If Christians would study the message of John the Baptist they would discover some interesting things. Why would you want to study John’s message? Because many churches today claim to be able to trace themselves back to John the Baptist. Why would you want to be able to do this? Because most churches today claim to be “New Testament” churches and claim to be “New Testament Christians” So, are you a NT Christian? Stop now and read Luke 3:1-14……. John’s message and preaching is very clear in this passage. John was an OT prophet specifically preaching things that were clearly revealed in the OT to Israel. What was the good news John was preaching? His message is “wrath to come” and what did John require? “fruits worthy of repentance” John’s good news continues in verse 9, saying any tree not producing fruit is cast into the fire. Obviously, these people are very concerned about their future and want to know “what shall we do then?” Here is a clear question in scripture, so what comes next is clearly definition. You must always pay close attention to anytime the Bible defines things for you. You already read the passage, so I will very loosely paraphrase, Vs 11: give stuff away if you have plenty and be generous. Vs 13: Be honest and fair in your dealings. Vs 14: Be honest, content and nice to people. John the Baptist required works. John required you to DO things. This is in direct contradiction to the message of Grace we should be preaching today that salvation is available solely on the merits of what Christ accomplished on the cross. So why do churches today still break their necks to trace themselves back to John? They want his water baptism. Churches today are so tied to their water that they will trace themselves back to John to get his OT Jewish ceremonial washing for purification, but they will then ignore his preaching. We can find many things like this that churches pick and choose something they want and avoid what they don’t want. John’s baptism is preached regularly but John’s message that was PART OF his baptism is never taught or preached. This is the direct result of hundreds of years of tradition being mixed with a failure to rightly divide God’s prophecy program from his mystery program. This problem has snowballed over time to the extent that when you try to show many people what the Bible actually says they refuse to read the words for what they say. How does every word of what John the Baptist said make complete sense? Leave his words and his baptism right where God put them. In the Old Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and to his people Israel.
On occasion I like to read or watch objections to dispensational right division of the Bible. I don’t mind reading the reasons why people don’t agree with the position of taking everything in the Bible as God said it. One of the reasons given by many people for rejecting the Bible rightly divided is that we “chop up the Bible” and we “throw out large portions of the Bible.” Reading these objections is one way to help me understand if I am standing in the truth. One thing I regularly see from those tied to a denomination is a refusal to look at scripture openly and with a willingness to believe thy could be wrong. I recently read Dr. Ruckman’s book on Dispensationalism twice. Ruckman of course hated dispensationalism. Reading information from people that disagree with you should be something that a Bible believer has no problem doing. I remember being “encouraged” a few years ago not to suggest that we should read the position of other denominations. This is something I have done a lot, and one of the reasons that I am a Mid-Acts Dispensationalist today. Do you realize other people have Bible verses for the positions you don’t agree with? Do you want to know the truth regardless if it is different than what you currently believe? So, do we chop up the Bible and throw out large sections of the Bible? It’s actually the exact opposite. As a right divider I believe EVERY verse as it stands. John 4:22 specifically says “salvation is of the Jews” Most of Christianity does not believe this verse. Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 say repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and one of the largest denominations there is doesn’t believe this. Jesus told his disciples not to go to the Gentiles and almost no one believes this. The fact is we can find hundreds of verses that much of Christianity ignores, avoids and does not believe. As a right divider I read, teach and believe all these verses as they stand. The unbelievable part is when you stop forcing the Bible into a predetermined agenda and follow Paul’s pattern all these verses harmonize. We regularly teach from Israel’s Old Testament as well as Israel’s New Testament and we believe every verse they contain. We also regularly teach from Paul’s 13 epistles written to the body of Christ and we believe every verse in there also. What we DO NOT do is conveniently avoid teaching certain verses or chapters. There is a “big picture” that is missing in most Christians Bible study and most Bible teachers teaching. The big picture is that God has an earthly purpose and a heavenly purpose clearly outlined in scripture. If you are saved today, you are part of God’s heavenly purpose but unfortunately you have been taught to read yourself into God’s earthly purpose. You are not God’s “Kingdom Builders”. Jesus will not need your help once it comes time for him to set up his kingdom. We are still teaching what the Bible actually teaches about water baptism here on Sundays. If you had any clue how many verses are regularly ignored and avoided about water baptism (ceremonial washing) in today’s churches you would be shocked. The Bible is clear, tradition is hard to overcome.
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul