Lesson One ē Part I James Prepares His Flock James 3:7 - 5:20 Letís get right back into the Book of James, chapter, 3 and we ended with verse 6 the last time we were together, so letís just go back and take a run at verse 7 by starting with verse 6. James 3:6 "And the tongue (the physical tongue) is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; it is set on fire of hell." The tongue is pretty much the beginning of a lot of wickedness, and James is emphasizing that. All right, in the next verse he speaks of everything in nature. James 3:7 "For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:" Now you know what that tells you? I was just thinking about that on the way up here to our taping. I suppose Iris wonders why Iím so quiet, but Iím thinking, thinking, thinking. You know, I just thought of a little cliché in light of this very verse and I think it may come out of the evolutionists - that "the more things change, the more they stay the same." And isnít that true? Here we think, that in our modern era, this is the first time that people have been able to tame the wild animals and do all the various things. No. Theyíve done it from time immemorial. And so, even James could write that, even at that time already, men were training all of these wild animals for their various circus acts or whatever you want to call it. See, men have always needed to be entertained. Thatís what the Coliseums were for, to keep people entertained. So everything is tamed. Now verse 8: James 3:8 "But the tongue can no man tame; (no one can tame the tongue) it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Now again, Iíd better stop right here and remind all of us that James is writing first and foremost, not exclusively, but first and foremost, to Jewish believers, who I feel had been scattered out of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem congregation, by virtue of Saul of Tarsusí persecution, as we see in Acts chapter 1. I donít think these are part and parcel of Paulís congregations whatsoever. I think these are strictly Jews. In fact, remember the last program? It wasnít the church where these Jewish believers were meeting, it was a Synagogue. And so thereís no Church language in the letters of James and Peter and John - not a word. I went through it all again last night to make sure I was on solid ground when I say this. You cannot find one word of Church or what we call Church Ė the Age of Grace Ė language. In other words, thereís no reference to the Body of Christ. Thereís no reference to the working and the controlling of the Holy Spirit - as over against the keeping of the Law - and itís Ďlegal.í Itís like weíre seeing here. Itís not that the Spirit is going to control us, but that they have to go by what James is telling them. So, as you read these little Jewish epistles, remember there is no Grace-Age language in here. You also wonít find the plan of salvation in these Jewish epistles. Now, just like I said about Hebrews - you canít go through the Book of Hebrews and find the plan of salvation like you do in Romans or I Corinthians, because itís just not in there. Because, evidently, these little epistles were written before Paulís revelations had even become known, and I think thatís the reason for it. But, donít forget, itís still Spirit inspired. Of course it is! Itís the Word of God. Itís Scripture. And we can take profit from it, but you donít come back to these little epistles to find doctrine for us today. Itís merely, like I said the last taping, a lot like Proverbs. See, Proverbs just gives us a lot of tidbits of good things, well thatís exactly what James is doing. So, he says, "The tongue is on fire from hell." Itís something that mankind cannot contain. Now, then, we move on into verse 9: James 3:9a "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men,Ö." Now that doesnít sound like Christian living to me. But here we have in one verse the tongue that is capable of blessing God; but on the other hand, cursing men. Now Paul would never teach something like that. Thatís anathema to us as believers, but here was a problem that evidently was common amongst these Jewish congregations. Remember, for their salvation, they had to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and theyíre still under the Law of Moses. They know nothing of Paulís Gospel of Grace, or of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord for salvation. And so, consequently, there are some things in here that almost seem contradictory, but theyíre not. Theyíre not contradictory if you realize the circumstances in which James is dealing or writing. So, he says this to these Jewish people, I think, primarily, in the area of whatís today Turkey - Asia Minor - rather small Jewish congregations, no doubt, and this is one of their problems. They werenít controlling the tongue. On the one hand, they could bless God, but on the other hand, they could curse fellow men. He said, these men that youíre cursing are just as much created after the likeness of God as anybody else. Well, whatís he referring to? Genesis 1:26 where God said, "Let us make man in our image." And thatís what James is alluding to - that even these people that they were bad-mouthing - theyíre Godís creatures just as well as you are. And I think this is what we have to realize in light of our global situation today; regardless of who these people are, regardless of the religion they may be practicing, theyíre still Godís created beings. And you see, thatís where we, in the Christian community, have a higher regard for life because we realize that mankind is the crowning act of creation. And thatís why mankind is in a special role in Godís eyes. Whether theyíre lost or saved, in that regard, makes no difference, theyíre still created beings from the Creator Himself. And so this is what James is alluding to. James 3:9b "Öwhich are made after the similitude of God." Whether you curse men, remember, they are still made after the similitude of God. Now verse 10. James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." These people who were blessing God, but on the same hand, could proceed blessing and cursing, these things ought not to be. Granted - any of us know that much, that somethingís wrong if you can curse and bless out of the same mouth. All right, read on in verse 11. Here heís using a comparison from the physical world. James 3:11-12 "Doth a fountain (a water fountain) send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (out of the same fountain? Impossible.) 12. Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." Itís impossible. So now the analogy heís drawing is this - itís just as ridiculous to try to bless God out of one side of your mouth and curse fellow man on the other. James 3:13 "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his (what?) works with meekness of wisdom." Now you see, James is a legalist. And heís going to come back to this idea of good works over and over and over. And itís almost like a manís attempt to please God - whereas Paul will just simply say that itís not of works. Weíd better keep comparing. All right, letís go back to Ephesians because thatís when you can see it most graphically. Ephesians chapter 2 and drop down to verses 8 through 10 - these are all verses I imagine most of you know from memory. And I just want you to see the comparison. Now itís not a contradiction. It isnít like people say, "Well the Bible is just a whole set of contradictions." No. Itís two sets of circumstances. James is writing from a totally different perspective than Paul is. James knows nothing of the Grace Age, and so itís not contradictory. You just have to separate it. Look what Paul says here in Ephesians. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Salvation is not something you earn, itís something you take as a free gift. Now verse 9: Ephesians 2:9-10a "Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10. For we (now as believers) are his (Godís) workmanship,.Ö" God works a work in us that literally makes us, now, what we are to be as believers - whereas James almost leaves it in the ability of the individual. So verse 10 again: Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. That Ďcreatedí did not happen until we were saved and enjoyed salvation - then God works a work in us that brings us, as a result of our salvation experience, to practice the good works, "...which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." And over and over throughout Paulís writings you have that connotation - that works are a result of our salvation and not a part of it. Okay, back to James once again. Verse 13: James 3:13 "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation
Lesson One ē Part I
James Prepares His Flock
James 3:7 - 5:20
Letís get right back into the Book of James, chapter, 3 and we ended with verse 6 the last time we were together, so letís just go back and take a run at verse 7 by starting with verse 6.
"And the tongue (the physical tongue) is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; it is set on fire of hell." The tongue is pretty much the beginning of a lot of wickedness, and James is emphasizing that. All right, in the next verse he speaks of everything in nature.
"For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:" Now you know what that tells you? I was just thinking about that on the way up here to our taping. I suppose Iris wonders why Iím so quiet, but Iím thinking, thinking, thinking. You know, I just thought of a little cliché in light of this very verse and I think it may come out of the evolutionists - that "the more things change, the more they stay the same." And isnít that true?
Here we think, that in our modern era, this is the first time that people have been able to tame the wild animals and do all the various things. No. Theyíve done it from time immemorial. And so, even James could write that, even at that time already, men were training all of these wild animals for their various circus acts or whatever you want to call it. See, men have always needed to be entertained. Thatís what the Coliseums were for, to keep people entertained. So everything is tamed. Now verse 8:
"But the tongue can no man tame; (no one can tame the tongue) it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Now again, Iíd better stop right here and remind all of us that James is writing first and foremost, not exclusively, but first and foremost, to Jewish believers, who I feel had been scattered out of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem congregation, by virtue of Saul of Tarsusí persecution, as we see in Acts chapter 1. I donít think these are part and parcel of Paulís congregations whatsoever. I think these are strictly Jews. In fact, remember the last program? It wasnít the church where these Jewish believers were meeting, it was a Synagogue. And so thereís no Church language in the letters of James and Peter and John - not a word. I went through it all again last night to make sure I was on solid ground when I say this. You cannot find one word of Church or what we call Church Ė the Age of Grace Ė language. In other words, thereís no reference to the Body of Christ. Thereís no reference to the working and the controlling of the Holy Spirit - as over against the keeping of the Law - and itís Ďlegal.í Itís like weíre seeing here. Itís not that the Spirit is going to control us, but that they have to go by what James is telling them. So, as you read these little Jewish epistles, remember there is no Grace-Age language in here. You also wonít find the plan of salvation in these Jewish epistles.
