MUST I BE A “KING JAMES BIBLE, PAULINE DISPENSATIONALIST” TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“Do I have to use the King James Bible dispensationally in order to be saved unto eternal life? If I use a modern Bible translation, will I go to Hell? If I do not rightly divide the word of truth, will I be barred from Heaven?”
Friend, thank you for that submission. I am more than glad to address it in this our special-edition 400th Bible Q&A study article!
I. INTRODUCTION: A PERSONAL STORY
Years ago, I met with a family member greatly confused about the Bible. She had claimed to be a Christian for several years, so I assumed she was already a justified lady. Thus, I proceeded to address her questions in that four-hour-long Bible study! She raised various denominational objections. I told her I was more than happy to show her how the rightly-divided Scriptures addressed and refuted those criticisms. Carefully, we walked through the Bible timeline, learning how to separate the nation Israel from the Church the Body of Christ, prophecy from mystery, Peter from Paul, and so on. Since she was using a modern version riddled with errors, we also touched on King James Bible authority. At the end, I thought it was a very beneficial discussion—even I had profited from it.
Finally, she asked me, “Do I have to know all of this to be saved into Heaven?” Dear friends, I was downright flabbergasted (an understatement)! Here, she had claimed to be a Christian, she had claimed to be going to Heaven, but now it had become clear to me (and her) that she was neither. Immediately, I told her not to worry about all the verses I shared with her just moments prior. I shared with her the plain and simple Gospel of Grace right there, telling her all about how she needed to trust in Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for her sins. From there onward, she knew exactly how to have eternal life; I left her home and let her think about it.
About one week later, I asked that family member if she had ever trusted Christ as her personal Saviour. “No,” she told me. I gave her the Gospel one more time, but she seemed unconcerned about it at that point. Thereafter, I no longer mentioned the subject and she never got back with me. In fact, she has not spoken to us in years and has no intention of speaking to us. What a travesty, dear friends, but how we value free will! With me, there will be no “arm twisting” or forcing people onto their knees! If they want to live without Jesus Christ, they can. If they want to die without Jesus Christ, we give them their wish!
Beloved, the aforementioned account accentuates the necessity of this special-edition Bible Q&A article. Must someone use a King James Bible rightly divided to go to Heaven? Will a Christian who uses a modern English Bible go to Hell? Will a non-dispensationalist Christian miss Heaven? We are delighted to take this opportunity to set the record straight. In doing so, we will (also) answer the charges of our detractors!
II. JUSTIFICATION: HOW DOES GOD SAVE US UNTO ETERNAL LIFE?
Friends, we must never confuse salvation from Hell unto eternal life in Heaven, with salvation from error unto spiritual understanding and growth. There are various types of “salvation” in the Bible. Contrary to popular belief, the word does not always refer to deliverance from sin and eternal hellfire. For example, consider the following:
- We Christians can be “saved” from despair by having hope in God’s Word that He will resurrect us physically and give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:24).
- By virtue of the “pre-Tribulation Rapture,” we Christians will be “saved” from all of the Antichrist’s reign and deception (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
- We can be “saved” from shame (Philippians 1:19-20) and discouragement (2 Corinthians 1:6).
- The mother of Samuel, Hannah, rejoiced because God had “saved” her from infertility and embarrassment (1 Samuel 2:1).
- God told Gideon He would use him to “save” Israel from their oppressors the Midianites (Judges 6:14).
- As we will see in this study, the Bible mentions us being “saved” from false teaching, doctrinal lies (1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 3:15).
This is just a partial listing, but it proves the point sufficiently. Let us now return to the topic of “salvation” as it pertains to deliverance from Hell unto eternal life in Heaven. Salvation into Heaven is all about what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, not what we do for Him or what we do not do for Him. The following simple Scriptures emphasize faith in Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork, rather than our works, as all that is necessary for us to have an eternal home in Heaven.
