[ 769 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 1 - Part 1 ] But God! (Body of Christ) |a
[ 770 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 1 - Part 2 ] But God! (Body of Christ) |b
[ 771 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 1 - Part 3 ] But God! (Body of Christ) |c
[ 772 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 1 - Part 4 ] But God! (Body of Christ) |d
[ 773 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 2 - Part 1 ] But God! (Body of Christ - The Mysteries) |a
[ 774 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 2 - Part 2 ] But God! (Body of Christ - The Mysteries) |b
[ 775 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 2 - Part 3 ] But God! (Body of Christ - The Mysteries) |c
[ 776 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 2 - Part 4 ] But God! (Body of Christ - The Mysteries) |d
[ 777 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 3 - Part 1 ] But God! (Body of Christ – How do we get in?) |a
[ 778 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 3 - Part 2 ] But God! (Body of Christ – How do we get in?) |b
[ 779 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 3 - Part 3 ] But God! (Body of Christ – How do we get in?) |c
[ 780 ] Les Feldick [ Book 65 - Lesson 3 - Part 4 ] But God! (Body of Christ – How do we get in?) |d
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
Okay, good to see everybody today. My goodness, we set the record, I think, on attendance. We’re certainly glad that all of you folks are here. We’ve got them from near and far, as far away as Ohio and various other places here in Oklahoma. We’re glad you’re here, and we trust that you’ll enjoy the afternoon.
For those of you joining us on television, in case you’re catching us for the first time, we’re an informal Bible study. Our whole goal is to get every individual interested in studying their Bible, being able to read it and understand it. Not go by what Les Feldick says, or anybody else says, but what does the Word of God say?
All right, now we usually don’t push products, but a long time ago we did push this one a little bit. We advertised it on the air. It’s a simple book of eighty-eight questions, and the answers have been compiled from previous television programs. It has been so well received, and some have shared how their eyes and heart were opened as they studied the little book. We just ordered another several thousand of them, and consequently, we’re going to let some of our newer listeners understand that this is available. It’s just eleven dollars. We keep the cost as minimal as possible. If you’re interested, call or write and we’ll get it out to you.
All right, we’re going to go right back where we were in the last taping, and remember, we digressed from our “But now and But God” study. We may end up yet this afternoon getting back to them, but if not we’ll do it in the next program. In the last taping we were in Matthew 6:28-33 where Jesus spoke of how the lilies of the field don’t worry about what they wear and other things in creation don’t worry about where their next meal comes from – “but” – this is where we stopped.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” From that we digressed, because I’ve had so many questions over the years, “Well, what’s the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?” So, those of you that have been with us the last several programs, you’ll remember that we’ve been stressing a lot of time the Kingdom of God, and how it was that all inclusive area of all of God’s Sovereignty, predominately with regard to the believing element. The Holy Angels, Heaven itself, and every believer from the dawn of human history on up until the end, they all find themselves in the Kingdom of God. I had Sharon help me out by putting it in a circle form.
You know I like circles. You know, I was thinking the other day of doing it in circles, you know why? God loves circles! You never thought of that did you? The next time you see the sun go down, and it’s in such a way that you can look at that red ball, you just look at it and see how perfectly round it is. No big bang could leave it like that! The things that God does are so meticulously perfect, so I’m using circles. I’ve put it up here; the large circle is the Kingdom of God. Everything that involves God’s Sovereign control we can refer to as the Kingdom of God. Inside this large circle are two smaller circles. One represents the Kingdom of Heaven and the other the Body of Christ.
Now, I’m not going to bring in any of the unbelieving aspects of creation or anything. I’m going to just leave this for all of the holy and the righteous elements that are under God’s domain. So, in the last several programs we dealt with this smaller circle – the Kingdom of Heaven, which is IN the Kingdom of God. I hope I’m putting it in a way that will clarify so many of these questions.
Now, the other smaller circle is the other entity, and we’ll be looking at that later this afternoon. The other entity besides the Kingdom of Heaven is the Body of Christ. Two totally separate economies, or however you want to put it. Yet they’re all in the Kingdom of God. So today, as believers of the Grace Age, we are concerned about filling the Body of Christ. Now then, the Body of Christ is that out-calling of anyone – Jew, Gentile, black, white, rich, or poor – that comes into the Body of Christ by virtue of believing the Gospel of Grace as presented by the Apostle Paul. It is heavenly, even though we’re on the earth, and we’ll cover that probably in the last three lessons this afternoon.
Before doing that let’s look again at the Kingdom of Heaven, which is still future. We covered a lot of it in the last taping. The Kingdom of Heaven is promised all the way up through the Old Testament. Everything, especially since Abraham, has been talking about this coming, glorious Kingdom of Heaven on earth over which Christ will rule and reign. It is earthly, even though it is the powers of heaven in the form of Jesus Christ that will be ruling and reigning. I hope that isn’t confusing – the heavenly Kingdom on earth with Christ ruling and reigning. We’ve looked at that the last several programs. We’re going to look at it in a little more detail yet this afternoon, and then we’ll switch over to that other entity which is in the Kingdom of God. Paul refers to it as the Body of Christ.
Okay, we’re going to start with the physical attributes of this Kingdom of Heaven on earth which is still future. Remember we saw in our last four programs especially, how the Kingdom of Heaven will be coming after the horrors of the Tribulation have passed. Christ will return to earth, to the Mount of Olives, and He will set up this glorious Kingdom on earth, over which He will rule and reign for a thousand years. Then of course, it slips on into eternity, I feel, in the likeness of Revelation 21 and 22, when we have “a new heaven and a new earth.”
But now today, at least the first program, maybe a little longer, we’re going to look at the physical attributes of this glorious kingdom that’s coming. The closer we get to the Lord’s return, the closer we get to this kingdom, because it will follow the Tribulation and the Second Coming. All right, we’re going to jump in first at Micah chapter 4 and we’re going to start at verse 1.
Like I mentioned in my last taping, and I’ve already gotten reverberations from the phone, I was kind of thinking about stopping producing the programs last month, but we decided to keep going, because we’ve still got some things to do. So, for those of you that heard that on the weekly program, don’t worry. We’re not going to go off the air. We may someday stop producing programs, but we have everything set that if Iris and I are suddenly gone, the ministry will keep right on going.
We’ll be broadcasting until the Lord comes and as long as the funds are available. Cheryl is already taking Laura’s place more and more and hopefully, someday, Laura will even be able to come back. So, we get questions every once in a while, “Well, what if something happens to you and Iris?” Don’t worry. It’ll keep right on going, because we have over 800 programs and that goes a long, long ways. So, don’t ever think that just because we may someday stop producing more programs that we will go off the air. No way!
All right, Micah chapter 4 and we’ll start at verse 1. Now remember, we’re going to look at how this Kingdom on earth is going to function physically.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain (The word mountain is a ‘kingdom’ in the Old Testament language.) of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, (In other words, above all other kingdoms or empires that you can think of.) and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.” Now, put your hand here in Micah and back up to Isaiah so that we can see that all of Scripture fits. This isn’t just one man’s idea, this is all Holy Spirit inspired. Isaiah chapter 2 where I think we almost started with this whole Kingdom of Heaven bit, several programs back. Now, you’ve got to remember that it is 50-60 years after Isaiah writes that Micah writes. I’m sure Micah didn’t read Isaiah and then decide to plagiarize. This is all separately Holy Spirit inspired.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, (It’ll be above all other kingdoms.) and shall be exalted above the hills; (This is the part I wanted you to see.) and all nations (from around the planet) shall flow unto it.” Remember I made the analogy that it’s just like today. Washington DC is almost the capital of the world, so far as political and economic activity is concerned. Everything flows out from America, whether you know it or not. Well, one day it’s going to be Jerusalem, where the King of Kings will be ruling and reigning. All right, back to Micah and verse 2.
“And many nations…” See, we’re not just talking about Israel, now. Now Israel will be the key nation. Israel is going to have the greatest population of any other nation on earth during this thousand-year reign, because they’re going to start out with so many more people than any other one nation on earth. But, they’re all going to be coming along, because believers from every nation around the planet will survive the Tribulation and be able to come in and help repopulate the earth during this thousand years.
“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain (or the Kingdom) of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, (Now remember, Zion is that little hill about a mile south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on which David’s throne was established. That’s Zion and it’s still called that today.) for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3. And he (Christ, the Messiah, the King) shall judge among many people, (Now remember, the word judgment in Scripture, when it speaks in this kind of form, is a benevolent control of the people. In other words, it’s not a browbeating, taxing, and military conscripting kind of a government, but rather it is going to be for the good of its citizens.) he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off;…” Now, here comes the point that you’ve heard since you were a kid.
“…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, (In other words, military equipment will no longer be necessary and they can melt all the steel and everything else and use it for domestic purposes – in this case plowshares.) and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It’s going to be a thousand years of peace and utter tranquility. All right now, look at this next verse very carefully.
“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree;…” What does that mean? Personal property. Now you know that’s one of the major attributes of our democracy, isn’t it? Our property rights. We covet the fact that we can have personal property and enjoy it ourselves. Well, this is coming back into a biblical application that when Christ rules and reigns with this glorious Kingdom, every family is evidently going to have their own piece of property, and it’ll be primarily an agrarian society. Now, there are mentions of cities in the Kingdom, but it will be primarily agrarian, or agricultural. There will be no need of war equipment or armies or anything like that. It’s going to be a glorious heaven on earth experience.
“…and none shall make them afraid:…” In other words, they won’t need security. They won’t need police departments or county sheriffs. Everyone is going to live in perfect peace and tranquility. It’s beyond human comprehension! A thought just came to mind. Keep your hand in Micah, and let’s go all the way back to Galatians. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this when I was getting ready. But that’s why I sometimes think – I don’t know why I get ready for these, because I never use what I plan to use anyway. Come all the way back to Galatians chapter 5 and this will probably just about take the rest of the half-hour. We’re not going to get far today, you know that? Okay, now let’s start in verse 19, and this is a view of most of civilization today. This is the kind of a world that is on the planet as we speak.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (All the sexual sins that you can think of.) 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred,…” Now as I read, can’t you just see your daily paper? This is it! You know, I told Iris the other day, I don’t even know why I get that Daily Oklahoman, it’s just nothing but depressing news – mayhem and murder and rape and war and nothing good anymore. Well, here it is. This is the real world. All right, reading on.
“…variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, (See? Governments are being thrown down every day.) heresies, 21. Envyings, murder, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, (Paul says) that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Where are they going to be in this circle? Out of it! They’re not going to be in this circle. They’re going to be out of it. Now read on. Now the flip side is what the thousand-year Kingdom is going to be.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance:…” What does that tell you? That’s a beautiful society. That’s a beautiful community. That’s a beautiful village – the term they like to use lately. And that’s what the thousand years is going to be. None of this garbage that we just read first. That’s all going to be gone, but only these things that are the fruit of the Spirit. All right, enough of that. Back to Micah chapter 4 now verse 5.
“For all people will walk every one in the name of his god,…” Now, that’s the way it is today, isn’t it? All around the planet you’ve got all of these various religions and all of their various gods. Back of course, at the time that Scripture was written, it was a lot of Greek and Roman mythology, so they had gods and goddesses. All right, that’s the way it was then, but, when the Kingdom comes in:
“… we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” In other words, they’re not going to bring their pagan gods into the Kingdom. No. All the believers that are part and parcel of this Kingdom of Heaven, this rule and reign of Christ will have the God of Scripture as their God. It’s going to be glorious!
All right, now for the few minutes we have left turn to Isaiah, a portion that we’ve used a lot already. Back to Isaiah, chapter 11 and the change of behavior in even all of nature. A lot of people try to spiritualize this and say that it’s a figure of speech – no, it isn’t. I’m a literalist. This is literally going to take place. Isaiah chapter 11 and we’re going to start again at verse 1, so that we don’t have to jump in at something that we don’t understand. This again is introducing this coming glorious Kingdom over which Christ will rule and reign.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, (Who was, remember, the father of David.) and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: (In other words, Christ comes in the lineage of Jesse and David. So, we’re speaking of the Messiah here.) 2. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:…” Remember, the fear of the Lord in Scripture is what? Wisdom. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord. So, He’s going to have all the wisdom of the Godhead at His disposal.
“…and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: (Because He will, as God, know everything that’s going on in His Kingdom.) 4. But with righteousness he shall judge (or rule) the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, (That is at the beginning of it, when He’s setting it up.) and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” So that there will be no ungodly people in His Kingdom.
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” Or his control. Now here it comes. Boy, I love these verses, because as an animal lover I think you can’t help it.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,…” Now you’ve got to admit, in spite of their mean nature and their carnivorous appetite, wolves are beautiful animals. They’re gorgeous. And here they’re going to be domesticated. Lying down with the lamb, instead of using it for food. All right, read on.
“…and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; (baby goats) and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; (And in the midst of all these ex-wild animals are children.) and a little child shall lead them. 7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion (the king of beasts) shall eat straw (or forage) like the ox.”
All right, now let’s go back and pick it up, all the way back to Genesis chapter 1. Has it been this way before? Of course! It’s the curse that changed everything. Before Adam fell, it was just like Isaiah sees it in the coming Kingdom.
“And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, (including the eagles and other birds of prey) and to every thing that creepeth (crocodiles, whatever you can think of that were carnivorous. All these creatures God says,) upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.” Now the green herb of course just simply involved things that grew naturally. The grass. The herbs. The fruits. The nuts. The berries. Anything but killing something else for its food. They all, everything, ate which grew naturally, because you want to remember, there’s no death. And if there’s no death, you couldn’t have a lion killing something else for its food. It just wouldn’t jive. It won’t fit. But there was no death. So, there was no killing for their daily sustenance, because everything, and I can’t emphasize that enough…everything from the top of the scale to the bottom ate of things that grew naturally.
Now you might think, well my land, how could the earth produce enough food? Well, now I’m going to give you a shocking thought, and it’s only my own idea. I can’t prove it from Scripture, but I think that before the flood the earth was probably just the opposite in the ratio of water to land as what it is now. Now think about that for a minute. If all of our vast ocean areas were a land mass and our land mass was water, do you see what the difference would be? There’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of square miles of water. If you invert those numbers, then I think before the flood there was so much land mass area, the dinosaurs could have been out there and nobody would have ever seen them. Because stop and think, if the vast Pacific Ocean was all forested land mass, there’d have been things going on there that no one would have ever seen.
All right, but this is the picture as it was before the “fall,” before death entered. Everything cohabited with one another. There was no lion killing something for its food. The leopard didn’t have to kill for its food. The crocodile didn’t have to kill for its food. They all ate of things that grew naturally. Of course when the fall and the curse came, it was all changed and ecology became as we know it today. All right, so at the time of the flood, I think that God reversed the land massed area and ended up with far more of the earth covered with water than with land. So, I see no problem with reversing it again and that it will come back as it was before.
All right, now if you’ll come back to Isaiah chapter 11, we’ve got to finish this quickly. So, all of these carnivorous animals, with no danger of being eaten up by somebody else, will all co-habit. They will all feed together, and then verse 9. Now, how can anybody reject promises like this?
“They shall not hurt nor destroy (See, there’ll be no death, there’ll be no destruction going on. If anything it’ll be constant the other way.) in all my holy mountain: (or in my Kingdom) for the earth (the whole planet) shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters (now) cover the sea.” God’s knowledge will permeate everything.
Now, I’ve got one more. I think we’ve got time to look at it. Jump all the way up to another verse that we’ve used quite often over the years, Zechariah chapter 14. Here we have the Tribulation, the horrors of those final days, the Battle of Armageddon, and the total destruction of the world’s armies, and then in verse 4 the Second Coming of Christ.
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley;…” That will cause a river rolling all the way from the Mediterranean out to the Dead Sea. All right, now then we’ll, for the sake of time, jump over a few verses to verse 8.
“And it shall be in that day, (When Christ returns and sets this planet straight and makes it productive again.) that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: (or the Dead Sea out to the east of Jerusalem) in summer and in winter shall it be.” (Now look at the promise of verse 9.) 9. And the LORD (God the Son) shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”
LESSON ONE * PART II
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ)
MATTHEW 6:33 and various other Scriptures
Okay, now we’re just a simple Bible study. We always let our new listeners realize that we’re not associated with any particular denomination. We’re going to get right back into the Book, again, this afternoon and start on the other part of the Kingdom of God, which is the Body of Christ. We always have to keep the Kingdom of Heaven and the Body of Christ totally separated. The Kingdom of Heaven, as Jesus and the Twelve preached it, was the promise, coming up from the Old Testament and beginning especially with King David, that there would be a royal king coming out of the line of David who would rule and reign from Jerusalem. Israel would be the top dog of the nations. All the other nations of the world would be subservient to the Nation of Israel and her King. This is why it’s going to be Heaven on earth. Satan has been taken off the scene. He is locked up for a thousand years, and the earth will revert back, as we saw in the last half-hour, as it was in the Garden of Eden. It’s going to be a glorious kingdom on earth with the rule of Heaven upon it.
All right, also in the Kingdom of God we have what has been revealed to the Apostle Paul, and that is the Body of Christ. Now, the first thing I’m going to prove from Scripture is contrary to what some of these people who pooh-pooh the whole idea of end-time prophecy. They ridicule the rapture because they claim that none of this is now apropos. They say that everything culminated with 70 AD, and that Israel ceased to be a nation, consequently, there is no end-time prophecy.
Now, the word for that kind of stuff is Preterism. It comes from a Greek word that I think just means “the end of everything.” Or something like that. But anyhow, they’re making big inroads lately, and I guess if I get opposition from anybody it’s from people who are listening to that kind of stuff. As I’m constantly making mention that if you’re going to believe that Israel has ceased to be a nation and that none of these end-time prophecies can be fulfilled, then you’ve got to throw half of this Book away. And the Bible is plain that if you take anything away from the words of this Book then you’re doomed. So, I trust that a lot of these people are going to wake up before it’s too late.
But anyway, one of them that I was reading one time, and I do read them because I want to know what the opposition is thinking. One of them made a statement one time, “There’s nothing to indicate that there will be a parenthetical period of time between God dealing this and then picking it up and dealing that.” Well, I’m just going to show you that there is. There are all kinds of evidence of a parenthetical period of time. We’re going to start in at Luke chapter 4. This is going to lead into a few lessons concerning the Body of Christ of which you and I as believers in this period of time are members. We are members of the Body of Christ and the Body of Christ is in the Kingdom of God. I hope I’ve made that point now. I think the circles help. Sharon, I thank you. It’s a good job. It really shows clearly that these two entities are all in the Kingdom of God.
All right, Luke chapter 4, and it’s at the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry. He’s in the synagogue at Nazareth where He grew up. Now, we’ve looked at all this before, it’s repetition. But repetition is the mother of learning. We hear that all the time. All right, Luke chapter 4 and dropping down to verse 16.
“And he (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, (Remember, He’s under the Law.) he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17. And there was delivered unto him the book (or the scroll) of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found (which indicates He knew what He wanted to read) the place where it was written.” He’s reading Isaiah 61:1, 2, and 3. We’ll go back and look at it in just a minute. But He’s going to continue reading in the synagogue.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;…” And we know from Matthew chapter 9, that the gospel He preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom, this coming Kingdom that we’ve been talking about. It was mentioned all the way up through the Old Testament, and Jesus proclaimed it. John the Baptist proclaimed it. Peter and the Eleven preached it – this glorious coming Kingdom promised to the Nation of Israel. This is the whole purpose of His earthly ministry – to prove to Israel who He was. But they rejected it in unbelief.
Okay, but here is evidence that as God, the Ruler and Sustainer and Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ knew the end from the beginning. Here’s where He proves it. So, reading on.
“…he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, (That is, the Old Testament believers who were down in the Paradise side of Hades, remember?) and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Okay, now come all the way back to Isaiah, chapter 61. Here’s where He’s reading, but keep Luke 4 so you can flip back and forth. Keep Luke 4 so that you can see what He did. Well, we won’t read verse 1 of chapter 61, but let’s jump in at verse 2. Isaiah 61 verse 2.
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,…” Now from Luke 4 you’ll find that’s where He stopped, isn’t it? That’s where He stopped, and that’s why they were so amazed in the synagogue. Why did He stop in the middle of a verse? Well, He knew why, but nobody else ever figured it out, until now we get into the Church Age where we can look back. Sure He knew that that’s where everything was going to stop until this parenthetical period of time that we call the Church Age had been fulfilled. Then the rest of Isaiah 61 will be fulfilled. Now read on. After He stopped Isaiah says:
“…and the day of vengeance of our God;…” See, that’s the process. He has come in His first advent. He’s preaching the coming of the Kingdom and His Messiahship. He doesn’t mention His rejection here, but then the prophet goes on and foretells the Tribulation, “the day of vengeance of our God.” Then He goes on and introduces the Kingdom.
“…to comfort all that mourn;” Remember what we read in Isaiah 11 in the last program, that this would be part and parcel of His rule and reign? He would be benevolent to the downtrodden and He would comfort those that mourn. Well, the same thing here. So, here is Isaiah’s way of referring to this coming Kingdom. All right, but Jesus stopped at the end of His first advent and did not mention the last part of the prophecy, which meant He knew that prophecy was going to stop for a period of time and then it would pick up again.
Now, let’s look at another one in the New Testament. Come up with me, if you will, to Acts chapter 13. I hope I’m making sense. Now remember, what I’m trying to show is that there is ample Scriptural proof that the prophetic program that is laid out in the Old Testament would be interrupted to bring in a parenthetical period of time for this Age of Grace. And when it’s over the rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled. That’s why I’m always putting my timeline up on the board. After we get to that point in Acts where Paul starts preaching to the Gentiles, until the rapture occurs, God is dealing with the Body of Christ. After the rapture, God will pick up again where He left off with Israel back in the Book of Acts.
All right, Acts chapter 13 and Paul and Barnabas have just begun their missionary journeys out from Antioch. They are on their way and have stopped at Cyprus out there in the Mediterranean Sea. Drop in at chapter 13 verse 6. It’s been years since we taught all this, but it won’t hurt to do it again.
“And when they had gone through the isle (that is Cyprus) unto Paphos, (which is at the western end) they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, (But he was a what?) a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: 7.Which was with the deputy of the country (or the governor of the islands of Cyprus) Sergius Paulus, (a Gentile) a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.” Here we have the first instance in Scripture where a Gentile is showing interest and a Jew is opposing him. All right, verse 8.
Acts 13:8 -11a
“But Elymas the sorcerer (for so was his name by interpretation) withstood them, (that is Paul and Barnabas) seeking to turn away the deputy (the Roman) from the faith. 9. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost (or the Holy Spirit) set his eyes on him, 10. And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease, (or will you not stop) to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11. And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, (physically) not seeing the sun (Forever? The rest of your life? But for what?) for a season. (A period of time.)” In other words, Paul put the curse, if you want to call it, on this man that he would become physically blind, not for his whole lifetime, but for a period of time. A period of time known only to God. And that’s where we leave it. And then,
“And immediately there fell upon him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” All right, now what’s the big picture? Well, that’s what Israel did. When Israel rejected the Messiah; they crucified Him, along with the Romans, of course. God raised Him from the dead. Called Him back to Glory. Peter and the Eleven in Acts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, continued to plead with the Nation of Israel to repent of having killed their Messiah – that He’s alive and He could still return and give them the promised Kingdom. But will they? No. They will not. They oppose Paul at every step of the way, so what did God do? Well, let me show you from Scripture what God did. Turn ahead to Romans, chapter 11, as we’re through here in Acts, for now. This is exactly like He did with the false prophet Jew on the island of Cyprus, which was just an example, a prophetic illustration, of what the Nation as a whole would be doing. Romans chapter 11 verse 5. Because verse 6 makes the statement that I want to refer to.
“Even so then (Paul says) at this present time (That is during his ministry.) there is a remnant (There were a few Jews responding to his preaching, of course.) according to the election of grace. 6. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, (See how we’re explaining that it’s by faith and faith alone, not with any works of righteousness which we have done?) then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7. What then? Israel (the Nation) hath not obtained that which he seeketh for;…” And what were they seeking? A Messiah to set up that Kingdom promised ever since almost King David; this glorious earthly Kingdom that we’ve been talking about for the last five or six programs. The Jews knew that was in their future. They still do. That’s why the Jew will constantly exclaim, what? “Next year Jerusalem.” Why? Hopefully the Messiah will be back, and they’re still looking for it. Okay, but now read on.
“…but the election (Those who did believe.) hath obtained it, and the rest (That is of the Nation of Israel.) were (What?) blinded.” Now isn’t it fitting? This Jew on the island of Cyprus was opposing the truth going to a Gentile and God put blindness on him for a season, not for the rest of his life, but for a time.
All right, now we’ve got the same thing here with the Apostle Paul being opposed by so many of the Jewish element, especially in Thessalonica and up in that area of Greece. So now he is inspired of the Spirit to write what’s happening. The Nation has been supernaturally blinded by an act of God because of their unbelief. And God doesn’t say how long they’ll be blind, and we’re going to see that in just a minute from a couple of other verses. But what I want you to see is that God intervened in the life of this false prophet on Cyprus, He intervened in the spiritual life of the whole Nation, with the same concept that they would be blind for a season.
All right, now let’s see where we can put it a little closer. Come back now to Acts chapter 15. Now, of course, the setting in Acts 15 is the Jerusalem council. We’ve spent a lot of time on this one over the years. The Jerusalem church people have been plaguing Paul and his ministry amongst the Gentiles by coming in behind him and telling Paul’s Gentile believers that they had to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law or they couldn’t be saved. And Paul was just about going frantic over it. He said you don’t have to become Judaistic. You are saved by faith plus nothing.
But the Judaisers said that no, you’ve got to be. All right, so they came to Jerusalem to settle the problem. In fact, I guess I’d better just go all the way back, because otherwise, you don’t know where I’m coming from. Chapter 15 verse 1 and we’ll do this quickly. Acts 15 verse 1. Now, I really shouldn’t apologize, because almost every place that I’ve been, from one end of this country to the other, if I happen to teach this, the people will come up and crowd around me and you know what they say, “Never knew this was in our Bible.” Most people don’t know that this chapter is in here. And it’s as plain as day! Here we have these Jews coming in behind Paul’s Gentile congregations telling them this.
“And certain men which came down from Judea (the Jerusalem church) taught the brethren, (Paul’s Gentile converts) and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (Do you see how plain that is?) 2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they (Paul and Barnabas and the churches where they’d been ministering. This one happens to be up in Antioch.) determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto (What people?) the apostles and elders about this question.” So, they’re intricately involved with all this. That’s why I’m saying that it was the Jerusalem church that is sending these people out to do this, and the apostles were in control. So, you’ve got to start at the top. So, that’s where Paul and Barnabas decide to go. They’ll go to Jerusalem to see the apostles about this problem and see if they can’t stop it. All right, let’s jump all the way down to verse 5 after Paul and Barnabas get to Jerusalem. They meet with the Twelve and the leaders of the Jerusalem Jewish church.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of Pharisees…” Now, I don’t think I have to tell my class people what a Pharisee was. They were the religious elite in Israel. They were the ones who thought they could commit no sin, and they were self-righteous. Okay, but some of those Pharisee’s became believers by believing that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, so they become members of the Jerusalem church.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now, does that need explanation? I wouldn’t think so. These Pharisaical Jewish believers in the church at Jerusalem were bent on the idea that those Gentiles couldn’t be saved unless they practiced circumcision and the Mosaic Law. All right, now read on down to verse 7.
“And when there had been much disputing,…” They disputed the pros and cons of all this. Do Paul’s Gentile converts have to become like a Judaising Jew and be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses? And there was a back and forth disputation, I imagine most of the day, before they finally come to a conclusion. All right, now verse 12.
“Then all the multitude (That is, of these church people at Jerusalem who are confronting Paul and Barnabas.) kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” This was their whole purpose. Their ministry is to Gentiles. These Jews are not yet ready to accept that.
“And after they had held their peace,…” In other words, the arguments settled down and they finally have come to the conclusion that, yes, Paul has been sent to the Gentile world with a message wholly and completely different than anything they had heard in Judaism. And that was the Gospel of the Grace of God.
“And after they had held their peace, James (Who was the moderator of this meeting. Now remember, this is not the original James. This is the half-brother of Jesus, because the original James has already been beheaded some time before.) answered, saying, Men and brethren, (Now, he’s addressing his fellows Jews.) hearken unto me: 14. Simeon (or Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, (Which of course goes to chapter 10, the house of Cornelius.) to take out of them (That is the Gentile world.) a people for his name.” Now, what’s this going to be? The Body of Christ. Not the Kingdom, but rather the Body of Christ. It’s a whole new ball game, now. It’s a whole different entity that we’re building. But look at the next verse; verse 15.
“And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (We are quoting from the little, minor prophet Amos. We’re going to go back and look at it in a minute. Amos writes:) 16. After this…” Well, that’s where I always have to stop and emphasize. After what? After the calling out of a Gentile people for His name, after the Body of Christ is complete, now read on.
“After this (The prophet wrote, speaking on behalf of God, of course.) I will return, (That’s speaking of Christ’s Second Coming.) and will build again the tabernacle of (Whom?) David,…” So, God is going to keep His word with Israel after all. But we don’t know how long a parenthetical period is in here, but it’s so obvious there is one. It’s a parenthetical period of time when God is going to build the Body of Christ. After it’s finished, He will raise up Israel again to come back into the fullness of all their prophetic program. All right and God says:
“…and I will set it up:” All right, now we’ve got a couple of minutes left, so that should be long enough. Let’s go back to the Old Testament again, to the little Book of Amos. If you need help finding it, it’s Daniel, Hosea, Joel, and then Amos. I want to come in to chapter 9. Amos chapter 9 and it’s a good thing we just talked about the qualifications of the Kingdom, because here it is again in this series of verses. We’ll just hit it to confirm what we read earlier. Amos chapter 9 verse 11, this is what James is quoting after that council in Jerusalem had agreed that Paul and Barnabas could go to the Gentiles and the rest of them would stay with Israel. All right, here is what he quoted, verse 11.
“In that day (That is when Christ returns and sets up the Kingdom.) will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, (It has been now 1900 and some years.) and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” (In other words, Israel is going to come back to her future glory.) 12. That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all of the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. (Now verse 13, the same language that we talked about in the last program.) 13. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” Well, what is that? That’s all language concerning the Kingdom. And when will the Kingdom come in? When the Body of Christ is complete and Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom once again. So, this is a whole part of Scripture.
Now, I had one more and I don’t think I have time to cover it. We’ll pick it up in the very first part of our next program. But there is still one more graphic example that God is going to open up the timeline, as I call it, and He’s going to let Israel go down into the dispersion, or as Amos said, the tabernacle will fall down. And God is going to call out a people for His name, the Body of Christ during this age of Grace we’re now in.
LESSON ONE * PART III
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ)
Matthew 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
In case you’re a new listener, I’d like to share that we’re just an informal Bible study. The whole purpose of our teaching is to get folks to enjoy their Bible, be able to understand what they read, and learn how to study it on their own. I don’t want anybody to go and say, “Well, this is what Les Feldick says.” That doesn’t count. What does the Book say, that’s my favorite thing to hear – What does the Book say is all that counts!
All right, we’ve been, for the last several programs at least, talking about the Kingdom of God. We came out of that verse in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus said, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God,…” From that we showed what the Kingdom of God involved, with the big circle and the two smaller circles inside it. Then we taught several programs showing the Kingdom of Heaven as being one of the smaller circles. Now, we’re moving over to the other circle, the Body of Christ and how it came about.
There is, indeed, a parenthetical period of time where God has opened up the timeline, as we usually put it on the board. We’re proving, now, that there were instances in Scripture that indicated that that’s exactly what would happen.
I quoted somebody that ridiculed that there was nothing in Scripture to indicate any kind of a parenthetical period of time. Well, we showed you the one from the Island of Cyprus where Paul put blindness on the opposing Jew and how that represented how the Nation of Israel was blinded. Then, in Acts chapter 15 the tabernacle of David was fallen down, and while it is fallen down God is going to call out a group of Gentiles for His name which is the Body of Christ, which, we feel, is coming to completion in the near future.
Now, I’ve got one parenthetical period left, and that’s what I call the beauty of my line of teaching. I don’t have to completely start with something different – we’ll just keep right on going. Now, let’s go to Romans chapter 11 and we have another instance that is so obvious. This timeline is going to be opened up for a period of time, it will end, and then God will pick up where He left off with Israel. Romans chapter 11 and drop down to verse 25, where Paul writes:
“For I would not, brethren that ye should be ignorant (Or completely unaware) of this mystery,…” Now, we’re going to be looking at that word mystery quite a bit in the programs to come. It is translated in other places as secret – things that had never been revealed before, until it was given to this apostle.
“…ye should not be ignorant of this mystery, (Or, this secret that’s never been revealed before.) lest ye should be wise in your own conceits;…” Now, you know what that means. That’s just another way of saying that you’re so puffed up and think you know it all, but you know nothing. That’s what it really amounts to, and that’s where so many people are. They think they know it all, and they know nothing. All right, here’s what God has now revealed to Paul that has never been indicated before, except that little tidbit back in Amos that the tabernacle of David would be fallen down. But now Paul puts it in a little different language, and here it is.
“…that blindness (spiritual blindness) in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Now, that’s the same word that we found back in Acts, when he put the blindness on the false prophet in Cyprus, and he was blinded for a season. Well, it’s the same connotation here, that blindness has happened to the nation of Israel, not forever, not from here on into eternity, but only for a period of time.
Now, Paul had no idea how long it was going to be, of course, but here’s what he had revealed, that blindness, a spiritual blindness for a period of time, has happened to Israel, the nation. What are the next words? “Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” What’s the fullness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ. So, when the Body of Christ, this out calling of Gentiles, is complete, then God takes it out of the way in the Rapture. Then He can pick up where He left off with Israel.
Now, it’s so easy to understand, in that light, that it’s getting closer every day. As the Body of Christ is filling up, there’s another phenomenon that I always tie together, and for this we go back to Luke chapter 21. They have almost been working as parallel railroad tracks. While God is calling out the Gentiles, a people for His name, and filling up the Body of Christ, there is another phenomenon that’s building over the same amount of time. Luke refers to it in chapter 21 verse 24 as “the times of the Gentiles.” Not the fullness as Paul says, but the times.
All right, Luke 21, let’s start at verse 20. We’ve got time enough. Again, this is Tribulation ground, just like Matthew 24.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them who are in the midst of it (that is Jerusalem) depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. 22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23. But woe unto them that are with child, (Now, this is almost the same language that Jesus spoke in Matthew 24.) and to them that give suck (are nursing) in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations:…” Now, I’ll have to back up! This is really a reference to 70 AD. This is NOT the Tribulation. I’m sorry. Matthew 24 is Tribulation. This is 70 AD and the key is that at the end of the Tribulation the Jews aren’t dispersed into all the nations. They are, as we teach today, home free for the rest of time. But here, Jesus is speaking of 70 AD when, indeed, the same kind of things took place. Jerusalem is overrun, but the key here that this is not Tribulation is that He’s speaking of them in dispersion into all the nations. But now, here’s the one we were looking for.
“…and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Jerusalem was trodden down by the Gentiles in the beginning, of course, in 606 BC when Nebuchadnezzar did the same thing – destroyed Jerusalem. The Gentiles have been lording over the Jewish people ever since. All right, so that’s called the “times of the Gentiles.” Jerusalem will continue to be under the boot of the Gentile world, “until.” There’s that time word again. It’s going to come to an end, and when will it end? When these “times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled.” Then, here comes the Tribulation.
“And then there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. (Now, these are all signs of the end, remember.) 26. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (And now here comes the Second Coming.) 27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up you heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
But dropping back up to verse 24, now. These times of the Gentiles, beginning with 606 BC and Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, are when the Jewish people and Jerusalem especially would be under the Gentile boot until Christ returns. The times of the Gentiles are signified by the increase in wickedness and rebelliousness and ungodliness and all the things that pertain to the end-time scenario. So, as God is calling out the righteous, the Body of Christ, we have the other element, the ungodliness and the wickedness of the world coming at the same rate of speed, so that they both level out about the same time. That’s why we can teach that as we see the signs of this end, we also know that the Body of Christ is nearly full. They’ll coincide, and when the Body is full and we’re out of here, in come these final seven years of wrath and vengeance and the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom.
All right, now let me take you back to Romans 11, once more, to show how this is a prophetic indication that there would be a break in God’s timeline. He will open it up, for now 1900 and some years. Israel has been out in dispersion, but now she’s back in the land, and everything is being set for the end-time Second Coming of Christ, and at the same time the Body of Christ is filling up. All right, let’s read Romans 11:25 once more, before we go on.
“For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (This secret that has never been revealed before.) lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; (Here it is.) that (spiritual) blindness in part (for a period of time) is happened to Israel, (The nation. Now, that doesn’t mean an individual Jew can’t be saved, and they are. But the Nation, nationally speaking, is spiritually blind, and they will stay blind.) until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Which is the filling up or fullness of the Body of Christ. All right, now I want to go to Ephesians chapter 3. We might as well start at verse 1.
“For this cause (In other words, what he has written in the first two chapters, of course.) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Now, that’s why in Romans chapter 11 verse 13, what does he say? “Inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” He knew that was his role in God’s program, that the Apostle Paul would be God’s spokesman to the Gentiles.
Now, let’s stop and think a minute. Most of our preaching and most of our teaching and most of our Sunday School and everything like that are in the four Gospels. Why? Because that’s what Jesus said! Most of it is in red. Well, that’s all well and good, and we’re not going to take anything away from who He was. He is the God of Creation! He is the Almighty! No doubt about it! But everything that Jesus said back there in the four Gospels was before the cross, for the most part, and still under the Law. So, everything He said has a law-keeping connotation to it. And that doesn’t fit for us in the Body of Christ.
But, when He now opens up this Age of Grace, He isn’t down here ministering to us like He did to Israel, but He has a designated spokesman and to that spokesman, the Apostle Paul, He has revealed everything that you and I need to know in this Age of Grace. Everything! Consequently, I’ll tell people that call, “Okay, if something in the Old Testament is in accordance with what Paul writes, use it. No problem. But if it flies in the face of what Paul says, you go by what Paul says, because this is Jesus Christ speaking on this side of the cross! Even though it’s not in red letters like it was in His earthly ministry, it’s the same Christ speaking through the Apostle of the Gentiles.” That’s why I make no apology for holding up the Apostle Paul, because he IS God’s spokesman for us today!
People can’t get it through their head that this is where it has to come from. That’s why I like that little tract I mentioned in the last program by William R. Newell, one of the great Bible teachers in the 20’s and 30’s. He makes it so plain that if a preacher isn’t Pauline, then don’t listen to him. I’ve told people when they call and say, “Well, Les, how can I find a good church?” This is what I tell them. Find the yellow pages. Find churches. Just go down the list. Call the preacher in his office and ask him “Are you Pauline?” If he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, say, “Well, thank you,” and hang up, because if he knows what you’re talking about, he’ll answer in the affirmative. He’ll say, “Absolutely I am!” If he isn’t, you don’t have to go there.
Because this is where it’s at, and then William R. Newell makes the statement, I said it in the last program, he said, “I don’t care how fluent a speaker. I don’t care how strong a preacher. If he’s not Pauline, he’s out in left field.” Well, I agree 100%, because Paul is singularly the Apostle of the Gentiles. Okay, now, Ephesians 3 verse 2, where he now writes:
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God…” What’s that? Well, a whole new set of directions. You know, the best way I like to explain a dispensation, and there are various ways, but the one I like to use for practical explanation, is that when your doctor gives you a prescription and you take it to your pharmacist, he or she fills the prescription. But along with your prescription you get a set of what? Rules or instructions.
Now, you can’t take those pills home and put them in the medicine cabinet and then tomorrow look at the directions on another medication but take this one. You’re in trouble, aren’t you? You’re in trouble. That medication may say take three a day. This one over here may say take one. Well, you take three of this one and you’re in trouble, or visa versa. All right, now it’s the same way with dispensational teaching in Scripture. What God told Israel in the dispensation of Law is a whole different set of directions from what Paul gives us in the dispensation of Grace.
I think it was Dr. Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary, and I think it’s in one of his footnotes, at least I read it someplace. I hope I’m not putting credit in the wrong place. He used this analogy, and, of course, he was at that time a professor down at the seminary in Dallas. He said, “Naturally, we as a seminary, a college, put out a catalog for every year of school. And in that catalog you have the various courses that are being offered.” Now he said, “It wouldn’t do a nickels worth of good for us to send out a catalog for 1990 for someone going to school in 2005.” Well, that stands to reason. Why? Because everything has changed since 1990 to 2005. So, you go by this catalog. Well, that’s just another illustration that you can’t go back into the four Gospels, which are under Law, and build doctrine, because that’s like using a college catalog from ten years back.
I can use another one. You make out a will and you’ve got all the details. You’ve got all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted and everything signed like it’s supposed to be, but five years later you make out a new will. You put it in your safe deposit box, and you die. Well, they go through your safe deposit box and they pull it out and say, “Well, here are two wills.” Well, now you’re all smart enough, I don’t have to tell you, which one are they going to use? Well, the last one. The first one is no account, because it’s been overridden by a second one.
Well, it’s the same way with Scripture. Law has been done away with. It’s a will that is no longer valid. So, where do we go? We go to the one that’s valid. And what is it? All right, you got verse 2?
“If you have heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given to me to you.” Now, do you need it any plainer than that? Well, let’s just repeat for emphasis. Keep your hand in Ephesians, I’m not through here. Come over to Colossians chapter 1. I guess I can spend the rest of the half-hour right here. This is a good place. Colossians chapter 1, because, now don’t lose me. We’re now showing the Body of Christ, which also is in the Kingdom of God. So, when we speak of being in the Kingdom, it’s really not appropriate, and yet, to a degree, it is, because when you’re a member of the Body of Christ, you’re a member of God’s Kingdom. But to be definitive, we should identify it as the Body of Christ.
All right, let’s start at verse 15. These are verses, again, that we have used many, many times. But I don’t think I can do it enough. Here we have the establishment that God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth, was the Creator of everything! Now, I just told somebody this afternoon, the first mark of a cult, and the easiest to determine, is – do they recognize Christ as God? They don’t. Cults, for the most part, in fact all that I know about, that’s the first red flag, they do not recognize Jesus Christ as God. They will put it in some other way. He’s either a prophet, or He’s this or that. But He’s not from eternity past. He’s a created being, whatever. That’s the first mark of a cult – that Jesus Christ was not the Creator, Eternal, from eternity past to eternity future, the Eternal God.
All right, now look at what it says in Colossians chapter 1. Let’s go up to verse 13 so we make sure that we know who Paul is talking about. Colossians 1 verse 13:
“Who (speaking of God the Father in verse 12) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” All right, now I’m glad I mentioned it. When we’re a member of the Body of Christ, we’re a member of what? The Kingdom of God. Absolutely! But the smaller part of it is, we’re in the Body of Christ. That’s more definitive.
“In whom (the Son) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Now goodness sakes, there’s only been one person of the Godhead that shed His blood for mankind, and it’s God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Okay? Now verse 15.
“Who (God the Son) is the image (or the visible appearance) of the invisible God. the firstborn of every creature:” Now, I just had to explain to someone in the last day or two, that up until Christ became humanity at Bethlehem, He was part of a Three Person, Invisible Godhead, in the realm of the spiritual. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were invisible. But at Bethlehem, God the Son took on the manifestation of visibility. He took on flesh.
All right, that’s what Paul is telling us, that God the Son is the “…image (visible appearance) of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Or before anything else was ever on the scene.
“For by him (God the Son) were all things created,…” Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that! Theologians a lot of time can’t, but you can! Well, I don’t have much time for a lot them, I’ll admit it.
