All Mixed Up
Many say Paul’s letters to Timothy are instructions to the church. For years when I went to church there was a lot of head knowledge being taught. There was also a lot of fear taught. Not a fear of God because he is holy but if you screw up God is going to smack you upside the head. People quickly began to realize they could not measure up, they did things wrong and sometimes didn’t know how to handle gray areas. Churches kept pushing, don’t screw up or God will get you and if something bad happens to you or your family it is because there must be some sin in your life. This teaching I believe has driven thousands of people away from the church away from Jesus and away from God. Why? We can’t measure up.
The sad thing, they base this God smack you upside the head teaching on one New Testament verse in Hebrews 12. So you have to ask, if you are trying to find truth – does Hebrews 12 apply to the church? To those truly “in Christ” Jews and Gentiles?
One of the first things God and a Pastor taught me was always look at who the letter or text is addressed to. Then always remember scripture has a literal application for the people it is addressed to. Scripture also has historical application for the time it was written whether it is a time in history or prophecy, in the future. And scripture has a spiritual application.
Spiritual application – spiritual is defined as of spirit, not material, mental, relative to mind and spirit, holy, not fleshly, not material. So scripture having spiritual application means scripture should impact your mind (soul) and your spirit man, not your flesh.
So if someone is going to teach the church aka the Bride of Christ, you have to look at literal application of the teaching, historical application of the teaching and spiritual application of the teaching. When you do this, you always, always pray first and ask God to teach you the truth. And as a believer in Christ, Jesus said in John chapters 14 – 16 but specifically in John 14: 25-27 that when he leaves this world, God the Father is going to send us the Holy Ghost to teach us. The Holy Ghost gives understanding of God’s word. So when you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, understanding and knowledge of the truth of the word of God in Jesus’ name, Amen. After you pray, now you can begin to study, not just read scripture 2 Timothy 2:15. Then look at who is this written to? Is this written to Old Testament people? To New Testament people? Is this written to Jews? To Gentiles? Or is this written to the church those “in Christ” ?
Many believers do not even do this first step and then they get confused with scripture. So believers mix everything together and wonder why they can’t understand. Then look at the historical application and then look at the spiritual application. I’m going to give two basic examples.
The first example is Jesus Christ himself. Throughout the Old Testament the Jews were told, among other things, there was a coming Saviour / Messiah. Sprinkled throughout the Old Testament God planted clues of who the Saviour / Messiah would be, where he would be born what he would do and even that he would be crucified and rise from the dead. When the Saviour / Messiah came, who did he come to? Jews? Gentiles? Clearly Jesus said he came to Israel to Jews. Jesus instructed his disciples to go to Israel. Jesus said himself, he was sent unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel. See Matthew 10: 5, 6 and Matthew 15:24.
So we see in the four Gospels, Jesus comes picks 12 disciples that are close to him and there are many other disciples see Luke 9:1 and also Luke 10 :17 – 20. Jesus gives all these disciples, even the 70, the power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases and he sends them where? To Israel, Jews not Gentiles. And what is their message? Repent the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand ( a doctrinal teaching on the physical rule and reign of Jesus Christ physically on this earth). Jesus even warns them about their religious leaders, Pharisees in Luke 12:1.
The gospels clearly explained they are all Jewish for Jews sent to Jews, not Gentiles. So how can you take a scripture, given to Jews and for Jews and say the church – made up of Jews and Gentiles, needs to apply these verses literally? You can’t. However there is plenty of spiritual application. Spiritual application spirit, mental, not material, not fleshy, but application to the mind (soul) + spirit, not the body/flesh.
When you understand the law was given to Jews to have them do things in their flesh, their body to justify them with God. Everything was Works based works of the flesh. That’s why they understood the verses on plucking out your eye or cutting off your arm because it was better to enter maimed into the Kingdom of Heaven. Everything was based on works of the flesh, the body obeying laws, rules and regulations laid out by God. But spiritual application has nothing to do with material or fleshly it is the mind and spirit.
Some people in our time have taken verses like plucking out your eye or cutting off your arm literally and they have damaged their body. They took a verse from scripture given to Israel and applied it literally to the church. The verse has nothing to do with the church. Jesus was here on Earth to bring in the Kingdom of Heaven to Israel so you cannot apply that literal application. Again, who did Jesus come to? Jews, Israel. Who was that statement directed at? Jews, Israel.
But Israel rejected Jesus. The Pharisees, religious leaders, led many astray and they rejected Jesus. So God did not reject Israel and God has not replaced Israel, but God called a Jew named Saul, changed his name to Paul and says, go now to the Gentiles and offer them salvation through Jesus Christ. This is called in scripture, the time of the Gentiles. Why did God now allow Gentiles to get saved? To provoke Israel to jealousy not abandon or replace Israel as some teach. Just read Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11.
Now Jews and Gentiles are saved and this mix of both makes up the church, the Bride of Christ.
The second example I have will hit home and we will cover that next time.