“How to Approach the Bible” 

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 15 of 24 – A Question: “Is it Sufficient to be “Biblical”?

Many Christians say, “I follow the whole Bible.”

Actually, it should become immediately apparent that it is impossible to live by the entire Bible because it is impossible to keep two opposite sets of instructions such as define one dispensation versus another dispensation. By this I mean one cannot live both under “the works of the Law” that was given to Israel and at the same time live under the terms of “the dispensation of the grace of God for “the body of Christ." Romans 6:14 …ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Pure grace excludes “the works of the law” as a basis for salvation and acceptance by God – they are opposites. Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Let’s now examine further how it could be that we might be Biblical and still miss the mark of God for us today.

Below is an example to demonstrate why it is impossible to keep all God’s instructions found within the Bible. We will here consider the apparently simple matter of what foods God’s people are permitted to eat, according to the Bible. This is an example of the possible contradictions and confusion that can result from notrightly dividing” the Scripture to discern the expectations of God for people during differing times or “dispensations.”

1)      In Genesis 1:29, under the terms of “the dispensation of innocence,” God gave Adam only the herbs of the earth and the fruit of the trees to eat as his food. They were to be vegetarian at that time.

2)      Then later, in Genesis 9:1-4 under the dispensation of “human government,” God told Noah the people could add the meat of the animals, fish, and fowl to eat as food. The were the new terms under “the dispensation of Human Government,” if you can catch it you are allowed to eat it.

3)      Then God’s gave dietary instructions to Moses for Israel under “the dispensation of The Law,” that is to eat only certain meats, fishes, and fowls as food, as the “kosher” or “clean” food (see Lev. 11), and not to eat certain meats, fishes, and fowls, being “unclean” foods.

4)      Finally, the Lord gave Paul His dietary instructions for this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God.” We may eat any kind of food so long as it is received with thanksgiving (see 1 Tim 4:3-5). Every creature was created for our nourishment and nothing was to be forbidden or refused.

Knowing the foregoing Biblical history, let’s now imagine that there were (4) four preachers, each preaching today according to their beliefs and Biblical interpretations of the foregoing Bible facts.

1)      One preached that we could only eat fruits and vegetables. He preached from the Gen. 1:29 instructions God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden, under the dispensation of “innocence.” His followers would start the “Vegetarian denomination,” and this would be Biblical.

2)      The second preacher was preaching according the instruction God gave to Noah in Genesis 9:1-4. Under this,  men could eat any meats, fish and fowl that they could catch, in addition to any vegetables and fruits. His followers could start the “Meat & Potatoes denomination,” and this would be Biblical.

3)      The third preacher preached that we could eat only what we might call “kosher foods.” He preached from Leviticus 9. His followers could start the “Kosher denomination,” and this would be Biblical.

4)      The fourth preacher said “We can eat any kind of food as long as we gave thanks for it.” He was Pauline, preaching from Paul’s letter to Timothy 1Tim 4:4-5. His followers would be “followers of Paul”- This would be not only “Biblical,” but also “dispensational.”

Following the teaching of all these four preachers would be “Biblical.” They each will have Bible verses for their practice. All four would be Biblical or Scriptural, yet, they are not all being “dispensational.” Three failed to “rightly divide the word of truth” dispensationally for today. Three would offend the truth applicable to the “dispensation of the grace of God,” which is in effect and under which we live today.

The above example addresses only the matter of what we should eat. It’s not as much of a super-serious issue as eternal perishing versus eternal life. There are serious Bible issues where our misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Bible can negatively affect the very core and basis of our relationship with God – our salvation and the enjoyment of the riches of the salvation.

Now here is the serious issue to consider – should we today have to do works of the law in order to be counted righteous by God?

Paul says we are not under the Law. Paul says “the Law of works” actually serves to negate “the grace of God” that we live under today, making “grace of no effect” (see Gal 5:4). Paul says such law-keeping people have “fallen from grace.” 

Paul, as the Apostle of “the dispensation of the grace of God” for today, wrote this concerning Abraham who lived before “the Law” - “to him that worketh not, but believeth, his faith was counted as righteousness.

Romans 4:3-5 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward NOT reckoned OF GRACE, but of debt. 5 But to him that WORKETH NOT, but BELIEVETH ON HIM THAT JUSTIFIETH the ungodly, HIS FAITH IS COUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

We should only take from the Bible what is written specifically to us as being for us today under our “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). We may learn from “all Scripture,” but we only take and apply to us what is directed to us as being for us specifically.

Paul received this pure grace gospel from the ascended celestial Christ and delivered it to God’s heavenly people (Eph 1:3), “the body of Christ,” after Israel fell and was set aside (Rom 11:25).

Paul received the grace gospel from Christ and delivered it to “the body of Christ,” much as Moses received “the Law” from God and was instructed to deliver it to the children of Israel in the Sinai.

Some say to us, “Well then, you don’t use the whole Bible.” Yes we do. A good rule of thumb for understanding our view is this. We could correctly say, the whole Bible is for our learning, but only the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul in his thirteen epistles, are written to “the church, which is His body” and about “the church, which is His body” in this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God.”  All Scripture is God-breathed and for our learning, so we should learn information from all dispensations as written in the whole Bible and we may apply it to ourselves, so long as it’s instruction does not conflict with the truths of ourdispensation of the grace of God,” which today we enjoy by faith alone.

Therefore, we may read and learn of Israel ’s law and sad Old Testament history, but we should not try to apply Moses Law, which was given to Israel , to the grace believers of “the body of Christ” today – we live by grace though faith, apart from the works of the law (Eph 2:8-9).

Have you ever noticed that God does not hold the great men of Scripture up to us because of their personal goodness? Almost invariably their history is marred by failure and sin (Abraham, David, etc), but God asks us to look at their faith, to see what their faith and His grace and mercy did for them. Those who lived consistently good lives are not held up to us for their personal worth, because God knows their imperfections.

Paul writes: “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory-- but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:2-3). In Romans 4:6 goes on to say about David: “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” God counts us righteous only through what He has done for us by Christ’s cross.

This is because man cannot live a life good enough to make him acceptable to God, for with God only perfection is good enough. One sin originally spoiled this earth; God will not allow one sin to spoil heaven too. This is why He gave Christ to die for our sins and to pay the just penalty for us. Because of the all-sufficient payment of Christ in our behalf, God can now be “just, and the Justifier” of those who place their faith in Christ (Rom. 3:26).

The eleventh chapter of Paul's “letter to the Hebrews” bears out the fact that salvation and acceptance with God is obtained, not by human effort, but by faith. This great chapter on the heroes in God's “Hall of Fame,” begins with the words: “For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report,” and then goes on: “By faith Abel ...,” “By faith Enoch...,” “By faith Noah...,” “By faith Abraham...,” etc., and closes with the declaration: “...these all...obtained a good report through faith ...”