Lectures by Greg Bartlett
Approaching Your Bible
Let’s say you get up in the morning and groggily go over to the coffee maker and poor a cup of coffee, drink half of it … and then you wake up. It’s Bible time!
Let’s also say you are following the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. Every day, there is are Old Testament and New Testament readings.
For example, on April 15, the plan says to read Leviticus 19. You read down and approach Leviticus 19:19. It says…
Leviticus 19:19 ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.
And so you think to yourself, “Does this apply to me today?” And then you read on the same day 1 Timothy 4:1-3 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
We start to think… “Wait, aren’t there Old Testament food laws … ?” What about shrimp and pork? Leviticus 11:9-12 9 ‘These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers–that you may eat. 10 But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. 11 They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales–that shall be an abomination to you.
What’s going on? Don’t I have to obey the Bible? That’s in the Bible right? How many times does God have to say something before it’s truth! Are you going to make God tell us something no longer applies before we don’t do it anymore? He said it in the OT; isn’t that enough?
For example, Christ saved me when I was attending Southern Illinois University. I was new believer and I had a friend who believed that he couldn’t eat pepperoni pizza.
The reason he believed that he could not eat pepperoni pizza was because he said the pepperoni has pork in it and that would violate Deuteronomy 14:8 Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.
I ate the pepperoni pizza in his presence with great delight! Perhaps I violated…
Romans 14:1-4 1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
So how do you approach these matters? How do you approach the reading of your Bible?
Approaching Your Bible
When you approach your Bible in the morning after waking up, and begin to read you have certain presuppositions. You presuppose, i.e., you have certain preconceived beliefs about the universe.
You believe, first of all, that God exists. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
You believe as well, that God gave us the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And you believe that God is sovereign over all of the universe and is orchestrating all the events of history and is even in control of evil, itself.
Proverbs 16:1-4 1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established. 4 The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
Psalm 103:15-19 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them. 19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.
Likewise, you believe that God is providentially working in his creation. The whole universe depends on Him.
Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
And everything is always being accomplished according to His specific purpose.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
Ephesians 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
…and a favorite along these lines…
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Another presupposition you have is what I would argue is the central theme of the whole Bible which is God’s glory in salvation through judgment. And you believe that too! Or will, anyway…
Lk. 2:14; Rom. 9:23; 11:36; 16:27; 1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 1:12; 3:21; 1 Pet. 5:10
God’s glory is revealed in salvation through judgment at the cross. The cross is the forming expression of GGSJ. John well demonstrates that the Father and the Son are both glorified at the cross (John 12:28ff; 13:31ff; 17:1,5).
Romans 3:21-26 serves as a good explanation.
Romans 3:21-26 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Previous to the cross, God passed over sins, in a seemingly unjust way. However, at the cross, God put forth Jesus as the propitiation of God’s wrath, thus making God just when He justifies the unjust. God is glorified in this, since, at the cross, He upheld His holiness and justice, while showing mercy to the unrighteous. Jesus was glorified through being the propitiation for sins and through willingly laying down His life for His friends (Jn. 15:13).
When considering the glory of God in the cross, one must realize the predicament God is in. He has to both uphold His divine holiness and justice against sin while desiring to bring salvation to man. This is what He did in the cross. Thus, God’s glory is revealed in His just justifying of unjust sinners through judging sin at the cross.
Imagine OT believers who knew that the blood of bulls and goats could not actually take away sin! They probably wondered the whole time, “How is God going to be just to merely forgive me?” They didn’t know. Now, they would have known about this In Isaiah’s time,
Isaiah 53:4-6 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
So, everything in history moved to the cross and everything in history moves away from it. It’s the “Grand Central Station” of biblical history. And it’s at the cross where we see the glory of God upheld, where sin is ultimately judged, and where the salvation of sinners is made possible. God’s glory in salvation through judgment.
This is a foretaste. This can be demonstrated through the Bible, especially in the Exodus (the major event of the OT) and in the consummation of the ages.
Now, you presuppose those things. But when you come to the book of Acts you see how the gospel of Christ has progressed to the Gentiles and you see the apostles struggling with this.
INTRO: Much of Acts is taken up with the progression of the gospel to the Gentiles. (ch. 2, Pentecost; ch. 8, Ethiopian; ch. 10, Cornelius ->detail that more. Goes on into Chapter 11:1-18; chapt. 13ff is Paul’s missionary journey.)
READ Acts 15. Notice…what should we do with all these uncircumcised Gentiles? God requires this of his people!
The decision marked a revolutionary change in the history of God’s people: Since Moses, first time there is no requirement of law-keeping. This is apostolic doctrine.
Laws kept in 15:20 are for the purpose of v.21, for the sake of the Jews.
What did they teach then? To no longer require God’s people to obey the Law of Moses!
Why? Why do the Gentiles not have to obey the Mosaic Law? There is a distinction between pre-cross and post-cross. What’s the distinction a distinction between? It’s a distinction noting the differences between God’s working among the Jew…then (pre-cross) and God’s working among the Gentiles (and all mankind)… now (post-cross). There is, therefore, a distinction between Israel (Jew) and the Church (Gentile) and a distinction between God’s working pre-cross and post-cross.
Jew and Gentile. This distinction is even clear in the Old Covenant texts.
Exodus 12:48-49 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”
That was what… Acts 15:1… men from Judea were teaching. “Look, these are Gentiles,” these men of Judea would say. “What does the OT require of Gentiles who want to be a part of the family of God? They must be circumcised!”
But, apostles had to confer and they decided that there indeed is a distinction.
Peter’s argument: The baptism of the Holy Spirit proves salvation does not require keeping the Law of Moses.
Paul’s argument: miracles among the Gentiles. Point: Without any requirement of the Law.
James: Amos 9 settles it; it predicted Gentile conversion.
God’s working pre-cross and post-cross
There is a distinction therefore between God’s work among the Jews under the OC and God’s work among the rest of mankind, in the NC.
Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Gentile was to be circumcised (Ex. 12:48-49).
Under the New Covenant in Christ, Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised (Acts 15; Ga. 2).
Read Galatians 2 (about the Jerusalem Council). Focus on Galatians 2:19
Galatians 2:19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
When does Paul mean that he died to the law? Paul means that he died to the Commandments and the decrees contained in the Old Testament. When you die to something, you are separated from it. There is a distinction. Paul is testifying that he is dead with reference to the law. Now, this does not mean that there is no relevance. First Corinthians 10 clearly helps us understand that.
There is a distinction between God’s working among Israel (Jew) and the Church (Gentile).
For the individual, the Old Covenant required certain things that the New Covenant does not.
Under the Old Covenant, Gentiles could not be a part of God’s people as Gentiles. They must become religious Jews.
Under the New Covenant, Gentiles can be a part of God’s people as Gentiles. They could stay non-law keeping Jews and be in the church through faith in Christ.
Therefore, there is a distinction between the Old and New Covenants.
Therefore, there is a distinction between God’s dealings with individuals under the Old Covenant (Israel) and the New Covenant (church).
Therefore, there is a distinction between Israel (Jew) and the church (me).
Now, the next day, when you get up, grab a coffee, open to the next chapter to Lev. 20….
You’re content when you read Leviticus 20:25-26 25 You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26 And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.
I know I want to be holy, but I know it’s not making the distinction between clean and the unclean food that’s going to get me there! It’s not through keeping OT laws.
Work out the metaphor. What exactly are the branches, root, etc.? Layton talbert said that the root is the “elective grace” or something. ↑
Technically Terminal. ↑