(NOTE: The following preface and article are taken from an original copy of the very first edition of Pastor O’Hair’s “Bible Study for Bereans” magazine published in August 1935. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from deep within the Grace archives.)
We are sending forth this first edition of Bible Study for Bereans with the purpose, desire and hope that we may stimulate, encourage, or provoke, real honest, diligent Bible study among the children of God. The profound ignorance of the Bible among church members is appalling.
We earnestly solicit and covet the prayerful cooperation of every spiritual child of God who appreciates God’s Grace Gospel and who really desires to receive and search the Holy Scriptures without the fear or favor of man or religious organizations. It is needless and useless to appeal to believers for whom denominational loyalty and pride, or preconceived opinions, interfere with honest, intelligent and unprejudiced study of the Word of God. So our Bible study is for Bereans.
It has been repeatedly claimed that more than ninety-five percent of church members permit church leaders to do their thinking for them, and that ninety-five percent of their instructors have been so influenced by the traditions of church fathers and by denominational church creeds that fewer than five percent of either leaders or followers are willing, if able, to study the Bible with unbiased minds and with open and honest hearts.
Let us ever bear in mind that no servant of the Lord has any new truth to present. Progressive revelation ceased with the close of The Revelation more than 1800 years ago. Since that time, “anything that is true is not new” and “anything that is new is not true”, so far as the inspired Word of God is concerned.
No believer, or group of believers, receives any special revelation of Divine truth, or interpretation of truth, as did the holy men of old who were moved by the Holy Spirit to give to us the Holy Scriptures. The humblest, most ignorant member of the Body of Christ, the new-born babe in Christ, has just as much of the Holy Spirit as has the most gifted Bible teacher. Men are not led into truth by the Holy Spirit independent of the written Word of God. And most assuredly the millions of church members, who are in doctrinal error, have not been led by the Holy Spirit into the misinterpretation of the Scriptures.
Human systems of interpretation leave us with inconsistencies and seeming contradictions in the Bible, with unholy mixtures which are displeasing to the Lord. “All Scripture…is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.” But all Scripture must be rightly divided for the true interpretation, appropriation and application.
A Simple Principle in Bible Study
We are told in I Peter 1:10 that Israel’s prophets foretold the sufferings and glory of Christ. In Ephesians 3:9 we are told that the “dispensation of the mystery” and the “unsearchable riches of Christ” were hid in God and not made known to Israel’s prophets. All through the book of Acts and through the Epistles of Peter, Paul, James and John we must differentiate between that which Israel’s prophets foretold would come to pass and that which none of them even hinted would come to pass: “not made known to the sons of men in other ages”; “hidden from generations” (Colossians 1:25 and 26; Ephesians 3:3 to 5).
If there has been no change in God’s program since the Epistles were written to the Ephesians and Colossians, then this is still the Dispensation of the Mystery which means the Dispensation of that which had been a Mystery until it was revealed by the glorified Christ to and through His Apostle Paul. For the students of the Word of God, for the members of the Church which is the Body of Christ, there should be nothing mysterious, mystical or hidden concerning the dispensation of Grace and the mutual inheritance of the Head and members of the Body, made alive together, seated together in the highest heavenlies, constituting the One New Man which God is now making, while His program and purpose concerning Israel have been temporarily abandoned (Ephesians 1:9 to 22; Ephesians 2:4 to 17). Aside from the Divine preservation of Israel in the world today, God has suspended His covenants and promises with Israel and the other nations, until He shall have accomplished that which He purposed in Christ Jesus ages before He made any covenants concerning His Nation and their land of promise (II Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 3:11).
Israel’s hope is identified with the sufferings and glory of Christ foretold by Israel’s prophets. That hope will be realized when Christ shall be the Son of man on the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31). There the twelve apostles will be seated with Him (Matthew 19:28). The Son of man is coming in power and great glory (Luke 21:27 to 31). He will bring about the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). Moses, Samuel, and all of the prophets, spoke of “these days” (Acts 3:24). “These days” were promised in the covenants (Acts 3:25). At that time Christ will govern from David’s throne (Isaiah 9:6 and 7).
“These days” of grace, “these days” of the Body of Christ, are not the “these days” of Israel’s hope, foretold by Moses, Samuel and others. “These days” were foreordained before the foundation of the world, but not foretold by Israel’s prophets.
None of the twelve apostles, in their “Acts” ministry, spoke of these days. They referred to a hope and blessings promised by the pen of David, Joel, Amos, Moses, Samuel, and others. Let us be careful not to confuse prophetic promises with the mystery. Let us not confuse the hope of the Body of Christ with Israel’s hope.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.