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.
Last week here at Grace Bible Study we started studying what is arguably one of, if not, the most divisive doctrines in Christianity. There are several on this list, but you have to agree that baptism is at or near the top. Each denomination has their traditional opinions about the subject, and each one uses the Bible to prove their point. Did you see my point in the last sentence? Every denomination uses the Bible to prove their position about baptism, and each one thinks the others are wrong. Church members are fed the proof texts of their “Biblical” position, and each group goes on stubbornly claiming why they are right, and why everyone else is wrong. Satan sits back with a grin on his face viewing his job well done. This division is not God’s plan, but a direct result of Satan’s plans. Look around and you cannot help but see the confusion and strife that abounds in churches today over the subject of baptism. This is a direct result of the failure of Christianity to study scripture as God told us to. No doubt you cannot help but think that this debate will continue until we are called off this earth because there is no end in sight. Do you want the answer? Most people don’t because most people are so tied to their traditions and water ceremonies. Here is the answer: Ephesians 4:5 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” we teach Bible belief over tradition. We teach that words matter. The answer is literally this simple. Paul teaches us that in this age there is “one baptism.” Your church no-doubt teaches at least two or maybe more. If Christianity would just take their Bible literally and spend the time to see what the “one baptism” that Paul teaches is, we would see this division in Christianity dissolve overnight. I know you find this hard to believe because you have been taught differently your whole Christian life. It is hard to believe the Bible over tradition because your whole Christian life you have been taught by hearing your denominations position and then you are given the proof texts for that position. God is NOT pleased with the divisive doctrine of water baptism as taught in Christianity today. Your proof texts for water baptism come from Israel’s kingdom doctrine, NOT from Paul’s gospel of the grace of God. Ephesians 1:13 says you are sealed by the Holy Spirit when you believe the gospel of the grace of God. I Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27 and Romans chapter 6 clearly explain Paul’s one baptism into the body of Christ sealing you eternally “in Christ.” According to the Bible, this Spirit baptism is the ONLY baptism you need. There’s not one drop of water in any of these passages, but you were probably taught there is. When you rightly divide Israel’s prophecy information from our mystery information the Bible becomes clear and understandable. When you mix the two, you end up teaching two baptisms which is clearly a contradiction to the direct teaching of the Apostle Paul. Why do churches today continue to teach there are 2 or more baptisms when the Bible tells us there is 1 for this age? Unfortunately, Christianity is equally, if not more, committed to its old testament legal ceremonial washings than the one baptism of the Holy Spirit that seals us eternally into Jesus Christ.
If you have read much on this website, you know I mention the confused and divided condition of Christianity quite a bit. Some time ago I had a conversation with an individual about this exact topic. During this conversation I was told that maybe God intended Christianity to be the way it is with many differing viewpoints. I knew at this point I was not going to make any headway and decided to move on. I’ll take the time now to give some Biblical principles worth reading for yourself.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Cor 1:10
There is no possible way that God intended for Christianity to be so confused, divided, and stubborn of their religious position. I was appalled quite frankly when this person said what they did. I am in NO way pushing for the ecumenical movement type of coming together which teaches no doctrine and never says anything negative to gain a crowd and tickle ears. I am for the Bible method of coming together. I am for following exactly what scripture tells me to do.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
The same person that told you very clearly that we should ALL speak the SAME THING, that there should be NO DIVISIONS, to all be of the SAME MIND and in the SAME JUDGEMENT told you exactly how. I understand this plan is not taught at your church or in the seminary your pastor attended, but it is clearly taught in the Bible. If Christianity would choose to follow their Apostle Paul and study their Bible the way he instructs them to we would see the unity that the Bible says there should be. Read Ephesians 4:3 and 4:13 for the “unity of the Spirit” and the “unity of the faith.” The only unity there is today is the unity of the denomination. It is possible to teach doctrine continually and there still be unity in an assembly of believers. It is only possible to have this unity and the peace that accompanies it when we are following that little two letter word in Philippians 4:9. Did you look for it? The word is “do.” What are you supposed to do? The things you have LEARNED and RECEIVED and HEARD and SEEN in PAUL. You will ONLY be approved by God by following him HIS WAY. (2 Tim 2:15) His way is clearly seen in Phil 4:9. Rightly dividing the Bible is the only path to unity in the body of Christ. You following the person that told you about the body of Christ is the key to righty dividing your Bible. These two are inseparable. And yes Paul was the person to reveal the mystery of the body of Christ.
