RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH
Dr. Cyrus Ingerson Scofield
"The purpose of this pamphlet is to indicate
the more important divisions of the Word of truth."
THE BELIEVER'S STANDING AND STATE
The Introduction and previous chapters of Rightly Dividing
may be accessed via links in our
this pamphlet, Dr. Scofield outlines some basic and very important distinctions in Scripture that must be acknowledged for proper understanding. Among these are distinctions that are of particular concern to the messianic community. Perhaps the two most important distinctions in this regard are those between Israel and the Church and between the various ages in God's dealings with mankind, the latter of which are often referred to as "dispensations," each of which has been initiated by a covenant that radically altered God's expectations of those with whom He made the covenant and with those who subsequently entered into it.
Many reject the doctrine of dispensationalism, often on the grounds that it was invented by C.I. Scofield, a late eighteenth - early nineteenth century American minister. By the same token, many have rejected the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone on the same grounds: It was invented by Luther. Of course, Luther didn't invent the doctrine; it was in Scripture all the time. Similarly, Scofield didn't invent dispensationalism; it was in Scripture all the time. He merely brought it to the notice of millions, particularly through The Scofield Reference Bible, first published in 1909. Furthermore, there were many before him that recognized distinctions between the ages and developed the concept to varying degrees, at least as far back as Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) - virtually on the heels of Paul, who so copiously expounded on the subject. So there really was an unbroken line, or virtually unbroken line, of church leaders and theologians who recognized these "dispensations."
In 1885, Scofield issued Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, a pamphlet that "set the direction for his teaching and, through numerous editions, the agenda for a major segment of American fundamentalism."1 With this Shofar, the AMC is pleased to continue presenting the entirety of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, a concise aid that will help us in rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). - ed.
THE WORD OF TRUTH
THE BELIEVER'S STANDING AND STATE
"A distinction of vast importance to the right
understanding of the Scriptures, especially of the Epistles, is that which
concerns the standing or position of the believer, and his state, or walk."
A distinction of
vast importance to the right understanding of the Scriptures, especially of
the Epistles, is that which concerns the standing or position of the believer,
and his state, or walk. The first is the result of the work of Christ and is
perfect and entire from the very moment that Christ is received by faith.
Nothing in the afterlife of the believer adds in the smallest degree to his
title of favor with God, nor to his perfect security. Through faith alone this
standing before God is conferred, and before Him the weakest person, if he be
but a true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, has precisely the same title as
the most illustrious saint.
What that title or standing is, may be briefly seen from the following
Scriptures: But as many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born
of God (I John 5:1).
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint
heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and
that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of
God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
(1 Pet. 1:4-5).
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance
(Eph. 1: 11).
Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not
ye appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall
be like him (I John 3:2).
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation (I Pet. 2:9).
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins
in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all
principality and power (Col. 2: 10).
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith
into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life (John 3:16).
These things have I written unto you that believe on
the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life
(I John 5:13).
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into
the holiest by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10: 19).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Eph.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he
hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:6).
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love
wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us
together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph.
But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far
off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13).
In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed
with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1: 13).
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body
(I Cor. 12:13).
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of
his bones (Eph. 5:30).
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost? (I Cor. 6:19).
Every one of these marvelous things is true of every believer on the Lord
Jesus Christ. Not one item in this glorious inventory is said to be gained by
prayer, or diligence in service, or churchgoing, or alms-giving, or
self-denial, or holiness of life, or by any other description of good works.
All are gifts of God through Christ and therefore belong equally to all
believers. When the jailor of Philippi believed on the Lord Jesus Christ he
became at once a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, a king and priest,
and had the title to the incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance.
In the instant that he believed with his heart and confessed with his mouth
that Jesus was his Lord, he was justified from all things, had peace with God,
a standing in His grace, and a sure hope of glory. He received the gift of
eternal life, was made accepted in the full measure of Christ's own
acceptance, was indwelt by, and sealed with the Holy Spirit, by whom also he
was baptized into the mystical body of Christ - the church of God. Instantly
he was clothed with the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:22), quickened with
Christ, raised with Him, and in Him seated in the heavenlies.
What his actual state may have been is quite another matter; certainly it was
far, far below his exalted standing in the sight of God. It was not all at
once that he became as royal, priestly, and heavenly in walk as he was at once
in standing. The following passages will indicate the way one's standing and
one's state are constantly discriminated in the Scriptures.
|Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,
to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus . . . I thank my God always
on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ
that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all
knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that
ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be
blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom
ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ.