Now, just like I said about Hebrews - you canít go through the Book of Hebrews and find the plan of salvation like you do in Romans or I Corinthians, because itís just not in there. Because, evidently, these little epistles were written before Paulís revelations had even become known, and I think thatís the reason for it. But, donít forget, itís still Spirit inspired. Of course it is! Itís the Word of God. Itís Scripture. And we can take profit from it, but you donít come back to these little epistles to find doctrine for us today. Itís merely, like I said the last taping, a lot like Proverbs. See, Proverbs just gives us a lot of tidbits of good things, well thatís exactly what James is doing.
So, he says, "The tongue is on fire from hell." Itís something that mankind cannot contain. Now, then, we move on into verse 9:
"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men,Ö." Now that doesnít sound like Christian living to me. But here we have in one verse the tongue that is capable of blessing God; but on the other hand, cursing men. Now Paul would never teach something like that. Thatís anathema to us as believers, but here was a problem that evidently was common amongst these Jewish congregations.
Remember, for their salvation, they had to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and theyíre still under the Law of Moses. They know nothing of Paulís Gospel of Grace, or of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord for salvation. And so, consequently, there are some things in here that almost seem contradictory, but theyíre not. Theyíre not contradictory if you realize the circumstances in which James is dealing or writing. So, he says this to these Jewish people, I think, primarily, in the area of whatís today Turkey - Asia Minor - rather small Jewish congregations, no doubt, and this is one of their problems. They werenít controlling the tongue. On the one hand, they could bless God, but on the other hand, they could curse fellow men. He said, these men that youíre cursing are just as much created after the likeness of God as anybody else.
Well, whatís he referring to? Genesis 1:26 where God said, "Let us make man in our image." And thatís what James is alluding to - that even these people that they were bad-mouthing - theyíre Godís creatures just as well as you are. And I think this is what we have to realize in light of our global situation today; regardless of who these people are, regardless of the religion they may be practicing, theyíre still Godís created beings. And you see, thatís where we, in the Christian community, have a higher regard for life because we realize that mankind is the crowning act of creation. And thatís why mankind is in a special role in Godís eyes. Whether theyíre lost or saved, in that regard, makes no difference, theyíre still created beings from the Creator Himself. And so this is what James is alluding to.
"Öwhich are made after the similitude of God." Whether you curse men, remember, they are still made after the similitude of God. Now verse 10.
"Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." These people who were blessing God, but on the same hand, could proceed blessing and cursing, these things ought not to be. Granted - any of us know that much, that somethingís wrong if you can curse and bless out of the same mouth. All right, read on in verse 11. Here heís using a comparison from the physical world.
"Doth a fountain (a water fountain) send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (out of the same fountain? Impossible.) 12. Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." Itís impossible. So now the analogy heís drawing is this - itís just as ridiculous to try to bless God out of one side of your mouth and curse fellow man on the other.
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his (what?) works with meekness of wisdom." Now you see, James is a legalist. And heís going to come back to this idea of good works over and over and over. And itís almost like a manís attempt to please God - whereas Paul will just simply say that itís not of works.
Weíd better keep comparing. All right, letís go back to Ephesians because thatís when you can see it most graphically. Ephesians chapter 2 and drop down to verses 8 through 10 - these are all verses I imagine most of you know from memory. And I just want you to see the comparison. Now itís not a contradiction. It isnít like people say, "Well the Bible is just a whole set of contradictions." No. Itís two sets of circumstances. James is writing from a totally different perspective than Paul is. James knows nothing of the Grace Age, and so itís not contradictory. You just have to separate it. Look what Paul says here in Ephesians.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Salvation is not something you earn, itís something you take as a free gift. Now verse 9:
"Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10. For we (now as believers) are his (Godís) workmanship,.Ö" God works a work in us that literally makes us, now, what we are to be as believers - whereas James almost leaves it in the ability of the individual. So verse 10 again:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. That Ďcreatedí did not happen until we were saved and enjoyed salvation - then God works a work in us that brings us, as a result of our salvation experience, to practice the good works, "...which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." And over and over throughout Paulís writings you have that connotation - that works are a result of our salvation and not a part of it. Okay, back to James once again. Verse 13:
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation(or manner of living, a lifestyle) his works with meekness of wisdom." Now maybe Iím getting overly picky, but I donít think so. Do you see any reference here to the work of the Holy Spirit? He doesnít say "Let the Holy Spirit accomplish this in you." See, now Paul would say that.
Let me show you what I mean by comparison. Turn to Galatians chapter 5 verses 16 through 18, and weíll probably use it again before we get out of James because this is just a whole different perspective than what James was talking about. Now remember what James just said. "Let him show out of a good manner of life, his works, with meekness of wisdom." Not a word about the Spirit. Now look what Paul says here in Galatians.
"This I say then, walk in the Spirit, (Holy Spirit. Itís capital ĎSí) and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17. For the flesh (that old sin nature) lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Now, James doesnít use language like that. See the difference? But now Paul says, "If youíre led of the Spirit, youíre not under the Law, because the work of the Spirit has taken the place of the Law." And then he shows the vast differences between the life of the flesh and the life of the Spirit in these verses. Well, weíll probably be coming back to it yet a little later today, so weíll come back to James. But I just like to show these comparisons. What a vast difference in the language in James, the legalist writing to legalistic Jewish congregations, compared to Paul, writing to us in this Age of Grace!
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth." I think the truth heís really referring to here is how to live a godly life under the Law. The Law gave them all the instructions they needed to avoid these pitfalls.
"This wisdom (that is of bitter envying and strife) descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." See? This wisdom is fleshly, itís sensual - it feeds on the natural part of man and itís devilish.
"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." Isnít it amazing how sin breeds sin. Families in the world, with all of their alcoholism and their immorality - well, what is the next generation? At least that much or more. And thatís the process - sin breeds more sin. And thatís what the Scripture is saying. Envying and strife will bring confusion and every evil work. Now verse 17, and we see the flipside.
"But the wisdom that is from above.Ö" Now James doesnít say, "The wisdom that comes from the leading of the Spirit" - he merely is showing that God is still in His place of power and influence. But, itís in a whole different set of circumstances than what Paul gives us in this Age of Grace and the working of the Holy Spirit.
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." Well, thatís the two opposites. Either envying, strife, hatred and sensuality; or it can be peace, gentleness, mercy and good works.
"And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
You want to remember - back when we were earlier in the book of James, I think it was, that he spoke of "religion." And of course, thatís what his adherents were steeped in. They were steeped in the religion of Judaism and all these things, and he hasnít departed from that. And, therefore, you see none of the language of this Age of Grace. All right, letís just move on into chapter 4. The language doesnít change much.
"From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2. Ye lust,.Ö" Doesnít sound very nice, does it? Thatís the life of the person still under the Law. He canít have victory because heís not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Heís still trying to do all these good things in the energy of the flesh. So itís a warfare in the members.
Now letís go back again to Paulís letters - letís go back to Romans chapter 7 and see how Paul treats this very set of circumstances. The same set of circumstances, only Paulís going to deal with it in a totally different way. Remember, now, James says "that these things are coming from the desires of the old nature that are warring in your members," - and then verse 2 in James he goes on to remind them that they "lust or they covet." All right, now then, Romans chapter 7 verses 21 through 24. Paul is now writing to us Gentiles under this Age of Grace:
"I find then a law, (not the Ten, but a fact of life) that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:" In other words, he knew that the Mosaic Law was perfect. Now verse 23.
"But (hereís the verse I came here for) I see another law in my members, (and whatís the word?) warring.Ö" Just exactly what it means. Conflict. And where thereís conflict, thereís no peace. So here he is in conflict, the old nature trying to keep the Mosaic Law - but on the other hand, he had this law of the Spirit that is attempting to bring him into a life of peace.
"Öagainst the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24. O wretched man that I am!Ö." Oh, he said, "Wretched man that I am." All right, now weíre going to go back to those verses we just saw in Galatians, and I told you Iíd be back in a minute and here we are. Back to Galatians chapter 5, and now weíve got the same picture. And here I guess is where I picked up the term Ďwarí here in this verse in Romans. For years and years I often wondered where I got it because the word in Galatians is lusteth. But Iíve always, for some reason or other, used the term Ďwar,í and I know itís because itís out of Romans 7.
"For the flesh (the Old Adam, the old sin nature) lusteth (warreth) against the Spirit, (the new nature under the control of the Spirit) and the Spirit (warreth) against the flesh: (the Old Adam.) and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." In other words, you canít just drift. Itís warfare. And warfare takes an expending of energy. And so itís a daily fight to maintain the directing power of the Holy Spirit as over against the Old Adam. And then again, let me read what we just read a few moments ago in verse 18.