Romans 3:23-28: “ For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Romans 4:1-5: “ What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Ephesians 2:8-9: “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Galatians 2:16-21: “ Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.  But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.  For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Titus 3:4-7: “ But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
How are we justified, or made right, or declared righteous, before Almighty God? What does the Bible say? What did Romans 3:26-28 say earlier? “ To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
What did we read in Romans 4:5? “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” What did Galatians 2:16 declare? “ Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” What did we learn from Titus 3:5? “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;….”
Romans 3:26 said we are to “believe in Jesus” to be justified before God. Romans 4:5 says we are to “believe on him that justifieth the ungodly” in order to be declared righteous. Galatians 2:16 declared we are “not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Titus 3:5 said we are saved “not by works of righteousness which we have done,” “but according to his mercy he saved us….”
While it is always important to know what is in a Bible verse, it is equally important to notice what is not in the verse. Notice how there is nothing in these verses about understanding the various dispensations in the Bible. There is nothing about Paul’s special ministry, or how to separate it from the ministry of Peter and 11. There is nothing about distinguishing between the prophetic program and the mystery program. There is nothing about God’s earthly kingdom versus God’s heavenly kingdom. There is nothing about the nation Israel versus the Church the Body of Christ. There is nothing about good and bad Bible versions. While they are indeed important issues in Christian living and Christian understanding, they are not necessary for justification (becoming a Christian). Such information cannot benefit lost people. Lost people need to be saved from, forgiven of, their sins. Common sense dictates that they cannot adopt a Christian view of the Bible until they become Christians!
The only dispensational aspect an unsaved, or lost, person needs to understand is what was already covered in the above verses. Grace is the issue today rather than Law. While God demanded faith and various works in other dispensations, today, we are justified without the deeds of the Law, without joining Israel’s special religion (Judaism, founded upon the Law of Moses). Refer back to those Bible passages cited earlier, paying special attention to the emphasis on faith alone (without works). God is not operating a performance-based acceptance system today; He is operating a Jesus-Christ-based acceptance system. Father God accepts us in Christ Jesus, on the basis of Jesus Christ and God’s love for Him, us in Him and partaking of that love (Ephesians 1:6). Oh, dear friends, if you never get anything else out of the Bible, please get that! If you never get anything else out of this study, please get that! If you never get anything else out of our ministry, please get that!
Justification (being declared righteous before God) is not about us passing theological tests, knowing about dispensations, understanding Paul’s special ministry and message, discerning between the King James Bible and modern versions, separating prophecy from mystery, dividing Israel from the Body of Christ, et cetera. Again, that would be part of Christian living and Christian understanding, but not part of the Gospel that lost people need to believe to pass from spiritual death to spiritual life, Hell to Heaven, and Satan’s family to God’s family.
Notice the classic Gospel passage, Acts 16:30-31: “ And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” The Philippian jailer asked the Apostle Paul and Silas what he had to do to be “saved.” Their answer was swift in coming and positive in content: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Once more, do you see anything about Bible versions or dispensational issues? No. The Philippian jailer is exhorted to trust, rely on, believe on Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. That is all. How simple! He did just that and was immediately saved into Heaven. That Philippian jailer is in Heaven’s glory today, along with Paul, Silas, and all the other saints of the ages. If we are saved in Christ today, we will see them in Heaven one day!
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul briefly summarized the Gospel that he preached: “ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….” (Notice the word “saved” in verse 2 is conditional. As pointed out in the introductory remarks, “salvation” here is not salvation into Heaven but rather deliverance from the misery found in verse 19. Some of the Corinthians were miserable because they denied Christ’s resurrection [verse 12].)
