The Fundamental And Central Message Of The Bible
Rightly dividing the Word of Truth
2 Tim 2:14,15: "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Why is there so much division in the Church of Jesus Christ? Why do Christians contradict each other on various Biblical doctrines? Why can Christians not unite in the truth of God's Word? Although there are a number of reasons I am convinced that one of the most important is the lack of understanding, or misunderstanding of the fundamental and central message of the Bible. In this article I want to make a contribution to help us rightly divide the Word of Truth by means of a sound understanding of the fundamental and central message of the Bible.
A basic principle of effective communication I have learnt is to clearly define the connection or context of a message. An important cause of broken relationships (including in marriage) can be attributed to defective communication and misunderstanding, and one of the greatest causes of misunderstanding is a lack of understanding of the connection or context of the issue at hand.
This truth also applies to the Bible. In order to correctly understand the Bible message, one must correctly understand the connection or context of the content. The question is, in what context must the Bible message be understood? Some Bible scholars believe that the Bible should be read and understood strictly in its historical context. However, I am convinced that the Bible must be read and understood in its eternal context. The Bible is written in Eternity Language. The Bible message begins in eternity and ends in eternity. Adam and Eve were created to live eternally. Death only came into existence after the fall. The book of Revelation similarly ends in eternity. In Rev 22:3-5 we read: "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever." The entire message of the Bible is wrapped in between Genesis chapters 1 to 3 and Revelation chapters 19 to 21. Genesis chapters 1 to 3 and Revelation chapters 19 to 21 form the context within which the entire Bible message is written.
What we have to understand about the Bible is the principle of progressive revelation. In other words, God revealed His truth progressively to His prophets and chosen people over the ages. The Bible was written over a period of 1,400 to 1,800 years by more than 40 different authors, containing 66 books, 1,189 chapters and 31,240 verses - resulting in one coherent message, beginning with creation in Genesis chapter 1 and ending with consummation in Revelation chapter 22, while each book and chapter forms a vital part of the coherent whole, without a single contradiction in its context.
The Bible is a prophetic book that is not bound by the limits of time. History only has to do with time - time past. However, what makes the Bible unique as the Word of God is precisely the fact that it was written, and must be read and understood in an eternal context. The Bible does not only contain prophecies - the Bible is prophetic in its entirety. That is why it is the eternal Word of God. There is no part of the Bible that is not prophetic - therefore the message of the Bible is boundless! The reason why the Bible is a dead book to many is because they read it only in an historical context and therefore misunderstand the message of eternity! By saying this we do not ignore the time or historical factor in the Bible, but it is important to understand time and history within the context of eternity, as we will explain below.
A Bible study lesson from the world of digital technology
A few years ago I had to master a new website development application in order to reproduce my web sites in mobile responsive format. I would like to explain to you in a nutshell the principles of this application because it contains a unique communication lesson that is of great value in understanding the message of the Bible.
This application works on the principle of context or connection. You know the question: "In what context does it stand?", or "With regard to what are you saying this?" The application consists of a set of different elements or 'containers' that are connected, in which information or data can be stored. The first element is the 'body' of the web page. The 'body' is the 'mother container' within which all the other elements are stored. The next element is called a 'section', is placed inside the 'body' and defines the charcateristics and behavior of that particular section or part of the 'body'. The next element is called a 'container' and is placed inside a 'section'. The basic characteristics and behavior of the 'container' is defined by the 'section' within which it is placed. The last element is called a 'division' and is placed inside a 'container'. The basic characteristics and behaviour of a 'division' is defined by the 'container' within which it is placed. These basic elements can now contain a host of other elements, such as text, images, videos and backgrounds.
The important principle to understand when building a web site is that each element inherits the characteristics of its parent. In other words, the behavior of each element is determined by the characteristics of its parent element. Therefore, each element stands within the context of its parent element. If you understand this principle you will read the Bible with new eyes.
Reading the Bible through God's eyes
In the illustration above I have built for you a Bible web site based on this principle of context as explained in the previous paragraphs. The title of the website is 'The Fundamental and Central Message of the Bible'. The fundamental and central message of the Bible is the 'body' of the web page (the white section) and is defined by God-Triune - who He is, how He is, His essence, character and personality as revealed in the Bible (the blue part). Every other topic in the Bible stands within the context of who and what God is! Any doctrine or theology that is contrary to the essence and character of God-Triune is heresy.
The next element on the web page is the eternity 'section' (the pink section). The concept of eternity can only be understood within the context of the essence and character of God. Therefore, in order to understand the Bible in its eternal context, you must be standing in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and must know God personally. We have said previously that the Bible is a prophetic book and is written in Eternity Language. To understand the Bible, you must therefore understand Eternity Language and the gift of this language is only received by the indwelling Holy Spirit when you stand in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No knowledge of Greek or Hebrew will serve as a substitute for Eternity Language!
