How are the Scriptures to be Viewed? – Part 1E.W. Bullinger
How shall I describe to you what l found in that New Testament? l had not read it for many years and was prejudiced against it before I took it in hand. The light which struck Paul with blindness on his way to Damascus was not more strange, more surprising to him than it was to me when l suddenly found the fulfillment of all hopes, the highest perfection of philosophy, the explanation of all revelation, the key to all the seeming contradictions of the physical and moral world. lf the Bible is not divine, I know nothing at all.” Max Muller, Historian
The Greatest Quest
The greatest quest to which one can give himself is the PURSUANCE OF TRUTH. The Lord Jesus Christ stated in John 18:37, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” He likewise stated that God’s Word is Truth in John 17:17.
The Hebrew word “Yetseh,” translated “truth” (there are several others) has the thought of a laid plan, certainty; while the Greek word (N) “alethia” signifies the reality underlying an appearance as, for instance, when Christ is spoken of as “The Truth” (John 14:6) He was the perfect expression of truth. He embodied the truth of God; of the Father; of obedience to the demands of redemption in His death , etc. The Christian is pictured as being armored (Ephesians 6: 14) and the loins were to be girt about with truth. This was the girding belt upon and to which all other sections of armor were attached; thus truth holds all together. The truth of the word is by divine revelation, not human reasoning, or, as it is so well put in 2 Peter 1: 19-21, “knowing this first, that any prophecy of scripture never came (come to be, originate) of its own unfolding (Greek: sending forth): for not by the will of man was prophecy at any time brought, but being moved by the “pneuma hagion”‘ (Spirit, Holy), men spake from God. ”’
2 Timothy 3: l 6 defines all scriptures as “God-breathed” He spake “by the mouth” of His holy prophets. The mouth and/or pen were theirs; the words were His. They were borne along and, though the calligraphy remained theirs, the Heavenly Breath, the Power of Inspiration was His. Thus we have a divine library called the Bible. It is a varied book dealing with origins, with nations, with a select people meant to be His agency midst world-wide idolatry, with redemption and the Redeemer, with the present revelation of pure grace, with foreboding judgments to come. lt is an interesting book and the only one, the knowledge of which, will go beyond the grave.Imitate the Noble Bereans
In the pursuance of truth, a simple pattern is set forth in Acts 17:11-
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
I . These noble Bereans received the Word with all readiness of mind.
2. They searched the Scriptures daily.
3. They tested whether the doctrines taught of men were agreeable thereto.
God’s noblemen and women are those who hear and receive truth with readiness of mind: who search the Scriptures daily and who test all they hear (see or read) by the touchstone of the Holy Book.Obey God’s Commandment
In searching the Scriptures, one naturally desires to read with understanding. This Book was given to ordinary people with ordinary minds; it is profound, but not impossible; it is difficult in parts, and yet sublimely simple in others; it does not gloss over sin as with David, nor does it neglect to mention his heart-rending prayer for forgiveness (Psalm 51); it is boId, yet gentle; it shows the faithfulness of God, the frailty of man, the grace of God, and the judgements to come, held back only by the present grand amnesty.
To understand this book, a few simple principles are set forth in the book itself. 2Timothy 2: 15 commands us to:
1 . Study, study, study, There is no “easy” way of learning anything well.
2. Study to SHOW (present) thyself approved (examined, tested) unto God. Since this book is one that deals with the issues and fibers of life, and since all we will be taught from it will mold our hearts and minds, we should then study to present ourselves as those to be examined by God Himself. This awareness would again bring forth men and women of the Book of God.
3. A workman, a craftsman (laborer) in the Word of God, unashamed. “The Bible is to be a workshop. God wants craftsmen (workers) in the Word.
4. Unashamed – giving and having no cause for shame.
Rightly dividing – to divide rightly. In Proverbs 3:6, in the LXX, it is used of wisdom rightly dividing the paths of those who allow it. The latter part of this compound word, “otho-temeo” is still retained in anatomy: tracheotomy and phlebotomy, each retaining the idea to cut. ” It is the Word of Truth that is to be rightly divided if we are to study with understanding.
This concept of “right division“‘ does not imply the casting aside, counting as unimportant, or discrediting or rejecting any portion of the Scriptures. It does mean that the student of the Scriptures is to “distinguish the things that differ” (Phil 1:10 Greek Text). He is to distinguish between Jew and Gentile, between what was old covenant and passing with Israel (Hebrews 8:13) and a new covenant that would re-instate Israel with all her glory as God’s covenant people (Hebrews 8:8-12)., a covenant provided for and ratified in the death of Christ (Hebrews 10:16). This is to be distinquished from God’s present dictum of grace to Gentiles for salvation; for righteousness; for a dispensation (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 2: 1-14; 3:7, Ephesians 3:2).
The principle of rightly dividing (may be easily seen by comparing the terms of the Gospel preached in Luke 9:l –6; l8:31-34, with the terms of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In the former, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ had not part as it was hid from the disciples and they did not understand it, nor did they preach it. In the latter, the death for sin, the burial and resurrection of Christ is the very heart of the Gospel of salvation. lf one does not “rightly divide“these passages, there is confusion instead of “instruction.”
The Scriptures were meant to be studied in whole and in part; they are given for the complete furnishing of the man of God unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16, 2: I7). As H.B. Bunce so well said. “ln our ignorance, we need teaching; in our wrong thinking, we need conviction; in our wrong doing, we need correction; in our self-willfulness, we need chastisement.”
In studying and teaching the Word of God, we must find room for ALL Scripture. While loving the Prison Epistles of Paul, and rightfully stressing the truth for the present time, we cannot neglect the rest of the Scriptures without irreparable loss. To stress grace and neglect a holy walk; to stress privilege and neglect personal responsibility; to stress head knowledge when the heart remains cold; to stress what we have received and not balance it with what we call give of ourselves – love, time, and money, would add up to an unbalanced Christian and, need we add, this movement had been unbalanced in this area!
In a recent letter, Charles Welch wrote, “I feel I must look again into the book of Job. ” This the spirit that would keep us in balance – a spirit that lets all Scripture speak and teach us its truths. With Isaiah we need reminding that “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty and with Paul’s Prison ministry of grace, we need to know that the first part of Ephesians 3 is balanced in the last section by the love of Christ; and that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. ” Christ over and in the believer . . . how this simple truth needs realization in this movement to keep us from spiritual pride and intellectual prudity.