What Happens When Bible Believers ...
Believe the Bible the Wrong Way?
(Pt. 1)

By William Handschumacher

Rock of Offence Special Commentary









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This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the next part.

Part 2


Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page
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Introduction


There is a growing concern about the sudden deterioration of the Christian Church - caused by a tidal wave of false religious teachings. This is why our commentaries and studies are biased toward Christian Apologetics - accompanied by much repetition. Various ministers having the same burden often comment ... 'this does not mean we are 'apologizing' for the Christian faith'. Simply understood, apologetics is an area of ministry that exposes popular brands of theology (some of it is denominational) - and traditions that violate Scripture. This includes movements and churches that engage in cultic or new-age practices, yet masquerade as legitimate Bible-believing organizations. Embracing some level of apologetic ministry is mandatory when these groups attempt to redefine Christ's salvation - an act that carries eternal consequences.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christians cannot 'believe the Bible' anyway they want - then expect God to honor their faith. Our Heavenly Father only honors faith that is established on His Word - His official rule book. All of the early apostles of Christ operated in what we refer to today as, apologetics ... or what the Bible calls "contending earnestly for the faith" (See Jude 1:3-4). This is a deeply offensive (for some), yet God-ordained area of Christian ministry.

Every church, movement and denomination often has its own 'system of faith' - or way of interpreting the Bible. Unfortunately, most of these ‘systems’ (but thankfully not all) are established on out-of-context Scripture. Jesus warned about this problem in His day by saying :

"...this people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7)


In this study, we attempt to focus on one dominant 'belief system' that travels under many different names and exists on both the Protestant and Roman Catholic sides of the isle.

Failing to Respect the
Difference Between Israel
and the Church is the
Pathway to False
Christian Faith


The Bible generally revolves around two distinct groups; Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ ... where each is governed by a radically different set of laws called 'covenants'. In order to warn about the differences between these two groups, the Bible translators divided Scripture into two parts; The Old Testament and the New Testament. Yet, most Christians incorrectly assume that Israel and the Church are 'interchangeable'. They think that whatever God says to Israel in the Old Testament ... He is saying the same thing to them - as members of the New Testament Church. This popular misconception (known as "Replacement Theology" discussed later in this study) not only makes the Bible appear as 'one book with a single unified message' - but also subtly redefines the tenants of Christ's salvation.

However, the Bible warns that
it is 'a divided book'
consisting of two radically
different covenant programs
that must remain separated.


This is why the Bible translators inserted special title pages into the text, which were not part of the original ancient manuscripts. It's also the reason the Apostle Paul gave the command to his disciple Timothy (and all Christians today) to; "rightly (or correctly) divide the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

Clearing Up Some Confusion


The Bible translators decided to place this 'line of division' between the book of Malachi and the Gospel of Matthew. However, the New Testament (or New Covenant) could not officially begin until the following four events took place:


Christ's sacrifical death

Christ's resurrection

Christ's ascension

The Holy Spirit's arrival
on Pentecost to indwell
all true believers



The final 2 events didn't occur until Acts chapters 1 and 2, which represents, from God's perspective, the official beginning of the New Covenant and the Church of Jesus Christ. In his book, "Thy Kingdom Come" Dr. Dwight Pentecost makes the following comments concerning this often ignored fact.

"Chronologically speaking, there is a 400-year gap between Malachi and Matthew. Logically and thematically, however, there is no gap at all (meaning that the Law still continued from Malachi to Matthew despite this gap of time). The New Testament immediately takes up where the Old Testament prophets left off. In fact, "technically" the New Testament does not begin with Matthew, but with the book of Acts."


Dr. Pentecost was a distinguished
theologian on the faculty of
Dallas Theological Seminary.


These observations are important because most Christians mistakenly think that the New Testament (or New Covenant) begins where the Bible translators placed their dividing line. Yet, according to Dr. Pentecost, various other theologians - and the Bible ... the New Covenant of Christ doesn't officially begin until Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit arrived to indwell believers.

At Rock of Offence, we
hold this same Biblical
view


The Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John provide the transition from Old Covenant Law ... to the New Covenant of Christ. This means that these transitional writings, especially those found in John's Gospel, contain elements of both the Old Covenant and the New. Many fail to realize that nearly all of the material in Matthew's Gospel is given from the perspective of Old Testament Law ... and directed at Jewish people who continue to live under its rule. But, Scripture warns that the Church of Jesus Christ is no longer under Old Testament Law (Romans 6:14). A complete revelation of the New Covenant that now governs the Church of Jesus Christ is not available until Saint Paul arrives on the scene and writes his "Epistles to the Church".

Failing to "rightly (or correctly) divide" the Scriptures (or handling the Scriptures 'undivided') causes inexperienced Christians and many church leaders to illegally mix the law-based tenants of the Old Covenant - with the Grace-based tenants of the New. According to Saint Paul, this practice carries serious spiritual, and even eternal consequences.


Handling the Scriptures
in an 'undivided' manner,
as most churches do today,
unknowingly creates one of
the most dangerous heresies
found within Christendom.
Yet, most are taught that
this erroneous brand of
Bible teaching actually
represents God's original
intentions.





IMPORTANT NOTE: In a very general sense, it is correct the say that the Bible, as a whole, reveals God's entire plan of salvation through Christ. However, over the last six thousand years of human history, God chose to reveal and release His plan in two stages ... through two different (and separate) sets of covenant laws, which are directed at two different groups of people. Saint Paul referred to these covenants as: 'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' (the New Covenant) and ... 'The law of sin and death' (or the Mosaic Covenant of the Old Testament - also referred to in Scripture as just 'The Law').