Within the context of Eternity there are three phases of God's work, namely, Creation, Recreation, and Recreation Completed. Creation explains to us what God's purpose was in creation. Then follows the fall. The fall is the cause of the dispensation of time. With the fall, mortality and death began to reign on earth. Time is contrary to the essence and character of God, and is the consequence of the fall. The dispensation of time (the green part) is the next element and stands within the context of eternity. Although the dispensation of time contains its own elements, it is important to understand that time stands within the context of God's eternal plan for creation and humanity!
As we have already mentioned, the Bible is a progressive revelation of God, His plan in creation, recreation and redemption in the dispensation of time. Recreation therefore consists of four dispensations or time phases, namely, that of the conscience; the law; grace or the Church dispensation; and the millennial kingdom (the yellow portions). What is important to understand is that the dispensation of grace or the Church dispensation in which we currently live, stands within the context of the essence and character of God and His eternal plan in creation, like every other dispensation. The entire Bible and every other subject in the Bible must therefore be read, understood and taught within the eternity context of the Bible message and God's eternal purpose and plan for humanity.
The importance of understanding the Bible message in its eternal context
Every micro-subject in the Bible (e.g. faith, salvation, love, obedience, sanctification, the blessing and provision of God, etc.) must be understood and taught within the macro-picture (or context) of the Bible. One of the great dangers of Christianity in our time is the blatant misuse and application of the Bible in an earthly, time-dispensational, and therefore wrong context. Social media is full of this! 'Simply trust in the Lord', 'The Lord will never let you down', 'Your breakthrough will come', 'Speak life, and tomorrow all your problems will be solved', while many Christians understand nothing of a life that is surrendered and subjected to the will, purpose and plan of God for their lives!
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. One of the many abused verses in the Bible is Phil 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This verse is written within the macro-picture or context of the apostle Paul's calling and ministry in his service of God's recreation plan for the world, namely, to bring the Gospel to the world in terms of Jesus' Great Commission. This verse only apply to those who are surrendered to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word, His will, His plan and His purpose for their lives. When this verse is quoted to, or by those who live to pursue their own personal goals outside of God's will and plan for their lives, another principle applies, namely, God surrenders those to a spirit of deception. We read, among other, in 2 Thes 2: 10,11: "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (Emphasis my own.) (See also 1 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 18 and Rom 1:24.)
Many Christians do not understand the difference between positive thinking or declaration, and faith! The result is that people (even Christians) develop a misunderstanding of God and later live in a "personal relationship" with a self-made Jesus in their imagination! In fact, this is nothing other than idolatry! That is why the second commandment says, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth ..." -- not even in your mind! (Ex 20: 4.) Any concept of God that you worship (even in your imagination) that is not in harmony with God's character and personality, and His purpose and plan in creation, is idolatry!
The message of the Bible is absolutely relevant for our time
The message of the Bible is just as relevant to the modern world of our time as it was to the time it was written! Because the Bible is written in Eternity Language it never changes! The post-modern Christian wants to adapt the message of the Bible to make it relevant for our modern time, while not seeing the relevance of the Bible for the time in which we live.
The history of the world and current world events must be seen and explained within the context of God's recreation plan for the world, of which end-time prophecies in the Bible are an indispensable element. Furthermore, a sound understanding of the fundamental and central message of the Bible is a basic condition for the correct interpretation and understanding of the Bible's end-time prophecies.
In order to be relevant it is of fundamental importance for the Church to understand where our generation finds itself on God's calendar with regard to His recreation plan in the dispensation of time!
Unfortunately, to be relevant means something completely different to the post-modern church. For them, relevance and worldliness are synonymous, but this is a subject for another article. You may want to read The Church's Identity Crisis.
If Christians and the Church understand that we are currently living in the final stretch before Jesus' return, and that the ONE THING that delays His return is the yet unfulfilled missionary task, the whole Church worldwide will become involved like one man reaching the unreached world with the Gospel! Where Christians and the Church are not actively involved in this goal, there can be only two reasons - they do not understand the fundamental and central message of the Bible, or they are so temporally, earthly and worldly minded, and therefore apostate from the truth, that they are not interested in knowing and understanding the fundamental and central message of the Bible!
The fundamental and central message of the Bible in a nutshell
To summarise: the fundamental and central message of the Bible is as follows:
God's purpose in creation - and in particular with the Church world-wide - is to produce an offspring for God and a Bride for His Son in His own image, from every nation, tribe and tongue, to rule with Him over creation in eternity. This purpose and plan will be fulfilled with the second coming of Jesus Christ and the Marriage of the Lamb.
If you understand this truth, the New Testament of the Bible will take on new meaning for you and protect you from many errors of our time! You may also be interested to read 'How To Find Your True Purpose And Calling'.
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