Surely every child of God earnestly desires to be “orthodox”. “Orthodox” in the Greek means to “think right”. When the word is used concerning spiritual things, it suggests that the person is sound in doctrine and perhaps earnestly contending for the faith once-for-all delivered unto the saints. Any one who questions the eternal Deity of the Lords Jesus Christ, the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the bodily resurrection of the Son of God, the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity of the sinner’s new birth by faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ, is not considered orthodox. Perhaps you have heard the words, spoken in jest by the preacher who said, “Every Christian is thoroughly orthodox when he agrees with me.” The fact that there are more than 200 Christian denominations in America, is proof positive that Christians differ in their thinking. Their different thinking some time causes evil thinking and occasionally added action. Yea, even the spiritual men and women of God, who believe wholeheartedly in all of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, disagree in some of their thinking.
Now as to these differences, who is orthodox and who is unorthodox? Who is doing the right thinking? For instance, if the Baptists and Presbyterians think right concerning the eternal security of the believer, certainly the Methodists and Nazarenes are not orthodox. Again, if the Presbyterians, who think that babies should be sprinkled with a little water as a seal of the New Covenant, are orthodox concerning baptism, the Baptists, who insist that only adult believers should be immersed without any Covenant obligation, are most certainly not orthodox. Thus we see that the Church of Christ is made up of, orthodox and non-orthodox Christians. But who is orthodox? It all depends upon who does the thinking. Disagreement in thinking generally means disagreeable thinking, even though the thought may be devoted to so-called nonessentials.
When Paul wrote to the Galatians he said that Peter did not walk uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel. Galatians 2:14. The Greek word here translated “walk uprightly” is “orthopodeo”, “ortho”, (right), “podeo”, (walk). Most assuredly, a child of God should desire to be both “orthodox” and “orthopodeo”. So much is stated in God’s Word about the believer’s walk. He is to walk circumspectly, in the Spirit; in love; in Christ; worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called. But the particular walk of Peter, to which Paul referred, was concerning Peter’s fear of Jewish believers, who were unwilling to wholeheartedly receive Gentile believers into their Christian fellowship. If they were orthodox concerning the truth, that all differences between the Jew and the Gentile had been removed, by the death and resurrection of Christ, they were unwilling to acknowledge it and obey it. It is possible to be right in the head and wrong on your feet; that is to think right and act wrong.
Of course, at this late day there is no excuse whatever for any such disobedience and duplicity as Peter displayed. But we have sympathy for Peter because it was truth not readily grasped at the time the apostles were laboring together on earth. But there is plenty of religious diplomacy today with compromise and duplicity.
Surely, today every member of the Body of Christ should desire to be “orthodox” and “orthopodeo”. But we have come to the realization of the fact that we must look to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God for “right-thinking and right-walking”, and be responsible to our Head in glory, rather than to any ecclesiastical potentates, sectarian groups, or denominational church creeds.
Now concerning “orthotomeo”, this is a word found in II Timothy 2:15: “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” The word “rightly dividing” is in the Greek “orthotomeo”. “Ortho”, “right” or “straight”; “tomeo”, “cut” or “dissect”. For instance, the word, in Hebrews 4:12, translated “sharper” is “tomoteros”. We see, then, that the believer has no option in the matter. He must be obedient unto the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, even in the face of opposition and persecution from those who neither obey nor understand the meaning of “orthotomeo”. Those who do not rightly divide the Word of truth certainly fall under the judgment of the Lord, Ye do greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures”. It is one thing to bow to the Divine authority of God’s inspired Word and say, “I believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible”. But it is strict disobedience to II Timothy 2:15, as well as absolute folly to say, “I apply to my spiritual life and obey every commandment of God, given in His inspired Word to the saints of the Old Testament as well as to the saints of the New Testament.”
Nothing at this time seems to be causing more controversy and agitation than the consideration and discussion of obedience to II Timothy 2:15. This is God’s own principle; and those who fail to be governed by it will never understand God’s Word. But in this matter of “orthotomeo” we are asking the question, “Who is orthodox?” There must be “right-thinking” in “right-dividing”. Yes, “right-dissecting” seems to be a major operation. But let us contend earnestly for “ortho-tomeo”.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.