In Acts 20:24, Paul calls the above paragraph “the Gospel of the Grace of God.” Again, it is so easy that a small child can grasp it and believe unto eternal life: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We are saved by faith in that Gospel, apart from our works of any and every kind (water baptism, confession, repentance, walking aisles, giving money, praying a prayer, and so on). It is not necessary for salvation unto eternal life to know that Paul called that message “my Gospel” (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8). Actually, I did not know that that was its correct title until many years after I trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. Furthermore, I know plenty of people who were justified by trusting that Gospel, but they did not learn until much later that it is called “Paul’s Gospel” or “the Gospel of Grace.” They, like me, did not learn about the various dispensations of the Bible and the various distinctions until several years later after they had passed from death to life.
Let us pause and have a quick review of what we have discussed thus far. As long as lost people know and believe the contents of the true Gospel for today, they do not have to know specific titles (“Paul’s Gospel,” or “the Gospel of Grace”) or the exact dispensation in which it sits (“the Dispensation of the Grace of God;” Ephesians 3:2). What is important is that they know our Gospel is “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). What is important is that they “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and … be saved” (Acts 16:31). What is important is that they know our Gospel is not Acts 2:38 (“repent and be baptized”), not Mark 16:16 (“he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”), and not any other legalistic Bible verse. Friend, if you have not already done so, please take a moment now to rely exclusively on Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, that He died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day. Do not delay!
A thorough explanation of the Gospel of the Grace of God is Romans chapters 1-5. Paul does not deal with dispensational issues until chapters 9-11, after discussing Christian living/sanctification in chapters 6-8. This signifies to us that justification must be taken care of first, before we start focusing on the doctrines of sanctification and dispensations. If lost people get too laden down (overwhelmed) with Bible information that profits only Christians, it intimidates and discourages them, and we see exactly why they want to remain lost. Why? They believe they have to “know all this stuff” to be justified, and that simply is not true. (Go back to our opening story.)
We Pauline dispensationalists need to always be mindful to preach a clear Gospel message to a lost person before trying to share the deep truths of dispensational Bible study. We King James Bible users must always remember that a clear Gospel message should precede an in-depth discussion of Bible versions. We can mention “hints” of assorted spiritual topics to “break the ice,” but, when dealing with unsaved people, I have learned that we need to limit ourselves to the Gospel as much as possible. It is tempting to delve into major doctrinal issues, but there is no need to rush yourself or the person you are evangelizing. Please try to be as patient as possible with them, bringing them back to the Gospel when they sway the conversation onto other “religious” topics (this duration is to be defined within reason, of course, as some people just want to waste your time!). If they are sincere, you will have other opportunities to talk with them about other matters in-depth.
III. EDIFICATION & SANCTIFICATION: HOW DOES GOD SAVE US UNTO PROPER THINKING AND PROPER CONDUCT?
As (deliberately) thoroughly demonstrated above, Bible versions and dispensations are not necessary for salvation unto eternal life. Salvation into Heaven is a gift, and we do not work for a gift. We do not work to be Christians. However, we do work as Christians—this is practical sanctification (brought about by edification, a maturation of the inner man).
Read Ephesians 2:8-10: “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” As you can see for yourself, friend, Christian good works are clearly mentioned in verse 10. Father God saved us from sins and Hell, not merely to keep us from burning in His fiery wrath forever (which we deserve as sinners). He saved us for a purpose, and that purpose is “good works.” However, unless we have the proper English Bible text (King James Bible), and unless we know what Father God is doing today (we learn this via dispensational Bible study), then we will not know what God would have us to know and what “good works” He would have us do.
Notice 1 Timothy 4:1,16: “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;….  Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Now, 2 Timothy 3:13-15: “ But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Notice that, despite the widespread “deception” (2 Timothy 3:13) and “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1), we can be “saved” from such lies (1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 3:15). The “salvation” here is deliverance from bad teaching, evil thinking, and falsehoods. Father God wants to save us Christians from false teaching. This is not the issue of being saved from Hell; we have moved on from that, remember. The Gospel has already been settled. We are now talking about members of the Body of Christ being rescued from bad doctrine.
According to the Book of 1 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 4: “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” “Saved” here is belief in the Gospel for justification—a lost person being forgiven of all sins, passing from death to life, from unsaved to saved, from non-Christian to Christian (instantaneous). Once this happens, God desires for that person to move to following the second part of His will. He wants him or her to “come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Everything after initial belief of the Gospel, justification, falls under the category of “come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
The issue of “coming unto the knowledge of the truth” is divided into two general realms: (1) recognizing pure Bible texts/versions and (2) identifying the proper Bible study system. These matters are Christian understanding and Christian living (life-long process). As mentioned, another name for this is “sanctification,” God setting apart the believer on a daily basis, for the believer to fulfill His will on a daily basis. As we Christians are “edified” (built up, strengthened by sound Bible doctrine), that doctrine will result in a change in lifestyle. It will be repeated for emphasis. Getting “saved” (justification) and “coming unto the knowledge of the truth” (practical sanctification) are two separate matters, certainly not to be confused with each other. They are both God’s will; neither should be ignored. However, they should come in that order.
The Bible versions issue is very complex, and it certainly cannot be exhaustively addressed here for brevity’s sake. Still, some comments must be made. Suffice it to say that there are basically two lines of Bible manuscripts. One is the preserved Greek New Testament line—the “Traditional Text,” “Antiochan/Syrian Text,” “Byzantine Text,” “Textus Receptus”/”Received Text,” “Majority Text,” or “Protestant Text.” Its text can be traced all the way back to the Apostles’ autographs (original manuscripts). Early English Bibles (including the King James Bible) came from this line of manuscripts.
The other text type is the depraved/corrupt Greek New Testament line—the “Critical Text,” “Alexandrian Text,” “Minority Text,” “Egyptian Text,” or “Roman Catholic Text.” This text-type is doctrinally dangerous. Its witnesses omit words and verses, add to verses, water down verses, and omit entire passages and books. Some of them contain forged Bible books (called the “Apocrypha”). They contain major theological mistakes. The modern English versions depend partly or entirely upon this manuscript family. The NIV, NASB, Amplified, ESV, Living Bible, NLT, Good News Bible, Jehovah’s Witness NWT, Roman Catholic bibles, and even parts of the NKJV, et cetera, all find their textual basis in these heretical manuscripts. Hence, modern English Bibles and the King James Bible read substantially different. The fundamental issue is not contemporary English verses older English; the issue is faulty versus reliable textual bases!
Friend, whenever you hear someone “correcting” the King James Bible (“you can remove this word….,” “that verse is uninspired and does not belong in the text,” “a better translation is….”), they (perhaps unwittingly—others deliberately) are using these perverted Roman Catholic manuscripts to attack the Protestant Bible! They are encouraging you to doubt Bible text. You can trust the King James Bible. It has faithfully served English-speaking Christians for over 405 years. Thus, you are highly recommended to use it, and it alone, as your final authority. (Other languages have their own versions, we understand, but those versions, if authoritative, will come from the same Traditional Text-type as our King James Bible. As we are an Anglophone ministry, such language matters do not concern us.) While these brief comments have not done the Bible versions issue justice, they are enough to set you on the right track in that regard.
Now, we move on to dispensational issues. Just because it is in the Bible, that does not mean that it is God speaking to or about you. The Bible says in Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Paul is our apostle—God’s spokesman to us, the nations of the world. We notice that Paul’s ministry sits in the chapter that declares the nation Israel as temporarily “fallen” (verses 11-12) and “blinded” (verse 25). Rather than God forming an earthly people, God is currently forming a heavenly people (more on this later). If Israel is not the issue today, the implication is that she was the issue in time past. We would be careful to make the distinction so as to not claim Israel’s verses as our own. Using Bible verses that were once true, but not true today, is a sure way to destroy the Bible text and us in the process.
The resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ reached down and saved Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9). He made Saul (Paul) His spokesman to the world. As we noted earlier, He commissioned Paul with a special Gospel message that was unknown to man prior to that time. That “Gospel of the Grace of God” involves God justifying believing Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), placing them into one body, the Church the Body of Christ, an entity separate and distinct from Israel and her covenants. You can read all about that in great detail in Ephesians chapters 2 and 3. Here, for brevity’s sake, we cite one verse, 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Paul’s revelation is the final installment of revelation from God, “the mystery” (divine secret) now disclosed for all to read and delight in (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:23-29). “The Dispensation of the Grace of God” given to Paul by Jesus Christ has been passed down to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2). We do not go into pre-Paul verses in the Bible and try to find ourselves. For example, we do not go to Genesis through Malachi and attempt to find ourselves. We do not go to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—Christ’s earthly ministry—and try to find God’s words to us.
After all, Jesus Christ said in Matthew 15:24: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He was not sent to us Gentiles in His earthly ministry! (And, yet, most of today’s “Christian” preaching is to Gentiles… and that preaching is of verses yanked out of context from Matthew through John, words spoken to Jews!!!) Jesus Christ’s words to us Gentiles are found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. First Corinthians 14:37 says: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
While also beyond the scope of this study, it is critical to make some cursory remarks about the layout of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. God the Holy Spirit arranged them in a very unique way. As discussed earlier, Romans is the most basic Bible Book of doctrine for this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. It presents the Gospel of the Grace of God in chapters 1-5—how a lost person becomes a Christian, or how the Christian life begins. Chapters 6-8 provide details about the new nature and identity the believer has been given in Christ. Romans chapters 9-11 explain the dispensational aspects (Israel is temporarily fallen, we are not Israel, Israel still has a hope and a place in God’s future dealings with man, et cetera). Chapters 12-16 are specific principles for daily Christian in a variety of circumstances (living among other Christians, among enemies, under governmental rule, in the world, among weaker Christians, et cetera).
Paul’s two Epistles to the Corinthians reprove Christians who failed to apply to life the doctrine presented in Romans (they followed man’s natural ways). Galatians issues correction for those who did not think according to God’s grace (that is, they reverted to a legalistic, Mosaic-law-keeping, system). Ephesians is a higher plane of the doctrine found in Romans, ultimately divulging the complex formation and heavenly destiny of the Church the Body of Christ. Philippians reproves the saints who are not behaving as Ephesians instructed—the one united Body of Christ. Colossians corrects Christians who are not following the Head, Jesus Christ, but rather numerous false religious systems (a mentality contrary to Ephesians).
The two Epistles to the Thessalonians exemplify the model (matured, diligent) Christian assembly and involve the two comings of the Lord Jesus Christ—the First Epistle deals with the Rapture (coming for the Body of Christ to end the Dispensation of Grace) while the Second Epistle focuses on the Second Coming (coming for the nation Israel to end the Tribulation period). Paul’s remaining Books—the four “Pastoral Epistles”—are 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. These deal with the establishment and administration of the local grace assembly or church. They are of special significance to church leaders, and should be read frequently by all people in the ministry. One final note here: Philemon is the capstone of Christian (grace) maturity, a fully-grown saint, godliness on fully display in the life of a member of the Body of Christ.
These 13 epistles are grace living—what God is doing today and what He wants us Christians to do today. Brethren, if we do not use God’s Word (in English, the King James Bible) and we do not use it His way (dispensationally), then our Christian life will not function properly. We will be operating on limited information, misinformation, or no information. There will be no solid doctrine for the Holy Spirit to use in our lives. We MUST have a reliable Bible text and we MUST have an understandable Bible study. Again, the Holy Spirit cannot work in our lives if we do not have God’s Word (Authorized Version, King James Bible). He certainly cannot work in our lives if we do not have God’s Word to and about us (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). Let us now look at the eternal results of our Christian edification (the type of teaching we incorporated into our lives will impact eternity, either negatively or positively).
IV. GLORIFICATION: THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST AND ITS RESULTS
In 2 Timothy 2:15, we read: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” By “rightly dividing the word of truth,” using dispensational Bible study, we are looking for God’s approval. We are not interested in man’s approval—the preacher’s, the priest’s, the pope’s, or the professor’s. When will we ultimately learn of God’s approval of what we are doing in our Christian life? The Bible calls this day “the Judgment Seat of Christ.” It will take place in Heaven, after the Rapture, after Jesus Christ comes for us His Body, to take us away prior to the Antichrist’s arrival.
Notice 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “ Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Do you see the issue of Christian service here? See, there are no lost people here. This judgment is reserved for Christians. It is not designed to judge them for their sins (those were paid for in full at Calvary) but rather judge/evaluate their Christian service. Was their “work” “good” or “bad?” Now, please notice that little preposition “in”—verse 10 says the “the things done in his body.” This is not “by” the body but “in” it—the soul is singled out here. What is in the soul? Good doctrine and bad doctrine! (Never, ever forget that the quality of doctrine matters!)
Turning to 1 Corinthians chapter 3, we see the Holy Spirit again referring to the “work” we Christians are to do and have: “ For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
As always, while much could be said, we must limit ourselves to brief remarks. Notice the special ministry and the special doctrine committed to Paul (verses 10-11). There are six building materials a Christian can use in his or her life—gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble (verse 12). The doctrine that we believe today as Christians, that doctrine will be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The doctrine that motivated us to do what we did in life, Jesus Christ will expose it for what it really is. He will look beyond what we did and beyond how much we did, to see why we did what we did. Was it the principles of grace (Pauline revelation) that guided us by the power of the Holy Spirit? Or, was it the Mosaic Law or some other form of legalistic, performance-based acceptance, system (religion), us struggling in our flesh?
If it was not the doctrine committed to Paul, it is (worthless) wood, hay, and stubble. It will amount to nothing—it will be burned up. If it is the doctrine committed to Paul, then it is gold, silver, and precious stones—these will remain. There will be a reward (due to gold, silver, and precious stones) and a loss of reward (due to wood, hay, and stubble). All Christians will have some reward because of the right Gospel message as their foundation. However, all Christians will lose some reward because of various denominational hang-ups, confusions, and errors. There is no one going to Hell here, please remember. There is loss of reward but not loss of righteousness.
How do we minimize our loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ? How do we maximize our reward? We heed now, consider now, and apply by faith now what the Holy Spirit says through the Apostle Paul’s pen! The way we get rid of the traditions of men in our lives is look at the Bible rightly divided. Again, we do not grab elements from Israel’s program and try to force them on us. Our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ are found only in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. That does not mean that we throw away the rest of the Bible. Nay! On the contrary, we study all of the Bible, but we study all of the Bible in light of the final divine revelation given to the Apostle Paul.
While also beyond this article’s scope, we will briefly mention glorification. With the Body of Christ being the means whereby Jesus Christ will be glorified forever in the heavenly places, there is of necessity a “job-qualifications” system to appoint people to various ranks in those heavenly governments (such ranks are delineated in Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 6:12, and Colossians 1:16). Our qualifications are determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (previously discussed), and the appropriate reward is granted. That reward is a specific job or office in heaven’s governments (and all members of the Body of Christ will have them). The sound doctrine we had, the greater our reward, and the larger the capacity we have to bring honor to Jesus Christ in the heavenly places throughout the ages to come. We are not competing against other Christians, no—please do not misunderstand! We are striving to get the best reward in order to exalt in heaven’s governments the Person who died for us to be in Heaven in the first place!
Romans 8:18-19 provides us with a glimpse of that coming “glorification:” “ For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The “manifestation” of the sons of God is when God puts on display in outer space His children—specifically, us, the members of the Body of Christ. We will use the sound Bible doctrine we learned on Earth to carry out His plans for the heavenly places throughout eternity future. For brevity’s sake, we must stop here. We did not do this topic justice either, but we must move on and wrap up this study.
