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About Doctrines

But Now



Words are peculiar things. We all have quoted the old proverb "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Then we discover the falsehood of this saying. Words potentially do more harm than all of the physical pain we may ever suffer. Words create emotional pain as they convey information we do not want to ever hear. "I hate you!" "I am divorcing you!" "You are fired!" "We are sorry, but . . ." "Your _______ died tonight!" Each of these words are painful and hurt greatly.

At the same time, words can warm the soul. "I love you." "You are pregnant." "Welcome to the company." And so on.

Paul commences Romans 3:21 with the words translated but now in the New King James. In fact, virtually all translations use the same phrase. The only one I found that uses something different started out But God (NCV). These two words may be the heart of the Gospel.

Before you misconstrue my comments, understand that I am not saying they represent the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus. The Gospel is God's entire revelation to mankind. But, the Gospel has been provided to us in little bits and pieces. The Gospel comes to us in the same manner Paul has been writing Romans. Paul has a goal, the salvation of all of mankind. God has the same goal. Both have run into man, man's sinful nature, and man's views of God. So, to demonstrate the why and how of salvation, both the Bible and the epistle to the Romans build the Gospel message in stages. The need to understand sin and its consequences forms the foundation for salvation in the sense that man must understand his illness before he seeks a physician.

These biblical stages of revelation are often referred to as dispensations, from the Greek oikonomia, from which we get "economy." The common Greek usage had to do with the administration and governing of the household. The New Testament usage of the word deals with God's governing of His Plan and Will. Paul sums up all of these dispensations into two stages. The first stage is the stage of sin and lostness without a clear picture of how to obtain salvation. This is the stage Paul has been discussing in the opening chapters of Romans. It does not have a name in Romans, but we could call it "before."

The second stage is "but now."

2 Corinthians 6:2
For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. NKJV

This is the stage of understanding and accepting the gift of Jesus. We will all come to this crossroads of time. Those, who like Paul, accept the gift may talk about "but now." The rest will be left in "before" for all time.

 

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