Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rightly Dividing The Word

Parallel, Not Identical
by – Charles F. Baker (1905-1994)
In the Bible there are two lines of truth running. God has only one line which He is running today. One of these has been interrupted for the pres- ent dispensation. Christians today often get confused, not realizing that there are in fact two different lines. There are many similarities between them, or, as we may say, places that run parallel.
One line began with Abraham, back in Genesis 12, and runs through Israel into the Messianic, Millen- nial Kingdom here upon earth. The other, and that which is God’s line of truth for today, began with the Apostle Paul, and will end in Heaven when the Church which is the Body of Christ is in glory. Our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20); that of Is- rael and of the nations will be in the renewed earth (Zechariah 14:16, etc.).
In short, we will call these two lines the Kingdom line and the Body line. Most of the confusion is due to a failure to distinguish between these two lines. The majority make the mistake of calling identical that which is only parallel.
Remember that they are both God’s lines, and that Jesus Christ is the Lord of both. It is beyond the scope of this article to point out all of the places of interest on both of these lines, but rather we shall look at just a few of the more important places to see the similari- ties and the differences.
Parallel, but Not Identical
Our purpose shall be to compare these two lines of truth in order to be convinced that they are two dis- tinct lines, and to see those places where these lines run parallel, and also where they diverge. We will see that, while two lines may run parallel in places, they do not necessarily lead to an identical destination.
Because we often refer to our message as one of grace, some have received the impression that we mean that wherever grace appears in the Bible, that is for us, and
wherever law appears, that is for Israel. However, the Kingdom line has a great deal of grace in it.
While Christ was proclaiming that Kingdom to Is- rael, the people marveled at the words of grace which fell from His mouth (Luke 4:22). Surely it was won- derful grace (Luke 7:42) where the two debtors were forgiven when they had nothing with which to pay. Likewise, what shall we say of the grace shown to Is- rael when the Lord prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34). Also, what of the grace poured out on Israel at Pentecost and there- after, when God sent His salvation first of all to those who had murdered His Son (Acts 3:26)?
Israel had a grace message, and so do we, but these two grace messages are not identical, but only parallel, for we shall see many distinctions between them. The two most evident differences between them are first, Israel’s message included a program of religious prac- tices which are not included in our grace message; and second, Israel’s grace was with a view to the establish- ment of its Kingdom on earth, whereas our grace is with a view to the calling out of a Heavenly Body.
On the doctrine of grace, therefore, we will find quite a long stretch where the Kingdom and Body lines are parallel. It would seem that God led John to choose especially those parallels to Paul’s Gospel in writing his own gospel. Therefore, we can use John today in a remarkable way in declaring the Gospel of the Grace of God, in spite of the fact that the things there re- corded were spoken and ministered only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
We find wonderful examples of grace all through the Bible which are similar to the grace shown to us to- day; hence, we can use all of these cases to illustrate and illuminate the message for today. When we do this, it is as though we come to a place where the two lines run parallel, and we transfer from the Body line to the Kingdom line, just as long as the lines stick to- gether, hence, seeing more of the beautiful scenery of God’s grace. Yet as soon as the lines begin to diverge we must be sure to stay on the Body Line, or we
Issue 315 BiBle StudentS noteBookTM – Po Box 265; WindBer, PA 15963 2871will frustrate the grace which God has given to us. To further illustrate this point, notice what Peter says
in Acts 15:11:
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we [the Jews] shall be saved, even as they [the Gentiles].
This might appear to be absolutely identical to Paul’s message, and it is absolutely parallel at this point, but let us carefully examine the full run of the line and see whether Peter’s message began at Pentecost with this word:
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
This was a wonderful message of grace, but was it iden- tical to Paul’s message of grace at this point? Paul said:
I thank God that I baptized none of you ... For Christ sent me not to baptize (I Corinthians 1:14, 17).
The Jews had to repent and be baptized with water before receiving the Holy Spirit, but is that a part of God’s message of grace for today?
Look once again at Peter and the Jerusalem saints who had received God’s grace. As far as we have any record, these Spirit-filled apostles and believers con- tinued as loyal Jewish subjects. They did not break with Moses or the temple sacrifices and worship.
Remember, their religious and political life was bound together in an inseparable fashion. Christ Himself had taught them to be subject to those who sat in Mo- ses’ seat (Matthew. 23:2-3), and so we see even Paul carrying out this order as late as Acts 23:2-5. These Jewish believers who had been saved by grace, ac- cording to Peter in Acts 15:11, were all zealous of the law (Acts 21:20), and we have not one word of protest from God up to this point against it.
As a matter of fact, God in Acts 15:28 (cf. Acts 21:25) puts a difference between the Jewish believers under Peter, and the Gentiles under Paul, plainly instructing the Gentiles that they should observe no such things.
God strongly protested against putting Gentiles un- der the Law, and He pronounced an anathema upon Jew or Gentile who taught justification by the works of the law (cf. Galatians 2:15-16). Paul circumcised Timothy because he was a Jew (Acts 16:3), but not for a moment would he abide having Titus, a Gentile, cir- cumcised (Galatians 2:3-5).
Let us look at just one further particular to see if Peter’s grace message was identical with Paul’s. Pe- ter told Israel that if they would repent, God would send Jesus Christ back from Heaven to bring about “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). Do we find Paul at any time making such a proposition to the Gentiles? Of course not. Paul was raised up to pro- nounce blindness on Israel because of their rejection of Peter’s offer and to send salvation to the Gentiles; not to bring Jesus back to earth, but to call out a Heav- enly Church which Jesus will bring up to Heaven with Himself there.
Gentile Salvation
This brings us to another subject in which we can see not just a parallel between Body and Kingdom lines, but also a great difference. Some people have the mis- taken idea that wherever we read of Gentile salvation in the Bible it has reference to what God is doing to- day. Instead, it is only a parallel. After the whole world had given up God, and God had given up the world (Romans 1:24, 26, 28), God called out Abraham and promised that He would make of him a great nation, and that through his seed all of the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3). The whole story of the Bible from Genesis 12 down into the book of Acts is the story of God working through one na- tion with a view to blessing all nations. The Greek woman had to learn that the children (Israel) must first be filled, before the Gentiles could be blessed in full measure (Mark 7:27).
In other words, on the Kingdom line, Gentiles were going to be saved (and therein we see the parallel to the Body line), but on the Kingdom line this Gentile salvation could come in but one way – because of and through Israel’s fullness. The Kingdom line arrives at Gentile salvation only after it has passed the place where all Israel are saved.
Now, notice the great difference between this and Gentile salvation on the Body line. Salvation is being
Only in our view of Christ can loss be gain. – Tim Finch

2872 BiBle StudentS noteBookTM – Po Box 265; WindBer, PA 15963 Issue 315

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