Book 15

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Lesson 1: Christ’s Earthly Ministry
Lesson 2: Matthew Review – Unpardonable Sin – Parables of Luke 15 – The Secrets of the Body Not Revealed
Lesson 3: Matthew 24 and Other References
Videos Covered: 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180
Through the Bible with Les Feldick, eBook 15
LESSON ONE • PART I • BOOK 15

CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

I would like you to get your Bible and study the Scripture with us as we continue our study in the New Testament. We try to reach across all denominational lines. We don’t attack anyone, we just simply teach the Word as I see it. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on every point, but, basically, I like to help people read the Bible in a way that they can understand. So many read it, but don’t really see what they are reading.

Luke Chapter 1. I think the average church person, whether they are members or not, somehow have the idea that as soon as you get into Matthew Chapter 1, that this is Christianity. And that’s not correct. This is not yet Christianity. This is still an extension of God dealing with Israel, based on all those Old Testament covenants and promises, and Christ is going to come on the scene, as we will see here in Luke 1, as the angel announced it. Not with the message that He’s going to the Cross to die for the sins of the world, although that’s certainly in the mind of God, and don’t think for a moment it isn’t. But He’s going to come first to fulfill the promise made to the Nation of Israel. So it’s all Jewish with few exceptions. And as we come through the Four Gospels we will point them out.

Remember, too, it’s all under the Law, The Temple is still operating, sacrifices are still being offered. And even these people who become believers and followers of Christ don’t shed their Judaism. They still maintain everything that is associated with the Law. And Christ doesn’t rebuke them for it, and neither should we. No one has told them that they’re not under Law, until a lot further down the road when Paul the Gentile Apostle will. That is why we always emphasize that the Bible is a progressive revelation. God doesn’t just suddenly tell the Old Testament people everything that’s coming. Now there is a lot of prophecy, but always remember God hid some things until He saw fit to reveal them. Now Luke Chapter 1; we find the angel is announcing to Mary what is about to happen. This is just another little introduction as to why Christ is making His first Advent to the Nation of Israel.

Luke 1:30-33

“And the angel said unto her, `Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.'” Now where is that coming from? Old Testament promises? Now read on:

“And he (This Son) shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his (what?) kingdom (see why I’m always talking about the Kingdom? Because the Bible does) there shall be no end.”

All of this is based on what God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then as a further ramification of that, the Law is given to Moses. Then as David comes on the scene he is promised that out of him will come a genealogy that will lead to the King. This is all coming into fulfillment. Look again at verse 67. We have looked at this before but repetition is the mother of all learning. Here we are dealing with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias. And Zacharias was an active priest working at the Temple in Jerusalem. He had been stricken dumb during the pregnancy of his wife, Elisabeth. But now suddenly he has his voice back, and the Jews realize that something supernatural is taking place.

Luke 1:67,68

“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied saying,…” Now when Scripture speaks of someone being filled with the Holy Spirit, everything they speak is going to be God directed. This is not just the wishful thinking of a good patriotic or religious Jew. These are the very expressions of God Himself concerning the Nation of Israel. Now look what He says:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel (are there Gentiles in there? Of course not. He’s dealing with the Jew); for he hath visited and redeemed his people,”

This is all an extension of the Old Testament. And since Abraham, it’s so plainly stated that Israel was God’s chosen people. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, God said He was going to put a division between His people and Egypt. God kept emphasizing all through the Old Testament that His people, the children of Israel were not to commingle with the Gentiles, but to be a separated people. They were not to intermarry, or have anything to do with pagan Gentiles around them. They were never told to go and evangelize them. That recalls what Jesus said in Matthew 15:24, “But he answered and said, `I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'” Paul tells us in Romans 15:8, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (Jews) for the truth of God, (Why?) to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) Keep this in mind as we study the New Testament.

Even in Acts Chapter 10, what was Peter’s answer to the Lord when, in a vision, the Lord let down a sheet before Peter filled with creatures, and told him to kill and eat? “Not so, Lord. Why? I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Why did Peter say that? He was a Law-keeping Jew, and he wasn’t about to break the Law by eating something that wasn’t kosher. And then as Peter gets to the very door of the Gentile Cornelius’ home in Acts Chapter 10, what does Peter tell Cornelius? Acts 10:28, “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing (Jewish Law) for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me…” Well, God had something else now in store. He’s now going to turn to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul. But up until that time it was predominately only His Covenant people. Let’s read on:

Luke 1:69-71

“And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (see how Jewish that is?); As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:” That’s the Old Testament, of course.”That we should be saved from our (sins? No, from our) enemies (the same ones that are Israel enemies tonight), and from the hand of all that hate us;”

That is why Israel is in such a quandary tonight. They want peace, and yet how can they have peace when everybody all around have sworn statements in their governmental archives that they won’t rest until Israel is driven into the sea.

Luke 1:72,73

“To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,” What was the Covenant God made with Abraham back in Genesis 12?

That out of Abraham and Sarah, one day would come a nation of people, and that God would put them in a geographical area of land. That’s why we call it the Promised Land. And then at some future day, He would come and be their government as spoken of in Isaiah 9:6, and that government would be epitomized in The King, The Messiah.

That’s the Abrahamic Covenant in a nut shell. Out of that Covenant all of these other things of the Old Testament are going to revolve. Let’s look at that verse for a moment. And here is the promise of that part of the Covenant, as the prophet writes to the Nation of Israel.

Isaiah 9:6,7

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: (who is this going to be that is going to be the government?) and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (The Christ). Of the increase of his government (His rule and reign) and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Zacharias is still resting on this. However, by the time Zacharias is speaking, Israel is a nation of people, they are in the Promised Land, they have their Temple, priesthood, and worship. But they’re looking for their KING. Another word for The King is the “Anointed One,” or The Messiah. The Greek for The Messiah is The Christ. So when you speak of Jesus Christ you’re actually saying, “Jesus the Messiah!” It’s out of those Old Testament promises that He now comes. Go back to Matthew Chapter 4. We went through Christ’s appearance and His baptism. He is about to start His earthly ministry. I’m going to keep emphasizing, as we come through the Four Gospels, the reason for all of His miracles, preaching, and teaching is to prove to the Jews that He was that promised Messiah. This was the whole scope of His ministry. Look at Chapter 11. This says it as plainly as Scripture can say it.

Matthew 11:2

“Now when John (John the Baptist) had heard (where?) in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,”

Now always try to project yourself into these people’s shoes. John the Baptist had announced the coming of the King, and preached repentance and baptism (I think he saw quite a few come to his preaching). He was there at the baptism of Christ, and saw all the things surrounding the baptism. Now where is he? In prison. Well how would you feel? John felt the same way. Is Jesus really the Christ? Because if He is, what am I doing here? Now look at it:

Matthew 11:3

“And said unto him (these two disciples of John are talking to Jesus), `Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?'” Look at Jesus’ answer. I like to bring this part down to the kindergarten kids “show and tell.” That is what Jesus is saying in the next verse. Go back to John and show and tell.

Matthew 11:4,5

“Jesus answered and said unto them, `Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'”

And what was that supposed to tell John? – that he didn’t have to look for another. He is The Christ even though you are in prison. Now just carry that all the way through His earthly ministry. Everything that Jesus says and does is to prove to the Jew of His day that He is this promised King. The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:22 “For the Jew require a sign,…” Jesus starts His ministry with a miracle and He ends it with the greatest miracle of all, and that was when He arose from the dead! But all of these things were to prove to the nation of Israel who He was. Now lets go to Matthew Chapter 5 for a moment. This is Jesus speaking:

Matthew 5:17

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill,”

Fulfill what? These Covenant promises, basically, this one, because two have already come on the scene. Israel has already become a nation. They are already in the Promised Land, but the government part hadn’t happened yet. But He’s here to bring in that government, Kingdom rule, and that reign for which He had been prepared. So He says He’s here to fulfill. By comparison let turn to Paul’s writings and come all the way back to I Timothy Chapter 1:15. This is not a contradiction, Paul isn’t flying into the face of what Jesus said back here in Matthew, but what is it? It’s a further revelation. Something else has now been added to what we have had in the Four Gospels.

I Timothy 1:15

“This a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to (to be the King of Israel? It doesn’t say that. But He came to) save sinners;…”

What a difference. And yet not different, it’s just an extension. First He came to be the King, but what happened? Now let’s get that answer in the Book of Romans Chapter 11. When He presented Himself as The King, and did everything to prove He was their King, what did Israel do? They crucified Him, and said “Away with Him.” But that didn’t stop God; that didn’t interrupt Him. It was already preconceived in the counsels of the Godhead before eternity past. God wasn’t caught by surprise. But now you see in this chapter, Paul says it again so clearly:

Romans 11:7

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for (what was that? The King and the Kingdom! They wanted it, but they didn’t recognize Him. So they missed it); but the election hath obtained it (those that did believe), and the rest were blinded.” Now come on down to verse 11. And remember Paul writes by inspiration to the believer today.

Romans 11:11

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall (in other words that God would just do away with them)? God forbid: but rather through their fall (through their rejection of all these promises) salvation is come unto the Gentiles (without the Nation of Israel), for to provoke them to jealousy.”

Paul is saying the Jew had those promises, but they rejected them. God had to send them out into dispersion, and He has now turned to the Gentiles. And that is you and I as believers in the Church Age tonight, with this tremendous Plan of Salvation, based not on temple worship, or keeping the Law, or the things we have been studying about, but rather by faith in Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection. The Gospel of Grace. Faith plus Nothing! He paid the price for your sins and mine. But don’t think for a moment God is through with the Jew. Look at this next verse:

Romans 11:12

“Now if the fall of them (because they rejected their Messiah) be the riches of the (Gentile) world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

In other words, what Paul is saying is this. “Yes, God had to set them aside, because they rejected the blessing, and now He’s turned to us with this free Gospel of Grace, Faith plus Nothing. But He is still going to come back to the Jew.”

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LESSON ONE * PART II

CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

In this lesson, we will study the temptations in Matthew Chapter 4, so get your Bible and search the Scriptures with us. Here Christ is about to begin His earthly ministry. As we have stressed in past lessons, it was to prove to the Nation of Israel (to which He had come), who He was. Now in His temptations, He’s not only going to prove to the Nation of Israel, but will embrace the entire scope of God’s dealing with the whole human race. We will see in the references that are coming that the very fact of His going through these temptations is a comfort to you and I today. And we will see that in just a moment.

Matthew 4:1

“THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”

Unless you have been to the Middle East you don’t really understand what wilderness means. The wilderness of Judea is the most awful forbidding landscape of barren desert, but also rugged and mountainous. So the word “wilderness” is probably more than we Americans picture.

Matthew 4:2,3

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, `If (now that’s the way Satan likes to come, isn’t it? He likes to put conditions on things) thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.'”

Satan knows our weakest point at any point in time. Jesus has just come out of forty days of fasting and, naturally, in the physical realm, He’s hungry. What did Satan tempt Him with? Food. I’m sure all of you have experienced this: you may be driving down the road and realize that you’re a little hungry, but that appetite really isn’t wetted until you see a billboard of some delicious piece of food. Then, all of a sudden, those hunger juices start flowing and you just can’t get something to eat fast enough. Well, that is the physiological response when we are hungry. Satan tries to pull that same thing on Christ. He’s hungry so what does Satan mention? Bread. I don’t know about you, but fresh baked bread is hard to beat, so where does Satan attack Him? In that fleshly desire for something to eat. Remember, He’s God and He’s man, and He never lets one interfere with the other. Christ answers in verse 4:

Matthew 4:4

“But he answered and said, `It is written (now what does that mean? Christ goes back to the Word. And it should be no different today for you and I. How are we going to maintain our guard against the evil one? Remember in Ephesians 5:26), “…that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” We have to stay in the Book, study it daily), Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”

And remember when you take God at His word, God calls that faith. That is why faith is not only the necessity of salvation but also for the Christian walk. Because how are you going to know how to walk if you don’t believe what God hath said? So it all comes down to taking God at His Word. So this is the point that Jesus is making. Now Satan tries a different ploy.

Matthew 4:5,6

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city (Jerusalem), and setteth him on a pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, And saith unto him, `If thou be the Son of God, cast thy self down: for it is written, (Satan know Scriptures), He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'”

So he tells Christ, “Go ahead and jump” The Temple complex was usually filled with Jews coming and going to worship. So what was the temptation? “Get all of these people to see Who You really are. Jump off this high point of the Temple and before you strike the ground, the very angels of Heaven will bear you up and gently set you down.” My, wouldn’t that be the show of shows! And this was the temptation. Appealing to the eyes of those multitudes who would witness such a phenomenon.

Matthew 4:7,8

“Jesus said unto him, `It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Satan backs off, but he comes right back).’ Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.”

Now you want to remember that Jerusalem and that area was pretty much the center of the world, especially in the time of Christ. The Roman Empire went west as far as Great Britain, and east as far as India, It involved North Africa and Egypt, and all of those areas. So from that high vantage point, they could envision all of the great empires that had ever existed, back through history, and even, I think, in the future. And Satan has the audacity to say:

Matthew 4:9

“And saith unto him, `All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'”

I always like to make a point in asking this question, “Was it in Satan’s power to give those Kingdoms?” Yes! Absolutely. Many people don’t realize this. Because who is the god of this world since Adam fell? We are told in II Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” So you see old Satan is referred to as the god of this world here in this verse. So these Kingdoms are his tonight, but what Satan didn’t realize was The King is going to have them one day, anyway. Only it will be under totally different circumstances. Not by bowing down to Satan, but by utterly defeating him. Nevertheless, the temptation was valid.

Matthew 4:10,11a

“Then saith Jesus unto him, `Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written; Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’ Then the devil leaveth him,…”

What does it say in James 4:7 “…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So this is a lesson for us as well. Now keep these three areas of temptation in your mind because we will be coming back to them. But first come with me to I Corinthians Chapter 15, which of course is from the pen of the Apostle Paul. We are going to see a Biblical truth, that, as far as I can tell, has never been revealed before. There is nothing like this in the Old Testament, and there is nothing like this in the Four Gospels, but here from the pen of Paul we come across what I call a basic doctrine.

I Corinthians 15:45,46

“And so it is written, `The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (or life giving) spirit.'”

“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”

I have stressed over the years that all through Scripture this is the process – first the natural, and then the spiritual. For example, Adam the natural and then the second Adam which is Christ. Cain the natural and then Abel the spiritual. Esau the natural and then Jacob the spiritual. Another one is King Saul the natural, and King David the spiritual. This goes all the way through Scripture. You can even take it into the end-time in the final seven years. First we have the Anti-christ then we have Christ. In our own experience we come on life’s scene as natural, and then when we experience salvation we become spiritual. It is just a fact of Scripture. And so Paul makes that point in verse 46. Let’s read it again:

I Corinthians 15:46,47

“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”

“The first man is of the earth, earthy (God made him from the elements of the dust): the second man is the Lord from heaven.”