Friend, if you have followed our Bible Q&A studies from the very beginning, you know that we have never confused the issues of justification and practical sanctification. This article is another testament to that fact. Lost people becoming Christians, and Christians maturing (being edified) in the Word of God, are two separate matters. Unbelievers do not become Christians by adopting Christian Bible views—they become Christians by believing the Gospel of Grace! Christians must progress from the basics (the Gospel) to deeper Bible doctrines. Spiritual maturity is tantamount to victorious, enjoyable Christian living!
When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour, passing from death to life, moving from Satan’s family to God’s family, something radical happens. The sinner has not only escaped eternal hellfire (divine punishment for his sin), that sinner has been saved unto a new lifestyle and a new destiny. When Father God gave the believing sinner a new heart, that new nature gave him or her the capacity to experience God’s life. That new life cannot be brought into full experience, however, unless there is study of and progression in sound Bible doctrine.
All too often, believers use the excuse: “I have trusted that Jesus Christ died for my sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. Knowing I am saved is good enough for me. I do not care to learn in-depth Bible doctrine. That is too much studying, too much work, too much time I could do other things. What God did and will do with Israel makes no difference to me. I have no interest in learning about prophecy versus mystery, law versus grace, Earth versus Heaven, Peter versus Paul, and so on. Bible versions do not concern me, either—all versions are “good” to some extent and I like them all. I do not get bogged down with doctrinal points. Let me keep my membership at my local denominational church. I am going to escape Hell, and that is all that matters to me.”
The above is a very unfortunate condition and very common attitude. While these Christians will indeed go to Heaven, in the meantime, they will have a miserable time on Earth! They will not experience the Christian life to its fullest potential. They, having God’s Word, are so unbelievably unable to understand, use, and enjoy it. They do not know how to handle Bible “contradictions.” They do not know what God is doing today, and they do not know what He would have them do today. The Bible is a burden to them, and all they have is their worthless traditions of men. They do not separate prophecy from mystery, Israel from the Body of Christ, Peter from Paul, law from grace, and so on. That is why their Christian life is such a struggle and disappointment. God does not approve of their Christian service, and there will be a tremendous loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They are not honoring Jesus Christ here, so they will have limited service to Him in the heavenly places in the ages to come. They need to take heed and reform!
Since they do not have God’s Word (King James Bible), they have no clear spiritual understanding and no source of spiritual nourishment. Therefore, they will continue in their state of immaturity, bewilderment, misinformation, shallow thinking, and so on. Since they do not use God’s Word God’s way (rightly divided), they are unable to extract the profit that God put in His Word. Thus, they are vulnerable to doubt/unbelief, Satan’s attacks, carnality (flesh-walking), failure, misery, confusion, and so on. From personal experience (and many others can testify to this), I can tell you that you as a Christian must have the right Bible text (King James Bible in English) if you are to understand the Bible. From personal experience (and many others can testify to this as well), Christian friend, I can tell you that your Christian life will mean so much more to you once you approach the Bible dispensationally.
SUPPLEMENTAL: WHEN CHRISTIANS WERE DECEIVED IN SCRIPTURE
(In order to further drive home the aforesaid points, we present another layer of evidence that one does not need to be a “King James Bible, Pauline dispensationalist” in order to go to Heaven.)
Interestingly, Christians in Bible days did not always have perfect theology. In the Pauline epistles, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle issued stern warnings to Christians who had abandoned grace teaching (dispensational Bible study) and believed false Bible manuscripts (Bible versions issue). Never once did He consign these people to Hell, telling them that they had lost their salvation in Christ, and that they would now not enter Heaven. However, it is not to say that these were minor blunders that could be ignored. These Christians were cautioned that they were inflicting great damage on their spiritual bodies. They were corrupting themselves and opposing God’s will for them: they were “grieving the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30), “quenching [stopping] the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), “frustrating [opposing] the grace of God” (Galatians 2:21), and so on.
