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Rightly Dividing the Word of God

Copyright © Andrew J. Shreeve 2009

 

Paul writes to Timothy: study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It requires study and diligence to correctly divide biblical truth.

 

In any communication about truth, authority of the source of truth must be established; otherwise endless discussions about each other’s opinions will most probably end in disagreement. For example, is the Bible authoritative, or the Pope, or the church, or another book, or someone’s experience, or me or you? If we cannot agree on who, or what, is in authority, we should have a small expectation that the discussion will enjoy a fruitful ending. For a Christian, the bible should be the supreme basis of authority for establishing truth.

 

In addition to establishing an agreed authority, we also need to realise that we each view everything through our own bias, lens, filters, or paradigms. To see truth clearly we need to put aside our prejudices and open our mind 100% to the biblical truth that is presented. Truth, however, is always understood in the light of other truths, and therefore we must develop a ‘hierarchy of truths’ (a pecking order, or ladder). In other words, we establish truth in an order of priority. That order of priority will effect how we view further truth, as it becomes our bias, lens, filter or paradigm. It is extremely important that we examine the hierarchy of our filters, as an imperfect hierarchy of ‘truths’, or filters, will distort our understanding of truth. This is largely why there are divisions within the body of Christ; with each group holding to different paradigms which they consider as true. We should all be looking to refine, perfect, and improve our filters.

 

Jesus taught on this ‘hierarchy of truths’ when he said: know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables? (Mark 4:13). Jesus is saying this ‘parable of the sower’ must take precedence over other biblical truths. If we try and understand the other parables without first understanding this parable, we will err. To understand some truths, we must first accept other foundational truths. It is a bit like a combination tumbler lock on a safe. If you don’t get the first number right there is no point in going to the other numbers. The lock will never open unless the first number is right. Similarly, with biblical parables, we could study a parable all day long, but never receive a true understanding of it until we first master the teaching of the parable of the sower. This principle of ‘hierarchy of truths’ is extremely important if we desire to rightly divide the Word of God.

 

Many people are unaware of why they think the way they do. Our perceptions and filters were conditioned by society, school, university, church, family, peer pressure, TV, movies, and media etc. Have you considered that your hierarchy of truths could be improved? I know I am consistently working on perfecting this crucial area of my life. In this teaching I will examine five lenses, or hierarchy of truths, we should place as preeminent filters in our minds, as we proceed to rightly divide the Word of God.

 

    1. God’s Word is infallible, inspired by God, and should be our basis of authority concerning what is truth. If we don’t accept all the Scripture (the Holy Bible including the Old and New Testaments) as God’s Word, then we are not using the bible as a basis of authority to submit to (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-21). If we choose from the bible the parts that suit us, and discard the parts we don’t like, we show contempt for the Word of God; and with this attitude we will never divide the bible correctly.

 

    1. Accept the truth of ‘The Parable of the Sower’. This parable teaches that the fruit of God’s kingdom, and His supernatural power, is received into our lives as a result of us successfully growing the seed of God’s Word in our heart (Mark 4:1-29). Therefore, without an emphasis and understanding of meditation of God’s Word (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2), which is how we successfully grow spiritual seed, we will never understand how God’s kingdom works, nor divide God’s Word correctly.

 

 

    1. Accurately understand the finished redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The central theme of the bible is the coming of God in human form to redeem humanity from the consequences of our forefather Adam’s fall into sin, our subsequent inherited sinful nature, and condemnation to hell. We must understand, and have established in our heart, the details of what Christ has achieved for us. Christ’s redemptive work is understood through knowing all the promises of God, which are the details of our inheritance. We should also understand that every promise of God is yes and amen, because we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). A study of the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 28:1-68) will also tell us what does not belong to us, and what we should resist.

 

    1. Study Jesus’ life, what He did, and His attitudes. This will assist us to see clearly what God is like, and not be confused concerning God’s will. For example, Jesus never rejected anybody who came to Him in faith for healing, so we know God will never refuse our healing. Jesus always provided food abundantly to those who followed Him, so we know God does not desire us to lack for food. Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, so we know God extends to us forgiveness and mercy. Understanding what Jesus is like helps us understand what God is like, as Jesus is God (1 Timothy 3:16, John 1:1, 14).

 

 

    1. Accept that God is love (Greek: agape, 1 John 4:8). Love is extolled as the greatest and most important virtue in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:36-40, James 2:8). Because of the massive emphasis of love, grace, and forgiveness, in the New Testament, we need to accept that God will always have a deep and constant interest in our well being, during this church age, the age of grace. This love and willingness from God to forgive and accept us is constant, regardless of how sinful our actions may be, with the exception of a Christian who counts Christ’s blood as unholy - which is the unforgiveable sin (Hebrews 10:29).

 

Conclusion: By viewing any study of Scripture through this hierarchy of truths, or these five lenses, we will be assisted in rightly dividing the Word of God. These truths will help greatly in taking away ‘so called’ contradictions within the Word of God, harmonizing the bible, bringing peace and certainty. Pray with me: “Father I thank you for revealing to me that I need to master some truths, before I will correctly understand other truths. Thank you for these five truths I have been made aware of today. I will examine them, and if I find them faultless I will accept them, and establish them in my heart. Thank you that these five truths will assist me in rightly dividing your Word, so I can walk in all your rich blessings, in Jesus Christ name, Amen.”

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Andrew Shreeve Ministries is led by the Holy Spirit, committed to the integrity of the Word of God, walking by faith and focused on preaching the gospel to all nations...

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