Some years ago, I believed that Israel was an important nation in the Old Testament only, and that, of course, all of the sacrificial laws and ceremonies were part of Israel’s relationship with God. However, I also believed that when we turned the page from the Old Testament to Matthew chapter 1, the nationality of the people in the New Testament became irrelevant. This implied that, suddenly, all of the disciples and believers threw off all of their Jewish ties, heritage and complicated rituals and simply “put their faith in Jesus”.
Effectively, this meant that whenever I read of someone receiving a blessing or a command in the New Testament, I would think that it would automatically apply to me also. By the way, that was tremendous if it meant that something good was in store for me. But this also presented me with a problem that 1 was never able to resolve until I began to apply the principle of right division to the Word.
The problem was this: My church was a mainstream orthodox Christian denomination which did not claim to speak in tongues, perform miraculous healings, or frequently receive inspired visions or prophecies from the Lord. However, frequent occurrences of each of these phenomena are found in the New Testament and were apparently God-inspired. I didn’t know what to make of all this.
In addition, there are some churches which DO claim that these phenomena are present in their midst. For example: I heard of the miraculous healings of people, but on investigation often found that they had little wrong with them. I heard of people with prophecies of major events, but with the passage of time they failed to come to pass. Then there were the people who succumbed to pressure to speak in tongues, and who babbled random sounds and syllables, often to satisfy the expectations of some who were listening. Then again, when there was a failure of people being healed of genuine ailments, often the “healer” blamed the failure on a lack of faith on the part of the ill person. And so on. I now believe that the desire for these – healing, prophesying, tongue speaking, and other Acts-period miracles are the consequences of not rightly dividing the Bible.
Many such miraculous events are sought after by some genuine Christians who believe that this is the way that God deals with His church today. Occurrences of healings, tongues-speaking and many other miracles are what we find in the Bible before Acts 28, but never after. We find that they are linked with God’s dealings with Israel while they were still a nation in His eyes. Now, it is not my aim here to present a study on those kinds of unfortunate misuses of Scripture listed above. I simply wish to point out some of the difficult problems and sad results which arise when Christians fail to see and acknowledge the Acts 28 dividing line. Personally, taking this approach to the Bible has given not only myself but many others peace of mind about that whole issue of the miraculous, and many other issues. It has given me confidence in the Scriptures.