Rightly Dividing God’s Word Part 2: God, Stewardships, & The Age of Innocence

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To recap, last Wednesday we examined the Scripture:

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We discussed that, as we study, the Word of God is to be rightly divided. It is God’s Word, this Word of Truth, and we are given the Gift of the Holy Spirit to enable us to study it. The Christian is saved by faith in Christ, but sanctified – made more like Jesus – through the study and application of God’s Word to our lives. As we study the Scripture we are:

  • Taught to be more like Jesus
  • Our faith is proved and tested
  • We are restored to an upright or Godly state
  • We walk pleasing to God

Salvation is not by our works, but by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, and rose again to lead us as believers, His Church. As we study the Scripture, we are always aware that:

All Scripture Is Written TO The Believer, But
Not All Scripture Is Written FOR The Believer

The Social and Ceremonial portions of the Mosaic Law found in the Old Testament are written not FOR the Gentiles nor the Church, but FOR Israel. We did establish this: Whether OLD or NEW Covenant, no one has EVER been saved by their works, but by faith in God. Once saved, however, the believer is to follow the commandments of God.

The Bible Addresses Different Times Or Ages,
Though God Never Changes, Nor Does Salvation Change

Turn with me in your Bibles to:

Ephesians 3:1-5For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

As Paul begins to address the Gentile Church at Ephesus, he wants to clarify a few truths that God gave to him as an Apostle. Paul – a student of Gamaliel and an ex-member of the ruling counsel of the Jews called the Sanhedrin – explains why he reaching out to Gentiles. It was God’s intent from the beginning of humanity to save ALL PEOPLE by Grace. Paul calls this the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you.

Word Study: The word dispensation is the Greek oikonomía, which literally means “a stewardship”.

A stewardship is something that is in your possession, something that does not belong to you but it has been entrusted to you by a higher authority.

God owns everything. From the beginning of creation to today, God made all things and then gave them to us as a oikonomía or a stewardship. Grace is a stewardship from God. God saves by Grace. He entrusted the stewardship of Grace to Israel in the Old Testament, and to the Church in the New Testament.

Under the Old Covenant, the Jew – saved by Grace – kept the Moral, Social, and Ceremonial Laws, something the Bible calls the “Mosaic Law” or “The Law of Moses”. In the Old Testament Israel began to believe that only Israel was to be saved. In other words, when Christ came and began to offer the Gospel to those who were not Jews, this made the Pharisees angry. They thought that Jesus was betraying the faith. This was the reason that before Paul was saved, as:

(Acts 9:1) Saul breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord

God’s Israel through idolatry had largely drifted away from their original calling. Abraham himself was not a Jew properly, but from Ur of the Chaldees or ancient Babylon.

  • Abraham was to be the Father of Faith to all nations (Genesis 17:5), and through him all nations were to be blessed (Genesis 12:3).
  • When King Solomon dedicated the Temple it was so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else”. (1 Kings 8:60)
  • When God made the Temple, it had places of worship for all people, not just the Jews. God told Israel through Isaiah, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).
  • When God prophesied the Messiah coming from Israel, He told His people I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). He also told them I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

As Israel drifted from God, she forgot that Grace was her stewardship. Only God can save, and God reaches the nations through His people. As Israel became blind to her stewardship God sent His Son into this world to correct Israel’s error, and to usher in the New Covenant through His shed Blood on Calvary. When Saul went out destroying Christians, Jesus knocked him down on the Damascus Road. He speaks of this, saying:

Ephesians 3:3 … by revelation {GOD} made known unto me the mystery…

Word Study: The word mystery is the Greek mystḗrion, which means “a truth once revealed to a select group which became hidden, a fraternal secret”. At one time Israel knew that she was to share the Grace of God with the world. But Israel became secular, and her stewardship became mystḗrion, hidden, forgotten. This is one of the reasons why Samaritans – hated Gentiles – are often mentioned in their encounters with Jesus (see Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 4:4, 9; 4:39-40). When Christ struck Saul down on the Damascus Road, He made him aware that what he was doing (destroying the Church) was counter productive to the stewardship of the Gospel.

God saved Israel so that Israel could tell others about the Saving God we serve. God saved the Church so that the Church could tell others about the Saving God we serve.

Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

The formation of the Church, the Kingdom of God on this earth, was a mystery that was not fully revealed until the formation of the New Testament. God revealed the Church’s mission – the stewardship of the Gospel unto the world – through Christ’s holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Paul goes on to say:

Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Our God has a great sense of humor. As Israel would not reach out to the Gentiles with the stewardship of Grace, Jesus caused Saul – a Rabbi of Israel – to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul went out preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. It was God’s plan to save whosoever will through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.

Israel, Saved By Grace, Was Under The Mosaic Law
The Church, Saved By Grace, Is Under The Royal Law

The “Royal Law” is so named by James, the stepbrother of Jesus. He wrote:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

The Royal Law was not a new thing, but was contained within the Mosaic Law. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself is found in:

Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Priests of Israel, in studying the Social and Ceremonial portions of the Law, forgot that the heart of the Mosaic Law was love. Our Lord Jesus brought this back from the dustbins of legalism. A young Lawyer asked Jesus one day what the “Great Commandment” was. Jesus answered with the Royal Law. He said:

Matthew 22:37-39 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This “Royal Law” transcends every Age, from Creation until today. The “Royal Law” is the heartbeat of the Mosaic Law, and the Law the Christian follows today. Why did God call Israel to be His people in the Old Testament? Was it because they were superior? No! God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 9:6 Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.

Israel was not worthy to receive Grace, nor was she worthy to be the stewards of Grace. But this is the same for the Church today. Is the Church worthy? God tells us through Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

God chose Israel because of the promise He made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and because Israel was weak, ignoble, foolish, and unable – in short, BROKEN. Grace is given by God to the broken who repent.

Why did God choose the Church and the Gentiles, that’s you and I? Because we are weak, ignoble, foolish, and unable – in short, BROKEN. Grace is given by God to the broken who repent.

The Royal Law is extended to the Broken. We are to be keepers of the Royal Law. The Apostle said:

Galatians 5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

R omans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbor”. The Bible tells us that:

Love does no harm, but does only good to God and to others.

Love is God’s Law from the beginning of human history, and into eternity. Mass failure in The Royal Law of love causes disaster in each Age of Humanity.

The First Age Or Period Of Man Is Called The Age Of Innocence

Human history begins with the Book of Genesis. Turn with me in your Bibles to:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This is one of the most profound statements found in Scripture. It answers the question, “How did we all get here?” Scientists at NASA state that:

The big bang is how astronomers explain the way the universe began. It is the idea that the universe began as just a single point, then expanded and stretched to grow as large as it is right now—and it is still stretching!”

This was a theory that was postulated by Astronomer Georges Lemaître in 1927. According to certain scientists, the universe, our Solar System, and our planet with all life was just an accident of nature. Even if all that we see were just an “accident”, the question scientists cannot explain is “what was the first cause of all things?” Science has no answer for that. The Bible does. The Bible tells us In the beginning God.

Word Study: There are several Hebrew or Arabic words found in the Bible that are translated God”: elōhê, ʾEl, ʾEl šaday, ‘Elah, and ʾĕlōhīm. In Genesis 1:1 God is the Hebrewʾĕlōhīm, which is the compound name of the Triune God. God the Father has created all things, and God the Father created all things through God the Son. We are told in:

1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) … for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

God the Father created everything (Isaiah 64:8; Malachi 2:10; James 1:17), but His power flowed through Christ. The Bible says:

Colossians 1:12-19 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

When the Bible says “In the beginning God {ʾĕlōhīm} created”, this is God the Father creating all things through God the Son. Furthermore, God the Holy Spirit was at work in creation.

Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

You see the Triune God at work in creation. The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Love does no ill to its neighbor. Love does good where good is needed. Remember we noted earlier that God came to Israel because she was the least and the broken. God saves the Church because it is the least and the broken. NOW we see God moving on a broken, dark planet. Love demands that good be done. Love demands that light be given.

Genesis 1:3 And God (ʾĕlōhīm) said, Let there be light: and there was light.

When God spoke, it was not to create chaos, but to bring order from chaos. When God spoke, He spoke light. Light was formed before there was ever a light source, before there was ever a star named “The Sun” and a reflector called “The Moon”. God’s Word brings light, not darkness. God’s Word brings LIFE, not DEATH. God’s light was good. God established Light and Darkness as a principle. It is up to God to determine if something is LIGHT or DARK. That is the point of the Creation account.

Genesis 1:3-5 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Why is God showing us every step in the Creation of humanity? It is to show us that love does good. Love brings light. Love is not destructive, nor non-productive. As God is, so must we learn to be.

I’ll return to this subject next Wednesday. May God open your eyes to His Word through His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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