"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." The Law has been crucified. Itís dead. It is no longer a controlling fact in our lives. The Spirit takes over. And then he shows in these following verses all of the things that pertain to the lusts of the flesh. And if anybody ever asks you, "How am I to judge the lifestyle of people?" Line them up with the Scripture. In fact, we again just talked about that the other night in one of my classes. When you go down the fruit and vegetable aisle in your supermarket, do you just grab the first head of lettuce that comes and say, "Well, I canít judge?" Of course not. You go through that bin and pick out the very best, and if there were some bad ones, youíd leave them. Thatís not judging, thatís just being discerning.
Well, you do the same thing with ungodly people. If theyíre out there living in immorality and if theyíre living in drunkenness and if theyíre living in lasciviousness and all the things that are mentioned here - then you have every right in the world to discern - theyíre not living godly lives. Theyíre living the flesh. All right, now youíve come all the way through that horrible list of activities that is part and parcel of the ungodly person. They canít be a believer and live like this. And then you come down to verse 22 and you see the discerning of the believer.
Now when you see a person who can practice these things and you see the fruit of it, then you have every right in the world, just by simple discernment. Now I grant you, you canít judge whoís saved and lost. That goes beyond the human element. But, when you see a personís lifestyle, you can pretty much line him up with the Scripture and determine what kind of a person he is. Now verse 22 of Galatians 5. And hereís the flipside again.
"But the fruit of the Spirit (The result of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a believer) is love, Ö" Look the opposite of love up in verse 21. "Envy." Love and envy are as opposite as you can get.
"Öjoy, peaceÖ" Well, thereís no peace in those actions in verses 19, 20 and 21. Itís anything but peace.
"Ölongsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (trusting God and His Word). 23. Meekness. temperance: against such there is no law." You canít find any of that in verses 18, 19 and 20. Itís just two totally difference lifestyles. And then people say that you canít judge? Well youíd better, or you donít know the Word of God. And itís up to us as believers to, if someone is living in that wicked lifestyle, show them the Book! You donít have to say it in your own language, just show them the Word. "Hey, this is what youíre doing and this is going to be your end." What does the last part of verse 21 say?
"Öthey which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Thatís what the Book says - not what Les Feldick says. So always be prepared to use the Scriptures. Let the Word of God speak for itself.
Lesson One ē Part II
James Prepares His Flock
James 3:7 - 5:20
Okay, letís go back where we left off in the last lesson in James chapter 4. And, remember, James is written to the Twelve tribes scattered. (Acts 8:1) So it is primarily Jewish. And thereís no Church language in here. James doesnít make one single reference to the blood of Christ, how that it was shed for the sins of mankind - or to Christís glorious resurrection, all of which we must believe for our salvation here in the Church Age. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Again, James is probably the earliest New Testament book written. Maybe Matthew preceded it but all of these little Jewish books, I think, were written early on before they had an understanding of the doctrines revealed later to Paul. So, weíre going to be comparing, as we finish the little book of James and go on into I Peter, how it is so completely different (not contradictory) from what Paul writes to us as Gentiles; compared to what James and Peter and John wrote to those Jewish believers coming out of Christís earthly ministry. So always keep that in mind. All right, so James chapter 4, remembering now that heís writing to Jewish believers probably scattered in the area of what we call Turkey. And he says in verse 4:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses,.Ö"My, does that sound familiar? You know I said, when we began the study of James and Peter and John, that youíre going to find a lot of likenesses with the Four Gospels and Jesus addressing the Jews in His earthly ministry. Well, hereís one of them. Isnít this exactly what Jesus referred to with the Jews in their wickedness.
"Öknow ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is(what?) the enemy of God."
Now letís see how, again, Paul puts it. Weíre going to be comparing back and forth because I think thatís the best way to see the vast differences in what we call the doctrines of Paul for us as Gentiles believers - as over against what the writers in the little Jewish epistles are saying. Come back with me to Romans chapter 8 and we might as well start at verse 5.
"For they that are after the flesh(the Old Adam) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit (in other words, theyíve become a believer and the Holy Spirit has now indwelt them, they mind) the things of the Spirit. (now here it comes) 6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The carnally or fleshly minded, just like James says, is enmity against God. The two will not coexist. You cannot have the enemyís attitude of the world as part and parcel of God. Heíll have nothing of it. You know I think way back when I taught the Book of Romans, probably in chapter 8, I gave a little illustration. If youíre living in a neighborhood of middle class people who have a half-way decent income and your neighbors are all in the same income level as you are and one of your neighborís kids comes and he approaches you and says, "Hey, Iíd like to have a new bike. Would you buy one for me?" Well, what are you going to say? "Well, youíre not my kid! I donít have to buy you a bicycle. Go ask your parents. Youíre their responsibility, not mine." Would that be out of the way? Of course not.
Well, you see, itís the same way with God. The unbelieving world thinks that they can come and treat God like some Santa Claus and beg for whatever they need and expect Him to answer. But no He wonít! In fact, I think Iím on safe ground that God doesnít hear the requesting prayers of the unbeliever. His ears are totally deaf to that. Now, for salvation, of course, Heís ready and willing to save to the uttermost.
But see, the unbelieving world has got the idea that they can just sort of tweak Godís nose like a Santa Claus and Heíll jump to their rescue. No He wonít. And never forget that. It isnít until we become a child of God that God beseeches us to come into the throne room with our needs as well as our praise. All right, so reading on now in Romans, chapter 8:
"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."If theyíve never experienced Godís saving Grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit, they canít please God. Itís impossible. They might as well quit trying. Of course, the world would get worse than it is, wouldnít it? And itís bad enough as it is. But, the unsaved world cannot please God. Now in verse 9, Paul is writing to the believers, and so there he says:
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."(if not then he is Godís enemy). Youíre not under the control of the Old Adam, but rather youíre in the Spirit, and of course hereís the delineating mark - does the Spirit of God dwell in you? Well, I think that makes it plain enough and, to a degree, James and Paul would agree in that area - that the unbelieving heart, following the desires of the flesh are nothing but enemies of God. Now back to James chapter 4 verse 5.
"Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?"Now heís not talking about the Holy Spirit - this is a small Ďsí - and the human makeup is referred to as the human spirit. And so thatís what James is talking about - that the spirit that dwelleth in us, the human nature that weíre born with, "the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy."
Well, of course it does. Now letís go back again to Romans chapter 7. I didnít intend to do all this and I guess thatís why I trust the Lord to just give me the verses as we go along because I can work, and work, and work at home and it doesnít fall together. But when I get up here, here it comes, and we see it all dovetail together.
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? (or sinful? Of course not.) God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: (the Mosaic Law) for I had not known lust, (he didnít really understand that Old Adamic natureís desire for lustful things. I had not known lust or that it was sinful) except the law (the Mosaic Law, one of the Ten Commandments) had said, (what?) Thou shalt not covet.í"
You cannot break one of the Ten Commandments with out coveting first.Thatís always the triggering mechanism for breaking the Commandments is an attitude of coveting. And thatís why it is so preeminent in the life of the unbeliever as youíre seeing in these verses. What causes envying? Coveting. What causes adultery? Coveting. What causes stealing? Coveting. What causes gossip, false witness? Coveting. See, you can just go right down the line. All right, back to James chapter 4. Verse 5 again.
"Do ye think the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us(in other words, the Old Adam) lusteth to envy? 6. "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." Well thatís all well and good, but thatís still not what Paul teaches for us. Now verse 7.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."Well, thatís appropriate up to a point. But you canít do it in the flesh. The only way we can resist Satan is through the power of the Spirit that dwells within us. Do you see that? And James doesnít mention that. See, this is all in the energy of the flesh. Now verse 8:
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you...."Letís stop there a minute. How many of you know Johnís Gospel chapter 3? What did Jesus say about the unbelieving individual? He never seeks God. But, letís look at what Malachi says in the Old Testament. Go back to Malachi chapter 3 verse 7, and youíll see this fits perfectly with what James is saying.
"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them...."See, the Jews have always had these kinds of problems, as well as the rest of mankind. Weíre not putting the finger on the Jews alone as being guilty but, as Godís covenant people, you would expect more from them. But they were just as guilty as the rest of the world.
"ÖReturn unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts...."Well, you see the unto me was left on the backs of the Jewish people, that they were to make the first move and return to God. And if they would make a move to return to God, He, in turn, would (I guess you would say), meet them halfway. But now stop at Johnís gospel a moment, chapter 3 starting at verse 19. Now here, I think, the Lord Himself, in His earthly ministry, is telling it like it really is.
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world,.Ö"And of course, He was speaking of Himself. He was that light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world as we see in John 1:9. Now continuing the verse here.
