed that wants to can understand it. A message of "life" in the One Saviour of "all" - Christ Jesus. To this we can add the last seven epistles of Paul: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. We see these as seven parts of one dispensation, a message to "The Saints of God in Christ."
Mr. Charles Welch in his introduction to his ten volume set of Alphabetical Analysis says, "The revelation given in the Scriptures comes to us in three forms: Doctrinal, Dispensational, and Practical Truth."
1. Doctrinal Truth - the unchanging facts concerning our immutable Creator and Lord, His person and precepts, and the principles and attributes that define and characterize Him.
2. Dispensational Truth - words of God given to, and only intended for, a particular person or persons living under a specific dispensation (message) from the Creator of all men.
3. Practical Truth - words of instructions from the Lord we serve to govern the walk life of His children, under any one or more dispensations.
As a member of the U. S. Army for some thirty months, I can well remember a very important expression that could prove to be quite embarrassing when not given one's full regard - "The Order of The Day". One need not be an expert to understand the grave possibility of "being in the wrong place" on the wrong day following the wrong orders. Yes, we learned the value of "observing" the Order of the DAY.
And that brings us to our next outline. To "rightly" determine which orders are directed to and intended for "my faiths obedience". I must first determine ...
Who - is speaking or writing.
Whom - is being spoken to.
What - is being said here.
Why - is this being said.
When - is this written.
Where - is this taking me.
Mr. Miles Coverdale said it this way, "It shall greatly help ye to understand 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 circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after."
I have spent the major portion of my life in real estate as a builder of homes and a developer of building lots. And I learned early that the first three most important rules in selling real estate are: Location - Location - Location. And so it is with the study of The Word of Truth, only we say it this way, Context - Context - Context.
The Immediate Context - that part in which we find the text under consideration, and that which is just before and following.
The General Context - the book or epistle in which we find our text. This will answer many of our questions as to who the writer was, to whom he was writing, and the main purpose for its being written.
The Major Context - that dispensation out of God in which the general context is a part. Once this is determined, in many cases all other questions just seem to become insufficient.
Comparing Without Mixing - The Spirit of Truth teaches us to compare spiritual with spiritual, one message from God with other messages from God. Read and study - 1 Cor. 2:10-16. And He also teacheth us to ... "approve (by testing) things that are excellent" = differing #1308.
See note in Companion Bible, we are to test the things, and having found them to differ must not join them together, but "rightly divide" them - 2 Tim. 2:15.