Monday, July 23, 2018

Dispensational Layout of the Bible

The Bible is one Book made up of many different books. It has unity and diversity, just as its Author who is one God in three persons (1 Jn. 5:7). God used about 40 different writers (various backgrounds and locations) over a period of about 1,500 years to write the 66 books of the Bible. These books cover about 7,000 years of human history and give glimpses into eternity past and future. The Bible is not everything God knows, but it is everything God wants us to know about Him and His plan and purposes. The revelation was given progressively. That 66 books make up one book without error or contradiction proves that the Bible is given by inspiration of God.

There are 1,189 chapters, 31,101 verses, and 791,328 words in the King James Bible. Not only did God inspire and preserve His words so that we have a perfect copy of it today in our own language, He led men in the proper arrangement of its books as well the chapter and verse divisions so that the Bible is laid out in a divine order perfectly designed for our edification. Chapter and verse divisions greatly enhance our ability to search the scriptures. In this computer age searching the scripture is easier than it has ever been and yet it is also more neglected.

The Bible is a big book, an inexhaustible gold mine of divine revelation. We could spend a lifetime studying it in detail and never learn it all, but we should seek to learn as much as possible. The purpose of learning the Bible is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God. The Bible is God’s perfect revelation of Himself to man. God preserved the whole Bible for us because we need all of it (2 Tim. 3:16).

It is important in Bible study to have a basic overview of the Bible in our heart and mind because it will greatly help us in studying it in detail. Sometimes we can't see the forest for of the trees. It is best to start with a panoramic view of the whole Bible before we examine its books, chapters, verses, and words. A key in Bible study is to understand the larger context. In other words, a verse must be studied in light of the surrounding passage, the passage in light of the chapter, the chapter in light of the book, the book in light of the testament, and the testament in light of the whole Bible.

There is unity in the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16):
It reveals one God – Gen. 1:1; Rev. 22:21
It reveals one main purpose – the glory of God
It reveals one main theme – the person and work of Christ (Jn. 5:39)
It reveals one main goal – the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth
It reveals one plan of redemption – by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22)
It reveals one set of moral principles - God’s moral principles never change
It reveals one main enemy – Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9
It reveals a harmonious unfolding of progressive revelation – changes, no real contradictions

There are divisions in the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15):
Failure to acknowledge the divisions God put in His word is the root cause of all manner of heresies. The most obvious division is between the OT (39) and NT (27). However, it is not correct to say that the whole OT was the Law and the whole NT is grace, or that the OT was for the Jews and the NT is for the church (only Rom. – Phil. was written TO the Body of Christ).

The main division is not between the OT and NT but between the prophetic kingdom program of God’s earthly people (Israel) and the mystery program of His heavenly people (Body of Christ). The burden and emphasis of the prophecy spoken to Israel is the King and His kingdom. Prophecy concerns that which was SPOKEN since the world began through all the prophets (Acts 3:19-21). The burden and emphasis of the mystery revealed through the apostle Paul is the spiritual organism, the Body of Christ. The mystery concerns that which was kept SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25). The things that were SPOKEN by the prophets since the world began cannot be the same things that were kept SECRET and hid from the prophets since the world began.

Twofold Division:
1. Prophecy: Earth - from the foundation of the world - Christ the King - Israel over the Gentiles
2. Mystery: Heaven - before the foundation of the world - Christ the Head of one Body - neither Jew nor Gentile

Threefold Division:
1. Time past – Genesis through Acts (difference between Jew and Gentile)
2. But now – Romans through Philemon (no difference)
3. Ages to Come – Hebrews through Revelation (difference resumed)

Six-fold Division (the King and His Kingdom):
1) OT – promised and prophesied
2) Gospels –presented and rejected
3) Acts – re-offered and rejected, transition
4) Pauline Epistles –postponed, mystery of one Body revealed
5) Hebrew Epistles – resumed and proclaimed
6) Revelation – established

Eight-fold Division (not time periods, some overlapping, transitions)
1) Innocence (Gen. 1-3)
2) Conscience (Gen. 4-8)
3) Human Government (Gen. 9-11)
4) Promise (Gen. 12 – Ex. 19)
5) Law (Ex. 20 – Acts)
6) Mystery (Rom. – Phile.)
7) Kingdom (Heb. – Rev.)
8) Fulness of Times (Rev. 21-22)

Paul wrote the last book of the Bible (Col. 1:25). Hebrews through Revelation were placed after Paul’s epistles because they deal with things to come after this present age.

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