The Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
by Rick Campione and excerpts from Marvin Duncan
Those who seek to teach the Word rightly divided frequently encounter the objection that "ALL (or every) SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, AND IS PROFITABLE.." (2 Timothy 3:16). It is argued from this passage that it is dishonoring to God to divide the Bible into dispensations and emphasize the differences between them since the Bible is ALL for us, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. If you are really lucky, you might even be called a heretic or unbeliever for even entertaining the thought that God could change how He deals with the human race because of their lack of obedience...
But can all scripture still be profitable even though we are told we need to rightly divide it?? Does this mean, then, that 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16 contradict each other? The absolutely do not. The fact is that, written only a chapter and few paragraphs apart, by the same author, to the same person, about the same Book, these two verses actually complement each other! 2 Timothy 2:15 explains how God's workmen may get the most out of the Bible, while 2 Timothy 3:16 declares that all of it was given for the workman's profit. All scripture is indeed profitable when "rightly divided (or correctly partitioned)," but when wrongly divided or not divided at all, the truth is changed into a lie and becomes most unprofitable. And as you have heard me say on many occasions, this is where the church starts its path on being a mental institution rather than a spiritual grace resource for the human race... As a result, 2 Timothy 2:15 is relational and important to 2 Timothy 3:16 and to the understanding and enjoyment of the "Word of Truth" in this wonderful age of grace.
The real issue friends is that multitudes of Christians shrink from the effort required in studying the scriptures with a view to rightly dividing them in the first place. And, their spiritual leaders often encourage them in their lethargy...after all, how could people continue to fund the local megalith church kingdom if not for only that pastor's words??
Years ago I heard a preacher say: "Some say, This is for the Jew and that is for the Church. This is for us, and that is not for us.... but I take the whole bible!" Well that must mean he has built an ark, participates in the sacrificial offerings...and maybe even "has sold, ALL he has"...after all, isn't that the whole bible? I guess he didn't mean that we should distinguish between God's programs for ISRAEL in the Old Testament, including the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and His program for the BODY OF CHRIST today...good luck with that (back the the mental institution....)
The other treachery with statements like this is the micro-inequity that believers of Paul's distinctive ministry have to endure with the thought we have no interest in the Old Testament. Leaders (if you want to call them that) discourage hearers from endeavoring to rightly divide the Word of Truth by implying that those who do so discard parts of the Bible as not for them! In fact preacher's like this are representative of a large proportion of the spiritual leaders in the Church today. Is it any wonder that the Christian masses use the Bible merely for devotional reading and often neglect even that? How can they be expected to have an interest in bible study when their leaders themselves fail to set the example? And one need but look about him to see the delinquency here. Where are the Bible teachers of yesterday? Maybe, this is the reason that the great bible conferences held all over America years ago have ceased. Why many, many church folk don't understand their righteous standing in Christ (via 2 Corinthians 5 and Romans 5). Why have we lost empathy to share our faith with people that we know?
The reality is that vast majority of people really understand very little of God's Word. They know the basic facts of salvation or bible study practives that are "a verse a day keeps the devil away" based...
I think people would get excited about studying God's word again if they KNEW they could indeed understand it better! Friends, this was Paul's prayer that believers might have the spirit of WISDOM and REVELATION in the KNOWLEDGE OF Christ (Ephesians 1:17) that they might KNOW what is theirs in Christ (Ephesians 1:18-23), and COMPREHEND the breath and length and depth and height of it! (Ephesians 3:18). This after all his LABOR and STRIFE and CONFLICT that they might have "THE FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING" (Colossians 1:9). This after his stern rebuke to those carnal babes to whom he could preach no more than Christ crucified whom he had to feed with only the MILK of the word because they were not able to digest solid food! ( 1 Corinthians chapters 2 and 3).
Christians often consider themselves quite spiritual merely because of their conduct, church attendance, and/oremotions which are easily influenced. Thus all the Bible is FOR us, but it is not all addressed TO us or written ABOUT us, and if we would really understand and enjoy it; we would really know how to use it effectively in service for Christ. We must be careful always to note who is addressing whom, about what, and when, and why. Miles Coverdale said it best when he quoted: "It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scriptures if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after."