OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


A.             II Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1.                Numerous lessons about Bible study can be derived from this verse.

2.                We want to look at the words “rightly dividing” for our purposes.

a.         ASV translates this as “handling aright the word of truth.”

b.         The Greek word is a compound term which literally means “cutting straight.”

c.         Many metaphors have been set forth in an attempt to explain this word.

            1)         Plowing a straight furrow.

            2)         A stone mason cutting the stones straight for building.

3)         Paul, as a tent-maker, knew the need of cutting the rough camel-hair cloth with a straight cut.

d.         In our study of God’s word, we must dissect the divine message correctly.

e.         NOTE:  To do this, one must properly, accurately interpret the Word of God.

B.              Some within the church believe that we have not done a very good job of interpreting the Scriptures in the past.  Thus, they are contending for a New Hermeneutic, a new way of looking into the message of God’s Word.

C.              We have been looking at some of the components of this New Hermeneutic in several previous lessons.  We want to look at a few more elements tonight.  This will be our final lesson in his series.


A.             The definition of relativism.

1.                Truth is not absolute.

2.                Truth is whatever an individual determines it to be.

B.              Quotes

1.                Faith lives only by decision and not by objective and historical support (Rudolf Bultmann).

2.                The CEI method no longer makes sense because we no longer believe its aim is central to the Christian faith.  It no longer answers our pressing questions concerning meaning, love, relationships, personal knowledge of God, inspiration for daily living.  Orthodoxy (right opinion) is giving place to Orthocardia (a good heart) to coin a word.  The need for intellectual certainty based upon logical argumentations has been replaced by a desire for firm commitment based on religious and moral experience (CSC, 1990, Ron Highfield).

C.              In essence, these men do not believe that we can understand the Bible alike.

1.                Paul certainly did not believe this.

a.         I Corinthians 1:10

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

                                    b.         Philippians 3:16

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

2.                Not even these men believe their own foolishness.

a.         Where do we learn that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God?  From the Bible.  Does everyone have to believe this alike?

b.         Where do we learn that Jesus died onCalvary as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world?  From the Bible.  Does everyone have to understand this alike?

c.         Where do we learn that Jesus rose from the grave?  From the Bible.  Do we have to understand this alike?

d.         If they answer, “Yes,” to these questions, then it is possible for us to understand the Bible and to understand it alike.


A.             There have been times when those advocating a New Hermeneutic want to change the definition of Biblical terms.

1.                Definitions are the meanings, the essence, of words.

2.                If we can change definitions, we make texts mean anything we want them to mean.

B.              Examples.

1.                Brother Rubel Shelly taught that unity is to be obtained solely upon the basis of the “seven ones” of Ephesians 4 (I Just Want to Be A Christian, Shelly, pp. 48-49).  On page 82, he gives his definition of the one faith of Ephesians 4:5.  “The ‘one faith’ has nothing to do with our methods and procedures of doing God’s work; it has to do with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and our response to that once-for-all act of atonement.”  This is a change from the one faith meaning the “system of faith”, the New Testament (Acts 6:7; Col. 1:23; Jude 3).\

2.                Many brethren have tried to change the definition of the phrase “doctrine of Christ” in II John 9-11).

Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

a.         Most believe that the “doctrine of Christ” refers to the complete body of teaching, the New Testament, as given by Christ.

b.         Those of the New Hermeneutic want to limit the meaning to “the teaching about Christ.”  They say that the doctrine of Christ refers solely to the belief that He is deity, the Son of God.

                                    c.         Consider another statement of the same apostle (John 14:21).

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words:  and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.


A.             This idea plays into the concept that many hold about God’s Word.

1.                The Bible was written hundreds, even thousands, of years ago.

2.                Things have changed since then.  The culture is different and situations are different.

B.              Two applications.

1.                The woman’s role in the church (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2:11-12).

2.                Homosexuality (Gen. 19; Rom. 1:26-27).

C.              Let’s look at the woman’s role in the church.

1.                Paul forbids a woman from teaching and usurping authority over a man (I Tim. 2:12).

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

2.                Paul did not stop there.  He lists two reasons why the woman has a subjugated role.  NOTE:  Both of these reasons predate the various cultures of man (I Tim. 2:13-14).

For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.


A.             Grace involves the forgiveness of God.

1.                The grace advocated by the New Hermeneutics involves unconditional forgiveness.

2.                They reason:  If we cannot be perfect morally and God forgives us, it must be that He also forgives us in our doctrinal imperfections.

B.              Two questions:

1.                Are there any false doctrines the Lord will not unconditionally forgive?

2.                How long can a man hold to a false doctrine before God refuses to forgive him of it?

C.              Some apostolic admonitions about false doctrine.

1.                Paul told Timothy to charge some that they teach no other doctrine (I Tim. 1:3).

2.                Any one who caused division and offences contrary to the doctrine of Christ was to be marked and avoided (Rom. 16:17).

3.                Why didn’t the grace of God forgive the doctrinal error of Hymenaeus and Philetus? (II Tim. 2:17-18)

And their word will eat as doth a canker:  of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

D.             In order to be able to determine which false positions can be forgiven and which cannot be forgiven, one would have to be God.  Hasn’t God already spoken? (See I Timothy 6:3a, 5b).

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…from such withdraw thyself.


A.             The things that the New Hermeneutic provides appeals to the carnal side of man.

B.              We must never yield to it enticements.  Instead, let us do as Solomon exhorted in Proverbs 3:5.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.