So as Adam is the federal head of the human race in Genesis, now Christ is the response to that Federal head, because Adam fell. That is the whole understanding that when Adam fell, there had to be some way of restoring that headship. And the second Adam, Who is Christ, was the One Who would restore. I can’t prove this from Scripture, but I like to think that Adam, before he sinned, had a body identical to Christ’s in His earthly appearance. Maybe you have never thought of that before. But you see Adam, before he sinned, was incorruptible. He could have lived forever if he had not fallen. Christ of course as we saw from the temptations did not fall. And as they laid His body in the tomb, did it begin to decay? No, because it was incorruptible. And it never started the decaying process. So always hold those two in contrast.

Adam, the Federal head of the human race, was given dominion over everything that God had created. It was his to rule and reign over. That is what the word `dominion’ meant. And yet Satan came on the scene, with one little temptation, and Adam with all of that power at his disposal; beautiful circumstances; nothing to be desired; it was all there for him; yet he fell.

Now in contrast, here comes Christ in His earthly ministry, not as the royal King as yet (although He is presenting Himself as the King), but He is coming more as a lowly servant, riding upon a foal of an ass. This is what confounded the Jews. They were looking for Someone to come riding on a white steed like a Roman General or Emperor. Jesus epitomized the servant when He washed the disciples’ feet. And that is why they couldn’t understand how this One, Who was the very Creator of the universe; The One Who had come to be the King of Kings not only of Israel, but of the whole planet could get down on His knees and wash the disciples’ feet. And now at His temptations He comes under wilderness circumstances. Whereas Adam had it all, Christ, as the Spiritual, comes under those adverse conditions but did not succumb as Adam did. All the areas of temptations are covered that you and I as believers face even in the twentieth century. In those three temptations Christ suffered the attacks of Satan that cover everything that Satan can throw at us. And let’s look at them here in this passage in I John Chapter 2:

I John 2:15

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The Greek word for this word “world” here is Kosmos, from which we now get the word `Cosmos.’ Add a few letters on to it and you get Cosmopolitan. And what is a Cosmopolitan? The dictionary gives a very simple definition. A Cosmopolitan is a citizen of the world. Think about that. So what is the world as this text uses it? This whole world system: economic, politics, entertainment, pleasures, the good as well as the bad things. That is all wrapped up in this word, “world.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the good things, and have a nice home, or have a good living. But it’s like the Scripture says in I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil:…” Remember money isn’t, but the love of money is! Loving money is what makes people become corrupt in order to get it. It’s the same way with the world. Don’t love the world or it will grab you, and you can’t let go. This is what the things of the world try to do, and when that happens you will become part of the world and your Christian witness will be destroyed. Verse 16:

I John 2:16

“For all that is in the world (this world system), the lust of the flesh (what was Christ’s first temptation? Bread, because He was hungry. So He suffered the lust of the flesh), and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Now in applying this verse to the temptation of Christ, the first one we discussed is obvious. That was the lust of the flesh. He was hungry. The second one was the appeal to the eye because of that vast crowd that would witness His miraculous plunge from the pinnacle of the Temple. But the third one is when Satan says, “I’ll give you power over all these Kingdoms.” What did that appeal to? His pride. That what makes some politicians what they are – people who quest for power. It feeds the ego and pride. Applying this to Eve, what was the first part of Satan’s appeal to Eve? Look at the fruit, its good to eat. It was appealing to the eye. But the basis of the whole temptation was, “You can be like God!” And we call that the lie.

Now to be like God, what would that give her? Power and Pride. And it is the same way for you and I tonight. Let’s look at another Scripture, Hebrews Chapter 4. I’ve had people ask me after a class, “How in the world can the Scriptures say that Jesus tasted of every temptation that I’m faced with. He couldn’t have.” Remember, not each individual one, but in the categories He did. Because you can place every temptation that befalls you and I into these three same categories. It will always be the “lust of the flesh,” “lust of the eye,” or “pride of life.”

Hebrew 4:14,15

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (because He’s there!). For we have not an high priest (Christ) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (but rather we do have a High Priest Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities); but was in all points tempted like as we are, ye without sin.” Let’s look at one more verse in I Corinthians Chapter 10. I hope you are seeing how all of this fits together.

I Corinthians 10:13

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man (you can’t say, `I’m in a unique position, no one has ever been faced with this before – Christ was!): but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation (Satan is going to hit us) also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now that’s a promise. If we look for the situation to get out of temptation you can, because God has made all the provisions to escape. It’s based on the fact of Christ own experience.

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LESSON ONE * PART III

CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

When I teach the Four Gospels, I don’t go through them verse by verse. It’s not all repetition but, as we go through the Book of Matthew, we will cover most of the other three Gospels. We are trying to cover the overall theme of God dealing with the human race from Genesis to Revelations in our “Through the Bible” study. I trust you’ll get your Bible and study with us. Let’s begin in Chapter 6 at what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” I don’t particularly like that title, because it’s not the “Lord’s” Prayer; it’s really the “disciples” prayer. The Lord merely gives it to them as an example to use. The real Lord’s Prayer is in John Chapter 17. That’s where the Lord pours out His heart to the Father on behalf again of His chosen ones and the Eleven in particular. But here Jesus is instructing the disciples how to pray:

Matthew 6:9

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

The Jew here is still under Temple worship and Law. This is a pattern; this doesn’t mean you have to open every prayer with these exact words, but it does give us an indication that, as we approach the throne room, even in this Age of Grace, we still give God His due. We still recognize Him as the Almighty. He is our heavenly Father, and so we can certainly benefit from this. Now verse 10:

Matthew 6:10

“Thy kingdom come (where?). Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

I imagine the average believer or church goer voices these words not having the foggiest notion of what they are really talking about. But every time the Lord’s Prayer is uttered, “Thy kingdom come…in earth, as it is in heaven,” what are they really requesting? It’s the Kingdom that we have been talking about that has been promised ever since Abraham. This Kingdom over which Christ is offering Himself as King (and it’s going to be here on the earth) is in Heaven tonight. but this Kingdom’s coming back to earth at Christ’s Second Coming. Most people have the idea that when this old earth passes away and time as we know is no more, we will go up to Heaven. That flies in the face of Scripture. Heaven’s going to come down on earth. Let’s show this is by going back into The Book. Turn to Isaiah Chapter 11. The Old Testament is full of verses like these. Here we have such graphic descriptions of this Kingdom on earth that the Twelve were instructed to pray for, and over which Christ will one day reign and rule.

Isaiah 11:1-3

“AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (the family tree of Christ. Jesse is the father of David. Out of David comes this Branch. Christ is referred to as a Branch in several other places in the Old Testament), and a branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him (this coming Messiah, the King), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge (or rule) after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:”

We need to explain this verse. We don’t expect the President in the White House to have his finger on every segment of our lives. It would be impossible. What we do expect him to do is pick out good men who can cover various areas of our system, and report intelligently to the President. He has to have help like that. But when Christ comes to rule He won’t need advisors. That’s what this verse says. He won’t have to judge what He sees or hears. He will be so absolute in His power and authority, and yet benevolent.

Isaiah 11:4

“But with righteousness shall he (rule) judge (absolute fairness, no one is going to get a raw deal) the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth:…”

People like to talk about the poor and meek, as in the Beatitudes we find in the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes become the very constitution of this Kingdom that is going to come and about which we are reading here. The Beatitudes don’t fit the Church Age but rather were presented for the Kingdom economy. They will fit perfectly in that economy. Continuing on with verse 4:

Isaiah 11:4,5

“…and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth (the closing days of the Tribulation), and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” No unbelievers will go into His Kingdom. “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

Now we come to the Animal Kingdom within the Kingdom. People want to know if there will be pets there. Not just pets as you and I think of them, but rather every animal will be a pet of sorts. The curse will be gone, so that means fear of each other will be gone. Animals won’t be meat eaters as they were before sin entered.

Isaiah 11:6-9

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together (who is in the midst of them?); and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed (together); their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (a very poisonous snake) and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (Kingdom): for the earth (not Heaven) shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

These verses here in Isaiah are what the Lord’s prayer is instructing to pray for! Isn’t that what the world is looking for, a world of utopia, peace, prosperity and peaceful living between all the various groups and races? That will never happen until the Prince of Peace comes. One of our faithful class members asked me, “Why are we instructed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (found in Psalm 122:6)?” That city has never had any peace. When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you are praying for the Prince of Peace to come. He will bring peace, and bring this horrible age of the curse to an end. There’s the Kingdom as the prophet Isaiah writes.

Let’s look at Ezekiel Chapter 37 regarding the Kingdom. In this chapter we find the “dry bones.” We have made reference to them in earlier lessons, but again, this is a prophecy that is unique to the Nation of Israel. The dry bones are the Israelites or the Jews out in the Gentile nations, which is really their grave. They don’t have a life when they are out of the Land of Promise. In the first ten verses, Ezekiel prophesied that the dry bones would finally come to life (and they really did in 1948 when Israel became a nation once again). And then the interpretation of it begins in verse 11:

Ezekiel 37:11-14

“Then he (The LORD) said unto me, `Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel (that is what the vision is about. The Jew): behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.'” They have been out of the land thousands of years, and almost without hope.

“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; `Behold, O my people (Israel), I will open your graves (release them from these Gentile Nations), and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.'” Hasn’t that been happening now for almost 50 years? “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live (that hasn’t happened yet, but it’s getting ready), and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.'”

Then He tells the prophet to take two sticks and put them end to end. One stick stands for the northern Kingdom; the other for the southern. They were a divided nation, but when the prophet does this, the nation will become one stick, no longer divided.

Ezekiel 37:21-23

“And say unto them, `Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen (Gentiles), whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land (that’s God speaking, and we are seeing that happen tonight). And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God,”

When will they be God’s people again? When this Kingdom comes down out of Heaven, over which Christ is going to be King. Israel will be the head of the nations, although the other nations will be there, but in a lesser role than the Covenant people. Also remember, only believers will be there. Let’s look at one more verse in the Book of Zechariah Chapter 14. This is at Christ’s Second Coming:

Zechariah 14:4

“And his (Christ’s) feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives,…”

Can it be any clearer than that? You don’t have to try and spiritualize that as some do. It means exactly what it says. I think of a dear gentleman who teaches almost identically to the way I teach. I was invited to a church where he was speaking, and he told about when he was young and active in a particular denomination. This denomination did not agree that there would be a Second Coming and the Kingdom. He remembered going into his pastor’s study one day and showing the pastor Zechariah 14:4. He asked the pastor, `What does this mean?” The pastor answered, “Oh, that doesn’t mean what it says.” This gentleman told me he was too young to raise any argument. About four or five years later he had another pastor. This verse kept coming up and bothering him so he took it into that pastor also. He said to him, “Now, pastor the way it looks to me, Jesus is actually going to return and stand on the mount of Olives.” The preacher looked him in the eye and said, “Oh, forget that. That’s apocalypse.” That was a big word for a theologian, and it impressed him and he left because he didn’t know what the pastor was talking about. Today, he knows better. Zechariah 14:4 means what it says. Christ is going to return and stand on the mount of Olives! Now verse 9 and this is so plain. It hasn’t happened yet. But it’s going to:

Zechariah 14:9

“And the LORD shall be king over all the (what?) earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”

Before we return to the Lord’s Prayer in Chapter 6 of Matthew (and this is under the Law as Jesus is teaching), never lose sight of the fact that the doctrine of the Lord’s prayer is legal. I am amazed how many people right here in the Bible belt have no concept of the difference between Law and Grace. But there is as much difference between those two as there is between pitch midnight and noon-day sun. Let’s look briefly at what Paul says in Roman 6:

Romans 6:14,15

“For sin (or the old Adamic nature) shall not have dominion over you: (it’s not going to rule over you like a sovereign king) for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What should that tell you? There are two totally different concepts.

“What then? shall we sin (in other words, exercise our liberty), because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

See the difference? We are under Grace, not Law. The Book of Galatians is written to prove that very point – that under Grace, the Law has no power over us. Now that doesn’t give us license to do as we please. God will chasten the believer who does that. But we are under a different principle the Law. Back to the Lord’s Prayer and I’ll show you the difference between Law (or legalism) and Grace.

I read an article where a man who was held hostage was released. This person was a very religious man. He claimed it was his belief in God that had brought him through this terrible ordeal. A reporter asked this man if he was bitter toward those people who had tortured him. The man said, “No, because I believe I have to forgive them or I will never be forgiven by God.” Now isn’t that sad. It sounds good and noble. And that is what the Law demanded.

Matthew 6:11,12

“Give us this day our daily bread (this is an appropriate request for any age), And forgive us our debts (or our trespasses or sins as some will put it. When?), as we forgive our debtors,”

As we forgive those who sin against us. Most people don’t really understand what Jesus is saying. Under Law you could not be forgiven until you had forgiven the other person. That was what the Law demanded. This is exactly what this ex-hostage was talking about. He said, “I must forgive them if I want forgiveness.” THAT IS LAW! But we are not under Law, we are under Grace. What does Grace say? Turn to Ephesians Chapter 4 for the answer. The Apostle of Grace is writing here. He said in Romans Chapter 6 we are not under Law, but under Grace. Now look at what Grace says:

Ephesians 4:32

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath (past tense) forgiven you.”

In other words, whether I forgave my neighbor or not, what has God done for me? He forgave me! If God was gracious enough to forgive me when I was as a sinner condemned, then who am I to say that I can’t forgive the other person. Do you see the difference between the two? Instead of begrudgingly saying, “I forgive so I can be forgiven,” I recognize that I am forgiven already! Now, one more verse in Colossians Chapter 2. In future studies you will see that we are not under Law as Christ ministered to Israel, but rather under Grace, which makes a world of difference. Paul always writes to believers, not to the unsaved, so to us he says:

Colossians 2:13

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (Gentiles), hath (past tense) he quickened (made us alive) together with him, having (past tense) forgiven you all trespasses;”

If God could do that for me, can I do any less for my neighbor? Now that is the teaching between Law and Grace.