Today, July 2nd is the one-year anniversary of Grace Bible Study. It has been an exciting year filled with much study, teaching, and learning. In Christianity, success is mostly measured in numbers. The first question you are asked about a church is “how many are you running?” This question is automatic because today you are measured by the seats filled not by the doctrine taught. Most people want to know what kind of music you have and not what doctrine you teach. They want to know if you use one of the new versions of the Bible so it is “easy to read” and not what you believe about the actual words. Many people today come to church to be entertained and not edified. Our focus here is being rooted, built up and stablished in the faith. This can only be accomplished by teaching God’s word from a Pauline perspective. Yes, this will keep us relatively small in comparison to the denominational churches, but God does not measure by numbers, he measures by obedience and belief. God measures by faith in what HE said, because this is all that really matters. As a right divider, I believe every word in my King James Bible as written, believing that God can handle inspiring, and preserving it for my use. I trust every verse in its dispensational context because this is the ONLY way every verse in the Bible can make complete sense and be in perfect harmony with every other verse in scripture. We don’t spend an inordinate amount of time during our services killing time, rather we spend almost every minute letting God’s word lead, guide and direct us as it can so clearly do when studied correctly. We don’t sit around and wait for God’s will to be revealed to us by some circumstance that happens around us, we read, study, and believe God’s will as he spoke it in his word. This probably sounds like a lot of work and yes, it is, but understanding things in scripture that you have always wondered about can be very exciting. Learning that God meant for you to understand his word and that you can understand his word makes the work much easier. I don’t mean just the verses you have heard your whole life, I mean the verses the preacher never preaches and the teacher avoids because they don’t agree with your agenda or denomination. We are about one thing, letting God’s word direct us, not going to God’s word to prove our position. This stance requires letting God be true and every man a liar. Inherent to properly understanding your Bible is separating what God has separated and separating it the way he did. It requires keeping the distinction between Israel and the church that God put in place. It requires seeing the obvious difference between prophecy and mystery that God put in the Bible. It requires NOT pulling verses from anywhere in scripture to try to prove yourself right. It requires following the Apostle that Jesus Christ our Savior called and sent to you. It requires NOT avoiding the verses that don’t agree with your agenda. The outcome of these things is an understanding of scripture you never thought was possible. YES, God wrote his word so you can understand it, but you never will until you stop following the Greek experts, scholars, and commentators and put your faith in what God said. Yes, you will understand concepts, doctrines, and Biblical principles but you will not understand God’s entire plan and purpose throughout the ages. This past year has flown by. How much more do you understand about God’s word now than you did a year ago?