"Öand men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
So the point I want to make is that the unsaved person will never seek God. Itís just beyond him. God has to draw a person to Him, but James doesnít express that. He tells them, "You put forth the effort, you draw nigh to God."
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
Okay, come back to Romans chapter 3 and again look at the vast difference in Paulís language compared to what we have seen in James. Again, this not contradictory but rather a whole different scenario. Paul is speaking to the Body of Christ, and James is speaking to the believing element of the Nation of Israel. And the Nation of Israel and the Body of Christ are completely different - thatís the way God has separated them. For example, the believing element of the Nation of Israel had believed for their salvation that Jesus was the Son of God, (their Messiah); they had repented of their sins and had been baptized in water. (Matthew 16:16 and Acts 2:38) Whereas, Paulís Gospel tells the Body of Christ that, for salvation, we must believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead. (I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10)
Romans chapter 3 verse 23, which I always call the first step on the road to salvation. We have to realize, first and foremost, that weíre sinners, and that we are undone, and that we have no reason for God to let us into His Heaven. None.
"For all have sinned,(every one of us. None of us have escaped the fall precipitated by Adam.) and come short of the glory of God; (now here it starts) Being justified freely (without any effort on our part) by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" See, you arenít seeing James say anything like this.
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith(and faith is not works. Faith is simply trusting what God has said) in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;" Now verse 26. My, the more I think about this verse, the more I love it.
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness:(not mine, not yours, but rather His righteousness, and what does His righteousness bring about?) that he (God) might be (what?) just,Ö" What does that mean? Fair. Not cutting any corners. Not asking for bribes; only what is strictly fair and just.
"...and the justifier of him which believeth.Ö"And in that justness he can justify the person that "tries to do better?" as James says? No. What person? The one who believes!!!
I was just sharing an analogy this morning with our guests from Colorado. Imagine youíre getting on a huge airliner (and Iris and I have been there). You finally find your seat and you sit down and buckle your seat belt. After about two minutes you unbuckle that seat belt, and you barrel all the way up front, find the pilot, and say, "Is this the plane thatís going to such and such a place?"
The pilot says, "Yes, youíre on the right plane, just go sit down and relax." So you go back to your seat and buckle your seat belt and within five or ten minutes all of a sudden the sweat starts and you go back up to the front and ask again, "Are you sure Iím on the right plane? Is this really going where I want to go?" And again the pilot says, "Yes, just go and sit down and relax."
Well, you see, thatís what people are constantly doing in the spiritual realm. Theyíre just trying to establish, am I on the right track? Am I really going to get into Godís Heaven? But you see, Paul makes it so concrete in I Corinthians 15:1-4, that when we trust what is called his Gospel, the Gospel that was given to him for us by the risen Lord, we can sit down and relax! And we donít have to fret and fume.
Now that doesnít mean we sit down and not work. Now donít misunderstand me. Weíre not saved to just sit and do nothing, but Iím talking about the assurance of salvation. Once we have trusted that finished work of the Cross, hey Ė thatís it! Thereís nothing more you can do except believe it in your heart! Now thatís simple! But most of Christendom has taken the simple things and complicated it. Unfortunate, but true. You donít try to do this, and try to do that. You rest in it. And then the Spirit as we saw in the first half-hour, will create in us that nature to do good works.
Back to James again - so the implication here in verse 8 to "Draw nigh to God" is just like He told Israel back in the Old Testament Ė "draw nigh to Me and then Iíll draw nigh to you." But under Grace thatís not the situation. God has already extended salvation freely and all we have to do is believe it.
"ÖCleanse your hands, ye sinners;(itís something that they had to do) and purify your hearts, ye double minded." Now weíre purified by faith in this age of Grace!
"Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
Donít lose sight of the fact that these men - James, Pete, and John - are writing to Jewish believers who had not believed for salvation Paulís Gospel of Grace. Remember all these believers had only believed that Jesus was the Christ - their Messiah they had been waiting for. Now you go way back to Peterís confession in Matthew 16. You remember what it was, when Peter declared, "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God." Period. You remember at the death of Lazarus, in John chapter 11, Jesus asked Martha, "Martha do you believe this?" And He had just made reference, of course, to His resurrection. And Marthaís answer was identical to Peterís. And whatíd she say? "Yes, Lord, I believe thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Period. Not a word about death, burial and resurrection. Not a word about the shed blood. They just simply believed that He was the Christ!
Well, take the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 - the same identical words. He says, "Yes, I believe that Jesus was the Christ." And even old Saul of Tarsus said that right up front, before he had even heard the Gospel of Grace (because it hadnít been yet been revealed even to him). After he comes out of that Damascus road experience there in Acts chapter 9, heís got his sight back, heís been fed, heís been baptized, all according to the Jewish program. And now he goes to the Synagogue of the Jew and what does he proclaim? "That Jesus was the Christ!" Thatís all. But you see, then, God moved him out of Damascus to the backside of the desert and revealed these doctrines of Grace that you and I enjoy today.
But, James is still on that same premise. They are still under the Law, theyíre all Jews congregating and, as I pointed out in our introductory programs, they were looking for the Tribulation horrors to be coming in short order. Everything was in view, and weíll come to that probably sometime yet before the afternoon is over in chapter 5. They were all looking for the Second Coming, but they knew that, before Christ returned, theyíd have to go through the seven years of Tribulation. So all of these epistles, James and Peter and John and Jude and Revelation, really, are all preparing these Jewish believers for the pressures and the sorrows and the Tribulation that was just coming in front of them.
Then, you remember, I said that was all interrupted and Iíll show how when we get over there - that was all interrupted and now weíve come full circle, 2,000 years later - and everything, even though it changes, is still the same. We now have the same scenario. Weíre going to have Jewish believers going into and through the horrors of the Tribulation and these little epistles will be their road map. This is whatís going to give them comfort. And weíll see especially when we get into Peterís epistles, itís that constant reminder to them - "youíre going to suffer Ė youíre going to go through pressure Ė but donít despair, God is with you."
As you read these little Jewish epistles, remember that, at that time (here in the 50ís and 60ís AD, before the Temple is destroyed in 70 AD), they thought the Tribulation was right out in front of them and then would come the 1,000-year Kingdom that is prophesied. But God intervened (interrupted), opened up the timeline for 2,000 years for us in this Age of Grace; but now here we are almost in the same place. Israel is back in the land. The Roman Empire is reappearing there in Western Europe and when my next newsletter comes out, read it, because thatís going to be my main article Ė how that Western Europe is so rapidly becoming the power that will usurp the world as we go into the Tribulation period of time. But, remember, the Age of Grace, the Body of Christ, will not have to go through this terrible time!
"Speak not evil one of another,(heís talking to congregations of Jewish believers who had professed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ) brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the (what?) law, and judgeth the law:Ö" Whatís he talking about? Well, the Mosaic Law and Judaism as they were practicing it. And so they were not to speak evil of the law and judgeth the Law.
"Öbut if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge."Which, of course, they were to be - doers of the Law. But, if instead of that, theyíre going to be judges of the law, then theyíre on what? Thin ice! Even for those Jewish believers at that time. They were still under the control of the Mosaic System.
Lesson One ē Part III
James Prepares His Flock
James 3:7 - 5:20
All right, weíre going to continue right where we left off in the letter by James to the Hebrew believers Ė to the Twelve tribes scattered abroad. So we know that those had to be Jews of the dispersion. Now, weíve got to remember, where did these Jews come from, and who are these people that these little epistles are addressed to.
James and Peter and John and Jude and, to a degree even, Johnís Book of Revelation were written to the Jews that had been scattered. Like I said in the last part of the last program, we are now 2,000 years later since those books were written, and we have now come full circle back as it was when these epistles were written. As it was back then, so shall it be in the future with these Jewish believers getting ready to go into the Tribulation and looking for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, their Messiah. But for now, come back with me to Acts chapter 11 because this is probably the best way to understand why James, as well as the other three, addresses only the Jews? Why arenít they including Gentiles?
Well, Acts 11:19 I think says it. Now you want to remember that Israel has been out there as a people scattered throughout the then known world ever since the Babylonian invasion in 606 BC. But then when Saul came on the scene and just persecuted unmercifully the Jewish church in Jerusalem, they had to scatter for their life.
"And Saul was consenting unto his(Stephenís) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." Now the Twelve didnít leave because they were sure that the Messiah would be coming and they didnít want to be out of town when it happened. Remember they had been promised they would reign and rule over the Twelve tribes of Israel during the Kingdom Age. So they didnít scatter, but the rest of those Jewish believers scattered. Acts 11:19 makes it so clear that Gentiles were not involved in any of this. This is so simple. You donít have to be a seminary graduate to understand this.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen.(which took place in Jerusalem) traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch. (in other words, that whole eastern end of the Mediterranean) preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only."
