Imagine if you will the following scenario: a wife goes to her mailbox, gets the mail, and opens the credit card bill she finds in there. She spots a charge for the delivery of a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day, and quickly remembers that the flowers she received were handed to her by her husband, not delivered. She then notices charges from restaurants and hotels she’s never visited. Naturally, she confronts her husband about it the minute he gets home, but he claims to have no idea what she’s talking about. She persists in her suspicious interrogation, and he swears he’s innocent. Accusations, anger, and tears follow. Separation seems inevitable, perhaps even divorce. Then finally her eye catches what she initially overlooked – the name of the addressee on the bill. The cardholder is their neighbor; his bill was mistakenly put in their mailbox.
Nothing but confusion comes from thinking that what was written to someone else must also apply to you. That is precisely why the Bible-reader is instructed to “study to show thyself approved unto God… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Did you know that, although all Scripture is written for you, it’s not all written to you? Even in the New Testament, some sections apply to Israel under the Mosaic Law, some to Christians today, and still others to the believing remnant that will go through the Tribulation. So, the question is: which one are you? If you’ve been saved by grace through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are a member of the Church, which is called His body (1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 4:4, 5:23 & 30). And the doctrine and practice of the Church, the body of Christ, is found in the epistles written by the Apostle Paul.
Think of how much “in-house debate” over doctrine there is in the Church today. Some insist water baptism is necessary for salvation; others disagree. Some believe we must keep the seventh-day Sabbath; others disagree. Some teach that a believer can lose his salvation; others disagree. Some accuse a Christian who doesn’t tithe of robbing God; others disagree. How can two believers read the same Bible and reach contradictory conclusions regarding the same issue? Very simple – the Bible teaches both positions, but to different groups of believers. The key to solving these doctrinal disputes is to make sure you’re reading your own mail when searching for passages that apply to you. Your “mailbox” is from Romans through Philemon.
If you’re looking for Church Age doctrine in the Gospels, you won’t find it there. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see our Lord’s earthly ministry, during which He came to call Israel to repentance in preparation for His kingdom (Matt. 10:5-7). “But, Jesus is our Saviour,” you say. Of course He is! We worship and glorify our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – all that we have is in Him and through Him. But remember that it was our Lord Jesus Who gave to the Apostle Paul the revelation of the mystery of the Church, the body of Christ (Gal. 1:11-12, Eph. 3:1-6). The Lord Jesus is our Saviour, but He made Paul our spokesman (Rom. 11:13, 1st Cor. 11:1, Gal. 2:7-8).
We’ll look at some of those doctrinal disputes in future articles, but one last thing for now: the Bible is more than a mere book; it’s a library. It is the very Word of God Almighty, and devout men gave their lives so you and I could read it in our own language. Though it’s not all written to us, it’s all written for us (2 Tim. 3:16). Or, we might say, “Our doctrine is from Paul, but we study it ALL!”
Originally published for The Carpenter’s House