Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
Jesus is often proclaimed to be the greatest of all teachers – and indeed He is. His philosophies are applauded by many and His profound words are often quoted. His moral instructions have positively influenced much of today's legal regulations. His ethical code and compassionate nature is copied and applauded by many bodies. His message and morals can be traced to all areas of society and religious reform.
No one spoke such gracious words as Jesus spoke – or acted as kindly as He did. No one taught like Jesus, or gave instruction like He did – for He was God incarnate. While Christ walked the earth, the Old Testament pointed to the person of Jesus.
Down through the centuries it was the prophets that pointed to the man Christ Jesus. From creation to the cross the law, the prophets and psalms were heralding Christ. The law, prophets, poetry, and psalms pointed forward to the coming Messiah. Most of the four gospels were presenting Jesus... the Messiah King as being present.
The epistles point us back to the Lord Jesus – His death, burial, and resurrection. The book of Revelation points forwards to everything connected to His 2nd coming. Many Christians today apply the things Christ’s taught to their own spiritual lives, yet much of what the gospels teach are teachings directed towards the nation of Israel.
The gospels tell the story of Christ’s revelation to mankind – and His rejection. They show Christ as the promised Seed of the woman, Who would crush Satan’s head. The gospels tell of the prophetic fulfilment of the promised Passover Lamb of God. They show Jesus as the Seed promised to Abraham – Who will reign in great power. They identify Christ as the fulfilment of so many Messianic prophecies and promises.
Jesus came to present Himself to Israel as their anointed Messiah and promised King. He explained His kingdom’s rule, agenda and programme in His sermon on the mount. He taught men to rely on Him alone and to discover their own human helplessness – but He only came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel – the sheep of His pasture. In Romans 15 Paul tells us that Christ became a servant to the circumcised (Israel), to demonstrate God’s truthfulness of God’s word - in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs. Romans 15:8
As Christ’s three years of ministry ebbed to an end, He started to hint of God’s future plan. In Matthew, Jesus said, I will build My Church.. but it would be built in the future. He wept over Jerusalem, for their rejection of Him meant a coming time of sorrow.
The Cross of Christ was the pivotal point in the history of the universe. The eyes of pre-cross and post-cross believers all focus on that momentous event. Calvary’s cross changed the focus of God’s plans – from Israel to the Church. Before the cross, God was carrying out His purpose through His people Israel. After the cross, He continued to forward His plans through His body, the Church, but Christ remained and remains the focus of God’s plans and purposes for mankind.
Though Christ is indeed the great Teacher, Christian doctrine came to us through others. Though Jesus is Scripture’s central character. Bible doctrine was given through others. It is Christ about Whom Scripture teach – but He was not the expositor of His Word. Jesus Christ is the subject of Scripture – yet others penned church teachings.
The Church in embryo was hinted at by the Lord Jesus – I will build My Church, but it was Paul who was given the responsibility of unfolding God’s plan for us. Paul was the Revelator of the teachings and doctrines that were for this Church age.
Just as Moses was God’s mouthpiece in the old – so Paul was His agent in the new. Just as Moses gave Israel their Law – so Paul unveiled doctrine for the Church. Just as Moses pointed Israel to Christ – so Paul points the Church to the Lord Jesus.
Let us study the Word of God which points to the Word made Flesh, but let us rightly divide the teachings to Israel and those to the Church. Let us not confuse post-cross with pre-cross teachings, but rather, let us study to show ourselves approved before God. Let us be diligent to present ourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
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