Weíre talking about 10 years after the cross. Thatís what the Book says Ė that these Jewish believers who were now scattered away from the home church in Jerusalem (which was headed up, of course, by Peter and the Twelve) are now being scattered throughout that end of the Roman Empire and they still have no consort with anybody but Jews.
Now come back to James and letís stop with James chapter 1 verse 1, and this just says it all. Plain English.
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to(and I donít think we do any harm by putting Ďwritingí rather than Ďtoí) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." Now isnít that plain? Now these Jews, of course, gathered in little congregations of Synagogues and they knew nothing of Paulís work of Grace. Theyíre still in Judaism. All theyíve understood is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Messiah and to a degree that He had risen from the dead and that He was still able to fulfill the covenant promises of the Kingdom. And so this is what theyíre looking for.
So now back to James chapter 4 where we left off in our last lesson. Verse 12, and always watch the language like Iíve said before - how itís so much like the language of the Four Gospelís concerning Jesus and the Law and all the rest.
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy:Ö"In other words, God is going to fulfill two purposes. Now come back with me a few pages to Hebrews chapter 7 verse 25. This is just one example. And thatís all weíre going to use how that God is able to work both sides. Hebrews 7 verse 25, hereís the saving side:
"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost(who? Those) that come unto God by him. (that is by Jesus Christ) seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (that is those that have come to Christ)
All right, now letís look at the other side of the coin. Not very pretty. Very seldom do you hear it anymore, and thatís Revelation 20. Here we have the Great White Throne Judgment for the lost. And these are the two concepts that James is putting in front of his people. Theyíre dealing with a God who is able to save but Heís also able to condemn them to their doom. Now how many times have you heard it? "How can a God of love send anybody to such an awful place?" Well, we know what the answer is. He did everything that needed to be done when He suffered the horrible death of the Cross. And that was for all mankind with no strings attached. All they have to do is believe it! And when they spurn that, then He has every right to say, "depart from me I never knew you" because Heís done all He can do. All right, so now then, in Revelation 20, you do have the ability and the wherewithal of God to destroy those who are lost. This is the end of everything. This is the final act of God on the human race that is lost.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (now remember there are no believers involved in here. This is all the unbelieving from Cain to the end) small and great, stand before God; (the Righteous Judge) and the books (plural) were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life:Ö" When their name was not in the book of life, He then opens up the books, which included their works. Thatís what Paul calls fruit unto death. They lived a life of sin and rebellion, which was a life of fruit unto death and here it comes.
"Öand the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."In other words, all the lost of the ages from wherever they are will come forth - and remember Jesus said in John chapter 5 that everybody that ever lived will be resurrected. Those who have been of faith - to a resurrection of life and the rest to a resurrection of condemnation. Well, this in Revelation 20 is the condemnation.
All right, and so they were judged every man individually. The billions of them. Now you know, this throws a curve at us doesnít it? I mean, after all, weíre human. How in the world will God have time to bring every individual lost person before the bar of justice? Now we canít comprehend it. But youíve got to remember weíre not in Ďtimeí here, weíre in Ďeternity.í And when you get out of time and into eternity itís a whole different ballgame. I read years and years ago (maybe science has changed it now, but I remember) one hypothesis that if a human being could go through a black-hole and down through a white-hole he could usurp a million years of time in ten minutes. Well, thatís beyond us, but itís the same way here. God will judge the billions of the human race in what we would call a matter of minutes, and yet everyone is going to have a time before Him. Donít ever doubt it because weíre not in time as we know it - but here, weíre in eternity. All right, now verse 14, and see what James means when he says that God is able to save and to destroy?
"And death and hell(that is the compilation of all the lost of the ages) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Now people donít want to hear about the Lake of Fire anymore. I canít help it. Itís in the Book. Remember physical death was their first death and now spiritual death is their second death. Then verse 15 puts the cap on it.
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."And donít think for a minute that thatís an instant annihilation because, while youíre here in chapter 20, come back to verse 10. And it shows that itís an ongoing thing, because the Lord Himself said, "itíll be there for ever and ever for all eternity." Itís not going to end. Itís going to be forever, just like our life is going to go on forever.
"And the devil that deceived them(that is at the end of the Kingdom economy now, when weíre ready to go into eternity) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast (or the anti-Christ) and the false prophet are,Ö" These are the two evil men of the seven-year Tribulation period, and they were cast into the Lake of Fire at the beginning of the 1,000-year Kingdom Age. How long have they already been there? A thousand years. And theyíre still there. They havenít been annihilated. They havenít been burned up. Theyíre still there.
"Öand shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."Now this just epitomizes again the Grace of God - how that Christ and the work of the cross made it possible for every one of these people to miss that kind of an eternity. And thatís why a God of love can do it; theyíve spurned His love and they have rejected His offer of salvation. And so, yes, James says it again, verse 12 of chapter 4 of the Book of James.
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"
There is one eternal God. And He alone is able to save and to destroy, so James says, "Who are you that you should judge another?" Now, like I told you in the last program, that doesnít mean you donít make discernment between the lifestyle of the lost person and a believer. We have that right. We have that ability according to Scripture. But we cannot judge whoís going to be in eternal doom, or whoís going to be in Heaven. You canít look on the heart. None of us can - only God can do that. Okay, now, in verse 13, he shifts gears again and he goes into something totally different.
"Go to now ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continuethere a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:"
Now what does that tell you? First and foremost - before we get any further, come back with me to Matthew chapter 24 verse 37. Now remember the Lord Himself is not betraying the secret that time is going to be interrupted and that these people to whom Heís speaking will not see the Tribulation and the Second Coming. He doesnít betray that. He could have. As God, He knew the day and the hour and all that. But, the scenario was just the same as Iíve been repeating now for the last several programs. The scenario was exactly the same for these Jewish people approaching the Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom as it will be for Jews in this present time, which we think is getting close - when they, too, will be facing the same thing. But the scenario is going to be the same. As it was then, so is it now.
"But as the days of Noe(Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (in other words, when the Tribulation has run its course) 38. For as in the days that were before the flood (just like these days that these Jews that James is writing to are facing the Tribulation,) they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark," See? Life was going on. And then he comes down a little further to verse 40.
"Then shall two be in the field;..." They were laboring, working and harvesting. All right, thatís sufficient, I think. Now come back to James again. This is the same scenario that, as the Tribulation is approaching and these Jewish believers are going to be coming under pressure, yet you have that element of either unbelievers or carnal believers (whatever the case James is dealing with), and all theyíve got on their minds is what? Material gain. Hey, theyíre in business and theyíre not too concerned about the spiritual. Well, itís going to be the same way now as weíre approaching the end-time; the whole world is all wrapped up in materialism. They donít think of the Spirit. All theyíre thinking is how they can make money in the stock market or how they can do this and that and every other thing. Well, itís the same way here - and so James says to be careful, you that say, "Today or tomorrow weíll go and do such and such a thing and weíll buy and sell and get gain." See? That was the typical activity.
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."Like your breath on a 20 below zero day. You donít know what that is down here in Oklahoma, but I do. Oh, my goodness, that breath will just disappear. Well, thatís life. Peter uses the example of a blade of grass that comes up in the morning, you clip it off in the afternoon. Thatís the way life is, itís temporary.
You know I read a book years and years ago that made it even more graphic. "Snow Flakes on the River." And I love that. Can you just see big, huge snowflakes coming down on a large river? How long does it last? Puff! Itís gone. Thatís life. Just like a snowflake on the river. Just like a blade of grass thatís sprung up and clipped off. Oh, even though some may live to 90-95-100 years old. Iíve had a few people in my classes that were 100 Ė 102. But you know what they tell me? It went just as fast as you and I think it has up to as old as we are. That extra 30-40 years goes just as fast as the rest of it. Bingo! Itís all gone! And compared to eternity, itís nothing.
All right, so James is reminding his flock, donít get so concerned about the material world because itís just here today and gone tomorrow.
"For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." Now I think thatís appropriate. Thatís what we can do today. Well, "If the Lord is willing" thatís what weíre going to do. So, thatís very appropriate. Remember I told you when we first started there were going to be tidbits here that you can apply today, just like you can go into the Four Gospel accounts and you can make application. But youíre not going to find the plan of salvation in the Book of James. Itís not in here.
