Anyone who has spent any amount of time within Christian circles will admit that confusion exists within the Church today. Unfortunately, that confusion becomes evident when one asks the most important question of all, “what must a person do to be saved?” That is an extremely important question. It is, however, a question that is very rarely asked. When a person comes under conviction of the Holy Spirit and does then ask this most important question, a common response that such a person receives is usually something that sounds like “just be a good person.” That response, with countless others like it, is the wrong answer and unfortunately, it will land the person asking the question in Hell once that person’s life on this planet has ended.
There are answers to this most important question that are very far from the truth. Being told that all you need to do is “be a good person,” “live a good life,” or “do good works,” such as feeding the poor or giving to charities, stand in sharp contrast to what Scripture actually states one must do in order to inherit eternal salvation. Other answers like “repent and trust in the Saviour” are closer to the mark, but even those answers will cast a person into the eternal flames and separate them from all that is Holy if the person clinging to that answer stops there and does not investigate what the Bible teaches as being the means for gaining eternal life with their Creator.
With that in mind, I would like to present to you a scenario. No doubt we have all heard jokes that sound something like “a priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar,” but let me assure you that the following scenario is no joking matter. Recognizing that it would be next to impossible, in today’s day and age, to get leadership from various Protestant denominations and various “faith groups” to gather together in one room with the task of discussing theological matters, providing answers to the tough questions of life, and clearly representing what it is that their “church” teaches as the means to salvation, allow me to state that it would also be nearly impossible for a person to walk away from such an encounter with the right answer to our original question – what must a person do to be saved!?!
Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which a person has decided to investigate whether or not the claims of the Christian faith are true. This person is not saved, but they are genuinely seeking for truth and they have committed themselves to engaging in the necessary research and study in order to find the truth. This person has invited a number of “faith leaders” from within his community to his home in order to pose a number of questions to each of them. The answers, it is logically assumed, will provide a consistent message and a path for further research that will guide our investigator towards the truth and ultimately, a proper relationship with God and assurance of his salvation.
With all of these faith leaders assembled together, our researcher poses his first question – “what must I do to be saved?” – to each person seated before him. The first faith leader to answer his question is the Fundamentalist Preacher. This faith leader states, “your question is very clearly answered within Scripture. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Scripture also tells us:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [Titus 3:5]
The Bible also states:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [Romans 3:23-24]
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Romans 5:1]
You see it’s easy,” says the Fundamentalist Preacher, “all you have to do is believe. You can’t earn it, you can’t buy it, you don’t deserve it – it is a free gift that God will give you. And once He has given it to you, you are saved forever.”
Our researcher then focuses his eyes upon the next faith leader seated before him and asks if he, a Conservative Holiness member, agrees with that answer. “Well, that’s all true,” comes his reply, “but we must remember that we have to keep from sinning also. Scripture is very clear:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, [Hebrews 10:26]
We need to be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfectand we must not sin any longer.”
It is at this point that the Catholic Priest can hold his silence no longer. “Hold on, you didn’t tell him everything,” the Priest exclaims. “The Bible states that faith without works is dead:
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [James 2:24]
And it states:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. [Matthew 7:21-23]
Scripture goes on to say:
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. [Luke 12:47]
You Protestants have got it all wrong,” the Catholic Priest insists. “Teaching that all it takes is faith will only lead to licentiousness…”
It is at this point that the representative from the local Church of Christ asks the group of assembled faith leaders the question, “what does Christ have to say about salvation? I’ll tell you what Christ has to say about the matter:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [Mark 16:15-16]
Jesus Christ says that baptism is necessary for salvation. In fact, Peter, one of Christ’s disciples, also stated:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Acts 2:38]
Peter also wrote in his first epistle:
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: [1 Peter 3:18-21]
Thus it is obvious that water baptism is required for salvation,” states the Church of Christ representative. “Now listen,” states the Pentecostal Preacher, “I’ve sat here patiently and listened to each of you attempt to answer this poor man’s question, but I’m telling you right now that one has to have proof that they are saved. Suppose that you did everything that these faith leaders told you to do, how would you know that you are saved? The Bible tells us clearly how you will know:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. [Mark 16:17-18]
You see … once you have become truly saved, then these signs will follow you.”
It is at this point that the room has erupted into argument, with each faith leader shaking his head and attempting to talk over the others. Our curious researcher is left in a predicament. Our researcher started his evening with a sincere search for the truth. Unfortunately, his evening ended with nothing but confusion and a lack of clarity towards the answer he was seeking for his original question.
It is with a scenario such as this that we must ask a number of additional questions. How is the confusion that comes from these different messages, these different positions from various “faith leaders,” responded to by the unbeliever who is wanting to know what it takes to be saved? How is it that these “Christian” leaders can all be quoting from the same Bible, but yet they are providing different answers to the same question? Before actually calling such a meeting, one must also ask why it is that there are so many denominations in this world? Just who is it that has the right answer to our all-important question?
The fact of the matter is that unless someone steps in and fixes this situation and provides that unbeliever with the correct answer (the Gospel of Jesus Christ), he will die in his sins and he will ultimately spend an eternity in Hell. Given the confusion demonstrated, that unbeliever will not trust the Bible and will not be open to hearing the true message of salvation. This scenario, and many just like it, plays itself out in all corners of our planet on a daily basis. Our researcher, and many like him, only sees Christianity as a confusing religion, one that does not present a consistent message. Rest assure that at the end of that evening, that unbeliever was under the impression that he was better off where he started from, a person unassociated with “organized religion.”
