“How to Approach the Bible”
A study series by Arthur J Licursi
Part 6 of 24 – The Danger of “Spiritualizing” the Bible
Most commonly, Christians tend to "spiritualize" the Bible by taking that which concerns
as though it concerns and applies also to “the body of Christ.” They thereby marginalize the truth for today and miss out on the power that is in the truth that applies to us today. They miss out because when they mix the Law, which belongs to Israel, with the grace that God has provided for us today, it is like leavening the whole loaf of great truth for “the body of Christ” – it makes Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” to become “of no effect” (Gal 5:4). “Spiritualizing” the Bible is very dangerous; it has corrupted the truth, making havoc of proper Biblical interpretation of the Bible. It has essentially watered down and emasculated the Bible of the power of the truths of the faith as revealed to the Apostle Paul for “the body of Christ” today. Such mixture corrupts. Only the unadulterated truth has the power God intended for us. Israel
These truths were revealed to and through Paul, “the Apostle to the Gentiles,” for this age and time called “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). The result of "spiritualizing" the Bible is to have Christians who are weak in "the faith" (2Cor 13:5). Those who "spiritualize" the Bible are veiled to the truth by mixing it with Law (2Cor 3:15). They do not comprehend, and appreciate the truths of the faith in such a way that it makes them to know and enjoy the security they already have in Christ and by Christ's indwelling life. Ignorant of the truth, they keep asking God to bless them, asking for what they already have. This is not a sign of humility, its evidence of their ignorance of the truth.
The Bible makes clear the fact that the secret of all God's good news, victory, and security for believers is centered in Christ’s cross of
Calvary. While it was prophesied that the Messiah would come to and die a horrible death, the meaning and purpose of His death was not revealed to be explained until it was first revealed to the Apostle Paul in order to complete God's revelation for us today. Colossians 1:25 (Darby) of which I (Paul) became minister, according to the dispensation of God which [is] given me towards you to complete the word of God, Israel
If we do as so many Christians have done, that is set aside Paul’s writings of his revelation of the sufficiency of the cross in dealing with every situation of life; we then miss out on the fulness of the benefits of the cross.
The twelve Apostles never knew these truths until it was first revealed to Paul. We should note that at Pentecost the Apostle Peter never preached redemption by the blood of Christ. Peter, rather than rejoice in the cross, scolded the Jews for killing “the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). Before that time Peter had only known of animal sacrifices as the remedy for sins, to bring salvation, but then in early Acts he preached “repent and be (water) baptized for the remission of sins” as Jesus of Nazareth had instructed him to preach. Peter, at that time, knew nothing of the true purpose and sufficiency of the cross and blood of Christ. Peter at that time had no idea of the meaning and significance of Christ’s cross until Peter learned it from the Apostle Paul. We can deduce this from Peter’s own words in 2Peter 3:14-16.
While it was prophesied that the Messiah would die a horrible death, it was not until several years after the crucifixion that “the preaching of the cross” would become widely proclaimed, and that was by Paul, who at the time of the cross was yet to be converted. Paul’s message of the cross is clear, as he writes of it most explicitly in Romans.
We need to see that the prophesies that belong to
are not enough to bring full “knowledge of the truth” that is for us today. The “knowledge of the truth” for today came via the ascended celestial Christ who descended from Heaven as “the Spirit of truth.” Christ then descended for the express purpose of revealing this critical truth to the newly saved Saul Paulus of Israel (later called Paul) in the form of “the gospel (good news) of the grace of God” (ICor.1:18; Acts 20:24). Tarsus
The proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” is centered upon the revelation of “the mystery,” which was the plan that God formerly had kept secret. Romans 16:25 (KJV) Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
Paul proclaimed God’s super-abounding unadulterated grace gospel through Christ’s cross “according to the revelation of the mystery” – it is of a grace that is not mixed with law and works at all. That grace is based solely upon the sufficiency of Christ’s self-offering at the cross.
Paul's epistles tell us “we have redemption through His (Christ's) blood” (Eph.1:7),
- We are “justified by His blood” (Rom.5:9),
- “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Rom.5:10),
- “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph.2:13),
- And we are “made the righteousness of God in Him” because “God hath made Him to be sin for us” (2Cor.5:21).
When we spiritualize the Bible we tend to mix the things belonging to
with the things that belong to “the body of Christ.” It was Paul who received the “pure” grace gospel for “the body of Christ.” The knowledge of sin comes by the law (Rom 3:20); yet not one ounce of benefit comes from grace when it is mixed with “the works of the law” (Gal 2:16). In fact, attempting to keep the Law makes grace to be “of no effect” (Gal 5:4). Thankfully, “the body of Christ” is freed from the Law that was given only to the people of Israel (Rom 6:14). Romans 9:4 (KJV) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Israel
Paul calls his gospel message “the preaching of the cross.”
o The “covenant” of the Law was abolished by the cross. Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
o Now “ye are not under the law, but under grace (Rom 6:14b).
o The curse of the Law was removed by the cross when Christ fulfilled it. Galatians 3:13a Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…
o Now all believers, Jew and Gentile, in the body of Christ are “reconciled to God in one body by the cross.” Ephesians 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Paul says how thankful we should be “for His unspeakable gift” (2Cor 9:15). We see the cross as God's full reply to Satan’s work. At first glance it had appeared that the cross was Satan's greatest triumph, but Satan did not know “the mystery” (1Cor 2:7-8), the secret plan of God that had “been kept secret since the word began” (Rom 16:25). Paul says, had he (Satan) known “the mystery” he would not have crucified the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
That “mystery” revealed to Paul for us, in its simplest personal form, is defined here as “…Christ in you (individually) the hope of glory”
Colossians 1:26-27 Even the mystery (musterion, secret plan) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
The fruit of the cross is Christ’s literal “spirit of life” to be deposited into the believer’s human spirit (1Cor 6:17;
Col1:27). This is the key to the full salvation of God that includes victory for the Christian in his daily life. The indwelling of Christ’s resurrection life is the basis upon which we have already been “blessed with all spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph 1:3).