We have been studying prayer here at Grace Bible Study for some time now and are starting to think about moving on to something different. I started this study with the statement, “right division of the Bible applies to every subject in scripture”. Paul’s pattern for proper Bible study clears up an immeasurable amount of confusion. Prayer is a subject that comes into proper perspective when studied properly. We have been taught in denominational Christianity to pray Israel’s promises and to expect Israel’s earthly answers. The Bible cannot be clearer that Israel’s blessings all relate to the earth and the promises that relate to the body of Christ are heavenly and spiritual in nature. Scripture tells the body of Christ we already have “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (Eph 1:3) which is where God already considers us seated, (Eph2:6) but we can’t help but want what God only promised to Israel. The “name it and claim it” mentality and the foolish idea of “pleading the blood” sound plausible because the preacher is quoting scripture as he misleads those not willing to “study to show themselves approved unto God.” (II Tim 2:15) Prayer in scripture is always according to God’s will. I love the story of Elijah praying to hold back the rain, and God answers this prayer. How many people actually know that God had specifically told Israel that one of the ways he would specifically judge them for not following the law was to hold back the rain? (Deut 11:16-17) Elijah’s prayer was answered because he was praying according to God’s revealed will, and God reveals his will to us in the Bible. Today we must still pray according to God’s will, and God has revealed his will to us in Paul’s 13 epistles. The contrast between Pauline prayer and how Jesus taught Israel to pray is unquestionable. If you want the answer to your unanswered prayers, you should study Paul’s prayer life because Paul didn’t pray like you do. In Herbert Lockyer’s book “All the prayers in the Bible,” he quotes E. W. Moore on page 238 with this statement; “it is a remarkable feature of Paul’s prayers that they are all conceived on the highest plane of spiritual living. Temporal matters, though they most certainly have their place in intercession, are not prominent-indeed are scarcely contemplated here.” Both Lockyer and Moore are perplexed at the drastic change in the prayer pattern we see in Paul’s life. Paul, after asking God to remove his thorn in the flesh was taught that prayer has changed in the dispensation of grace. How much clearer these men could have understood prayer if they first understood how to rightly divide their Bible. This was perplexing to them, but it’s as clear as day to someone who understands that every subject in scripture must be rightly divided to be properly understood. Our prayer life is a very personal thing. There is a very clear reason Christians struggle with unanswered prayer, and the answer is clearly revealed by your Apostle Paul. You will not learn this vastly important fact from anyone that does not rightly divide God’s prophecy program from God’s mystery program. Unfortunately, leaving Israel’s prayer promises to Israel does not preach well.
Some time back I had a conversation with an individual about our Apostle Paul. This person stated to me that is sounded like I was worshipping Paul. It is interesting how relevant scripture really is. Not long after Paul established churches he dealt with this exact resistance. People questioned Paul’s position and authority throughout his ministry. People today are still questioning Paul’s ministry and authority. Let me be perfectly clear, we worship the Lord alone. We are nothing without his love, mercy, and grace that he freely gave to us. Let me also be perfectly clear again, the vast majority of everything we know about God’s love, mercy and grace toward us we learn from Paul’s epistles. Without Paul’s epistles you as a Gentile are little but a line in the Abrahamic Covenant that you would be blessed THROUGH ISRAEL. Once Israel rejected their Messiah Ephesians chapter 2 is clear that we had NO HOPE because we were without God and strangers from the covenants of promise. Regardless of this, people today still put themselves in the New Covenant that was so clearly promised to Israel. Paul’s position and authority are in question today for the same reasons that they were questioned 2000 years ago. When Jesus revealed the mystery information to Paul it made Satan look like a fool.
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The mystery was “hid in God” as Ephesians 3:9 so clearly states before the world began. (see also Rom 16:25) Paul revealed that the crucifixion actually opened up Grace to ALL. (Rom 11:25) The mystery revealed that everyone can be saved entirely apart from works by solely trusting in the finished work of the cross. (1 Cor 15:1-4) Satan HATES the mystery because the mystery shows Satan to be a fool. Satan will do anything in his power to obscure, confuse and deny the teaching of the mystery. How else can you explain the fact that scripture teaches the mystery so clearly and yet Christianity knows little to nothing about it? The fact remains that Paul himself said “I magnify mine office” (Rom 11:13) Paul could say this because he received his office directly from Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:12) Israel had 12 Apostles for the twelve tribes of Israel. We have our one Apostle for the one body of Christ. Scripture tells us if any other gospel is preached besides the one Paul preached let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9) Why, because Paul was the first one to preach the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) Christianity is so busy defending their denominational position they are not willing to let the Bible speak for itself. The Bible tells you to rightly divide it. The Bible also tells you to be pleasing to God in this dispensation you must follow the Apostle Paul. Why, because Jesus sent Paul to you. I give Paul his due authority as my Apostle whom Jesus my Savior sent to me. Why would Jesus need to send Paul to me? Because scripture is clear that Jesus’ ministry was to Israel.
