By Oscar M. Baker
Recently I stood before a group to teach them for the last time. Some, if not most of them, I realized I might never see again. What should be said on such an occasion? The Lord seemed to place upon my heart the above subject. Following is a brief summary of those remarks.
LIFE ONLY IN CHRIST. This is where we begin. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12). No, immortality is not something inborn in all men. The gospel is more than just a question of better housing in eternity. God alone has imperishability and immortality (1Tim. 1:17; 6:16). But Christ has brought it to light(2 Tim. 1:10). We may receive life in Christ as a gift of God (Rom. 6:63). The Scriptures make it plain that immortality is put on in resurrection, not before (I Cor. 15:53). For the church which is His body, it shall be in the Out Resurrection (Phil. 3:11).
RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD. This is the command of 2 Tim. 2:15. To fail to do so brings utter confusion in Christendom and in one's own Bible study. RIGHTLY DIVIDING is the translation of "orthotomeo". Abbott-Smith's Lexicon defines it as "to cut straight, as a road." To rightly divide is the only straight road through the Scriptures. It is simply a matter of keeping things (i.e. books) in their proper categories. How clear the New Testament becomes, and many perplexing verses therein, when we see the different categories.
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke present the preaching of the kingdom at hand.
- Acts presents the re-offer of the kingdom to the Jews. In this category belong the epistles of James, Peter, John, Jude and Paul's first seven. They reflect that time when God was still dealing with Israel as a nation. Hence we still have many Jewish practices, right up to Acts 28. There should be nothing puzzling about this. Let us illustrate by saying that as long as we have a Republican administration we expect Republican policies and practices. So there was a Jewish administration till Acts 28: 28.
- After Acts we have John and the last 7 letters of Paul. Salvation is sent to the Gentiles. John tells the world of everlasting life. Paul now brings to light (photizo) what is the administration of The Secret (Eph. 3:9). Read carefully all of Ephesians 3.
- Next, we have the fulfillment of the prophecies pertaining to Israel and the kingdom. This follows the administration of The Mystery (Secret), and is after the Joint-body has been united to the Head (Christ) in heaven. It is described in The Revelation.
THE MYSTERY REVEALED TO PAUL. Besides this right division, we need to see that God is accomplishing a secret purpose in the period in which we now live.
A body of people is being united to Christ here in order that they might be with Him there in the heavenly places. It was kept secret - From the ages and from the generations (Col. 1:26 ASV margin). It was revealed to Paul (Eph. 3:3; Col. 1:25). It fulfills the Word of God (Col. 1:25).