An Apostle Twice
Was Paul a Apostle twice?
This teaching section tries to discover the rules God had put in place to govern proper Scriptural research, that being said let us begin with;
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. In the Greek the last 5 words of this quote are expressed in only one word, Theopneustos. Literally it means, God-breathed.
This being true, it is very important that we pay close attention to every word. We cannot afford to read a passage and then just make a guess as to what is being said. A school boy may very hurriedly read a lesson over and hope to get something of the gist of it so as to pass the exam. But one does not get the mind of God by skimming over what He has said. And the school boy may get some queer notions of the subject by using such a method of study. Every jot and tittle must stand.
There are many who subscribe to the Scriptures and claim them to be holy and inspired, yet at the same time they place something over and above them. It may be traditions of their church, or even the church itself, that they place above it. Some may put human reasoning above the Scriptures.
The Jews put the Targums and Talmud above the Word of God and so made it of none effect by their traditions. Then too we have some sects and denominations who claim to have received further revelations from God which are over and above the Bible. They have another Bible of their own.
Many who profess themselves to be wise stand as judges over the Scriptures. They can tell God how He should have written His book. And if they do not like the book, then they can declare the Author to be dead. Some have done so.
The Lord told the Jews to search the Scriptures. The noble Bereans searched the Scriptures. That is what we should be doing today. This means that we are to ransack them, to trace out, to track out. So then we are to take words, subjects, ideas, and track them through all the Bible to see what they may mean. Likewise we are to check what man writes.
At Berea the result of the searching was that many of them believed. Faith still comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Too few search the Scriptures today, and so few believe. We apply this particularly to those who make a profession and belong to some organization that carries the name of Christ.
Thy Word is truth. When a man learns this great lesson, he next learns some more. He learns that he cannot by any searching out exhaust the Word of God. Those who know the Author can testify that the words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times. Every word of God is pure. They are not the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Man's wisdom is set forth in long-winded discourses with plenty of footnotes, but real wisdom is where the teacher is able to say, Thus saith the Lord. No other foot-notes are needed.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
PROFITABLE. They are worth looking into.
1. Doctrine. Doctrine is teaching. Much that we learn comes from teaching. That learning is good if it has been correctly taught. There can also be false doctrine, taught by liars and evil spirits. But the doctrine we find in the Book is good doctrine, the profitable kind.
2. Reproof. This we do not like. But it can be very profitable if we will but take it. The Bible reproves people of sin. That is why so many will not read it. It is a mirror in which we can see ourselves as we really are. It does not flatter.
3. Correction. We do not always like this either. We like to go our own way. But the Word is a corrective, turning us from our own ways and the crooked paths to the straight one. Our speech needs correction. Our activities need guidance and correction. Our worship and service also need it.
4. Instruction in righteousness. It seems that man's imagination is continually evil. It comes natural. When it comes to righteousness, or rather doing right, he needs instruction. He has to be taught it. And the Word does just that. Things that the natural man might think to be right are not found right according to the standard of the Word. The first step in doing right is to love. No step that is profitable can be made till this first one is made. Even the 10 words for Israel demand love for God and for fellow men.
THE GOAL. All the above leads up to something.
1. That the man of God may be perfect. Left to his own devices, man goes the downward grade. His progress has always been the opposite of evolution. The sons of Adam were highly civilized, but they soon went back and many lived in caves and used the crudest of tools and weapons. They killed and often ate each other. But the measure of the perfection of man is the One who was the express image of God, Christ. Civilization does not make a man perfect. It is an inner work by the Spirit.
2. Throughly furnished unto all good works. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:10 that the man who is saved is created unto good works. Not only do we have to find what these good works are, but we have to be trained to do them. We also have to have the tools with which to work. All these things are furnished by the Scriptures. There is no other way to attain unto this goal then by a reading and study of the Scriptures. So let's get busy!
John 5:39 In speaking of the Scriptures, our Lord said, They are they which testify of Me. And just where else can one find a testimony concerning Jesus Christ our Savior? We have given you just one reference, but think of the many thru-out the Book which say the same.
Now it is very important that we take facts right from the Word, and not mere inference in any study we may make. We do not need to stray from the Scriptures or to change them to find the answer to our quest, Where is He?
Apart from the Bible, there is no other source to which we can turn for light amid the darkness, and nothing that can give life to the sinner, or shed abroad in the 'heart, the peace that passeth understanding. Science is no help in this realm. Education might help a little if used as a tool, but it fails to meet the deep innermost needs of the heart. God's Word alone is the one source of life, light, and peace. And God manifest in the flesh was able to meet all the needs. He is the true and living way.
What is the difference between the Christian and the man of the world? The answer is very simple. The Christian believes what God has said in His Word, and the man of the world does not. So therein lies the difference between life and death. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:12). So then we may conclude from the plain testimony of this Scripture .that all men are either Haths or Hath Nots. And there is a great abyss between life and death.
Now take Abraham for an example. He was in a world of darkness and idolatry. God spoke to him. He believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Abraham's knowledge was probably almost nil, for the truth even in the stars had been lost. A great deal of knowledge is of no use in this case. It is what one knows by revelation and believes. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. At all turns we are thrown back onto the Scriptures. Any other information or knowledge is useless in this matter of knowing Christ.
We have heard of folks saying that they believed the Bible to be the Word of God from cover to cover, yet they had not opened the covers. Such are liars and do not know what they are talking about. It is plain ignorance. No one believes the Bible unless he has read it or heard it read by somebody.
Truth for today consists in what God's special messenger had to say to us Gentiles after Israel were divorced. We must know Christ and His relationship to those who believe today. But we must ever remember that the written Word and the living Word, Christ, are woven together, they cannot be separated. The Scriptures do not reveal a creed, but a Person. Then we can say, I know Whom I have believed. See 2 Timothy 1:12 . Is that your experience? Think it over.
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