We are still studying prayer here at Grace Bible Study, and we have moved on from prayer under a covenant as God’s earthly people Israel utilized and have moved into prayer as the Body of Christ under Grace. There’s a good chance you have never heard prayer taught this way or even considered the scriptural fact that prayer is not the same now as it was in the Old Testament and the Gospels. God’s earthly people Israel were promised many earthly things. Under their covenants, Israel knew “if” they did certain things “then” God would do certain things for them because God had already obligated himself to do those things. Many of the things God obligated himself to do for Israel are the very things that fill the prayers of Christians today. I challenge you to read your Sunday School prayer sheet or think about your personal prayer time and split the list into two columns. The first column should be anything related to earthy items such as healing, sickness, surgeries, travel plans, financial situations, job searches and so on. The second column should be anything else that is of a spiritual nature. There’s a good chance you will see that we tend to fill our prayers with earthly things. For the vast majority, this will come as no surprise because this is how we were taught to pray. I would challenge you to do a study on Paul’s prayer life. The Bible is crystal clear that Paul is your example in this age of Grace, and this includes how you pray. At Grace Bible Study, we are working through a spreadsheet of all Paul’s prayers. Does this sound like work? It should because this is how Paul instructed you to study! I entered all of Paul’s prayers and several other verses where Paul mentions prayer into the spreadsheet and then assigned each one a topic. Basically, they all fell into just a few topics: Instructions, Thanksgiving, Intercession, and Requests. Using the Filter tool in excel, we are going through each topic verse by verse to see exactly how the Apostle Paul prayed. From this exercise, it is easy to see why many Christians struggle with unanswered prayer. We are so clearly directed to follow Paul’s example in scripture, but our prayer life looks nothing like Paul’s prayer life did. Our prayer life is filled with earthly things because of the Calvinistic and Covenantal slant we have been taught. What is clear is that we are not praying according to God’s will. God’s will is found by rightly dividing your Bible according to the instructions that are directed to you in scripture. Instead we run to and fro all over the Bible finding any prayer promise from any book and claiming it for ourselves. This is exactly why Christians see many of the things they pray for go unanswered. We are not Israel nor are we “spiritual Israel” like many theology books will tell you, so we need to stop praying Israel’s promises. Learning to pray according to God’s will for this age gives you peace and a new understanding of how to have a proper prayer life, or you can wait a few more years, and there will be 10 more books on prayer at the Bible book store all teaching you about Israel’s prayer promises. Your prayers will not change what God is doing or not doing in this age. Wouldn’t you be better off learning what God is doing now so you can pray according to his plans?
