|From the Pastors Desk|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|August 26 2001||Bible Lessons
Today's lesson is going to be a bit challenging to follow. That is, if you are locked into the traditional manner of teaching and learning. I could apologize for this fact, except the Bible is not written in the traditional manner of a modern text book.
Therefore, it is difficult to teach the contents of the Bible by means of traditional teaching methods. It is relatively simple to pick a subject or topic from the Bible and teach that topic within the modern packaging of the latest forms of pedagogy. Most ministers were taught this very human technique during their Bible School training, and it has merit.
In Bible School, one of our tests or "exercises" (as the teacher called them) was to prepare a sermon on the "fly". Once we were nicely settled in the class room, the teacher would randomly pick a subject card from the "hat", and hand one of those cards to each budding pastoral student.
We then had 20 minutes to develop a proper outline that could be used to present that subject in a 30 minute message. The fearful aspect of that "exercise" was that --- one of those outlines would be randomly (according to the teacher, but I'm sure he was picking on me) chosen to be expounded - that meant preached - during the last 30 minutes or so of the class. Those expositions, or sermons usually turned out to be more like 10 to 15 minutes long, instead of the required 30 minutes. (Not good for the semester grade.)
The teacher called this an "exercise". We called it a terrifying ordeal!!! Call it what you like, most of us lived through it, and are probably better for it. Many of those expositions or sermons were very innovative and interesting. However, NONE of them could be considered an "in depth" study of the truths of the Word of God. As a matter of fact, the only part of the Word of God that most of these sermons contained was the text written on those little slips of paper, randomly handed out by the teacher.
Please understand, there in nothing intrinsically wrong with topical or subjective type teaching. It is quick, to the point and easily retained. All of those are very good teaching qualities. On the other hand, if that is the only type of teaching you receive, you will be very deficient in the overall and in-depth understanding of the Word of God.
It is true, that any portion of the Word
of God can be of benefit in all the actions listed in
For the man of God to be complete and thoroughly equipped,
ALL Scripture is needed. The "that" of
I'm sorry that the Holy Spirit was not "up on" the modern techniques of interactive pedagogy. When the Holy Spirit writes His sequel to the Bible, maybe He will take those things into consideration. In the meantime, I will endeavor to teach in a similar manner as the Holy Spirit teaches.
The choice of the type of teaching or learning we give or receive will depend on what we are endeavoring to teach or learn. If our goal is simply the "milk" of the Word, then we can stay with surface teaching and topics. If our goal is to know and understand the "deep things" of God, and what is in the heart of God, then we MUST stick with God's method, even when God's method is not as GOOD(?) as modern techniques.
I know! I know!!! We at MBF know this passage well. That may be true, but over and over again, I see the evidence, by actions and words, that some don't know it, didn't get it, have forgotten it, or just "flat-out" choose to ignore it. So as long as there are humans at MBF, I will not sin in failing to remind you of this cardinal truth of Bible study and Biblical understanding.
These deep things of God (
In this passage, the Holy Spirit does not make direct reference to the
verbal inspiration of the God's Word, but it is assumed to be so.
The supernatural means that God uses to reveal the deep things of
God is THROUGH His Spirit
It is good to note, that it is through,
not just by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is
the Agent and the only Agent of the
process mentioned in
Some of the reasons God uses this method are:
There is a gospel song, and for the most part a very good song that says the writer doesn't want to spend his time "answering question that aren't being ask anyway". All due respect to a very good song writer, BUT we NEED to be answering questions that have never been ask!!!!! As a matter of fact, we need to be answering questions that no human, from their own resources, is capable of asking.
We are commissioned to go to a world and to Believers with answers to questions that only God is capable of asking or answering. Far too long, we have made God's gospel a socially acceptable message directed at the physical and social needs (of which there are many). Far too long, we have failed to pose those eternal questions that the natural mind cannot and does not ask.
Comparing Spiritual with Spiritual is the type of teaching and learning we will choose, if we want the "meat" of the Word or the "deep things" of God. In this context, Paul also talks about the choice of those who only want the "milk of the Word".
Look at the next verse in this passage. Don't let the chapter division throw you off. Paul didn't put in the chapter breaks, nor did the Holy Spirit inspire them. They were added by the publishers, in an effort to help in our study, and usually they do help. However, sometimes they can be a hindrance to our receiving the whole context of a teaching.
