The Beginner’s Introduction to the Bible (Part 4)
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Our problem comes to us early in the Bible in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve. We were all in Adam at the creation. Adam fell from the perfection he had initially, due to his disobedience to God’s warning not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). We, being Adam’s progeny, also fell with him and have had a sin bent ever since.
Since God is the embodiment of perfection and good, and He cannot tolerate anything less than total, perfection, even one little slip up on our part would disqualify us from ever spending our eternity with Him. Since each and every one of us sins and fails miserably on a daily basis, we would never measure up. God in His foreknowledge, however, had a plan to redeem us from that slave market of sin. He provided the sacrifice for us as a free gift, through His Son, Jesus Christ, dying on the cross of Calvary in our place for our sin. A gift must be received; however, to actually be a gift.
Throughout history God Himself has never changed, but the way He has dealt with man has changed many times. An example of this would be God’s telling His people, in times past, to take disobedient people outside the camp and stone them to death. Exodus and Deuteronomy are loaded with examples of stoning, and obviously this is not done anymore. Another example would be, God’s telling Noah to build an Ark, but again that is not necessary or done today.
In each era, also known as a dispensation, God has given man a certain way to come to Him. If you came as He prescribed at that time, you were saved. If you came in any other way than He prescribed for that era, you were not saved or accepted. The example of Cain and Abel shows what I mean. Abel brought the blood sacrifice prescribed by God. Cain brought an offering from the field that he had grown. Cain probably worked much harder, with more sweat than Abel by far, to provide has sacrifice, but God accepted Abel’s prescribed offering, and rejected Cain’s, because God had prescribed a blood sacrifice. Another example was when God told Abraham to be circumcised. If you were circumcised, you were accepted, if not you were totally rejected by God.
In like manner, God has prescribed His accepted way to come to Him today. The last gospel given by God, to us all today (Jew and Gentile alike), is the gospel from the crucified, buried and risen Christ from heaven. That Gospel was given to Paul,a gospel that was kept hidden from all previous generations (1 Cor. 2:7, Eph. 3:9, Col. 1:26) until God reached down and saved Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul.
If you read the book of Acts you will find that Saul was the most fierce enemy of Christ and the cross until he was confronted on the Damascus road (Acts chapter 9) and shown that Jesus really was the Messiah of Israel and the King of the Jews. After being confronted with the truth by the risen Jesus Himself, Saul believed and was saved (and his name was changed to Paul), but this was under the earthly gospel of the Kingdom program. Why? Because that was all that had been revealed to man at that point in history. (Remember chronological order).
Now the thing that concerns me today, and I actually worry about it a lot, is the fact that most Christians today, not understanding the above information, end up mixing the Gospel of the Kingdom, also known as the prophetic gospel or program and also known as the Gospel of the circumcision (Gal.2:7) with the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24), also known as the mystery program and also known as the Gospel of the uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7). By mixing the two gospels you are mixing the earthly program for the Jews with the heavenly program for the Gentiles (and any Jews who will listen). This constitutes actually preaching another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:3-4), a Jesus from another program (earthly), a program that has been set aside and NOT applicable for today. This has come about because the individual did not rightly divide the Scriptures properly, demonstrating that the individual does not really understand the true gospel of Grace for today.