LESSON ONE * PART IV

CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

Let’s continue our study of Christ’s earthly ministry in Matthew Chapter 10. In the first four verses, The Lord has just called the twelve disciples:

Matthew 10:5

“These twelve Jesus sent forth (remember this was at the beginning of His earthly ministry) and (underline the next word, because when Jesus commands, you can’t get it from any higher authority) commanded them, saying, `Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:'”

The Samaritans at this time were half-breed Jews. They had lost their pure character as Jews. And, consequently, were looked down upon and detested by the pure Jew. Later in His ministry Jesus will go to the city of Samaria. Philip will also go to Samaria in the Book of Acts, but for now Jesus is qualifying that they go not to a Gentile or Samaritan. Remember this is a commandment by Jesus:

Matthew 10:6

“But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Many people will say, “I thought He came into the world to save sinners.” That’s what I’ve been trying to show you, that as He is in His earthly ministry, He will be dealing with the Jew only with very few exceptions. Why is He confining these instructions to the Jew? Because this is Covenant ground. And that included no one but the Jews. Remember, the Nation of Israel here is under the Law; the Temple and sacrifices are still going. Also remember Jesus is there to fulfill the promises and covenants made to the Nation of Israel (the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise of People, Land, Government and kings, but He would also have to be their Redeemer as well as King). All the way through the Old Testament we see the promise of a King and Kingdom, but also of a suffering Savior. The Jews of Jesus’ day wanted the King and the Kingdom, but didn’t want to deal with the sin problem, because that got too close to home. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Yes, the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus did come to save all sinners, but remember, Paul teaches in the Age of Grace. Here, Jesus is still under the Covenant economy and that meant Jew only – that’s hard for people to swallow. Many people can see this just as I do. However, the majority think that as soon as you open the Book of Matthew you have Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is Covenant ground and you can’t take Covenant promises to a Gentile. Now let’s look at Matthew Chapter 15. I’m always reminded of someone I heard years ago while riding in my pickup. He was preaching on this text. I was totally shocked when he said, `You’ve got to remember that Jesus had just begun His earthly ministry. He was still bigoted, and as of yet He didn’t realize the real purpose of His coming.’ I thought, “How can you be so blind.” Jesus knew what He was doing. Far more than most theologians do today. Here in verse 21 we have almost the same situation:

Matthew 15:21-23

“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.” They were wicked cities on the Mediterranean Sea coast.

“And, behold, a woman of Canaan (a Gentile) came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, `Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.'”

“But he answered here not a word (what does that mean? He ignored her). And his disciples came and besought him, saying, `Send her away; for she crieth after us.'”

What were the disciples saying? “Lord get rid of her, because she’s a pest. We don’t want something like that tagging along after us.” Can’t you hear them? Evidently, she had been following them. Remember the disciples had been in Christ’s presence for sometime and they, too, understood that she was a Gentile, and that they could have nothing to do with her.

Matthew 15:24

“But he (Christ) answered and said, `I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel:'”

Is that plain language? You can’t get it any plainer. Jesus himself said it. Why? Because of the covenants. There were no Gentiles in those covenants. It was Jew only. So the Gentile woman was presuming upon something that she had no right to presume. However, where she made her most costly mistake was when she addressed Him,”Thou Son of David.” Now that really qualified Who He was, and where she was coming from. But she had no business addressing Him “Son of David,” that’s a Jewish term, and she’s Gentile. Now verse 25. She doesn’t give up:

Matthew 15:25,26

“Then came she and worshipped him, saying, `Lord, help me,'” Now she drops that Son of David acknowledgment and addresses Him as Lord. That brings her a little closer for sure.

“Bet he answered and said, `It is not meet (right) to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.'”

Who are the children? The Jews! Who are the dogs of Christ’s day? Gentiles. So put it in that light. Jesus in so many words said, “Now look, lady, its not right for me to take this which belongs to the Jew and give it to a Gentile. It just won’t work.” But this is a persistent lady who won’t give up. And I like her application here. Verse 27:

Matthew 15:27

“And she said, `Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.'”

I used to have a little house dog that would sit right beside me when I ate, and I bet most of you do too. My wife could never quite condescend to that, but I would say, “Honey, it’s so Scriptural. Because way back in Jesus’ time the dog was there waiting for a crumb to fall. But the analogy was, how in the world can you take that which belongs to family of Israel and give it to a Gentile. It just wouldn’t work. Now verse 28:

Matthew 15:28

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, `O woman, (the word woman as it is used here, and also as Jesus addressed Mary as He hung on the Cross, was not a degrading term. Today, you wouldn’t call someone `woman’ if you respected her. But in the Greek it was a term of respect. So when Jesus was calling her `woman’ He was not putting her down, but rather respecting her person. So He says, woman), great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

In contrast to the Jew, can you see that her faith was great? The Jew couldn’t condescend to acknowledging that this Nazarene was the Son of David. But this Canaanite woman did. Now I want to make a point. This is only one of two Gentiles that Jesus ministers to in His whole earthly ministry. This Canaanite woman, and a Roman centurion. Other than those two, there is no account that He had anything to do with Gentiles. To prove my point from Scripture, go to John Chapter 12, This was just before Christ’s Crucifixion. He’s come through the whole three years of earthly ministry trying to convince the Jew that He was The Christ, their Messiah, knowing full-well what Israel was going to do, and that He would suffer for the sins of the world. Christ knew that. Now in Chapter 12, the crowds are already gathering from all over the then known world for the Feast of Passover.

John 12:20

“And there were certain Greeks (Gentiles) among them that came up to worship at the feast:” I think Gentiles would mingle among this Jewish crowd to witness all that was going on among the worshiping Jews. Remember though, the Gentiles could not go into the Temple.

John 12:21

“The same (these Gentiles) came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, `Sir, we would see Jesus.'”

They had probably had heard of His miracles and all that He had done, and would like to see this man. Philip remembered only too well what had happened the times before when Gentiles wanted to see Jesus. He knew he couldn’t bring them to see Jesus, but on the other hand he didn’t really want to take the responsibility of refusing them, so he goes to Andrew. Now verse 22:

John 12:22

“Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.”

Now remember what they tell Jesus: “There are Gentiles who want to see you.” And now look at Jesus’ answer. It certainly wasn’t, “Take me to them,” or, “Have them come to me.” But instead, He explains why He could not deal with Gentiles during His earthly ministry. And here is the reason:

John 12:23

“And Jesus answered them, saying, `The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” Which of course took place at His death, burial, and Resurrection.

John 12:24

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, `Except a corn (kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.'” Most of us know that before a seed can germinate it has to be taken out of its container, and placed into the ground where it can receive moisture and sunlight. Then before that seed can sprout new life, what has to happened to it? It has to die. That seed, for all practical purposes, dies. Out of the death of that seed then comes new life, and like Jesus said, “…it bringeth forth much fruit.”

And the Apostle Paul uses that same analogy in Romans 6:5, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” We have to be buried with Christ or we can’t have new life. There has to be that experience of death. And this is what Jesus is explaining; that up until His death, burial and Resurrection, He could not be the true object of faith to a Gentile because He was on Covenant ground – and being on Covenant ground meant He could only deal with the Nation of Israel, the Jew only, with very few exceptions.

Even the Apostle Paul writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us this in the Book of Ephesians Chapter 2. This shocks people, but I like to teach to help people see what the Book really says and not what they think, or have been told, what it says. And you don’t need any theological degree to understand it. It is in plain English. And yet I wonder how many people even know that these verses are in their Bible. That is why I use verses like this to point out that Jesus didn’t deal with Gentiles. Paul is writing to Gentile believers under Grace rather the Law. Ephesus was a Gentile city of the Gentile Church, the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh (do you see that?), who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands,” Now to qualify that, who were the Circumcision? The Jews. What did they call Gentiles? Uncircumcised dogs, most of the time.

Ephesians 2:12

“That at that time (back when you were called uncircumcised dogs. Back when God was dealing with His Covenant people, the Jew, including Christ’s earthly ministry. Back before the Gospel of Grace that was given to me for you, what kind of hope did you have?) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise (do you see how plain this is?), having no hope, and without God in the world:

I didn’t write that. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit did. And he said that you Gentiles were not in the Covenant promises. You were not Jews or citizens of the Nation of Israel. And so while God was dealing with Israel on the basis of the covenants (which would be from Genesis Chapter 12 all the way to Acts Chapter 9), where were Gentiles? Outside. And without hope. And that is why Jesus did not receive those we have looked at in this lesson. Remember, He had not yet died for the sins of the world, been buried, and rose from the dead. That’s the Gospel of Grace that was given only to the Apostle Paul for the Church Age. Jesus and the Twelve couldn’t preach that Gospel. Why? He hadn’t died yet. Plus, in the mind of God that was a secret that had been kept from the foundation of the world and then revealed only to the Apostle Paul.

In that same light, you all know the story of Jonah. God told Jonah, a good Law-abiding Jew, to go to the city of Nineveh, a Gentile city. Now Jonah was of the same mindset that Peter was in Acts Chapter 10 when the Lord told him to go to the home of Cornelius. Did Peter want to go to Cornelius’ house? No! Did Jonah want to go to Nineveh? No! Jonah even went so far as to go in the other direction, and you know the story of how he was cast overboard and swallowed by a whale. In type or in picture, what happened to Jonah when the great fish swallowed him? For all practical purposes Jonah died. How long was he in the belly of the fish? Three days and three nights. In fact, Jesus made that same allusion in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” After three days and nights, the fish spit Jonah out upon dry land. And for all practical purposes brought him back to life. In type or picture, a resurrection.

After experiencing death, burial, and resurrection where can Jonah go? To the Gentiles. And that’s where he went. And what happened? Nineveh repented in sackcloths and ashes. But Jonah was not a fit servant until he had fulfilled the type.

And that was what Jesus was saying in John Chapter 12. He could not be the object of faith for the Gentiles until He had experienced His death, burial, and Resurrection. In Ephesians Chapter 2, look at verse 13. I wouldn’t want to leave you with verse 12, because that’s hopeless. But look at the next verse:

Ephesians 2:13

“But (I’ve told my class for many years that little three letter word is one of the most important words in Scripture. “But”) now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off (as Gentiles were then) are made nigh (to God, not by the Law or covenants, but by what?) by the blood of the Christ.” The finished work of the Cross.

I don’t know how to make it any plainer. That is why the Jew was under the Covenant promises and under Law. Through the Apostle Paul’s teachings, the Gentile is under Grace through the finished work of the Cross. Law and Grace cannot mix. The Gentiles could not have any part or opportunity in those Covenant promises. But the Jew now has the same opportunity as the Gentile under Grace. However, since the Jew has temporally been set aside (because of their unbelief as we see at the close of the Book of Acts), God then turns to the Gentiles in Grace. In past programs we have pointed out the difference between Law and Grace. In Grace, based upon Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection, God can now impart salvation to the whole human race. He doesn’t confine it to the Jew, and He doesn’t confine it to the Gentile. But it goes to All!

_______

LESSON TWO * PART I

MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN: PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED

Before we start our lesson, I would like to tell you how God got me to the place where we are today. It’s interesting to look back and see how God does work in all of our lives. But, as I have told people so often, I never dreamed, nor did it ever enter my mind, that I would be on a television program. That is the beauty of the Christian life, you never know what the Lord has in store for you.

It all began with my local church where I was teaching a class of high school kids. Periodically, we had a missionary family that would come home from Bolivia on furlough, and they had four or five children. I would have at least one of them in my Sunday School class for the year that they were home. And then in 1970 this missionary, Dick Wyman, while on furlough, began a home Bible study with two couples in northern Iowa. When Dick was ready to go back on the mission field, he didn’t just want to drop the class. So he drove out to our farm one morning and asked if I would go in once a week and teach those four people as he had been doing in the home. You know I had never done anything like that before. I had taught my Sunday School class and that was it. So I went to my own pastor, and asked, “How can I go into a home with people I only know casually, with totally different denominational backgrounds, and teach those people without them getting the idea that I’m trying to proselyte them into my own church?”

My pastor gave me good advice. He told me to start at Genesis 1 and go all the way through to Revelation. I said, “That’s easy for you to say, but I’ve never done anything like this before.” And he said, “Trust the Lord and He will take care of it.” So that’s when Iris went and bought a two-bit blackboard for me to use (as you know, I must have a blackboard for my teachings). So I’ll never forget that first night, it was the first Friday night in September of 1970. There were four people, and Iris and I made six. By Thanksgiving, that class had grown to where the house was so packed with people from several different denominations that it had to split. Within a couple of years we were having classes every night of the week, plus my Sunday School class.

Then in 1975, the Lord had other plans and He uprooted us from Iowa and brought us to Oklahoma. And the same thing happened here. As most of you know, I never go out and try to open up something. I wait until someone says, “Come down and start a class here.” It was the same way with this television program. I had never thought of being on television, but one of my students over at the Tahlequah class called one day and asked if I had ever thought about teaching on television. And I’ll never forget my answer. I said, “Are you crazy?” But he had already talked to the people at the station, and they had shown an interest, so we came and talked to them and they thought it was a great idea. Recently, I got a call from North Carolina, and the gentleman said, “I like your low-key informal approach.” I think this is why the audience has responded so well. We try to keep it simple, and hopefully never change. The Lord is blessing us beyond our fondest dreams. So that is what got us to where we are. And, of course, the more you teach the more you learn. I could never do it without the Lord’s help and the prayers of all of you believers, not only in our classes, but the television audience as well.

I’m going to review for a little bit as we have been in the New Testament for about six lessons. It’s always tough for someone to come into our classes right in the middle of a study, but maybe this little review will help. I’d rather you come in at the middle than never learn how to study your Bible at all. The reason it’s so tough is because studying the Bible is a progressive process. The Bible is a constant unfolding of human history past, present, and future. It is a progressive revelation. What’s in the Old Testament concealed is in the New Testament revealed.

We started back in Genesis and the creation of Adam, and came up through the Old testament and studied the flood, and the Abrahamic Covenant, the Exodus, and the giving of the Law under Moses. Then we came through prophecy which was primarily Isaiah. By the time we got to the Book of Daniel, we dealt with the time period of 606 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar came into Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and the city was taken to Babylon. Then the return to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah and we covered all of that. Then we were ready to come into the New Testament and Christ’s earthly ministry at His First Advent. But before we could study the New Testament, we had so many requests to study prophecy and the Book of Revelation and eternity future. So this is what we did. In the past few lessons,we have been studying Christ’s earthly ministry: those three years.

Always remember as we have studied, coming into the New Testament we found that it was an extension of Old Testament programs. All of those covenants and promises that God made with the Jew are being fulfilled, or at least offered to the Nation of Israel, here in the Four Gospels and the first few chapters of Acts. We have not seen the appearance of the Church as we know it. That is where so many people get confused. I had a fellow tell me at one of our classes, “For years, people have been putting the Bible in a blender, turning it on high and then spooning it out to us, and then wondering why we get indigestion.” That is a little more extreme than the way I put it. But it is a good illustration. I always say that they put the Bible in a big mixing bowl, stir it all up and then pick out just the things they like. But the overall result is the same. You come up with a mish-mash. No wonder people are confused. I try to let it be the progressive revelation that it is. Let it unfold and keep it where it is; don’t try to move Scripture into a place where it’s not supposed to be. Christ didn’t and we shouldn’t either. When you lift Scripture out of context, you do violent harm to the Word. If Christ wanted the Scripture where so many put it, then He would have put it there Himself. Just leave it where it sits. If it doesn’t make sense, wait awhile and it will.

The first thing you have to determine when you read or study the Bible is to whom was it written or spoken. Remember God only deals with two groups of people in Scripture – Jew and Gentile. Don’t try to claim something that was meant only for God’s Covenant people, the Jew. If you can separate that, it will make Bible study more exciting for you and the Scripture will be opened. All Scripture from cover to cover is for us, absolutely it is. Paul writes all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable. But not all of the Scripture is to us. Do you see the difference? For example, I had a lady question me on the Book of James. It was a valid question. And it’s hard to understand from our position in God’s Grace here in the Body of Christ. Rather than trying to answer her question from the verse that she was using in Chapter 3 of James, I told her to go back to James 1:1, as that will make all the difference in the world in what her verse is saying.