"But now ye rejoice in your boastings:Ö"Now Iím going to give the Jewish people credit - Iím not doing this critically. I think they are to be admired. They have a knack for being successful, donít they? Absolutely! I think itís part of their covenant relationship. They have a knack for being successful whether itís in literature or art or music or medicine or in business - you name it, and Jewish people are successful. Well, evidently it was the same way here. Some of these Jews, in spite of the pressures from the Roman Empire and so forth, were materially successful. But itís also a well-known fact that there is not a group of people on earth that are so philanthropically minded. I hope I got that word out right. Theyíre great philanthropists. They give, give, give. And so this is part and parcel I think of their makeup. And so verse 16 just hits it right on the head:
"But now ye rejoice in your boastings:(over their what? Their success. They are naturally successful people. But he says) all such rejoicing is evil." Donít rejoice in the things of the flesh; in the material. Now verse 17, and maybe this is why they are so prone to being philanthropic.
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is(what?) sin."
And they were aware of that. And so they overcame some of their materialism with giving and hoping (I guess by that) to merit favor with God, or whatever.
All right, now, lest you think Iíve been pushing the envelop on this, look at the first verse of chapter 5. Now remember weíre back in about, probably, the 50ís AD. About fifteen or twenty years from now in, 70 AD, their Temple is going to be destroyed and Jerusalem and Israel are going to be scattered. But it hasnít happened yet. And here they are. He says:
"Go to now, ye(what kind of men?) rich men, (See? These Jews, a lot of them, had wealth.) weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you." When? When the Tribulation would hit. When the Tribulation would hit and all of their wealth and materialism would be wiped out.
Now you know itís coming. Not only just for Israel and the Jews but for the whole human race Ė the wrath of God is coming! Just like James could see it coming in their day, and that all their wealth and materialism would amount to nothing because itís all going to be wiped away. Well, itís been a long time since Iíve done this, but letís go back to Jeremiah just for an example. And I do this to sober people because even we, as believers, are so prone to get wrapped up in all of the trappings of this world and our economy and everything that pertains to it, and we forget Godís wrath is coming. Iím not saying itís going to be next year or the following, but weíre getting closer and closer. You know Iíve always referred to the cartoon of the old boy sitting in his cave door and over the door was ĎThe End Is Near.í But then he added Ďer.í Which meant that everyday the end is nearer.
And thatís where we are. The end is getting nearer every day. All right, Jeremiah chapter 25 verse 30. Now this isnít pleasant reading. This is horrifying but itís coming; and James could see it coming in their day. They thought it was just over the horizon. And then God, as Iím going to show you in the next program, interrupted that time-span and gave us the Age of Grace for the past 2,000 years.
"Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD(Thatís Christ in the Old Testament) shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; (that is this old world.) he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth." Not just Israel. Every human being is going to come under this. Verse 31.
"A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations,(not just Israel. All of them.) he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, (death) saith the LORD. 32. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,..." Does that ring a bell? Yeah, weíre hearing about evil today like not since a long time ago.
"Öand a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts(or borders) of the earth."
Now, weíre hearing more and more, the next most used acronym will be what? ĎWMD.í Youíre going to see it in every article that you read. WMD. What is it? Weapons of Mass Destruction. And the whole world is interested in them. Not just Iraq. Everybody wants weapons of mass destruction. All the nations of the world are clamoring for more military hardware. Well, what weapon of mass destruction causes tremendous wind? A nuclear explosion. Tremendous wind. And so I can just see all the nuclear forces of the world will come to bear in these final days of the Tribulation. So, "A great whirlwind shall be raised up from the borders of the earth." Now, as a result of all of these Ďnukesí being unloaded, first one after the other, look at verse 33.
"And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; (there will be so many that nobody can bury them fast enough. Thereíll be no funeral parlors capitalizing on all of this. But) they shall be dung upon the ground."
Thatís whatís coming. Thatís why all the world is interested now in weapons of mass destruction. Itís going to come. The earth is going to be utterly annihilated through the wrath of God, but Heíll use a lot of these weapons of mass destruction.
Lesson One ē Part IV
James Prepares His Flock
James 3:7 - 5:20
Hopefully weíll finish the Book of James with this lesson, and thatíll be just perfect as we can start our next series in I Peter. All right, so back to James chapter 5 and remember, again, Iíve just got to keep repeating for the sake of those who missed a program or new ones coming in, that weíre dealing with Jewish believers of really, the "Gospel of the Kingdom" era. For salvation they had believed that Jesus was the Christ, and thatís all. Thereís no reference to His death, burial and resurrection for salvation. Whereas Paulís Gospel of salvation for us in this Age of Grace, tells us to believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again!"
In fact, Luther was just telling me that his Bible said there are only two mentions of Jesus Christ in the Book of James? Only two. And so donít accuse me of going off the deep end when I say that this is all part and parcel of the Jewish believers who had had their roots in those followers of Christ in His earthly ministry and thatís all they knew - that He was the Christ.
All right, like I said in the last program, they were out there in the Roman Empire and some of these had been out there since 606 BC, of course, and so they had gathered wealth and there was this element of the rich in these churches. So now letís just start at verse one of chapter 5, he says.
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you." we talked about that in the last lesson - that heís talking about the Tribulation. Weíll see that in just a little bit.
"Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten." Now you may wonder whatís meant by that? Well, I read in a book a while back that, in the ancient East, that was one way they collected wealth was beautiful fancy clothes and theyíd put them in trunks. That was just like weíd put money in the bank. And it was a collecting of wealth. But, unless they were careful, just like now, moths could get in and destroy them.
"Your gold and silver (see, the accumulated wealth) is cankered; (in other words, it was materialism and it had nothing to do with their spiritual lives) and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. (in other words, their judgment is coming. Now see, heís not talking just to believers; heís talking to Jews who are really on both sides of the coin) Ye have heaped treasure together for (what?) the last days." Here we go again. The last days. Now verse 4.
"Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by (what?) fraud,Ö" Enron back then already. Itís nothing new. Oh, on a bigger scale now; greater technology. But the mentality hasnít changed one bit.
"Öcrieth: and the cries of them which have reaped (in other words, are the victims of your fraud. All you retirees that suddenly have had everything wiped away - hey, itís nothing new.) are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth." Now thatís another term for Christ that comes out of the Old Testament.
"Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton;Ö" In other words, they just, as we would say, lived high on the hog. Nothing but the best.
"Öye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you." Now, that goes both ways. God has not stopped, or, you could take the other way, the just people that theyíd been misusing have not fought back. But this element of wealthy, Synagogue attending Jews (no doubt that James could write to and yet their lifestyle) was anything but righteous people.
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto (now heís talking to the believing element. Those that are the downtrodden. Those who havenít got all this wealth) the (what?) coming of the Lord." See? Itís just over the horizon. Now remember when I taught the book of Acts? Why were they so willing to cash in all of their savings and sell their houses and their lands? Because the 1,000-year Kingdom Age was just over the horizon. Who needs houses and lands when youíre going to have Heaven on earth? And so they glibly sold everything - remember even good old Barnabas back there had land on the island of Cyprus and what did he do? Sold it. Brought the proceeds to Peter and James and John and the rest and put it in the common kitty. Because, after all, all these things are right out in front of them. They had no idea that it would be interrupted by 2,000 years.
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, (in other words, the farmer who plants his seed and waits for the harvest) and hath long patience for it , until he receive the early and latter rain." In other words, the early rain to sprout the grain and then the latter rain to bring it to fruition. Verse 8 - and this is what I told you Iíd be coming to.
"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord (what?) draweth nigh." Itís at hand, see? All right now Iím going to show you a few others and then weíll come back and see where we have the wherewithal to stop Godís time clock. Turn with me to I Peter chapter 1 and I want you to see, as we showed several weeks ago, how all of these writers; Peter, James and John and Jude are all expecting the Tribulation and the Second Coming to be coming in short order.
I Peter 1:7
"That the trial of your faith, (he, too, is writing to Jewish believers) being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, (whatís he talking about? The coming Tribulation) might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" Now thatís not the Rapture of the Church, but rather thatís the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Theyíre looking for the Tribulation and the Second Coming. Then look at verse 9.
I Peter 1:9
"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
All right, now turn to chapter 4 verse 7. Now we looked at all of these several programs back, but this is just review again to show how that all of these little letters were preparing the Jewish believer for the coming horrors of the Tribulation that we closed our last program with. And somebody reminded me that I shouldnít have left everybody hanging on a string Ė believers wonít be there! So weíre not going to be confronted with all that death and destruction. The Body of Christ, the true Church is going to be gone before the Tribulation even starts.
I Peter 4:7
"But, (Peter writes) the end of all things is (what?) at hand: (itís not 2,000 years ahead so far as Peter is concerned) be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
All right, now letís just move on to II Peter chapter 3 and, of course, Peter writes as if all this is just going to be coming right down the pike. Now we have to teach this, realizing that weíre in a 2,000-year later scenario but, like I said a couple of programs ago, even though everything has changed, itís still pretty much the same.
II Peter 3:1-3
"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the (what?) last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts." And so Peter, too, is telling them, "This is nothing new." Theyíve always said that nothing has changed. Well, here we are 2,000 years later and we can still say that itís nothing different.
All right, I John chapter 2 verse 18. Again, Iím sure that all of these Jewish writings were accomplished before Paul even finished his letters. I think all of these Jewish epistles were out there among those Jewish congregations. I know tradition says John wrote about 90-some AD, but I just canít reconcile it in light of what weíre now studying - and also because of what Paul said in Colossians 1:25, which we covered earlier in James. You donít have to take my word for it, but this is the way I have to approach it - that this was all written probably before 60 AD. And now look what John says.
I John 2:18
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti-christ shall come, even now there are many anti-christs; whereby we know that it is the last time." We could read that today, but he was writing in 50-some AD. They were waiting for the Tribulation to begin at any time and usher in the Second Coming.
All right, now, as I said, Iím going to give us the wherewithal to interrupt that timeline - so come back with me quickly to Luke chapter 4. And this is the only indication in Scripture and, of course, they didnít catch what Jesus meant, nor did they understand it. But Jesus Himself gives us the wherewithal to open up our timeline and stop it before the Tribulation comes in and, by doing so, here weíve come 2,000 years, and now we feel itís again right out in front of us. Luke chapter 4 - youíll all recognize it. Verse 16, and here Jesus is in His earthly ministry.
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, (remember He lived under the Law) and stood up for to read. 17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. (Isaiah) And when he had opened the book, he found the place (in other words, he knew what he wanted) where it was written, 18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, (in other words to those that were waiting down in Hades for His crucifixion, and resurrection ) and recovering of sight to the blind, (part and parcel of His miracles) to set at liberty them that are bruised. 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the Synagogue were fastened on him." And He knew that. And so He comes back and answers their consternation. And Iíll show you in a minute why they were so concerned.
"And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Now heís quoting from Isaiah 61. Come back to Isaiah 61 and weíll see how the Lord knew that the Tribulation was not coming at that time. He knew it was not the last time, but He never betrayed that. And, of course, being God, He knew exactly what the timetable would be. Now, when Jesus said, "no one but the Father knoweth the day or the hour." Well, He was speaking from His human side.
You always have to look at the things Jesus said and did in His two personalities. On the one hand, He was total man. He got hungry. He got tired. He got angry. He was totally human. On the other side, He was totally God. He could raise the dead. He could still the wind, because He was God. Now, whenever He prayed to the Father, "your will be done not mine," heís praying from His humanity, just like you and I would. But on the other hand, He could forgive the sins of the woman taken in adultery because He was God, and only God can forgive sin.
Now itís the same way with that question about when would the Lord come. From His humanity, He could honestly say, "I canít tell you. Only the Father knoweth." But you come over to the other side, what did He tell Philip in John 14? "Philip have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known when you have seen me you have seen (who?) the Father." Isaiah 9 says as plain as day that, "unto us a child is born, a son is given, and his name shall be called what? The wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting (what?) Father." So, from His deity, He could have told the exact day and minute of every event. But, from His humanity, He could honestly say thatís only in the hands of the Father.
All right, so here we are now in His earthly ministry. He has read from Isaiah 61, and Heís come through the whole first verse word for word, but now you go up to verse 2 when He says:
"To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,Ö" He stops in the middle of the verse! And thatís why the Jews raised their eyebrows and just literally stared Him down, saying to themselves, "Whatís He doing?" And so then He stood up the second time and said, "this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." All right, now look what Heís saying. Everything that had been accomplished in His earthly ministry is in verse 1. Now, as you come into verse 2, He had finished up until His crucifixion, now, preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. What did He mean by that? Israel had every opportunity to accept Him as their Messiah. But they were going to reject Him. Now look at the verse carefully. Where does He stop? Just before it says, "the day of vengeance" or the Tribulation. See? He knew that the Tribulation wasnít coming in at that time, and so He could stop reading and say, "This has been fulfilled." And the rest weíre going to leave for a future day. All right, and read on:
"Öand the day of vengeance of our God; (which is the coming years of wrath and vexation, then the rest of the verse is) to comfort all that mourn;" Whatís that? The Kingdom. And thatís still future. Now to re-cap. Everything that was written in verse 1 was accomplished and He had brought them up to the place where they were ready to reject Him. And so that had all been fulfilled, but the Tribulation hasnít come in. The Kingdom hasnít come in. He doesnít say that it wonít, but itís going to be postponed for at least 2,000 years, and is still being postponed.
All right, now letís get back to James and hopefully you got the idea that, even though the Lord Himself knew it (He didnít reveal it but), He did let us know that there was coming, a gap in the timeline and that the Tribulation and the Kingdom were going to be postponed to a future day, but these Jews didnít understood that.
Even the Apostle Paul, as I showed in an earlier program, always spoke of the Rapture of the Church in his lifetime. And you want to remember he was probably about the same age as Christ. So, by the time that Paul is writing that famous Scripture, "we shall not all die, but weíll all be changed, and will ever be with the Lord," he was probably in his 40ís maybe 50. And you know people didnít live to be a hundred in those days. Sixty was an old man in those days. So, even Paul was expecting all of this to be culminated certainly before 70 AD. And thatís why, of course, a lot of people today say that when Jesus spoke of all those things concerning the end-times He was speaking of 70 AD. No. That was all just another preview of whatís coming later. All right, letís get back to James chapter 5.
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain." In other words, like a farmer is waiting for his crop to ripen, they were to be waiting for the ushering in of the Tribulation.
"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 10. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." So whatís he getting them ready for? The Tribulation. And heís telling those Jewish believers, this isnít the first time they have suffered. Go back in your Old Testament and see how they suffered. The Book of Hebrews gives you a pretty good description of them. Some were sawn asunder. Some were burned. Some suffered from the sword. Thatís nothing new in Israelís life. And so James is reminding them, "This may be in your future."
I think itís appropriate to say the same thing for us. We have no guarantee that weíre going to live this life of liberty forever. There may come a day, and it could come fast, that all of a sudden, weíre going to find ourselves under abject persecution. We hope not. And if the Lord comes, then those that are remaining are certainly going to go through these kinds of trials and suffering. All right, so heís preparing them for these coming years of Tribulation.
"Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job,Ö" Here heís going back to an Old Testament book that every Jew was acquainted with. And they knew the losses and the trials and the suffering of Job - so James is using that as an example. He said:
"ÖYe have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." God hasnít changed. Just as surely as He dealt in Jobís life with mercy and restored everything, He also is going to be with us, James says.
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." Now there again, that had more appropriateness for Israel under their system of Law than it would for us. But itís still a good lesson. Be careful what you take an oath on. I think a lot of people carelessly, even with their giving, may just say, "Lord Iím going to give you so many thousand dollars a year." And I say, you be careful, because Godís going to hold you to it and you may end up going to the bank to borrow. So, even be careful about what you agree with God to do.
"Is any among you afflicted?Ö" Well, thereís never been a point in human history where there arenít sick people.
"Ölet him pray, (absolutely) Is any merry? let him sing psalms." Now letís go back and compare Paul in Ephesians 5 verse 18.
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;"Thatís the life of a believer. And thatís exactly what James is even referring to himself - that, for believers, we are to be singing songs and psalms, which were hymns of rejoicing in ancient Israel. Now back to James.
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:" When Paul was winding up his ministry, he could no longer perform miracles, but he writes that his friend was sick on the island of Miletus - and Paul couldnít do anything much more than pray for him. But to Timothy, he said, for your stomachís sake take a little what? Wine.
Here James advises the use of oil, but what did the Good Samaritan administer to the guy that was wounded on the roadside? Well, he dressed his wounds with wine and oil, which were the typical medicinal things in the ancient time. So itís kind of interesting that we get both of them, one from Paul "Take a little wine for your stomachís sake." And James says Ė "Anoint with a little oil for healing." But, for us, I think, Philippians 4 just says it all:
"Be careful for nothing; (or donít worry) but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
And that means exactly what it says. So prayer still avails much.
Lesson Two ē Part I
Peter Continues the Kingdom Message
I Peter 1:1 - 2:14
Itís been almost 13 years now that weíve been coming to Tulsa to do these tapings, and today weíre going to begin a study in I Peter, as we finished James in the last taping.
Now, as we discussed way back in our introduction to these little Jewish epistles of James, Peter, Jude, and the little epistle that John wrote back here, including Revelations, were all written primarily, but not exclusively, to Jewish believers who had been scattered away from Jerusalem because of the persecution, as we have seen in Acts chapter 8:1.
