Reading the Bible as a book enables the reader to connect ethical behaviour with God’s plan for the ages.
Scripture is full of precepts, axioms, and guidelines for life. How can the reader know what is expected from him/her today?
“Rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) begins when you see the Bible as a book of two testaments. The differences between the Old and the New are fundamental for deeper studies. The temptation for inexperienced students is to declare Old Testament doctrine is not for New Testament saints. This grave error is avoided when you understand ALL scripture is profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16).
Doctrine is a practice, not a creed. It is what we are meant to do more than what we are asked to believe. It is working out through actions what we embrace in our hearts and minds. Sound doctrine is living a life that pleases God.
How can we know what God expects from us?
One way is to identify the Bible’s universal principles for behaviour. They are discovered through something easily overlooked to Bible readers: The Bible’s timeline!
The Old Testament is often referred to as the Law (Matthew 11:13). However, the Law was given by Moses, the traditional author of the Bible’s first five books. Because there are five books, they are sometimes referred to as the Pentateuch which means five-fold volume. The Pentateuch is referred to by Jews as the Torah.
The books of Law were named after the Creator manifested Himself to Israel. He chose a specific race of people and organized them as His chosen nation. As a new nation, Israel needed a code of conduct. Their ancient code now serves as an example to all nations. The Law reveals God’s will in civil matters.
But what about personal matters? Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection fulfilled the ceremonial requirements for individual sin. Does that mean expected behaviour is confined to just the New Testament? How can the ALL scripture be profitable for doctrine?
Humanity existed hundreds of years before the Law was given.
When you begin to add the number of years passed from the time of Adam, you discover Abraham was born 1948 years later (add the years from birth to birth in Genesis chapters five and eleven). Abraham’s grandson was the father of the Jews and is the origin of their nation’s name, i.e. Israel.
From the time of Abraham’s call to seek the Promised Land until the Jews left Egypt to possess it as a nation, an additional 430 years passed. That means the Law was not given until nearly 2,500 years after reformation of the created elements (Genesis 1:1)
The entrance of the Law was so significant that it became the very foundation for God’s written revelation. Equally significant is how the Law rightly divides God’s written revelation into three nearly equal time periods.
- Before the Law 2,500 years Genesis 1 – Exodus 19
- Under the Law 1,500 years Exodus 20 – John
- After the Law 2,000 years Acts – Revelation
The New Testament replaces God’s “will” regarding salvation. However, expected behavior is discovered by identifying the precepts for life that were expected before the Law, under the Law and after the Law. One example is tithing. Abraham tithed before it was instituted under the Law. In the New Testament, the expectation to donate a portion of our income remains. It is a universal principle in scripture.
Can you find more universal principles as you read through Scripture?