James 1:1

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to (whom?) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”

Is James including Gentiles? He’s writing to Jews and that makes all the difference in the world. That doesn’t mean you tear the Book of James out and throw it away. God forbid! But, if it throws a curve at you stop, and think who James addresses. He was writing to Jews. And James is probably the earliest of the New Testament Epistles so James is still predominately legal. It has so much of the Law in it. It was written before Paul’s Age of Grace revelations from Jesus Christ. And so it wouldn’t be appropriate to take something from Paul’s writing and put it in James writing or vice versa. Law and Grace cannot mix. Don’t try to fight it, rather just leave it alone for the time being, because in this case it was written to Jews in particular. But it is for us but not to us. In other words, when it speaks of the tongue as being a fire, that is very applicable for us in the Age of Grace or any age. But as we have seen over the past few lessons, with John the Baptist coming on the scene and introducing Christ to His earthly ministry, that every thing has been to the Jew. No mention of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection. No mention of the power of the shed blood to forgive. But only that Israel was to recognize who Jesus was. And He was their Messiah. The Christ.

In my Tahlequah, Oklahoma class, I had a gentleman who was about 86 years old. He was a retired Presbyterian pastor of a very large church in Chicago. He had been their pastor for about 26 years. He had two seminary degrees – Wheaton College and Moody Bible Institute. He attended our class for about two years before I found out all of that. That he was content to sit and listen to me was beyond my comprehension. Anyway, we were talking about these very things and I asked the class this question, “Why did Jesus perform all these miracles in His ministry?” I’ll never forget his answer. The old gentleman said, “To validate Who He was.” I loved that, because it hits the nail on the head. This was the whole problem with Israel’s rejecting Him. They couldn’t understand that He was the promised Messiah. A Carpenter’s son? Out of Nazareth? But nevertheless they should have understood that no one else could perform the miracles that He performed. Even John the Baptist while in prison, sent two of his disciples to ask Him if He was the One or did they need look for another? And Jesus told them to go back and tell John that the blind receive their sight, the dead are being raised, and the deaf can hear. What was that to prove to John? Who Christ really was!

We need go to the Book of Acts Chapter 11. I always comment that from Adam to Abraham is 2000 years. And from Abraham to Christ, where God is dealing with Jew only (with exceptions), is also 2000 years. All the Old Testament prophets are writing only to the Nation of Israel. In our last lesson, as Jesus sent the Twelve out He commanded them to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. You find that in Matthew 15:24. Then we looked at several verses in the Four Gospels where Gentiles wanted to talk to Jesus, or have Jesus minister to them in some way, and in almost every case He refused. Why? Because the Gentiles would be saved under a completely different program than the Jews. The Jews had the Covenant and promises, and the Gentiles didn’t. In Acts 19 we have mention of the stoning of Stephen, and then the next event is the conversion of Saul. But as late as the stoning of Stephen, which is about seven years after Pentecost, the Book says that those Jewish believers preached to the Jew only, because the Nation of Israel knew they were not supposed to minister to the Gentiles. Now verse 19:

Acts 11:19

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

The Book says it, I didn’t. Jew only. That’s the terminology I use also, except I temper it a little bit by using “Jew only with exceptions.” God is dealing only with the Jew. I know I’m coming into territory that some people are unaware of. Jesus told the disciples in John Chapter 6 the following (I’m using this hoping you don’t turn my teaching off also):

John 6:53

“Then Jesus said unto them, `Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.'”

John 6:61

“When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, `Doth this offend you?'” They were turned off.

I hope you’re not offended that I’m showing many of you things you may never have been taught. I hope you will stay with me and together we’ll see what the Scriptures say. The disciples in verses 53 and 61 couldn’t comprehend what Jesus was telling them, but I hope you are beginning to comprehend exactly what the Scriptures do say, and can become a real Bible student. Let’s look at a Scripture in Ephesians where Paul makes it so plain:

Ephesians 2:11-13

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision (Jew) in the flesh made by hands: That at that time (when it was Jew only) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world (that was the lot of the Gentiles. But look at the next verse): But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” See the difference? But until that was revealed, the Jews had to believe that Jesus was The Christ.

Now let’s turn to John’s Gospel. I tell my classes that as I teach I, too, am learning. I see things that I had never seen before. Studying in John recently, our class read Chapter 20:

John 20:30,31

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:”

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Who died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead? Our Bible doesn’t explain that here. Isn’t that amazing?); and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

I add my comment to make people realize that our Gospel of Grace message is missing here. A lot of the things we think are in here, aren’t. You can’t find the Gospel based on His death, burial, and Resurrection until you get to Paul’s writing, so don’t try to bring in his writing about salvation here. But this is what the Nation had to believe for their salvation – who Jesus was.

Recently, I showed you four professions of faith for the Jew. The first one was Peter in Matthew 16:16, “And Simon Peter answered and said, `Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” The second one is at the death of Lazarus, where Jesus is talking to Martha and had told her that He was the resurrection, and the life: “Believest thou this?” She answers Him in John 11:27,”She saith unto him, `Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of God,…'” Then Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts Chapter 8, where Philip is reading to him out of Isaiah 53, and the Ethiopian eunuch comes to an understanding of the verses. They come to some water and the eunuch asked Philip if he could be baptised. Philip told him that he could if he believed, and the eunuch said in Acts 8:37, “…And he answered and said, `I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'” They never mention the Cross or shed blood or the power of Resurrection. Why? It was still a secret in the mind of God, and Paul wasn’t on the scene yet. But their profession of faith was their salvation because that was what was revealed to them.

Then you have Saul of Tarsus (Paul), a raging bull who was converted on the road to Damascus. He wanted to arrest those believing Jews, haul them back to Jerusalem to throw them in prison. He thought he was doing God a favor, but guess what happened? The Lord saved him by Grace. BUT not the basis yet that he understood that Christ died, was buried and rose again for him, but rather on the same basis as the other three. We see that Saul gets his sight back, is baptised and starts to preach immediately in the synagogues in the Book of Acts 9:20, “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” We will cover Paul’s conversion better when we get to the Book of Acts, but at this time, this is all that Paul knew. We know that later on God will reveal to him the Gospel of Grace mysteries. Now, we as Grace Age Believers also must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It’s foundational, but by itself is not enough. Christ makes that so clear in the writings of Paul. For the sake of comparison, let’s go to Romans Chapter 3. And what a difference you will find here. The Cross makes all the difference in the world. What did The Christ, the Son of the Living God do? He went to that old rugged Cross.

Romans 3:23-26

“For all have sinned (the whole human race), and come short of the glory of God (but we don’t have to stay short); Being justified freely by his grace (there are no works in Grace) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (that’s never been mentioned before), to declare his righteousness (the righteousness of Christ) 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 (fair), and the justifier (that puts Him in the place of doing) of him which believeth…” Faith + Nothing!

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LESSON TWO * PART II

MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN: PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED

Take your Bible and join in with us for this study. Once you get into the Book of Books you just can’t beat it. It is just so fabulous. So many people have the idea it’s just a musty, dusty, old Book and just a bunch of Bible stories, and it’s not. Everything fits from cover to cover, and it’s all written so miraculously. That’s why we know it’s not an ordinary Book, but rather the Divine, inspired Word of God, and is everything that God said it is. As I’ve said before, I just want to look at the “overall plan of the ages,” as someone has put it, and hit some of the high points, and some of the passages that questions arise from.

In Matthew Chapter 12, beginning with verse 31, we have a few little verses that have raised so many questions. This passage used to bother me also, but when you come to any portion of Scripture, be ready to constantly ask questions from your own point of view. Right here we have what people normally call the “unpardonable sin.” When something is unpardonable, that means it’s going to be your doom. In other words, if you are guilty of the unpardonable sin, then you have no hope of glory, and are headed for the lake of fire. I’ve looked at these verses in the knowledge that, the only sin that is going to condemn anyone, Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor is not any particular thing we have said, or deed we have done. There is only one thing that will condemn a person to the lake of fire, and that is “UNBELIEF.”

We are not talking about unbelief here, we are talking about something that is spoken. Let me prove my point. Before we look at Matthew 12, let’s look at the Book of Hebrews Chapter 3 for a moment. Maybe I can make my point from the reverse end. I don’t want someone to go through life scared to death that maybe they have committed the unpardonable sin, which most people feel, according to Matthew 12 is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a sin, and there is no doubt about it. But if I understand Scripture correctly, there is no sin that the Grace of God doesn’t reach beyond. In other words, the most violent of sinners are still candidates of the Grace of God. But what do they have to do? “BELIEVE.”

I think the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews that we are now going to look at. He is taking the experience of Israel having just come out of Egypt, with God leading them to the Promised Land. When they got to Kadesh Barnea, who’s idea was it to send in spies? It certainly wasn’t God’s. God had never intended for them go search out the land. God said, “Go in and take the land, and I’ll send in hornets ahead of you and drive the people out.” But Israel couldn’t even take God at His word at that point in time. So they hedge and say, “Well let us spy it out first.” God in His goodness then condescended to their request and said, “Alright, choose out twelve men and let them go in.” And that was one of the biggest mistakes that Israel ever made. Ten of them said, “Oh, we can’t do it. There is no way we can drive out the Canaanites, we are as grasshoppers in their sights.” God had already said that He would drive them out. So what was their problem?

Hebrews 3:15-18

“While it is said, `To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (in other words, as Israel was there in the wilderness). For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he (God) grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (what?) believed not?'”

They had committed many sins of immorality; the golden calf; all pagan practices of worship. But God is not holding that against them – He doesn’t even mention that, as vile as it was. He could forgive that kind of sin. But what was Israel’s problem? “UNBELIEF.” They couldn’t believe what God had said.

Hebrews 3:19

“So we see that they (the children of Israel) could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Has anything changed? No! God can forgive to the uttermost, any sin except the sin of UNBELIEF (when people refuse to believe that Christ died for them, paid their sin debt, and rose from the dead in power. And that’s all He’s asking). So believe it for your salvation! If a person refuses to believe that Gospel, then that person’s doom is sealed. Remember Hebrews 11:6 says to you and I in the Age of Grace:

Hebrews 11:6

“But without faith it is impossible to please him….”

Let’s go back to Matthew 12 and look at the unpardonable sin. We need to leave this verse right where it sits. This is God dealing with the Nation of Israel. This doesn’t mean that we can’t take some warning from it. I certainly don’t tell people to go out and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, because after all, God will forgive you. I would never do that. All I’m saying is that this is something that doesn’t fit Church doctrine. If you can learn to leave these things where they belong, you don’t have to pigeonhole them, and say you’ll come back to this at a later time. It’s so perfectly set. So to the Nation of Israel He says:

Matthew 12:31,32

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man (Christ), it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (age), neither in the world (age) to come.”

Now let’s look at a parable that explains this so beautifully in Matthew 21. Jesus is speaking again to the Jews:

Matthew 21:33,34

“Hear another parable: `There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:'”

“And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants (to get some return on the investment that he had made) to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits (or profit) of it.”

Matthew 21:35-42

“And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, `They will reverence my son.’ But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.’ And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him, When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen (and remember this is Jesus asking the Jew). They say unto him, `He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall r render him the fruits in their seasons.’ Jesus saith unto them, `Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?'”

Matthew 21:43-45

“Therefore say I unto you, `The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’ And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables (plural, not just this one, but everyone that He had spoken), they perceived that he spake of them.”

They suddenly understood that Jesus was pointing His finger at them. Now what was the parable all about? God called the Nation of Israel out, and gave them the Covenant promises. He called them His son, His favored nation. And He dealt with them through the Old Testament years by sending the prophets. What did they do to the prophets? They killed them. We always like to talk in terms of the Trinity. So let’s look at it this way. Remember the Jew only knew about God the Father. So God the Father sent the prophets to His Covenant people and they killed them, or threw them in the dungeons. They refused to hear them. Did God cancel the Nation of Israel because of that? No. God sent His only Son next, The Christ. And Christ presented Himself to the Nation of Israel, on the basis of the covenants that we have been emphasizing for months. And what did they do with the Son? They killed Him. So these Pharisees are picking up on it. He’s talking about them. And so it is in all of Jesus’ parables.

But we have one Person of the Trinity left out. The Holy Spirit. Let’s look at the Scripture that pertains to the Holy Spirit. And if you can’t go along with this, don’t worry about it. I’ve always said in my teaching there is room for you to disagree on some things, and this is one of them. But to me it makes sense in light of the fact that there is one sin that condemns us, and that is unbelief concerning the Gospel. In other words, I maintain, someone could blaspheme the Holy Spirit tomorrow or next week and God can still save him in this Age of Grace. But let’s not lose sight of what the unpardonable sin is dealing with, and that is Israel the Nation! She is the one that is coming under this anathema of God.

Now go to Acts Chapter 6. Israel has rejected the overtures from the Father by killing the prophets. They rejected the overtures of the Son by killing The Christ. But how are they going to deal with the Holy Spirit, because here is the unpardonable part now – how they deal with third Person of the Godhead. He could forgive the first two, but not the third one. We have, in Acts Chapter 6, the appointment of seven men, normally referred to as deacons. They get the word “deacon” from the description of their duties. We find in verse 3 that the early Jewish church in Jerusalem was having some problems and so the following happened:

Acts 6:3

“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”

Acts 6:5

“And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,…” Now we have the Holy Spirit mentioned twice in two verses. So Stephen comes before this whole Jewish crowd.

Acts 6:15

“And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”

What is permeating Stephen? The presence of the Holy Spirit. It was so radiant they could see the difference. Go to Chapter 7 verse 2. Now watch the language of whom Stephen is addressing:

Acts 7:2

“And he said, `Men, brethren, and fathers (all Jews), hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,…'” Can any Gentile claim that? Of course not.

If you ever want the history of the Nation of Israel in a nutshell, read this whole chapter. It even gives a lot of little details that the Old Testament leaves out.

Acts 7:54

“And when they (these Jews) heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

Acts 7:55

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost (do you see the emphasis over and over that the Holy Spirit is on display here?), looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus (not sitting but rather) standing on the right hand of God,” In a future lesson, we’ll pick up the reason these Jews got so mad when they heard Stephen say that Jesus was standing.

Acts 7:58-60

“And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, `Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, `Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died).'”

From this point on, what is the future as we see here in the Book of Acts concerning the Nation of Israel? All down hill. And why? Because they had now committed that unpardonable sin of not only rejecting the Father and The Son, but now had also rejected the Holy Spirit. And for nearly 2000 years, what has the Jew been going through? Suffering, turmoil, in a state of spiritual blindness. Here in America they are pretty fortunate, but overall for all this time, basically they have been going through the mill. But when this age ends and we come into the next age, which is the millennium reign, Israel is going to come into God’s goodness and Grace. If you don’t like that approach about the unpardonable sin you don’t have to agree. But for me it fits so beautifully, because we have left it in place. Notice we didn’t take it out of the Nation of Israel and try to put it in the Church Age, but left it right where it was, with the Jewish economy.

Another point I would like to make is this. After the stoning of Stephen and the Holy Spirit aspect, the next event of importance in the chronological unfolding is the conversion of what great man? Saul of Tarsus (Paul). Even though Peter will go to the house of Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10 (after Saul is converted in Chapter 9), Chapters 11 and 15 mention Peter, and from there to the end of the Book of Acts Peter is never mentioned again. Why? Israel is now falling out of all the things that God had been promising, and now here comes Paul with the Body of Christ, the predominately Gentile Church. When we study the Book of Acts, I’ll show you the transitional aspect of this Book, how God deals with His Covenant people Israel under the Law with all the Old Testament promises; and how when they rejected it, God now does something totally different – something the Old Testament knew nothing of. He turned to the Gentiles with the Apostle Paul.

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LESSON TWO * PART III

MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN: PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED

Let’s turn to Luke Chapter 15. I’m still standing on the same premise that the way you can get any sense out of all these parables, and everything that Jesus said, is to leave them first and foremost where they belong. It’s Christ dealing with the Nation of Israel under the Law, and the Temple is operating. Jesus hasn’t said a word about not keeping the Law or Temple worship. Gentiles are not being ministered to. Through His miracles He’s still trying to prove to the Nation of Israel Who He is, as found in John 20:30,31.

However, we don’t dismiss these teachings, as there are great moral lessons found there that we can apply today. But in the flow of Scripture, you must realize that this is all part and parcel of God dealing with the Nation of Israel under those covenants and promises He made in the Old Testament.

In Luke Chapter 15 I’m going to point out something that I think has been totally confused, and I’m going to give a songwriter part of the blame for that. We are going to deal with the one sheep out of a hundred.

Luke 15:3,4

“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, `What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness,…'”

According to the song (and I’m sure you all remember it), where were the ninety and nine? “There were ninety and nine that safely lay…” Where? “In the shelter of the fold…” And I dare say just like people have a picture of the Ark as you saw it in kindergarten and in Sunday school, with that little boat with a shed in the middle and the animals looking out (unless they have actually studied those Scriptures), it’s the same way with this parable. The first thing they see is ninety-nine sheep laying safely in the fold, but one is out there alone. Now that makes good preaching. I remember a long time ago a preacher was in my classes and we had taught the flood. I teach the flood as an instantaneous cataclysmic event. Everything just burst! After the teaching, this preacher came up to me and said, “You just blew one of my best sermons right out of the water.” I told him, “I know how you preached it. It starts out by raining, and the water got ankle deep, and they came knocking on the door; it got knee deep and even more came knocking. By the time it got up to their shoulders, they were just clamoring to get in the Ark.” This preacher said, “That’s the way I’ve always preached it.” I said they didn’t have time for that sequence of events, and he told me that he could see that now. But all of us have been given wrong impressions of these events in Scripture. And it’s the same way here. The sheep are not in the fold. They are out in the wilderness. Now continuing on with verse 4:

Luke 15:4

“…and go after that which is lost, until he find it?…”

What does He do with the ninety and nine? He leaves them alone in the wilderness. I know very little about sheep except what I have heard from others and what I’ve read. But sheep are dumb. You leave a bunch of sheep out in the desert, and in a very short time those sheep are all over the place, and they are lost. They don’t know they’re lost. But the little sheep that’s caught in a crevice some place, he’s just crying his heart out. Why? He’s lost and he knows it. Do you see the difference?

When you try to put that into Church language it just doesn’t fit at all. But let’s leave it with the Nation of Israel and we can see the ninety and nine are the Sadducees and Pharisees and majority of Jews. They were without a shepherd Jesus said. But did they know it? No. They were so self-righteous and self-content. They were just like a bunch of sheep out in the wilderness wandering around, thinking they were alright but they were desperately lost. But the one that knew he was lost that was the sheep that the Shepherd went and saved. Who was indicative of the one sheep? That little remnant of Jews that followed the Lord and became believers that He was the Christ. This very small percentage of Jews realized they were lost and needed the True Shepherd, and let it be known. But the vast majority of Jews went on their merry way not knowing they were lost. Do you see what a difference that makes? It fits so beautifully if you leave it where it belongs.

Remember through the Scripture God deals with Israel on two levels. National and personal. So you always need to look at the Scriptures and ask if God is dealing with the Nation here as a Nation, under the Covenant, or is He dealing with an individual. Most of the time He’s dealing with them on the national level, because that’s where the covenants come in. But an individual Jew can still even today be saved, but nationally, to this day, the spiritual condition of the Jew is blindness.

The next parable of the lost coin also fits only if you leave it where it is. And that’s in the customs of the Jews. What we really have here is ten pieces that are part of a dowry that is very precious to them. Again, you have the same analogy. The woman lost one of those that were hers, and didn’t give up until she had found it. So just leave this parable as a condition of the Nation of Israel, that which was God’s by Covenant promises. But the one that is lost is the one that He brought to Himself, just like He did the little lost sheep. Always remember a lost individual of the Gentile world, you or I, has never originally belonged to God. Remember Ephesians 2:12 “…ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” But the Jews belong to God under the Abrahamic Covenant.

Let’s look at the prodigal son. I can remember years ago when Iris and I were young and our kids were little, we would be driving home from church, and we would have just heard a good sermon on the prodigal son. But I always had a question. Why don’t they ever preach about that other brother? Well, you see the other brother doesn’t fit. So if he doesn’t fit, leave him alone. But I maintain that he’s in here and he fits. But again, you must leave it right here where it belongs.

Luke 15:11,12

“And he said, `A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.'”

Now right here is where you always need to ask a question. Was this our state in our own experience? Had we at one time been a child of God? And then decided that we wanted to turn our back another direction? Of course not. We have always been sinners. And that’s what a lot of people can’t understand. People try to tell me that they have always been a Christian. But we know they haven’t. We’re born in sin! We have all sinned and come short. We weren’t children of God. But in the prodigal son parable they were both children. Do you see how that doesn’t fit. Now verse 13.

Luke 15:13

“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” He just blew all the money he had, and finally ended up in the pigpen. That makes good preaching, but it isn’t good theology.

Luke 15:14,15

“And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.” Of all things for a Jew, to end up feeding hogs!

Luke 15:16

“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”

So now he’s destitute. Now he realizes that in himself there is nothing he can do. This is just the point in all of Jesus’ parables, He was trying to show the Jew that this was their state, and that they needed Him? And in the Book of John there are eight signs. Seven of them before Jesus’ Crucifixion, and one after His Resurrection, and all eight of them had a specific message for the Nation of Israel. It would fill a particular need if they would have just rested on the One Who could fill the needs. Now let’s come back to this youngest son. He, too, like that one little lamb caught in a crevice, realizes his need. And he realizes there is only one place he can go for substances, and that is back to the Father. He’s got to come back to the Giver of those Covenant promises, and to the Giver of spiritual life, and so he does. You all know the story, how the younger son came back, and they killed the fatted calf, and was having this joyful celebration when the other brother heard the commotion.

Now let’s talk about the other brother, because he fits. You bet he does. Now let’s look at him:

Luke 15:25-29

“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, `Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.’ And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, `Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:…'”

What part of Israel does that sound like? The Pharisees. This older brother is typical of the Pharisees in Israel. They had been under the Covenant promises just like the other brother. But they were so self-righteous, and were filled with their own importance, their pomp and circumstance, that they didn’t see a need for anything. Yet when they saw this little element of believers who were embracing Christ as the Messiah, it made them very angry – like Saul of Tarsus, who was a perfect picture of them. They thought they could stamp out the Jewish believers by putting them to death or in prison. That’s the mentality of the other brother. Self righteous! Now let’s read on:

Luke 15:30

“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

Jesus Himself said (and I’m paraphrasing), “The well person doesn’t need a physician, but rather the sick.” The Apostle Paul makes it so plain when he says, “You can’t be saved, and enter into salvation if you think you can make it on your own. You must come as a sinner.” That’s mandatory. That’s the way God works. But the self-righteous brother couldn’t get that through his head. He said, “I’ve always served you and been obedient.” And now verse 31:

Luke 15:31

“And he said unto him, `Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.'”

Do you see how that fits Israel? They were under the Covenant promises nationally, and if they would come and believe what God wanted them to believe, they could have enjoyed all the promises He had promised. But in their self-righteous attitude it could never come to pass. Now let’s look at Chapter 17, and a verse that I think has been twisted all out of shape. Simply because the Greek has not been translated as clearly in the King James as it could have been. I still feel that the King James is the best. I never tell people to not use the others, but I just like the reliability of the King James version. Here in verse 21 Jesus is still speaking:

Luke 17:21

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is (the King James says) within you.”

That has thrown a curve at so many. The Greek word here is “entos.” “Entos” is not translated “within” in most places, but rather, “in the midst.” What a difference that makes. As soon as John the Baptist came on the scene what did he start preaching to Israel? The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Why? The King was here in their midst and the Kingdom is centered in the King. Had Israel accepted that, they could have had the King and the Kingdom. It was a valid offer but they couldn’t see it, and rejected it. So instead of trying to use this verse for us today, and trying to teach from what Jesus is telling the Jews about the Kingdom of Heaven being within us, let’s go to the Book of Colossians and see what the Apostle of the Gentiles (Paul), inspired by the Holy Spirit, says about it. First, let’s see why I call him the Apostle to the Gentiles. In Acts 9, Ananias, a believing Jew, has heard about Saul.

Acts 9:13-15

“Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priest to bind all that call on thy name.’ But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before (who?) the Gentiles,…'”

The Jews had never heard of anything like this before. The word “Gentile” was anathema to a Jew. Just to say the word “Gentile” would cause a riot. When we get into the Book of Acts, I’ll show you that. Now, let’s stop at Romans Chapter 11. This is Paul speaking.

Romans 11:13

“For I speak to you Gentiles (those he is writing to), inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,…” The “Twelve” were the apostles to the Jew. Now stop at Ephesians Chapter 3:

Ephesians 3:1

“FOR this cause (Paul is referring to everything he had written in Chapters 1 and 2) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,” And then in verse 6:

Ephesians 3:6

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ (not by the Law, or works but) by the gospel:”

Paul only knows the Gospel that Christ Himself revealed to him, and him only, and that is: “That Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. I Corinthians 15:1-4. Now to Colossians Chapter 1, and let’s pick up the Kingdom so far as you and I are concerned. The Kingdom was in the midst of Israel, because the King was there. And for the most part, Israel rejected it. A little flock believed, but the nation overall rejected it. They crucified the King. After His burial and Resurrection, He now goes to Heaven at the ascension to sit at the Father’s right hand. So now the Kingdom is in Heaven. Always remember the Kingdom is where the King is. But now be careful, because Paul never, never alludes to Christ as the King of the Church. He is The King, but not our King. Because as members of the Body of Christ, we are joint-heirs with Him. and part and parcel of Him. He’s the Head, and we’re the Body. We’re not subjects of the King, but co-heirs. What a difference! That’s our position. We only find that in Paul’s writings. Here Paul is praying for these Gentile believers in Colosse.

Colossians 1:12,13

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who (The Father) hath (past tense) delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath (past tense) translated us into (what?) the kingdom of his dear Son:”

And where’s that Kingdom? In Heaven. Where are you positionally as believers tonight? Already in Heaven. And look at what it says in Philippians Chapter 3. Remember we have been translated into the Kingdom by virtue of our salvation, based on the Gospel. And here is our position.

Philippians 3:20,21

“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the (King? No. But rather our) Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

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LESSON TWO * PART IV

MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN: PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED

Turn to Matthew Chapter 25. I’m going to stay on this theme for a little longer. Everything here in the Four Gospels is still predominantly directed to the Nation of Israel. Because the Church as we know it, the Body of Christ, is kept secret in the mind of God. And that is the word you have to get used to. It was a secret. It was part of the mysteries. Now in order for it to be a secret, it stands to reason you can’t let any part of it slip out or it’s no longer a secret. Isn’t that right? I want you to check me out; don’t take my word for anything. But go back through the Four Gospels and see if Jesus ever gives any hint of turning to the Gentiles and calling out a Gentile Body for Himself. You won’t find it.

I know the closest you will find is when Jesus said, “I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Even in that statement, I don’t think Jesus was specifically referring to the Church as we know it. Because the word “ekklesia,” from which the word “church” is always translated, is used in different manners and ways than the Body of Christ – the Church. For example, Stephen in Acts Chapter 7, refers to the children of Israel out there in the Sinai as the church in the wilderness. But remember the Church wasn’t back there. So what was Stephen really saying? That “called out assembly” in the wilderness. That makes sense. Because that’s what Israel was, they were called out of Egypt, God assembled them around Mt. Sinai, and so they were an ekklesia, and that’s not the Body of Christ, the Church. Believe it or not, when we get to the Book of Acts I’ll show you where a riotous mob in the city of Ephesus was also called an ekklesia. But the translators didn’t call it a church there, fortunately. They just called it an assembly. It was an unlawful assembly, it was a riotous assembly. It was mob rule, but still called an ekklesia in the Greek.

So always be careful that just because it’s the word “church” it doesn’t automatically follow that it’s the Body of Christ. Paul almost always qualifies our present day Church as the Body of Christ (which is the true Church), or he will say the Church which is His Body. That makes a big difference. So what I’m going to show you is that Jesus never, never gave a hint, nor did He disclose a part of that secret that He was going to reveal to the Apostle Paul at a later time. And here is the perfect illustration of that in Matthew 25, and verse 31:

Matthew 25:31

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory (Jesus is speaking about His Second Coming), and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”

Now this is a good example of what I’m always saying. Ask questions. Who is coming with Him? Angels. My next question is, “Where am I?” He’s not including me, He’s just talking about angels. Why? Because He couldn’t mention the Church yet, or He would give away the secret He was going to reveal to Paul. And to show you that the Church indeed is going to come with Him, turn to Revelation Chapter 19, and we get the clue. Indeed, we are going to be with Him.

Revelation 19:8

“And to her (the Bride) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of (the believers. You and I) saints.” Now let’s look at verse 11. Now here comes the Second Coming in all of its glory, and power as Christ is descending now from Heaven.

Revelation 19:11

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And indeed He will. He will destroy the armies of this world.

Revelation 19:12,13

“His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” So we know this is Christ coming back.

