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Chapter 2

By Tom Ballinger

The Past

We acknowledge the great labors of Dr. E. W. Bullinger in his book "How To Enjoy The Bible," To a great extent we will follow his outline in these papers on RIGHT DIVISION. He devoted about 75 pages to the development of THE ONE GREAT REQUIREMENT OF THE WORD "RIGHTLY DIVIDING" IT. The writer does not agree with all the conclusions of the Doctor, but his labors have been entered into, and we thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for those earthen vessels who have gone on before and left us tools with which to work.

"Study to skew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of Truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

The one great requirement of the Word is the fact that it is grounded on the principle that it is  "the Word of Truth." The verse is so stated that the implication is this unless the Word is rightly divided, you shall not get "truth'; and you shall get its truth only in proportion to the measure in which you rightly divide it. It MUST be divided RIGHTLY; that is, avoid all the ways that are wrong. It does not matter at all what all others have thought or said. Page after cage could be filled with what man has thought concerning
RIGHT DIVISION of the Word of Truth. Many treat the command of RIGHT DIVISION as though it is not binding at all. Many build ministries upon the Word of Truth, failing all along to observe the one great requirement of the Word of Truth; that is, the rightly dividing of it. They act as though it was never given. This command in 2 Timothy 2:15 is as binding as any other of God's commands. Strange
that so many totally ignore it as if God has not spoken concerning the subject. Dr. Bullinger noted the following in 2 Timothy 2:15.

1. The one great reason for our study is to seek the approval of God, not man.

2. We are to be diligent in the study of the Word of Truth.

3. Our aim, as workmen, is not to have cause to be ashamed of our work.

4. To gain God°s approval and avoid being put to shame we MUST rightly divide the Word of Truth.

All this tells us that we will not get truth unless we RIGHTLY DIVIDE. We are to give heed to this GREAT REQUIREMENT OF THE WORD simply because it is the Word of Truth.

The common belief today in Christian circles is that all the Bible is to be interpreted in light of the present church age. Or, that every portion of Scripture is written TO the Christian. This neglect of rightly dividing the Scripture bars the believer from RIGHTLY understanding the Word. This is the reason for the neglect of the Word. This is the reason for the spiritual pygmies. The spiritual pygmies are the reason for the fact that confidence has been lost in the Scriptures. A generation of under-nourished Christians, ill-fed and consequently ill-equipped, think the problem with the so-called "Church" is that the Bible is not clear, or at best it is outdated in its archaic King°s English. The problem all along has been failure of God's people to recognize the one great principle of understanding the Word of Truth they fail to RIGHTLY DIVIDE,

"While the Word of God is written FOR all persons, and FOR all time, yet it is as true that not every part of it is addressed TO all persons of ABOUT all persons (E. W. Bullinger).

Lest we be misunderstood, we repeat that every word from Genesis to Revelation is written FOR us. There is not one word that. we can do without. We believe all Scripture is FOR us, and is for our learning (Rom. 15:4), but not all Scripture is addressed TO us, or written CONCERNING us.

With the foregoing comments in mind, let's apply the principle of 2 Timothy 2:15 to what we will call the Dispensational Teaching of the Word of Truth.

In order to  grow in knowledge", for we are to increase in "knowledge" as well as "grace" (2 Pet. 3:18), we need to UNlearn all that we have been taught by man if it does not recognize  the one great principle of Bible study - rightly dividing the Word of Truth. We must empty ourselves of all Tradition.

If we think we already know, it will be impossible to learn. If a vessel is full it is impossible for its contents to be increased. Room must be made for the INCREASE by continually replacing what we have learned from man with what we have learned from the Lord. We must be prepared to learn over again the things we have learned from man that does not agree with the Word of God rightly divided. If what we learn is direct from the Word, the Truth will grip us instead of us holding the Truth.


The Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John belong to a PAST dispensation and have a special relation to the Time when the Kingdom was subsequently rejected.

Truth that pertained to the PROCLAMATION period is not Truth for the period of the REJECTION. Notice during the PROCLAMATION period:

(a) Matthew 10:5-6: The Lord Jesus speaks to the twelve and says, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Immediately we can detect a problem. The command from the Lord is to "Go not" to the Gentiles. If the Word is not divided, rightly or wrongly, then this command is still binding on all of the Lord's servants. If we fail to take note of what PART of what Dispensation the command takes place in, then it must be interpreted as being written to all persons for all time. If right division is not applied missionary work among the Gentiles is forbidden. Only missionary work among the Jews should be endorsed by believers.

Modern Mission Boards do not follow this principle of "Go not." Then something must be wrong. The command of Matthew 10:5-6 either remains in force and the modern Mission Boards are operating in defiance of it, or there is some explanation that will exonerate them from such obstinacy.

If it be said that the Mission Boards are operating under the marching order of Mark 16:15 , "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'"; then the Word of God flatly contradicts Itself as to the fundamental principle of missionary work. See the problem? The solution to this is that some DIVISION must be made between the two commands of "Go not" and "Go ye." Now both commands were true. Both were spoken by the Lord Himself. We contend that both commands were not to be ignored. One command should not be exalted at the expense of the other. Right division of the two assigns each to its proper place in the Dispensation in which they occur.

The "Go not" applies to the period when the PROCLAMATION of the King and the Kingdom was being made. However, when both the King and the Kingdom were rejected, and the King crucified and risen, this command was no longer appropriate because of the changed circumstances. With the changed circumstances, the "go ye" of Mark 16:15 is in order, and it s u p e r c e d e s the "Go not" of Matthew 10;5-6.

(b) In connection with the command, there were others given also: ",Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat" , (Matt. 10:9-10; cf Lu. 9:3).

When the Kingdom has been rejected and the King was on the eve of being crucified, He abrogated the commands Himself, as being no longer suitable because of the changed circumstances. The Lord repeats them, and asks whether or not His promise was true: "When I sent you without a purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then He said unto them, BUT NOW, he that bath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" (Lu. 22:35-36).

The two words "BUT NOW" announce that even within the same Dispensation a change takes place. It must be noted and the two commands must be rightly divided. The "BUT NOW" , points out the fact that Truth which belongs to one part of a PAST dispensation must not necessarily be interpreted to be Truth for ANOTHER part of that same Dispensation.

Now if the principle of right division must be followed when circum stances change within the same dispensation, how much more of a necessity is it to rightly divide the Word of Truth when the Dispensation itself changes. We are to rightly divide one PART of a Dispensation from the other PART of the same Dispensation when circumstances change, as noted in (a) and (b). But when the whole Dispensation changes, the whole sphere changes, most cases  the people dealt with change, and the principle on which God deals with them changes.

Even with the two examples given in this paper (Matt. 10 and Lu. 9), Christendom persists in jumbling the whole Bible together; Law, Gospel, Grace, Kingdom, Church, Israel, Jew, Gentile, Judgment, Glory, Bride and Body, all are confused in one vast tangle. Any wonder the Bible is misunderstood and has become closed to most of God's people?


                                                       [Chapter 3- Past Not Into Present]