With so many people emphasizing that they were helped by previous editions of this book, some people have asked why we would make changes to a book deemed so successful and helpful by so many. The reasons are quite simple. The earliest editions of One Book Rightly Divided were written and published with limited counsel.
Most of what was written originated from what others taught based upon a familiar system of teaching. However, no teaching system should ever be the driving force of Bible study. The overall effectiveness and accuracy of previous editions were hindered because of the inherent limitations associated with the limited counsel, along with thinking that a certain method was believed to be the only proper way to teach the Bible. For these reasons, we have sought to abide by the admonition of scripture.
This updated work has had a wide range of input from men of various theological backgrounds and beliefs. With the lessons learned from the shortcomings of previous editions, this book has already been read, proofed, and critiqued by a host of God’s men—most very favorable to dispensational teaching, with a couple who did not view some dispensational tenets as favorably.
Most of the input has been valuable because every position had to be defended with a sound exegesis of rightly dividing the scripture. Those who question the wisdom of seeking such counsel would probably avoid those who would challenge their doctrinal belief system. Yet, Christians are charged to be always ready to give an answer to those who question what we believe and why we believe it. We deemed it wiser to be challenged than to remain resolute in some error.
One Final Edition
It has been our intention to release one final edition of One Book Rightly Divided without the spiritual blinders that generally hinder doctrinal works. We want to be right, and we want to be biblical; but neither is a guaranteed outcome. This book is NOT THE BIBLE, nor is it intended to take the place of the Bible. This book has been written, proofed, critiqued, and published by MEN. Our purpose in inviting so many men to read the draft copies of this work was to allow good men with varying doctrinal stances to take the word of God and expose any perceived holes in the teachings contained herein.
At times, input from these men moved us to add to the existing material; and at other times we were compelled by the scriptural critique to modify wording or tweak our way of teaching the truths conveyed. In the end, we are both grateful and amazed at how Bible study brought together men of varying positions in acceptance of sound biblical truth. We hope and pray that you too will be blessed by our feeble attempts to please the Saviour ().
While most of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, there are always those unwilling to consider anything outside of their preconceived dogmas. One of the very reasons you are reading this new edition is because men must always be willing to modify or change a position in order to line up with the revealed truth of the word of God.
Unfortunately, some men become so convinced and entrenched in their own positions that God Himself could not get them to budge. Those who have read this work have offered welcomed suggestions and encouraged the work. Most of them have offered suggested changes in wording or modifications in points that were not completely proven. Yet, this work remains the work of the authors; and we will stand accountable for its content and nobody else.
One of the earliest areas scrutinized by the critics who perused a few chapters was the updating and modifying of the general layout of the charts. Specifically, it was the expansion of the Church Age to include epistles outside of Paul’s writings. In the previous editions, the charts omitted some of the book of Acts and everything from Hebrews through Revelation from the Church Age grouping. Yet, every honest dispensationalist agrees that there is content in each of these areas applicable to the Church Age, just as there is material in Paul’s epistles that applies to a future age. Thus, the updated charts group the books according to whom they originally addressed and simply account for the non-Church Age elements found within the Church Age epistles.
While we expect the changes will make some people apprehensive, honesty and scriptural integrity demanded the changes. For example, the charts in previous editions needed to account for Church Age passages like . With the present configuration, passages like are addressed in the body of the book as being applicable to Daniel’s Seventieth Week. This is no different than recognizing that certain truths conveyed in Paul’s writings are not doctrinally applicable to Church Age saints (For example: ; , etc.). God never intended for rightly dividing the Bible to exclude truths intended for the Church simply because Paul was not the author. Plainly stated: those claiming that only thirteen of Paul’s epistles contain Church Age doctrine and application are both unwise, unscriptural, and hyperdispensational.
Despite the updates and caution exercised, charts remain problematic because people sometimes glean from the charts things never intended. Neither approach to charting is inherently wrong, but the non-Pauline epistles contain far more Church Age doctrine than non-Church Age application. We believe this new approach superior and far less problematic.
The Problem with Dogmatism
Sometimes long held dogmatic assertions, although erroneous, are the most problematic to overcome. The teaching concerning the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, for example, has baffled dedicated students of the Bible for decades. Here are two of the most widely held definitions.
A. The Kingdom of Heaven: the earthy, physical, visible, Jewish, Messianic kingdom promised to Israel both in the past and future. This kingdom will be consummated upon the earth on the Day of the Lord.
The book of Daniel among many others foretold of this kingdom.
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
The books of Luke and Romans define this kingdom.
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not withobservation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Those who recognize the differences between these two kingdoms teach that God took the physical kingdom (Kingdom of Heaven) from the Jews and offered a spiritual kingdom (Kingdom of God) to the Gentiles that is entered by a spiritual rebirth. This is certainly all true! Yet, there is a problem with the dogmatic assertion that the Kingdom of God is a purely spiritual kingdom and only within all believers. The following seven proof texts teach that people receive the Kingdom of God and go into it, see it, sit down in it, drink and eat in it, and inherit it—hardly something limited to a spiritual kingdom.
- People Will Receive the Kingdom of God and Enter Therein
- People Will Go into the Kingdom of God
Matthew 21:31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
- People Will See the Kingdom of God
- People Will Sit Down in the Kingdom of God
- People Will Drink of the Fruit of the Vine in the Kingdom of God
- People Will Eat Bread and the Passover in the Kingdom of God
Luke 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
- People Will Inherit the Kingdom of God
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The next passage reveals why so many Bible teachers teach that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are identical. In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus equated the two as equal when He spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and then said “again I say unto you” as He repeated the same truth yet substituted with the phrase Kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enterinto the kingdom of God.
The controversy surrounding this teaching and the vitriol spewed toward those who take differing positions are indicative of the problem with all Bible teaching—including dispensational teachings. If truths were easily grasped by all, there would be no controversy; and we would all probably build one tower of babel, thinking that our understanding of truth was something pleasing to God. Yet, maybe it is the Lord that allows our differences to scatter us so that no individual has a corner on the truth or gets placed upon the pedestal. The Kingdom of Heaven versus Kingdom of God is one of the controversies that we hope we can help the body of Christ grasp by offering some semblance of reasonableness in this book. Consider: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” ().