The confusion that was displayed during that meeting, which ultimately resulted in another lost soul not finding the one true God, demonstrates to us that that lost person needs to understand that the Bible contains nothing but truth, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, but that the Bible is not all his truth to be followed. Most of us understand that the Bible represents that there is evil in this world. The Bible also represents that an angelic being named Satan fell from his position in heaven due to sin and that this evil angelic being is now completely opposed to God and His creation. This fallen angelic being, the devil, is doing all that is in his power to thwart God’s purposes. While Satan is waging war against his Creator, he is doing everything he can to ensure that man, God’s crowning achievement within His creation, is unable to understand who God is and how he can be reconciled to Him. Satan does not want mankind to understand the Bible. We, as Christians, need to understand that there is a Satanic war being waged against the clear understanding of Scripture and that this confusion is growing larger and larger by the day.
Those of us who have studied Church history recognize that the reformers of the 1500’s fought with their lives in order to get the Word of God into the hands of the most common of men. In contrast to this, the average Christian within the 21stcentury has two or more Bible apps on their cell phone, a leather-bound Bible on their bookshelf, access to a multitude of theological libraries found on the world-wide web, and volumes of books written about the Bible from various commentators. Never before in history has the Bible been more accessible to so many people at one time. But it is within this fact, combined with a proper understanding of Church history, that the studied Christian sees Satan’s tactics at work. In short, the Church of the 21stcentury has grown too complacent and too comfortable. The fact of the matter is that people don’t rely on their own reading and understanding of the Bible any longer, they depend upon their pastor’s interpretation instead. The fact of the matter is that most Christians don’t read their Bibles on a regular basis, if at all. Their thought process is, “well my pastor went to seminary and he has studied the Bible more than I have, so he must be right.” People just don’t rely upon their straightforward interpretation of the Bible any longer. As a result, they depend upon what the majority of Christendom has taught over the decades and centuries and they adopt the majority view as their own.
It is with this backdrop that we must ask the question, “should a person’s reliance be upon a pastor, the doctrinal statement of a particular congregation, a creed, a seminary, or a denomination?” The truth of the matter is that pastors only teach what they have been taught through the Bible school or seminary from which they have graduated. In studying Church history, one must ask the question, “why was the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s even necessary?” The answer to that question is that for roughly one thousand years, the prevailing teachings about the Bible were flat out incorrect. The Catholic church, with its false Gospel and its false teachings, was the dominant face of Christianity for many centuries and it worked hard to keep the Word of God out of the hands of laymen. Most Christians today believe that the Protestant Reformation repaired all those false teachings and they believe that what is being taught from the pulpit on Sunday mornings is the absolute truth as to how the Bible is to be understood.
This website and its many resources will attempt to demonstrate to you that that line of thinking is incorrect. The unfortunate truth is that the majority of those who call themselves Christians do not accurately understand their Bibles. This, just as our scenario demonstrated, has led to tragic consequences through confusion, church splits, the following of heresies, and an easy entrance into the Church for false teachings. Our allegiance should not be placed in the teachings of a denomination. Our allegiance should not be placed in a creed. Our allegiance should not be placed in a pastor or a prominent leader of a Christian organization. Our allegiance needs to be placed in a book, the Word of God, and to what it teaches. The Bible tells us clearly that it is to be studied. It also tells us how it is supposed to be studied:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15]
The Bible, with the verse above found within, commands the Christian to study his or her Bible. This is not a suggestion … it is a command! YOU are to study your Bible. Each of us, if we are truly Christians, will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ and we will give an account of what we have done with what He has given us. Do you want to be approved by God and unashamed within that certain future moment? God has given you His Word, the Bible. You have been commanded to study it, but wait, there’s more to this verse. You have also been commanded to “rightly divide” the word of truth.
The word of truth is the entire Bible, all sixty-six books, but not all of the Bible is YOUR truth. To be sure, all Scripture is profitable for doctrineand all Scripture should be studied, but the Bible must be rightly divided in order to be properly understood. Right division leads to clearing up the confusion that we have previously discussed within our scenario. Right division is the answer to church splits and the creation of denominations. Right division also leads to the correct Gospel being understood and thus souls being saved through the proclamation of that correct Gospel. To rightly divide means to cut straight – to cut where it needs to be cut. God showed the apostle Paul how to rightly divide the word of truth and Paul recorded that division for us within his epistle to the church at Ephesus.
The Bible, like your life, has three parts to it – past, present, and future. God recorded history past, history present, and history future in a book, the word of truth. He recorded the past, present, and future for your understanding. If you do not rightly divide the Bible, you will never fully understand it. We are commanded to both study the Bible and to rightly divide the Bible. This work will attempt to demonstrate to you, the reader, why it is that “Right Division” is the correct way for Christians to interpret their Bibles. Within the posts and videos that follow, we will move step-by-step through topic areas that build the case for Right Division, often referred to as “Mid-Acts Dispensationalism” or “Mid-Acts Pauline Dispensationalism.”
Before turning to the epistle of Ephesians and God’s insight for rightly dividing your Bible, I would like first to further pique your curiosity in this subject by asking the question, “are there errors, mistakes, or contradictions within the Bible?” The answers explored within the next post will hopefully cause you to recognize that there is actually something more to this “Right Division” approach to understanding your Bible than what you first thought.
The whole Bible is written FOR you, but the whole Bible is not written TO you.
Matthew 5:48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
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.