by Oscar M. Baker
There is an increasing interest in this question these days. Men and women everywhere are beginning to realize the fact that what have been truth at one time may not be TRUTH FOR TODAY. But the main question is; how is one to know what is and what is not for the present time? There has been so much confusion in various sects and denominations have built up a Babel of mixed doctrines till some wonder if any of it is right. There must be a solution.
The purpose of my ministry is to help folks clear up these things and get out of the confusion. Here are some simple rules you can use and work out the problem for yourself.
First of all, try to find out just to whom the particular book of the Bible you have in question is written. That is usually pretty easy if it is an epistle. For an example the epistle of James is written “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” That is at the very beginning of the book. It is just a little more difficult when we come to Ephesians. There at the beginning it is addressed “to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” That is still a little indefinite, but just read on and when you get to the first verse of Chapter 3 you find the words, “for you Gentiles.” And in Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Second, find whom the book is about. What people or group is the subject of discussion? For example, look at Acts. It opens with the apostles asking if Christ will at that time restore the kingdom to Israel. That is the theme of the entire book and at the end Israel has rejected the re-offer of the King and the kingdom, so the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles. Notice in that book the opening words of all the addresses of the different apostles. They begin with such expressions as, “Ye men of Judaea,” “Ye men of Israel,” “Let all the house of Israel know,” “Ye are the children of the prophets,” and many others which show beyond the shadow of a doubt that this book concerns the Jews. Some of it is about the Gentiles, but it is to the Jew first. The position of the Gentile is being graffed into the olive tree. A closer study reveals that God had two main purposes in Acts; to save a remnant of Israel, and to call out a few Gentiles as a people for His name. Both these purposes were completed and ended during the Acts period. Likewise, 1 Cor. is about a people whose “fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea.”
Third, find out as near as you can the time of the writing of the message in question. It may have a great deal to do with your enquiry. Paul wrote 7 epistles during the time of Acts and of course they would be to the people that Acts is about. Since all the 12 were commissioned only to the Jews, it is easy to place their epistles too. They all belong to the time of Acts and are to the Jews. Paul wrote 7 epistles after Acts. He was a special apostle of the Gentiles. We have just noticed that Eph. and Col. belong in that group. They teach doctrine that belongs to the present dispensation. Phil. and 2 Timothy take up the out-working of this doctrine in our lives. This, of course, is relative to our position.
The great fundamentals of salvation are to be found in Romans which was written during the Acts period. But since Jew and Gentile both were sinners and there was no difference in that respect, the salvation is the same.
So, we may conclude that all Scripture is for us, but not all is about us. The Old testament from Genesis 11 to the end, is about Israel, but there is plenty of rich and valuable material there for you and me. In fact, we shall never be able to properly understand the New Testament without some study of the Old. If you rightly divide the word confusion will disappear.
Originally published May 1949
by Oscar M. Baker