Revelation 19:14

“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”

Comparing that with verse 8, you have the saints coming back with Christ. Certainly, we’ll be coming with Him, but in Matthew 25:31 He couldn’t reveal that in His earthly ministry. That was part of the secret. So you will find this throughout all the Four Gospels: there is never a reference to the Body of Christ, the saved of the Gentiles. It’s still basically all Jew and based on the covenants and promises. I’ve said so often that if people would just read and study these things, then they would see what they think is in the Bible, isn’t there. The Four Gospels don’t contain it. I think that is why the Church is in such a dilemma tonight (when I say the Church I’m not talking about any one denomination). I’ve had my class people tell me over and over, that 95% of church teaching and preaching is coming from the Four Gospels. And they are missing the boat. Not that you ignore the Four Gospels. Heaven forbid! I love to teach the Four Gospels, but our basic doctrine for salvation is found in Paul’s writings, with what Paul calls his Gospel. We have looked at it many times. Reference: I Corinthians 15:1-4. That reminds me of a verse in the Book of II Peter. Peter is writing shortly before he is martyred. Again, let’s get the chronological time-frame here. Christ was crucified about 29 A.D. Stephen was martyred 7 years later in 36 A.D. The very next year Saul is converted, which would be 37 A.D. Then in 38 A.D. we find Peter going to the house of Cornelius. Then about 51 A.D. Paul writes his first epistle, the Book of I Thessalonians. The Books of Romans and I and II Corinthians follow in 56-57 A.D. And his last letter, just before he’s martyred, was probably II Timothy about 67 A.D. Peter writes his little epistle just before he’s martyred, probably about 66 A.D. And they both lost their lives shortly before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

Let’s go ahead and look at that verse in II Peter concerning the doctrine of salvation that Paul is preaching. Peter writes to the believing Jews, just like James did, primarily to the Nation of Israel that are saved under the Kingdom Gospel. Not Paul’s Gospel. The last meeting of Peter and Paul was a confrontation in Galatians Chapter 2, where Paul withstood him. Peter just couldn’t recognize that he wasn’t under the Law anymore, and he was free now to eat with Gentiles and to converse with Gentiles. In Galatians Chapter 2 it was such a bother to him, that even though he was visiting the Gentile Church at Antioch, and had been eating with the Gentiles, as soon as some Jews came up from Jerusalem he withdrew, because he was afraid of what the Jews might say. Peter was not yet convinced that Paul was on the right track. He knew Paul hadn’t received the Gospel that he was preaching from him or the other eleven. Look what he says by inspiration:

II Peter 3:15,16

“And account (latch on to it) that the longsuffering (or patience) of our Lord is salvation (that’s the whole purpose of this Book from cover to cover); even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

“As also in all his epistles (Romans through Hebrews), speaking in them of these things (salvation); in which (Paul’s epistles) are some things hard to be understood,…”

If people have problems with the things that I teach I can understand that, because they are not used to it. Peter was in the same boat. He said, “Look, I can’t comprehend this. That God is going to save this multitude of Gentiles without us Jews.” We are talking about nearly 40 years after the Cross. And Peter still cannot comprehend what this Gospel of Grace is all about. Then Peter finishes the verse:

II Peter 3:16

“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (or twist), as they do also the other scriptures (people become masters at twisting. That’s where the cults come in. But what’s going to be their end?), unto their own destruction.” Now that’s hard language, but Peter said it, I didn’t.

There, I think is perfect understanding that you can’t mix all of these things together and make sense out of them. Jesus never put the Gentiles into the Four Gospels. In fact, as you have seen in other lessons, it’s quite the opposite, but we have a lot of people who try to put us in there constantly. Some want the Church to fit in there so badly they even try to proclaim we are now the, “New Israel.” The Scripture has to be left exactly where it is. Jesus dealing with the Jew, and Peter and the eleven are the apostles of the Jews. Galatians 2:7, “But contrariwise, when they (Peter and John) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me (Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter;”

Go to II Corinthians Chapter 5 starting at verse 14. Paul writes to believers only, and these believers are at Corinth; they are Gentiles:

II Corinthians 5:14

“For the love of Christ constraineth us (or drives us), because we thus judge (or conclude), that if one died for all, then were all dead:”

That’s Paul’s doctrine. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. And that’s where the whole human race is. They are dead, until Christ moves in with His life-giving power which is triggered by faith in the Gospel. Paul now appears as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Now verse 15:

II Corinthians 5:15

“And that he died for all, that they which live (believe) should not henceforth (from that time forward) live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

See how Paul is constantly placing the Gospel out in front of you? It’s not based on the Law, covenants and promises; or based on believing who Jesus was (as Israel had to believe He was) as we see in the Four Gospels. But for us Gentiles it’s based upon His death, His shed blood, His burial, His Resurrection, His power. Do you see that? And remember, just because we are under His Grace, doesn’t mean that we now have a license to sin, because what does Paul say in this verse? “If we have entered into eternal life, we should live for the one who died for us.” I would never want anyone to accuse me of teaching a loose Christian walk just because we are under Grace. Absolutely not! Now for the verse I really want to look at. Again, the Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul here.

II Corinthians 5:16

“Wherefore (because of what Paul had just said) henceforth (from that point on as he’s writing) know we no man after the flesh: ye though we have known Christ after the flesh (Paul is speaking of Jesus. He says I’m no longer attached to His earthly ministry, or concerned about what He did in the flesh), yet now (since He died for us) henceforth know we him no more.”

That’s hard language isn’t it? This is exactly opposite of what most people in Christendom are doing tonight. I know this shakes people up, because they like to spend all their time talking about his earthly ministry, the miracles and so forth. But now we should spend our time on the finished work of the Cross. But Satan doesn’t want us to teach in that area, because that’s where our salvation comes from. He doesn’t care if you go to church as long as you don’t hear about the finished work of the Cross. Christ died the death that had to be died. He shed the Blood that had to be shed. He rose in power over sin and Satan, and everything that was against us. And now He is ready to impart His life to us if we will just simply believe it. People will say, “I’ve got to do this or that.” But God says, “No you don’t.” Verse 5 in Romans Chapter 4 says it so plainly. Who only can He save? The ungodly! So keep verse 16 in mind. That from the time of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection we are not to focus as much on His earthly ministry as much as we are on His death, burial, and Resurrection.

II Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore if any man be in Christ,…”

Do you see our position? That brings to mind another verse about our position in the Book of Colossians Chapter 3. And if you have anything less than this, then I feel sorry for you. I really do, because here is where we have the joy of our salvation.

Colossians 3:1

“If ye then be risen with Christ (you have identified with His death, burial, and Resurrection. If that’s the case then), seek those things which are above (let them be your priority; that doesn’t mean that we get so heavenly-minded we are no earthly good), where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”

Colossians 3:2

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

See how practical that is? That’s practical Christianity. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy anything. That doesn’t mean you have to live a Spartan experience, and go through life with just a very meager existence. It just simply means, don’t let things take priority. Now verse 3. This is the verse I wanted. Why should we set our affection on things above? Why should we put material things secondary?

Colossians 2:3

“For ye are dead (to the old Adam, and things of this world), and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We are hid in Christ in God.

Now to make a simple illustration, by using the old black walnut. That old black walnut has a big outer covering; inside of that covering is the hard shell; inside of that in the little crevices is the meat. Do you see that? That’s where we are. God is all around us. And then to make it even better, the hard shell that is hard to break is Christ. And we are in Him. You can’t get it any better than that. We are hid with Christ in God. Nothing can touch you or I, but that God has to permit it. And He can permit it. I’ve always told believers not to think that this Book promises a rose petal pathway. We are not promised riches, or everything of this world’s goods. We may have some but don’t expect it. Look, we have it better today than believers have ever had it. But that could be the worst thing that ever happened to the Church. When the Church was growing so much in the early centuries, they were under pressure. And it may be that way again. I’m reading things lately that make me think that pressure time is coming again, and soon. Pray that it doesn’t happen.

Let’s finish the verses in II Corinthians Chapter 5. Remember, we are citizens of Heaven, living here upon the earth.

II Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (as a result of our salvation experience): old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”

II Corinthians 5:18

“And all things are of God (nothing can touch you unless God permits it), who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and (He didn’t stop there but rather) hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” What are we to tell a lost world? Everything has been done for you to be reconciled to God. It’s all been accomplished, and we are to let the world know that.

II Corinthians 5:19

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” Now here is our position as citizens of Heaven living in a foreign land.

II Corinthians 5:20,21

“Now then we are ambassadors (a representative of a home government to a foreign country) for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

We are Christ’s ambassadors; we are the extension of Heaven here on earth. And listen, if we don’t do it, who will? Paul makes it so clear in Thessalonians that the Church is like a dam in the world’s river of iniquity. One day He is going to lift us out, and that river is going to flood this planet like it has never been before. But until that happens, we are to be that dam in the river.

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LESSON THREE * PART I

MATTHEW 24 AND OTHER REFERENCES

Now to continue our studies in the Four Gospels. People have shared with us that they just happened to run across our informal television class setting and stopped. We know the reason they stopped is because of the Holy Spirit. This is the way a lot of our audience has started watching and has become part of this ministry. They have finally gotten the opportunity to really read and study their Bibles for the very first time. And for the first time many of them can see what The Book really says and doesn’t say. Too many times we sit and let someone else tell us what it says, without checking it out, or having these people reference what they are saying. We need to see if what they are saying is directed to you and I, the Body of Christ (the Church), in this Age of Grace.

Turn to Matthew Chapter 23. We have more or less been taking an overview, and pointing out that in Christ’s earthly ministry there is nothing of the Body of Christ the Church in the Four Gospels. There is no Church language in here. This is all Christ dealing under the Law, with the Jew under the Law. I like to point out that Christ constantly is making us aware that they are under the Law. There is not a word said that the Nation of Israel and the Jew don’t have to keep the Law any longer. That they no longer must do Temple worship, or keep the Ten Commandments, or be separate from the Gentiles. In fact, the Law is never taken away from them, even to the end of Acts when they go into the dispersion in 70 A.D. And when the Nation of Israel comes back on the scene in the Book of Revelation, she will still be under the Law as we saw in our study on prophecy. A good example is when Jesus healed the lepers. What did He tell them to do? “Go present yourselves to the priest.” Because that’s what the Law demanded. And then the priest could give them permission to come back into society.

When the young rich ruler approached Jesus, and said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” What was Jesus’ answer? “Keep the commandments.” See, it was all under Law. Even in the early chapters of Acts, where were all the Twelve apostles still meeting for prayer, etc.? – at the Temple. No one has told them they are not under the Law. Why didn’t Peter want to go to Cornelius’ house in Acts Chapter 10? It was forbidden under the Law for a Jew to go to the home of a Gentile (in this case the Holy Spirit gave permission, so that fifteen years later Peter could defend Paul in Acts Chapter 15). You don’t find them going to any other Gentile, and it states that in Acts 11:19. They went to Jew only. The Law was never taken from them. But in our Age of Grace, Paul tells us, you and I, that we are under Grace and not Law.

A gentleman called this morning and told me that he had never really gotten much out of his Bible, because he never saw that what was written and spoken to the Jew was primarily for the Jew, and what has been written to us Gentiles is primarily for us. And I couldn’t have said it better. What a difference that makes. Here again in Matthew 23, the language is so explicit there can be no argument. And in verse 37, Jesus is speaking in the area of the Temple, where Gentiles couldn’t go. In the previous two chapters He’s addressing the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Herodians, and He’s pointing out their gross misgivings and their wrongdoings (although they thought they were so religious). Passover is approaching and a great crowd has gathered, so Jews are coming in from all over the then-known world. The Temple is beginning to feel the effects of it. In that atmosphere verse 37 says:

Matthew 23:37

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem (in reality Jesus is speaking to the Jews here), thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together , even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

America has been in a culture where we no longer see these hens sneak off and put together a clutch of eggs and hatch them, and someday come out with their little brood. I can still remember that as a kid on the farm. Once in awhile an old hen would get away with that, and mom wouldn’t find her eggs, and then one day here she came with about 15 little chicks. And just by the old hens clucking she could keep pretty good control over all those chicks.

An incident like this happened when I was about 6 years old. A big storm came up suddenly and dad and I ran to house. As this storm began to blow and the rain came down, this old mother hen got on the leeward side of a big tree and gathered all her chicks, except one, under her wings. As we watched out the window that one little chick got rolled over in the wind and rain and drowned. But the rest were safe under that old hen. Every time I see this verse, I can’t help but picture that incident. That when the storm blew, those little chicks were safe and secure. And Jesus uses that analog; that this is what He wanted to do with Israel.

All through their 2000 years of history up until this time He had more or less been clucking over them. He had been watching and protecting them, supplying all their needs in miraculous ways. But like the one little chick I was referring to, Israel wouldn’t listen. And they came under all of their judgments and adversity simply because they wouldn’t heed His voice and be obedient. Here again, God had sent the Son in fulfillment of all these Old Testament promises. They could have the King and the Kingdom, and Salvation, redemption, and forgiveness if they would just recognize who Jesus was and believe. But instead, what was their response? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? I have pointed out often, instead of coming into Jerusalem on a big prancing white Arabian steed, which is the way most emperors in that day road, He came on a lowly colt of a donkey. And it confounded them. Nevertheless, the offer was there that He was their King and was ready to give them the Kingdom if they would just believe. But He said in verse 37 “ye would not!”

There is one aspect in all of this that I know is hard to comprehend. That is that God in His sovereignty is in control of everything, and yet He never takes away the free will of men and nations. Now those two concepts are hard to bring together. But they are so true. The best way I can explain it in my own mind is that, before He ever created anything, the Godhead could look down through the ages of time and know exactly what every person and nation would do. We call that foreknowledge. Now with foreknowledge, He could also plan for any alternative. Because He knew what would happen. And yet He never took away that free will of mankind. But remember, His offers were valid. And the same way with the Nation of Israel. Israel had absolute freedom to accept Him and have the King and Kingdom and all those Old Testament promises, but they also had the free will to reject Him. This is what they are doing. It doesn’t throw God a curve, because He knows what they are going to do.

Let’s look at an amazing verse in Acts 2. I didn’t get the impact of it until a couple of years ago. I’m sure that’s the way a lot of Scripture is to many of us. We read it but we really don’t get the impact of it. In this verse we have Peter on the day of Pentecost. He is addressing this great crowd of Jews in the Temple complex in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:22,23

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know, “Him (This Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”

Now what does the determinate counsel of God mean? The only way I can look at it is that the Trinity, the Triune God, Three Persons yet One, consulted within this Godhead before anything was ever created. They agreed within the Trinity, knowing everything that would take place: that fallen man would need a Redeemer, and salvation would be that Second Person of the Trinity Who would step down from the invisible Godhead, take on flesh, and go the way of the finished work of the Cross for man’s redemption. Now all of that was foreknown and consummated in the thought-process of the Trinity. When I teach this, I don’t imply that the Three sat down around a table and talked about which One would do what, as men would do. But within the Trinity of the Godhead, whether it was a split second or whatever, all three Persons of the Godhead had agreed that this is the way it would be done. And that’s exactly what this verse means, “…by the determinate counsel.” Now let’s return to Matthew Chapter 23.

Matthew 23:37,38

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Then the next verse says:

“Behold, your house (the Temple) is left unto you desolate.”

Notice He says “your house.” When the Nation first started out, God would call them “My people.” But after they became stiff necked, disobedient, and rebellious, He calls them “thy people” to Moses. And He does the same thing here at the Temple. As Jesus is now approaching the end of His ministry, and it’s obvious that Israel is not accepting Him, He refers to the Temple as “your house.” For a quick reference let’s look at John Chapter 2 on how Christ’s attitude toward the Nation of Israel is showing their response to Him.

John 2:16

“And said unto them that sold doves. `Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house (the Temple of God) an house of merchandise.'”

See the difference? Here it was still the Temple of God. In Matthew 23:38 the nation had sunk so low that He called it “your temple.”

Matthew 23:39

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say (watch the language for this is a future event), `Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.'” Were they saying that now? They said, “away with Him.” But He is saying that the day is coming when they will say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And that will be at His Second Coming.

Now there are three distinct “until’s” and this is the first one. He would be disappearing from view shortly but they would see Him at some future day. The second one is in Luke where again He uses that same term “until.” He is foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. He knows everything before it ever happens. Jesus is speaking:

Luke 21:24

“And they (the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations (that’s the main clue because there they will not be led away captive during the Tribulation and Armageddon. They were for the last time in 70 A.D.): and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until (that word “until” means there will be a time factor, and at a certain time in the future, the next event will come on the scene) the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Then there is coming a time when Jerusalem will be delivered from that overlordship of the Gentiles, and we are getting close tonight. Now the third one I like to refer to is in Romans Chapter 11. This is the chapter where Paul deals with Israel’s future – how that one day she will be grafted in again.

Romans 11:25

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (the word “mystery” is unique to Paul’s writings, and refers to the secret that has been kept in the mind of God since the foundation of the world. These secrets of the Church were revealed only to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. And so here is another one of these mysteries. While God has been calling out the Gentile Body of Christ, the Church, for the past 1900 + years, Israel has been in a spiritual blindness), lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part (not forever, but a segment of time) is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

What is the fullness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ, the Church. So when the Body is finally filled, and the last person has been saved, and the Church is removed in the Rapture just before the Tribulation is to begin, then God will again pick up with the Nation of Israel and their spiritual blindness will be removed. Those are the three until’s that Jesus referred to, and these prophecies are still valid, Two of them will be fulfilled when Christ returns at His Second Coming and the one we saw in Romans will end when the Church is removed. Let’s look at Chapter 24. We will be covering this Chapter for a lesson or two. We covered these verses when we taught the Book of Revelation. Remember though, that repetition is the mother of learning. This chapter is prophecy, it’s all future, and deals with the seven years of Tribulation that will come on the earth. Jesus is speaking of the future. Prophecy is always connected to the Nation of Israel, from Abraham all the way through the Old Testament, and it is telling what will happen. Here again in Chapter 24 is exactly what Jesus is going to talk about, things that will happen to the Nation of Israel at some future point.

Matthew 24:1,2

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.” This was probably across from the Mount of Olives, which is not very far from the Temple complex.

“And Jesus said unto them, `See ye not all these things (of the Temple complex)? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.'”

When King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple he used fire, because it was built primarily of beautiful cedar wood. But the Romans, when this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A. D., almost completely dismantled the whole thing stone by stone. There are legends on why these soldiers did this, and one of them is that they had heard there were tons of gold hidden between the building blocks. So in order to go after that gold they took it down block by block. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it made a good story and got the job done. Anyway, Jesus said that this building they were looking at would be laid low stone by stone, and it surely was. We will pick up with this chapter in the next lesson.

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LESSON THREE * PART II

MATTHEW 24 AND OTHER REFERENCES

Let’s pick right up where we left off in Matthew 24. We had shown that Jesus had left the Temple area and had gone across to the Mount of Olives, explaining that the Temple would be destroyed.

Matthew 24:3

“And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples cam unto him privately (Jesus and the Twelve), saying, `Tell us, when shall these things be (that’s the question that opens up prophecy)? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world.'” (Age)

What we have to understand is that throughout the Old Testament the Rabbis, and those who were involved in the study of the prophets, understood the two aspects of a coming Messiah. I read recently there were some Rabbis who actually thought there would be two different Messiahs. One who would fulfill the promise of being the King, and set up the Kingdom. And the parallel thought all the way through the Old Testament is the idea of a suffering Savior. The word “Savior” is “Jeshua.” From that name we get the name “Jesus” – because He shall save His people from their sins. So some thought there would be a Messiah for the King and a Messiah for the Savior. But we know they would be one and the same.

One reason some Rabbis thought there would be two Messiahs, was, by looking at the prophecies, they couldn’t see any time frame between them. It’s the same way when you approach two mountain ranges. It’s hard to tell the distance between the two ranges (especially if you were far away) because they look like only one range. That’s the problem they were having. They could see both prophecies but couldn’t see the 1900 + years of Church Age that we have had between them. They couldn’t because God kept the Church Age secret until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul. And we know from His appearance as first and foremost to be their King with the offer of the Kingdom, we know, too, that He also finally becomes the suffering Savior. Look at I Peter Chapter 1 verse 10:

I Peter 1:10

“Of which salvation the prophets (Old Testament writers) have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you (what was to be in the future).”

Remember these Old Testament prophets wrote by inspiration, and Daniel, at the last of his prophecy, said in Daniel 12:8,9 “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, `Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.'” Daniel didn’t know, but people would at the end-time. And it’s the same way with these prophets as they wrote Isaiah, Jeremiah and the rest. Now verse 11:

I Peter 1:11

“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them (they wrote by inspiration) did signify, when it (The Spirit) testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow (King and Kingdom).” We also understand by the New Testament accounts that He was glorified when He defeated Satan there at the Cross. The Old Testament writers couldn’t put it all together. Now verse 12:

I Peter 1:12

“Unto whom it was revealed (to these prophets), that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

The angelic host didn’t comprehend all these things. So what this portion of Scripture is really saying is that all these Old Testament prophets had an idea of these events that would be tied to both aspects (the coming of the King and Kingdom and the suffering Savior to pay the penalty of sin), but they just couldn’t put it all together. And God didn’t expect them to. So the disciples are asking these same questions, “What shall be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age?” Verse 4:

Matthew 24:4-6

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, `Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ (Messiah); and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.'”

As we study prophecy, I like to tie the four horsemen of the apocalypse of Revelation Chapter 6, almost one-by-one with events that Jesus lays out here. In other words, the first horse appears with a rider with a bow and no arrows and comes to take peace from the earth. I like to associate that with the wars and rumors of wars that Jesus is talking about here. The next horsemen that comes of the scene in Revelation Chapter 6 is the Red horse, and there we do have war, and that is in correlation with verse 7 here:

Matthew 24:7a

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:…”

The third horseman of Revelation 6 was the Pale horse which represented famine. As a results of all these wars in verse 7, we do indeed find famine, as food supplies will dry up and the world will have tremendous inflation, and food rationing, because of the massive destruction.

Matthew 24:7b

“…and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers place.”

I think everyone that follows Biblical and secular events knows the tremendous increase in earthquakes since 1970. They have been increasing each year, and now there is no telling how many we have each year. They are so common that our news doesn’t even report one unless there are deaths and lots of destruction. And these earthquakes happen all over the world. And this is what Jesus is talking about. Now verse 8:

Matthew 24:8

“All these (events) are the (what?) beginning (they are not the end) of sorrows (travail or birth pangs).”

It’s in the same language of a child being delivered of its mother. All of this is now showing that the earth is approaching the day of her delivery from the curse. We looked at that while we were studying Revelation. It seems almost everybody loves the Books of Genesis and Revelation. It’s easy to fill the rooms for those two Books, but as soon as we teach Romans, Ephesians, or Philippians the interest always drops. It shouldn’t be that way. But I also know that people love to review what happened five or six thousand years ago, or something out in the future that they can’t put their hand on. But the dealings with the here-and-now is getting too close to home, and they don’t want to live in that. That’s what makes the movie business what it is: most people want to remove themselves from reality, and go into a world of make-believe. It’s not quite that extreme with Bible teaching, but I can sense some don’t want to get down to the nitty gritty of what we need today, and tomorrow and next week. But personally, I can’t wait to get to the Book of Romans, but that will be a while yet, because we must still go through the Book of Acts. But we must have the Book of Acts before the Book of Romans makes sense. But Romans is the here-and-now, and I love to teach it. The Scriptures we were going to look at were in Revelation 5. This is where John sees a scene in Heaven that is almost disturbing.

Revelation 5:1

“AND I saw in the right hand of him (The Father) sat on the throne a book (scroll) written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.”

And in my teaching I always bring out that this scroll is the mortgage. It’s the mortgage that Satan has on planet earth, even tonight. Satan picked up the mortgage when Adam fell. When Adam lost his dominion, Satan picked it up and has been the god of this world ever since. Remember, the world lieth in the lap of the Wicked one. And there are other verses that tell us that Satan is indeed the god of this world. Anyway, God is holding this mortgage ready to be paid off, but Satan is the real holder of it and has the mortgage. And John wept because evidently there was no one in Heaven who was able to pay off this mortgage.

Revelation 5:4-7

“And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beast (creatures) and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb (God the Son)…”God the Son qualified to take the mortgage because of what He had accomplished at Calvary.

“And he (Son) came and took the book (scroll) out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.”

Revelation 5:9

“And they (the heavenly host) sang a new song, saying, `Thou (The Son) art worthy to take the book (scroll), and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;'”

God the Son takes this mortgage and He agrees to pay it off in order to lift the curse from the planet. To make that clear, we would need to go back into Israel’s history of how they would redeem and gain back titles for land that they had almost lost by default. It had to be a next of kin, and someone who was both capable of paying and willing to pay. A good example is the story of Ruth and Boaz. Read it in your spare time. Jesus was the only One in all of eternity who could fulfill the requirements for this mortgage! You see, He was the next of kin; He’s the Son of God. He certainly had the power and all the attributes to carry it out, and He is willing to do it. So He becomes the great Payer of this mortgage that Satan is holding. Back to Matthew 24. This beginning of sorrows we looked at in verse 8 is really just the beginning of the birth pangs that are coming on the earth as a prelude to the delivery from the curse. That’s the language that the Scripture uses. The earth is going to be delivered from the power of Satan and the curse. These Tribulation events are part of the things in trade God will use to pay Satan off in full.

Matthew 24:9-11

“Then (once the Tribulation begins. This last seven years of Daniel Chapter 9) shall they deliver you (the Jew) up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for name’s sake.” If we think anti-Semitism is bad now, it’s nothing like it’s going to be.

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” Even within the Jewish family children will report on their parents, and vice versa to escape the wrath that is falling upon them as a nation of people.

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many,”

The Scripture is constantly warning of the false prophets, not just in the Tribulation, but even during the Church Age. Paul’s message and Christianity had just begun. There had been a few churches established by him when false teaching started to pop up. This is why Paul had to write the Book of Galatians. He had no more brought these Gentiles out of paganism, and under the Gospel of Grace, than in comes Jewish false teachers. They would tell these Gentiles that they couldn’t be saved by Grace, but, rather you must keep the Law. So false teaching has been against Christianity from day one. And here in these Tribulation days, as all the calamities are falling, and people will be grasping for something, the false teacher are going to have a hay day. Now verse 12:

Matthew 24:12

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

Now think about it for a moment, the only deterrent to wickedness in the world today is the Church. We are the only deterrent. The Holy Spirit Who is within us is restraining wickedness. Because (let’s face it) I’ve heard sociologists and some of the powers that be are beginning to recognize that a society without religion is a society that is doomed. Religion is the only thing that puts any kind of common sense into regulating behavior of the human being. But we also have to realize that most of the pagan religions of the world are grossly immoral, even in their religious practices.

What we think is horrendous, taking place here in our beloved America, with the break down of our morality and the casualness of gross immorality, has been commonplace in the Orient for centuries. It’s still part of their society. It has become so frightening to us because we’re coming out of a basic Christian structure. And now when we see the falling apart of all this we’re shocked, and we should be. But for the rest of the world it’s been pretty much that way down through the centuries. But, nevertheless, for the biggest part of the western world if I may use that expression, Christianity has been the breakwater of the falling away of moral principles. It’s the Christian that has to stand in the gap and say, “Now wait a minute, this is wrong.”

Take away every believer, and the Holy Spirit and His role as He works today, then what is left to hold back iniquity? Absolutely nothing! I live close to the dam that holds back Lake Eufaula, and I’ve often wondered (especially when you look at the map and see the many miles that Lake Eufaula covers) If that dam could suddenly be removed what would happen all the way from Whitefield, Oklahoma to the Mississippi River? It would be a flood of tremendous impact. It would destroy everything in its path. On the higher plane of behavior and morality what if you took away the Christian influence, and had nothing to hold back the forces of iniquity. What’s going to happen? Just what Jesus said in verses 12 and 13:

Matthew 24:12,13

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” They will completely lose perspective of spiritual things.

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Be careful right here. Does enduring save anybody? No. Jesus isn’t talking about salvation here by virtue of enduring the Tribulation, He is simply saying that if someone has the wherewithal, physically and mentally, to get to the end of that seven-year Tribulation, then he will be spared the death of it. I don’t believe that He is talking about salvation as you and I know it tonight. It’s just that some will survive these horrible events. Now verse 14. In our next lesson we will cover from verse 15 on and cover the last part of the Tribulation in those verses. But here in verse 14, Jesus is speaking toward the end of His earthly ministry, and, as I have been pointing out, what Gospel have they been preaching? The Gospel of the Kingdom.

Matthew 24:14

“And this gospel of the kingdom (He uses the word `this’ because it’s contemporary with Him at that time) shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nation; and then shall the end come.”

Who is going to fulfill all this preaching in the Tribulation? As we saw in the Book of Revelation it is the 144,000 Jews, as they will circumvent the globe during that seven-year period. Not preaching the Gospel of Grace, by believing that Christ died, was buried, and rose again as was given to the Apostle Paul by Christ Himself, but rather preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ and His disciples preached during His earthly ministry. The King is coming, and indeed He will be coming in a little less than seven years when this takes place.

So many well-meaning folks have totally twisted this verse, as if we have to get the Gospel to every nation on earth, and after that has been accomplished, Christ will come. That’s not what that verse means at all. And that doesn’t mean that we are not to get the Gospel out. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be here. But it isn’t the Gospel of the Kingdom that we are proclaiming, but the Gospel of Grace. And what a difference! Just compare them and see which one belongs to you here in the Church Age. Jesus said that in this future day that He’s talking about, this seven-year period, that the Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached, and these 144,000 will succeed in touching every nation, tribe, and language before Christ returns. We find in Revelation that millions will be martyred after believing this Gospel during the Tribulation. So this is exactly what this verse is talking about. Just leave the verse where it is, and don’t try to put us of the Church Age in it, and it will fit so nicely. Look at the verse one more time:

Matthew 24:14

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

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THREE * PART III

MATTHEW 24 AND OTHER REFERENCES

Let’s begin where we left off last lesson. We’ll start at Matthew Chapter 24 verse 15. When we came into this Chapter I told you that it was all Tribulation ground. Jesus is speaking prophetically to the Nation of Israel about the final seven years. And remember, He always addressed the Nation of Israel during His earthly ministry. We are already seeing some of these prophetic things starting to bloom. For example, we are seeing more earthquakes, unruly weather and wars that even the United Nations can’t handle. But it’s nothing compared to what will break loose once the Tribulation begins. It’s like the stage is now being set for that whole seven years. There’s a lot of activity that must take place before the curtain actually rises, and the Tribulation drama is played out. We are seeing the props being gathered, all the advertising, and the stage set. I’ve got a dear friend in Muskogee that every time he writes he says, “Les, just keep teaching prophecy.” But we must also teach the whole picture as it unfolds from Genesis to Revelation. Here in verse 15, we are at the mid-point of the Tribulation. The first 3 1/2 years have been culminated by the events of verses 5-12. Verse 13 and 14 go all the way to the end.

