by Robert Johnson
Giving An Answer For What We Believe: Rightly
Dividing The Word
Introduction: Can We Give An Answer?
I. The History of God’s Relationship With Man: Old
II. God’s Final Covenant: The New Testament Church
or Gospel of Christ
III. How Rightly Dividing The Word, Helps Us Overcome
Introduction: Can We Give An Answer?
A. Many common attitudes about religion are just ignorance and
lies and just do not work in the real world.
1. “One religion is just as good as another, they are all headed
in the same direction.” (Universalism).
a. Try this philosophy in the real world when you are looking for the
right parts to fix your car, your computer or ingredients for a recipe.
b. Try this, “one is as good as another” thinking when you
go to pick up your baby from the nursery.
c. Try this thinking when you are reading a road map! (Jn. 14:6, I am
2. “It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.”
(Faith Only, Truth not essential).
a. Try sincerely believing you do not have to pay your taxes.
b. Try sincerely believing you do not have to obey the law.
c. Try sincerely believing you can fly without a flying machine.
d. In the real world, sincerely believing something does not by itself,
make it true.(Jn. 8:32).
3. “No one can understand the Bible enough to make accurate judgments
about what religion is right and which are wrong.” (Agnosticism:
Being sure you can know nothing for sure).
a. Imagine a world where the evidence was not an acceptable basis for
b. Imagine a world where all the husbands threw out the directions for
assembly and operation for everything they ever bought because no one
can know for sure what they say!
c. Is it arrogant and judgmental to believe that the makers directions
are reliable and understandable?
B. In the real world or real faith, one of the first things
we must realize is that the popular opinions of sinful man is not a
reliable authority for pleasing God.
1. We know that true faith comes from hearing and obeying the Word of
God (Rom. 10:17).
2. We know that what God says always trumps (wins over) what man says
when it comes to truth.
Rom 3:3-4: "For what if some did not believe?
shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid:
yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou
mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou
3. As members of the church of Christ, we also know that we must be
ready to give an answer (evidence) for why we believe what we believe.
1 Pet 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in
your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that
asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"
C. Today: I am a member of the church of Christ because I have
obeyed God’s command to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
2 Tim 2:15: "Study to show thyself approved
unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing
the word of truth."
1. By doing this, I can easily know the will of God for my life today.
2. By doing this, I can also easily defeat many of the false doctrines
which trouble the religious world.
I. The History Of God’s
Relationship With Man: Old Testament
A. The history of God’s relationships with man and what
He has required in worship can be divided into three basic periods (Two
in the Old Testament and the Final in the New Testament).
B. The Patriarchal period: Adam to Moses (Before the Law of
1. Little is known about specific requirements except that God taught
man to offer animals in sacrifice to atone (forgive) their sins. (Gen.
2. During this period of history, God communicated directly with the
heads of the families (Patriarchs) such as Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
3. During this period the faithful served God by sacrifices and by believing
and obeying what He especifically ask them to do (sacrifice, build an
ark, leave their country, offer Isaac, etc.)
C. The Mosaic Period: Mount Sinai (Horeb) to Cross of Christ.
1. Keeping His promise to Abraham, God established his descendants as
the Nation of Israel and in the wilderness made a covenant with them
and gave them the Law (of Moses).
2. This covenant and law was not for those before this time or the people
of the world in general, but for the people of Israel.
Deu 5:2-3: "The LORD our God made a covenant
with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers,
but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day."
3. This law was both a civil law to govern the nations behavior, but
also a spiritual law to instruct and govern where and how they were
to offer worship to God. (it was national, not universal).
4. This law required an endless sacrifice of animals to atone for the
sins of the people, but Moses and the prophets foretold of another prophet
and a new covenant which God would someday make with the people.
Deu 18:15: "The LORD thy God will raise up
unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto
me; unto him ye shall hearken;"
Jer 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith
the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I
made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring
them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although
I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days,
saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it
in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man
his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from
the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will
forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
D. This “law” (covenant or testament) became effective
when it was dedicated with the blood:
Heb 9:17-23: "For a testament is of force
after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the
testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated
without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the
people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats,
with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book,
and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which
God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both
the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all
things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood
is no remission. 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of
things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly
things themselves with better sacrifices than these."
II. God’s Final Covenant:
The New Testament Church or Gospel of Christ
A. The ultimate purpose of the law of Moses was to prepare the
People to receive the New Covenant which had been promised by God.