The second choice you have for teaching and studying the Word of God, is to stay with the "milk of the Word". If you stay with and only partake of the "milk of the Word", it can lead to carnality. Babies don't have to work too hard to get the "milk of the Word", BUT it takes some real chewing to get the "meat of the Word".
The two choices:
We will be doing a great deal of comparison in this lesson. Before we can compare, we must have the facts to compare. Therefore, we will look at a good number of facts--- just for the sake of having facts to compare.
I could simply tell you that the Tabernacle, the Law and its service are part of a covenant or contract. I could also tell you that this covenant is temporary, not everlasting.
As a matter of fact, in the introduction to this series, I have already said those things. BUT that's only "milk", and you will loose a great deal of Spiritual blessing and Biblical understanding, if that is as far as you dig into these deep things of God.
We want to go for the "meat of the Word"!! Because of lack of time, we will have to supplement the "meat" with some "milk", which should make for a well balanced Spiritual meal.
There is MUCH confusion about Biblical covenants, what they are, who they are for and the provisions found in them. Part of that confusion comes as a result of NOT taking the time to compare all passages on the subject of covenants, and making sure that the conclusions drawn from those comparisons are in perfect harmony with all other teachings of Scripture.
Can you imagine my teacher, in Bible School, handing me a slip of paper that said.... "Compare all references to Biblical covenants, draw conclusions about those covenants and harmonize those conclusions with all major doctrines of Scripture"?? Admittedly, I could not have accomplished that in 20 minutes of preparation, NOR could the results have been expounded in a 30 minute message.
NO!! We're talking about the "MEAT of the Word of God". The process of obtaining those facts and comparing those facts takes a lifetime, and then we've only just begun!!!
Just so you won't be disappointed, this GREAT passage in Romans 11 was given in the context of teachings concerning the Tabernacle and its service.
This passage is NOT saying that we cannot understand the truths of God's revealed Word. It is saying instead, that NO MATTER how much you search and compare, you will NEVER exhaust the limits of those truths. Once you have tasted of God's Word and found it good, there is always more to feed on.
One of the key factors in a proper Spiritual "diet", is balance. The "milk of the Word" is not wrong, nor should we avoid it. The problem comes when we never add to our Spiritual "diet" the real "meat of the Word". So for this lesson let's have a BIG gulp of Biblical milk, and then let's move on to some solid food.
We have already seen in our study that the Tabernacle, the Law and its service are all part of a covenant. However, when we begin to search the Scriptures, we find there are a lot of references to covenants, and there are MANY covenants.
A major problem of Biblical interpretation comes when we fail to recognize the existence of these many covenants, and their relationship to one another. It would take a lifetime to examine all the covenant references, sort them and harmonize them. Therefore, in this lesson, let me try to summarize the entire scope of Biblical covenants. In that way, we will have a base from which to do some Biblical digging, and get a better look at this area of the "deep things of God".
The English word covenant is found about 300 times in the Bible, depending on your translation. The 300 times this English word is used is only a drop in the bucket compared to the many more times covenants are referred to by other terms.
In general terms, a Biblical covenant would be similar to a modern contract. However, when it comes to the details, a Biblical covenant is very different. The Biblical covenants are different from modern contracts in content, form, method of confirmation, etc. For example, covenants in Biblical times were confirmed through the use of salt, blood, shoes, and other things. Today, we often confirm contracts by having the signature witnessed by someone recognized and licensed by the state to be a professional witness.
Today, most contracts are written. During Bible times, most covenants were word of mouth. Modern contracts usually require the compliance of two or more parties for some mutual benefit. There were a number of covenants in Bible times, that only involved the compliance of one person.
The "one-person" covenants werejust as binding as the "multi-person" covenants. Most vows would fit in this class of covenants. In modern times, some "Last Will and Testaments" could fall loosely into this "one-person" covenant category. Even in this comparison, there are numerous differences.
Modern contracts are usually written in "legalese" that can only be interpreted by someone charging at least $100.00 an hour. Covenants in Bible times were often made up of symbols and word pictures that only the parties involved in the covenant could fully understand.
It's almost impossible to really compare Biblical covenants with modern contracts. If for no other reason, in Biblical times, a person's word was his seal. People used to live according to their word, or death could be the results. Today, sad to say, a person's word is often only a means of NOT telling the truth. Today, the better you can use words to NOT tell the truth, the higher you can climb on the political ladder.
We will not take the time to explore the many details involved in these covenants, at least not at this time. However, as we journey on in our study of the Tabernacle, many of these areas will be seen again and again.