Some people might have seen the Acronym MAD and wonder what this is all about. You might have also read or seen the phrase Mid-Acts and wondered what this really means. MAD stands for Mid-Acts Dispensational” This is an important qualifier because lots of people consider themselves dispensational to some degree. Many churches might even have the term “dispensation” in their statement of faith. Unfortunately, it seems like the much of Christianity does not know this term, nor can they with any clarity explain its use even though it is a Bible word. A basic meaning of the term Mid-Acts refers to when the church started. Much of Christianity today believes the church started in Acts chapter 2. I would challenge you to read Acts chapter 2 very closely twice and see if you can find anything that starts in this chapter. The only reason most Christians believe the church started in Acts 2 is because some person taught them it did. The only reason they were taught this is because most Christian colleges and Seminaries teach it. You can’t read the words alone in Acts chapter 2 and find a church starting anywhere in the chapter. What we teach here at Grace Bible Study is to give God the benefit of the doubt and believe his words over what the professors teach. Nothing starts in Acts 2, but Paul clearly is the first person to explain the Body of Christ made up of everyone including Jews and Gentiles. Yes, there was a church already present in Acts chapter 2, but you are not part of that church. Acts 11:19 clearly shows that this church was not ministering to or even evangelizing the Gentiles. What scripture does clearly show is that Jesus called the Apostle Paul in Acts 9 and told him clearly that he would have a ministry to Gentiles dispensing the gospel of the grace of God. Paul is the first person in scripture to introduce the church which is the Body of Christ. Paul is the one that explains Israel’s fall and diminishing and the new creature made up of all that believe. I completely understand the temptation to hold on to traditions like the Acts 2 beginning of the church. In this tradition, there is security because most of the books, college courses, commentators, and teachers say Acts 2 is the beginning of the church. All I’m asking you to see is the words of the Bible itself DO NOT say this. I could easily write my next 5 blogs with rock solid reasons why the church you are a part of now in this dispensation could not have started in Acts 2. The fact is that most Christians really are not concerned with where the church actually began. When people put the beginning of the Body of Christ before the last offer of the earthly Davidic kingdom by Peter, it caused an unmeasurable amount of confusion in Christianity today. This could be why there are hundreds of “churches” in every city now. The church, the Body of Christ, is mystery information that Jesus revealed to Paul. Paul was saved in Acts 9 hence the term Mid-Acts. This is the scriptural position that the Bible actually teaches. It is tremendously important to know when the church that you are a part of began, so you can have a proper understanding of the Bible.
Last week we started studying prayer here at Grace Bible Study. If you’ve been a Christian for very long, you have already heard plenty of lessons, sermons, and devotions on prayer. There is no doubt you have probably purchased or been given prayer journals or prayer promise books. A trip to the Bible bookstore reveals scores of books and devotionals on this subject. If you go to a traditional denomination, you have probably never considered studying this subject according to your Apostle Paul’s instructions. Rightly dividing prayer is a practice that is altogether foreign in teaching about prayer today. Have you ever stopped to look at the references in your prayer promise book? Have you ever read the context of all the prayer “promises” you are taught belong to you? Most people would agree a Christian should pray according to God’s will. Why then is the prayer promise book you are reading filled with verses given to God’s covenant people Israel? The Bible is clear that God has an earthly people with earthly promises and a heavenly people with heavenly promises. I understand this does not “preach” well, because we would rather ignore all the references that clearly refer to Israel and claim all those promises for ourselves. How can you sell a prayer devotional that explains the truth that all those promises you are claiming don’t belong to you? Rightly dividing the Bible as we are instructed to applies to every subject in scripture. Rightly dividing also clears up all the struggles between the denominations about those subjects. Every prayer book must include a section on “Unanswered Prayer.” Why I ask? If you read the prayer promises clearly in your prayer journal, you would see that Jesus clearly says just the smallest bit of faith can move mountains. Why then do we need the section on unanswered prayer? Here’s why, every Christian struggles with many unanswered prayers. How could the prayer to heal a dying child be ignored by God? These are the times when the prayer books fail miserably to explain unanswered prayer. These are the times when the prayer journal provides no help whatsoever. These are the times when the Christian’s prayer life seems to be stopping at the ceiling. A foundation built upon Pauline truth, and the purpose of prayer in the dispensation of Grace answers these questions. These are not the answers you want to hear, and these are not the answers you want to believe. I understand you want all those promises of healing promised to Israel at times like this. You can understand prayer, and you can pray according to God’s will. You can also understand how a Christian is to pray today as a member of the Body of Christ, but you will never know any of these things until you learn to divide the promises given to God’s covenant people, and the promises given to God’s heavenly people the Body of Christ. Calvinism has infiltrated every facet of Christianity but it shows up mostly in your prayers. You pray for guidance then look for circumstances in this sin cursed world around you for the answer. Maybe instead of looking around you, you should look into God’s word because his will is clear when the Bible is rightly divided. A Godly prayer life if found written in God’s word by following the pattern left for you by your Apostle Paul. A life of continuous unanswered prayers are in your future when you continue to follow Israel’s prayer promises.
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