A. THE GALATIANS AND THE LAW OF MOSES
Notice how Galatians 4:21 indicates what was occurring in the churches of Galatia: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” These saints had placed themselves under a performance-based acceptance program—specifically, the Law of Moses. They had yanked out of context the Dispensation of Law that God had given to Moses for Israel’s obedience, and had forced it upon themselves. They should have been following “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” given to Paul and given to them through Paul (Ephesians 3:2). Like so many denominational “Christians” today, however, they were ignoring Paul’s special ministry and message. Hence, Paul firmly defended his apostleship in Galatians chapters 1 and 2. Furthermore, this is why he focused on defining and defending his “grace” message for the rest of the Book of Galatians.
Despite their immense spiritual confusion, never once does Paul accuse the Galatians of losing their justification, losing eternal life. He calls them “brethren” throughout the epistle that bears their name (1:11; 3:15; 4:12,28,31; 5:11,13; 6:1,18). He speaks of them as though they are still (presently) “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Galatians 3:2 implies that they still have the Holy Spirit—He still indwells them, having not left them. Galatians 3:28 says to them: “…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” The only people “in Christ Jesus” are believers, indicating that the Galatians were still going to Heaven. Even though they had allowed non-dispensational doctrine (Law of Moses) to deceive them and disrupt their Christian living, they were still secure in Christ.
B. THE THESSALONIANS, PROPHECY, AND THE COUNTERFEIT BIBLE
The Thessalonian saints suffered great persecution for their faith in Christ. Notice 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: “ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition….” There are two issues here—Bible versions and dispensational Bible study.
Did you see the part about a “letter as from us” in verse 2? At least one false teacher penned an epistle, forged Paul’s name on that document, sent it to those believers, and that misinformation troubled them. It was an attempt to pass off spurious writings as inspired of God and apostolic in nature. (This occurs even today, when people claim corrupted manuscripts and their resultant English translations are “Holy Bibles.”) Let us remember the ancient warning well, friends: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17). These Thessalonians were led by that corrupted manuscript to believe they were living during the time of God’s wrath, commonly called the seven-year Tribulation. They thought they were suffering because they were in that awful time of human history. It was a lie straight from the pits of Hell!
As with the Galatians, Paul did not tell these believers in Thessalonica that they were now lost and going to Hell because they had let bad doctrine to deceive and trouble them. They believed a false Bible manuscript and ignored the concluding dispensational boundary between prophecy and mystery, but the Holy Spirit still led Paul to call the Thessalonians “brethren” numerous times (2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:1,13,15; 3:1,6,13). Paul implied that the Thessalonians were going to be “gathered together unto Christ” with other believers at the Rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:5). He thought that they would be present when Jesus Christ would come to be “glorified in his saints” (2 Thessalonians 1:10)—they were some of those “saints!” Paul said they were suffering for “the kingdom of God”—that could only be true of believers (2 Thessalonians 1:5). He spoke of them as “obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”—that would only be true of believers (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
C. FINAL THOUGHTS
While we could go on and on, it is enough. God does not expect lost people to pass theological tests to get into Heaven. Based on the verses and my experiences in the ministry all these years, I am afraid a lot of genuine Christians would miserably fail such exams and wind up in Hell quicker than a split-second! Unsaved people do not have to know about dispensational Bible study or Bible versions in order to be justified. Sad to say, there are millions of Christians today who have not got a clue about proper Bible study. Furthermore, they could not identify the pure Bible text (King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts) if their lives depended on it! Now we know why they are so confused about spiritual matters! (I did not understand the Bible versions issue and dispensational Bible study until over 10 years after I trusted the Lord as my personal Saviour! I was on my way to Heaven but how ignorant I was! Never do I want to return to such immaturity, ignorance, carnality, misery, confusion, and frustration!
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)