Matthew 24:15

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)”

As you see those words, “Daniel the prophet,” and perhaps have read where someone is ridiculing Daniel’s Book of prophecy as a fake, or something that has been inserted by Jews somewhere along the line, you come right back to the Scripture here. Because Jesus said those words, and what more proof would a person need for the validity of Scripture than that. And it’s the same way with Jonah. I know Jonah may be hard for the unbeliever to accept, but Jesus Himself gave proof of it when He said in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” If Jesus said it, how can we help but believe it. He’s the Author and finisher of this Book. And when He puts His stamp of approval on it, we had better believe it.

Jesus is referring back to Daniel the prophet, and Daniel says that when this individual stands in the holy place, the Tribulation Temple whoso readeth, let him understand. In the past we have had two Temples in Israel, and the third is about to come on the scene even as we teach tonight. The first Temple was built by King Solomon about 960 B.C. Remember King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed that one. Then the second Temple was the one that was rebuilt first by Ezra, as Israel came back from the Babylonian captivity, but this Temple was pretty make-shift. It wasn’t anything like the Temple that had been destroyed because they lacked the resources and manpower to make it beautiful like the first one. Then Herod the Great came along about 50 B.C. He was a rather pompous individual and he loved to build beautiful things. Being embarrassed at Israel’s Temple, he started remodeling and extending the size of it, so it also became a beautiful Temple – the one destroyed in 70 A.D.

The Tribulation Temple, which is still future, will become the third Temple, and as most of you are aware, if you watch current events at all, the Jews are more than ready to rebuild their next Temple. Now this verse we just looked at is one of the proofs that there will be the Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem at some point before the middle of the Tribulation. That is all we know. We don’t know if it will be built before or after the Anti-christ signs the peace treaty with Israel, but we do know the Temple will stand once again and be in operation at the mid-point of the Tribulation. Go back to Daniel Chapter 9 for a moment and tie this event together with Matthew 24. In Daniel Chapter 9 we have the 490 years that Daniel prophesies concerning the Nation of Israel. It begins in verse 24:

Daniel 9:24

“Seventy weeks (490 years) are determined upon thy people (Israel) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity (the work of the Cross), and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Daniel goes on to explain the breakdown of these time elements.

Daniel 9:26

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off (now that completed 483 years of the prophecy that was determined in verse 24, which would still leave 7 years still to be fulfilled), but not for himself (He didn’t die because He deserved it, but rather for the sins of the world. Now here comes the prophecy), and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;…”

That means that the prince that shall come, the Anti-christ, would come out of the empire that destroyed the Temple and city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and we know that was Rome. And that is why the Bible has been looking forward to the end-time when the Revived Roman Empire would once again come to power, and we see that even tonight with the E. C. They already have currency printed for the E. C. with the logo of a woman riding upon a beast as described in Revelation. Isn’t it amazing how an ungodly world, (and Europe certainly is) is falling right into the very format of the Book of Revelation. Now verse 27:

Daniel 9:27

“And he (the Anti-christ) shall confirm the covenant (peace treaty) with many (Israel. Although Israel has signed some peace treaties of late they are not the ones described here. I think they are a forerunner to the main peace treaty, however) for one week:”

Seven years. God’s time-clock has been stopped since the day The Messiah was cut off, or died on the Cross. And for the past 1900 + years the Church Age is being completed. But when the last person is saved during this Church Age, then the Rapture occurs. And then the Anti-christ will be revealed and he signs that seven-year treaty with Israel. The day he signs that treaty the time clock of God kicks into gear again, and the final seven years will start ticking off. Remember a year in Scripture is twelve thirty-day months or 360 days for the year.

Daniel 9:27

“…and in the midst of the week (seven years) he (Anti-christ) shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (the Jews can offer sacrifices and oblation only at the Temple), and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it (the Temple) desolate (I think Antiochus, the little Syrian dictator who was just a little pip squeak in history, was a type of “anti-christ.” He offered a hog on the altar and defiled it at one time. I think this Anti-christ will do the very same thing. The hog’s blood was the abomination. And then Daniel goes on to say), even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Or the desolator, the man Anti-christ.

So this is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15 That the man Anti-christ will come into the Temple and will defile it. Then He tells the Jew, and this prophecy would be 2000 years ahead.

Matthew 24:16,17

“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:”

Time will be very important here, and also remember this is an analogy to the escape out of Egypt. Much of it is a parallel. And just as God protected and provided for Israel then, He’s going to do the same thing for this escaping remnant of Jews at this time in the middle of the Tribulation. This is not the 144,000 we read about in Revelation that will be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is a cross-section of the society of Israel in the Jerusalem area. Here we are going to have men, women, young women, children, the working class, the retired class and they will be all fleeing from Jerusalem. Looking at verse 17 again we find:

Matthew 24:17

“Let him which is on the house top not come down to take any thing out of his house:”

As I’ve taught this before, these represent the retired people who are well-to-do, who spend a lot of time on the housetop which is common in that part of the world. They probably have a lot of things they’ve collected over the years and would like to take with them, but they’re not going to have time for that.

Matthew 24:18-20

“Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” This is the working class, and here Jesus speaks specifically about agricultural workers. He’ll be lucky to get out with the clothes on his back.

“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” Here we have the young women that are pregnant and the young mothers with children. There is a complete cross-section of people involved with this prophecy.

“But pray ye that you flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:”

Winters can be tough in Israel, and the Jews, as we have pointed out, will be back under the Law with their Temple worship. And remember on the sabbath day the Jew could only walk so far. Now verse 21:

Matthew 24:21

“For then (at the mid-point) shall be great tribulation (it will be far greater then the first 3 1/2 years), such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

And all you have to do is reflect back over the history of Israel; they have gone through some very tough times. But none of that can even come close to what will take place during that last 3 1/2 years. And then verse 22:

Matthew 24:22

“And except those days should be shortened (now as I understand the Greek word “shortened,” it means it will end right on schedule otherwise), there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” However, we know from Scripture there will be survivors of the Tribulation, and we will try to pick that up in our next lesson. But here in verse 23 when things get tough, people get religious, and Jesus says be careful.

Matthew 24:23,24

“Then if any man shall say unto you, `Lo, here is Christ,’ or there; believe it not.”

“For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders (where are they going to get their power? From Satan!); insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Those who are believers and are still surviving.

Matthew 24:25,26

“Behold, I have told you before,” And here He reminds them again. This is all for emphasis.

“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he (The Messiah) is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”

He won’t be coming from those areas. He will be coming from Heaven at the end of the Tribulation in power and glory. And He will destroy all the nations that have been gathered there around Jerusalem under the power of the Anti-christ, and Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives.

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LESSON THREE * PART IV

MATTHEW 24 AND OTHER REFERENCES

In Revelation Chapter 12, I will show you where these Jews are going to flee when they suddenly must leave Jerusalem (as Jesus admonished them in Matthew 24). This will be the mid-point of the Tribulation, when the Anti-christ will defile the Temple, turn on the Jew, and set himself up as God. It is also at this time, Psalms Chapter 2 says the wrath and vexation of God will come down on the earth. Remember also, Satan is cast down from Heaven the last time to the earth, and he too, will pour out his wrath upon the earth because he knows he has but a short time left. This will be a double barrel attack on mankind. The wrath of God and the wrath of Satan, and all of nature will feel it. But remember the end result of all of this is to pay off the mortgage on the earth, so the curse can be lifted, and go into the millennium reign of Christ. Now let’s see where that cross-section of Jews from our last lesson will be headed when they leave Jerusalem at the mid-point. We know they will flee to the mountains (some feel it might be the ancient city of Petra. I don’t think that will be big enough, but it is a possibility). Let’s see what it says (Israel is the woman in this chapter):

Revelation 12:3,4

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon (Satan), having seven heads and ten horns (indicating his power), and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth (this probably refers to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, when Satan said he would be like the Most High, like God. Satan evidently took a third of the angelic host with him – the angels you find in the Book of Jude who left their first estate): and the dragon stood before the woman (Israel) which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” That’s speaking of Christ being born in Bethlehem. How was Satan ready to devour the child? By King Herod’s decree to kill all boy babies under the age of two.

Revelation 12:5,6

“And she (Israel) brought forth a man child (Christ), who was (future) to rule all nations with a rod of iron (when He returns at His Second Coming, and sets up His Kingdom): and her child (Christ) was caught up unto God (at His ascension in Acts Chapter 1), and to his throne.”

“And the woman (Israel, the cross-section remnant of Jews in Matthew 24) fled into the wilderness (an uninhabited area), where she hath a place (watch this language) prepared of God, that they (The Godhead) should feed her (the remnant) there a thousand two hundred and three score days.” That’s 3 1/2 years.

Here you have the remnant of Israel having escaped to a place prepared of God where He will protect and feed them and provide for all their needs. That’s exactly what He did for Israel for that forty years of wandering. Even their shoes didn’t wear out. And just as miraculously, as He did that under Moses, He’s going to accomplish the same thing here. He will sustain them! He will totally protect them from all the ravages that will be going on around them. That one little portion of the earth where this little remnant will be, won’t come under all the earthquakes, pestilences, wars, famines, and cataclysmic events that the rest of the earth will be under. They will be in total safety and security for those 3 1/2 years.

We are still at the mid-point here and Satan indwells the man Anti-christ. Think back a moment, when did Satan indwell Judas? It was in the upper room at the last supper, Matthew 26:25, “Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, `Master, is it I?’ He said unto him, `Thou hast said.'” That’s when Satan entered into Judas. From that moment on Judas became an instrument of Satan. As a result, Judas was able to betray Christ in the garden. But when Judas tried to resist the power of Satan and throw the silver at the feet of the priests there at the Temple, what happened? The language is kind of confusing. In one Scripture it says Judas hung himself, and in another it says that Judas fell head-long and his bowels burst forth. In reality both are correct. There are no contradictions in Scripture. When he tried to rebel against Satan, Judas’s body almost exploded with the power of Satan. As he was catapulted, Judas’ body burst asunder, and at the same time he hanged himself on a pole as the result of the catapulting. We will try to cover that before we go into the Book of Acts. So Satan is going to indwell the man Anti-christ, and from that point on everything the Anti-christ says and does will be a word and act of Satan himself.

Revelation 12:13,14

“And when the dragon (Satan) saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman (Israel) which brought forth the man child.”

“And to the woman (this remnant that is escaping as we see in Matthew 24. I think the majority of Jews that remain, according to Zechariah, will lose their lives during the Tribulation) were given two wings of a great eagle (that’s not the air force but rather it will be a supernatural walk. They will be walking, I believe at a supernatural pace. The same thing happened with the the children of Israel under Moses. Exodus 19:4, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Remember, they walked here also, taking their flocks and herds with them. But for them to have walked that far, I feel that God had to move them along supernaturally), that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time (3 1/2 years), from the face of the serpent.” Verse 15 backs up a little bit:

Revelation 12:15

“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.”

The language here is hard to understand unless you flash back to the Exodus out of Egypt. As Israel was leaving Egypt under Moses, just as soon as word got to Pharaoh that indeed these Jews were all leaving, what command did Pharaoh put out? Destroy them! So he sends his army after the children of Israel, but what happens to the Egyptian army? They are engulfed in the Red Sea. Here we have the perfect analogy of this same situation. The Anti-christ, indwelt by Satan, is also sending an army (in the language of a flood of water) after this escaping remnant in almost the same details so he sends the command to destroy this escaping remnant.

Revelation 12:16

“And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood (armed force) which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”

Here God didn’t use the Red Sea, but rather the earth to help this escaping remnant. Do you see how this parallels the Book of Exodus? Not only here, but when you get into the plagues and miracles they are almost identical. Now back to the Book of Matthew. Jesus is speaking to the twelve there on the Mount of Olives, and this is prophecy. He’s telling the things that are going to happen before the age ends:

Matthew 24:27

“For the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Here Christ uses the analogy of a storm. When we have a storm and when it has finally blown over and we see the lighting flashing in the eastern sky, do we run for cover? Why, of course not. The storm has already passed. Under normal weather patterns the weather moves from west and southwest to east and northeast. And from north and northwest to south and southeast. The climate in Israel is like ours here. Jerusalem is at the same latitude as Waco, Texas. And the temperature is almost the same. And so Jesus is using weather analogy that they all understood. That when you see lightning in the east you know the storm has already passed. What’s the storm He’s talking about? The Tribulation. It’s over.

Matthew 24:28,29

“For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” That’s the clean up after all deaths at Armageddon and all the other things that have taken place. Then verse 29:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”

Matthew 24:30,31

“And then (there is the time word) shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see [I think the Rapture of the Church will be a silent event. We’ll be gone in an instant. There’s going to be a trumpet sound, but the world won’t hear it. But at the Second Coming, the survivors then which endured (and there won’t be all that many but there will be some), will see Him as He comes] the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Isaiah tells us a few around the earth will survive the Tribulation, so they will have to be gathered. Is there anything in here of Church language? Does it say anything about the Body of Christ? You can’t find it … Jesus didn’t know? Of course He knew! But it was kept secret from the Twelve because He is going to reveal the Body of Christ, the Church, to the Apostle Paul in just a few short years. These disciples knew nothing of the 1900 + years God would deal almost exclusively with the Gentiles. Everything Jesus said was directed to the Jews. As soon as the Tribulation has run its course, part and parcel of those final hours will be that the sun and moon are going to be affected.

Turn to Acts Chapter 2. I want you to see how Peter is in perfect accord with the Jewish program and that he doesn’t know anything else. Psalms 2 lays out the Old Testament program so beautifully. It shows the Old Testament prophecy being fulfilled with the coming of the Messiah. They crucify Him. He’s resurrected. He ascends back to glory to sit at the Father’s right hand. And then the nations would go into derisions, and then would come the wrath and vexation of God. Then would come the Kingdom. What did I leave out? This 1900 + years of the Church Age. Why did I leave it out? Because the Old Testament does. It’s not back there. Paul says in Romans 16:25, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”

Now here Peter is in the same mode of language that is in Psalms Chapter 2 and the same language that Jesus is using. And here Peter is quoting out of the Book of Joel. Remember, these unbelieving Jews had accused these Galileans of having too much wine, because they were able to speak in all these languages.

Acts 2:15-18

“For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;” So Peter says that this is the prophecy of Joel. And here he quotes word for word from Joel. Now verses 17 and 18:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:”

These things had happened the day of Pentecost. If Peter would have known about the 1900 + years of the Church Age to come, he would have stopped right there. But Peter didn’t know, so all he can see is the Tribulation that is coming. Now read on:

Acts 2:19,20

“And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” Peter didn’t know, and he wasn’t supposed to know.

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