The Mystery of Christ


The Apostle Paul referred to Christ’s New Covenant as “The Mystery of Christ” - and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths through what Bible scholars call, “The Pauline Revelation” (Read Ephesians 3;1-12, 2 Corinthians 12;1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12). Contrary to popular beliefs, Paul was the only apostle to receive this revelation about the mystery of the New Covenant, which was also the source of the Gospel of Christ that he preached. This mystery was not fully revealed for several years (some theologians think 7-10 years, but nobody actually knows how long) after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The following is a small part of what Jesus Christ had to say about the revealing of this truth.

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:7-14)


Notice the timeframe in Christ’s words. The truth He wanted his disciples to know wasn’t going to be fully revealed, except for some vague “types and shadows”, until after His death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, ascension - and the coming of the Holy Spirit had to happen first before the New Covenant could begin.


The Old Covenant continued to
govern only until the New
Covenant started on Pentecost



The New Covenant that Jesus Christ came to initiate was “the many things” that He couldn’t tell His disciples while He was still alive during His earthly ministry on earth. The phrase “many things” also means “a lot of things”. Any way you look at it, Jesus alerts His audience to another major story that’s hidden in a mystery that He said couldn’t be revealed before the cross.

Christ had a good reason to withhold the revelation about His New Covenant. Years later, the apostle Paul reveals this information.

"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)


The "rulers of this age" that Paul speaks of here are "high order" demonic spirits, which were responsible for planning and orchestrating Christ's crucifixion ‘behind the scene’. These demonic ‘ruling spirits’ were the ones manipulating and controlling the earthy human authorities, who actually performed the act. If Jesus and His disciples (during His earthly ministry) went around preaching the details of the yet future New Covenant - Paul said that these demonic spirits would have never crucified Christ. Why? The New Covenant in Christ's blood (Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25) was God's secret plan (Paul called it "hidden wisdom") to utterly destroy Satan's dominion over the human race. The crucifixion of God's Son was the centerpiece of this plan. The New Covenant couldn't exist without the crucifixion of our Lord. As a result of Christ's "information blackout" Satan and his demonic world didn't learn about their mistake until it was too late. Contrary to popular church teachings, even Christ's disciples did not know all the details concerning this Divine plan ... until Paul explained it to them.

A vast majority Christians think that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that records His earthly ministry. Yet, both the Lord and the Apostle Paul said that this was not the case.


The Two Sets of Covenant
Laws


In Romans 8:1-4, Paul made the following
statement concerning these two major sets
of covenant laws found in the Bible:


"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (or imputed to us) who do not walk according to the flesh (or trying to qualify/earn salvation through works or religious merit) but according to the Spirit (or our faith in the finished work of Christ that does not require our works)."


Here's the problem:



If the 'law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' sets us free from 'the law of sin and death' ... then it is illegal to mix them together (or combine them) into 'one message and one law'. Yet, this is how many Christians tend to interpret the Bible.

In addition to Paul's statement in Romans 8:1-4, we provide additional Scriptural evidence as to why this popular method of interpreting the Scriptures lead many astray in their faith, often without their knowledge.



Additional information is
available at the following
links:

Old Testament Conditional Salvation
vs. The New Testament's Free Gift
of Eternal life


The Three Stages of New Testament
Salvation



How to Identify this Toxic
Brand of Christian Faith



As previously stated, those who
erroneously interpret the Bible
as 'a single book with only one
message and one combined set of
laws'; must also treat the New
Testament (and Christ's New
Covenant) as an extension or
continuation of the Old Testament
(or Old Covenant) program - rather
that an entirely new and separate
program - as revealed in the New
Testament

As a result, those who embrace
this popular brand of theology
often base their faith on the
following six misconceptions:


FIRST:
God's Grace must be accompanied by
obedience to the Old Testament Mosaic
Law (specifically the Ten Commandments)
in order to obtain true salvation...
because the New Testament is just
a 'continuation' of the Old.

SECOND:
God's treatment of sin and the sinner
remains essentially the same after the
cross - as it was before the cross...
because the New Testament is just a
'continuation' of the Old.

THIRD:
Scripture can be arbitrarily lifted
from either the Old Testament or the
New Testament, in order to defend a
particular belief ... because the New
Testament is just a 'continuation'
of the Old.

FOURTH:
What Saint Paul refers to as 'the Church'
in the New Testament - is now considered
to be "The New Israel". Therefore, as
obedience to God's commandments was the
way original Israel obtained salvation
in the Old Testament - the Church is
required to obtain salvation in much the
same way...because the New Testament is
just a 'continuation' of the Old.

FIFTH:
The Holy Spirit continues to operate
the same way after the cross - as He
did before the cross ...because the
New Testament is just a 'continuation'
of the Old.

SIXTH:
God expresses Grace in the same way
way after the cross - as He did before
the cross...because the New Testament
is just a 'continuation' of the Old.


There are many other characteristics
that time and space will not allow us
to address in this study. However, we
will soon discover why various Bible
scholars refer to these six
misconceptions as representing a
brand of theology often called ...

Galatian Religion, the
Galatian Error--and its
dangerous yet popular
close relative known as
"Replacement Theology"




A more in-depth discussion of
this doctrine is available
at the following link:

Avoiding the Error of
Replacment Theology



Special Note:

Since Galatian Religion and
Replacement Theology are so
closely related, we will only
refer to Galatian Religion
(or Galatianism) in this
study.





*****************************************************

This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the next part.

Part 2


Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page
*****************************************************








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