If we are to get a handle on Biblical covenants, we must first see and understand that there is but one truly ETERNAL covenant. Only this one Eternal Covenant started before time and extends beyond time, all other covenants have a starting point in time.
Some covenants go from their starting point in time on into eternity. Other covenants go from their starting point in time until their fulfillment at some point in time. All covenants have a cost/benefit condition. Sometimes the cost is borne entirely by God, and other times the cost is obedience on the human side.
Most of the Biblical covenants have to do with the spectrum of time, and only small details point to eternity. Even though God's Eternal Covenant was made in eternity past and will continue into eternity future, its major focus is on time, and most of its details are time centered. My purpose in this study, is NOT to give you an "in-depth" study of Biblical covenants. Such a study would require multiplied hours of class time.
What I want us to see is the general concept of Biblical covenants, and their relationship to one another. Your understanding of the covenants will determine, to a great extent, your understanding of all other "deep things of God".
Except for a very few, the names given to these covenants are not Biblical titles. They are names given by Bible students in order to distinguish the different covenants, and sometimes even the different aspects of the same covenant. It is not my intent to look at the many personal covenants made with individual people in the Bible such as Solomon, Hezekiah, etc.
Yes, God did make a covenant with Hezekiah. Several in fact. One covenant made with Hezekiah was instituted when he was sick, and at the point of death. Hezekiah prayed and God promised or covenanted that he would live another 15 years. Hezekiah ask, "How will I know that I'm going to live another 15 years?" God, as a sign or seal of the covenant, gave Hezekiah the choice of the sun going forward ten degrees or going back ten degrees. Hezekiah chose the latter.
There are many such personal covenants or promises made by God with individuals. Those covenants, as interesting as they might be, are not the focus of this study.
We want to see this one major covenant, referred to as God's Covenant, and some of the components that God put in place to implement His Covenant. Some of the components God used, and is using to complete His Covenant are themselves covenants. Some of those covenants extend into eternity, and some are restricted to time, itself.
This overall covenant of God is referred to by some as the Divine Decrees of God. More on this later. Remember the Biblical covenants have to do primarily with the spectrum of time. So if you can think of God's Covenant as being established before time and circling time as the controlling factor of all time, it will help you see its relationship to the many other Biblical covenants.
The major Biblical covenant established during time that extends into eternity, is referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant, because it was initially established with Abraham. That everlasting covenant was reestablished with Isaac, then with Jacob and finally passed on to the nation of Israel.
However, within that Abrahamic Covenant were embedded three other covenants, themselves being everlasting. Those three covenants were Land, Davidic and New covenants. Even though these covenants have addition elements within them, they could not exist without the Abrahamic covenant. These "titles", except for the last one, are not Biblical titles. All are descriptive titles.
If these areas are not extremely familiar to you, please request the video or audio tapes of the Walk-Through.
Two other covenants, given during time that have a profound effect on time and extending into eternity, are the covenants given to Adam after his sin in the garden, and the covenant made with Noah after the flood.
Then we come to the covenant given through Moses to the Nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. This covenant does not extend into eternity. It was fulfilled by Christ at His first coming. All of these covenants are extensions of God's Covenant made before time began.
Each of these passages we'll be looking at would make wonderful studies, but for this lesson, we need to establish the fact that this plan or covenant of God was decreed before humans were ever created. We also need to see that the elements of these decrees of God, before time, become the structure of the covenants made with the human race during time. Notice several things in the passage as we move through it:
Without taking time to study this passage, note that we were chosen in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world:
This decree of God was made before the foundation of the world to be effective during the spectrum of time, and also some aspects extend into eternity future.
This Covenant of God was made and confirmed in God before mankind ever saw the light of day. However, even before time, it was God's plan and will to make known, to mankind, His eternal plan.
Notice that it is according to the revelation of the mystery
which had been kept secret since the world
began, that God is able to
I can never understand WHY people have such interest in what happened on earth before recorded history, YET so many find what happened BEFORE time began to be boring. On the other hand, I have some idea why. The accounts of what happened before recorded history come from the imagination of mankind. BUT what happened before time began comes from the heart of God. Humans are attracted to the imagination of mankind, but we, too often, rebel against the heart of God.
This Eternal Covenant was made before the worlds were formed, and was established by the One who made the worlds, and upholds or holds together all that He made.
This Creator God not only established the Covenant, He gave Himself as the payment to satisfy that Covenant, so we would be able to share in all that He is and has for all of eternity!
That alone should be enough to give us a burning desire to know all we can about this Eternal Covenant.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2001|