~ I Cor. 1:2-9 ~
But ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the
Spirit of our God (I Cor. 6:11).
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of
Christ? (I Cor. 6:15).
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art
thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but
my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 16:17).
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us
meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath
delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the
kingdom of his dear Son (Col. 1: 12-13).
For it hath been declared unto me of
you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are
contentions among you (I Cor. 1:11).
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto
spiritual, but as unto carnal . . . For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there
is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk
as men? (I Cor. 3:1-3).
Now some are puffed up (I Cor. 4:18).
And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned,
that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you
(I Cor. 5:2).
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you,
because ye go to law one with another (I Cor. 6:7).
Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make
them the members of an harlot? (I Cor. 6:15).
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind
me, Satan; for thou art an offence unto me; for thou savorest not the things
that be of God, but those that be of men (Matt. 16:23).
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath,
malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to
another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds
The student cannot fail to notice that . . .
the divine order, under grace, is first to give the
highest possible standing and then to exhort the believer to maintain
a state in accordance therewith.
The beggar is lifted up from the dung-hill and set among
princes (I Sam. 2:8), and then exhorted to be princely. As examples, see the
Knowing this, that our old man is
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (Rom.
Ye are the light of the world (Matt.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and
grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit
together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then
shall ye also appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4).
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light
in the Lord (Eph. 5:8).
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness (I Thess. 5:5).
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or
sleep, we should live together with him (I Thess. 5:9-10).
By the which will we are sanctified, through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:10).
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made
unto us . . . sanctification (I Cor. 1:30).
For by one offering he hath perfected forever them
that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14).
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus
minded (Phil. 3:15).
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have
boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world
(I John 4:17).
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ
from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances? (Col. 2:20).
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not
as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). (Let it be
observed, in reading this much-abused text, that the salvation spoken of here
is not that of the soul, but salvation out of the snares which would hinder
the Christian from doing the will of God.)
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things
which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God
(Col. 3: 1).
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth (Col. 3:5).
Walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8).
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us
watch and be sober (I Thess. 5:6).
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one
another, even as also ye do (I Thess. 5:11).
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (I
Not as though I had already attained, either were
already perfect (Phil. 3:12).
Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of
Christ, let us go on unto perfection (Heb. 6: 1).
He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also
so to walk, even as he walked (I John 2:6).
The student will be able to add largely to this list of comparative passages
showing that the Scripture makes a clear distinction between the standing and
state of the believer. It will be seen that he is not under probation to see
if he is worthy of an inconceivably exalted position, but, beginning with the
confession of his utter unworthiness, receives the position wholly as the
result of Christ's work. Positionally he is perfected
forever (Heb. 10: 14), but looking within, at his state, he must
say, Not as though I had already attained, either
were already perfect (Phil. 3:12).
It may be said that all the afterwork of God in his behalf, the application of
the Word to his walk and conscience (John 17:17; Eph. 5:26), the chastisements
of the Father's hand (Heb. 12:10; 1 Cor. 11:32), the ministry of the Spirit
(Eph. 4:11-12), all the difficulties and trials of the wilderness way (I Pet.
4:12-14), and the final transformation when He shall appear (I John 3:2), all
are intended simply to bring the believer's character into perfect conformity
to the position which is his in the instant of his conversion. He grows in
grace, indeed, but not into grace.
A prince, while he is a little child, is presumably as willful and as ignorant
as other little children. Sometimes he may be very obedient and teachable and
affectionate, and then he is happy and approved; at other times he may be
unruly, self-willed, and disobedient, and then he is unhappy and perhaps is
chastised. But he is just as much a prince on the one day as on the other. It
may be hoped that, as time goes on, he will learn to bring himself into
willing and affectionate subjection to every right way, and then he will be
more princely, but not more really a prince. He was born a prince.
In the case of every true son of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, this
growth into kingliness is assured. In the end, standing and state, character
and position, will be equal. But the position is not the reward of the
perfected character - the character is developed from the position.
1. W.N. Kerr, "Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1992 ed.
Dr. Cyrus Ingerson
Scofield (1843-1921) was an attorney,
evangelist, Congregational minister and writer. Rightly
the Word of Truth is
republished by permission of www.BibleBelievers.com,
other fine articles
by Scofield and others may be found.
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