I read some of their stuff to Iris and I say, “Honey, listen to this. Listen to what this guy with all these degrees writes. It’s ridiculous!” But here it is as plain as English can make it that “by God the Son were all things created,”
“…that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” That takes in everything that you could ever comprehend. His creations are for His joy. They’re for whatever purpose He wants for Himself. He has every right to do it.
“And he is before all things, (In other words, He came out of eternity past, in that invisible Godhead, right along with the Father and the Spirit. They were all three in eternity past.) and by him (What?) all things consist.” Or are held together. Why doesn’t the universe just explode? God the Son has got His control on it. All right, verse 18, here it comes now. Now, this is language you won’t find in the four Gospels, not even a hint of it. So, you’ve got to come to Paul if you really want to know where you’re at in this world.
“And He is the head of (What?) the body, the church:…” This other circle. Not the King of it, like He is in the Kingdom. He’s the head of it, which means it’s a physical connection in a spiritual realm. But nevertheless, just like our head is part of our body, Christ is the head of this out-called Body of Christ. All right, read on:
“…who is the beginning, (from eternity past) the firstborn from the dead;…” Speaking of His resurrection. He is the first that was ever resurrected from the dead. Now, I always make that point when you speak of people being raised from the dead in the Old Testament. I think that when Elijah raised the widow’s son, that wasn’t resurrection. They merely were called back to life, and they died again. Lazarus was not a resurrection. Jesus called him back to life, but he died again. But Jesus Christ is the first and only One to have been resurrected, never to die again. That’s our Gospel – that Christ died for us, He was buried, and rose from the dead. This is what we must believe for salvation, as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4
“…that in all things he might have the preeminence. (In other words, He’s above everything as the Creator. And because he was obedient to the cross:) 19. For it pleased the Father that in him should all (What?) fullness dwell;” Now, if God the Father has put His total approval upon the work of the Son, who is man to say, “I don’t believe it?”
LESSON ONE * PART IV
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
It’s good to see everybody back from your break. We’ll go right into our fourth program this afternoon. For those of you joining us on television, I haven’t done it all afternoon, not because I haven’t thought about it, but I’ve just been so anxious to get into the Book. But again, we want to thank all of you for your tremendous help in prayers and financial help. I know most ministries complain that things dive in the summertime, but ours hasn’t. It’s been holding right up there, and we just praise the Lord for every one of you. Even if it’s small. Oh, please, please, don’t apologize for sending five dollars, because as I usually write back to someone like that who writes, “I wish I could give more.” I say, “Look, with God little is much!” We’ve proven it over and over. We don’t beg for the five dollars, but my goodness, if that’s what you want to give, why you just feel good about giving it. And we appreciate it. We don’t care how small it is or how humble the giver, we just thank the Lord for you.
Let’s pick up where we left off in our last half-hour. We were in Colossians chapter 1 and I had come out of Ephesians chapter 3 where Paul had said, “If you had heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given to me to you.” We’re going to see that the Holy Spirit has prompted him to repeat it in Colossians. That’s why we came to chapter 1.
All right, we left off at verse 19, where the Scripture makes it so plain that Christ is not the King of the church, but rather He’s the head. What a big difference. I always tell people, if you are under a king, then you are merely a what? You’re a subject. You’re under the king’s thumb. But we’re not under that kind of a situation. Our head is that which is part and parcel of us. We are joint-heirs with Christ. It’s a whole different connection with Christ than under the King and the Kingship.
Okay, now let’s come back to Colossians 1 where we left off and jump into verse 20. After being declared the head of the Body, which is the church, now verse 20:
“And having made peace though the blood of his cross, by him (That is, by Jesus Christ.) to reconcile all things unto himself; by him I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” In other words, that work of the cross was so complete that it satisfied everything that God had anything to do with. You and I as human beings, I don’t think will ever, except when we get to Glory, comprehend all that was accomplished at the cross of Calvary. It’s beyond our comprehension. We take what little bit we’ve got by faith. All right, now verse 21.
“And you, (Remember, he’s writing to Gentiles as the Apostle of the Gentiles.) that were at sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he hath (What?) reconciled.” Now, I make the statement, and I know a lot of people almost curl up and cringe, they are in such disagreement, but when Christ finished the work of the cross, so far as the Godhead was concerned how many of the sins of the world are now forgiven? All of them!
Even the most wicked, unbelieving rebel, his sins are forgiven, so far as God is concerned, because the work of the cross completed it. And not only is he forgiven, he’s been what? Reconciled. It’s all done. There is nothing standing in the way of the most rank, wicked unbeliever to have God’s salvation if he will just believe it. Now, when I say believe it, I’m not just talking about head knowledge. Well, historically, yeah, I believe Christ died a Roman crucifixion. No, I’m talking about trusting that work of the cross as your salvation.
That’s what it takes. That was brought home to me so vividly several years ago when a gentleman called and said, “Well, Les, I believe that Jesus lived and died and was crucified and was risen from the dead.” Well, he evidently left for work. His wife called as soon as he went out the door and said, “Les, don’t you believe it. He doesn’t believe that Christ died for his sins. He may have head knowledge of it, but he certainly knows nothing of it spiritually. It hasn’t changed his life.”
Well, that is what I have to emphasize. I’m not talking about just a head knowledge. Yeah, I believe that He died for me. No, no! This is something that we totally rest on. That’s why we have to be so careful that we don’t add to it. Because as soon as you’re depending upon your baptism, your church membership, or your denomination, you’re back out in left field again. Because now you’re not depending on the finished work of the cross, you’re depending on something that you have something to do with. God won’t take it. It has to be a total reliance on what He has done, and that it’s complete. Your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. But it’s not appropriated until you believe it. But it’s done. All the sins of the world were paid for at that cross of Calvary, but lost people have to believe it to appropriate it.
You know, I’ve given this illustration I suppose a hundred times in the last fifteen years. If our congress is going to appropriate money for highways, how many billion have they laid out there now for highways? All those billions of dollars are put out there on a highway construction account for the state. But what does every state have to do? Make application. They have to appropriate it. If they don’t go through the paper work of appropriating it, they’re not going to get any of that money. Well, now that’s a crude example of the work of the cross, but it is the same way. It’s there. All we have to do to appropriate it is take it by faith. Believe it. That’s too simple for most people. They can’t buy that. Well, I can’t help that, because that’s what the Bible says.
“And you, that were sometime (or at one time) alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he hath (What?) reconciled…” As well as forgiven. All right, let’s back up a page, another verse comes to mind. I’ve got to use them when they come to mind, otherwise it’s the Spirit moving for nothing. Back up to Ephesians chapter 2 starting at verse 11. Here again, I think these are verses that most church members don’t even know are in the Bible. It makes it so plain. And it fits when Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10:5-6 to the Twelve, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles and into the place of a Samaritan, enter you not. But go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Why? Because He had come to fulfill covenant promises, and the Gentiles had no part in those covenants. These verses make it so plain. All right, here it is. Now, Paul is writing to Gentiles in western Turkey and he says:
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (That is, by the Jew. Now, here it comes.) 12. That at that time (while Gentiles were still out there and God was dealing with Israel on the covenant promises) 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:” See how plain that is? Did Gentiles have any right to claim the Abrahamic Covenant promises? No! Could a Gentile say, “Well, I can come in under the Mosaic Law. I can be part of that covenant.” No, they couldn’t. That was for Israel.
But now, in this dispensation of Grace—well, we’re coming to that in the next verse. Let’s come back to where Paul is telling it like it was for the Gentiles while God was dealing with Israel, all right, “Ye were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and (What?) without God in the world.”
Now, people don’t like that! But that’s the truth of the matter. My, I’ve been reading ancient history again lately. I think most of you know by know that I love history. I’ve been reading about Alexander the Great. Oh! The ungodliness, the wickedness, and every day he sacrificed untold number of animals to the pagan gods and goddesses, and then turns right around and cohorts with prostitutes. That’s antiquity. If they came to a village that he thought opposed him one least little bit, he just killed them all with no compunction.
That was ancient history. Those are the Gentiles that Paul is talking about. They were all alike. The Babylonians, all you have to do is read Isaiah and you get a picture of what the Babylonians did to the Jew. The Medes and Persians were no different. The Greeks were no different. The Romans were no different. There was absolute ungodliness at every turn. They had no morality. They had no human rights, unless you were part of the elite, the wealthy — they did, but that was only a small percentage.
I was just sharing with someone that a few years ago, some of you, along with us, had a cruise on the Mediterranean following in the footsteps of Paul, much like we’re going to do in October/November this year. You were along, weren’t you Sharon? And oh! Some of the places! What was it? Wicked. The society that Paul had to live in – absolute gross immorality. And all the people in our tour, there were about 80 of us, had a Bible Study every night. And one day, especially, I just apologized for what they’d been exposed to. They said, “No, you don’t have to apologize. It’s enlightening to know what the Apostle had to put up with.” It was everywhere he went the grossest immorality. Today is no different. This is what he’s talking about, “the Gentiles were without hope and without God in this world,” and they lived accordingly.
Oh, but now verse 13, what’s the first word? “But.” See, the flipside. And we’ll come to it later when I get back to the “BUT NOW’s.” I’ve still got it on the board. I’m coming back to them. Don’t worry. But here’s one of them.
“But now (What does he mean? On this side of the cross. After the finished work.) in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off (you Gentiles) are made nigh (That is, to God.) by (What?) the blood of Christ.” Oh, what a difference it makes! But we’ll come to that in a later lesson. Come back with me now to Colossians chapter 1 verse 22. How has He reconciled us out of the gross wickedness of a Gentile background?
“In the body of his flesh through death,…” Now there’s another thought. Do you ever stop to think that in all of nature, the various seasons of the year to various other aspects of our natural environment, there is a constant reminder that out of death comes what? New life.
Every spring when the trees start budding, they have come out of a dormancy that pictures death, and here comes new life. When the tulips start poking through the ground early in the spring, what is it? It’s a picture of new life from that which has been dead. When the wheat farmer plants his wheat, the seed dies and out of that dead seed comes what? New life. And so all of nature is preaching to the human race that out of death comes new life. Well, out of His death of the cross it is the same way. Here comes new life by placing our faith in it.
“In the body of his flesh through death, (through His work of the cross) to present you holy (Now, that doesn’t mean sinless. The word holy simply means set apart. You’re different. You’re not like the unbelieving world.) and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” Now listen, do you see what that says? Once we’ve placed our faith in that finished work of the cross, can God ever again point a judgmental finger at us? Never!
Now people don’t like that, but that’s the beauty of this salvation. Now, that’s not license. That doesn’t mean we can just go out and rob a bank or shoot somebody and say, “Well, I’m unblameable.” No, no, no. That’s not what it means. But it does mean that we have such freedom. We are so free from worry, that if something should happen this afternoon and we’d suddenly be wiped off the face of the earth, we don’t have to worry about where we’re going. Regardless of what you may have done in the last hour or two or three, that’s beside the point. We are “unblameable and unreproveable in his sight!” Now, that’s a promise that most people can’t believe.
Now, I’ll give you another one. Hold your hand in Colossians, we’re going to come back in a minute. But come back with me to I Corinthians, because I like to show that this isn’t just one little quirk of Scripture. This is all part of the mosaic that it all fits together. I Corinthians and I’m the first to admit that the Corinthian church was the most carnal of all of Paul’s congregations. They had immorality in their midst. They had enmity between each other. They went to the law against each other. Oh, they had all kinds of problems, but in spite of all that, they were believers. Look at what Paul writes.
I Corinthians 1:7
“So that ye come behind in no gift; (In other words, if you’re a believer, there’s nothing lacking.) waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:” Hey, if he was telling that to the Corinthians, how much closer are we? We’re 1900 years closer! I’ve always gone back to that old cartoon, I’ll repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. The old boy is sitting in front of his cave and he had a sign over the cave, “The End is near.” And then he must have had a second thought and he added ‘er’ at the end of it. So every day the end is what? It’s nearer! And now we’re nearer than ever. Everything in the world is just screaming that it can’t go much longer. We don’t set dates. With God, you know, time means nothing, but as things are shaping up it would seem that it can’t be much longer. All right, so the Corinthians were already “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now verse 8 and people don’t like this. I’ve had people get up and walk out of my class when I read it. I hadn’t even commented on it and they got up and left, because they were of the persuasion, you know, that you can be saved and lose it, saved and lose it. Well, after this one, they didn’t come back, ever. But look what it says.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who (Jesus Christ) shall also confirm you unto the end, (Now, what does that word confirm mean? He’s got you locked in. He’s not going to lose you. You’re confirmed unto the end. And the end result is that you’re going to be – what again?) that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isn’t that fabulous!
You know, years ago I told a lady who thought they’d had a lot of family problems because of sin in their background. I said, “Aren’t you a believer?” She said “Oh yeah, I’m saved.” I said, “And you think you’ve still got sin that God is going to hold against you?” She said, “Don’t we?” No! No, they’re forgiven. They’re gone! God will never come back and accuse the believer, we’re unblameable. I know this is tough stuff and a lot of people can’t handle it, but listen, this is what the Word of God teaches. If you have appropriated by faith the finished work of the cross, then you are unblameable. You’re in His care. You’re in His keeping.
All right, now reading on. You are unblameable and “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What day was Paul talking about? The rapture. And the same way for us today. Maybe you said some unkind words yesterday and you haven’t really taken care of it between you and the Lord. It’s still there. All right, what if the Lord should come? Is He going to point the finger at you and say, “Now wait a minute, you said something that day before I called you up?” No. It’s done. It’s all taken care of. Now again, that’s not license. That doesn’t give us room to do as we please, but as we go through life we know we fail and we know that we are to blame, yet God is never going to point the finger of blame at us when we get into His presence.
I Corinthians 1:9
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” That’s what makes the difference. A true believer isn’t going to go out there and live a life of sin. I just can’t reconcile that. The true believer is going to be careful how we walk in our daily experience. All right, I’m still not through with Colossians 1. Let’s get back there. Colossians 1 verse 23:
“If you continue in the faith grounded and settled,…” Now, that goes right back to what I said a little while ago. It is not just a head knowledge and not just a historical fact, but you have trusted completely that work of the cross, plus nothing. Don’t put your trust in a baptism. Don’t put your trust in a membership someplace. Don’t put your trust in something that pleases the flesh. You trust the work of the cross and that glorious resurrection – and nothing but. All right, if you’ve done that, then we will not:
“…be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven: whereof I Paul am made a minister;” Now, those are words that I can’t explain. How has every creature under heaven heard the Gospel? But evidently they have.
There are other verses to back it up. Jesus, Himself, was referred to in John 1:9 as the “Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Don’t ask me how, but that’s what the Book says. In Romans 1:20 Paul comes right back and says that when they come before the Great White Throne, “they’re going to stand there without excuse.” I can’t explain that, but that’s what the Book says. Paul writes in I Timothy 1:15 that “all they in Asia have turned against me.” I can’t explain those things, but it’s what the Book says. All right, now here’s another one, that every person under heaven has heard this gospel. Titus 2:11 says, “that the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Now verse 24 of Colossians 1 and this will take us to end of the half-hour.
“Who…” Now the modification is – Paul. He’s speaking of himself. Now remember, this is all Holy Spirit directed. Paul didn’t sit and wrack his brain on how he could word this. I think he just rolled it out and a secretary wrote it as fast as he could speak it.
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, (In other words, you all know how the Apostle suffered his whole twenty-five years of ministry, physically, for the sake of the Gospel.) and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” My, how he was beaten. How he was shipwrecked in the ocean. How he was in prison and out, all for the sake of the Gospel. Do you see how he always associates the church with the Body? All right now verse 25 and here is the parallel with Ephesians 3 verse 2.
“Whereof I am made a minister, (That is, to minister to the Body of Christ.) according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil (complete) the word of God;” Now, we know that the Law was given to Moses to be given to whom? Israel. But to this man was given this whole body of truth, and we’ll start on that in our next program, a month from now. This whole body of truth that is wrapped up in – the dispensation of the Grace of God.
In that dispensation of the Grace of God are all these mysteries, or secret things, that have never been revealed before in Scripture or in all of human history until God speaks it through this one man. That’s why I come back with this: if other Scripture doesn’t agree with Paul, then you take Paul. Yes, even if the words of the Lord Jesus don’t agree. Remember, that what Paul says are the words of the Lord Jesus just as much as what’s back there in red, because it’s Holy Spirit directed, and Christ is speaking through that Apostle.
So, I’ll come back to my analogy in the beginning of the program. If you make a will ten years ago and you’ve made a new one now, and you die tomorrow, they’re not going to use the ten-year-old will. It’s now defunct. They’re going to use the new one. So, for doctrine, not for background, of course, we still use all of Scripture for background, for our learning, and for our understanding. But, when it comes to salvation doctrine, when it comes to the Christian life, when it comes to end-time events, we have to go by what the Lord has revealed through the Apostle Paul.
LESSON TWO * PART I
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – The Mysteries)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
It is so good to have everyone back for the taping today. I might remind you that we’re just an informal Bible study. We’re not associated with any group. We depend totally upon the prayers of the saints and the gifts of God’s people to keep us on the air.
Okay, now for those of you out in television, I’ve already got the studio audience turning to Romans chapter 16. We’re going to look at verse 25 to begin. Now, we’ve left all this on the board, purposely, from the last taping, because for the last several programs we’ve been talking about the difference between the terminologies of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ.
Now, those are all entities that are mentioned over and over in Scripture. The Body of Christ, which we began a study on in the last taping, you won’t find anywhere except in Paul’s epistles. But, it is part of the Kingdom of God, as is the Kingdom of Heaven. We have put both of these in the large circle, which we have designated as the Kingdom of God, the all-inclusive control of God over things that pertain to His righteousness.
Now, the Kingdom of God won’t include the lost. It won’t include the hellfire, but everything that pertains to the righteous side of God is in the Kingdom of God. In other words, the angelic hosts and believers of every age, we’re all part and parcel of the Kingdom of God, and it will be that Kingdom that carries on into all eternity. That’s why, in Revelation, it speaks so specifically of the wicked who are outside. They will never become part of the Kingdom of God.
All right, then as the weeks went by, we’ve been looking at the Kingdom of Heaven, which was specifically promised to the Nation of Israel. So, you really don’t have anything pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven until after the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis chapter 12. Then it becomes specific when He starts dealing with King David. In II Samuel chapter 7 God promises David that through him would result a genetic line of kings, leading all the way up to the King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth. The whole purpose of His first coming was not only to present Himself as the Creator God of the universe, but also as the Promised Messiah, Redeemer, and King of Israel.
That’s why it was kept only for the Nation of Israel, because He had nothing to do with the Gentiles who were outside of the Covenant Promises. Now, when Israel rejected all the things pertaining to the King and the Kingdom, and we’re going to look at that in just a minute, then God does something totally, totally different. The difference, of course, is delineated in what we call “dispensations.” We’re going to also look at that this afternoon, because you cannot get a comprehension of these various entities unless you understand the dispensational approach to Scripture. If people throw out the dispensations, then all they can pick up in its place is mass confusion.
All right, now here in Romans chapter 16, we see a statement that pertains to this particular dispensation of which you and I are present. Romans 16 verse 25, where the Apostle Paul writes:
“Now to him (speaking of Christ) that is of power (resurrection power) to stablish you…” Now, that word isn’t in there for nothing. What does that mean? That you know where you are spiritually. You’re not driven about with every wind of doctrine. Everything that comes across television isn’t something to just make you confused. You’re set. You’re established.
“…to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel,…” And what is Paul’s gospel? It’s faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. So, it’s nothing concerning what Paul has done, but rather on all that Christ has done.
“…and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world (ages) began.” Now, that’s plain English. Why people can’t understand it, I’ll never know. But all of these revelations, these mysteries that Paul speaks about throughout his epistles, were totally unknown, all the way from eternity past until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul.
Now, God knew; it was all in His Divine purposes. But He saw fit never to give any indication of this period of time that is concerning the Body of Christ. Now, all of the Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, but it is totally silent when it comes to the Body of Christ, until we get here. That’s why Paul makes it so plain that it was kept secret since the ages began.
Now, maybe we need to define a dispensation before we go any further. I want you to move up to Ephesians chapter 1, because whenever I talk about these things that some people just almost get bent out of shape over, I have to show that it’s a Biblical term. The first one is Ephesians chapter 1, because we’re not just pulling words out of the woodwork, these are things that are part and parcel of the Word of God. It’s a scriptural term. Ephesians chapter 1 dropping down to verse 10:
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times…” In other words, the last of the seven dispensations of human history, which will be the thousand years reign of Christ, which will again be the period of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. That’s going to be the final dispensation. All right, now go on over to chapter 3 and drop down to verse 2, and we have the same word used again.
“If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given to me to you-ward:” Now, we have another reference like that in Colossians chapter 1. It’s much the same thing, but we might as well use it.
Now, a lot of this is repetition, but fortunately I had a letter in the mail yesterday which always encourages me. The lady wrote, she said, “Les, when I was a young college student my teachers would always tell me the only way you can learn something is to have it repeated seven times.” But she said, “I’m not even average, so I need more than seven times!” Well, that helps me, because I sometimes feel a little guilty about spending too much time in repetition. But it is the only way that these things will all finally settle in where you can understand it. All right, Colossians chapter 1, and these are the verses we were using in our last program coming all the way down to verse 24.
“Who now (speaking of himself up in verse 23, Paul a minister) rejoice in my suffering for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for the body’s sake, which is the church:” In other words, he’s speaking of the trials and tribulations that he went through to get the Gospel out to the then known world.
Now, again, you always have to understand that the word “church” doesn’t always mean the same thing. It always means a called-out assembly, but it doesn’t always refer to the same assembly. We’ve got Israel in the wilderness – a church, and we’ve got the Jerusalem church of the Jewish believers that believed Jesus was the Christ. It was a church, it was a called-out assembly, but it wasn’t the Body of Christ. Then, when we come to Paul’s epistles, like here, he speaks of the body, which is the church. We are, again, a called-out assembly. We pointed out in our last taping program how God is calling out of the Gentile world a people for His name. All right, now verse 25.
“Whereof (Paul says) I am made a minister, (or a designated individual in God’s service) according to (What?) the dispensation of God which is given to me for you,…” Remember he’s writing to what kind of people? Gentiles! So, this dispensation of the Grace of God was the real outpouring of God’s Grace to the Gentile world. Now, it can also include some Jews, but for the most part, it’s Gentiles.
Now, my pet definition of a dispensation is, as I’ve used it over and over, even on the program. I used it up in Minnesota several times, it is when you have a prescription from your doctor and you take that piece of paper to the pharmacist and the pharmacist fills that prescription. That particular medication is put in a bottle, or whatever, and on the outside he puts directions. Directions. For what? How to handle what’s been dispensed. Now, isn’t that simple enough? So, you take that medicine home, and you set it in your medicine cabinet. The next day you grab one of your other bottles and you take the directions off of that and apply it to what you’ve just been given yesterday, will that work? Most generally – no, because you have to follow the distinct directions for that dispensation. Now, it’s the same way scripturally. For us today, we have to use what was dispensed to us from the pen of the Apostle Paul.
Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in a dispensation. They were under a set of directions. What were those directions? “Everything in the Garden is yours, but don’t eat of that tree.” That was the direction. That was their dispensation. Now, as soon as mankind goes against God’s directions for that dispensation, just like you and I would probably get in trouble using the wrong directions on a medication, Adam and Eve got in trouble. What happened? God expelled them. That ended that perfect dispensation.
After that, God gives them a whole new set of directions, which will carry on for hundreds of years, until we get to still another one, not always in this order, but the next one you’re most aware of is the call of Abraham.
Now, after 2000 years of various dispensations, and mankind failing every one of them, God finally comes to the place and says, “I’m going to do something totally different. Instead of dealing with the whole Adamic race, I’m going to bring one man to the fore, and out of that one man I’m going to bring one little nation. Through that little nation I am going to bring about the Word of God and the plan of salvation – a Savior for mankind.” That dispensation, of course, worked into the giving of the Law, which was another one, another set of directions. That set of dispensing and directions lasted until the Apostle Paul. So, Israel was under all of the directions of Law, and it was difficult because they were such complex directions. But, when Israel rejected all of that, God now opens up a new dispensation, a new set of directions, or a new set of responsibilities. We call that the dispensation of the Grace of God, which we are currently under today.
All right, now that’s what we’re going to be looking at for at least the next few programs. What does it entail to be part and parcel of this dispensation of the Grace of God? All these various mysteries that are going to be revealed through this Apostle become part of our directions for behavior in this dispensation. To me, that’s so simple. It’s so easy to understand and see, yet if you mix them all up, then you’ve got mass confusion.
I think I used this example, maybe previously on the program. I think I used it a couple of weeks ago in Minnesota. I remember several years ago, I think it was at Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the professors was explaining dispensations, and he used a little different tack. He said, “The seminary has a catalog of courses offered for every school year. They are designated as the catalog for 1990, 91, 92, 93, 94…every school year has a particular catalog of the various courses being offered.” “Now,” he said, “What would happen to a student if he would come up and try to enroll and he’s doing it on the basis of a year 2000 catalog and it’s now 2005? Well, he’s five years behind the eight-ball.” So, if you’re going to be in agreement with your dispensational directions, you’re going to use the catalog that is appropriate for the year that you’re going to school.
Now, all those are simple illustrations of how a Biblical dispensation works. You have to obey the rules.
All right, now let’s go on, for just a moment, in Paul’s revelation of the mysteries. Let’s go to one of the more obvious. Again in Romans chapter 11 verse 25, and it’s a verse that I use fairly often. It’s designated as one of these mysteries, or one of these secrets, that make up the dispensation of the Grace of God.
“For (he says) I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this (What?) mystery,…” Paul is pleading with his readers, whether it was then or whether it’s now, don’t be ignorant of this, which has been kept secret all the way from Adam until revealed to Paul. That’s what every mystery is – that which has been hid in the mind of God until revealed to this Apostle. All right, what’s this mystery?
“…that blindness (a spiritual blindness) in part has happened to Israel, (In other words, it’s not forever, but for a period of time.) until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Now, why that kind of language?
Well, I’ll reconstruct all the way up through the Old Testament. God is dealing with Israel only, with a few exceptions. Pleading with them to be ready for the Messiah, Redeemer, and King when He comes. Well, He came. Was Israel ready? No! No, they couldn’t believe that He was that promised Messiah. That was the whole crux of His ministry, to prove who He was. But Israel in their unbelief rejected Him. They called for His death, and we’ll be looking at that later this afternoon. But through it all, you see, God is going to open up a period of time that we’re now in. A period of time that nothing in the Old Testament revealed, and nothing in the four Gospels mentioned, including the early chapters of Acts, and nothing in the later books of Peter, James, John, Jude, and Revelation. They never, ever referred to this secret period of time that we call the dispensation of Grace.
All right. So, when God set Israel aside way back there in Acts chapter 8 and 9, not only did He set them aside, He put a spiritual blindness over their eyes, so that they couldn’t comprehend anything spiritual. At the same time He did that to Israel, He sends this new Apostle out into the Gentile world. That’s the BIG difference in Scripture.
All right, now let’s go back and pick that up in the few moments that we have left. We’ll just run through this real quickly, because we’ve done it over and over, but again I’m going to take the young lady’s advice and repeat and repeat and repeat. Come back to Matthew, because I have to use it in this order or it just doesn’t make sense. This is what I tell people when they call on the phone, “How,” they ask, “Can I show this to people?” Well, you can’t just jump into the middle of something, you’ve got to go back and build how all these things progress. Otherwise, they’ll never believe it.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, (See, it’s all Jewish, no church is mentioned here.) and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, (Whereas we call Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God. All right, so he’s preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and in association with that–) and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” That was part of it.
Now, go across the page, at least in my Bible, to chapter 10. Like I said, we’re going to do this quickly, Matthew chapter 10. He has chosen the Twelve, now drop down to verse 5.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans (Who were half Jews, they were not true Gentiles.) enter ye not: 6. But (Here are the instructions, now, in this dispensation of Law that Jesus and the Jews were in, and He’s appealing on His basis of a Messiah.) but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now, how many Gentiles are in the house of Israel? Well, none! So, He’s not going to the Gentile world. He’s going to Israel and appealing to them to accept the fact that He’s that promised Messiah and King over the Kingdom of Heaven, which will be on the earth. That’s all He’s pleading. To believe that He was that promised Messiah. But they would not.
All right, now I like to jump all the way over to Acts chapter 7, I think it is, where Stephen, not even one of the Twelve, but he was one of the chosen men to wait on tables, as we say, in Acts chapter 7. He goes through the whole Jewish history. We’re not going to take time for that today, but he winds up his message to the leaders of Israel, the High Priest is in their attendance. Let’s just bring it all the way down to verse 47, because now you can pick up what you recognize as Israel’s history, where Solomon builds the Temple. That’s where we’re going to jump in. Now, all this is back in Israel’s history, and this was stuff that they all knew. Stephen is just proving that he knows what he’s talking about.
“But Solomon built him an house. 48. Howbeit the most High (That is the God of Israel, the God of our world today.) dwelleth not in temples made with hands: as saith the prophet. 49. Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50. Hath not my hand made all these things?” Now, Stephen comes back and he points the accusing finger at his listeners, and he says:
“You stiffnecked, uncircumcised in heart and ears, (In other words, they had no faith.) ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did (back in Old Testament times) so do ye. 52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them who showed before the coming of the Just One;…” In other words, when the Old Testament prophets would go to Israel and condemn their wicked lifestyles and plead for them to get spiritually right with God because their Messiah was coming, what would they do? They would kill them. One of the last ones was Jeremiah. They didn’t kill him, but the Babylonians found him down in a dungeon someplace. That was how Israel treated the prophets. All right, Stephen is reminding them. Oh, he’s putting them on a guilt trip, isn’t he? Okay, now he says:
“… and they have slain (they’ve killed them) them who showed before the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murders: (The people are listening to him, including the High Priest remember.) 53. Who have received the law (That is the Mosaic Law of which they were so proud.) by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. (Boy, he’s laying it on them isn’t he?) 54. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, (They were convicted.)
“But he, (Stephen) being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. 56. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man (Jesus the Christ) standing on the right hand of God. 57. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: (They put him to death.) and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Now, we’re introduced to the next major player on the stage of Biblical history. Peter and the eleven are going to fade away in a few more years. This man is going to come to the ascendancy. All right, Saul of Tarsus. Now, verse 1 of chapter 8 and see how this is all unfolding now, day by day, month by month. Now verse 1 of chapter 8:
“And Saul (the next major player) was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (assembly) which is at Jerusalem;…”
“As for Saul, (of Tarsus) he made havoc of the (Jewish) church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”
LESSON TWO * PART II
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ -The Mysteries)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
I’m just reminded, by my little wife, that this is book 65. These are the middle four programs, so with the next taping we’ll wind up another book. Oh my, how they are counting up. Sixty-five of them already, which means it won’t be long and we’ll have 800 programs in our inventory. So, when I mentioned a few weeks ago that I might relinquish this taping situation, boy, a lot of people got the idea that I was thinking about just going off the air and retiring. And my, we had one lady write with black pen across the top, and she said, “Show me one verse where you have a right to retire!” Well, we’re not about to leave the air, even if we may some day down the road stop producing programs. With the inventory we’ve got, we can keep going halfway into eternity. But we appreciate the fact that people don’t want us to quit, so we’ll keep carrying on.
You know I’ve got to share my amusing things. I had a phone call the other day from a lady, I think out east someplace, and I answered the phone myself. I said, “This is Les.” There was silence. And I said, “Hello.” She said, “Who is this?” And I said, “This is Les Feldick.” She said, “I don’t believe it.” I said, “Why?” “Well,” she said, “I heard you say something on a program that you do answer the phone, and I told my husband, I’ll bet! I’m going to check it out.” She said, “You do answer the phone!” Yes, I do, so don’t be too shocked when I pick up the phone. Of course, I tell everybody that even if I’m not available, and I mean this, if I’m not available, and you have something that is really of importance, you’ve got questions, you just tell the girls, or whoever you do get, that you’d like to have me call you. Leave your number and I return every phone call. I’ve returned phone calls to twelve year old kids. When I stop being able to do that, then I’d better be off the air. So, don’t be afraid to make a personal phone call, because we will respond.
Now, let’s pick up where we left off in our last program. For those of you who may have missed it, we’re still dealing with what makes up the Body of Christ, and why is it so totally segregated from all the things promised to Israel? Because, it is a revelation of things that have been kept totally secret, all the way up through Biblical history, until they are revealed to the Apostle Paul. So, when people say, “Well, does this verse back in the Old Testament refer to the rapture, or does it refer to the church?” No, it can’t. Because the Church Age was totally secret, and the instructions for it were only given to Paul for us.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, had any inkling that God would one day set Israel aside and raise up one other Apostle and send him to the Gentile world. That’s where we ended up in our last program, showing how everything pertaining to Israel was in light of the Old Testament promises, and Israel rejected it. Then, when Stephen made his last appeal in Acts chapter 7, they stoned Stephen. In the last verse that we saw in our last program, they laid their clothes at a young man’s feet whose name was Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul.
All right, now we pick up Saul again in Acts chapter 9. Now, this is all the unfolding of God’s program for the ages to bring us to this dispensation of the Grace of God. All right, Acts chapter 9, and I think everyone, even in our listening audience, understands Saul’s salvation experience on the road to Damascus. How the Lord spoke to him and he immediately understood that the voice from heaven was the same One that he was persecuting, thinking that he was doing his Old Testament God a favor. Not realizing, of course, that He was one and the same.
All right, now I like to bring people over to Acts chapter 9 verse 15. I do this to teach you how to show others. Just take the time and unfold these various steps, how God moved from Israel to the Gentile world. Here, Ananias, a believing Jew in Damascus, who was in line to be arrested by Saul of Tarsus, and he was scared to death, as I like to say, that his life was being endangered. Now, he doesn’t realize that Saul has been converted. So, the Lord speaks to Ananias in verse 15. Now watch carefully what the Lord from heaven says to this believing Jew in Damascus.
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…” Now, don’t forget, what did Jesus tell the Twelve? “Go not into the way of the Gentiles or into the house of Samaritans enter not, but go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But see, Israel has rejected it. So now God is turning benevolently to the Gentile world through this one man, Saul of Tarsus.
“…for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and (of course) the children of Israel:” We’re not going to put them out of any possibility for salvation. But the nation, as a whole, is going to be set aside and blinded. All right, then verse 16, God makes the promise.
“For I will show him (Saul of Tarsus) how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Now I think, that in the eternal purpose of everything, this is one reason that Saul was so guilty of persecuting and causing such torture among his own Jewish people. Consequently, as he went through these next 20-25 years of constant, constant turmoil, in prison and out, beatings of one sort or another, he could never forget that he had done the same thing to his own people who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth. So, God is telling him up front that he’s going to suffer terribly as he carries out his role as the Apostle of the Gentiles.
All right, now then, I’m going to take you back to where we left off, back, once again, to Romans chapter 11 where we’re going to see the mystery that is unfolded because God has turned from Israel to the Gentiles through one man, Saul of Tarsus. So, back to Romans 11 where we left off in our last program. Verse 25.
“For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery,…” This which was kept secret. Now, I can’t repeat it enough, nowhere in the Old Testament economy, nowhere in the four Gospels, nowhere in the Book of Acts, is there anything to indicate that Israel is going to be set aside and God is going to turn to those immoral, pagan Gentiles. Nothing. Everything pertains to Israel finally coming to the place of having the King and this Kingdom that we’ve been looking at, and then Israel would evangelize the Gentile world. That’s the Old Testament. Not a hint that they’re going to lose that opportunity and God will only use one Jew to open up salvation to the Gentile world. But that’s the way it was. Now continuing on with the verse and secret.
“…lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, (Here’s the mystery, the secret.) that blindness (a spiritual blindness) in part (Not for all of Israel’s remaining time on earth, but only for a period in time.) is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come (is brought) in.” We pointed that out several programs back, if I remember correctly, how the Age of Grace will end and when it ends the Church has to be taken out. We’ll look at that a little later this afternoon, hopefully. Then God will revert back to where He left off with Israel. That’s why they’re back in the land.
My, why can’t people understand that? That was an unheard of miraculous event, that the Jews come back to their homeland and establish an independent state, have their own government, resurrect the Hebrew language. It should have never happened. Humanly speaking it would have never happened. But God promised it way back at the time of Moses 3500 years ago, that Israel would be dispersed into every nation under heaven, and then God would bring them back to their homeland. Thirty-five hundred years ago it was prophesied.
Now, we’ve seen it happen in our lifetime, and you would think that the people in the UN, the people in the European Community, the people in our government would understand that this is the unfolding of Biblical prophecy. But they can’t see it. But you do. You certainly ought to be able to see that it’s a miracle of God that they’re back. But it’s all part of the mystery that they would be spiritually blinded until God has finished calling out a Gentile people for His name, which we refer to as the Body of Christ.
All right, before I go into any more of the mysteries, we talked about it at break-time, and that’s why I like break-time. Then I get ideas that I would probably otherwise overlook. Come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 3, and this is another confirmation that this man, this one man, is going to take the Gospel of the Grace of God, he’s going to be the beginning of what we call the Body of Christ. It’s laid out so clearly that it couldn’t have happened any other way. I Corinthians chapter 3 verse 10, and you can’t make it any plainer. It’s as clear as day, and it all reverts back to that verse in Acts chapter 9, where God said, “I will send this man far hence to the Gentiles.” For what purpose? To call out the Body of Christ. To give them all of the instructions for this dispensation.
I find it amazing that God gave those to instructions to Paul for us, how to have salvation, and how to live a Christian life, and how to solve all problems that might come up in our walk each day. Most people don’t have a clue all of this is in Paul’s writings. The reason they don’t know is because of tradition in the denominations to only teach the Gospel of the Kingdom message that belonged to Israel. They will not teach Paul to their congregations. Most have been blinded by Satan as Paul tells us in II Corinthians 4:3-4. Well, let’s look how Paul was called in this dispensation of Grace.
I Corinthians 3:10a
“According to the grace of God (Because after all, this is the dispensation of Grace.) which is given unto me, as a wise master builder,…” He’s simply using an illustration that everybody could understand. If you’ve ever built anything that was beyond your own capabilities, whom do you hire? Well, a contractor, someone who can do the whole job. All right, that’s what Paul is alluding to, that he’s like a contractor. He’s like the master architect, he said:
I Corinthians 3:10b
“…as a wise master builder, (the contractor) I have laid the foundation,…” Well, naturally, if you’re going to build a new home, you don’t have somebody come in and lay your foundation and then go out and look for a contractor to build the house. Do you? Well, no, that’s the job of your contractor. Now, he may let it out to someone else, but it’s your major contractor who is going to set the stakes and agree with you that this is going to be the form of your home. He’s going to lay the foundation. That’s what Paul claims to be in the spiritual realm. “I am the master builder.”
Not Peter, James, and John. Not Jesus in His earthly ministry. Jesus is now in Glory as He speaks to Paul. He’s finished the work of the cross, but He has delegated it. I think it was in my last taping, I made the point that everything that Paul writes could just as well be in red, because everything he writes comes from the ascended Lord. And then theologians and multitudes of Christians refuse to look at Paul’s epistles. I hear it everywhere I go. “Les, until I started listening to you, I never read Paul. I never had any time for him.” But listen, this is where we have to be, and if they ignore it, they’re doomed. It’s the only way I can put it. You can’t find salvation any other place.
Now, I guess that reminds me of another verse. Keep your hand here. I’m not through in I Corinthians. But, II Peter, because whenever I get the thought in my mind that somebody out there is saying, “Well, Les, you make too much of Paul. I still don’t want to read Paul.” Well, then I’ve got to say, “Hey, you like Peter don’t you?” Oh yeah, everybody thinks the world of Peter, but look what Peter says. You, who have been with me a long time, you know I’ve used it over and over. II Peter chapter 3, verse 15. I sometimes think I could use this verse in every half-hour program.
Now, this is at the end of Peter’s life. This isn’t at the beginning of his ministry. This isn’t back at Pentecost; this is at the end of his life. He’s about to be martyred. He’s writing to fellow Jews. He’s writing to the Jews scattered, is the way he puts it. But look what he tells them. If you’re trying to share this with somebody and they give you the same argument, “Well, why do you stay with Paul?” Peter said to! Now, look what he says, verse 15:
II Peter 3:15
“And account that the longsuffering (or the patience) of our Lord is salvation; (to escape eternal doom) even (Now watch this!) as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;” Well, what’s the wisdom? The revealed mysteries! That’s the wisdom Peter’s talking about. All these things that had been kept secret, even from the Twelve, have now been revealed to Paul only, and Peter understands that. So, he tells his Jewish readers to go to the epistles of Paul because of the wisdom that’s been given unto him.” Now verse 16.
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, (Romans through Hebrews) speaking in them of these things, (pertaining to salvation) in which are some things hard to be understood,…” In other words, even Peter couldn’t comprehend all these mysteries that are revealed to Paul. They were beyond his understanding.
II Peter 3:16b
“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” So, when somebody refuses to listen to what the Apostle Paul says, they are headed for their own destruction. That’s what the Scriptures say.
All right, now back to I Corinthians chapter 3; let me get back on track. So, Paul says, I am the “wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and others build thereupon.” Of course, there were others that followed in Paul’s footsteps. Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus and then others have been following ever since. We’re all part and parcel of the building now. Every time you lead someone to Christ, you are adding to that foundation. Every time you do something that pertains to increasing the knowledge of the Grace of God, you’re part of this building. It isn’t just for the apostles. It’s now for all of us. He says,
I Corinthians 3:10b
“…But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Even the ordinary, everyday believer has a responsibility.
All right, now verse 11, Paul doesn’t claim to be the foundation. See, that’s what some have told me. Well, you’re telling me that Paul is the one we are to worship? How confused can people get? NO! Paul is merely the Apostle for the Gentiles, and look what he says in verse 11.
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no may lay than that is laid, (Who’s the foundation?) which is Jesus Christ.” Him alone. No denomination. No religion. It’s Jesus Christ and Him alone!
All right, let’s confirm it a little further. Go all the way back to I Timothy, where Paul again defends his apostleship and tells us why. I Timothy chapter 1 and this fits so beautifully with the foundation aspect. The foundation is the first part of a building. You don’t put up one 2 X 4 stud until you’ve got the foundation laid. Well, you don’t go into one aspect of Scripture until you understand Paul’s epistles. All right, I Timothy chapter 1 dropping down to verse 15, and watch it carefully. We’re going to take it slowly.
I Timothy 1:15a
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, (There’s no room for argument.) that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;…” Now you see, it’s interesting, when Christ began His earthly ministry, He said, I didn’t come to destroy the Law of the Prophets, I came to fulfill. What was He going to fulfill? All those Old Testament prophecies concerning this Kingdom of Heaven. Now, of course, the redeeming aspect was all implied, but it wasn’t up front like Paul puts it – that He came into the world to save sinners. But then what’s the next statement?
I Timothy 1:15b
“…that Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” And 99 out of a hundred sermons preached on this verse point out the fact that if God could save a wicked, persecuting man like Saul of Tarsus, He could save anybody. But that’s not what the word chief means! He’s not talking about his vile sinfulness. He’s talking about his position.
I beg people. Take your Strong’s Concordance, look up the word chief and you’ll find the same Greek word that’s used here in I Timothy is used back in Matthew. It’s used in Acts, it’s used in Romans, and it always means ‘the head man.’ The head man. The leader of a long line. All right, now in that view of his being the chief then, he was the first sinner saved by grace that began that long line of sinners saved and brought into the Body of Christ. That’s where the Body of Christ began, on the road to Damascus. Up until that time it was unheard of, it was unknown, it was still part of the mysteries. All right, now read into the next verse, verse 16.
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause (Since he’s going to be the head of the line. He’s the first one into the Body.) I obtained mercy, that in me first (Not thirteenth! Not after the Twelve) in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern (And you all know what a pattern is, it’s that which everything else follows. He’s the pattern. He’s the first.) to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” From the point of his salvation on, every believer now in this Age of Grace would come into the Body of Christ. All right, so he’s a pattern to them which should hereafter believe and…? No, believe plus nothing! But to that person who would “believe on him to life everlasting.” And what are we to believe for salvation? That Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again, plus nothing else (I Corinthians 15:3-4). Now, that is Paul’s Gospel!
All right, in the couple of minutes we have left, let’s go back to I Corinthians a moment, and we’re just showing a whole series of Scripture verses to show what it takes to become a member and get into the Body of Christ, because that’s our number one priority. How can we get people to become believers and become members of the Body of Christ? Because listen, if you’re not a member of the Body of Christ, if the Lord comes tonight, you’re left behind. If you’re not a member of the Body of Christ and death overtakes you before today is over, you’re out of luck. You’re lost, because every believer today becomes a member of the Body of Christ. I don’t care if you’re Methodist, Lutheran, or whatever, if you’re a member of the Body of Christ, you’re eternally safe. If you’re not a member of the Body of Christ, you’re eternally lost. It’s that simple.
All right, so how do we get into the Body of Christ? I Corinthians chapter 12, let’s start at verse 12, because here’s why we can show the Body of Christ as a comparison for a human Body. Our human body is composed, of course, of the head, from which we get all of our impulses for what we do. Coming from the brain. All right, Christ is the head of the Body. All of us, then, are part and parcel of the various other members of the Body. All right, here it comes, verse 12.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (the human body) is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” In other words, your fingers and your hands and your feet and your legs, they all belong to the same body. They’re all controlled by the same central nervous system. All right, now then, he says, “So also is Christ.” There’s the comparison. Christ is the Head and He’s building the Body with saved ‘lost’ people. Now verse 13.
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit are we all…” What does that mean? Everyone! There aren’t just some elite who make it. There aren’t some in just one particular race or income level that make it. Every believer becomes a member of the Body of Christ.
Now, I had someone call me the other day, yesterday, I think. They had heard a preacher say that if the Lord should come, Christians who are not living spiritual lives would be left behind, and some who had been living even a little more wickedly would have to spend some time in Hell. Then God would bring them out to join us in Glory. What a bunch of garbage! And this is the verse I used, that’s why it’s fresh on my mind. I said, “Now look! If every believer is part of the Body and the Lord calls us out tomorrow, is He going to leave a foot behind? Is He going to leave an arm behind? No! The whole Body will be raptured out, every last believer. Even the carnal believers, they’re going to be taken out, because they’re part of the Body.” Never forget that. Every believer is part of the Body. All right, reading on, our time is just about gone, again.
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized (Not with water. This is an act of the Holy Spirit that places the believer into the Body of Christ, just like you’d place something into a pail of water. So, by one Spirit all have been baptized -) into one body,…” And when does that happen? The moment we believe Paul’s Gospel for our salvation!!!!
LESSON TWO * PART III
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ -The Mysteries)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
For those of you joining us on television, we’re just an informal Bible study. We appreciate the fact that so many of you are responding; that you’re learning to study. Buy a good study Bible, call us if you need help, and we’ll direct you to one. We really encourage people to use a study Bible for cross reference and so forth. Again, we’d like to thank our television audience for your prayers. My goodness, we couldn’t survive a week without all of your prayers, especially for our daughter, and then for your financial help, we’re just amazed that even through the summer months the Lord has continued to provide all we need. We haven’t had to worry for a moment that we couldn’t pay our bills this summer. So, we just thank every one of you.
We’ve just come back from a glorious time up in Minnesota. They love us and we love them. I mean, it’s just a tremendous experience whenever we go up there.
Okay, we’re going to continue right on in our study of the various aspects of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ. Of course, the Body of Christ is the most important, because that’s where we are. You know, Laura has found out listening to all my tapes, and she’s been doing that, and she said, “Daddy, you’re right, it is harder to stay interested in that which pertains to today than it does in Genesis or Revelation.” You know I’ve always said that. It’s not hard to keep people interested when you teach Genesis, because it is just so exciting how everything fell together. Nor is it hard to hold people’s attention when you talk about the Tribulation and the Second Coming and all those things that are future. But to get right into the here and the now, it’s not all that easy, because this is where the practical end of our experience comes in.
All right, I’m going to take you first, for a moment in this lesson, to Ephesians chapter 1. We established in the last lesson that Paul was the first into the Body of Christ, he is the leader, he is the first sinner saved by God’s grace, and he becomes, then, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and it’s his writings that we must go by. I also want to point out that he uses that term – “the Body of Christ” over and over. In fact, he’s the only one that uses that term.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, (Plus nothing.) according to the working of his mighty power, 20. Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,…” Now you remember, I’m always stressing the power that was released at resurrection. I firmly believe that more of God’s power was exercised at His resurrection than it was at Creation, because He had to overcome all of the powers of the satanic forces. He had to overcome the powers of sin and death and being victorious over it. So, that’s what the Apostle Paul is bringing out, again.
“…power, 20. Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” Which, of course, was at His ascension, and now as He’s seated in the heavenlies.
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” He’s above every name that is named. That’s not what you hear lately, is it? But He is! (But now coming back to the here and the now.)
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head (not the King, but rather the Head) over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body,…” See how that’s always qualified? The Church, which is His Body. Not the church that was back there in Jerusalem. That was a Jewish assembly. But this called-out group of believers is referred to over and over, only in Paul’s epistles, remember, as the Body of Christ. You’ll never find it anywhere else. All right, so He, Christ, has been all things to the church.
“Which is his body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all.” All right, now while we’re in Ephesians, turn the page and we’ll go to chapter 3. Again, we almost have to take a whole series of verses here in order to get the full picture of what the Apostle Paul is being revealed through the work of the Holy Spirit. Verse 1:
“For this cause…” Because of all he’s written in these first two chapters, which includes: For by grace are you saved through faith, not of yourselves lest anyone should boast. But we become, then, His workmanship, after salvation, created unto works that are pleasing in God’s sight. But here in Ephesians chapter 3 verse 1:
“For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (Whom?) you Gentiles.” That’s the whole primary purpose of his ministry, even though he certainly does his best to still minister to his own people after the flesh, the Jew. But they reject him out of hand. And even today, it’s rare indeed that Jews become believers of this Gospel of Grace. But it’s possible, never forget that. Now verse 2, the verse we started out with this afternoon.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” Now, I guess I can stop here again. How did God give the Law to Israel? Through Moses. When Christ was on earth and they were pummeling Him with questions, what was His answer, at least in one place? You’ve got Moses. Go back and see what Moses said about it.
Well, just as God gave the Law to Moses and Moses gave it to Israel, so this whole body of truth we call the revelation of the mysteries, was given to this one man, only instead of being sent to Israel, He was sent to the whole human race. The same picture, so don’t ever think that we’re making too much of the Apostle Paul. Not one whit more than the Old Testament made of Moses. They were God’s instruments to reveal these truths to Israel, and Paul is to reveal it to the Gentile world. That’s why he makes no apology for taking credit for it. Now verse 3:
“How by revelation (an unveiling of things that have been kept secret) to…” Us? No. He’s particular. The Holy Spirit is particular. To him. To him alone. Not to the Twelve. Not to three or four others. But to him alone.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (This whole volume of truth) (as I wrote before in few words, 4. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Now, this is what we are unfolding. What were all these various mysteries that comprised “the mystery?” What are all these fundamental truths that comprise the body of truth that we call the dispensation of grace? It all comes together. All right, now verse 5, watch this carefully. Oh, I love these nine or ten verses! Just for this very reason.
“Which in other ages (What’s another word for ages? Dispensations. In other generations. You can put a whole bunch of words on that word. It takes you all the way back to Adam, that in other ages, all the way back to Adam, this mystery–) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” Now, don’t try to bring the Twelve in there, because the Twelve don’t belong here.
They had no association with Paul whatsoever. But Paul did have other men that came into his ministry. He had Barnabas and Silas. He had Timothy and Titus. Then, of course, various other men that came into the leadership of various churches. That’s who he’s referring to. All right, now verse 6.
“That the Gentiles (What a complete departure from everything, especially from Genesis 12 up to Acts chapter 9, which is all Jewish. All Jewish. With some exceptions. But now it’s all Gentile, with some exceptions.) should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, (See, there’s that Body of Christ, again.) and partakers of his promise in Christ (How?) by the gospel:” And you don’t hear the Gospel of Salvation much anymore.
I know they don’t. I can tell by our letters, by our phone calls, they’re not hearing it. And what’s the Gospel? That Jesus Christ, God the Son, the Creator of everything, went to that Roman cross, shed His blood and died, was buried, and rose from the dead! That’s the Gospel! That transforms people the moment they believe it. But they can’t believe it if they don’t hear it, and they’re not. They’re hearing anything and everything but. All right, read on, verse 7.
“Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” It wasn’t delegated to him by the Twelve. It wasn’t given unto him by anybody associated with Israel, which all in the past of course was. But it was God alone who delegated to this one man the revelation of these things kept secret. All right, now he was always humble. He never got puffed up and proud over what authority God had given him.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,…” Why? Because of the persecution and the suffering he had brought on his fellow Jews before he was converted. He could never forget that. Don’t ever yourself forget that. Now, just for example, I wasn’t planning to do some of these things, but I think this is what makes our teaching what it is.
Come back with me to Acts, chapter 26, if I’m not mistaken, and this says it all. Now of course he’s before King Agrippa. He’s been under arrest now for, well, it’ll be a total of almost 18 months before he gets to Rome. Now, he’s making his appeal to King Agrippa, and again he’s going through much of Israel’s past. Then he comes in at verse 9.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Remember, at that time Paul detested Him.) 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (That is, Jewish people who had embraced Jesus as their Messiah, or what we call Jewish believers.) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; (The whole religious leadership of Israel was behind Saul’s persecution of these Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth.) and when they were put to death,…” What? The Jewish leadership was putting these Jewish believers to death? That’s what it says. A persecuting death. They were trying to ethnic cleanse the nation.
A lot of these theologians come up with all their various arguments, for example, on why did Christ have to be crucified? Well, you know what they try to claim? Oh, because the Jews had no authority to put someone to death. Phooey! They were doing it all the time. We just read about the stoning of Stephen. Was there any Roman intervention? Well, of course not. So, they didn’t put Jesus to death because they weren’t capable, it was a simple matter of prophecy. He had to be “lifted up as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness.” And the Jews couldn’t accomplish that, so they had to bring in the Romans. So, all these things teach us something that otherwise we may miss. No, they put their own people to death all the time.
“…and when they were put to death, I gave my voice (or vote) against them.” He was only too glad to see them convicted. Take them out and kill them. To follow some renegade carpenter from Nazareth, they don’t deserve to stay alive. Put them to death. You got the mentality of the man?
“And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme;…” How do you compel people to do something against their will? Torture. And the Middle East is the best in the world. Nobody knows how to torture like Middle Easterners. This isn’t a present day phenomenon. So, Paul is as much as saying here that he was guilty of torturing these Jews to the place where they would turn against and recant their faith in the Messiah. That’s awful! And that’s why he never got over it, even though he knew that God forgave him. Saul is as justified as anybody could be, but he could never forget that past.
“I compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, (these Jewish followers of Jesus) I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus…” All right, now that’s what he’s talking about when you come back over here to where we were at in Ephesians.
“Unto me, who am less then the least of all saints,…” Why? Because of that past, even though he knew he was forgiven. Even though he knew he was now God’s spokesman for the whole world, he could not forget the horrible past of how he had persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
“…is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles…” Now, I can’t emphasize this enough, that all the way from Genesis 12 to Acts chapter 9, it’s Israel, Israel, Israel!
In fact, let me just make a point. Keep your hand in Ephesians, because that’s the whole idea of learning Scripture with Scripture. Acts chapter 11 verse 19, when I say that everything was Jewish, I want Scripture to back me up. This is probably a good many years after Pentecost. I’m trying to figure real fast when this would be. This is probably around 41 or 42 AD and 29 is the crucifixion, so we’re about 12-13 years after Pentecost. Saul has just finished his three years in the desert with the risen Lord, and he’s now up in Tarsus. But this is what’s still going on until we get to the Antioch environment.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen (But you want to remember, just because Saul was off the picture, that didn’t stop the persecution. The Jewish leadership kept that hot as all get out, so even though Paul, or Saul, has been gone now several years, that doesn’t mean the persecution stopped.) traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word (Now, how much Word did these Jews have? Old Testament. Paul’s letters haven’t been written yet. So, all they’ve got are the Old Testament Scriptures, and are preaching–) to none but unto the Jews only.” That’s plain English.
Somebody was telling me about a program on television the other night, how the Twelve went all over the then known world. Garbage! The Twelve stayed in Jerusalem. They weren’t out over the then known world. They never did, so far as Scripture is concerned. Because they could not take that which belonged to Israel to the Gentile world. They were never given permission to do that. Only Saul of Tarsus was. So, these Jews were strictly abiding by what the Lord had told the Twelve back in Matthew, which we read earlier this afternoon, “Go not into a Gentile, and even a Samaritan city enter you not.” All right, back to Ephesians chapter 3.
“…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” See the big difference? The Jewish believers wouldn’t speak to anybody but Jews. But Saul, or Paul, was sent to the Gentile world with these revelations of the mysteries. What did he preach? “The unsearchable riches of Christ” What does that mean? You can’t plumb the bottom of the riches of Christ. It is utterly impossible.
We’ll never understand, and you’ve heard me say it over and over, we’ll never understand all that Christ accomplished at the cross of Calvary. We will never comprehend the power of His shed blood to cleanse men from sin. We will never comprehend the power of His resurrection. It’s unsearchable! It’s beyond human comprehension. Now verse 9.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the (What, again?) mystery, (This whole volume of truth that is all wrapped up in the Body of Christ. It’s not given to Israel. It’s given to the non-Jewish world, to you and I.) which (Now watch this.) from the beginning of the world (That takes you all the way back to Adam or earlier.) hath been hid in God,…” Hid! Now you know I always like Deuteronomy 29:29. Most of you know that now. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God. But those things which are revealed belong to us.”
Well, that’s exactly what Paul is saying. All this has been kept in the mind of God, totally locked up and secret, and I’ll keep repeating it until the day I die or am raptured out. You cannot find any of this back in the rest of your Bible. It’s not in there. You can twist it and you can make all kinds of imaginary ideas, but it’s not in there. Because you have to wait until you get to Romans 1:1 where these things start unfolding.
“…Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, (The same God) who created all things by Jesus Christ:” Isn’t it amazing? And most of Christendom doesn’t realize that. This is just one of several times in the New Testament, now you don’t find it in the Old, of course, because we don’t know Him as Jesus Christ back there. But, when God made the move to create the universe, He delegated it to God the Son, as we know Him in the Old Testament. The New Testament makes it so plain. For example, John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God. The same was with God in the beginning and by him were all things made that were made.”
Then when you drop down to verse 14 of John 1, you find out who the Word was. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” So, we know it’s talking about Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Creator of everything.
I think the program was on the last week, in most areas of the country, in Colossians chapter 1 that, “By him were all things created that were ever created.” And I have to repeat; most of Christendom doesn’t know that.
We just saw in Ephesians 3:9 that, “God created all things by Jesus Christ.” Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 is another one, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” That’s the Christ that we serve! That’s the One who died for you and I and rose from the dead. He’s the Creator of everything! Then people just think they can live a life for 70 years and have a good time and spurn eternity in the presence of the Creator? It’s beyond me. I can’t comprehend it. But that’s the real world. All right, we’ve got one minute left, verse 10.
“To the intent (all of this was in God’s Divine purpose) that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, (Or, I prefer the word heavenlies.) might be known by the church (That is, the Body of Christ.) the manifold wisdom of God,” Those are the only ones that can understand this. You have to be a member of the Body of Christ before you can comprehend these spiritual things.
I’d like to take you back to I Corinthians, but we won’t have time, because what does I Corinthians tell us? “The natural or unsaved man cannot comprehend these things.” It’s beyond him. It goes over his head. “But the spiritual man can comprehend it.” Because, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives us the ability. And people are experiencing it. Yes, when the Holy Spirit is in control of your life, this Book opens up and isn’t all that hard to understand.
LESSON TWO * PART IV
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ –The Mysteries)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
Okay, it’s good to see everybody back, and it doesn’t look like anybody’s left. That’s what we were so amazed about in Minnesota the other day. We started out with over 800, and I think we had just about that many at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. So, that’s encouraging when people don’t get up and leave!
Okay, for those of you out in television, again we just want to thank you for your support and prayers, your financial help and your letters! My, I can’t emphasize enough how we appreciate your letters, especially when you keep them short. Those of you who have helped us with the mail understand why, but we don’t want you to limit. In other words, if it takes a long letter to give us your testimony, that’s fine, but on the whole, if you can say what you want to say in one page it helps us so much in order to read every letter that comes in. And we still do. We still read every letter, and hopefully answer those that need to be answered.
All right, let’s continue on where we have been, on the Body of Christ, the revelation of the mysteries as they were given to the Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul. Let’s carry it one step further now and go into Colossians chapter 4, and start at verse 1. You know, I always like to make the statement that we don’t throw aside the rest of Scripture, naturally, it’s all for a purpose. It’s for learning.
But, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the Christian life, everything we need to know is covered between Romans 1:1 and the last verse of Philemon. Everything. The everyday life. The home life. Children’s relationship. Everything is covered that we really need to know between Romans and Philemon.
All right, now here in Colossians chapter 4 he’s dealing with employers and employees.
“Masters, (those of you who own a business) give unto your servants (your employees) that which is just and equal; (In other words, be a fair-minded employer.) knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. (Now, here it comes) 2. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3. Withal praying also for us, (That is, Paul and his ministry.) that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:” Now, what do you suppose he’s referring to? That God, who had been specifically revealing Himself to the Nation of Israel, has now turned to the whole Gentile world, revealing to the common, ordinary, pagan individual, His Deity, His power, His glory, and that He’s ready to save to the uttermost those who would simply believe Him. Unheard of! Gentiles?!
Now, most of us don’t have the right picture of the Gentiles of antiquity. They weren’t much better than animals when it came to morality. They were ruthless. There was no such thing as human rights. If you weren’t in the elite upper percentage, you were just so much dirt under their feet. So, to have God go to those “uncircumcised Gentiles,” as the Jews called them, was unheard of.
All right, now just for sake of a point. Come back with me to Isaiah chapter 42, so that I can sort of rehearse and charge your memory of things that we’ve said many, many times before. The whole idea of the Old Testament was to prepare Israel for a coming role of evangelizing the pagan Gentiles, and here’s the proof of it. Isaiah chapter 42 and we can start at verse 1.
“Behold (the prophet writes) my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: (Now, this is God speaking through the prophet concerning the Messiah, the Christ.) He (the Messiah) shall bring forth judgment (or righteous, benevolent rule) to (What people?) the Gentiles.” If the Gentiles were going to receive anything benevolent from God, it had to be through Israel. All right, move on down to verse 6.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, (Now, we’re talking to the Nation of Israel.) and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, (For what purpose?) for a light of the Gentiles.” That’s all through, especially, the prophets.
All right, turn all the way up through Isaiah to chapter 60, and this is what I want you to see. That, until we get to Paul, if God had a mind for the Gentile, it was going to be after Israel had become the obedient Nation and they had the King and the Kingdom. That’s the Old Testament prophecy
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, (Now, that is a prophetic reference to the coming of their Messiah in His first advent.) and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 2. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, (a spiritual darkness) and gross darkness the people: (Israel, in spite of all their religion, their temple worship, and their sacrifices, yet they were spiritually blind.) but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings (of the Gentile world) to the brightness of thy rising.” Now, drop down to verse 5.
“Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.” But Israel rejected all that, and now God had to bring about one Jew, the Apostle Paul, and through this apostle, now, all of God’s grace and goodness to the Gentile world is brought about.
All right, let’s come back to Colossians once again, in case you kept your place, just back up now a minute to Colossians chapter 1, where we were earlier today, but we stopped at verse 25. Now we’re going to drop down to verse 26, but to pick up the flow, and point, let’s start at verse 24.
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh (That is, his personal day-to-day suffering.) for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25. Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill (or to complete or bring to fruition) the word of God; (That’s why, I feel, that II Timothy is the last portion of Scripture ever written.) 26. Even the mystery…” You see how often this just pops up throughout Paul’s epistles, because it is this revelation of things totally unknown. That’s what makes our teaching of Paul’s doctrines, this teaching concerning the Grace of God, so insulated from all the rest of Scripture. You can’t mix them up.
You know, while we were in Minnesota, one old fellow came up, and he’s been retired quite a few years after being 25 years as a pastor in one of the major denominations. He picked up our teaching just a few years ago, and he said, “Les, if I could have just had this while I was pastoring, what a difference it would have made in my ministry.” But he said, “The Lord gave me an opportunity. This summer our adult Sunday School Class teacher was going to be gone for the summer, and they asked me to teach the class.” So, he said, “I jumped at the chance. The first thing I did, I went up to Wal-Mart and bought an Oster Blender.” Now, you know what’s coming don’t you?
He says he’s going to give them an object lesson. He said, “I took some green paper, and I cut it in little pieces and on every piece of green paper I put a Biblical truth. All the way from Genesis all the way up through.” He said, “I got up there in front of that Sunday School Class, (Minnesota people won’t hear this for a few years, and by that time they’ll forget about it.) and said, now folks, I’m going to show you something. I’ve written on this piece of paper, something (I don’t know what it was.) concerning Adam and so forth.” So, he put it in the blender. He had it about half full of water.
He said he came all the way up. On every piece of paper he told them what he was writing. It was things that everybody knew. He threw it in the blender. He got all the way through and had all these green pieces of paper in that blender and he turned it up. He said he had a gooey mass of green stuff and he poured it in a glass, held it up, and he said, “Who wants to drink it?” Well, he said it about made them sick to their stomach. He said, “Don’t you realize that’s what they’ve been doing with the Bible all your life? Most people absolutely can not separate Paul’s writings from the rest of Scripture, and when that happens you get the blender effect.”
What a point. He said they got it! They picked up on it right away. Because that’s what most have been doing. They just mix everything up, they spend their time in the Gospel’s or in Acts or a little bit in Paul, but nobody ever sees this distinctive difference in Paul’s revelation of the mysteries. That’s what I’m trying to do in these series of programs, is to let folks know that you cannot take this Body of Truth and dilute it with any other portion of Scripture, past or future. You leave it intact. Then, it becomes easy to believe.
Okay, now in Colossians 1 again, this mystery which has been hid, that constant emphatic repetition of the fact that these things were hid in the mind of God until He revealed it to Paul. I’m going to keep repeating it. So, don’t go back to the Old Testament and try to find a verse that refers to the Body of Christ. You won’t find it. Don’t try to go into the Old Testament or the four Gospel’s or Revelation and find a reference to the Rapture. You won’t find it. Because it, alone, is associated with the mysteries revealed to Paul. I think we’ll have time to still hit the Rapture this afternoon. All right, Colossians 1.
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to (Whom?) his saints:” The unbelieving world can’t comprehend it. They can’t comprehend that God, the Creator of everything, took on human flesh and went to that Roman cross, suffered and died, so that He could open salvation to the whole world. They can’t comprehend that. It’s all part of the mysteries. But you and I can, it becomes vivid!
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory (Well, that’s just about like Ephesians said, the unsearchable riches.) of this mystery among the Gentiles; (See how plain all this is? But now, what’s this mystery? I mentioned it a moment ago.) which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Now you see, there isn’t another religion on the face of the earth that can give that kind of a promise, that we have the Creator of the Universe indwelling us. That’s our hope. That’s God’s down-payment on our life! That He is literally dwelling within us. That’s why a believer cannot go into gross sin and stay there.
Now, we can fall. But every once in a while, somebody will call and tell me, “Well, our preacher was a good preacher for five years. Got a wife and three lovely kids. A month or so ago he ran off with the church’s secretary. You telling me he’s still saved?” And I said, “Well, I’m not going to say one way or the other, I can’t look on the heart. But I can give you a couple of guidelines. If in a short order God doesn’t convict him and bring him back or take him out, then, yes, I doubt if he’s ever saved.” Because the unbeliever doesn’t flinch on those things, he doesn’t flinch. But if he’s a true believer, he’s either going to be convicted and come back, or God will take him out. That much we know from Scripture.
All right, but here we have the fact that a true believer is indwelt by Christ, in the person, of course, of the Holy Spirit. There’s no other religion on the face of the earth that can give that promise. That’s why we’re different. I always like to say we’re not better, we’re better off. We’re better off. That’s what makes the difference.
All right, now in the time we have left, let’s look at the mystery concerning the Rapture. Oh my, I’m still getting letters, “I can agree with you on everything, Les, but I can’t agree on the Rapture.” Well, bless their hearts, let’s turn to I Corinthians chapter 15 verse 51, and lo and behold, what’s one of the first words you see? “Mystery” That’s why these theologians can’t understand the Rapture. It’s a mystery. It’s a secret. They haven’t comprehended. So, if they can’t see the Rapture in the Second Coming verses, then they just pooh-pooh it and say well, that’s just a false doctrine. I’ve mentioned it before on the program. I can tell in the first line of a letter that is disagreeing with me on the Rapture and just sort of skim through their letter. There’s not one verse from Paul. It is all Old Testament, the four gospels, and Revelation. to prove that there’s no such thing as a Rapture. Absolutely, there’s no Rapture in that part of the Bible. You’ve got to come to Paul, because Paul alone had revealed these things that were kept secret.
I Corinthians 15:51a
“Behold, I show you a mystery;…” You’re going to get tired of hearing the word this afternoon, aren’t you? Paul says, “I’m showing you a mystery.” God has revealed something to me that’s never been revealed before. Now, what’s this mystery?
I Corinthians 15:51b
“…We shall not all sleep (die),…” Now, I know a lot of people come back to that verse in Hebrews, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.” Well, that’s true in general terms, but God is God and He can make an exception, and the exception is going to be the Rapture of the Body of Christ. Now read on. This secret is that not every believer is going to go through the valley of death. Because there’s going to be a group of believers living who will not die, but they will be changed.
I Corinthians 15:51c
“…but we shall all be changed,” They’re suddenly going to go from this body to a body fit for eternity. A body like Christ’s resurrected body – instantly! You know, since this hip surgery I’ve been doing a lot of walking, and the other morning, on a beautiful morning, I had one foot in the air and the thought struck me – Les, before that foot hits the ground you could be in Glory!
Somebody, after my daughter Laura got hurt, sent this little jingle. I don’t ever get that out of my mind. “This wicked ol’ cowboy, wicked to the extreme. He got pitched from his horse and was killed. And everybody was all hemmin’, you know, well the poor man is lost. He’s in hell. But this guy says, no, now wait a minute. Maybe between the stirrup and the ground the Grace of God he found.”
But see this is how instantly God can do things. Never forget the words of the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry. “With God nothing is impossible.” Nothing! You and I cannot get a thought so far out but that God can do it. Now, I know the Rapture gets close. How in the world will God suddenly, instantly call every believer around the planet to meet Him in the air in a second or two? Well, it sounds impossible to us, but is it to God? No! It’s going to happen because the Book says so! Here it is, we’ll not all die physically.
I Corinthians 15:51c-52a
“…but we shall all be changed. (How fast?) 52. In a moment,…” That word in the Greek is the smallest division of time. And at the time of the Scripture of course, that was probably a fraction of a second. But now it’s down to a fraction, of a fraction, of a fraction of a second. And that’s how fast it’s going to happen.
I Corinthians 15:52b
“….in the twinkling of an eye, (As fast as you can blink your eye, it’s all going to happen. And it will be–) at the last trump: (Singular. Not one of the seven trumpets of Revelation. Those are angel’s trumpets. This is God’s trumpet and it’s singular.) for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” All the believers of the Church Age. I can’t put anybody else in there in my understanding of Scripture. I cannot see the Old Testament saints coming at this same trumpet call, because Daniel 12 says, so clearly, that Daniel and his fellow believers will be called out at the end of 75 days, after the Kingdom is set up. But every member of the Body of Christ because that’s all Paul talks to, every member of the Body of Christ will be raised incorruptible. Philippians tells us that we’re going to have a body, “fashioned like to His glorious body” after the resurrection. All right, and here’s the reason.
I Corinthians 15:53
“For this corruptible (this body of corruptible flesh) must put on incorruption, (So that we will live forever.) and this mortal (Which is prone to death.) must put on immortality” For, again, the purpose of living for all eternity in God’s presence. All right, now we have to go to the companion portion. Most of you who have heard me teach know where it’s at, I Thessalonians chapter 4, and begin in verse 13.
I Thessalonians 4:13a
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,…” Now, whenever I read that I can’t help but think of Romans 11:25 that we read earlier this afternoon, where he says, “ignorant of this mystery.” Now, I know I don’t have the authority to put that in here, but I can’t help but think of it. Paul doesn’t want us to be ignorant of yet another mystery, because that’s what it’s called in I Corinthians. It’s a secret, now unveiled only to this apostle. All right, so he doesn’t want us to be ignorant of this tremendous event.
I Thessalonians 4:13b
“…concerning them which are asleep, (Believers who have died, our loved ones.) that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope.” In other words, those whose loved ones are lost, or they themselves are lost, they will never be reunited in Glory. Now verse 14 and this is so thrilling! This is Paul’s Gospel of salvation!
I Thessalonians 4:14a
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” See how plain that is? Paul’s Gospel! And if we believe it for salvation, we’re going to be part of this! If you don’t believe it, you won’t be.
I Thessalonians 4:14b
“…even so them also who have died in Jesus will God bring with him.” Now, that takes a little explanation. At death what happens to the soul and spirit of the believer? Out to Glory! Into the Lord’s presence! They are with Him. And when this day comes, He’s going to bring them with Him. The soul and the spirit and they’ll be reunited with that resurrected body. Every single individual’s soul and spirit with that original body that’s resurrected. That again is impossible for us to imagine, but God’s going to do it, and He’s not going to miss a one!
Every passed away believer is going to be reunited with the soul and spirit that’s been in Glory, so they become a complete entity once again. Oh, if I had the time, maybe we can do it in our next program. If you go back to Romans chapter 8, what did that resurrection give us? “The new body, fit for all eternity.” All right, now reading on, verse 15.
I Thessalonians 4:15a
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,…” Who does that mean? Where does Paul get all this? Well, he didn’t get it from the Twelve. He didn’t get it from going back to the Old Testament prophets. The Ascended Lord revealed all this to him. I think it’s coming to him in such a way that he can clearly comprehend it. As the Holy Spirit gave him utterance, he could write these words, and it was just confirmation of everything he already knew.
I Thessalonians 4:15b-16
“…that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, (That is, at this what we call the Rapture.) shall not precede (or go ahead of) them who have died. (They’re going to come out of the graves first.) 16. For the Lord himself (The crucified, ascended Lord is going to leave heaven and–) shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump (singular) of God: (Not an angel’s trumpet like Revelation, but this is a trumpet of God.) and the dead in Christ shall rise first;” Those who are believers, the Body of Christ, and they’ve been laid wherever they are, whether they’re burned at the stake and there’s nothing left but ashes. That doesn’t make any difference to God, it’ll be resurrected, a new body reunited with their soul and spirit.
I Thessalonians 4:17a
“Then (in the next instant) we who are alive and remain…” Now remember, what I Corinthians said? Same thing, that there will be a group of believers who will not die physically. Here we pick them up again.
I Thessalonians 4:17b
“…shall be caught up (instantly translated) together with them (The resurrected of the ages of the Body of Christ.) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: (He’s not going to come to planet earth. He only comes to the air.) and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Now, in closing, at the Second Coming it’s associated with disaster and death and destruction. At the Rapture, nothing more than perilous times shall come.
LESSON THREE * PART I
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?)
Matthew 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
It’s good to see everybody in again today. We see folks who have come in from quite a distance, and we appreciate that. For those of you out in television, we want to invite you to a simple Bible study. We try to keep things simple. In fact, that reminds me, a lady out in the East Coast was sharing everything that she thought they believed, and I said, “Good heavens, lady, why do you complicate everything? Keep it simple!” Because that’s what God intended, so that even the “plowboys of England” could read the Bible and understand it.
That’s my whole purpose. To teach, yes, the deeper things, but on the other hand, keep it so simple that even a young person can understand it. We know by your letters that the Lord is touching a lot of hearts and getting them excited about Bible study on their own.
We’re going to keep right on where we’ve been for the last several programs, on the circles up here. We’re going to be looking at the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ. Three entities and yet they are all under the Headship of the Almighty God, the Creator of everything. Yet, in order to understand Scripture, you have to keep them separate.
A gentleman wrote a position paper, and he mailed it to me a while back. I’ve referred to him before on the program. He’s a tremendous Bible teacher in his own right. He was pointing out how that even some of our great seminaries have departed from keeping all these things separate, and they’re running them all together again. It is so true. And all it does is confuse the issue. But if you can learn to keep them separate, and realize they’re all under God – of course they are – the Kingdom of God is everything that is under God’s righteous control. It doesn’t concern the lost. It doesn’t concern the doom, the Hell, and the Hades, but everything that’s under God’s righteous control – the angelic hosts, Heaven, and everything that’s in the sphere of God’s work here on earth is all part of the Kingdom of God.
But, in the Kingdom of God we have two other separate entities, the one that’s directed primarily to the Nation of Israel, which is the Kingdom of Heaven, which is Heaven on earth. It will become a reality, physical and literal, when Christ returns as King and gives Israel the glorious Kingdom that’s been promised all the way up through the Old Testament. We showed that several programs back.
Then, when Israel rejected the King and the Kingdom at Christ’s first advent, God does something totally different. Instead of using the Twelve, He gets another apostle, not part of the Twelve, totally segregated from them, the Apostle of the Gentiles, Saul of Tarsus. We know him as the Apostle Paul. He uses Paul to call out the Body of Christ in this Age of Grace. When we get on our Aegean cruise, following the footsteps of Paul, that’s going to be the subject of my teaching on that trip, “Why Paul?”
Why another Apostle when the Lord already had twelve? Well, it’s two separate entities. The Twelve were part and parcel of God dealing with Israel in preparation of the Kingdom on earth. When Israel rejected all of that, God turns to this one Apostle, to go to the Gentile world in particular. We don’t leave the Jew out of it, but it’s primarily to the Gentile world. With it’s glorious revelation of all these things that were kept secret, all the way from the beginning of time, as we know it, up until the Apostle Paul was given what we call “the mysteries,” which we studied in our last taping. So, since you and I are directly, intrinsically, involved with the Body of Christ, I think this is where we have to spend the most time as we study the Word of God.
Now, prophecy is interesting. The Old Testament stories and everything like that are interesting. But when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, so far as you and I are concerned, we study the Body of Christ. So, our last four programs dealt with that, and we’re going to hopefully make four more today, all dealing with where we are as members of the Body of Christ. The number one thing I always have to remember, a fellow in Indiana mentioned it one time, he said, “Les, we always hear a lot about the Body of Christ, but we never hear how we get into it.” Well, it’s a good question. How do we become members of this Body of Christ? It isn’t automatic. It’s something that requires an act of faith on our part.
All right, I’m going to take us, for a beginning, to Ephesians chapter 1. This is what we’re going to be looking at for at least the first couple of programs, “What do we have to do to become a member of this Body of Christ?” Now remember, not all church members are members of the Body of Christ. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Very few. In fact, a lot of congregations are not members of the Body of Christ, and it’s getting worse by the day. In fact, there was an editorial, I think in World Magazine, again, just a couple of weeks ago, where a poll was taken of our young people across America. It was frightening, the humongous percentage of our church-related young people have become nothing more than deists. D-E-I-S-T-S – Now, what does that mean? Oh, they recognize that there’s a greater power. They recognize that there’s a God in control of creation, but a personal relationship with Him? They know nothing of that. A sin problem? They know nothing of that. So, it is frightening. I feel that’s where we come in, and as we teach people, they’re going out and teaching others that it’s more than just recognizing God as Deity. It’s getting into a place of a spiritual relationship with Him by becoming members of the Body of Christ.
All right, Ephesians chapter 1 and we are going to start at verse 12. Remember what I’m trying to drive at. How do we become a member of this Body of Christ, which is an entity within the Kingdom of God? All right, Ephesians chapter 1 verse 12. Paul always writes to believers. Ephesus was a Gentile city, and it’s a Gentile congregation. So, to those Gentiles he writes:
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, (I’m going to put the pronoun back in there.) [we] who first trusted in Christ.” So, who’s he talking to? Believers. All right, now he’s going to rehearse how they each became a believer, or a member of the Body of Christ. Next verse.
“In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, (or placed your faith. Now we’re going to take it slowly.) after that ye heard the word of truth,…” Now, did you get that? You cannot become a believer; you cannot become a member of this Body of Christ until you have heard the Word of Truth. Now, this may seem like a superfluous question, “What’s truth?” Well, universities like to have it across the Administration Building that “The truth shall make you free.” Well, what’s truth? Well, here we identify it. Reading on:
“…the gospel of your salvation:…” That is the only basic truth in the universe today! That’s truth! Not how you philosophize. Not how you live morally. But truth is the Gospel. See that? Let’s read it again.
In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: (We’ll come back and look at that in a moment, but just finish the verse.) in whom also (In Christ, now don’t forget our prepositional phrases here.) after that ye believed,” Not repented. Not being baptized. Not after you spoke in tongues. Not after you joined the church. Not after you tithed. Not after you do all these things. That’s not in here. But after you what? “Believed!” And what’s believing? Faith!
Wow, now that makes me stop. What are the two absolutes I’m always throwing out at my classes? Two absolutes in Scripture, remember what they are? Faith and shed blood. Maybe we’d better look at them. Keep your hand in Ephesians, because this is Bible study, this isn’t a lecture hall – this is a Bible study. Okay, come back with me to Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22, especially the last half of the verse. Now, a lot of what we’re going to be teaching today will, of course, be repetition – things that I’ve said over and over and over. But they are basic to your understanding of the Scriptures and wherein you have the wherewithal to share it with others.
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; (Because, after all, Paul is addressing Jews, so he’s dealing with the Law. But the last half of the verse becomes universal.) and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Plain as day, isn’t it? There’s no room for argument. If there is no shed blood in your faith mix, you’re doomed, because you cannot experience redemption without the price paid at the cross, which was the shed blood. We’ll be looking at verses, hopefully, in a little bit. All right, so “without the shedding of blood there’s no remission.” Now, flip over to chapter 11 verse 6, and it’s plain English.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God…” Now you see, way back in the Genesis example of faith versus rationalizing was Cain and Abel. And that’s what most people do today. They rationalize. They rationalize just exactly the same way Cain did. And how did he do it? “Well, God knows that I earned all this by the sweat of my brow. God knows how much work I did to raise my best crop,” or whatever it was he brought. But it was bloodless. God rejected it, and it made Cain angry.
Well, people are the same way today. You point out their error in ignoring the Scriptural approach to salvation and they get angry. They almost now are getting to call us “hate mongers.” It’s amazing. But, listen, that’s what the Book says, that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Of course Abel was accepted because he did bring a blood sacrifice. He came by faith. Cain came rationalizing. And that’s exactly what people do yet today.
All right, now if you’ll come back to Ephesians chapter 1, these two absolutes are paramount right here in this first real explanation of how to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Now, I get to something like this and I’ve got fifteen different places I’d like to go. It’s hard to pick and choose which one, but I think we’ll go back first to I Corinthians 15:1-4 and define what is the Gospel of Salvation, that is the epitome of Truth. Most of you have heard it so often now it rings like a bell. I think I mentioned in the last taping that I am aghast at how seldom you see these verses used when somebody writes a tract or tries to show people how to be saved. They never use it.
I can’t understand why, unless it’s just a satanic way of keeping people from the truth. Now, when I say satanic I’m not talking about skid row type of wickedness. Satan is an angel of light, don’t ever forget that. As an angel of light, he is a tremendous manipulator. If he can come in and manipulate the minds and thoughts and words of men that keep people from the truth, and he’s a master at that, then he’s the winner. All right, but here is the Gospel. This is truth.
I Corinthians 15:1
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (of salvation) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;” In other words, they weren’t blown about with every wind of doctrine like people are today. All right, now look at verse 2.
I Corinthians 15:2a
“By which also ye are (What?) saved,…” That’s the biblical term. People don’t like it. They’d rather use anything else but the word saved. But that’s what the Bible says. It’s by this Gospel that men and women are saved.
I Corinthians 15:2b
“…if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” In other words, you’ve got to know what you believe. You don’t just take a carte blanche statement and say, “Yes, that’s what I believe.” No, you know what you’re understanding and what you believe. Otherwise, it’s all in vain. Now, look at verse 3, here is the heart, or the meat, of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:3a
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,…” What does that mean? Saul of Tarsus had to have salvation himself before he could parcel it out to us. So, he’s the first one in. If I get time this afternoon, I’ll come back and show that. He’s the first one in to this Body of Christ, I’m convinced. He was that renegade opposer of everything that Jesus was trying to do in Israel. Paul detested Him because He was wreaking havoc with his religion. Sound familiar? Yeah it does. You wreak havoc with people’s religion and, my, they get upset. That’s what Saul of Tarsus was doing in Israel. Then the Lord saved him. So, this is what he’s saying, that he is now passing on to the Gentile world that which he himself had received – God’s saving grace.
Now, I had a caller from Minneapolis the other night, and you can do this just as well as he could. He said, “I know you’re always talking about Paul and constantly using the word grace, and that kingdom is always associated with Israel. The other night I used my computer.” You don’t have to have a computer concordance. You can use any concordance. You can use a Strong’s or anything else. But take the time some evening and count up how many times the word grace is used in all of Scripture, except Romans through Philemon, and you will be shocked. Not many!
Now, on the other hand, see how many times you see the word Kingdom in all of the Scripture, except Paul, and it’s multitudes. Now, take the other approach. How many times do you find kingdom in Paul’s epistles? Five or six. How many times do you find the word grace? Oh! It’s unbelievable. What does that tell you? Two graphic changes in God’s operation. Until you get to Paul, grace is a very small denomination and kingdom is everything. But, when you get into Paul, it’s the other way around. Grace is everything and the kingdom becomes almost moot. Here’s the reason, because now this man has been saved by God’s grace. He had nothing going for him that God should save him. Quite the opposite. He was trying to destroy everything that Jesus had accomplished in His three years of ministry. Yet, God saved him. Why? His grace.
Every one of us is saved only by God’s grace. We don’t deserve it. We deserve nothing. But, oh, God’s grace is poured out on us and we take it all scot-free, without lifting a finger. That’s, again, where most of Christendom is missing the boat. You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to walk that aisle. You’ve got to go through this. You’ve got to go through that. That’s not what this Book teaches. Now, read on and here is the heart of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (From the ascended Lord in glory. Not from Jesus walking the streets of Palestine and Israel, Jerusalem, but from the ascended Lord he received this tremendous message of salvation. All right and what is it?) how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (Absolutely, the Old Testament had it back there.) 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:” That’s the Gospel of Salvation that you must believe to enjoy eternal life. It was so completely finished that God will not allow anybody to tack something on to it. That is what’s going to doom multitudes of people, because God says, “You believe it or you’re lost. And you believe it the way I’ve accomplished it.” If that’s not good enough, then it’s not good enough.
I mean, I’m getting kind of narrow. I’ll have to admit it, because it disturbs me when I see so much watering down of the Truth, and the multitudes are flocking to it. They’re going to be disappointed, because the Lord has said, plain as day, “I finished the work. I have done everything that needs to be done, and all I’m asking you to do is believe it.” And people won’t – for the most part. A few, yes, and remember, it’s always the few.
For this, I think maybe I can make the point. Come all the way back to Isaiah, and this is to encourage every one of us that, No, we’re not going to see multitudes running our door down for a Bible study. There are precious few that are interested. Isaiah – I think it starts right in chapter 1 and verse 9.
“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small (What?) remnant,…” Now listen beloved, a remnant is small to start with. Aren’t they? Aren’t remnants small? But now we’re taking it one step further, it’s a small remnant. Boy, now that takes it down pretty small.
All right, let’s go to the one in Matthew chapter 7, and drop down to verse 13. Now, this is in red. The Lord said it. The Creator of the universe said it. The Sovereign God. That’s who Jesus was. He knew the end from the beginning. You all know the verses, but nobody really stops to think of the impact these verses should have. Verse 13, Jesus said to His listeners:
“Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in there at; (That is the multitudes. But now look at the next verse.) 14. Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, (That is unto eternal life.) and (How many?) few there be that find it.” And that’s never changed. It has never changed. It has always been the small percentage that becomes true followers of God. In any dispensation, in any generation, it’s always the same, and it’s no different today.
You know, somebody sent me a little book a while back, and I took the time to read it, even though I knew it was totally wrong. He had written it before the big Tsunami out in Indonesia happened, so I’ll bet he really smiled, because he had the word tsunami in his title of the book. But he wasn’t talking about an ocean tsunami; he was talking about a spiritual one. He was concocting a premise that beginning with America, there would be a great tsunami-type spiritual revival that would sweep across Australia, Japan, China, and India, with all of their billions, all the way into the Middle East, leading up to the return of Christ. Can you find that in this Book? I can’t. What false teaching.
There’s not going to be a great ingathering of souls in these last days. It’s quite the opposite. We’re seeing it. The more disasters we have and the more catastrophes we have, the more hardened people get. And that’s exactly what Revelation speaks of, even during the Tribulation. When the horrors of the Tribulation are beyond human understanding, do they turn to God? No. What does the Scripture say? “And yet they repent not of their sins.” They become all the more rebellious and wicked. So you see, it’s just not going to happen. We always have to be content with the few. Don’t give up when they don’t come running to your door. Don’t give up when you testify to somebody or give a witness, and they spurn you. Don’t be surprised – that’s the typical response.
LESSON THREE * PART II
BUT GOD! (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
Again, we want to thank all of you out there for your support, your prayers, your letters, everything. Especially when you tell us that the Bible has become an exciting Book, and how you’re enjoying it and sharing it with others. Because that’s the only reason we teach. I don’t want to build an empire. I don’t want to found a college or anything like that. I just want to get people to study the Book on their own. Okay, we’re going to continue on with where we started in the last half-hour — How do we gain entrance to the Body of Christ?
The first thing we have to do is believe the Gospel of Salvation how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose from the dead. Now, were going to take another look at a little different aspect of this Gospel, and that is the “blood” affect, the price of redemption. So, on that tack, I think we’ll flip back to Romans chapter 3. We’ll start at verse 23 because actually verse 23 is an absolute, just like the other two we shared in the first lesson today. And what were they?
“Without the shedding of blood there’s no remission,” as we saw in Hebrews chapter 9. The other one is “Without faith it’s impossible to please God,” as we saw in Hebrews chapter 11. On the other hand, unless you understand you’re lost, you can’t be saved. It’s impossible. So, here is the third absolute in Romans 3:23.
After the first two and a half chapters, the Holy Spirit has directed Paul to build the case that God has against the whole human race. It’s just like a courtroom scene. He builds all the things that are guilty with the immoral section of humanity. The next one is the moral element of society. Oh, they’re good. They never do anything blatantly wrong or dishonest or immoral. But, they’re just as lost as the immoral. Then, the third segment here in the last part of chapter two and on into chapter three is the religious individual. Oh, he’s religious to the hilt, but he’s just as lost as the other two. Then he comes down to verse 9 where he says:
“What then? Are we (Jews) better than they? (Gentiles) No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;” All right, now come over to verse 23.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” That’s the decision he’s come to. All have sinned. There are none that have done righteous, no not one. It’s an absolute. All right, now here’s where God’s grace comes in.
“Being justified freely by his grace (In other words, without any effort on our part.) through the (What?) redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Now, whenever you see that word redemption in Scripture, remember it always speaks of paying the price to gain something back. We use it even today. If you’ve lost title to a piece of ground, you redeem it by paying it off. If you take something into a hock shop to cover some expenses, like a lot of people have to do evidently, the only way they can get that thing back is pay the price, the price of redemption.
All right, now this word redemption starts way back in Job. Now, I didn’t intend to do this, but I think we’d better. Keep your hand in Romans. Come all the way back to Job chapter 19. That’s just ahead of Psalms. We haven’t used this in a long time, and we’ll drop down to verse 25. Now Job, of course, is an interesting situation. Nobody really knows who this guy Job was, or when he wrote this book. Now, there is a Job back in Israel, in the time of their Egyptian captivity, but not everybody is sure that that’s the Job who wrote this book. I think it goes back before Moses, but whatever. It’s an interesting book, and look what he already refers to.
“For I know that my (What?) redeemer (He had the whole concept of the necessity of redemption, whenever he lived and wrote.) liveth, (In other words, He had paid the price of redemption and came back to life. That’s what he knew.) and that he shall stand at the latter day (In the glories of heaven? Where?) upon the earth.” So, what’s already intimated? This earthly kingdom. That after He’s paid the price of redemption, and He’s made salvation possible, He’s going to set up a kingdom that’s going to be heaven on earth. Job had an inkling of it.
“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” What else did Job understand? Resurrection! He knew that one day he would be back on the planet in a physical body, although a body fit for eternity. So, this theme runs all the way through Scripture.
All right, now jump up to Isaiah. Now, this is all in the Kingdom of God category. This is not the Body of Christ, this is Israel, but you’ve still got the same God. He’s in control of all of it. Now, in Isaiah chapter 59 verse 20, we have the same concept.
“And the Redeemer (The One who has paid the price.) shall come to Zion,…” When? He will come as a Redeemer at His Second Coming. At His first coming He hadn’t yet paid the price, until the end of it. But at His Second Coming, He can now come as the One who has paid the price of redemption to those who believe. No one else. Not the whole human race, although their sin-debt has been paid for, yet they cannot appropriate it except by their faith.
All right, now let’s skip all the way up to Peter’s little epistle in the New Testament. I Peter chapter 1 and like I told you in the beginning of the first hour, this isn’t a lecture series, this is a Bible study, and we’re going to compare Scripture with Scripture. I had an interesting question in the mail yesterday, and it was a good question. I told the lady so. If Peter speaks of Christ’s death and of His resurrection, wasn’t he preaching Paul’s Gospel? Well, on the surface you may think so, but no, he wasn’t preaching Paul’s Gospel, because Peter is not proclaiming this as a salvation message for the whole human race. Peter is addressing the House of Israel. He’s proving that the One whom they had killed was alive, had finished everything that the Old Testament demanded to be done, and He’s coming back.
All right, now if that’s hard to swallow, just look at it in that light. Peter is not preaching this as a salvation message to the whole human race. He’s merely expressing to his Jewish readers that all these things that were foretold in the Old Testament had now been accomplished, and that everything else was ready to fall in place. If this much has been accomplished, Peter says, then we’re ready for this. Even though he didn’t understand that there would be a 1900 and some year parenthetical period of time. But look what he says.
I Peter 1:18-19
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed (You weren’t bought back.) with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;” (You’re not redeemed because you are a Jew. But what was the price of redemption?) 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” In other words, we’ve looked at this in past programs, that way back in eternity past God laid out the blueprint for this whole plan of the Ages. Including the cross. Including the resurrection. All right, so Peter’s reminding them that.
I Peter 1:20
“Who (Christ) verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest (That is, in His earthly ministry and in His physical work of the cross.) in these last times for you.” And I always point out, you remember, that Christ’s first advent is referred to in Scripture as ‘the last days.’
All right, now come back with me to Romans. Let’s see how Paul can speak of the same shed blood, but now it becomes a part and parcel of the Gospel, that through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection He shed His blood and paid the sin-debt for the whole human race. We can now consider ourselves redeemed by our faith.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption (the process of buying us back) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (The go between to satisfy all the demands of a Holy God. And how do we appropriate it?) through faith in his blood,…” There are the two absolutes in one verse, and we’ve got all three of them in two verses. We have to recognize we’re lost, and then we come in and appropriate the shed blood by faith. See, that’s all put together here – plain as day. Now, look at verse 26. If this isn’t enough to make you shout, I don’t know what is? What a glorious promise.
“To declare, I say, at this time his (That is Christ’s.) righteousness: (His sinlessness) that he might be just, (Absolutely fair. He’s not cutting corners. He’s not compromising. He’s fulfilling all of the holy, just, and righteous demands of God Himself.) and the justifier of him which (Repents, is baptized, speaks in tongues, joins the church, goes to the mission field, gives all their money? Isn’t it amazing? None of that! But, what?) believeth in Jesus.” Simple? Hey, can’t get any simpler than that.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the righteous Judge who looks at you and I in our depraved sinful condition, but simply because He sees that we’re believing in the shed blood, He also is the One that says, “You’re forgiven. You’re free. I hold nothing against you.” This is beyond human comprehension.
I had to answer a question again just the other day. If I sin, do I have to constantly come back and ask God to forgive? No. You’re forgiven. The human race can’t comprehend that — that the moment we believe we were forgiven – past, present and future.
That’s not license to go out and do as we please. I had to point this out to another lady who was working in a horrible situation in her workplace, with all the filthy language and all of the other stuff that went with it. I said, “You know what, the Lord said that if you are going to find a place where you don’t have to mingle with those people and rub elbows with them, you’ve got to leave this world.” That’s what it says in I Corinthians. Paul says, “If you’re not going to rub elbows with the fornicators of this world, you’ve only got one out, and that is leave the world, because that’s the real world.”
So, I told her, “You’re there for a testimony. If you can’t handle it, you just leave. Go some place else. Because you’re not going to find a workplace where you’re not going to have the elements of the ungodly world.” That’s where we are. But here, for the believer, the moment we believe we are justified from all things. We’re forgiven all our sin, and now we’re given the wherewithal to have a daily cleansing.
Yes, we need daily cleansing, because we’re in this filthy world. You can’t watch the weather anymore without getting bombarded with…you know what. So, how do we cleanse ourselves? Psalms 119. I think I’m through with Romans for now. Now, this is even in the Old Testament. This is David.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” But, you know what I’m finding out? It’s just as hard for old people to stay clean as it is for young ones. You’ve heard nurses, I’m sure, talk about dirty old men. Yes, you have. So, it isn’t just the young. We all need it.
“Wherewithal shall a young man (or old) cleanse his way? (Here’s the answer.) by taking heed thereto according to (What?) thy word.” Now, let’s see how Paul puts it. That’s why I like to keep comparing back and forth. Now, turn all the way up to Ephesians, chapter 5 verse 26.
“That he (God) might sanctify (or set apart) and (What?) cleanse it (Well, now what’s the ‘it’ that we’re talking about here? The Body of Christ. Believers in the Body. And how is He going to do that? ) with the washing of water (Not H2O water, but what?) by the word (of God),” So, how do we compensate for all the stuff that bombards us during the day? You get into the Book. You read it. You study it. You memorize it. You feast on it.
Now, there’s a lot of controversy lately about whether we are under the new covenant as we see in Jeremiah 31:31? No. A lot theologians are trying to tell us that we are, and I’ll come back, this little uneducated farmer, and I’ll say, No, that’s not what the Book says. The Book says that, “I will make a new covenant with Israel.” Not with the Gentile world.
The result of that new covenant is that everybody under that covenant will automatically have the full knowledge of God. They won’t have to memorize the Ten Commandments. They won’t have to sit and study and study and study to try to figure out what this verse means. They will have full knowledge. That’s the result of being under the new covenant. Now granted, we’ve got a lot of things going for us as believers today, but we don’t have that much. So, all we really gain from the new covenant, is that the new covenant required the work of the cross in order to bring the Jew to that place.
Now then, what God did to accomplish the new covenant, we get the spillage from it. We are gaining our plan of salvation because of what God did, but we’re not under the new covenant per se.
All right, now we’ve been cleansed. Psalms says by heeding the Word of God. Paul says by the washing of water, which is the Word of God. All right, do you remember the verse that we started with in our first program this afternoon? Maybe we’d better go look at it again. Ephesians chapter 1, because now I’m going to jump into some of the verses that relate to the Holy Spirit, in the minutes we have left.
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: (And we determined that the Gospel is that Christ died, shed His blood, redeemed us, was buried, and rose from the dead. That’s the Gospel. That’s Truth. After you believed it, then what did God do?) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (He sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise.)” But I’m going to take verse 14 now a minute while we’re here. This sealing by the Holy Spirit is God’s earnest money. I’m putting that in there for clarification.
“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,…” Now, these are all things that are literal. You can put your thumb on them. This isn’t out there pie-in-the-sky. The Holy Spirit is the down payment on that inheritance that is ours for eternity, and He is holding us just like an earnest payment when you buy something. He is holding us “until the redemption of the purchased possession.”
Now, what did we say redemption was? Paying the price for something. In this case, it’s our eternal destiny for which God has paid the price, that we could be forgiven of our sin, that we could be given new life in Christ, and all these things. We’re justified. But, oh, there’s even more to it.
Now, come back with me to Romans chapter 8, and we’ll see how that we are totally redeemed. Now, as a believer we’re still in this old body of flesh. It’s corrupt. It gets sick, and if the Lord doesn’t come, we’re all going to die. But, there is a part of the redemption price that guarantees a new body for eternity. Even though soul and spirit are redeemed now, the body isn’t, but it will be, and when it is, it’s a brand new one. A brand new one! Here it comes. Romans chapter 8 and for sake of time, well, I guess I’ve got time enough, let’s go all the way to verse 17. The inheritance. What’s our inheritance? That we’re going to be a co-heir with Christ, for all eternity.
“And if children, (Now, I may come back to this again a little later this afternoon.) then (we’re) heirs; heirs of God, and (we’re) joint-heirs with Christ; (Just like a husband and wife relationship. Christ and the Body of Christ are joint-heirs.) if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Now, let’s go on to verse 18 and come down to the verse where we speak of the Body being totally redeemed in verse 23. Let’s read quickly through.
“For I reckon (or I understand) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in (or to) us. 19. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons (or the born ones) of God. 20. For the creation was made subject to vanity, (the curse) not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” In other words, just as soon as Adam fell, the curse fell, but God came right back with that glorious scarlet thread of redemption starting in Genesis 3:15 when He promised that God the Son would pay the price of redemption sometime out in the future. That’s what being referred to.
“Because the creation itself also shall be delivered…” That’s what we’ve been talking about these last several weeks. How that the earth is going to be delivered from the curse and made into the glorious Kingdom of Heaven.
“…shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” But, now here it comes, remembering what we just read in Ephesians, that we have been redeemed soul and spirit here and now, but the final redemption will take place when we get the new body. All right, verse 23.
“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, (We’ll start looking at that in our next program.) even we ourselves (as believers) groan within ourselves (We get impatient.) waiting for the adoption, that is to say, the (What?) redemption of our (Soul and spirit? No, that’s already done.) body.” And that completes it.
So, the work of the cross and our faith in it gives us a redeemed soul and spirit in the here and now, but we also have the promise of a redeemed body for all eternity! We’ll become a three-part entity once again – body, soul, and spirit – for eternity. All because the work of the cross was the price of redemption for the whole three parts of us.
Now, if that isn’t glorious, I don’t know what is! But, this is our prospect. It’s the prospect of the planet that the curse is going to be lifted. Christ is going to rule and reign in righteousness. It’s going to be as glorious as the Garden of Eden. What Adam lost is going to be brought back. But, the crowning part of all of it is that you and I are going to go into eternity a whole new three-part being. We’re going to be a new soul and spirit. We’re going to be a new body, and it’s going to be a body like His glorious body for all eternity!
LESSON THREE * PART III
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?)
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
Okay, good to see everybody back. We’ll go into program number three this afternoon. For those of you joining us on television, again, if you’re new, we want you to know we’re just an informal Bible study. We’re not associated with any particular group. We do appreciate your letters, your prayers, your financial help, everything, because we are getting a lot of folk to understand that this is not a closed Book. It’s readily read and understood if you just know how to rightly divide it.
That’s where most of Christendom has missed the boat. They mix it all up and then wonder why people are confused. Our whole premise is that we want to separate these things out – what’s for Israel is Israel’s. What’s Law is Law. What’s grace is grace. The difference between Paul’s Apostleship and the Body of Christ and the Twelve, with them dealing only with the nation of Israel. Then, everything just falls into place.
We’re going to continue on where we’ve been, in the Kingdom of God. We’ve shown that in the Kingdom of God we have the earthly Kingdom promised to Israel since day one. It is yet future. When Christ returns at His Second Coming, He’s going to set up that glorious Kingdom here on earth.
But, while the Nation of Israel has been set aside, God is calling out a people for His Name from amongst, predominately, the Gentile world. Called the Body of Christ, which you and I as believers are part and parcel of. Now, Jews can be saved, of course they can, but they’ve been judicially blinded nationally. So, it’s kind of hard to get our Jewish people to understand that their Messiah has come, and He has gone the way of the cross. It becomes, then, salvation for the Jew as well as for the Gentile.
But now we’re talking about the Body of Christ. I’m always emphasizing that you will never find the Body of Christ mentioned in any other portion of Scripture. You can’t find it in the Old Testament. You can’t find it in the four gospels. You won’t find it in the little epistles of Peter, James, John, Jude, or the book of Revelation, because it is something unique to Paul’s apostleship. So consequently, only Paul gives any directions for those of us in this Age of Grace.
Now, that doesn’t mean you throw the rest of your Bible away. Not by any stretch! I’m always making the point that if you read something in the Old Testament and it’s in accord with what Paul teaches, it’s the Word of God for us today. Absolutely. But if you’re reading in Leviticus that if you touch a dead animal you will go and get a lamb from the flock and take it to the priest…hey…you can’t do that! But that’s what people try to say. You know, “I go by what the Bible says.” Well, now wait a minute, you can’t always go by what the Bible says, because some things are inappropriate for us today, although they were appropriate for ancient Israel. We have to learn to separate these things out.
It is the same way with Christ’s earthly ministry. Jesus said some things that are absolutely contrary to our doctrines of grace, because He was under Law. He was dealing with Israel. On the other hand, He makes statements that we can certainly use. That’s the way we have to approach Scripture. But always use the Apostle Paul’s letters as the benchmark of our doctrine, and all the rest of Scripture, then, becomes background, or as Paul puts it in Romans 15:4 “all these things were written for our learning.” In other words, they are for foundation. But when it comes to basic doctrine, how to be saved, how to live the Christian life, the hope for the end, it’s – Romans through Philemon.
Now, one of the basic understandings of the Body of Christ is the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It’s totally different in His modus operandi compared to the Old Testament, because now Paul, through the revelation of the mysteries, can teach that the Holy Spirit will indwell the individual believer. As Colossians puts it, it’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
All right, so we’re going to start this half-hour with I Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13. I imagine this is why the Holy Spirit has chosen the term the Body of Christ. It is such a perfect parallel with our physical body. That’s what Paul does here in this chapter. He draws a parallel between the Body of Christ composed of the believers from, I think, the Apostle Paul himself up until the Church Age ends, which will be at the Rapture, the great resurrection day. On the other hand, we have the working of the Holy Spirit in times gone by, the Old Testament and so forth. But here the Body of Christ and the human body form a parallel.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (our human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” So, what have you got? A comparison. Now, what does he mean by the body having members? Well, fingers, eyes, ears, legs, toes, and all the functions of this physical body. You can take some of them off and you can still continue on living, but you’re not going to function 100%. All these members of our human body are kept in context and are operated through the brain and our nervous system and all these things.
All right, so is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ has Christ as the Head and all the functions of the members of the Body are likened unto the members of a physical body. In other words, you do things with thumb and forefinger that you don’t do with knees or elbows, because they have their own particular function. Well, so also in the Body of Christ. Some believers are almost unseen. Does that mean they’re no good? Far from it. Probably some of our greatest prayer warriors are people who are never seen in the public eye. Probably some of our best callers on people in the nursing homes are people who are never acclaimed by the public, but look what they’re accomplishing for the Head, which is Christ. So, every one of you in this room today, every one of you out in television, that are members of this Body of Christ, are just like every cell as a member of this physical body.
I read one time how many billion cells are made up in this body, billions of them! Are they all important? Absolutely! They all have a function, and as soon as some of them get sick, the whole body is sick. Well, it is the same way with the Body of Christ. I’ve made this comment over and over: you can meet a total stranger and if they are a fellow member of the Body, you’re not strangers for more than five minutes. Many of you have experienced it. You’ve gone with us to some of our retreats and seminars, total strangers for just a few moments and then it’s like you’ve known them all your life. Why? Because we’re members of the same Body. They may be Methodists or Baptists or Lutherans or whatever, but we’re members of the Body. All right, now then, here’s the parallel, verse 13:
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit (That’s capitalized, the Holy Spirit, that same One we saw in Ephesians chapter 1, that when we believe the Spirit branded us. He became the down payment of our inheritance. All right, now here’s another role of the Holy Spirit.) are we all baptized into (Not into a church, not into a denomination, but into what?) one body (of Christ),…” Absolutely no water! All right, so there’s the answer to my question. How do we come into the Body of Christ? By believing Paul’s Gospel for our salvation – Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. Then, the Holy Spirit immediately places us into the Body.
Instantly! Now, I’ve made this comment in days gone by, salvation is an event. The Christian life is a what? It’s a process. You don’t suddenly become a full-grown, mature believer. Now, let me see how Peter put it. Keep your hand in I Corinthians. Come back again to I Peter and here’s a good example. Peter isn’t writing to the Church, like Paul does, but can I use what Peter writes? Sure, if it’s in accord with everything that Paul writes. Here is one that certainly is, it fits, so we use it. All right, I Peter chapter 2 verse 2, and this gives you the exact setting.
I Peter 2:2a
“As (What?) newborn babes,…” See, just like a newborn infant. What’s the first thing that little creature cries out for? Food! Milk! They cry for nourishment. That’s what Peter says we are. As a newborn believer, the first thing we should want is the Word of God.
I Peter 2:2
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” Now, do you see what I’m saying? You’re saved. It’s an event. When that baby is born, what is it? It’s an event! You send out the announcements. Glorious day! The first one is always the most exciting, aren’t they? But now what happens, the process. Feeding it, nourishing it, tender loving care. Well, the believer is the same way. We come into the family of God by a birth from above. The Holy Spirit immediately places us into the Body of Christ, and now we become a growth process.
All right, now let’s pick that up a little further, as to where so many Christians fail. Go back to I Corinthians, chapter 3, and what a heartache but so true. Now Peter, of course, was on the right track. As a newborn babe we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word so that we can grow. But look what happens to most believers.
I Corinthians 3:1-2
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto (What?) babes in Christ. (He started out like Peter said.) 2. I have fed you with (What?) milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Why? They couldn’t get off the milk bottle. It’s just like the child that’s six or seven years old. I always have to think of one of my best friends in school. He always liked to tell the story that when he was already a first grader, he still carried his milk bottle around at home. Some company came and he threw it under the kitchen stove! I can still hear him tell about it. Why? He was ashamed of the fact that here he was five or six years old and still toting his little old baby bottle.
But see, that’s most believers. They’re still on the baby bottle. They can’t handle the meat of the Word. Now, that’s a theme of Scripture. Turn with me now to Hebrews. All the way up to Hebrews, because even though it’s a sad estate, yet it’s so true – Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 11. You’ve got the same kind of a setting, just like in Corinth. They’d been believers long enough, they should have been ready for the deeper things of Scripture, but Paul couldn’t do it, because they couldn’t handle it. They were still babes. All right, now you’ve got the same problem with these Jewish people. That’s whom the Hebrews was written to, you know.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. (Why? Verse 12.) For when for the time ye ought to teachers, (You’ve been a believer long enough, you should be out there telling people what the Word of God says, but Paul says, you can’t do it. Why?) ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” They hadn’t matured enough to partake of the deep things of Scripture. They were still on the baby bottle.
That’s most people. They are so ignorant. And you know what that ignorance breeds? The gullibleness to take anything that comes their way. Gullible. Because they don’t know any better. I know a lot of preachers don’t like me, because their people are coming to them and showing them what the Book says, and they don’t like that. But listen, that’s what we have to do. We’ve got to become skilled with the Scriptures and in love and gentleness show these people, whether it’s a Sunday School teacher or whether it’s a Pastor, show them, now look – you’re not staying with the Word. This is what the Book says. This is what we’re supposed to be doing. That’s our responsibility.
All right, come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 12 where we took off on all this. Back to I Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13 again.
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit (There is only one Holy Spirit.) we are all baptized into one body,…” Now, I always emphasize that word “all.” Not just the cream of the crop. Not just the elite. Not just those who have spoken in tongues. Not just those who can give a million dollars now and then. No. Every believer has been “baptized” and the word baptized here simply means “placed.” Every believer has been placed, not into a denomination, not into a particular congregation, but “into the Body of Christ.” Now, think about that. You don’t hear that do you? But that’s the baptism that counts for eternity.
Because unless this has happened to you, you’re lost, because this is God’s mark of ownership, that you have been placed into the Body of Christ. How do you get placed into the Body of Christ? By believing Paul Gospel of Salvation! What’s the Gospel? “That Christ died, shed His blood and was buried, and rose from the dead.” That’s it. And when you add something to it, you cancel it. All right, now when we’ve been placed into the Body of Christ, well, read on in verse 13 to finish the verse.
I Corinthians 12:13b
“…whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; (Today we’d probably use the term rich or poor.) and have all (every believer, whatever his station in life) been made to drink (or to partake) into one Spirit.” All right, now let’s take another little approach to this, and it’s the word predestination.
Now, some people teach predestination as heaven or hell. My Bible doesn’t teach that. Never can you find that some one is predestined to hell. Impossible. God wouldn’t be God if He’d do that. But He has left the doors of grace open to the whole human race. It’s an individual decision. But we are predestinated. Now, pick it up in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 5, we have two of them here in this one chapter. Again, Paul, of course, is writing to the believer.
“Having predestinated us unto (Eternal hell? Is that in your Bible? I haven’t seen any nodding yet! NO! That’s not what it says. It doesn’t even say to heaven. But what have we been predestinated to?) the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,…” A position. A position in the Body of Christ.
Every one of us has been predestinated to where we are functioning in the Body. Now granted, all of us aren’t always exactly where God wants us. I teach that God has a perfect will and a permissive will. Now, maybe a lot of people won’t agree with that. But I maintain that most of us end up with the permitted place rather than with the directed place. Because we’re just not that obedient. But whatever. We are “predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.”
Now, especially in other cultures and especially in the Jewish culture, as well as the Roman and the Greek in the time of Christ, what was the purpose of paid tutors? To prepare that child to come into the father’s business. Because you’ve got to remember, Middle Easterners are businessmen. I’ve given the story before. But the very first time we went to Israel, now this is clear back in, I think, 1975. Of course, at that time not many people went to Israel, so Iris had a whole list of things that people wanted for souvenirs. So, about the last day of our tour we stopped at a big souvenir store. There wasn’t anybody in there but just she and I. The rest of the tour people had gone to another shop. She’s in there picking out all these things that people ordered, you know, Olive, Joshua and Caleb’s, and all these things. She had a whole pile there on the counter.
Well, there was a 12-year-old kid waiting on her. Now, until you’ve met her, you don’t know how she can negotiate. She’s proven it on every tour we’ve ever gone on. People will brag about what a good deal they will have gotten, and they’ll say, well $35.00. And she smiles; I got mine for $25.00. Well anyway, she was doing the same thing with this 12-year-old kid and all these things. He’s adding them up. He’s coming down. He’s coming down. He’s coming down. Finally, I can still see it, he just laid his hand on the counter and he said, “That’s it.” So, she settled up with him.
Well, off to the side, in a side door, I can see the father who was able to see all this, but he hasn’t said a word. So, I walk back and I said, “Do you understand English?” “Oh, yeah.” I said, “Well, tell me, can you trust that little kid with that?” He said, “He has never lost a dime yet!” Why? He was taught. He knew how to deal with tourists. He knew how to handle money. He was well taught.
All right, that was the whole premise of the tutors in that day and time, to raise that child up and prepare them to come into the father’s business. Okay, that’s exactly what we’re having here in predestination. God has put a place for us in the Body of Christ and we are being tutored. We are being taught, to come into a full experience in that role in the Body. That’s what predestination is in this verse. All right, now we’ve got time to come on down to the second one, in verse 11 of this same chapter,
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, (Now, we’ve been seeing that word more than once, because that’s the work of the Holy Spirit to maintain our inheritance, that we’re God’s and He’s not going to lose control of us.) being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (And here is the real confirmation of that will of God.) 12. That we should be to the praise of his glory,…” Where? In the Body of Christ. Now, I hope I’m making sense. Whenever we are predestinated as a child of God, we are placed into a particular place prepared for us, reserved for us. I maintain that as soon as a person is saved and comes into the Body of Christ, God, in so many words says, “I knew you would. I’ve got my place ready for you.”
All right, then when you go a little further and you grow in grace and knowledge, then He expects us to fulfill His design that we should be to the praise of His glory. But again, how many believers do just the opposite? They’re an embarrassment to God. I don’t blame the person so much as I do the people who have failed to teach them. Who’s been failing the teaching? The churches and Sunday Schools. They’ve been failing, because they are not teaching the depth of Scripture. They’re giving our kids soft soap. They’re giving them stuff that amounts to nothing. I taught just exactly the way I teach now 30 years ago with high school kids. And most of them that we’ve run across through our travels are still in the Book. Why? Because I taught them how to rely on the Word of God, not just on the fact that they’re a church member, but that they are now a responsible believer who are expected to be a testimony in the world around them.
Now, you don’t have to be a kook. You don’t have to make a fool of yourself. You just simply live on Godly principles. Now, we’re going to start out with that, I think, in our next program. What are the Godly principles that God expects of you and I as members of the Body of Christ, in that place that He has put us, whether it is visible or whether it is more or less subdued? You know, I like to use the example: are you a little toe or are you an eye? Whatever, we’re in the Body of Christ!
LESSON THREE * PART IV
BUT GOD! (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?)
Matthew 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
With this lesson, we will end book 65. As I ended the last program, we were talking about how are we to live, how are we to behave as members of the Body of Christ? We have a responsibility, you know. We’re not saved to sit. God does expect certain things, rightfully, because after all He’s done for us, the least that we can do is what He expects in return. So, we’re going to look at Titus chapter 2 as an opener of “how we are to live.”
Now, I’ve made the comment over and over through the years that true Christianity is the most practical thing on earth. There is nothing impractical about the Christian life. It’s just simply the good life. It’s contrary, of course, to the old nature. It’s contrary to the forces of Satan, but nevertheless, for happy living, for a happy home, for a good business relationship, there’s nothing better than the Christian experience. Okay, now in Titus chapter 2 we’re going to start at verse 11 where we have the admonition of how to live.
“For the grace of God (We can’t do it any other way.) that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Now, that’s the big subject we’ve been talking about all afternoon. Salvation through Paul’s Gospel! “Believing that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead!” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
All right, as a result of believing the Gospel, we are placed into the Body of Christ. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. He empowers us to do what the Scripture wants us to do. We have the hope of glory. All of these good things come in the moment we believe the Gospel. And, “that Grace has appeared unto all men.” I’m not going take time to comment on that just now, but here we come in verse 12 to that Grace of God.
“Teaching us that, (we’re to) denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, (or appetites. On the other side of the coin–) we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” Now, that’s a small ‘g’. It doesn’t mean that we become gods, it merely means that we live a God-like or a Christ-like life.
In fact, where did the term Christian originate? Christ-like. It was actually a derogatory term when it first appeared. They derided these believers for being so Christ-like. Well, in the pagan world, you know, that was almost unacceptable. But that’s what the term means here as well, that we are to be “godly.” We’re to be Christ-like. We are to do this, not in some ethereal future, but where? “In this present world.” This is how God expects us to live.
Now, that’s not gobbledy-gook. Look at them again. “We’re to live soberly.” Now, that doesn’t mean you run around with a long face. That would just fly in the face for me, you know that. You don’t run around like death warmed over. You don’t go around every day as though the whole world is on your shoulders. The whole little book of Philippians is an admonishment to be what? “Joyful. Rejoice!” And where was Paul when he wrote it? In a dungeon! With a back that was beaten to a pulp and yet he could say, “Rejoice!” Why? Because we’ve got so much to be joyful about.
Even though we may not have that much in this life, oh, the riches of Glory that are waiting for us. All right, so we can live “soberly,” which merely means that you take things seriously, not flippantly. We’re to live “righteously.” In other words, as God gives us the wherewithal to do all things honest to all men, as Paul says. We are to give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay, and everything is to be above board. All right, “and godly.” Again, Christ-like. Now, where does that come in? Compassion. A love and a concern for those less fortunate.
Our America has had an opportunity to do that in the last month, because we’ve had so many that have been left destitute. Have you been praying for them? Have you given of your material wealth, somehow or other? That’s our responsibility. Now again, I’m going to say something publicly that I probably shouldn’t say, but listen, if you give your money, give it to an organization that is biblically based. And there are enough of them helping the poor folks down South. Don’t give it to an organization that has no concern about spiritual things. I had an old missionary tell us that years and years ago, and I’ve always adhered to that. So, give, but be careful where and how you give.
All right, we’re all to do this “in this present world.” All right, let’s back up and see how Paul treats it in yet another portion of Scripture. Come back with me to Galatians chapter 5, and again, these are verses that we’ve touched on more than once in days gone by. But they are always appropriate. We can drop down to verse 16. When we come to verse 16, the first thing I think of is Romans chapter 8, so I guess that’s where we’ll go next.
“This I say then, Walk (In other words, your daily life) in the Spirit,…” Now, does that ring a bell? Sure. How do we maintain what we just saw in Titus? By the power of the Holy Spirit. You can’t do it in the flesh. That’s why law-keepers are always in trouble. The Law gives them no power to keep it. But we’re not under the Law. We’re under Grace. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live a good life. You can’t do it on your own, because we’re still flesh.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill (or give in to) the lusts of the flesh.” Now, the first thing I always have to remind people: that doesn’t just mean sexuality. Lusts can come in any form in any part of life. It can be disruptive. Absolutely it can. All right, but now read on:
“For the flesh (this Old Adam) lusteth (Or in another portion, the same word is translated warreth. I like that word better because that’s what it is, it’s warfare.) the flesh warreth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:” What is it? It’s a constant conflict, because it’s so much easier to give in to the flesh. That doesn’t take any energy. That’s just doing what comes naturally.
“…and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Now, what does that mean? You can’t just float. You can’t just think, oh well, everything will turn out all right. No. You have to work at it. You know, I’ve got grandkids in college and one a senior in high school, and I happened to be on my senior in high school just this morning. I said, “You work! You work! If you can slough off and get a B and C, then you work and get A’s.” I’d say that to anybody’s child, because that’s the whole Christian experience. You don’t just slough along; you work.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit,…” See how plain that is? What did I just say two minutes ago? Everything we say, think, and do is by the leading and the empowering of the Holy Spirit who is dwelling within. That all happened the moment we believed. That’s what makes us different.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Now, I’ve got to go back to Romans even quicker than I intended to. Sorry about that. Come back to Romans. Not chapter 8 yet, but chapter 7, because I think a lot of people still don’t understand what I mean when I say that we’re not under Law. So far as you and I as believers are concerned, the Ten Commandments are a dead issue. They have nothing to do with us. Now, for the lost world, yes, they’re still condemning. The lost world is under the condemnation of the Law, but you and I as believers – No. The Law has been crucified with Christ. It’s dead and gone. Now, here’s the proof of it, Romans 7 verse 4. I’ll bet you have never found this in a Sunday School lesson. All got it?
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another,…” Now of course, Paul is using the illustration that if a husband and wife have been married for a number of years and one of them dies, the other is free to remarry. That’s scriptural as well as civil law. All right, now he’s using that, like losing a spouse, if you have become dead to the Law, it means that you are free to hook up with somebody else. And who’s the somebody else? Christ!
“…even to him who is raised from the dead, (Paul’s Gospel again) that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” So, the Law no longer has its heavy thumb upon you, because you’ve died to that and it’s died to you. So, now we are set free to become unionized with Christ Himself. That’s the picture, and we’re to get productive. All right, now here comes the explanation of all this.
“For when we were in the flesh, (While we were still lost.) the motions (or the acts) of sins, which were by the law,…” Well, what does that mean? Oh, we had idols. We didn’t worship God or love God with all our heart. We bore false witness from time to time. We stole one way or another from time to time. We committed sexual immorality from time to time, in thought if not in deed. We coveted from time to time. All the things that the Law said we were all guilty of breaking, one way or another, that’s life. Like I told the young lady in her work environment, that’s the run of the mill world. That’s their lifestyle. All right, so when we were in that condition—
“…the motions (acts) of sins, which were by the law (which the law pointed out), did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (Spiritual death. But what’s the first word of verse 6?) But…” I’ll probably come to it when we get back to the ‘But now’s and But God.’ And this is a good one!
“But now (What does it mean? On this side of our salvation, because now that we’re a believer, we now have the indwelling Holy Spirit.) we are delivered from the law,…” You don’t hear that do you? But we are! We’re not under the Ten Commandments as a believer. They have no control over us, because we have something far better. And here it comes.
“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; (The Law had its heavy thumb upon us, condemning us every minute of our life.) that we should now serve in newness of spirit,…” What’s he talking about? The Holy Spirit. Instead of having the Law condemn us, we now have the Holy Spirit to empower us to live righteously, to live godly, in this present world.) and not in the oldness of the letter.” Now the word letter here is another word for Law.
Now, there’s a companion portion of Scripture in II Corinthians chapter 3 and I like to use the two together because it just so upsets people when I say that the Law is death. The Law has no life whatsoever and I’ve got to show it from Scripture. II Corinthians chapter 3 and I have to read verse 5 in order to feed into the verse that I want which is verse 6 and 7. Where Paul writes:
II Corinthians 3:5
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; (In other words, we’re powerless. Of ourselves we’re nothing.) but our sufficiency (as a believer) is of (Comes from where?) God;” We can’t do it. We’re helpless. Now, that’s just a semi-colon, so the thought feeds right into verse 6.
II Corinthians 3:6
“Who also hath made us (as believers) able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, (What did I say that spoke of? The Law. So, we’re not of the law.) but of the Spirit: (Now here it comes.) for the letter (The Law – gives life? No. What does it do?) killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Now, I’m always making comparisons. Do you see the comparison? The Law is death. The Spirit is life. Next verse. If you don’t think it’s talking about the Law–
II Corinthians 3:7a
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,…” Now good heavens, do you know of anything else in this Book that was engraved in stone except the Ten Commandments? Do you? No. There’s no such thing. So, that’s concrete proof that Paul is talking about the Ten Commandments. They were ministrations of death.
Now, the big controversy in the country is all over the Ten Commandments. I guess that’s well and good, because it’s the Ten Commandments that condemns lost people. It wakes them up that they are guilty. But you and I have nothing to do with them. Nothing whatsoever, because to us they’re nothing but a ministration of death, and we don’t want death, we want life. So, we consider the Ten Commandments as dead and gone because we are now on this side of our salvation experience, and we have the Holy Spirit that takes the place of the Law.
All right, let’s come back to where we left off, in Galatians chapter 5. Now then, since the Holy Spirit has come in, He takes the place of the Law. The Holy Spirit will teach us the same things that the Law did only in a different approach. The Holy Spirit teaches us to love God with all our heart. How can you help but do otherwise? The Holy Spirit teaches us how to refrain from sinful living. And He can empower us to do that. Otherwise we can’t. All right, so now verse 18, he says what I just got through talking about for the last five minutes. That is, that if we have the indwelling Holy Spirit leading us, we have nothing to do with the Law.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” You know, I used an illustration years and years ago, probably in our early days on television. If you want a good picture of the law, picture a young couple just having gotten married, and the young man puts a whole list on the refrigerator door of what she’s going to do. On Monday you will wash. On Tuesday you will do this. On Wednesday you’ll wash the car. On Thursday you’ll do this. On Friday you’re going to do this. And she turns right around and puts her own list up. This is what you’re going to do!
All right, now that’s a marriage based on what? Law. But a true loving marriage can throw both those lists away. And they’re both going to be appropriate, because when she loves him she’s going to do the things that he expects and visa versa. All right, now the same way in the realm of the spiritual. When the Holy Spirit comes in, you throw away the Law because you no longer need it. The power of the Spirit, the love of God, is going to take over and you don’t have to have the Law tell you not to steal. You don’t have to have the Law say ‘thou shall not covet.’ You won’t want to, because that’s the way it works. Okay, now let’s read on quickly, our time is going. Verse 19:
“Now the works of the flesh…” That Old Adamic nature, the lost person, and again, I’ll come back to the lady and her workplace. This is the average attitude of the lost world. They may not all practice it, but it’s certainly in their mind and in their language. And here they are.
“…are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,” All four of them are associated with the sins of sexual immorality. You realize that? They’re at the top of the heap. All right, then you move on from them, you come down to:
“Idolatry,…” Now remember, you can have an idol that isn’t necessarily a wood or a stone idol on the mantel. Anything can become an idol – your home, your car, your kids, your wife. Anything can take the place of God.
That reminds me, I’ve got to make you smile once in a while. I had a lady call yesterday. She says, “Les, I listen to you every day, but there’s only one time that you were dead, dead wrong.” I said, “When was that?” “Well,” she said, “You said you loved your cows, and you’re not supposed to love your cows, you’re supposed to love God and your wife.” I said, “I put it in that order!” But anyway, these are the works of the flesh.
“Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, (in other words, always argumentative) emulations, wrath (losing control of the temper) strife, (My, how many households aren’t just filled with strife? Why? Because it’s the old satanic powers at work.) seditions, heresies,” Now that’s an interesting word. We’re seeing a lot of theologians accusing other theologians of heresy and rightfully so. But where I get into the hang up is, can a true believer be a heretic? It would seem to me that a true believer should be able to overcome heresy.
You know what heresy is? No? Well, heresy is when you just deviate from the truth. That’s heresy. You start embracing something that is just not biblically pure. Anyway, here it is. It’s listed in things of the flesh.
“Envyings, murders, (And like I pointed out in one of my seminars, I think in the last few weeks, what’s right next to murder?) drunkenness,…” And we’re living in a society that sees nothing wrong with it anymore, until you kill somebody. Then they can bring them up for manslaughter. But the whole attitude toward drunkenness anymore is, if you’re drunk, don’t drive. That’s awful. Drunkenness is a vile sin of the flesh. And it is condemned by Scripture. You can never condone it under any circumstance.
“…revellings, (Which usually leads to drunkenness.) and such like: of the which I told you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the (What?) kingdom of God.” You see that? These people who live this lifestyle are not going to be in the Kingdom of God. They’re going to miss it. And then where are they? If you’re not in the Kingdom of God, come eternity, you’re in the other place.
Revelation makes it so plain that these very same kinds of people will never see the Kingdom of God. That’s what Revelation says. All the way through Scripture we have that same admonition, that people who do these things will not be in the Kingdom of God. They’ll not be in the Body of Christ. They will not be in anything except their eternal doom.
All right I’ve got one minute left. But now we come down to verse 22 and 23, and what a complete opposite side of the coin.
“But (See the flipside! Instead of all the things pertaining to the flesh, under the satanic impulses, here is how the Holy Spirit leads.) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, (or patience with one another) gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Why? Because they are all good.
You put all these things together, and you get just exactly what Paul said in Titus. “That the Grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we’re to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” When you live that way, you’re going to have an impact on people around you.