February 28, 2016
In this issue: The New Hermeneutic, Part 2 by J.T. Smith | Standard of Truth Part 1 by Steven F. Deaton
J.T. Smith, Editor Gospel Truths, April 1990
Part 2 Continued from last issue:
What Part Of The Bible Is Applicable To Us Today?
In Genesis 12:3 God made a promise to Abraham that through his seed, all nations of the earth would be blessed. In Galatians 3:16, Paul tells us that the "seed" is Christ. This does not, however, obligate man today to obey the specific things Abraham was told to do to be saved. After God spoke directly to the people in Abraham's time, Paul said the Law was added because of the transgressions till the seed (Christ) should come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The Law of Moses was not faultless (Hebrews 8:7), and thus Christ came to fulfill the Law and nail it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). "So," someone says, "you do not believe the Old Testament is worth anything today?"
Let's let the Bible answer that question. The Bible says, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Galatians 3:24-25).
The Old Testament, which included the Law of Moses, was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster (Law of Moses). The Old Testament is not useless, however. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Now then, since we understand that in order to have unity in religion and in the church we must be guided by the New Testament today, were there any rules used by the Holy Spirit in establishing Bible authority?
How Is Bible Authority Established?
The Holy Spirit directed the apostles into all the truth (John 16:13). The apostle Paul, who was directed by The Spirit said in Philippians 4:9, "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Now in this passage, Paul says that those things which the Philippians had learned, received and heard (statements and commands) they were to do. Also he said the things that they had seen (examples) in him, they were to do. Thus in this passage, we learn that Bible authority may be established by statements, commands and approved apostolic examples.
Not only do we have these, but in Acts 15 the question of circumcision arose. Heated discussions (debates) arose over the matter (Acts 15:1-2). Must one be circumcised after the manner of Moses in order to be saved? That was the question. How will the question be settled? In order to settle this question, the apostles and elders came together in Jerusalem. Remember now, these men were guided by the Holy Spirit. Whatever rules or methods were used in settling the question of circumcision in those days may also be used by us today. Following are the different ways the Holy Spirit directed the apostles to establish truth on circumcision.
In Acts 15, verses 7-11, Peter gave an example of how the Lord had sent him to the Gentiles, and while uncircumcised, God "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (verse 9). Thus in order to prove that circumcision was unnecessary, the Holy Spirit used an example.
Next, Luke records only one statement (Acts 15:12) to sum up what Paul and Barnabas had to say on the subject. They "declared how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles." God implies by this that He approved the Gentiles (while uncircumcised) by granting to them miracles and wonders. Thus by necessary implication we infer that the Gentiles were accepted by God without being circumcised.
Finally, in Acts 15:13-19, James cites a statement from the Old Testament where God, through Amos, tells of the acceptance of the Gentiles.
Now in order that we might know what God wants us to know and do in all matters religious, we must go to the New Testament and see what God's Will is on the subject. In fact, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). So whether we are discussing what to do to become a Christian, the kind of organization God requires of His people, the kind of worship He desires, marriage, divorce and remarriage, etc., we must consult the New Testament. Then according to that which we can establish either by statement (command), example or necessary implication (either one or all) we must do. But remember, we must take all God has said on every subject (God's pattern) realizing we cannot violate the "law of harmony," which simply means that truth does not contradict other truth. Thus if we put an interpretation on a passage that contradicts some other plain passage of Scripture, we have the wrong interpretation. ~
In the realm of commerce there are standards of weights, measurement and currency. Sixteen ounces equals a pound, 12 inches equals a foot and 100 pennies equals a dollar. Fifteen ounces does not equal a pound and 13 inches does not equal a foot. A standard is set and truthfulness does not allow for any deviation. A merchant would be stealing if he only gave the customer 99 cents in change instead of one dollar. A customer would be stealing from the merchant if he took 17 ounces of nails instead of 16 like he claimed and for which he paid. The same principle applies in religion.
The standard of truth is God's Word and must be followed, because any deviation is erroneous. The Lord's admonition to Joshua illustrates this. He told Him, "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go" (Josh. 1:7). God had revealed His will for the children of Israel through Moses and He insisted they keep it--all of it--not going to the right or left, adding or subtracting (cf. Deut. 4:2).
Some will object, "But that was the old law and now we are under grace, not law." It is true that the law of Moses does not apply to us (2 Cor. 3:3-13). It was done away with in the cross of Christ (Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:14). It is also correct to say we live under a system of grace (Titus 2:11-14). However, we are still under law, the law of Christ (cf. Gal. 6:2). Paul said he was "under law toward Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21). James called the gospel the "perfect law of liberty" (Jas. 1:25). We are under law, the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
In our next article we will discuss the fact that the law of Christ, the gospel, must be observed. We cannot deviate to the right or left and be acceptable to God. ~
Steven F. Deaton