One thing you can pretty much guarantee in today’s Bible version and perversion industry is the blank page between what tradition calls the Old Testament and the New Testament. This blank page is taught as the dividing point between what belongs to the Jews and what belongs to all of us. Of course Christianity will go back and take the verses they want from the OT when it’s convenient for their agenda, and ignore the ones they don’t like from the NT for the same purpose. This OT/NT dividing line is one of the causes of the mass confusion we see among denominations today. Tradition calls the Gospels the beginning of the NT and we have millions of people who claim to follow the red letters in their Bibles because they want to follow Jesus. I’ll talk about the red letters in another blog, so let’s focus on the OT/NT dividing line. Just like the OT cannot have begun in Genesis 1 the NT cannot begin in Matthew 1. Testament and covenant are sometimes used interchangeably in scripture but there is a difference! Two living people can have a covenant, but a testament is not in force before the death of the testator. Why? Because the testament can be changed or modified while the testator is living and is only in force after the death of the testator. Hebrews explains this clearly. Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
According to the Bible itself the NT cannot have begun at Matthew 1, Mark 1, Luke 1 or John 1, because Jesus had not died yet. When you are reading the historical accounts of Jesus’ life in these books everything is about Israel and everything concerns the Jews. Christians today pretend to be Jesus followers by claiming to follow what Jesus said but have to ignore and avoid much of his clear teaching in the gospels to do it. If you are not a right divider of your bible now, I would ask you this simple question; don’t you think it’s odd that you claim to follow Jesus but then you don’t do so much of what he said? Jesus required his followers to follow the law and this continued after his death. In fact, the New Covenant would enable his people to follow the law perfectly. Strange because Paul tells us we are not under the law. Jesus told his followers to sell everything they had and Paul tells us we should provide for our family and if we don’t work we shouldn’t eat. Jesus and Peter said to endure to the end to get salvation later and Paul says it’s available NOW. The OT/NT division is the cause of much confusion in the teaching of today’s churches. The true division in scripture is between Prophecy and Mystery. Prophecy is information that was known “since the world began”, and Mystery information was “kept secret since the world began”. Compare Acts 3:21 with Romans 16:25. When you use the dividing line in your Bible that the Bible actually teaches, the Bible becomes understandable just as it stands, and you can clearly see how perfect it really is. When you refuse to follow the Bible and instead choose to continue to follow man made tradition and his OT/NT dividing line you will continue to be at odds with other Christians about doctrine after doctrine. There are some good traditions, but dividing your Bible between Malachi and Matthew is not one of them.
Trust but verify
This phrase became popular by President Ronald Regan. It was a good policy when dealing with Russia, and it is a good policy when dealing with Bible teaching and preaching. We all want to believe everything we hear on the radio, on TV, or from a pulpit is correct, but the Bible instructs us to follow a policy similar to trust but verify. That policy paraphrased is “listen but check for yourself.” You have no scriptural reason whatsoever to follow an allegorical interpretation of scripture unless the Bible itself is clear that the speaker is using an allegory. In John chapter 6, Jesus uses an obvious allegory when speaking of eating his flesh and blood. We know this is an obvious allegory because in verse 63 Jesus goes on to say: John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Jesus makes it clear what he said earlier should be taken as an allegory. Unfortunately, many people are taught otherwise. Churches today are full of well-intended people allegorizing much of the Bible. Obviously when major portions of scripture are given a “spiritual” meaning only confusion can result. The lost world looks within the church and sees this confusion. I had a conversation recently with a girl who made the point that Christians use scripture against each other. This is a direct result of allegorizing the Bible. Each teacher picks the slant they want to put on scripture based on their agenda. I would challenge you to follow the policy we started with “trust but verify.” Christians follow the trust part and ignore the verify part. Have you ever taken the time to read the theological positions of other denominations, and the verses they use to prove their position? Here is the result if you have the honesty and enough desire for the truth to do it. You will see that the people your denomination says are wrong also use the Bible to prove their position and also have verses to support their position. When you do this enough, you can very well come to a point where you just give up and only follow the “trust” part. You feel like you can’t understand the Bible, and you never verify anything you just follow. We are NOT meant to just blindly follow. Romans 14:12 tells us we will give account of ourselves to God. Chances are you attend a church that has allegorized the entire earthly kingdom program God promised to Israel. This is the basis of ALL the confusion in Christianity today. If you read the literal meaning of a verse and it seems different than the meaning you are being taught, it is your imperative to verify. You verify by reading the verse just as it stands and see if the literal meaning can make sense within scripture if the verse makes sense then never spiritualize it! If the verse is speaking to Israel then don’t change it or put yourself into the context. If Jesus is speaking, the context is always his ministry to Israel because his ministry was only to Israel. Jesus sent Paul to you. Doctrine for the body of Christ is found in Paul’s epistles. Be a Berean and trust but verify.
An unfortunate byproduct of the way we were taught is the assumption that when we read the word baptism in the Bible we think water. This “water assumption” is just part of the reason Christianity is so divided and at odds against each other over baptism. One of the most egregious passages that this assumption happens in is Romans chapter 6. I challenge you to find water anywhere in this passage. You won’t find water because it’s just not there. More importantly, what you lose by forcing water into Romans chapter 6 is the proper understanding of an extremely important doctrine every Christian should know and understand.
Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Did you notice how clearly these verses explain what you are baptized into? This is an identification into Christ’s death, NOT water. The reason you might not agree with this statement is you were never taught that Jesus was baptized TWICE. You’ve probably never been taught this but just read what Jesus said.
Luke 12:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
Jesus was baptized twice! Jesus himself calls his death a baptism. So I ask you, which baptism of Jesus would you want to be identified with? His water baptism that had nothing to do with you, or his death baptism that had so much to do with securing your salvation. I realize your denomination teaches you there is water in Romans chapter 6, wouldn’t you rather just let the Bible say what it says and believe it? Can you explain what our Apostle Paul means when he says “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20) when you force water into this passage? Can you fully comprehend what it means to be dead to sin without a proper understanding of our identification with Christ’s death? Will you properly understand Colossians 2:12 and our being “buried with him in baptism” when you think water? You should know the answer but I’ll say it anyway. You will never understand these and other vastly important things when you force water into baptism passages where there is NO water. Christ’s death was a baptism according to scripture. If your church teaches Romans 6 is a water baptism then if they were honest they would be teaching that water is a REQUIREMENT for salvation because if this is a water baptism then it’s also how you get into Christ! We get into Christ today by the only baptism valid today and the only one Paul tells you matters today, the “One Baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 12:13, and Colossians 2:12. I’m sorry this does not fit your tradition but scripture is clear. Water baptism is arguably the most divisive doctrine in Christianity. Rightly dividing the Bible and following your Apostle Paul makes the argument about baptism go away overnight. Why? Because if you were following your bible WATER BAPTISM would go away overnight.
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 the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul