[ 577 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 1 - Part 1 ] Thou Art My Only Begotten Son |a
[ 578 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 1 - Part 2 ] Thou Art My Only Begotten Son |b
[ 579 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 1 - Part 3 ] Hebrews 5:1-14 |a
[ 580 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 1 - Part 4 ] Hebrews 5:1-14 |b
[ 581 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 2 - Part 1 ] Leaving Milk for Meat |a
[ 582 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 2 - Part 2 ] Leaving Milk for Meat |b
[ 583 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 2 - Part 3 ] Hebrews 6:1-4 |a
[ 584 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 2 - Part 4 ] Hebrews 6:1-4 |b
[ 585 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 3 - Part 1 ] Turning Your Back Scornfully |a
[ 586 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 3 - Part 2 ] Turning Your Back Scornfully |b
[ 587 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 3 - Part 3 ] Hebrews 6:4-10 |a
[ 588 ] Les Feldick [ Book 49 - Lesson 3 - Part 4 ] Hebrews 6:4-10 |b
Thou Art My Only Begotten Son
Alright, today weíll begin in Hebrews chapter 5 and weíre going to start at verse 1. But, before we begin I would like to recap some things that weíve said several programs ago. And that is the Book of Hebrews – written primarily to Jews, of course, thatís why itís called the letter to the Hebrews. But these were Jews who were on the fence, and they had not made that total break from Judaism and so Paul here, who I feel is the author of the book of Hebrews, is trying or is attempting to convince these Jews to make that total break and put Judaism behind them with all their laws and rules and regulations, and step out into this whole concept of Grace by Faith plus nothing.
As I said in some of our opening remarks back in chapters 1 and 2 of Hebrews that you will not find the plan of salvation laid out in this book like it is, for example, in Romans or I Corinthians or Galatians. It is simply a book that is going to show that everything practiced back there under the Law was just simply precursors to that where we are today. That the whole concept of the Gospel of Grace didnít just come out of the woodwork. But rather it was a progressive revelation and when Israel rejected the Messiah and God raised the Apostle Paul specifically then to go to the Gentile world with this tremendous Gospel of Grace, without works, and by faith alone.
You know most of Christendom still rebels at the thought that they canít work for salvation, just as much as the Jews did here in the time of Paul writing to the Hebrews. So before we even look at Hebrews chapter 5, Iím going to use a verse that I use so often when Iím teaching in the Old Testament – and that would be back to Romans chapter 15. This verse is just as appropriate for our study of the Book of Hebrews as it is for our study of the Old Testament. Now of course, when Paul wrote Romans, he was referring to the Old Testament writers but since Hebrews is in that same vein, Iím going to use it for both directions. Romans chapter 15 verse 4. Where he writes:
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime (in other words, back in the Old Testament economy) they were written for our learning,Ö”
See not for our ëdoctrineí not to find ësalvationí but these things were written aforetime for our learning. To give us basic understanding of the thoughts and the ways of God and how this is all progressed on up through human and Biblical history to the time of where we are. Alright, so these things were written for our learning –
“Öthat we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” That word Scriptures means what? The whole Word of God. And now we can use it from cover to cover. And we can take comfort from them and itís from the Scriptures then that we have hope for the future.
Of course, we realize, especially since September 11th, weíre living in tremendous times. Weíre living in, I think, the end-time scenario. Weíre just seeing the tip of the iceberg, and to coin a phrase, “We ainít seen nothing yet.” Itís going to get worse and itís all leading up to the final seven years when God will finally pull the plug, so to speak, and His wrath will flow across the planet. But for now, you and I as believers, take comfort from the Scriptures. We donít have to be alarmed by whatís going on. My, I had the sweetest letter the other day where a gentlemen recapped, he says, “Back on December 7th, 1941, when I was a young lad of 19, I was stricken with fear for myself and for my country. But, when September 11th struck, he said, there was no fear because in the meantime I have come to trust that Christ died for my sins, and that He was buried and rose from the dead and now I have nothing to fear!” Well, what a testimony!
And thatís where we as believers are in a unique position. The rest of the world may fear and tremble but we can just simply, almost smugly say, well, we knew this was coming. We knew this was part of the picture and it just shows us that the end is getting closer and closer.
Alright, so we take comfort from not only the Old Testament now, but from all the Scriptures and so we approach the Book of Hebrews in that same light. Itís the Word of God even though it was directed to Hebrew people who were having a time separating from the old program, yet it is full of things that are appropriate for us today. And I trust that even in all the previous programs in Hebrews (which is 3 books now) we are just simply cementing the basis of our faith as believers.
We started out, remember, in chapters 1 and 2, establishing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son. And as the Son, He was given intrinsic authority. And then as weíve seen in chapters 3 and 4, God detests unbelief. There is nothing that upsets God more than unbelief. Now of course, God hates sin in all itís forms, but unbelief is the top of the list.
Then in the last three verses in chapter 4, as I say so often, Paul just sort of shifts gears and he slips up into the approach of the ëhigh priesthoodí of Christ. And then in our last verse, as we closed our last program, we are now in a position as believers by Faith in the finished work of the Cross, to come boldly into the throne room in our prayer time. We donít have to come with fear and trepidation. We donít have to come before Him wondering if weíre good enough to be accepted. But rather we come boldly, only because of what Christ has already done.
Alright now as we slip into chapter 5 verse 1, weíre going to start having a comparison then between the priesthood of Christ and the priesthood of Aaron and the Old Testament economy.
“For every high priest taken from among men (from the Nation of Israel) is ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” Do you see the relationship there? The whole role of the priest was to present the needs of mankind to the Holy God. Alright, but now weíve got another point to make in another verse or two, so weíre going to put that on hold. But this human high priest, starting with Aaron of course, came to God with:
“Öthings that pertained to God that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:” They had to take care of the sin problem that man constantly was bugged with, and the high priest brought this before God. Now verse 2. This high priest of Israel, following in the line of Aaron then, was a man:
“Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way;Ö” In other words, there was no one too low on the totem pole for the high priest to be aware of and to present him before God. So this high priest:
“Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.”
The high priest was human, and he was plagued with the same sins and temptations and passions as anybody else. So just because he was the high priest, that did not mean that he was above reproach. Or above sin.
“So by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer (that is a sacrifice) for sins.”
Now letís go back all the way to Leviticus because we always like to compare Scripture with Scripture, and I guess our letters are constantly reminding us that they appreciate the fact that whatever we say, we back up with the Scriptures. And so when you come back to Leviticus chapter 16, we have the Day of Atonement when the high priest would go in behind the veil and sprinkle the blood on the Holy of Holies, or the Ark of the Covenant. Letís drop in at verse 14 and weíll just pick out the ones that pertain to establishing the fact that the high priest was just as much a sinner as the average Jew.
“And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; (that is in behind the veil) and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. 15. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:”
And here we find that he makes the atonement for himself first, and then for Israel. Well, now maybe I should back up a little further to verse 6 to make it a little more plain.
“And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.” Do you see that? That tells us then that Aaron was just as much in need of a sinnerís approach to God as the ordinary Jew. Then down in verse 14, he was to take the second bullock and sprinkle that blood then for the sins of the people. Alright, I hope I made my point, that the priesthood of Aaron was a human priesthood and they were just as much in need of forgiveness and the atonement of their sins as the ordinary Jew on the street.
Come back then again to Hebrews chapter 5. And so not only was the high priest human so that he could identify with the everyday experiences of the people but also that he recognized that he was a sinner and was just as much in need of forgiveness as the ordinary Jew. Now then verse 4 of Hebrews chapter 5.
“And no man (not even Aaron) taketh this honour (that is to be the high priest) unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Get the picture? Who commissioned Aaron to be the first high priest? God did! Letís go back again and look at the Scriptures. Letís go back to Exodus 28 where we see the beginning of this whole system of religion. The building of the tabernacle, and the establishing of the priesthood, and the clothing that he would wear. This is all back here in Exodus. But letís just look for now at how that God commissioned Aaron to be the high priest. Moses didnít appoint him nor anyone else. Only God could do that, and here is His instruction to Moses.
“Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priestís office, even Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaronís sons.”
Then the rest of the chapter is covered with instructions for their clothing. On the other side of the coin, turn with me to Numbers 16 and the strange fire of Korah. Now Korah was a member of the tribes of Israel and he got a little arrogant and puffed up and he just didnít feel that Moses and Aaron were the only fish in the pond. And so he took it upon himself to play the role of a priest. And so here in Numbers 16 we find the account.
“Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: 2. And rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: 3. And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you.” See their arrogance? Theyíre telling Moses and Aaron, hey, youíre trying to be the big wheel. Weíre going to have just as much a part of this as you. And so they say:
“ÖYe take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, everyone of them and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? 4. And when Moses heard it he fell upon his face: (and the thought how can anyone be so brazen) 5. And he spake unto Korah and all his company, saying, Even tomorrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him who he hath chosen will he cause to come near.” Now this is Mosesí instruction to Korah and those that were following him.
“This do; Take you censers (that is the fire), Korah and all his company; 7. And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow; and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy; ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. 8. And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: 9. Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?” Well, anyway, I think you know what happened, as the next day comes around and here comes Korah and these 250 and theyíre going to play the role of the high priests. Now come on down to verse 20.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 21. Separate yourselves from among this congregation that I may consume them in a moment. 22. And they fell upon their faces and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth (angry) with all the congregation? And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Speak to the congregation? 23. And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, 24. Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 25. And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.”
Now come on down and now verse 28. Moses is going to give an example and he said:
“And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. 29. If these men die the common death of all men, (in other words, if they continue on living and die from whatever other reason) or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. 30. But (Moses says, now take notice) if the LORD makes a new thing, and the earth opens her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.”
Alright, now we come down to the confrontation.
“And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave (or separated) asunder that was under them (that is under Korah and his followers) 32. And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (In other words, those who had connected themselves with him in his rebellion) 33. They and all that appertained to them went down alive into the pit, (that is into Sheol) and the earth closed upon them and they perished from among the congregation.”
Thatís how seriously God dealt with false priests. And so always remember that when God stipulated certain things it was not to be taken lightly. We saw in the book of Hebrews in one of our earlier programs, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Well, Korah and his family found out.
Now if youíll come back with me to Hebrews again, so that Aaron was designated by God Himself, as the high priest and those that followed him. No man dared assume the role of a priest without Godís commission and thatís why I wanted you to see for yourself the account of Korah. Alright now then weíll move on into the next verse and we move on into the priesthood again of Christ Himself. Now remember, the priesthood of Aaron was among men. They were human, they had the same failures, the same sinfulness as anyone else but God had commissioned them. But this priest, Christ, is not of man but the priesthood is a follow-up of what Aaron began. So, the functions of the priesthood are relatively alike but here we had a human priest and here we have the Son of God.
“So also Christ glorified not himselfÖ” In other words, now hereís where it gets ticklish doesnít it? When we start dealing with the Trinity, the Triune God, it is so hard for us to reckon the fact that on the one hand Christ was totally human. On the other hand He was totally God. And we have to take this by faith. So now here we see Christ from His humanity, not demanding that He be made a priest, but rather what? God declaring that Heís the priest. Just like He did with Aaron. Okay, now look at this very carefully.
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” Now go on and read verse 6 and if we have time weíll come back and look at verse 5.
“As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Now look, whoís speaking it? God the Father. To whom? God the Son. And yet we know that the Son is a part of the Godhead the same as the Father. But here weíre separating them just like in His earthly ministry. In His earthly ministry, I think I pointed out a few programs back, why does Jesus, especially in John 17, pray to the Father? Well, Heís praying from His humanity and then He can pray to the Father.
On another instance, He can make the same statement as the Father and so hereís where we have to separate these things by a study of the Scripture and just simply take it by faith. Itís beyond human comprehension. But nevertheless, here we find that God the Father designates to God the Son that He is to be the high priest, not patterned after Aaron, but after Melchisedec.
Now, Iíve only got two minutes left and then I get into a dilemma. I donít want to go where I canít continue, so I think weíll go back to Psalms chapter 2 where Paul is quoting and whatever time we have weíll use up and then weíll pick it up in our next program.
Psalms chapter 2 where we have it word for word as Paul is using it here in the book of Hebrews.
“I (God says,) will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; (so who is speaking to whom? Well, God the Father is speaking to God the Son) this day have I begotten thee.” Now we have to be careful, when did David write the Psalms? Well, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 BC. Was that when Christ was begotten, the only begotten Son of the Father? No, this is prophecy. This is something that is going to take place years and years out into the future. But, hereís the setting God the Father has spoken to the Son and He says, “this day I have begotten thee.”
“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
So then you come all the way down through this chapter – itís a delegation of the authority that God imparts to the Son.
Lesson One ï Part II
Thou Art My Only Begotten Son
Your letters are the highlight of our day and Iris and I just thrill at the way you share how the Lord is using us to bring you either to a knowledge of salvation or to make the Scriptures more enjoyable, whatever the case may be. We just give the Lord the credit for it. Alright, so weíre here to study the Bible so letís go right back to where we left off in the closing moments of our last program and that was in Hebrews chapter 5 verse 5.
“So also Christ glorified not himselfÖ”
Remember, we pointed out in the last lesson that no priest dared to take the role without Godís divine appointment. And so even Christ did not assume His priesthood but it was appointed to Him by God the Father.
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
Now weíre going to go back once again where we were earlier in Psalms chapter 2 because in case someone missed the last program we want you to understand what Paul is referring to. That God the Father designated to God the Son that He should be a high priest but not in the lineage of Aaron, the humanly priesthood, but itís going to be the priesthood according to Melchizedek and weíll see that a little later in this half-hour.
“I will declare the decree: the LORD (here of course, the Lord is a reference to God the Father) hath said unto me, (the Son) thou art my Son; (and remember itís capitalized so weíre speaking here of Christ way back – 1000 BC.) this day have I begotten thee.”
Now letís turn all the way up to Acts chapter 13 and find out what that meant when God said “this day I have begotten thee.” I pointed out, I think, in the last program, David wrote the Psalms around 1000 BC but thatís not when Christ became the only begotten Son of God – but prophecy-wise, that was when it was spoken. But in Acts chapter 13, we have the Scriptural definition of what it meant to be the only begotten Son of God.
I imagine most of us would be shocked that probably most people think that He became the only begotten Son of God at Bethlehem when He was born of the woman. But that is not so. Rather Acts tells us exactly when He became the only begotten Son. Here in Acts 13 we find Paul rehearsing how Christ was crucified, and how He was buried.
“God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, (that is the promise which was made to the forefathers) in that he hath raised up Jesus again; (that is from the dead) as it is also written in the second psalm, (thatís why I took you back there before I came into Acts) Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (now verse 34 defines it) 34. And as concerning thatÖ”
You know Iím a stickler for every word. The average reader just slips over this. As concerning that. Concerning what? That God declared Him the only begotten Son.
“Now as concerning that, he raised him from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”
So when did Christ become the only begotten Son? At His resurrection! See, and this is why Iím always stressing, at least I hope I am, that salvation can be through no other way but through Christís death, burial and resurrection. Turn to I Corinthians 15 again. For most of you this is over and over and over, but this is still the plainest portion of Scripture to reveal the gospel of the grace of God. This is where every lost person has to come. There is no salvation outside of this death, burial and resurrection.
Now you know that raises a lot of eyebrows. I had someone call again the other morning and say that their pastor (boy, Iíd hate to be in his shoes) had said that after all, Christianity isnít the only approach to God, there are many. Well, Iíve got news for him. Heís going to suddenly be shocked when he gets into eternity unless he has a change in the meantime because there IS ONLY ONE WAY. And another person called and had the same kind of a situation and the pastor had more or less said the same thing. And so he says on his way out, “Well, what do you do with John 14 verse 6? “I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And you know what that preacher said, “Well, that doesnít mean what it says.” Well, thatís a cop out, see?
It DOES mean what it says. There IS only one way and there is no other religion on earth that can make that claim, because Christianity is the only one that teaches resurrection from the dead. The others donít mention it. Christianity alone teaches a resurrection from the dead. Not just a matter of dying and going to heaven but there is coming a resurrection day. Christianity alone stands on that premise. And thatís why Paul writes this 15th chapter of Corinthians then, in which there is more teaching on resurrection than all the rest of this Book put together and probably more than all the other religious books in the world.
And whatís the whole vortex of it? That if Christ be not raised from the dead then you are yet in your sin. And Iíve had some examples. Scientists especially and Iíve got one man in particular and heís going to recognize it as soon as I share it. He said, “You know for the longest time I went to church and I had no problem with Christís crucifixion, that He died and that He shed His blood and that He was buried. But as a scientist I couldnít accept the resurrection. But I was nothing more than a church member. But when I suddenly saw how that you constantly emphasized the resurrection, the Lord opened my heart and I could believe it. That yes, Christ was raised from the dead. And thatís where our Salvation lies.”
Weíve probably got multitudes of church members who believe like this man, that Christ died the horrible death of the crucifixion but would not accept the resurrection. Without it, theyíre lost. Alright, now look at I Corinthians and this is why the resurrection is at the core of our belief system. Remember now, this is all coming from “this day have I begotten thee.” What day? The day He was raised from the dead.
I Corinthians 15:1-2
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (not a gospel ñ but rather The Gospel of salvation) which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; (as a believer, positionally. Now the next verse and plainer English could never be written.) 2. By which (that is this Gospel) you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you unless ye have believed in vain.” Now here is Paulís Gospel!
I Corinthians 15:3a
“For I delivered unto you first of all (because he was the one to whom this whole concept was revealed.) that which I also received,Ö” In other words, the God of Glory appeared to this raging persecutor of those followers of Jesus of Nazareth – and converted him there outside Damascus – took him into the desert and unloaded on him all of these new concepts of salvation by faith and faith alone in the death, burial and resurrection. This was unknown before. Alright, now look what he said.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (absolutely, the Old Testament foretold it.) 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;”
Now thatís the Gospel you must believe to have eternal life. You canít pick and choose two parts. You canít say, “Well I believe that He died. I believe that He was resurrected one way or another. But I canít believe He was dead for three days.” See that? You take it all or youíve got nothing. But when we believe that Christ died for our sin, He was dead, He was buried, He was in the tomb three days and three nights, and God raised Him from the dead and He became then the only begotten Son of God.
And when we believe that, God moves in and transforms us and make us a new person. And without it, they can be “church-memberized” until theyíre blue in the face and theyíre as lost as lost as can be. But it is this Gospel that is based on the fact He was raised from the dead.
Alright now, on that same premise I want to bring you back to Romans chapter 1, which falls right in line with Acts 13. Remember what Acts said. Now concerning ëthat.í That God declared Him the only begotten Son of God, that concerning that, it was when God raised Him from the dead that He became then the only begotten Son of God. Weíll start with verse 1 to pick up the flow.
Romans chapter 1:1-2
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2. (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.)” See what that says. It fits perfectly with I Corinthians that He died for our sins according to what? The Old Testament Scriptures. That He rose from the dead. According to what? The Old Testament Scriptures. And here he repeats it, see? “Which he promised before by the prophets in the holy scriptures.” Now verse 3,
“Concerning his son (the same Son that Hebrews is dealing with) Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David (that is in the flesh) according to the flesh.” Now here it comes in verse 4.
“And declared (by the Psalmist. By God Himself. And here through the Apostle Paulís writing) to be the Son of God with (what?) power, according to the spirit of holiness, (that is the very power of the holy Godhead. by the what?) the resurrection from the dead.”
Do you see that? Thatís when the power of the Son was confirmed, was consummated, was established or whatever word you can put on it. When He was raised from the dead. And without it there is no Salvation. And so if you doubt me, when you get home this evening you just read I Corinthians 15 all over again and all through the chapter, how that, the very basis of our salvation is that Christ arose from the dead. Another good one is I Thessalonians 4:14. In that passage, believing that Christ died for us and rose again is the qualification we must meet before we can go in the Rapture.
Alright now then, back to Hebrews chapter 5 and weíll go into verse 6.
“As he saith also in another place,Ö”
Thatís in Psalms where it says “thou art a priest forever not after the order of Aaron but after the order of (who?) Melchizedek.” What a difference that makes!
We pointed this out in our Genesis study but, goodness sakes, thatís eleven years ago isnít it? Most people have forgotten it or theyíve never seen it in the first place. Alright, letís go back to Genesis because if Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek instead of after the order of Aaron then letís go back and establish this Melchizedek. Genesis chapter 14, and for a little background remember that Lot had taken up residence near or in Sodom and Gomorrah and some enemy kings had overrun Sodom and took the Sodomites as well as Lot and his family captive. And when Abram got wind of that he raised up his own little private army and pursued them and utterly defeated them and took the spoil. Alright, then verse 17.
“And the king of Sodom (whom of course, Abram had rescued) went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of the Chedorlaomer, (that is the oneís who had overrun Sodom) and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh which is the kingís dale. 18. And Melchizedek (this is the first time heís mentioned in Scripture) the king of SalemÖ”
I think most of you know what weíre referring to but in case you donít. S-A-L-E-M is the last letters of what city? Jerusalem! And Jerusalem in Scripture is the city of what? Peace! It has never yet known peace but one day it will. One day the Palestinian problem will be completely taken care of. One day the world wonít have to wring their hands over the Middle East. Because when the Prince of Peace comes and the city of Jerusalem becomes His capital then it will finally reach that epitome of the capital of peace. Alright, but itís been known as the city of peace from day one. And so this Melchizedek, verse 18 again:
“And Melchizedek king of Salem (the city of peace) brought forth bread and wine:”
Now we covered that when we were in our Genesis study but you see, bread and wine as such were not sacrifices in Temple worship. Bread and wine were never really introduced into the Scriptures until Paul in I Corinthians chapter 11 explains it as what most of us now call the Lordís Supper. And the Lordís Supper, as Paul explains it so graphically, had only one purpose. And what was it? Memorial! Thatís what he says “and when you do this in memory.” So you see itís a memorial service and a reminder of Christís death, burial and resurrection and thatís what the bread and the wine signifies. The bread spoke of His broken body and the wine spoke of His resurrection life and so whenever we partake of those two, the bread and the wine, it is simply a means of reminding us of His death, burial and resurrection. And here God is giving a little preview of it way back in the life of Abram. But thatís not the point we want to make. Verse 18, the last part. After he had brought forth the bread and wine, which was indicative of the coming death, burial and resurrection of Israelís Messiah.
“Öand He was the priest of (Jehovah? No it doesnít say that? But what?) the Most High God.”
Now we have to realize there is only one God in Scripture but there are many names for Him and that confuses people. But you see, we have all these different names of God to signify a particular role in His being God. In His attributes. And so for example, when Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, and God withheld him. What was in the thicket behind him? Well, the ram! Who put it there? God did! And I always emphasize, you see, that ram was a wild ram. Remember Abraham was already three days journey from where he lived, so it was not a household pet like somebody tried to tell me one time. He was three days journey from home, so that ram in the thicket was not the family pet, it was a wild one. But, did Abraham and Isaac have any trouble getting that animal on the altar? None. Why? It was provided and it was docile, and it was a willing sacrifice. They didnít have to struggle with it and. consequently. what did Abraham call the place? Jehovah-jireh which simply meant ëGod provides.í Alright, so that was a name of Jehovah. Jehovah-jireh ñ He provides! It was just a distinctive attribute of God.
Psalms 23 is probably another one of the easiest ones. In the Hebrew itís Jehovah-rajah, which simply means, I AM your shepherd. Well, any Jew could understand what it was like to be the sheep under the guidance and protection of a shepherd. Well, those are the various names of Jehovah to just simply explain how God would fill all these various needs of the human race.
Now, the same way then with this priest Melchizedek. He was a priest of ñ not Jehovah ñ but of the Most High God. My only way of defining that from Scripture in a real easy way is to turn to Daniel. Turn to Daniel chapter 4 and all the way through, periodically, but in chapter 4 Iíve got a couple that are real easy to pick out. And if you know anything of Bible study at all, Daniel is written of course, by the Jew, Daniel, but he deals almost exclusively with Gentile empires. Right? The Babylonian. The Medes and the Persians. And the Greeks and the Romans. All Gentiles.
Alright now, if weíre dealing with Gentiles, then it stands to reason that weíre not going to use the name of God that Israel claimed which was Jehovah. But weíre going to use the term “The Most High” because thatís how the Gentiles refer to Him. Here it is. Daniel chapter 4 starting at verse 1. Now this is the way you have to study the Scriptures.
“Nebuchadnezzar the (Babylonian) King, (a Gentile) unto all the people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: (that is the then known-world) Peace be multiplied unto you. 2. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.” Underline that. Thatís how Nebuchadnezzar referred to him. He didnít call him Jehovah. He called him the Most High God. Alright, letís go to another verse. Theyíre scattered throughout the chapter, and theyíre scattered throughout Daniel. But the next one I can see quickly is in verse 17, still in Daniel 4.
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth to whomever he willÖ.” Now drop on down to verse 34.
“And at the end of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High,Ö”
Now have I made my point? The name of God in Gentile language was the Most High God. Now flip back to Genesis then for just a second and weíll see that this Melchizedek, King of the city of peace, Jerusalem, brought forth bread and wine, which spoke of His death, burial and resurrection. And now the important part for our study is “he was the priest (not of Jehovah. Not of Adonai. But he was the priest of what?) the Most High God.”
Now I guess I can bring you all the way back to Hebrews and finish out the half-hour. You put this all together then, we find that the priesthood of Melchizedek was not something associated with the Nation of Israel as Aaron was. But his priesthood was associated with what? The rest of the world! So the priesthood of Melchizedek was not limited to the children of Israel. The priesthood of Melchizedek was that priesthood that would envelop everybody. And you know that it wasnít until Christís death, burial and resurrection that Christ turned to the whole world.
People get upset when you point out to them that when Christ came to the Nation of Israel, it was Jew only (with two exceptions), and, oh, it makes them upset. But listen, if you study your Scripture you know thatís what He was. He came only to the Nation of Israel, as we see in Matthew 15:24, and Romans 15:8. John tell us, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
But when His own rejected him then where did it go? It went to the whole human race.
Lesson One ï Part III
Thou Art My Only Begotten Son
Before we begin our lesson let me share with you that we get letters from here to Timbuktu and some of them catch our program in the middle of the night, whereas some are early in the morning, and some are in the afternoon. So wherever you are, we appreciate the fact that you welcome us into your home.
Alright, weíre going to go right back into Hebrews chapter 5 and now verse 7. Speaking of this Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Iím not going to spend any more time on His Melchizedek priesthood because when we get to chapter 7, that whole chapter will be dealing with it and so Iím going to save a little for when we get there. But now moving on with regard to Christ being a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, verse 7,
“Who in the days of his flesh, (in other words, his earthly ministry) when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death,Ö”
Boy have you ever read that before ñ carefully? What is it telling us? That here again, God the Son, in His humanity, there in Jerusalem after His three years of earthly ministry, as He had gone down into the Garden of Gethsemane knowing that in a short period of time the Romans would be coming to make their formal arrest. And He knew exactly what was coming. You know I always like to let people understand that Christ knew the end from the beginning.
Come back with me to Luke chapter 18 for a moment. Now, most of you are aware this is the way I teach. When a verse comes to mind, I feel itís the unction of the Spirit and weíre going to go back and look at it, because even though He was in the flesh, He suffered in the flesh. Yet, He was God. He knew the end from the beginning. Absolutely nothing took Him by surprise. Now the setting is Northern Israel up there at the headwaters of the Jordan River and itís just at the end of His three years of earthly ministry. They will soon be making their way up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover and His crucifixion.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and he said unto them, behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets (the Old Testament) concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spit on: 33. They shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.” Did He know what was coming? Absolutely! Absolutely, every detail. He knew every Roman that would be a part of it. He knew every Jewish voice that would be coming up against Him. He knew it all! But how much did the Twelve know? I donít dare go without reading the next verse.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
See thatís how God can keep things from peopleís understanding. And so when they get to Jerusalem in a few days with all the hubbub of the Passover, did the Twelve have any idea of what was about to happen? No! They had no idea He was going to die. They thought He was still ready to bring in the Kingdom offered to Israel. But, the Lord knew.
Alright, now back to Hebrews chapter 5 and maybe that will help just a little. And so during the days of His flesh, while Heís there in Gethsemane when He had sweat drops of blood, and He asked the Twelve to pray with Him. And instead of praying whatíd they do? Hey, they slept. And He woke them up and He told them to pray with Him, and He went a little further distance from them, and again what did He find the Twelve doing? Sleeping!
But oh, He was going through the agony knowing what was coming. Alright, and so He did, He prayed and made supplication to God the Father from His humanity. Now, we always have to stop and realize. By the same token, He wouldnít have had to ask God to bring ten legions of angels, He could have commanded it Himself. And He said it in so many words. “If I wanted to be saved from this, God the Father would send those legions of angels.” But, He never asked for that, see?
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared:”
Now the fear here is the beginning of wisdom. Godly fear is the beginning of wisdom. And so it wasnít that He was afraid of what was coming, but in His respect for all that was involved in His death and He cries out to God the Father. In fact, you know what some of His prayer was. “If it be possible, Let this cup be taken from me.” What cup was He talking about? The cup of suffering. But it wasnít possible. It had to happen. And again this is beyond my understanding and I think it is so for any human. How that through all this suffering God was able to save, to the uttermost, those who believe. This is just beyond us. But, nevertheless, this was part and parcel of the suffering that He went through leading up to the Cross.
Alright, letís go back to Philippians chapter 2 and weíve used these verses so often. And I donít think thereís any way I can wear them out. But come back with me to Philippians chapter 2 verse 5 through 8. My, periodically, just in your own devotional time read these verses. Where Paul writes:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;”
Now another verse comes to mind. I wonít make you go back and find it but in Romans 12 verse 1, what does he say?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Well, this is all the same concept see? You know what, I have to be so careful and I just went through it again on one of my recent phone calls. When I explain salvation by faith and faith alone. By just simply believing that Christ died, was buried and rose again. I have to immediately follow that up with, but this is not license. Now that youíve made yourself fit for eternity; you donít have to worry about anything else. Can you go and live any way you want? NO! That is not the way it works. And the first thing I try to impress on people, especially older people that are up in their 40ís and 50ís and 60ís, I say, now look, just because I maintain that you are saved the moment you believe – remember that when youíre saved, Godís going to change you. Youíre not going to be the same person that you were.
And the Scripture makes it so plain, that as soon as we believe, God makes us a new person with new appetites, new desires, and weíre going to hate the things we once thought we had to have. And thatís what people have to realize. That when we talk about a salvation by faith and faith alone, itís not a salvation that permits no change in lifestyle. There has to be a change in lifestyle or thereís not a salvation. Itís one or the other.
So this is what Paul is admonishing here. Back to Philippians chapter 2, that if we have the mind of Christ, itís not going to be that satanically driven process. Itís going to be the opposite side of the coin. Weíre going to be driven now through the very thought processes of the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us. Alright, now verse 6. So the very first word of verse 6 is Christ Jesus of verse 5:
“Who being in the form of God, (the visible manifestation of God) thought it not robbery (and if you have a margin, I think the best way is ësomething that he could grasp atí) to be equal with God. 7. But (instead he) made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant,Ö”
He was born in a manger, raised in a carpenterís shop, went through three years of earthly ministry with no place to lay His head. Donít let these television preachers convince you that He had wealth untold. Not in His earthly ministry He didnít. He said, “Foxes have holes, birds have nests but the Son of man hath no place to lay his head.” Thatís exactly what it was. He had nothing of this worldís goods. And so this is the reason, “He made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant.”
Now thatís a kind translation. Whatís a better word? Slave, or bond-slave! “He took upon himself the form of a bond slave.” How many rights did a bond slave have in antiquity? None! They were treated like dirt, and cast aside at a moments thought. Alright, and so He took upon himself the form of a bond slave:
“Öand was made in the likeness of men:”
Now you know weíre always trying to make that analogy that in order for God to be the Savior of mankind, in order to be the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek, what did He have to do? He had to become one of us. He had to walk as men walked and He had to suffer the same passions of hunger and hurt and fatigue that we do, in order to fully understand what it was to save mankind to the uttermost. See? So, “made in the likeness of men” so that He could become one of us and thereby not only become our great High Priest but also the Savior and the Captain of our salvation. Now then verse 8,
“And being found in fashion as a (what?) a man,Ö” A man! He didnít look bazaar or different. He looked very ordinary and He could walk though a crowd and strangers couldnít pick Him out by His bazaar appearance. He appeared as an ordinary man.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,..” How could He? Because He was God! He could do this to Himself. He could take Himself from the realms of Glory from the power of the Creator and He could bring Himself down to be like mortal men. And so He humbled Himself and by becoming that epitome of humility,
“Öand became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” What does the word obedient imply? There was a requirement laid upon Him. He had to die. There was no way out, because without His death humanity would have been totally destitute of salvation. Even the Old Testament believers would have been simply wiped out of all of it had He not died. Because you want to remember even the Old Testament saints, the greatest of them, Moses, Abraham you name them – without that finished work of the cross, their salvation wasnít complete either. See?
And thatís why when Christ went down into Paradise and set those Old Testament captives free, why were they kept down there instead of going on to Glory? Because their sins hadnít been atoned for. Animal blood didnít take away their sin. But it was when Christís blood was shed, thatís when the salvation of the Old Testament saints was complete. Their atonement was now complete and Christ could take them on up to Glory. But not until. Now back to our text, and reading verse 8 again.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, (and not just an ordinary death of maybe being killed with a sword, or beheaded as Paul was, but something far worse) even the death of the cross.”
Now you see most of us just take that so glibly. And we say, oh yeah, Christ died for me. But listen thatís not the half of it. We can never comprehend the suffering that He had to go through beyond the physical.
A verse is coming to mind, and I think itís II Corinthians chapter 5 – letís go back and look at it. Letís just jump in at verse 17. I may have shared it before on the program, I know I have with my classes in Oklahoma. Some time ago, I think it was probably back in the summertime, I read an account of a pastor in the Chicago area years ago, so I know heís long gone to glory, but he was a pastor of a large church in the Chicago area of over a thousand people and one Sunday morning (thatís what made me think of it) he read this verse II Corinthians 5:17. And Iím going to take the time to rehearse it because it shook me to my bootstraps and I think it should everybody. He read verse 17 of chapter 5 and he said
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (or creation. Go right back to what I said three, four minutes ago) old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.”
Our old desires, our old appetites, they have to go. “Behold, all things are become new.” Now thatís what happens when we believe. Alright, this pastor asked his huge congregation including everyone in the balcony, “If you are a Christian this morning please stand.” How many stood? Everybody. Not a one stayed seated, they all stood.
He says, “Alright, please be seated.” He read the verse again, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation” and so forth. Now he said, “If you know that you are in Christ and you are a new creation, please stand.” How many stood? Just one here and there, just precious few. Well, what does that tell you? Thatís typical, thatís why Iíve said on this program, others have said it, and the other night I shared it with my class in Oklahoma and lo and behold somebody brought me a clipping out of a newspaper where some famous pastor had said almost the same thing. “Our churches are full of unsaved church members. Theyíre not in Christ. They havenít experienced a new life. Theyíve still got the old appetites. Thereís nothing different.”
And that wonít fit see? Alright, so now then reading on, this isnít where I intended to come, I just happened to see the verse as I was turning to it. Reading on, he says in verse 18:
II Corinthians 5:18
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” In other words, all the things that have set us apart from God have now been bringing us back to Him. Now verse 19:
II Corinthians 5:19
“To wit, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; (in other words, because when we become a believer our sin debt is paid) and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
Weíre to tell a lost world, weíre to tell lost friends, lost co-workers, “Hey, Christ has already reconciled you if youíll just believe it.” Now verse 20,
II Corinthians 5:20
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God.” By believing it! Now hereís a verse I came back to read. Verse 21:
II Corinthians 5:21a
“For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us,Ö”
Now donít read that too casually. What does that really mean? God laid all the sin of the world, including mine, including yours, on Him. And here again I canít comprehend that, and I donít think that you can. God laid all the sins of the world on Christ as He hung on that Cross, see? Thatís what Philippians means “That He died even the death of the Cross” knowing that the sins of the world would be laid on Him. Alright reading on in this verse: He Who became sin for us, He Who knew no sin. He was perfect. He was sinless. And He went through the whole process for you and I.
II Corinthians, 5:21b
“Ö that we (as lost hell-bound sinners) might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
And this is what we have to believe. We take it by faith. And when we believe for our salvation that He died, was buried and rose from the dead, then God imparts His righteousness unto us and weíre a new creation and weíre a new person. Now back to Hebrews again, and verse 8 still in chapter 5.
“Though he were a Son,Ö”
Again, you have to remember how we stressed that term Son in the first two chapters of Hebrews. He was not just a carpenterís son, He was not just Maryís son, He was the very Person of the Godhead that created everything. He was the One to Whom the rest of the Godhead imparted all the responsibility of creation and of this work of the Cross. And so:
“Though he were the Son, (He was all powerful,) yet he learned (what?) obedience (to respond to the responsibility that had been given to Him by the Godhead as a whole) yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered;” There in that agony leading up to and going through that death of the cross. Now verse 9,
“And being made perfect, (complete, I think, is a better word. A complete Savior, a complete Reconciler, and One Who forgives and saves us to the uttermost) he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
Now back up a page or two – we covered almost the same identical word “author” in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 10. I like to use all these Scriptures because they all compliment each other.
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain (same word) of their salvation perfect (or complete, but what did it take?) through suffering.”
Christ had to suffer in order to become then the Captain of our salvation, or as it says here, now come back to chapter 5 verse 9, the “author of our salvation.” Without the suffering it could have never happened. Now verse 9 again.
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
Well whatís another word for obey? Believing. In fact, I just ran across a verse in Acts and I didnít remember ever stressing it in my teaching and it just hit me like a thunderbolt as I was teaching the other night in my Tahlequah class. Come back with me to Acts chapter 13. My, this is a verse Iíve missed all these years.
“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. 36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God fell on sleep, (he died) and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37. But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 38. Be it known unto you therefore, my and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (and here it comes in the next verse) 39. And by him all that believe are justifiedÖ”
Lesson One ï Part IV
Thou Art My Only Begotten Son
Hebrews chapter 5 verse 10. Weíre still dealing with the high priest after the order of Melchizedek and how Christ suffered and died and rose from the dead and then as we saw back in chapter 1 verse 3:
“Öwhen he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Which indicated when He sat down that the work was finished. And never forget that. That twice in Godís dealings throughout the human history, He finished a work that was so perfect that He could sit down. The first one of course, was the work of Creation. Then the last verse of chapter 1 said, “and He saw that it was (what?) very good.” It was perfect and then you get into chapter 2, it doesnít say He sat down but it says “He rested.” And I make the point that if youíre tired and youíve had a long day what do you do to rest? Well, you sit down, and take a load off, as we say. And so God rested.
The work of the Cross is the same way. It was so perfect, there was not a flaw in that work. There was nothing that needed yet to be done. And so when He had purged our sins, He sat down. It was finished. And you know, ever since, what has mankind been trying to do? Add to it! One thing or another, adding to it. And, I think God is almost beside Himself that mankind cannot accept the fact that it was a finished work. Now letís begin with verse 10.
“Called of God an high priest (not after the order of Aaron but) after the order of Melchizedek.” Who, remember, was the high priest of the Most High God, which was the definition of God concerning the non-Jewish world. Now weíll move down into verse 11 and weíre going to again depart from the priesthood of Melchizedek for a little bit and weíre going to come down into the life of the ordinary believer. The ordinary Hebrew in this case, but weíre no different.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing you are dull of hearing.” What is Paul referring to? It was hard for him to talk to them about the priesthood of Christ and after His finished work. Why? Because they were so thick-headed. They just couldnít get it through their heads. And so he says, “You are dull of hearing.” Now verse 12, why were they dull of hearing? Well it was a malaise, I think – it was just no real interest. In fact, I think, I can safely say, anyone of you, I donít care what church you go to, itís no different denomination by denomination. Large churches or small. How many of your fellow-church people have a hunger for the Word of God? How many of them can honestly say, I just canít wait until I can get into another Bible study.
Oh, I had an interesting call from a lady out in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sheís going to be tickled to death when she hears this. But she called the other morning, sheís started a prison ministry amongst women prisoners there in Bethlehem and she had kind of a hassle getting started from the powers that be, but anyhow, they finally gave her a place where she can meet. Well, a few weeks ago she had her first lesson and she uses a half-hour of our tape and then has some singing and so forth. Well, the first time they met there were three ladies, and she was excited to have three. But the next week she had, I think, nine if I remember right, and yesterday morning she called, she was so excited she could hardly talk, she had 19 ladies attending that class. And she said, “Les, the best part is weíre meeting on Monday and now they want a second one during the week!”
Well that is exciting. Because once people get an appetite once a week isnít enough. And so I said, “Well, Daisy, one of these days, maybe you can go almost five nights a week like Iíve been doing, and youíll just get filled up!” But you see this is the whole idea that Paul is expressing here. Most professing believers have no hunger for the Word of God. Theyíre dull of hearing. As long as they fulfill their obligation and theyíre there for an hour or two a week, they think thatís all thatís necessary. But see, Paul is dealing with that when he says in verse 12:
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, (what does that mean? You should be sharing it with people but instead, Paul says,) you have need that one teach you again which are the first principles of the oracles of God.” So right there between the lines what is the process that God hopes to see happen? That after youíve been taught, you share it with others. Now that doesnít mean you have to collar them and preach at them or anything like that, but be ready to open the Scriptures.
Another phone call I had just the other morning – a gentleman was so excited he could hardly talk. He said, “Les, Iíve always hoped I could have an opportunity to share all this with somebody. And the other day a fellow came into my office and asked just the right question. I did like you have said so often, I grabbed a sheet of paper and I drew the timeline. I went through the whole timeline with that fellow and he left on cloud nine, as he had never seen the Scriptures opened like this before.”
Well, it wasnít but another day later had another one almost exactly the same, but his inquirer was a Russian who was over here visiting in America on business. And he had asked the same thing. This was a different individual, but he did the same thing. Took out a sheet of paper and just laid out the timeline to that young Russian. He had never seen anything like it before in his life.
You see this is the whole idea. If you learn these things then it is so easy to share it with others. You donít have to get out on the street corner and preach at people or collar them. But when they ask a question, and youíve heard me say it before even on the program, you have both barrels cocked. Now, Iím going back to the old double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun that I grew up with. And when we were pheasant hunting, I know it was probably not the safest thing to do, but when we knew that there were birds not too far away, we walked with the barrels cocked and ready. Well, you see, this is what people should do, when someone asks you a question and it opens up, be ready! Be ready! Donít hem and haw and say “Well Iím afraid to say something for fear Iím wrong.”
Hey, if youíve studied, and if youíve done your homework, the Lord will give you what it takes to share. And it will be the most exciting thing youíve ever experienced. Well, thatís what Paul is dealing with. But these people werenít ready. And he said, “You need to be taught again the principles.”
Now what are principles? The foundation. See? Iíve got kids, grandkids, unbelievable; theyíre all three in algebra this year. My granddaughter is in college algebra and my older grandson is in an advanced algebra and my youngest grandson is in a second year algebra, but all three of them are struggling with algebra. Well, I wish I had the time and the where-with-all to just sit down and teach all three of them. But you see, thereís no use trying to teach algebra unless theyíve got what? Plain old basic math. Thereís no use trying to learn algebra unless you know the principles of mathematics.
Well, itís the same way with Scripture. People have to know the basics. Thatís why when people call and they want to start a home Bible study and they ask what I recommend, I tell them to start in Genesis. Get people an understanding of Who God is, and how it all came about. How did it all start? What happened? How did sin enter? How did the need of salvation come about? And so you start with the principles and Paul says, “you people havenít even got that. You cannot pass on the principles of the Word of God.” Now, look what he says next.
“Öand are become such as have need of (what?) milk,Ö”
Goodness sakes, who starts out on milk? Babies! We all know that babies start on milk, because they canít handle beefsteak. They canít handle the stronger foods, so they must start on milk. Well, itís the same parallel spiritually. You donít take a new believer and take him into prophecy, because heís not ready for that. But you take a new believer and you build him on the oracles, the basics of the Word of God, and thatís why I like to teach the way I do starting in Genesis and just come on up through the Scriptures. And have people mature progressively in a knowledge of the Scriptures.
Alright now, Paul, the tremendous apostle that he was, had problems teaching people, too. Go back with me to I Corinthians chapter 3. The Corinthian Church was the congregation with the most problems. They were the most unspiritual, because they were believers that were so fleshly minded. They had not, as Hebrews says, gone on into the deeper things. They too, were guilty of not even understanding the principles of the Word of God. So, if Paul has the problem, donít feel bad if you and I do. Itís not easy to overcome some of these obstacles but you just keep repeating and repeating and repeating and finally it starts soaking in.
I Corinthians 3:1
“And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, (or fleshly) even as unto (what?) babes (or babies) in Christ.” Now they were believers and they had been believers for quite some time but they were still in their infancy so far as spiritual things were concerned. What were their problems? They were too hung up on tongues, prophecies, healings, going to law of pagan courts against each other. They were too busy arguing between themselves who was the greatest, Jesus or Peter or Apollos or Paul. See? And what was that? Carnality. Thatís carnal thinking and so he says, “even after all these years I have to treat you as babes in Christ.” Now verse 2:
I Corinthians 3:2a
“I have fed you with milk,Ö” He understood when they were new believers fresh out of paganism that they needed the milk of the Word and so thatís what he gave them. And so he says:
I Corinthians 3:2
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: (or the deeper things) for hitherto you were not able to bear it, (that was understandable. But, what does the rest of the verse say?) neither yet now are ye able.”
He says “and you still canít!” Isnít that something? He says, “I understood that at the beginning when you were new believers that you had to be treated like babes in Christ, but, you havenít grown a bit and Iím still having to treat you like babes in Christ.” Alright, now verse 3, what was their problem?
I Corinthians 3:3a
“For ye are yet carnal:Ö” You are more hung up on material things than you are on spiritual. Does that ring a bell? Here it comes now; Iíve already repeated it.
I Corinthians 3:3b
“Öfor whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?” In other words, you walk like the unsaved world, and Iíve already referred to this. Some in the Corinthians Church would argue who they would follow. Some would say, “Well, we follow Apollos, or we think Paulís the greatest.” Others thought it was Peter, and then we had all their other problems. In fact I remind people constantly, that this Corinthian letter was written to confront problems.
The Book of I Corinthians does not admonish spirituality and position like Ephesians and Philippians do. So Paul had to deal with problems in that Church because they werenít growing. Oh, they were saved – he refers to that. They were believers but they were more concerned with fleshly and material things than they were the spiritual. But, Paul was absolutely right in starting them out on the milk of the Word and Iím going to take you all the way back to Peterís little epistle and see what he says about this.
As you are turning to I Peter chapter 2 verse 2, Iíll never forget a pastor – Iris and I enjoyed his ministry when we were first married and he too, Iím pretty sure, is listening to our program now in his retirement, and hopefully, this will put a feather in his hat, it will make his day. Because this is one of the verses that we first memorized under his pastorate. Heíd have us try to memorize a verse a week. And I still remember memorizing this verse.
I Peter 2:2a
“As new born babes, (see the illustration? Just like a newly born infant, a human infant.) desire the sincere milk of the word,Ö”
Now goodness sakes, I imagine every last one of you have been around newborn babes. Usually when they cry, what do they want? They want milk. Theyíre hungry! And that little body is just crying out for nourishment. Well thatís the way a believer should be – so hungry.
And thatís what thrills Iris and I as we read our mail – weíre seeing it. People are hungry for the Word. Theyíve been in these dead churches for so long and when all of sudden they taste of the Word of God they canít get enough of it. I had a young man call just last night, and he watches the program in the morning, tapes it, watches it again when he gets home at night. Well, he gets 60 minutes a day of the Word.
Youíd be amazed at what that young man knew. I was just telling Jerry Pool about this guy at break time. The guy just blew me away with his knowledge and he had never had any of this before in his life. Boy, I mean he just laid it out, one item after another. And I said, “Youíve learned all this just in the last few months?” He said, “Iíd never heard it before!” So itís possible to learn a lot in a short time if youíre hungry.
We as believers, we start out as newborn babes desiring the sincere milk of the Word. The principles, as Paul said in Hebrews, of the Word of God, the very foundations, the basics. And whatís the purpose to be? That you grow. Now babies donít stay on milk. There comes a point in time when they can handle more solid food, because itís a growth process. Well, the Bible is the same way. You start out with the basics and you grow in your desire and your knowledge. Alright verse 3.
“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is (what?) gracious.”
My, when you begin to taste of the goodness of God, it just whets your appetite. See? Well anyway, now weíve got to come back to Hebrews, our time is going fast and we only have a few moments left. So back to chapter 5. Remember, the whole connotation is again, that instead of being ready to teach the Word to others, most believers are still on the milk bottle, and not ready for strong meat. As soon as you start talking some of the deep things of Scripture what do they do? They say, “I canít understand that anyway, itís over my head.” Well, whose fault is that? Itís their own.
The reason these deep things go over their heads is that they havenít taken the time to study the simpler things and to progress. Just like in our secular education, itís a direct parallel. Would you take a kid and put him in a calculus or a physics class if he never had fourth and fifth grade arithmetic? Of course not! That would be impossible. And so our whole secular education is a progressive thing to bringing up our young people to the place where they can comprehend the deeper concepts of whatever discipline. Now then, letís move on to verse 13 of Hebrews chapter 5.
“For every one that useth milkÖ”
Theyíre still on maybe Christís earthly ministry, at least letís hope maybe theyíve gotten that far. They understand that Jesus of Nazareth had a ministry, and his miracles and so forth, but thatís as far as they can go. All they know is just simply His earthly ministry, and consequently, they are unskillful in the Word of righteousness.
Most of the deeper concepts come from the pen of the Apostle Paul, and I imagine that the vast majority of church members know nothing of those concepts. For example, the first one that comes to my mind is that the old Adamic nature is bent to sin. “Weíre not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because weíre sinners.” Most people donít even know what Iím talking about, and Paul enlightens us on that subject.
You see, the old Adamic nature that weíre born with, is hell-bent. And the only way you can overcome that is by the regeneration brought about by the power of God. And once weíre regenerated, then we can begin to understand spiritual things, but until that happens we canít.
And most Church members can only rehearse Christís earthly ministry. I mean, theyíve heard that in Sunday School for years and they know that pretty much, but beyond that, they just donít know. When it comes to end-time events as we see them rolling up around us, most people donít have a clue as to what all this is about. Theyíve never gotten off the milk bottle. Theyíve never gotten any further than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then Paul goes on to say here in Hebrews:
“For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” Theyíre babes!” And even in believers, they may have been saved for years and years but theyíve never gotten beyond the baby stage spiritually and so Paul is admonishing them. Get off the baby bottle! Now verse 14 and I guess hopefully this will take us to the end.
“But strong meat (this adult food, see?) belongs to them who are of full age, (that is spiritually mature) even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
What does all that mean? Well, after the rudiments of salvation and weíre babes in Christ, we begin to study the Word, and we begin to understand some of the basics. I think one of the first things we have to realize in this Age of Grace is that the moment weíre saved the Holy Spirit comes in, and indwells us. He then becomes our teacher. The Holy Spirit is the One Who opens up an understanding of the Scriptures. I guess Iíd better use Scripture to define that. Come back to I Corinthians 2 and verse 10. This is where we start as a new believer with an understanding that weíre not just left out there to our own devices but we have that indwelling Holy Spirit Who is ready to reveal these things if we will ask Him to. Now I think we have to simply pray and ask God, “Give me understanding. Teach me. Give me wisdom.” And the Lord will do it.
I Corinthians 2:10
“But God hath revealed them (that is, the things that are only for believers to understand) unto us by his (what?) Spirit: for the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Alright then come all the way down to verse 13,
I Corinthians 2:13
“Which things also we speak, (Paul says) not in the words which manís wisdom teacheth, (see? You donít go by what men say) but which the Holy Spirit teacheth. (And hereís how you study.) comparing spiritual with spiritual.”
This is why I use as many Scriptures as I possibly can because we have to understand that the Word of God dovetails. Everything fits and we compare Scripture with Scripture. And then verse 14. My if this doesnít just tell us everything,
I Corinthians 2:14
“But the natural (the unregenerated, the unsaved) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: (why?) for they are foolishness unto him:”
And why are they foolishness? Because he has no hunger, he has no desire to learn. And so we have to understand that it is a spiritual life that we have to feed the Word of God.
Lesson Two ï Part I
Leaving Milk for Meat
Letís pickup where we left off in the last lesson in Hebrews chapter 6. Here in verse 1 we are faced with that word Paul uses over and over:
You know, I can almost stop and teach thirty-minutes on just the word ëtherefore,í because you see, heís reminding us of what he had just covered in those previous verses in the last part of chapter 5. You remember in our last program, we were talking about Paul lamenting the fact that these people were not skilled in the Word of God. They were not able to go out and teach others. But rather they were like babes on the milk-bottle, and they still had to be fed.
What a dilemma. The average believer has not made enough effort to search the Scriptures to get skilled with them, to be comfortable in sharing it with someone else. Now we hope that this is what weíre accomplishing in our kind of teaching. That we are getting people to have enough understanding of the Scripture to be able to sit down with someone who is totally ignorant and just show them.
I shared in our last taping that I had just had a couple of phone calls from men who worked in corporate situations and someone came in and asked the appropriate question of both of them! Both of them said that they just got out a sheet of paper and drew the timeline – what a glorious way to share the Scriptures. And, oh, that everyone could be able to do that when someone asked a question. And so this is what Paul was lamenting in those previous verses, that youíve got to get off the milk-bottle. Youíve got to get into the strong meat, and be able to teach others also. “Therefore” since thatís what he has covered, look what the verse says:
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrines (or the teachings) of Christ, let us go unto perfectionÖ.”
Now Iím going to stop right there. And Iím thinking, Iíll cover the whole next thirty-minutes on just these few words. Maybe the next sixty-minutes, I donít know. But there is so much right there, that the casual reader just reads over it. You know, thatís the other response weíre getting in so many of our letters. “Youíve taught me how to read!” Well, not that they couldnít read as reading goes. But, people donít stop to analyze what it really says, see? And this is what we have to do. So, “Therefore,” since we have to come away from that milk-bottle environment and get into the deep things that we can share with other people, we have to start someplace and whatís the next word? “Leaving.” Now what do you suppose leaving means? Well, it means what it says!
Come back with me to Ephesians chapter 5 and here we have the whole marriage situation for us in this Age of Grace. The husband and wife relationship, so I want you to drop in at verse 31. And all Iím doing this for is so that you get the meaning of the word leaving.
“For this case shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
Now, look at that a little more than just seeing a beautiful wedding ceremony. What really happens when a young couple gets married and sets up their own home? What happens between them and their parents? Well, they donít forsake them. They donít say, “Bye, Dad! Iíll see you in Glory!” That isnít what marriage does. Marriage is still connected with both generations.
But, what does that young couple suddenly realize? The rent is due, car payments have to be made. Groceries have to be bought. The electric bill, and the phone bill are staring them in the face. Hey, theyíve never had this before, for the most part. And so what is it? Itís a whole progressive step from living in the home nest, to all of a sudden establishing a home of their own. But they donít forsake that which has gone before, they merely move on away from it, still keeping the ties to the home folks. Now isnít that understandable?
Now that started back in Genesis. You have the same word; “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife.” And so thatís the whole concept. But the point Iím trying to make, itís not a matter of totally forsaking the parent, itís simply moving on. In fact, the more I study Hebrews getting ready for these programs, the more Iíve come to the conclusion under the heading of the letter to the Hebrews, they could have added a letter promoting progression, because thatís what Hebrews is all about. To keep moving and moving. And as I was studying a little bit last night, I couldnít help but think, that in the world around us, isnít that exactly true? There is no status quo, at least not until you retire. And Iris and I were talking on the way up. I wonder what itíd be like to be retired? We have no idea! But for the average person going through life, there is no status quo if youíre going to succeed in life.
What am I saying? Whether itís a sports team, a pro-football team, a college program, a business, a marriage, or an education, you have to either keep moving forward, be it ever so infinitesimal, youíve got to keep moving forward or else what? Back you go!
You know Iím always using the analogy of paddling a canoe up stream. Oh, you may not be making much headway but Iíll tell you what, the minute you pull that paddle out of the water youíre going to make some movement! But itís going to be back down stream.
Alright, now thatís exactly the way we have to look at Scripture. There is no such thing in this progressive unfolding of the Word of God as a status quo. We have to either keep moving on and learning and getting deeper into the Word or we are going to get careless and lose interest. And so it always holds that we have to leave that which has gone before for the purpose of moving on. And thatís exactly what itís talking about. Now, letís look at the verse again.
“Therefore leavingÖ” In other words, donít forsake it. You donít turn your back on it saying, “I donít want anything more to do with that.” You move from that one place into a progressive unfolding of that which lies ahead. But what is the Apostle admonishing these people to leave?
“Öthe principles of the doctrine of ChristÖ.”
All the Greek that I can find and the various dictionaries and commentators, all use the same thing. And if you have a good marginal help in your Bible, it would be in your margin. This word principles is better translated “the words of the beginning of Christ.”
Think about that for a minute. Iím know Iím taking this slow, because I just reminded myself all night long last night, “Now Les, donít get in a hurry. Take this chapter slow!í I donít care if we have two or three books on chapter 6. Weíre going to take it slow. Because this is so important that people understand that here we have to see these Hebrews, to whom of course, the letter is primarily written understand now that they cannot rest on the status quo. They certainly donít want to be left slipping back. But rather theyíve got to move on ahead in their experience and their knowledge of the Word of God. And the only way they could do that would be to “leave the words of the beginning of Christ.” Now that just flies in the face of most of Christendom. Doesnít it? What were the “words of the beginning of Christ?” What are the ëprinciples of Christ?í Well itís the Four Gospels! His earthly ministry!
Alright, now letís look what Paul says concerning that in Romans chapter 15 verse 8. And again I imagine the vast majority of people who read their Bibles skim over this verse and never really understand what it says. But oh, itís loaded! This says it all – of what weíre looking at now today, that weíre going to have to move away from the first words of Christ, and His earthly ministry. Because, hereís the purpose.
“Now I say, that Jesus Christ was (past tense) a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”
Just look at that! You know, I read the Jerusalem Post from cover to cover. And, quite often, thereís an article in there with regard to these young Jewish men who are in Yeshiva. And of course, thatís part and parcel of Israelís history. Now what do these young Jewish men do in a Yeshiva? Well, theyíll sit there day in and day out and contemplate maybe one verse of the Torah. And theyíve been doing it for centuries. And what do they still hope to do? Pull something out of there that some previous Rabbi had never seen.
Alright, now I donít expect anybody to do that. Weíre not in Yeshivas but goodness sakes letís take a verse like this now again, and pick it apart. What does it really say? Well it says that Jesus Christ was the ministry of the circumcision. Who is the circumcision? Israel! So Paul that great Apostle of the Gentiles, is reminding us, that Jesus Christ in the “beginning of His words” here on earth was to what people? Israel.
You know Iím always stressing every word that Jesus said in His earthly ministry with two exceptions was always to the Jew under the Law. Oh goodness, that rankles people. I get a kick out of how it does, because it just sort of makes me smile that people can get so shook up with truth. That reminds me on our last cruise, we had a couple from out east someplace. Iím not going to identify them. But anyway one of the clergy of their particular denomination was on the ship with us and they had gotten acquainted with him and they had gotten him to come to one of our Bible studies.
Well, it didnít take me two minutes to see that the guy was just enraptured with what he was seeing. Oh, he was just eating it up for the whole two-three hours that we were together that evening. So this couple said, “Weíre going to make sure that heís back tomorrow night.” But tomorrow night came, and he wasnít there. And I said, “Well, goodness sakes, what happened?” “Ah,” she says, “he didnít want to be confused with the truth!”
Isnít that right? People say, “Donít bother me with facts. Iím satisfied with whatever flies.” But listen, weíre going to look at this in truth. Not what Les Feldick says, but rather what does the Book say? “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision.” And then whatís the next statement? “For the truth of God.” Now that just nails it down. This wasnít something that flippantly came of the lips of the Apostle Paul. This was in accord with the whole Sovereign working of the Creator God, that Christ should come to the Nation of Israel. And then what does the rest of the verse say? “To confirm the promises made to the fathers.” Who were the fathers? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the rest of the Old Testament patriarchs. David, see? Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah you name them.
They were all talking about the coming of this Messiah King. And thatís what Jesus came to proclaim. That He was the fulfillment of those promises made to the fathers of Israel, see? And thatís so hard for people to comprehend. They think that Jesus came – like I had one guy explode in one of our classes in Israel, “Ah,” he said, “What do you do with John 3:16, throw it away?” No, John 3:16 was the fulfillment of Christ coming to His earthly people. And then when He was rejected, yes, then He went to the whole world.
But for three years, He was the minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers. Now see when you pick it apart and take it slow, doesnít it make sense. Sure it does. Just as sensible as it can be that He came to fulfill those Old Testament promises. He never once told those twelve disciples, “Iím going to be going to the Cross and be crucified and raise up another Apostle and send him to the Gentiles,” – at least not in a way that they could understand it.
Now then, letís go back and see some of those “words of the beginning of Christ.” And letís just jump all the way back to the Book of Matthew. Weíre going to jump in first at Matthew chapter 5 and verse 17. And this of course, is the beginning of His earthly ministry. And Jesus said:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but (what?) to fulfill.” Well, isnít that exactly what Paul just said in Romans? Why did He come? To fulfill the promises made to the fathers. Now, back in Exodus, what did God promise that the Jewish people could be individually? Priests of God. Every Jew was to become a ëgo-between.í Well, between God and who? The Gentiles. Those pagans out there around them. Now it wasnít going to be tomorrow or next month. But some way, after the hundreds of years, Israel was going to have that opportunity and responsibility to announce their Messiah and King and also the Redeemer of the Gentile world.
Alright then you come all the way up, based of course, on that Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12. Isaiah writes so plainly that the Nation of Israel is to be a light to the Gentiles and then Daniel introduces us to the whole concept of an earthly kingdom over which the stone, cut out without hands, which of course, is always a reference to Christ, would take over and rule the whole planet.
Zechariah tells us as plain as day, that when He would return and stand on the Mt. of Olives, He would set up a kingdom. He would rule from Jerusalem and He would be King over all the earth.
See, those were all promises that the spiritual Jew at least, probably not all of them, but the spiritual part of Israel understood, that this was what was in their future. That God Himself in the person of the Messiah, the Son of God, would be coming and establishing an earthly kingdom with His capital in Jerusalem and Israel would enjoy all those promises of Deuteronomy 27 and 28. And what are those promises? Oh, youíll not be the tail; youíll be the head! Youíll be blessed when you go out; youíll be blessed when you come in.
Those are the promises that Israel was longing for. And oh, theyíre looking for them even today. Maybe not in the right quarters, but in their heart. Now those of you who read anything at all of the Jewish people. In the heart of every Jew, for centuries, has been that longing statement ënext yearí what? Yeah, you got it. ëNext year Jerusalem.í Sounds like farmers. You know farmers are always waiting for next year. But, that was the heart of the Jew. ëNext year Jerusalem.í Next year peace! Jerusalem. The Prince of Peace ruling and reigning.
Alright, those were the promises that Christ came to the Nation of Israel to fulfill. And thatís what heís talking about. Heís not talking about the Cross here. Heís talking about fulfilling those Old Testament promises. But He wasnít coming to destroy the Law. He wasnít coming to destroy the prophets. He came to fulfill everything that theyíd been writing about. See? ëTo confirm the promises.í
Now, turn with me ahead a couple of pages to chapter 9, still here in Matthew and just drop in at verse 35. Now donít lose sight of what Iím trying to show here. Weíre looking at the “words of the beginning of Christ.” His earthly ministry. What was He telling these Jewish people, and that these people that Paul is addressing now in the book of Hebrews had evidently embraced, they had become followers and believers of Jesus of Nazareth. Also donít forget your time setting. The Book of Hebrews is being written at a time when most of these people to whom Paul is writing were certainly adults during Christís earthly ministry, even as Paul himself was. So heís talking about people who had probably become believers during Christís earthly ministry. And now the whole idea of the Book of Hebrews is ëmove on.í
You know when I first started the book way back in chapter 1, remember I reminded you that throughout the Book of Hebrews it says “that was good, but this is better.” Sure. And what is that? Thatís a progression. Moving out of that which is good and going to something better. But now weíre still back here at the beginnings of the words of Christ.
Matthew chapter 9:35a
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching (now if you havenít underlined it before, underline it today) the gospel of the kingdom,Ö” Now what does that word Gospel always mean? Good news! He was announcing the good news of the kingdom.
What did that mean? Hey, Heís the King! Heís here! On the earth! Ready to fulfill the promises. So Heís preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven. Now along with that Gospel of the Kingdom of course, we have, read on.
“Öand healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
None excepted! Thatís the difference. When Jesus healed the multitudes, He healed them all, but they werenít all believers. Donít ever get that idea. The press, as we sometimes refer to it, those multitudes in upon Him, hey, they werenít following Him because of His spiritual offer. They were following Him for what I said before, the free lunch! Nothing they liked better as when He came out with that loaves and fishes.
And Iím going to be making reference to it sometime as I go into the book of Hebrews, but remember back in Johnís Gospel, when the disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing? And they came to shore and there the Lord was. And He asked them, you remember, “Have you any food, any meat?” “No,” they replied, “Havenít caught a thing all night.” But, in the next verse it tells us that while He was standing there on the shore. What was also beside Him on the shore? “Bread and fish on the fire.”
You know, when I rehearsed that again the other night, a thought struck me, that never had before. Since Heís the Creator, Heís the perfect operator of everything. Have you ever stopped to think, He must be the best chef the world has ever seen? Iíll bet that was the best tasting fish and bread that those disciples had ever tasted! And that gave rise then to the Lordís question. “Peter do you love me more than ñ those?”
And I bet it was kind of tough to say, why yes Lord, because that must have been mighty good tasting food. Well, thatís beside the point. But He came to fulfill all these promises given to the Nation of Israel. And when He did He healed every sickness. Every disease. See? Because after all what was He proving? That He was the Christ! Thatís what these “words of the beginning of Christ” were to do. To prove to Israel Who He was. Now youíve heard me say that a hundred times, havenít you?
Now then, letís skip over into chapter 10. And you have no idea how mad people can get when you show them these verses. You wouldnít think people would get angry at the Word of God, would you? Oh but they do. If it flies in the face of what theyíve always thought and known. Oh, they get angry. Iíve got heads nodding all over the place. Sunday School teachers you know what itís like. Oh they can get angry. But look what it says, I probably havenít got time to do it justice. I donít think I do, but anyway. Chapter 10 verse 1,
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these;Ö”
See that? Heís imparting to them the same power that He had. Now weíre not going to go through and rehearse them because you all certainly know who the Twelve disciples were but alright weíll come all the way down to verse 5, and weíll be ready to pick right up there in the next lesson.
Lesson Two ï Part II
Leaving Milk for Meat
Now as we began our study this afternoon, weíre going to just continue right on with our Bible study where we left off in Hebrews chapter 6. And for those of you just joining us on television who may have never caught the program before, weíre just a simple Bible study. We donít have a lot of glitz. Weíre not banked with flowers. Because after all this is just a classroom. And classrooms arenít fancy, are they?
You know, I get such a kick out of our listeners. We were at one of our seminars. Now, I shouldnít probably do this but, you all know me well enough and my audience knows me well enough. We were at one of our seminars and a lady was saying something that Iris just happened to overhear. And she said, “You know why I give to Les Feldick Ministries?” And the other gal says, “No. She said, “He doesnít spend it all on clothes!” Well, thatís true. We donít try to come in here with a fashion plate; we just simply want to teach the Word in a way that anyone can understand.
Letís go right back into Hebrews chapter 6, weíre still in verse 1. And weíre just going to use this for a ëjumping offí and weíll go right back to where we left off in the last moments of our last program.
Because of what has just been said the in last verses of chapter 5, that it was necessary to feed them milk because they werenít ready for meat. So Paul says:
“Therefore leaving (or moving on from) the principles (or the words of the beginning of Christ, and) of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;Ö” (or unto a maturity)
In other words, like someone just said at break time. Les, this is just like the Bible as a whole. Yeah! Itís a progressive revelation from Genesis to the book of Revelation; itís a progressive revealing of the things of God. Alright, so now then to take another look at the “words of the beginning of Christ” or His earthly ministry. Weíre going to go right back where we left off and that was in Matthew chapter 10.
You saw in chapter 9 in our last program, that Jesus went everywhere preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. My, very few people understand that that is not the Gospel of the Grace of God. The Gospel of the Grace of God was that which was revealed to the Apostle Paul through the revelation of the mysteries. But the Gospel of the Kingdom is what Jesus and, beginning with John the Baptist and the twelve, are proclaiming to the Nation of Israel and that is the good news that the King is here. Heís ready to give them the promised Kingdom that was promised all the way back to the Abrahamic Covenant. Now, in view of those promises then, we jumped into chapter 10 in the last moments of our program and we have the twelve disciples chosen and now here comes their marching orders. In verse 5:
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and He commanded them, (now listen, when the Lord of Glory gave a command, that was not to be taken lightly. That was set in concrete and He commanded them) Go not into the way of the Gentiles,Ö” Did you hear that? Did you see that?
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and he commanded them, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans (who were half-breeds) enter ye not 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Now thatís plain language. As plain as language can get. Do NOT go to the Gentiles. Go only to the Nation of Israel, to the twelve tribes, to the lost sheep! Now let that sink in, and the next time you try to share it in your Sunday School class, theyíll run you out the back door more than likely. Yeah, Iíve got heads nodding, because youíve experienced it. Oh, they donít want to hear that, but see this is what Paul wrote in Romans.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the father:”
And what were those promises made to the fathers? That Israel was to be the favored nation. And that God the Son would come and be a physical King as well as a Redeemer. And the Nation of Israel could come to that place of blessings. Living in peace and prosperity. Okay? Now reading on in Matthew 10. Letís look now verse 7.
“And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now letís jump over to Luke chapter one for just a second and get just a little glimpse of what that was to be for the Nation of Israel. Chronologically, of course, weíre going to back up a few years because this is when the angel had announced to Zacharias and Elizabeth that they were going to have a child. Now heís just been born. Luke chapter 1 and Iím going to drop in at verse 67. And the angel has announced that this child John the Baptist to be born of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who also were in their older years, was going to be the herald of the King, and Messiah. Now, when the King would come, you see, this is what Israel was looking for in fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers. And Iím going to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it till you hear it in your sleep. This is what Jesus came to fulfill.
“And his father (that is John the Baptistís father) Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost,Ö” He wasnít just glibly speaking some Jewish hopefuls, but rather he was speaking the very mind of God and look what he said:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; (Exclusive? Well, I reckon. This isnít including the world. This is Israel.) for he hath visited and redeemed his people,”
Now, ever since Genesis chapter 12 and the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant, who were Godís people? Israel! See? You know that, and theyíre still the ones weíre talking about. Now verse 69.
“And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” How many Gentiles are in the House of David? Not one! Now granted a few of the women came in by marriage, Iím not denying that. But largely speaking the House of Israel was Jew only. Now verses 70 and 71.
“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71. That we should be saved from our (not sins yet but what?) enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;” Goodness gracious, who were Israelís enemies at the time of Christís first advent? Well, the same oneís tonight. It was no difference as there was Egypt, Syria, the Persians, the Babylonians, and the Gentiles all around them. They were their enemies. Alright, so theyíre going to “be saved from their enemies and all those that hate us.” How many is that? The rest of the world.
See, ever since World War II we like to sort of stick our head in the sand and think that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. Donít you believe it. Anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head more and more every day. Now we all know why the Arab world hates Americans. And they do, they hate us! Not because of our prosperity, although thatís certainly a part of it. The liberals would like to make us think that thatís the problem, you know, weíve got so much and theyíve got so little. No. The root problem is that they feel that we love and are going to do everything we can to support the little Nation of Israel and I think Osama bin Laden as much as said that. If Americans will quit supporting Israel then he can back off too. So thatís basically whatís behind everything is the hate for the Nation of Israel. Alright read on, and when this king would come He would come:
“To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, (same fathers that Paul referred to in Romans. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the prophets and so forth.) and to remember his holy covenant; 73. The covenant (or the oath) which he sware to our father Abraham.”
Boy, itís been a long time since weíve rehearsed the Abrahamic Covenant on this program. Most of you hear it all the time in our Oklahoma classes, but for those of you out in television, the Abrahamic Covenant began back in Genesis chapter 12. Where God made three basic tenets to that Covenant. Maybe I should put it on the board once again, as I havenít used the board in a long time. Maybe itís about time.
That Abrahamic Covenant comprised, first the promise of a geographical area of land. Secondly, within that land, He would place a nation of people, the favored nation. The Nation of Israel. The third part of that Covenant was that in order to control the Nation living within the borders of a geographical area of land, He would have to establish a government. And this government is going to be in the person of a King and this King is going to be the Son of God. The Redeemer, the Messiah and that was all promised to Israel. Now those are just sort of the generalities.
You see, you have to kind of come through Scripture to pick this all up. Because even though this is promised back there in Genesis 15, 16 and 17, yet we do not have the revelation of Who this King is going to be until we get clear up into Samuel. And through the prophet Samuel and Nathan, God reveals that itís going to be through the House of David. The bloodline of King David and Solomon and Nathan. And through that genealogy then of course, came Jesus of Nazareth. Now that was all part and parcel of that Abrahamic Covenant. Back to Luke, verse 74,
“That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out the hand of our enemies, (peace, prosperity. No fear) and that we might serve him without fear.” See thatís what Israel is still looking for. Oh maybe, not so much on the spiritual level but oh, how theyíre longing for peace. When they can go to bed at night and not have to worry about having to dive for a bomb shelter. You know, I read some time ago that up there in Northern Israel, just below the Lebanese border, there are generations of young people who from babyhood on up never slept in their regular bed. They slept in beds in bomb shelters in order to be protected from the constant bombarding from the Hezbollah and so forth.
But oh, how Israel is longing for peace! And theyíre getting just about ready to sell their soul to get it. Well, it does get kind of provoking when you canít walk down the street without fear of being blown to smithereens. It does get frustrating when you canít drive down the highway without wondering, well, am I next?
I was just talking to someone on the phone the other day that way back in the ë80ís, he and his brother had flown over to Israel, just the two of them, and rented a car and spent a whole month just driving up and down the roads of Israel. I told Iris, “You know, that would be the way to tour Israel,” but, you couldnít do that today. My land, youíd be in constant fear. But, this is what Israel is longing for, see?
Alright, “That he would grant unto us that we be delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear.” Now here comes the spiritual element.
“In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (That was the hope of Israel based on the Covenant promises.)
Now letís come back to Matthew once again. And so after being commanded to have nothing to do with Gentiles, we go through Christís earthly ministry and you have the Sermon on the Mount and all these high moral statements. Which of course, are certainly profitable. I donít tell people not to read the Four Gospels, for goodness sakes. All I maintain is that thereís no doctrine of Grace in these Four Gospels, this is still under the Law.
But thereís still a lot to learn. Just like weíre finding out in the book of Hebrews. Now, Iím going to bring you all the way up to chapter 16 which is the end of Christís earthly ministry. And even though they are as yet up in Northern Israel, at the headwaters of the Jordan River, Caesarea Philippi. Yet, theyíre soon going to be making their way south and up to Jerusalem for the Passover and the Crucifixion.
Alright, now look what Jesus is doing as we read Matthew 16:13. This is all part of this Gospel of the Kingdom from which the readers of Paulís epistle were to move on from, they are instructed to leave it, and to move on to better things.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?í”
In other words, whatís He asking? Whom do the rank and file think I am, the Jews among whom we have been performing miracles, whom weíve been feeding the multitudes, and healing the sick. Whom do most of those people think I am? And hereís their answer. Look at this. I mean this is shocking. This was the answer.
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias, and other, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Imagine! After three years of trying to prove to the Jewish Nation that He was the fulfillment of all those Old Testament promises. He was the Messiah. He was the Son of God, and they think anything but whom He really is. Now verse 15.
“He saith unto them, (remember this is the whole twelve. Judas is included yet.) but whom say you that I am? (and Peter of course is always the spokesman and so he speaks up) 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Whatís the other word for Christ? Messiah! I had a letter the other day and someone was bemoaning the fact that so much of Christendom uses Jesus Christ as a first and last name. Well, I hope you all know better than that. Christ isnít his last name; itís his title. And thatís why once in a while youíll hear me slip in ëJesus the Christí which is really the most accurate. Because thatís what He was. He was Jesus the Messiah. Or if you want to reverse it, Messiah Jesus.
So now then, this is what Heís saying. “Whom do you say that I am? And Peter said, ëyou are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living Godí.” Did Peter have it straight? Yeah! Yeah, he did. And now look what Jesus said.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” We are going to cover this same concept a little later in Hebrews chapter 6. Even these disciples fixing their nets on the shores of Galilee and Jesus came by. Now a lot of you know the Four Gospels better than I do. What did Jesus say to them? “Come follow me.” Did they ask a ton of questions? Well, did they say, “Who are you? What are you up to? Whatís your agenda? Whatís in it for me? Whatíd they do?” They dropped their nets and they followed. Why? Because the moment Jesus spoke, God opened up the understanding of these men. “Thereís the One weíre looking for. Thereís the One Who is fulfilling all the Old Testament promises.” And without question, they followed, see? And they knew that He was the Christ, and so here Jesus makes it so plain. On what basis did they know? God revealed it!
You know Iím always using the verse in Acts and Iím always saying Lord give me Lydias. Why? Because when Paul and Silas had finished presenting the Gospel to those Jewish women there at Philippi, the next verse says:
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God. heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Listen thatís never different. Thereís not a one of you sitting in this room that can get one ounce of sense out of this Book without the Lord opening your understanding. There is not a person on this earth who has ever experienced salvation but that God didnít open first their heart. Now, Iím not a ëFive Pointí Calvinist. Donít get me wrong. Nor am I a ëTen Pointí Armenian or whatever they call them. But I keep the thing in the middle. But yes, God does have to initiate. God does have to open the understanding and then the individual has to make his choice. Thatís the way I look at it.
So Peter says, “youíre the Christ.” And Jesus said, “Blessed art thou Peter, this is all I wanted to know.” Now you know what I call this? Peterís profession of faith. But what does Peter not mention? Death, burial and resurrection. Peter doesnít say, “Now I understand that youíre going to go to that Cross and die for my sins. Youíre going to be raised from the dead. Thatís what I believe.”
No, Peter had no idea that Christ was going to go to a Cross. Now, to prove that point we go to Luke 18. Weíve used it on the program before, but like I said, weíve got a lot of new listeners everyday so hopefully for them this is all fresh. And this again is in about the same time frame as Matthew 16. Theyíre on their way up to Jerusalem for the last Passover and the Crucifixion. And that most of Christendom donít know this passage is even in their Bible and if they do, they donít read it.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”
Now weíve got to be careful. These things that Jesus is referring to were back there in the Old Testament but they were in such veiled language that nobody really knew what they meant. Of course, Iím referring primarily to Isaiah 53. You all know those verses. “He is lead as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb openeth not his mouth,” and so on and so forth.
Well, none of the Jews in Israel understood that that was a reference to a coming crucifixion. But you see, Jesus knew. And so he says, “everything that was written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” Now verse 32.
“For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (the Romans) and he shall be mocked, spitefully entreated and spitted on: 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.”
Did Jesus know the end from the beginning? Well, of course! I think Iíve said it before even on the program. He knew exactly which Roman soldier would wield the whip. He knew exactly where the soldier was at this particular moment in time who would drive the spikes. He knew exactly what the high priest was going to do. There wasnít anything hidden from him.
I think I pointed it out in the last taping. When He was sweating those drops of blood there in the Garden of Gethsemane and the disciples were sleeping. What did Jesus know? All of this. He knew it was coming. Thatís why He said, “Father if it be possible let this cup be taken from me.” He knew the suffering that was lying ahead, and He did here in this passage. But now look what the discipleís knew.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none (my, highlight that word, or underline it) of these things and this saying was hid from them.” Who hid it? God did! It wasnít time for them to know. Then why did Jesus say it? I donít know. Except to prove to us that He knew and they didnít.
And if you have an argument with that, you know what I always come back and tell people. If you donít believe this, then tell me, why werenít these believers, these followers of Jesus in His earthly ministry, why werenít they parked outside the tomb waiting for His resurrection? Well were they? No! Theyíd long given up. Theyíd even mentioned at least, that they were going to go back to their fishing. But here they are completely unaware that Christ was going to be going to the Cross. Why? Because they were all hung up on His bringing in the Kingdom.
Alright, now I think Iíve got one more verse weíve got time for. Come all the way to Acts chapter 1 lest you think that this whole idea of an earthly kingdom was a figment of my imagination or someone elseís. No, this was on the apostleís mind constantly. Acts chapter 1 verse 6. Now this is after His resurrection. And Heís been with the eleven. Judas of course, is gone. Heís been with the eleven now 40 days, and Heís ready to ascend back to Glory. And He tells them to wait ten days until the Holy Spirit would come on the day of Pentecost.
But look whatís on the mind of these eleven men. Thatís what I want you to see. After three years of earthly ministry, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Good News to Israel, that the King and the Kingdom were ready to be presented:
“When they therefore, were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom again to Israel?”
