It is very important to rightly divide the scriptures before and after the Cross:
2 Timothy 2:15 “15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
The bible has two main dispensations or time periods.
– Before the Cross (Law – Old Covenant)
– After the Cross (Grace – New Covenant)
God deals with people differently based on the Dispensation or Covenant.
We have to rightly divide the scriptures, to know the difference, otherwise we will be confused and depressed.
Before the Cross, God put Israel under the law.
They could only be righteous by faith and works of the law.
The faith always required works.
See Hebrews 11 and James 2.
– Adam’s faith required doing the work of not eating from the tree.
– Noah’s faith required the work of building the ark
– Abraham’s faith required works of circumcision and offering Issac as a sacrifice.
– Moses’s faith required giving up the riches of Egypt
– Israel’s faith required the work of Passover and doing the Ten Commandments to enter the promised land.
– Rahab the Gentile’s faith required the work of blessing the Israelite spies to be saved from the judgment of Jericho
– Naaman the Gentile’s faith required the work of dipping himself in the water
– John the Baptist preached repentance to Israel that required the works of doing good deeds and avoiding evil in Matthew 3.
– Jesus preached to Israel the faith and works of obeying the Sermon on the Mount, forgiving others, selling everything to enter the kingdom
ALL of this was BEFORE the Cross under the Dispensation of the Law where Faith AND works was required.
But we live in the Dispensation of GRACE AFTER the Cross where God saves people by GRACE through Faith without works.
Ephesians 2 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This Grace message was a MYSTERY that was hidden in the scriptures through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Why do you think the Jews crucified Jesus?
It is because they had NO IDEA that God had such a plan of GRACE.
For 2500 years, the people of Israel thought that they had to have Faith AND Works to be saved.
God had put them under the Law until Jesus died on the cross to offer GRACE to all nations – even Gentiles.
God revealed this mystery of GRACE to the Apostle Paul after the cross, showing him the hidden truths that Abraham was righteous by faith and not works.
The mystery is that the Law was a temporary covenant and now all people can be saved by simple faith without any works.
Romans 4 “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness…. 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Galatians 3 “7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith….”
The law is no longer needed for salvation.
Galatians 3 “12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit…”
Galatians 3 “16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”