1. It was never intended as a permanent law for God’s people,
but was added to teach the people about sin and their need for forgiveness.
Rom 7:12-13: "Wherefore the law is holy,
and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which
is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear
sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment
might become exceeding sinful."
2. The law was meant to continue until it was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Mat 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to
destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or
one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
B. Once the new covenant of faith in Christ was established,
the old law was forever taken out of the way, fulfilled and “abolished.”
Gal 3:15-29: "Brethren, I speak after the
manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed,
no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed
were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but
as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that
the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which
was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should
make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the
law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions,
till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained
by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator
of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God?
God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given
life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture
(law,rj) hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of
Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith
came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should
afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to
bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after
that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye
are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many
of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There
is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither
male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be
Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
1. The Old Law has been abolished:
2 Cor 3:13: "And not as Moses, which put
a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly
look to the end of that which is abolished:"
Eph 2:13-18: "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far
off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who
hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition
between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law
of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain
one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto
God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And
came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that
were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto
C. When the blood of Christ was shed on the cross, the God’s
New Testament or New Way of dealing with man and sin was established.
Col 2:13-14: "And you, being dead in your
sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together
with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting
of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took
it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;"
D. The Old was only a temporary shadow or pattern of the things
God had prepared for the salvation of man by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Heb 8:5-13: "Who serve unto the example and
shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was
about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all
things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. 6 But now
hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the
mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place
have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith,
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according
to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took
them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they
continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind,
and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they
shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know
me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their
unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember
no more. 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first
old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
Heb 9:1: "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of
divine service, and a worldly sanctuary."
Heb 9:6-15: "Now when these things were thus
ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing
the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone
once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and
for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that
the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as
the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the
time then present... 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good
things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with
hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood
of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the
holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the
blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the
unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more
shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself
without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve
the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new
testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions
that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive
the promise of eternal inheritance."
Heb 9:23-28: "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things
in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things
themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered
into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true;
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:...
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them
that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Heb 10:1-10: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come,
and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices
which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto
perfect.... 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh
away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will
we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once
Heb 10:15-25: "Whereof the Holy Ghost also
is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the
covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord,
I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write
them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now
where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having
therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood
of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for
us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high
priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart
in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil
conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast
the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that
promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and
to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the
more, as ye see the day approaching."
D. Today, we are not under the law of Moses, but under the New
Testament Faith of Christ.
1. There is now no hope of forgiveness for those following the law.
Gal 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified
by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have
believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of
Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law
shall no flesh be justified."
2. This is why we call ourselves, NEW TESTAMENT Christians, for we understand
how to rightly divide history and the covenants God has established
III. How Rightly Dividing The
Word, Helps Us Overcome False Doctrines:
A. Let us briefly note some of the false doctrines we face today
and how rightly dividing the Word of God helps us know the truth of
B. False Doctrines concerning the Sabbath:
1. Failing to understand the Old Covenant is abolished, some churches
believe you can only worship God on the Sabbath (Saturday, “Seventh
2. Others have changed transferred the teachings about the Sabbath to
the Christian Day of Worship and “Sabbathtized” Sunday (Though
neither really keep the Sabbath taught in the Old Testament).
3. Christians are not bound by the Law according to the New Testament.
Col 2:16-17: "Let no man therefore judge
you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new
moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body is of Christ."
C. False Doctrines concerning Tithing (Giving One Tenth to the
1. Moses command tithe was given to the Israelites and their tithes
were to be given to support the Levites (priests) who served in the
temple for they had no inheritance in the land.
Heb 7:5: "And verily they that are of the
sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment
to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their
brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:"
2. If God required a tithe today, who would we give it to since all
Christians are considered to be part of a “holy priesthood”
and our high priest is in heaven?? (1 Pet 2:5).
3. This also points out that a separate priesthood of men is not supported
by the New Testament.
D. False Doctrines concerning Instrumental Music.
1. The New Testament commands worshipers to sing and make melody in
their hears (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19).
2. The original church did not use instruments in worship until after
they had fallen away from the truth 800 years after the church was established.
A. We must understand how to rightly divide the Word of Truth.
B. We must understand the concept of New Testament Christianity and
be ready to give an answer for our faith and what we believe.
C. At times, we must be willing to take a strong stand for the original
truth which has been given to us by Jesus and His Apostles.
Jude 1:3: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence
to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to
write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for
the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
D. What about the New Testament Plan of Salvation? Mark 16:15,16.
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