Whatís on their mind? The Kingdom. When Israel could live at peace and prosperity. And I havenít got time in this program but you remember back in Matthew 19, Peter said, “Well now we left all. We left our fishing nets; we left our families to follow you. What are we going to have therefore?” What was Jesusí answer? “You twelve,” thatís why Peter was in such a hurry to fill Judasí slot. He says, “You twelve are going to sit on twelve thrones ruling the Twelve Tribes of the Nation of Israel.”
Pie in the sky? Fictitious words? No! Thatís exactly what was ahead of them and it still is, because the Kingdom is still coming!
Lesson Two ï Part III
Leaving Milk for Meat
Okay, itís taken us 2 complete lessons to get to the last part of verse 1 in Hebrews chapter 6, but I think weíre ready for it now:
“Önot laying again the foundation; of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”
Alright, weíre just going to stop with that first phrase “not laying again the foundation.” Have you ever stopped to think what that really means? Put it into everyday life. If youíre going to build a home and youíve got the foundation laid, what are you going to do, tear it up and pour another one? Well, of course not. Youíre going to start building.
But see, what were these people doing? They were trying to tear up the old foundation and just go back where they were before. Now remember the primary subject of the book of Hebrews is Jews. Not exclusively. My, thereís so much in here for us but the primary subjects here are Jews who were still steeped in the Judaism of the past. They had recognized Jesus and His Messiahship. They had believed Who He was. They had embraced the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Thatís as far as theyíd gotten. And Paul is trying to move them now to progress towards this further revelation which, of course, is now not just for Israel, but now itís for the whole human race, Jew and Gentile. And that is the Gospel of the Grace of God.
Now let me show you the term before we go further. I can come back to Hebrews so just hold your hand in Hebrews. Come back with me to Acts chapter 20 verse 24. Paul of course, refers to this Gospel of his in various forms. Heíll call it my Gospel. Heíll call it that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. Heíll call it the Gospel of Christ. But here in this verse, I like this one, because he calls it what we call it. Here in Acts 20, this is toward the end of his ministry as well and he said:
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
Can you get it any plainer? I donít know how. And that is not the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Gospel of the Grace of God is that God has now through the person of the Son, died the horrible death of the Cross. Shed His blood, was buried three days and three nights in the tomb, and arose victorious over everything. Thatís the Gospel of the Grace of God. And now it makes it possible for anyone to become a believer. Not just Israel, not just the Gentiles, but rather the whole human race.
Thatís the Gospel of the Grace of God. That God in His mercy has seen fit to save those who simply believe ñ without works. Now if youíll come back to Hebrews again. So Paul is saying now, once youíve come through these words of Jesus in His earthly ministry establishing Who He was. Making all the promises that had been confirmed to the fathers. Because, when Israel rejected all that and crucified their Messiah, in reality, they were just simply fulfilling the Sovereign blueprint of God because Christ had to die. He had to go to the Cross. But nevertheless, in a system that we humans canít understand, God made it a valid offer to the Nation of Israel to accept the King and the Kingdom.
But God knew that they wouldnít. He knew that they would reject it and He knew that they would bring in the crucifixion which brought about our Gospel. Alright, so now then Paul says, donít stay on just that foundation. Donít try to tear it up and build another one. Or donít try to put another foundation on top of that one. Let that one be and letís move on.
I guess I would have to use an analogy here -I like to bring everything down to an everyday experience. I think we see it over and over especially in our mobile society. Maybe a young couple has been successful in a city. Weíll just say right here in Tulsa. And they have just made plans to build a new home. Theyíve got the foundation poured. All of sudden he gets a job change. He has to go to a different part of the country for pursuit of his job.
Well, what are they going to do? Well, theyíre not going to finish building it. Theyíll probably try to sell it for whatever it is, but the analogy I want to make is that they are not going to build on that foundation which is no longer appropriate because theyíre moving to a different city. Now when they leave Tulsa and go to his new job opportunity, all things being equal, now what are they going to do? Theyíre going to lay another foundation and theyíre going to start building. Does that help?
Alright, thatís what weíve got here. The foundation for the Gospel of the Kingdom was laid and weíll be looking at some of the precepts of it. But, now weíve got something better, so move on!
Letís look at the foundation of the Gospel of the Grace of God that weíre going to be talking about. I Corinthians chapter 3 dropping in at verse 10. Now Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles is writing to Gentiles under this whole revelation of the mysteries which includes the Gospel of the Grace of God and heís dealing with these Corinthians much like he does the Hebrews there in chapter 5 and 6, that theyíre to come on away from their carnality and become spiritual and get into the meat of the matter.
Because he says the same thing in verse 2 of this chapter. He says, “I fed you with milk not with meat.” (why?) “Because up to this time you were not able to bear it.” See they were babes in Christ. So weíve got pretty much the same setting. But now look at verse 10.
I Corinthians 3:10
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder. (the head contractor) I have laid (not a foundation, but what) the (the only) foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” You see the picture. We had to leave that foundation that was offered to Israel under the Gospel of the Kingdom, because that is now moot. But now we move to a new foundation which is that which the Apostle Paul has laid. Now, letís be careful. Paul isnít claiming to be the foundation. Heís merely the master contractor. He laid the foundation. Now the next verse,
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay that that which is laid, and that is (what?) Jesus Christ.” Thatís the foundation on which everything now rests. So itís a moving, progressive thing. On your way back to Hebrews just stop at Galatians for a moment. Galatians chapter 1. Verses that we use so often. Sometimes my mind probably confuses my nightly classes in Oklahoma with some of the tapings, or the programs but I hope I donít run some of these things in the ground. I donít like to ride a hobbyhorse, you know, and just go, go, go and never make any headway.
But I use Galatians 1 so often in order to show again the progressiveness of Paulís writings, and letís begin with 11, where Paul writes primarily to Gentiles. Now weíre not leaving the Jews out – they certainly has access to the Gospel of Grace the same as we do. But, itís primarily Gentiles who are responding. And so he says:
“I certify you, brethren, that the gospel (this Gospel of the Grace of God) which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by other men) but (here it comes now) by the revelation (whatís the other word for revelation? Revealing. Whatís a revealing? Taking off the mask, see? And so) of Jesus Christ. 13. For ye have heard of my conversation (or manner of living) in times past in the Jewsí religion,Ö”
This is what heís addressing back in Hebrews. He knew where those people were, because heíd been there. How do we say it today? Been there and done that? Yeah, thatís what Paul could have said, Iíve been there, done that. But now you see, heís had these new revelations concerning Jesus Christ. Now finishing verse 13.
“Öhow that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God, and wasted it:” Then he goes on to say how that all of these truths that now come from his pen were revealed to him by the ascended Lord.
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen: (Gentiles)
Now weíre getting through to people. I can even tell in our letters. The Apostle Paul speaks of Christ on this side of the Cross. After the finished work of death, burial and resurrection. The Four Gospels are before the Cross and most people canít understand that. Back to Hebrews 6.
“Önot laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith toward God.”
That was the very tenets or the precepts of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus and the Twelve proclaimed to Israel. And Paul says, ëThatís moot.í Thatís no longer of any count. It is in the past. Now what are they? Six of them. In pairs. “Donít lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith toward God.”
Now goodness sakes, didnít all the Old Testament understand those two. Why of course. Israel was told more than once to repent of their wickedness. Abraham was a man of what? Faith! So these were two concepts or precepts that werenít new to Israel. That was part and parcel of their history, see? And so Paul says, donít just stay on that which has now become elementary. Dead works, wow!
I take you right back to Galatians. Letís just go back. I should have used that before I went to Hebrews. Galatians 1 where we just were, 13 and 14 again. This is why he knew whereof he spoke. And even though every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, weíll never take that away from it, yet Paul had firsthand knowledge of what the Spirit was causing him to write. Alright, remember now what he says, not to lay the foundation of repentance from dead works.
“For ye have heard of my conversation (or manner of living) in time past in the Jewsí religion,Ö” Most of you have been hearing me teach long enough. Religion always requires what? Works. Always. Anytime you are dealing with a ëreligioní itís going to be demanding works. And thatís what Judaism was, it was a works religion. Dead works, because it couldnít generate life. Alright, looking at the verse again.
“For ye have heard of my conversation (manner of living) in time past in the Jewsí religion, (practicing those dead works as he calls it in Hebrews.) and how that beyond measure, I persecuted the church (or the assembly of God) and wasted it:”
Stop and think. What was he doing to his fellow Jews? Killing them. Hauling them into prison and voting to put them to death. You know that has been a thing that has plagued the Jewish people from day one is that they are so prone to fight each other. Theyíve done it throughout their national history. I read here, I think itís in Josephus, that when the Roman General Titus and his ramrods were knocking on the doors of the city of Jerusalem, and the Roman hoard was ready to come in and kill them, I think up over a million Jews, what were the Jews doing inside the city? Civil war! They were fighting with each other. Over what? Religious differences. Look at Israel today. What is their primary problem? Theyíre fragmented. Theyíre a fragmented society. I was just reading an article in the Jerusalem Post the other day of a little community where itís just nip and tuck between the secular and the religious. And they almost hate each other. And yet theyíre all Jews.
Well, Paul was no different. He was a Jewís Jew. A Pharisee of the Pharisees. Of the Tribe of Benjamin. And yet what was he willing to do? See his fellow Jews put to death. Why? Because he disagreed with them on their faith system. They had embraced Jesus of Nazareth and so far as he was concerned they were now a plague to the Nation. Get rid of them! Isnít it sad? So, you watch Israel. Just watch the little Nation of Israel. Even today they are plagued with fragmentation. Theyíve got the secular, theyíve got the orthodox and theyíve got three or four groups in between and they are at each otherís throats constantly. Alright, now verse 14.
“And profited (see? Not spiritually – materially.) in the Jewsí religion above many my equals in my own nation, (Why?) being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
Paul was a religious zealot just like some of these Muslims that weíre dealing with. Religion will always do that to people. And so, he was a religious zealot and what was he zealous of? “The traditions of the fathers.” All ring a bell? Well, it should. Now back to the Book of Hebrews. And so he says, move away from that. Get away from that foundation which required repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. Now thatís of course, fundamental. We all know that without faith itís impossible to please God. Now for the next pair.
“Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands,Ö”
Well, that was part and parcel of again the Jewish background. My goodness, they had practiced washings, washings, washings all the way up through their national history. When John the Baptist came on the scene and demanding water baptism, that wasnít anything frightening to the Jew. That wasnít something they said, “Well, whatís this?” It was just another form of washing, washing, washing. So Paul says, move on. Donít hang on to that. The laying on of hands, the same way. That was part and parcel of the priesthood and everything else. Now, the last two.
“Öand of resurrection of the dead and (the next part people donít like to read) eternal judgment.”
Donít hear that much anymore do you? The world doesnít even think about the eternal judgment thatís coming. Eternal. How long is eternity? As long as God lives! That should make people think, shouldnít it?
And where in eternity? Thatís up to the individual. Either in bliss and glory or eternal doom. Now, lest you think that some of this was unique only to the New Testament, letís go all the way back to Job chapter 19, cause I just want you to see that Paul knew what he was talking about even though it was Spirit inspired, that the Jews knew of resurrection. Now of course, modern Judaism, a lot of Jews do not believe in a literal, viable life after death. I was just reading something by a Rabbi again the other night, that a lot of the Jews concept of eternal life is that it will just keep going in our coming generations. In other words, your life continues with your children and your grandchildren. Thatís one concept. But see, the Biblical concept was as you and I look at it – is that it is eternal life either separated from God or in His presence. Alright, now, Job of course, a believer could write it like this. Remember Job is clear back before David. I think Job is kind of an enigma, nobody has ever yet written anything to satisfy me as to when Job lived and wrote. Iíve got my own pet ideas but Iím not that sure of it.
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he (the Redeemer) shall stand at the latter day (where?) upon the earth: 26. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, (in other words he goes through physical death) yet in my flesh (in a resurrected body) shall I see God.”
Now thereís resurrection life way back in Jobís day. See? Alright, letís come on up to Daniel chapter 12, and weíll start right up there at verse 1. Iím just trying to show you that these Hebrews to whom Paul was writing had an understanding of all these things. It wasnít Greek to them.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people:(Israel) and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book (in other words, the Book of Life ñ believers; now here it comes) 2. And many of them that sleep (or who have died physically) in the dust of the earth shall awake, (resurrection) some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting (what?) contempt.” There are the two alternatives. Itís either a life of bliss and glory in the presence of the Lord or itís a life of doom. Which the world doesnít even want to think about. Now verse 3.
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” And then as you end up the book of Daniel God rehearses with him as to the timing of the resurrection of the Old Testament saints. Alright, letís look at one more in Christís earthly ministry. That will probably suffice. Letís go back again to John chapter 11, the death of Lazarus. You all know the story I trust, how that Jesus has been out of town, as we would say, and Lazarus has died and the girls are rather shook up. Why didnít you stay around? You could have healed him from being so sick. Well, of course, the Lord did it purposely. Because He was going to prove again, some of His power. Alright, verse 23, Jesus comes back to Bethany, and Heís telling Mary and Martha,
“ÖThy brother shall rise again.” Now here it comes. You think they didnít have an idea of resurrection. Why of course they did.
” Martha saith unto him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Just exactly what Job, and Daniel were talking about. And then Jesus went on to rehearse that He was the resurrection and the life and that any that put their trust in Him…. But the point I wanted to make was that this foundation from which Israel was now to move on, was not something new and fresh and that they had never heard before. They knew all these concepts. Alright, back to Hebrews chapter 6. And again in verse 2, that not only were they aware of baptisms, laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead. They were also aware of what? Eternal judgment. And weíve already seen an alluding to that. They understood that there was a choice to be made and that the unbelieving element would be going to an eternal doom, separated from God.
Maybe I can show it the quickest by just flipping on over to Revelation chapter 20. This is the doom that all of human history is going for. Itís not explained this graphically in the Old Testament, it was simply a separation, but here the Revelator tells us exactly what it is in verse 14.
“And death and hell (that is the inhabiting area of the lost) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
Lesson Two ï Part IV
Leaving Milk for Meat
Alright, so again weíre just an informal Bible study and for those of you just seeing us for the first time, Iím just a layman. Iím not a pastor and I donít have a congregation. We have no one underwriting us so we are totally dependent on the gifts of Godís people. And itís amazing, oh itís amazing how God provides! Our bookkeeper and daughter Laura, who is still a young Christian compared to some of us, was fretting about the ministryís finances with about three days before the end of the year, and was afraid that we were going to finish in the red, unless something else came in. But you know what, when she got all through tallying up the checks at the end of the year she was able to pay all the bills, including television time and the newsletter expenses. I mean, everything was paid up in full, and she still had $3,000 in the checking account. And, oh, she was so thrilled! Now $3,000 may seem like a lot, but Iíll tell you what, when you see our television bill for one month – $3,000 isnít much. But the Lord provides, and thatís all we ask. So thank you for your financial help and your prayers and, again, for your encouraging letters.
Now letís move right on where we left off in the last lesson, and thatís Hebrews chapter 6 and again, Iíll be reviewing a lot today of what weíve covered because remember we move on again next month into another four programs. But here today weíve been looking at this whole idea of not staying status quo; youíve got to progress. Youíve got to move on. And itís as true of us as it was of these Jews who were still tied up with the legalism and the ramifications of Judaism.
I always like to point out that secular archaeology proves these events. You know, Christ was crucified in about 29 AD. Paul begins his ministry, I always maintain around 40 AD. And so here you have these Jews who had come out of Christís earthly ministry still under the Law. Remember I am always emphasizing that during Christís earthly ministry they were still keeping the Jewish Law. They had Saturday Synagogue, they kept their food kosher. I mean everything was still under the Law.
Then, of course, when we come into Paulís ministry, the first thing that Paul makes so plain is “youíre not under the Law, youíre under Grace!” But you see, like the Book of Hebrews is telling us, a lot of these Jews had not yet made the break from Judaism and embraced Jesus as the Messiah – putting that behind them and moving into Paulís doctrines of Grace. Faith plus nothing, as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
Alright, secular archaeology has pretty much proven that there were Jews up until about the end of the first century, who were showing in their potsherds, the clay particles that archaeologists find, that in the same little piece of clay, there would be a symbol of the menorah ñ the seven candled candle stick, and the fish. You know, the mark of Jesus of Nazareth, or Christianity, later on.
Now what does that show you? That these Jews were still practicing both sides. They were still involved in the legalism of Judaism but they also had embraced Jesus of Nazareth. And for that reason, of course, they had been scattered out of Jerusalem because of Paulís persecution. And so one of the cities of the Decapolis, I think, was Pella. And thatís probably where a lot of those Jerusalem Jews fled to – the area of Pella up there just east of Galilee that the archaeologists have found so much evidence of just this very thing. That they must have been practicing both aspects. They had Judaism and yet they were followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
See, this is what Paul is dealing with and I think it was to a congregation maybe in a city like Pella that the Book of Hebrews was written. We donít know, but thatís just my own idea. He has now been telling them that theyíve got to grow up spiritually. Theyíve got to get off the milk-bottle of the simple things and get on into the deeper things of Paulís revelations of the mysteries and what we call the Age of Grace. But, oh, they were having a problem.
And thatís understandable because we run into it all the time where people may come out of a cult, or what we certainly feel is a totally false religion and itís a struggle. It is a struggle to just simply cut the ties of that old religion and step out here in Grace. Like a gentleman called me again just the other day. And he said, “Les it must be part of the human nature to want to do something.” And I said, “Thatís what Iím always saying.”
Remember, human nature says, “Iíve got to do something,” and that appeals to people. And when I come along and say, you step out by faith and faith alone. Well, itís just like telling somebody to step out in the street without any clothes on. And Iíve used that analogy because you do, you step out naked before God. With nothing else to enhance eternal life. Itís Faith plus Nothing! Alright so now then, Paul is saying:
“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2. Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”
Leave behind these doctrines of baptisms, laying on of hands, repentance from dead works and resurrection of the dead. These are all valid concepts of course, but they are now of no real basis for this Gospel of Grace.
Now I think, Dwight, Iím going to use what you reminded me of. And I appreciate when people do this at break time. Iím going to stop right here a moment, and weíre going to jump clear back to Romans chapter 2, and even though it may not fit with my line of thinking as I prepared for these, Iím going to insert it here, because I want people to know that when I stand up and proclaim Paulís Gospel of the Grace of God, it is because this is what God has mandated. And anybody that slips out into eternity with less than Paulís Gospel for their Salvation is in trouble. Alright, Romans chapter 2 verse 16 and itís a verse that can pretty much stand by itself.
“In the day (That will be at the Great White Throne) when God shall judge (now you see, God wonít be the judge until the Great White Throne) the secrets of menÖ”
Now I donít think I have to explain what that is. The very thought processes of an individual. What is his faith basis? With what is he going into eternity? Those are the secrets of men that Paul is referring to. Alright, letís look at it.
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Heís going to be the judge. Not the Savior ñ the judge. And Heís going to judge them) according (Paul says) to my gospel.”
Now you think about that. Wake up at 2 oíclock tomorrow morning and think about it. What is going to be the basis of Christ judging lost humanity? What did you do with Paulís Gospel? And thatís why I stand up unashamed and proclaim Paulís Gospel because this is what people have to hear. What is Paulís Gospel? Yes, that Christ was the Son of God. Thatís what weíve seen in Hebrews. Heís the Son, Heís the Creator of everything, but He took on human flesh and He went the way of the Cross. He suffered, He died, He shed His blood, He was buried and He arose again the third day to satisfy all the demands of a Holy God! And all we have to do for salvation is believe that with all our heart.
You know, Iíve been rehearsing over and over in my classes and in my personal testimonies and so forth, that twice in all of human history, God did something that was so perfect. You know what Iím talking about? It was so perfect that He couldnít add one thing to it, He couldnít enhance it, He couldnít embellish it, it was perfect! And because it was perfect, He sat down.
Well, the first one of course, is Creation. Genesis 1 the last verse says that God looked at all that He had created and made and it was what? Very good. And the Hebrew expounds it a lot more. It was perfect. There wasnít a thing wrong that He could correct. So you get into chapter 2, what did God do? He rested! And you remember I made the statement, now ordinarily you come home from a day of hard work and if youíre going to rest, what do you do? You sit down. Take the load off. Well, thatís what Christ did, because it was perfect. Now again, you get to Hebrews chapter 1 and what did it say?
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. 2. 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; 3. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right had of the Majesty on high;” Well why? Everything was perfect! He couldnít add to that work of the cross one iota. It was perfect! And then He offers it to the human race, through the Apostle Paul. And what does the human race say, “thatís not enough. Iíve got to do this, Iíve got to do that.” And thatís why God is so displeased with that kind of unbelief.
Alright, so now then, coming back here, these concepts of Judaism now have to be left behind and we have to move on. We have to make a progression out of a dead works religion and move on. Now, in verse 3 we find a word that raises eyebrows.
“And this we will do (Paul writes. Wow! The next part throws a curve.) if God permit.”
What does that tell you? You canít do it on your own. God is always going to be involved in every decision we make. And so – even these Jews that Paul is admonishing to move on, get away from all the dead works of Judaism, and move on into this whole finished work of Grace – can they do it alone? “If God permit.” Heís still going to be involved. Heís Sovereign.
Like I say, Iím not a Five-Point Calvinist. I maintain that yes, God is going to make the initial move. He does the initial enlightening, as weíre going to see here in just a moment. But what does the individual have to do? He has to make a decision to accept it or reject it. Thatís our decision to make. But God is going to do the prompting. So, we canít leave God out of the picture.
“This we will do, if God permit.”
We always have to take all the other Scriptures. Does God want anyone to be lost? No! God doesnít want anyone to perish. No, for He has died for the whole human race.
Alright now, I donít think I can do justice to this next portion with only 15 minutes, so Iíll probably have to start and finish next month. But here is a portion of Scripture that I almost hate to, what shall I say, blunder into, an area where angels fear to tread. An area of Scripture that has probably caused more questions in our mail and in our phone calls than any other one portion of Scripture. Mostly because so many have totally ground this thing up to where it doesnít mean what itís supposed to mean. But it is a tremendous warning.
Now again, Iím going to make it clear, that even though Paul is addressing Hebrews (who are still hanging on to their old religion) yet, we as Grace believers today, can take the same warning. You see, there are a lot of preachers out there who are telling people from their pulpit that these verses teach that you can be saved today and lost tomorrow. And then you can get saved again and you can get lost again, however many times that your lifetime will permit. And I say, donít you believe it! Salvation is a one-time thing. And either youíre saved or youíre not. And for those who are not, itís a warning. Alright, hereís the warning, verse 4,
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,”
Iím going to have to stop there because weíll never get though that verse let alone on into the rest of it.
Whatís the Scripture telling us? That there is a possibility for an individual to be enlightened. To have the Holy Spirit open their understanding. They may even have an emotional experience; they may walk an aisle. They may do all the various things that churches and denominations require of them, but they never took it hook, line and sinker. Now, weíve got plenty of examples in Scripture. I mean all kinds of them.
And the first one without even going back and looking it up in the Book because I trust you all know what Iím talking about is Israel at Kadesh-barnea. Remember it? Here they had just come away from Mt. Sinai, they now have the Tabernacle, the Law and the priesthood. They have everything ready and God has promised the “land of milk and honey” out in front of them. All you have to do is go in and occupy. Itís all ready for them. The fields and vineyards are producing, the pastures are productive, and the water is flowing. God said, “Itís all there for you, and Iíll push the Canaanites out. Iíve used them for the last four hundred years to get it all ready.”
You know, I always have to think of the place that the Lord brought us to here in Kinta, Oklahoma. Iris and I love that hill and over and over I have to say, the guy that got it ready was an instrument in Godís hands. Because he did, he just carved our place out of a hill in his pasture and then within a little while he had heart trouble and he had to sell it. And we moved in and weíve enjoyed it ever since.
Well, I think thatís how God works. He did the same thing with Israel. Got it all ready. And then told them, “Iíll drive the Canaanites out, donít you worry about them. Iíll use hornets. You wonít have to lift a sword, just go in and occupy.” There it was. What could they have done? They could have gone in and had it! But instead what did they do, in unbelief? No, no, we canít do it. And they wept. Wept all night. Because they couldnít do it. And you know, weíve been looking at it ever since weíve been in Hebrews. And what did God call that? Unbelief! And, oh, how He hates unbelief.
Well, itís the same way with so many people who are approached with salvation. They may have an emotional upheaval. They may have gotten an inkling of the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit but they donít take it. They turn around and they say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Alright, letís look at some more Scripture. Come back with me to Mark chapter 4. This again back in the Lordís earthly ministry and from the lips of the Lord Himself. This is the parable of the Sower of the Seed.
“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4. And it came to pass, as he sowed, (casting the seed) some fell by the way side, fowl of the air came and devoured it up (In other words, it didnít even have a chance to effect anybody. It was there and gone, just that quick.) 5, And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; (maybe just an inch of topsoil) and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no (what?) root, it withered away.”
Weíre talking about an inch of topsoil on a piece of rock and the seed comes up but thereís no root. And consequently it withered away. Oh it had life, but it withered and it disappeared. Now verse 7.
“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8. And other fell on good ground, and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.” And then, Jesus comes down to verse 14:
“The sower soweth (what?) the word.” Weíre not talking about wheat. Weíre talking about Spiritual things. And as the Word went out even over Israel, from the lips of the Lord and the Twelve disciples what happened to most of it? Nothing. Only a little small portion took root.
Now I donít like to be adamant and say 25% were believers. I donít think it was even that many. But we know that in the whole concept of Spiritual sowing, the vast majority falls on thorny ground, or on dry ground, too hard for any root to take. The birds get it. And then some fall on shallow ground and springs up but doesnít mature. And thatís the part thatís so scary.
Alright, come back to Hebrews just a moment. R. E. Torrey, great evangelist of a by-gone day, made statements something like this and Iím trying to be real close, I just read it the other night for the first time. R. E. Torrey made the statement “that there is an enlightenment of the Spirit that does not lead to regeneration.” Did you hear that? There is an enlightening power of the Spirit that does not lead to regeneration. Thatís exactly what Paul is addressing here in these verses. These Jews had been steeped in their religion. They had considered Paulís Gospel but they wouldnít swallow it.
Now letís look at another one. Letís go back to Johnís Gospel, and I hope I can find it – it should be in chapter 4. Johnís Gospel chapter 4 and you all know the account. Jesus and the woman of Samaria at the well. They meet out there at Jacobís well.
“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat,)”
Now of course, I always call this a unique situation in Christís earthly ministry. Why did He send the disciples away? He knew that this woman was coming and He knew that the Twelve would have a big flap about Him having even one word of conversation with a woman of the street from Samaria. So He gets rid of the Twelve because He knows this woman is coming. So for the woman of Samaria, what was it? A divine appointment! She didnít know it but Jesus did. Alright so here she comes to her divine appointment.
“Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”
Alright I wonít be able to finish this because Iím out of time, Iím going to have to stop here, but if you are working out in a hot summer sun, whether in your garden or mowing your lawn, or whether itís myself out in a hayfield. And somebody comes along with a drink of ice-cold water – I have a fellow farmer and rancher right over here, Andy what are you going to do? Sip it to see if itís good? No sir! Boy youíre going to guzzle it. Why? Because youíre going to take it and satisfy the needs of your body. And thatís the way true believers are, they believe it with all their heart, and satisfy their need for salvation, rather than just sip it and go through the motions. Well weíre out of time and weíll pick up with these thoughts in the next lesson.
Lesson Three ï Part I
Turning Your Back Scornfully
We just are always amazed at how many letters we get expressing that for the first time in your life youíre understanding what the Bible is all about. We just praise the Lord for that, and now to continue on with our study in Hebrews. Weíre going to be searching the Scriptures, and be comparing Scripture with Scripture. So weíll begin again in chapter 6, and verse 4.
But first, for a little bit of introductory comment, I started Hebrews chapter 6 with a statement sort of like this, “I feel like Iím almost bungling into an area that even angels fear to tread because this chapter 6 of Hebrews has probably precipitated more questions in our mail and phone calls than almost any other portion of Scripture. It is a portion of Scripture, I think, that has been totally, totally twisted all out of shape. It has caused a lot of people to have fear that shouldnít. On the other hand, we donít take away the fact that it is a warning to people who may be taking these things lightly.” Remember, we used that word several programs back that weíre warned not to take these things lightly. These things are serious business because weíre dealing with eternity and weíre dealing with the Living God, as Hebrews puts it.
Now youíll remember that back up there in chapter 5, several programs back, Paul was lamenting the fact that these Hebrews were still unable to teach others, as they were still on the milk bottle. They were still even like the Corinthian believers, who were carnal. So the problem with these believers was that they had never matured or moved on. And so, as you come into chapter 6 then, that first word “Therefore,” is in response to that. That the admonition to these Hebrews is to move on, donít stay back there in Christís earthly ministry.
Again, Iím going to qualify. Iím going to keep repeating that the book of Hebrews is indeed written first and foremost to Hebrews but donít count the Book out as being superfluous and of no importance to us. Itís just like the Old Testament and I treat it more or less in that same vein. We donít throw the Old Testament away because it was written for the Jew nor do we cast off the Book of Hebrews because itís addressed to the Jew, but on the other hand, to really get an understanding of what Paul is saying here, we have to realize that it is written to Jews. But as Paul writes to Jews, we as Gentiles can learn so much! In fact Iíve stressed it over the years, Paul always writes his letters to believers. Paul never addresses one word to the unsaved world, but, whatís the end result? It reaches to the unsaved world.
Alright, so as we look at these verses now, keep those things in mind. Itís written primarily to Jewish believers who have come out of Christís earthly ministry. And they still are not able to comprehend Paulís Gospel and so I think what the Apostle is trying to do is show these people that his Gospel is not something totally foreign but that it came up through Judaism and the Jewish people.
So weíll just jump right in now at verse 4. Remember, Paul has stated up in verses 1 and 2 that they were to “leave the words of Christ.” In other words, His earthly ministry and progress on. And I think I made the illustration in our last program. Itís much like when the Scripture tells the young man and his bride to do what with their parents? Leave them. Leave father and mother and cling to your wife. And I made the analogy that it doesnít mean that they forsake them. That doesnít mean that they say, “So long, Mom Iíll never see you again, because now Iíve got a bride.” No. It only means that you cut the apron strings and that young couple now move on in their life and they begin to take on responsibilities that they never had when they were back home with their parents.
And itís the same way spiritually. We have to keep moving on. We donít stay back there in the elementary things – God wants us to get into the deep things of Scripture, because thatís when it gets exciting. But see, most Sunday School material is elementary because they try to direct everything to the person who knows nothing, and thatís what it really amounts to. Theyíre just constantly rehashing things that are at the level of the person who knows almost nothing. Well, that isnít what God wants. He wants us to keep increasing in the knowledge of God. Now finally I think weíre ready for verse 4.
“For (Paul says) it is impossibleÖ” Now Iím going to break the rest of verse 4, 5 and part of 6 down so that you pick up where the thought really goes to and that would be all the way down to verse 6 where it says,
“Öto renew them againÖ” Do you see that? Because after all this is what weíre going to look at. Itís going to be “impossible to renew them again.” And in between weíre going to look at the things that makes it impossible. Now, like I said, this is an area that I suppose angels fear to tread, because thereís so much confusion on these few verses here.
Itís a fact that many people teach that you can be saved and lost and saved and lost. No way! No way! On the other hand, is the Scripture saying that youíre saved and youíve got nothing to worry about? No way. And so what weíre going to look at is the possibility for people as it says here in verse 4, “who were enlightened” and we started to touch on it a little bit in our last program when we ran out of time.
“For it is impossible for those who have tastedÖ” Now what does that mean? That they got a brief understanding. They tasted but they never took it in and ingested it. And remember I gave the illustration that if on a hot summer day, somebody comes along with some ice-cold water, are you going to sip it and taste it to see if itís okay? No, youíre just going to guzzle it down. You know when I was thinking of this last night, I couldnít help but think of some of our soft drink commercials. My goodness, they can guzzle that whole 12 ounce can in a matter of seconds. Well you see, this is what God expects us to do with Paulís Gospel. Not just taste it. Not just pick at it. But weíre to just simply embrace it and just ingest it. And thatís what a lot of people have never done. Oh, theyíve tasted it, theyíve picked at it, theyíve had a little bit of an enlightening, theyíve had an experience, but they were never saved.
In fact, this reminds me, I didnít intend to do this but it just comes to mind. I hadnít been on television too long here in Oklahoma and I think it was probably in association with my teaching on Noahís Ark, where I made it so plain that once Noah and the family were in the Ark and God shut the door, that family was what? Safe! Nothing could jerk them back out of that Ark. They were safe, because they were in Godís presence. They had nothing to fear.
But on the other hand, by the same token, I guess I should say, while they were building the Ark there must of have been scores of people that helped Noah and those three sons build that humongous Ark. And they labored years, crawling all over that humongous thing. But, yet when judgment came, were they in the Ark? No. They were outside. Oh they had labored, and helped build the Ark and yet ñ they were lost. Well, the analogy of course is that this is a lot of Church people. They are active in the Church. They work in the Church. They sing in the choir. They cook in the kitchen. And they do this and they do that, but they have never entered in to a real salvation. And so, thatís what weíre talking about here.
These people arenít just saved and lost. Theyíre never saved. Well, about the same time two phone calls came in. One was all upset, he said, “Les am I hearing you right? You believe once saved always saved?” And I said, “Yes and no.” He said, “What do you mean by that?” I said, “For the person thatís truly saved, yes, they are safe. They are set for eternity. But remember there are a lot of people who are not truly saved, theyíve simply tasted. They have simply been enlightened without embracing it.” And I said, “They may make a profession of faith. They may walk the aisle. They may join the church or other denominations may put them through the catechism and the communion rite but theyíre never saved.”
And so, then the world wonders. ëíWell why are these people claiming to be Christians and they live worse than I do.” Thatís the pity of it all. Then on the same program almost, at least about the same day another call came in and she said, “Now Les, I donít know that I can agree with you.” She said, “A few years back we had a pastor, who had been our pastor for a few years. Had a lovely wife and three kids. And all of a sudden one day, he ran off with our church secretary and weíve never seen him since. You mean heís still saved?” And without even thinking, I said, “He never was.”
Now I know I canít be that judgmental but see, this is the way I look at these things. When people do things that you wonder how can a believer behave like that and God does nothing to bring them back, they were never saved in the first place. And remember Iím not saying this to make you doubt your own salvation but on the other hand it is a warning. Peter says, “make your calling and your election sure.” Whatíd he mean by that?
What do you really base your salvation on? And I get phone call after phone call, “Les, how can I know that Iím saved?” Well, I just ask a few pertinent questions. Do you love the Lord? Do you love His Word? Do you spend time in it day after day? Do you spend time in prayer every day? And then hereís the kicker, would you rather be with Godís people on Saturday night or out there in some nightclub? Now thatís pretty self-evident. And thatís what being a believer determines. It just simply separates us from the chaff.
Alright, so weíre going to look at this. And itís so scriptural – Iím going to show you that:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost …” (or the Holy Spirit). Thatís what it said. They were made partakers. Now Iím not a Greek scholar, not by any stretch of the imagination. But once in while Iíll take a verb or a word and look it up and this word “partaker” does not follow what Paul says, “you have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit,” but a “partaker” was just someone called along side to help. And it was just that. It didnít really envelop them.
Alright, letís go back and see what the Scripture says and first, letís go back to I Samuel and weíre going to look at King Saul. Now I know a lot of people, a lot of Sunday School writers, think that Saulís going to be in Glory, because they think he was a believer. No-no. Saul is another one of the typical candidates that Hebrews 6 is talking about. He was enlightened. And he spent a period of time under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but it never registered. He ended up turning his back on everything. I Samuel chapter 10, drop in at verse 6, and you all know the story. How that Samuel went and found Saul of the Tribe of Benjamin – a big, tall, good looking fellow – and anointed him King.
I Samuel 10:6-7
“And the Spirit of the LORD (and itís capitalized, so weíre talking about the Holy Spirit) will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.” (in other words, Saulís going to be different than he was before) 7. And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” Sounds pretty good, doesnít it? Alright but now letís go on over to chapter 13 still in I Samuel, and drop in at verse 9. And here it is just a little while later, and here Saul is told to wait for Samuel. And of course, the enemy is approaching, and Saul gets impatient. He doesnít wait for Samuel and he does something that he had no business doing.
I Samuel 13:9
“And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.”
Did he have any business doing that? No! That was the job of the priest. But whatís he doing? Heís assuming his own importance. Thatís not Spirit led. He is acting in the flesh, see? Alright now then, you come on down to verse 13. Now look what Samuel says when he gets there and this has just been done and Samuel says to Saul,
I Samuel 9:13-14a
“Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.” (but because of Saulís rank disobedience, here it comes.) 14. But now thy kingdom shall not continue:Ö”
Because of one act of disobedience? Yes. Because it showed that Saul was not really what he thought he was. Now, letís see what happens as he moves on through his life, which of course, went quite a number of years. I think he reigned 40 years if Iím not mistaken. And letís come on over to chapter 28, verse 7. Now goodness sakes, even a novice in Scripture would know that this is something that a man of God would never do. And look what he does.
I Samuel 28:7
“Then Saul said unto his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit, (whatís he looking for? A fortune-teller, a soothsayer. See? Which was totally forbidden in Israel) that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said, to him, Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.”
And so you know what happened. He sought her out, because he wanted help to determine how he should handle things at hand and so he thought the best way would be to bring up Samuel so he could talk to him. Well, I canít explain that situation, but we know that in some way or another, Samuel appeared. Alright now letís just come on over to see the end of this man who became a rebel. Chapter 31, still in I Samuel at verse 3. Now remember whatís been happening. Oh sure, first he was anointed King. He had the Spirit of God upon him. And then it wasnít long until he took things in his own hands that he shouldnít have done. Then he goes another step down and instead of going to ask the things of God, he goes to a soothsayer, a fortune-teller and now hereís his end.
I Samuel 31:3-4
“And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. 4. Then said Saul unto his armour bearer, ëDraw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith: lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armour bearer would not; for he was sore afraid.” (after all this is the King) Therefore, Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.” What did he do? He committed suicide. That was his end. He committed suicide. And yet hereís a man that began with the Holy Spirit. Also I Samuel 28: 16 tells us: “The LORD had become Saulís enemy.”
Alright, letís look at another individual in Scripture that everybody knows everything about, I think. Come all the way up now to the New Testament to Johnís Gospel, chapter 6, and Iíll let you guess who Iím going to talk about. Who is another apostate that ends up killing himself? Judas! Now Iím not going to look up all the Scriptures, Iím just going to look at the one in chapter 6, and verse 70.
Now you all know the story of Judas. He was numbered with the Twelve. You read Matthew chapter 10 and it lists the Twelve disciples and Judas Iscariot is in there. Now for three years, what did Judas do? He played the role. The others never caught on that he was an unbeliever and a fake. I always say Judas is the most perfect example of a hypocrite in the whole human race. He played the hypocrite for three years, and even carried the moneybag. Thatís how much they trusted him and yet he was never part of them. He just simply played along, like so many do in the Church today.
“Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Jesus said he was a demon! Well, he didnít just become a demon in the last month or so. He was one from the beginning. He was just simply playing along.
“He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon; for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”
Now, Judas then becomes a good example of someone who was enlightened. He tasted and he was a part of the ministry. But what in finality did he do? He turned his back on it and had nothing more to do with it and betrayed the Savior. Oh, itís a horrible thing, but yes itís possible. Now Paul gives us an example of one as well in Colossians chapter 4. Now these arenít men that were at one time saved and totally in ñ no they were merely walking on the outside, they had never really partaken of the things of God.
Now letís just drop down to verse 12, so we pick up the flow. Paul is just rehearsing the men that had been working with him.
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayer that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13. For I bear him record, (that is Epaphras). that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis. 14. Luke the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” In other words, they were in his traveling party. They were working with Paul in his evangelistic endeavor. Alright, now letís go over to II Timothy chapter 4 and verse 10. And what a sad, sad commentary. Letís just again, for sake of picking up the flow, go up to verse 8. Of course here, Paul now realizes that his life is coming to an end. He will shortly be martyred and his ministry is over. And so heís writing to Timothy, his farewell letter you might say.
II Timothy 4:8-10a
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only but unto all them also that love his appearing. 9. Do thy diligence (remember heís writing to Timothy) to come shortly unto me. 10. For Demas (the same one he referred to back there in Colossians) hath (what?) forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;Ö ”
And so yes, this is very, very possible that someone can be enlightened. Back to Hebrews for the minute or two weíve got left. So, itís so possible, whether itís an Old Testament economy or whether itís in Christís earthly ministry or whether itís now during this Age of Grace, weíve had instances of people who were enlightened, they tasted, they went along with it, but they never embraced it. I guess we could look at it this way. How about people today that have gone through that same kind of a situation? Well, itís just like the parable that the Lord gave with the sower. And we touched on that in our last program. Some fell on rocky ground, only had a little bit of topsoil. What happened? It sprung up but as soon as the noonday sun hit it, what happened? It died and it never amounted to anything. Some fell on thorny ground. And nothing happened to it. It had no place to germinate. And some fell on hard, untilled ground and the birds picked it up. But then only a small portion fell on fertile ground and it was able to spring up and bring forth as Jesus Himself uses the terminology. Some fifty fold, some a hundred fold. But there are many who were never truly believers.
Lesson Three ï Part II
Turning Your Back Scornfully
I guess, Iíve said it often enough over the years, weíre just an informal Bible study. Iím not a pastor, Iím not a preacher, I donít claim to be a theologian, but all we try to do is just pick these verses apart and get everything out of it that we possibly can and help folks understand that the Word of God is not that difficult. And of course, the secret is to be able to separate God dealing with Israel and His dealing with the Gentile Body of Christ. Until you do that, it is confusing. Itís hard to comprehend and you sometimes wonder what in the world the Bible is all about. But, once you separate it and realize that what God is speaking to Israel is, for the most part, under the Law, we can learn from it. But thatís not where we are. Weíre under Grace. Also remember Grace is not license but it is that tremendous fulfilling of Godís tremendous plan of redemption – we enter in by Faith and Faith alone. But we donít stop there. We move on into a life of works and service for the Lord.
Okay, letís keep right on going where we were in Hebrew chapter 6 in the last lesson, and weíre going to constantly remind you that this is dealing first and foremost with Jews who were still hanging on to Judaism, though they had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. But as the early Jewish believers there in Jerusalem were prone to do, they still hadnít understood Paulís whole doctrine of not being under Law but under Grace.
So I feel the Apostle Paul now is not divulging who he is because, you want to remember, the Jews hated him. They thought he was a turncoat. They thought he was somebody who became a renegade of Judaism because he was now proposing that “weíre not under the Law; weíre under Grace.” But the whole idea as he approaches these Jewish believers only in, I guess we could say, the Gospel of the Kingdom, that which was preached in Christís earthly ministry, and as Peter continues in the early chapters of Acts. And all they understood was that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ. But Paul is trying to get them to move on and recognize that now Christ not only was the Messiah but He had died for the sins of the world. He became the great high priest, not just for Israel, but for the whole human race. And weíll be going into that especially when we get into chapter 7 when, once again, we pick up the priesthood of Melchisedec who was not a priest of Israel but he was a priest of the non-Jewish world.
Alright, but before we get there weíre going to continue to deal with these Jewish people who had embraced that much of the program, that Jesus was the Messiah. And the Holy Spirit had enlightened them to some of these things, but they refused to let go of their legalism. Of course, that shows up so clearly then when you get into Paulís epistles, especially the letter to the Galatians. Because these very kind of Jews, not these particularly because like Iíve said, I donít think this was addressed to the Jerusalem church. I think it was to another congregation. But, when we get to Paulís epistles we always note that the Judaisers from the Jerusalem church were constantly beseeching Paulís new converts to go back under the Law.
And that was something that just drove the Apostle up the wall and thatís the reason for the strong language in Galatians that “how in the world can you whoíve begun now in Faith and Grace go back under the Law?” Well, this is just the other way around. Heís trying to get these Jews to let go of the things concerning Judaism and come on into this whole economy of grace.
Before I go any further, Iím going to put a couple of words on the board. Because I donít want people to get these two concepts mixed. There is a big difference between “apostasy” and “backsliding.” Now I take that word out of the Old Testament, so before I put it on the board, Iím going to have you turn back with me to Jeremiah. Because I donít want people to confuse the issues. I donít want people to think that just because you havenít lived an exemplary Christian life the last few days, that youíve lost your salvation.
Itís very possible to be a backslider as a believer, and never lose your salvation. But on the other hand, for people who were never really saved, itís not hard for them to turn their back on revealed truth and become an apostate. Jeremiah chapter 3, and verse 11. Now granted this is Israel under the Law.
“And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.” Now remember this is when the nation was divided and the Northern Kingdom had already gone far down the tube into idolatry and so forth, and Judah is still enjoying the Temple worship and all the ramifications of the feasts days. But itís just a comparison that even Israel, with all of their idolatry and their sin, in Godís eyes were still better than those religious Jews down in Judah. So he says:
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.”
See that term? Remember when Iím always using Exodus ñ what is it ñ 31? Where God says, “I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” Heís Sovereign. But on the other hand, He cannot show mercy to someone who has scornfully apostatized. But the backslider, yes. And so He says, “I am merciful, I will not keep my anger forever.”
“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree,Ö” Alright that was the Old Testamentís format, that Israel could certainly backslide and they could turn cold but as long as they were still in that mode of faith and belief He would bring them back and He could forgive and be merciful.
Now again, letís come into the New Testament account. And I suppose the most flagrant instance of backsliding would be in I Corinthians chapter 5, and weíll start in verse 1. Thereís not one word of Scripture to indicate that this man was ever lost, because he was a believer. He fell into a horrible sin, but yet we know from the record that he was restored and he was never lost. He was a backslider. He was not an apostate. See the difference?
I Corinthians 5:1
“It is reported commonly (in other words, everybody knew it) that there is fornication (immorality) among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his fatherís wife.” In other words, his stepmother. And of course, the Corinthian church was admonished to deal with him and they did deal with him rather severely but, the man was restored, and he was forgiven. He was a backslider. And now we have the other comforting account in I John chapter 2. We all know that we cannot go through life sinless. The most spiritual are still prone to sin every day. If we donít fail anywhere else, we fail in the thought processes. And we always have this comfort that even though we fail, even though we stumble and weíre a true believer; God will never cast us out but instead He gives us that opportunity for a restoration.
I John 2:1-2
“My little children, (what a term of endearment) these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And (whatís the next statement) if any man sin, we have an advocate. (we have someone there at the Fatherís right hand interceding for us constantly) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Alright, so here we have this whole concept then that there is such a thing as “backsliding.” So Iím going to put this on the board because what we see weíre more prone to remember than what we simply hear. And that is that “backsliding” – falling into sin temporarily – backsliding can lead to a forgiveness or Iíll use the word restoration. Weíre made right back and are in full fellowship once again.
Whereas ñ “apostasy” – oh, what an awful word. Apostasy only has one thing ahead of it and that is judgment. There is no other way that God will deal with apostasy but by judgment. Now remember we saw the first instance of that when Israel refused to go in at Kadesh-barnea. And itís one of the themes of Scripture that is a constant warning, to not be as Israel was, when because of unbelief they failed to go in and take the Promised Land. Well, it was scornful turning their back on what God had offered.
Consequently, what happened to that generation of people? They went out into the desert and their carcasses died by the thousands. And it was a judgment because of their apostasy; they were not like backsliding Israel. Alright so keep those two terms in mind as we continue on now for the next few moments on this whole concept ñ is it possible for someone to be truly saved and then have this awful anathema pronounced, that theyíre lost? No! Paul makes it so plain. For the person who is genuinely saved and has been placed into the Body of Christ there is nothing that can take us out.
So when you see instances, as I mentioned in the last program, of people and you say, “And heís still a Christian?” Invariably I think you can answer ñ “They never were.” Oh, they had had an emotional experience. They had gone through some of the rigmarole of whatever the denomination may require but they never embraced their faith, and so they are just lost! They never were saved.
Alright but letís go a little further now in Hebrews chapter 6 and so now weíll go into verse 5. Coming out of verse 4 where they were partakers or they “came along side” the work of the Holy Spirit but they never were indwelled by Him, now verse 5. So these Jewish people:
“And had tasted the good word of GodÖ.” Letís just stop there again. How long would you survive if you never did anything but taste something? Why by the end of the first day youíd be so hungry youíd be ready to collapse. Because the word taste does not mean that you take it in, youíre what? Youíre testing it; youíre trying it. You come up with a new dish in a restaurant or something and I donít think youíre going to lay out $10-$15 bucks for something you donít know anything about. So, what do you do? Well, youíll taste it. Just take a little bit. See if you like it and then, yes, gorge yourself if you want to, I guess, but that is what it takes to satisfy the needs of the body. Tasting will never do it.
When I was a wee little kid, my mom used to make pumpkin pie out of the old pumpkin, from scratch. They didnít know what canned pumpkin was. And I can still see her stirring up that pumpkin pie batter and ever so often what would she do? Sheíd taste it. Put in a little more salt, a little more sugar, a little more cinnamon and stir it up and taste it.
Well, how much energy would she have ever developed from taking that much food? None. Thatís all she was doing, just tasting it. Well, see, thatís what these people were doing, they were dabbling in it. They were looking at it and then they probably just said, “Without the Law?í Without Sabbath keeping?” There is no way I can do that.
You see, Iím up against the same thing today. Oh my goodness, you get especially some of these cult people and youíve got them on the fence and youíve got them thinking and invariably theyíll call “But Les, this has been drummed into me since I was little. You think I can turn my back on that?” Well youíd better because unless you do, youíre going to be outside. If you donít then youíre tied to a dead horse. Thatís the best way to put it. But oh, itís so hard to come out of that background. Well, these people were the same way. Theyíd been steeped in Judaism. And they just could not let go of it. And so, here was the warning “youíd better.” Now Iím sure that the vast majority of that congregation to whom Paul is writing were truly saved, but there was an element that were not, see? Alright, so now letís move on in verse 5.
And have tasted the good word of God, (but wouldnít swallow it. They would just peck at it. Then Paul goes one more step) and the powers of the world to come,”
He said, “Youíve understood the powers of the age to come.” They were that enlightened. Whatís the age to come? Well, for Israel it was the Kingdom, and what we know as the 1000 year reign of Christ at the beginning of eternity. The whole Old Testament is full of promises of this earthly kingdom thatís coming for the Nation of Israel. They even had a pretty good handle on that. And even today, secular Jews for the last centuries, for the last you might say, maybe 2,500 years, what has been the favorite cliche among the Jewish people out there in the Gentile world? “Next year Jerusalem!” You know that. Why? Because Jerusalem is going to be the capital of their coming kingdom. And they had a pretty good handle on that. But that didnít save them, of course, and so never forget that Israel had a good understanding of this age to come.
Let me bring you back to Isaiah because I always have to prove what I say with Scripture because otherwise it counts for nothing. So letís turn to Isaiah chapter 35, and I just want to give you a little inkling of how these Jews up through their national history had this inkling of this glorious Kingdom that was coming to the Nation of Israel. And these people to whom Paul is writing the letter to the Hebrews were no different. They had an understanding of this age to come. But it wasnít enough to bring them to a full knowledge of salvation. It was just merely something that was part and parcel of their religion. See?
“Then (when this Kingdom comes in. This age to come) the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. (youíve all heard those terms) 7. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water:Ö” That whole Middle East will cease being a desert and it will revert back to the Garden of Eden, see?
“Öin the habitations of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; it shall be called the way of holinessÖ.”
Well, letís back up for a minute to the left and come back to chapter 11, and this again is an unfolding of the age to come. The Kingdom. Starting at verse 1.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, (who was the father of David.) and a Branch (that weíre talking about) shall grow out of his roots:” That will be the Messiah. The Christ. The coming King. See? Now verse 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 understandingÖ”
“But with righteousness shall he judge (or govern) the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth:Ö” Now I always remind myself here of the Beatitudes. This is when the Beatitudes will become valid. In the Kingdom. Theyíre the constitution of the Kingdom and the King will bring it about. Now verse 5.
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” In other words, His power and His authority. Alright now the physical attributes of this age to come, those of you that love animals, my this will make your heart jump.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
See children in the midst of what we would think are fearsome animals? No. Theyíre all going to be once again domesticated and tame. And then you come on down to verse 7,
“The cow and the bear shall feed: (together. Oh, this is going to be glorious. No death. No sin, no sickness. And this is what Israel was looking for. See?) their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.. 8. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatriceí den. (and then we know this is the Kingdom from verse 9,) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: (which is another word for Kingdom) for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the water covers the sea.”
Well you see, Israel was looking forward to all of these promises of this glorious coming Kingdom. Letís look at just another one or two and come on up through Daniel, thatís the next one thatís easiest to find. Go past Daniel, then Hosea and then weíll hit Joel and then Amos. I want to pick a few verses out of the book of Amos. Amos chapter 9 verse 13. And Israel knew all this. They knew this but it wasnít sufficient to bring them into a true salvation. It was not enough to lock them in. And the same way today.
My, people may know Scripture, they may be able to pray in public but they have never experienced a true salvation and so theyíre in danger. But, weíll cover that later.
“Behold the days come, saith the LORD,Ö”
That was future, and itís still future. Itís been put on hold now for 2,000 years but itís still coming. Donít let anybody tell you that these things are now moot. Itís still coming. Godís eternal! Heís got a lot of time! And so yes, He interrupted this Old Testament program in order to bring in the Church Age but when the Church is gone Heíll pick right up where he left off with Israel. And so these things are going to come.
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper,Ö” Now you know what that means? Continuous planting and harvest. Now the first thing old farmers are going to think is ëOh my, I donít even have time to go south in the winter!í Well, you see, this will be such a light work, thereíll be no weeds, no insects. No drought. Itís just going to be tremendous production. The light labor and itís just going to be beyond comprehension. See?
“Öand the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” In other words these are all just adjectives to show the tremendous production of foodstuffs and the beauty of nature thatís coming in this coming age. Verse 14, God said:
“And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel,Ö.”
Now listen, what an appropriate place to stop a moment. Why are they back in the land? Itís miraculous! The Nation of Israel should have disappeared 1,500 years ago. They should have just totally amalgamated and assimilated and intermarried and disappeared. But they didnít! And they were hated. They were driven from place to place. They were persecuted. Over and over, complete nations ñ England I think in 12 hundred and something made a decree that every Jew had to leave England. They had to be off the island by such and such a date.
In 1492, Spain did the same thing. Every Jew had only two alternatives. Leave or be put to death. And over and over this is what happened to the Jew. Then when you get to the New Testament you remember, that when Paul met Priscilla and Aquila back there in Acts 18, I think it is. What does it say about Priscilla and Aquila? They had recently left Rome because all the Jews had been required to leave Italy. When you pick that up you find Paul had just returned from Athens, and had came to Corinth:
“And found a certain Jew named Aquila born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.”
Well, that was their history. Driven from place to place and yet they never lost their national identity. And here they are, back in the land! The land that was deeded to their Father Abraham. And isnít it amazing that the world canít figure that out? I just canít understand it. That takes an intelligence level thatís far beyond anything I can comprehend because just the very concept that here we have a group of people, scattered into every nation on earth. Never lost their identity, still have a lot of their old ancient customs and now theyíre miraculously back in that same terra firma that God deeded to their Father Abraham. They are again speaking their ancient language. A miracle! But there they are even as we speak today.
Lesson Three ï Part III
Turning Your Back Scornfully
Here we are in chapter 6 of Hebrews.
Now, I realize that sometimes this is kind of scary. But if youíre a believer, this doesnít have to scare you one bit, because as we pointed out in our last program, thereís a big difference between backsliding or failing as a believer, and being an apostate. Weíre going to look at that word more in depth this next half-hour. Maybe it would be better if we start up there again at verse 4.
Hebrews 6:4a & 6a
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened,Ö 6. If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance.”
But now remember, weíve been looking at everything in between in the last couple of lessons. These folks can have this kind of knowledge. They can have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and they certainly understood a lot of Old Testament truths. Remember weíre talking about Jews who are hanging on to Judaism. And so letís just start at verse 4 again.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, (remember watch the language. They didnít ingest it they merely tasted) they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. (they didnít actually have the Holy Spirit they merely brought Him along side) 5. And have tasted the good word of God, (oh they knew about Christís earthly ministry, and they knew all the Old Testament promises) and the powers of the world to come,”
We covered that in the closing moments of our last program, how that they understood this coming Kingdom and all the glories of it.
“If (scary word isnít it?) they (these people who had this much understanding) shall fall awayÖ”
Weíre going to stop right there. This word that is translated “fall away” and I put it on the board ahead of time, in the Greek is ëparapipto.í Now Iím not a Greek scholar and you donít have to be, but hereís one instance where it pays to see the difference. This word is the only time itís used in the whole New Testament. Where itís translated in verse 6 that “if they shall fall away,” it is a “parapipto,” whereas the other word that weíre most familiar with like in II Thessalonians chapter 2 that “unless there is a falling away first” ñ that term is “apostasia” and it, too, is translated “falling away.” But it does not have the connotation that this one does.
And Iím going to show you why, because since itís the only time itís used in the Greek in our whole New Testament, even the Greek scholars have a hard time really nailing it down. But, I went through enough and found that one great linguist of days gone by said, “The only way you can understand this term ñ parapipto ñ is to realize what it means in the Hebrew.” And so the Hebrew word is “mahal.” M-A-H-A-L. Weíre going to look and see what that word “mahal” really is talking about.
Letís come all the way back to Numbers chapter 5, and letís just drop down to verse 12. Remember what weíre showing – that this Hebrew word “mahal” is the best parallel with the Greek word “parapipto” which is only used in Hebrews chapter 6.
And Iím taking the time to show the difference because I want you to see that this falling away in Hebrews chapter 6 is far worse than the normal term to fall away or to be apostasia. Letís start with verse 11.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, 12. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any manís wife go aside, and commit a (whatís the word?) trespass (thatís the Hebrew word “mahal”) against him,” (her husband)
And what does she do? She commits adultery with another man. Now of course, we know that adultery was common in Israel just like it is today, but this is a unique situation from the word “mahal.” It is when this woman literally “turns her back with scorn” on her husband. She doesnít just get caught in a moment of temptation and weakness but she, of her own volition, with a scornful turning her back to her husband goes and commits adultery, now thatís the word mahal translated ëtrespass.í Alright, the next one is in Ezekiel chapter 14, and weíll start with verse 14. This is the same Hebrew word.
“The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 13. Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing (mahal) grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it and will cut off man and beast from it:”
Is that the term that was used with backsliding that we looked at in the last program? No. Backsliding would bring in Godís mercy and grace but this “scornfully turning the back” is an apostasy or a “parapipto” that is so scornful in itís act that God has nothing left but judgment. He canít deal with it in mercy and grace. Now see, thatís what makes the difference then.
Alright, flip all the way back to Hebrews chapter 6 and this is what makes the difference, I think, in these verses in Hebrews that so many people have got all confused and are shook up about. This is not the common ordinary believer who has suddenly fallen into sin and heís not lost. He hasnít scornfully rejected the things of God, but rather heís just simply been human and heís been caught in a moment of weakness and he falls, like we saw in our last program. The man in Corinth that was restored, and forgiven. Can you see that?
But these people made a scornful turning of the back on these things that God had revealed to them. Now then, since this is a much different situation of an apostatizing, look what the result will be.
“If they shall fall away, (or if they shall turn their backs scornfully on these things that are now revealed to them, it is impossible) to renew them again unto repentance; (itís impossible) seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
What are we dealing with? Weíre dealing with people who have claimed to be believers. Now, Iím going to keep it in the Hebrew element first. And then weíll jump up to where we are today. Even these Hebrews to whom Paul is now writing, have made a semblance of believing. They have gone along with all these things, but then when they really were pressed to make a decision to move on forward, what did they scornfully do? They went back under the Law and there was no more of God dealing with them.
Now I know I have taught, and I will continue to teach, that God never gives up on a lost person. But, it would seem to indicate that someone who has made a profession of faith without really becoming a believer and then at one point in time, they scornfully, like the ones weíve looked at in King Saul, what did he do? He just scornfully went his own way. What was his end? Suicide.
Judas. Three years he trafficked along with Jesus and the eleven, playing the perfect hypocrite. But in the final analysis, when it was time to really show his colors, what did he do? He scorned the Lord and went and sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. And ends up committing suicide.
We probably have the same thing with Demas that Paul dealt with. He went along with Paul – worked with him. But yet, as Paul said later on in Timothy, “For Demas has forsaken me.” He forsook Paulís Gospel because he loved the things of this world. Now we donít know that Demas ended up committing suicide, but it wouldnít surprise me. Because this is the end of these people who “scornfully” reject the enlightenment that they have received. Now in verse 6, not only do “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, they put him to an open shame.”
Stop and think. Does the man of the world, well letís just use the Mafia for example. He lives a life of crime. He lives a life that is anything but Godly and Christian. Can he bring any reproach to the name of Christ? No. Nobody associates him with Christ. Heíd be the last one that someone would say, “Well boy, I just donít know what to think. That guy is supposed to be like Christ.” No, thatís never the idea.
But, you take these people who have taken on a semblance of being like Christ, now what does the world say. “Hey, he claims to be a Christian and look!” You remember the one I gave you, the lady called and said, “What about my preacher, he ran off with his secretary and left his wife and kids?” Well what is that man doing? He is throwing reproach on the name of Christ because at one time he claimed to know Him. Now thatís the difference.
But you take the ungodly person out there who has never had any concern about spiritual things, they donít bring a bad reflection. Theyíve never had anything to do with Christ. And thatís exactly what this verse is saying. But these people who have claimed to have tasted and they were enlightened and they had a knowledge of Scripture and then they scornfully turn and go back to where they come from. They bring nothing but reproach upon the name of Christ and thatís why I think God has to deal with it so drastically and they “put the name of Christ to an open shame.”
Alright, letís just move on. I think Iíve covered that sufficiently. Always remember that this word falling away (mahal) in Hebrews 6:6 is a far stronger act on the personís behalf than the word apostasia that we see in II Thessalonians 2 where it says that unless there is a falling away before the anti-Christ would come. Okay, I think weíve belabored that enough. Letís go to verse 7.
“For the earthÖ.” Now weíre still talking about these same kind of people. These same people who have been enlightened. They have a knowledge of Scripture, but they have turned their back and they have put Christ to an open shame. Alright now, the analogy is in verse 7:
“For the earth (an everyday experience in nature now) which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God.”
Now thereís just another earthly illustration again of the believer. The believer is just like tilled land, and that tilled land is kept free of weeds so that it can produce. Now I think youíre all close enough to agriculture, out here in the Midwest. What if our wheat farmers out here North and West of Oklahoma City would just let their land go, and just let the weeds take over? Why they could plant wheat until kingdom come, but would they get a crop? No. Why? Because the weeds are going to choke it out and the wheat would never survive.
But, instead, you can always tell a good farmer or a good husbandman. When you drive by his crops in the summer time as to how much weeds it has in it. And if itís loaded with weeds well you can just rest assured, heís not exactly the best farmer in the community. Because you go down the road a little ways and youíll see a crop that is just pure, gold and beautiful.
You know, as I was thinking since we left crop farming up in Iowa some 26 years ago, a lot of technology has come over agriculture and now Iris and I are just aghast as we drive up through the Midwest and on our way out to Ohio and Indiana at these beautiful soybean fields. Now when Iris and I were farming it was a constant battle. We, by hand, would go out and hoe out the large weeds that would come up in our soybeans. The sunflower and so forth. Iíll never forget she said, “Is this going to increase our production or is this all cosmetic?” Well, it was mostly cosmetic and I remember one hot day, she just threw down her hoe and went home. (Laughter) “If itís not going to increase production and itís cosmetic, why should I be doing it?”
But you see this is what the Bible is teaching us. That the farmer who is a good husbandman is going to control those weeds. Well, getting back to what I was going to say, these soybean fields now are just totally weed free. Mile after mile. I know some of you people watching me out on the East Coast, you go through the Midwest, and you think whatís more boring than going by all those miles of corn and soybeans? Listen, thereís nothing more beautiful! Not a weed to be seen. Those soybean fields are just like velvet for miles on end.
Well, you know what has happened? The technology has now come that they can actually maneuver the genes so that these soybeans are not killed with Roundup. Amazing! Now this is what they tell me. They put in Roundup ready soybean seed and they just let the soybeans come up and they may get pretty weedy and then about the middle of June they come in with Roundup and Roundup kills everything but the soybeans! And so here you now have these beautiful weed free fields.
You see, thatís what the Scripture says. “That if you take care of your crop and you keep the weeds out, the rain is going to bring you a crop.” A hundred-fold Jesus spoke of in Johnís Gospel. Alright, so itís the “blessing of God.” Whatís the first word of verse 8? “But,” Thereís always a flipside. And whatís the flipside? If you donít have a field thatís been taken care of with good husbandry and you let the weeds come in, now look what happens:
“But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected,Ö” Who wants a field full of briers? Who wants a field full of cockleburs and thistles?
Well, you see, the analogy is the same way in the spiritual. Now, the true believer is going to keep the weeds out. Heís going to keep his life a testimony that the world can look at and say, “I see Christ in that person.” And thatís what God expects of every one of us. Now that doesnít mean, and Iíve used the expression over and over, throughout the years. “God doesnít expect us to be so heavenly minded that weíre no earthly good.” Thatís not what God expects. But God does expect that every moment of our life, our priorities are centered first and foremost upon Him and His Word.
Now there again, that doesnít mean that every time you talk to somebody you preach at them. I donít take that approach. But you know what it does mean? That every time somebody gives you an opening. Somebody asks you a question. What should you be ready to do? Show them from the Scripture. Donít get a denominational paper. That may not always be right, so show them from the Scripture.
See, thatís what he was talking about up there in chapter 5. He said, “you should be ready to teach others also, but youíre not. Youíre still on the milk bottle.” And so this is why I teach. Oh, that we can get people to get such an understanding of Scripture. I gave a couple of illustrations in our last taping of men that had called. How that people came into their office just with a question. And they just took out a piece of paper and drew the timeline. And get people to understand how all these things have unfolded, bringing us to this Age of Grace. And this tremendous Gospel that was given the Apostle Paul, how that Christ died and rose from the dead and by believing it, God will move in and transform us. Now continue on in verse 8.
“But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing;Ö” Why? Because those briers and weeds are so awful. Have you ever gotten caught in a brier patch? I mean you get halfway in and you donít know whether to go back out the way youíve come or keep going. Itís no fun. And you hate them. Iíll never forget the first time I got to Oklahoma and went out on the ranch to fix fence or something thatís what happened to me. I got caught in one of those green briers. And I didnít like Oklahoma. But, Iíve learned to live with it.
But, alright the Bible is telling us the same thing. A personís life who is filled with briers and weeds almost brings people to the place of cursing.
“Öwhose end is to be (what?) burned.” Well now thatís always the indication in Scripture. Let me show you in I Corinthians chapter 3, and this is coming back into Paul dealing with us Gentiles but itís the same God and the same God that inspired Paul to write to the Hebrews and to write all his other epistles. Here Paul is dealing with believers in their working for reward during their Christian life. Now weíre not dealing with any but believers and, remember, Corinthians had a lot of carnal believers, they were not spiritual. And so hereís the illustration.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (which is Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of our faith and from that we build. And remember He gives us 6 materials which we can use for our rewards) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble;” Three materials that fire cannot touch, and three materials that fire will put away in a puff. Verse 13:
I Corinthians 3:13
“Every manís work shall be made manifest: (one day our works are going to come up before the Bema Seat. Not for salvation ñ thatís done. But for reward) for the day (the Bema Seat Judgment day) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by (what?) fire.; and the fire shall try (or test) every manís work of what sort it is.”
Now remember what weíre looking at. Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. The first three, fire will do nothing but purify. The next three, itís going to disappear. And so, “the fire will test every manís work of what sort it is.” Look at verse 14,
I Corinthians 3:14
“If any manís work abide (itís gold, silver and precious stones) which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward.”
Now verse 15, the carnal believer who has never really gotten into any service for the Lord. Oh heís a believer; heíll be in Glory.
I Corinthians 3:15
“If any manís work shall be burned, (itís wood, hay and stubble) he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved.” (heís going to make it. But heís not going to have any reward. See that? Heís going to be saved) yet so as by fire.”
Alright now then, come back to Hebrews and weíve got the same analogy. In fact, the Lord uses the same thing in Johnís Gospel, that branches that donít produce are going to be cast off and burned. They are useless. But here in Hebrews weíre talking about people who are not just carnal believers, they are apostates. They have scornfully turned their back on the truth of what God has offered.
So, “it is rejected nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.” Or cast aside as worthless. Thatís strong language. Now, letís also look at the eternal state. It too is fire. Come back to Revelation chapter 20.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; (now this is the Great White Throne Judgment for the lost.) and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into (what?) the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Lesson Three ï Part IV
Turning Your Back Scornfully
Alright, Hebrews chapter 6 and weíll just pick up now in verse 8:
” But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected,Ö” Briers and thorns and thistles and they are good for nothing but to be cast to the fire. Then verse 9, we get yet another “B-u-t” another flipside back. But Paul says to these people, “Youíre not in that thorn and thistle category.”
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,Ö” Notice how Paul calls them “beloved.” Thatís the secret. He wouldnít call them beloved if they werenít believers. And so he says, “But beloved, we are persuaded.” That word persuaded is probably a little stronger than our English and he was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. He said, “We are persuaded better things of you.” Well, better than what? Better than thorns and thistles. Weíre to have considered “better things of you and things that accompany salvation.”
What is the number one theme of all of Scripture? Salvation. The whole reason for the Word of God is to bring lost mankind to a knowledge of salvation. Because, after all, three score and ten is the allotted time, 70 years. If we go beyond that, thatís just by Godís good grace.
So letís stretch it and say we could live 90 years. Thatís a long time, but compared to eternity, what is 90 years? Not even a blink of the eyelash. Mankind canít get it through their heads that 90 years is nothing to be compared with eternity. And to have 90 years of the good things in this life and push God out and then lose it all for eternity. I canít comprehend it. But yet, thatís the way itís always been. The vast majority have spurned God. Theyíve spurned His salvation.
But, now Paul is admonishing these people – that he understands that they do have salvation and the things that accompany it. Now it comes right back to what Iíve said so often. Salvation is not just a “fire escape.” Salvation is not just a matter of escaping eternal doom, but rather salvation is that which precipitates a life of spiritual production here on earth, and thatís what weíre here for.
Now that doesnít mean you all have to be preachers or evangelists or missionaries but it simply means that God expects every believer to be fruitful. Letís go back to Romans chapter 1 verse 16 and pick this whole thing up of salvation. Hereís where I have one of my controversies with some of these new translations. They have taken out the word “salvation,” in this verse, which is probably the most critical word in all of Scripture, and theyíve put something else in it. I think most of you know this verse, where Paul writes:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto (what?) salvationÖ” Salvation! Eternal life! The hope of glory to come! But, that which makes it possible for us to live a godly life in the here and now in this Church Age.
“Öto everyone that believeth;Ö” Now, skip over to chapter 3, and weíre going to use some verses associated with this one crucial word ñ salvation. Verse 23, which I always call the very first step of faith to salvation and that is, we have to recognize that weíre sinners. That we have fallen short of the glory of God.
“For all (Jew and Gentile, Black and White, rich and poor) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Why? Because weíre sons of Adam. We have inherited a sin nature. Now verse 24,
“Being justifiedÖ” Whatís justification? Itís a result of salvation. When we enter into Godís great salvation, He justifies us, see?
“Being justified freely by his grace (not by works) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
Itís been a long time since we taught Romans. Maybe we should stop a second. What is the whole idea of redemption? Paying the price to gain something back that was lost. In other words, if youíve got a big beautiful diamond ring and you get in financial straits you can go to the pawn shop and you can get a few bucks for that diamond ring. Put it in hock. But you cannot get it back until you do what? Redeem it. You pay the price to once again gain control of that which was pawned.
Well, you see, thatís exactly what happened when Adam sinned. He “pawned” the human race to Satan. And the whole idea of the coming Tribulation is when God will finally pay off that debt that Satan is holding over the planet. And Heís going to pay it off with all of the wrath and vexation of that. But for mankind, He paid the price of redemption with His death on the Cross. Every sin was paid for. It has been made possible for every human being to come out of that slave market. The price of redemption was paid and we experience it only by virtue of our salvation experience.
Again, the other offshoot word of “salvation” in Scripture is “saved.” Paul uses it over and over, by which you are saved. By which you experience salvation. Alright, so we have two great words right here in one verse. We are “justified freely through the redemption (or the process of paying the price) which is in Christ Jesus.” Then verse 25:
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his bloodÖ.” The price of redemption. Now Peter said, “Youíve not been redeemed with silver and gold but with what? With the precious blood of Christ.” That was the price of redemption. And to think that most of Christendom has thrown the blood out the back door. Theyíll never mention it. They donít preach it, and itís disappeared from my hymnals. Horrors! It is the very basis of our salvation and we dare not walk it under foot because itís by virtue of our faith in that shed blood which is the price of redemption. That He could buy us back from having been hocked to Satan when Adam fell. Now verse 26:
“To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness: that he (God in Christ) might be just,Ö.” Now what does it mean to be just? Fair! With no room for controversy and so God is just in doing what? Justifying the person who believes. Oh I love these verses! How it just screams against a works religion. Weíre redeemed by placing our faith in that shed blood of Christ. We are justified when we believe the Gospel, that Christ died, was buried and rose again. And God is perfectly just in declaring us as justified. Heís Sovereign. He can do that.
Now thatís a concept thatís beyond my understanding. How can he take this sinner, born of Adam, and by my simple faith in what He has done there at Calvary, declare me “just as if I have never sinned. Thatís justification.” That doesnít mean I wonít sin. Donít ever think that. Ask my wife! But, so far as God is concerned, Iím ëjust as if I have never sinned.í Thatís what justification does for us.
And weíre to live with that concept. Listen, if you go through life knowing that God has declared you as bought out of a slave market, justified from all things – doesnít that give you incentive to do your part? Not for salvation, but as a result of it. Sure it should. And it should behoove every believer to do everything we can as Paul instructs in his epistles to “flee the things of the flesh and to avoid every appearance of evil.”
Now Iím going to Romans chapter 7 and the whole idea is that as a result of our salvation, God has now redeemed us, justified us. He has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit. He has placed us into the Body of Christ. He has declared that we are now children of God and on and on I could go, with all the things that came in the moment we were saved as a result of our salvation, by simply believing Paulís Gospel.
But, thatís not just for a fire escape. We are to be productive. We are to do all we can to win others. Now I remember way back, in some of our early programs, I used an example out of Time Magazine. It was a little box on the bottom of the page and they had interviewed a young Communist worker in Moscow. And I shared it on the program, how that young man said that as soon as he got off work, say at 5 oíclock in the afternoon, he couldnít wait to get down to Communist Headquarters to work for the Party. And he would work for the Communist Party until 10 or 11 oíclock at night, for the sole purpose of promoting Communism.
I said at the time, would that some believers have that kind of motivation. But most Christians are just content to sit and let the rest of the world go by. We should be motivated to get out there and do something that will bring somebody to Christ. See? Alright the other one is, right now today. Who are the militants? The Muslim world. And what do they really want? World dominion. And what are they going to do to get it? Work day and night. And we sit on our duff and do nothing. But thatís not what God intended. God intends us to be productive.
“Wherefore, my brethren, (Paul writes) ye also are become dead to the lawÖ” Weíre not under Law. See thatís the same thing heís trying to tell these Hebrews. Get away from the legalism. Get out from under Judaism and step out into this which is so much better. And so he says:
“Wherefore, my brethren ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; (In other words, by virtue of His crucifixion) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, (now this of course, is just a scriptural use of words to prove a point, that we are now united with Christ. Just like a man married, and for what purpose) that we should bring forth fruit.” You should have an impact on people around you to the place that you can bring in some lost souls. Now, I believe most believers go all the way to their grave never having led one person to Christ. Even their own children, they have never brought them to a knowledge of salvation. And if every believer would just win one, my what a difference we could make! But we donít do it.
I remember in my younger days, hearing people say, “Well, thatís the preacherís job. Thatís the Sunday School teacherís job.” Well, yes but itís yours also, and itís mine. And I always say, that doesnít mean you collar people and force these things down their throat. It simply means that youíre skilled enough in the Scriptures that when someone asks a question ñ take them to The Book! If nothing else have a few notes in the back of your Bible That will help you to show them some Scriptures. How that it is by faith in that work of the Cross plus nothing!
I know people hate to hear that! I had a gentleman call again the other day and say, “Les why do people think they have to DO something?” Well itís that old Adamic nature, see? And so to overcome that takes a lot a patience. I had another gentleman call and say, “You know, I canít understand it, since Iíve been saved through your program,” he says, “Iíve gone back to the church where I was raised and I present these things.” And he said, “Iíve asked some of my fellow church people, do you know what the Gospel is? And you know what? They look at me and they donít have a clue. They donít know what the Gospel is.”
Another gentleman said, “You know what most people in my church answered when I asked them, “Whatís the Gospel?” They said, “The Bible.” “Well,” he said, “The Bibleís got the Gospel in it, but thatís not the Gospel.” But see, this is where Christendom is tonight. They are so pitifully ignorant that most church people cannot tell you what Paulís Gospel is, and how you gain salvation. They simply donít have a clue.
Well, thatís where you and I come in. Weíve got to let them know that itís not a whole bunch of doís and doníts. Itís not getting so holy that youíre just sort of an oddball. No way. The Christian life as Iíve said over and over on this program, is the most practical thing on earth. There is nothing more practical that a solid Christian life. Youíll never find a good, true believing Christian caught up in the throws of court proceedings and crime. Thatís not their lifestyle. Now, we can all fail. My, we can all make a mistake, but it is not the Christianís lifestyle to be constantly on the police blotter. And so, this is what the Scripture tells us, that now weíre to consider ourselves just like a woman that is married to her husband. We are in union with Christ and the purpose is that we are to produce fruit. Weíre to get busy. And weíd better or the Muslim world will overtake us. And then, weíll wish we would have.
Now letís go to Ephesians chapter 2 verse 4. Remember this is all jumping off from that word salvation in Hebrews chapter 6 as Paul was agreeing that the believing element of these Hebrews had salvation. So he wasnít condemning them for being apostate but it was the people who were a part and parcel of their congregation who were and had been.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5. Even when we were dead in sins, (the offspring of Adam) hath quickened (or made us alive spiritually) us together with Christ, ( by grace are you saved”) 6. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” God always has a purpose in everything He does, and here is another one, in the next verse.
“That in the ages to come (eternity) he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (and here comes that classic verse that every believer should know) 8. For by grace are you saved (unmerited favor that we donít deserve) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
Is there anything added there? No. Thereís nothing in there of baptism, or of tongues. Thereís nothing in there of good works, because the only way weíre saved is by faith plus nothing! Now I always have to qualify that. That doesnít mean that we can say, “Oh Iím saved”, and then go on our way. Thatís not what Iím teaching. Weíre saved for the purpose of producing fruit, and thatís not “easy believeism.” Itís not easy to get out there and produce fruit. Youíve heard me use it over and over and Iíll use it again. If youíre paddling a canoe up a river, upstream, how much of the time can you take the paddle out of the water? Never! Because the moment you do, back down the river you go.
And itís a constant exercise of energy to keep moving on in the Christian experience. So donít ever let anyone accuse me of an easy believeism. All I say is it is so simple because God has done all that needs to be done and all we have to do is believe it. But, recognize that Godís going to move in and make us a new creation, so that we can bear fruit.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (and you donít work for a gift) 9. Not of works, (because if it was works then) any man should boast. (now we follow-up after salvation) 10. For we are his workmanship, (We are something now that God is working to form us and to prepare us for our service.) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, (Not for salvation I think thatís evident, but as a result of it.) which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Alright now, Iím going to take verses 11, 12 and 13 because again, too many people donít know these are in their Bible. Look what they say:
“Wherefore remember, (heís writing to Gentiles. Heís writing to you and I.) that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called UncircumcisionÖ” Which remember was a derogatory term that the Jews used concerning Gentiles. And usually they made it a little more derogatory by adding the word dogs. Gentiles were uncircumcised dogs in the Jewish vernacular and so Paul is alluding to that same thing. That thatís what the circumcision in the flesh called Gentiles. Now verse 12.
“That at that time (while God was dealing with Israel back there in that Old Testament economy and during Christís earthly ministry and yes, even these Hebrews to whom Paul is addressing in the letter) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (we werenít citizens of Israel. Weíre not Jews. We were uncircumcised Gentiles) and strangers from the covenants of promise, (consequently where were the Gentiles before the Age of Grace?) having no hope, and without God in the world.” But verse 13, This is the flipside ñ weíre no longer in that time, we are now in this Age of Grace,
“But now in Christ ye who sometimes were far off (we Gentiles) are now made nigh (not through the Mosaic Law. Not through Judaism. Not through legalism. But through what?) by the blood of Christ.” Through the blood of Christ. And remember what the Book of Romans said concerning the blood of Christ? “Put your faith in it, and believe it with all your heart.” God has said that the blood of Christ has paid your sin debt. Alright, Hebrews chapter 6 verse 9 again,
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, through we thus speak. 10. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
So these people Paul is commending because they were true believers.