But always remember that Jews had already been out there in the Gentile world since about 606 BC - when Nebuchadnezzar took them all captive to Babylon. And then they began to migrate throughout the Mede and Persian, and the Babylonian and the Greek Empires; so that, by the time we get to the time of Christ and the Roman Empire, there are Jews living everywhere. And I always tell people that if you doubt that, just go to the book of Acts and youíll notice that in every place Paul went on those missionary journeys, where did he start his ministry? In the synagogue. These Jews were everywhere, see?
All right, so, also in the midst of these regular ordinary Jews that came from the Babylonian captivity, there are now these Jews, beginning with Christís earthly ministry, that carried on after Pentecost - who had become believers by believing that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the Christ. And so they had, more or less, separated into separate little congregations, even though they were still practicing Temple worship and everything. And thatís the other point I always like to make. Remember, the Temple is still operating. All of this takes place before 68 AD, when we feel Paul and Peter were martyred; and then the Temple was destroyed two years later.
So, these little Jewish epistles are primarily written to these Jewish believers, who, for one reason or another, are gathered in little congregations, especially up in Asia Minor and Galatia, which we now call the land of Turkey. Of course there were others, but I think most of these Jews (that these little epistles addressed) were in that area of the world.
Now, as we showed in the very first introduction to these epistles, all of this is in line with the Old Testament prophetic program. There is not a word of church language in these little epistles. In other words, like I said when I taught Hebrews, you canít take someone into I Peter, for example, and take them through a "Roman Road" of salvation. Itís not in here. There is nothing in here pertaining to the Body of Christ. But all of these things were written to Jews who were now facing, according to Old Testament prophecies, the coming seven years of wrath and vexation known as the Tribulation. There is no indication that God is going to interrupt that Old Testament timeline when these are written. Theyíre still looking for all this to happen.
In fact, if youíll remember, when we were introducing all this several months ago, how all the Scripture spoke of these being the Ďlast days.í And how all these writers, James and Peter and John and Jude and even the book of Revelation, were all written with the idea that this was coming down the pike in a matter of a few years. And I even went back and covered Paulís Scriptures concerning the Rapture for the Grace Age believers; and he included himself, as he thought all of this was going to happen in his lifetime. He thought that until, when he finally writes II Timothy, he realizes that the old world is going to keep going and his life is going to be taken.
But all of these little epistles, and weíll be pointing it out when we hit those verses, are expecting the Tribulation to be coming in just a short period of time, and they are preparing these Jewish believers for the suffering and the persecution thatís coming. Now, of course, these epistles are still appropriate - weíve now come full circle and weíre right back almost where the world was at the time that these things were taking place. Once again, the Tribulation is right out in front of us, we feel. And the revived Roman Empire, as we taught in Daniel, is falling into place in Western Europe faster than you can imagine. And the whole scenario of the world is now getting ready for, again, those final seven years.
Why, all of a sudden, is the world stressing weapons of mass destruction? Because theyíre going to be evident in those final seven years. Thatís how close I think we are. When, indeed, the whole worldís population, but the few, will be destroyed by whatever weapons that man has devised. And Iíve always said that the end events will be nuclear. I think Zechariah makes that so clear and now, of course, we realize that it will probably be weapons of bacteria and chemicals and everything else; but itís all getting the world ready for those final seven years.
So, even though these letters were addressed to Jews living back there in 50, 60, 65 AD - these letters are still appropriate for the Jewish believers that will be on the scene in the early days of the Tribulation; and they, again, will take comfort from these very same Scriptures, as that same Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ and the disciples preached will be on the scene again, being proclaimed by the 144,000. I mean itís just almost beyond human comprehension. And so these epistles will still fit, and be just as appropriate the day that takes place as they were then. So watch for it in that light - that these Jewish believers are now being prepared for the suffering and the persecution that is coming.
Now, lest you wonder what Iím talking about, come back with me to Matthew 24, where the Lord Himself is bringing the disciples up to par on end-time events. And also remember that Matthew 24 is describing the seven years of Tribulation in a nutshell. Here, the Lord Himself knew that the Tribulation wasnít going to happen right away, and wouldnít happen for another 2,000 years, but nobody else did. The Twelve had no idea. The Jewish believers had no idea. And, as Iíve already said, even the Apostle Paul had no idea that there was going to be a 1,900 and some year hiatus. So here in Matthew 24, look at the words of the Lord Jesus Himself.
"When ye(speaking to the Twelve, which represented the Nation of Israel) therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, (now the scoffers like to tell us that Daniel is a forgery and it was written by someone long afterward, but the Lord doesnít. The Author of The Book Himself gives credit to Danielís prophecy) stand in the holy place,Ö" (which of course is the Anti-christ)
"Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:"Now, drop on down to verse 21.
"For thenÖ"Thatís the mid-point of the Tribulation of course. 3 1/2 years have passed, and theyíve already had one fourth of the worldís population lose their lives. So donít ever let anybody tell you that the true Tribulation doesnít begin until the mid-point. The first half, of course, is mild by comparison to the last half; but Revelation tells us that by the end of the first half, one fourth of the worldís population is already gone. I donít call that a Sunday School picnic by any means.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world. (that goes all the way back to Adam, which includes even the Flood) to this time (that is, where He was speaking there at His first advent) no, nor ever shall be." Which means that even the Holocaust, horrible beyond human description; how those six-million Jews lost their lives at the hand of the Nazis - but even that is going to pale by comparison to these last three and a half years.
Now thatís hard to understand, isnít it, that even something worse than the Holocaust is coming upon this world. I think the reason is that the Holocaust was limited to Nazi Germany and the death camps, and World War II, which took a tremendous death toll all around the world. But yet, when this comes, itís going to be the devastation of the whole human race. In fact, I think I left the program on our last taping with those verses in Jeremiah where it says that death is going to be so rampant that they wonít even be able to bury the dead. Thereíll be no funerals. Thereíll be no graveyard digging and the bodies will be as dung upon the ground. Now thatís what the world is coming to whether they want to admit it or not. And, of course, every time I read about weapons of mass destruction, I have to think of these verses. The world is facing Godís wrath.
Now, it isnít because God is unfair or unloving. He has been extending His Grace now for 6,000 years in one way or another. But mankind continues to walk it underfoot until, finally, His wrath will fall and this is what it will be. All right, so remember, that the days of the Tribulation were postponed back there at 68-70 AD (even though Jerusalem did come under portions of tribulation times when many Jews and the Temple were destroyed), and the Tribulation is still waiting to happen. But, the scenario is pretty much the same. Now, never confuse any of this with the Church Age believers. We in the Church Age will be gone before the Tribulation even starts; we are removed from the earth when the Rapture takes place. Okay, I Peter verse 1 says it exactly like it is.
I Peter 1:1
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia."Peter is addressing his apostleship to the Jews that are scattered. Now, Iíve been doing this throughout the little book of James and Iím going to do it with Peter. Letís go back and compare how Paul puts it. Come back with me to Ephesians chapter 3. And hereís the difference. This is what we have to understand; you canít just throw it all in the blender and turn it up on high, like most like to do. But, rather, you have to keep them all separated and just compare one with the other and then note the differences. What a difference! Paul tells us to "Separate the Scriptures," and I always say, Paulís writings are for us, from the rest of Scripture. That way you can get your Church doctrine, and your salvation verses, and know what belongs to you. Then you can truly separate Law and Grace.
Remember, Peter says, "An apostle of Jesus Christ to those Jewish strangers." Now look what Paul says in Ephesians 3:1:
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner (and an apostle) of Jesus Christ for (whom?) you Gentiles." See how clearly he puts that? So everything Paul writes from Romans 1:1 until the last verse of Philemon is addressed primarily, not exclusively, but primarily to Gentiles; like these little letters are written primarily, not exclusively, to Jews. See the difference? Now, come back to I Peter. So, now then, heís an apostle of Jesus Christ writing to Jews scattered throughout that part of the Middle East.
I Peter 1:2
"Elect(or chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." All right now, again, letís come back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3, and see how Paul puts the same kind of a scenario, writing to us Gentiles.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in(the heavenlies, or) heavenly places in Christ:" Now the verse we came here for:
"According as he hath chosen us in him from before the foundation of the world,Ö"See? What does that tell us? That our Almighty, Omniscient God knew everything before the world was ever created. He knew exactly who would become believers, whether it was in Israel or whether it was in the Church Age. Nothing was unknown to Him. So when Paul says that, we, who are in Christ, were already reckoned as such, according to that foreknowledge of God. And when we speak of the foreknowledge of God, it isnít that God picked and chose and said, well youíre going to hell and youíre going to Heaven. Donít ever buy that kind of stuff. God has not done that. He has made it possible for every human being to spend eternity with Him someday.
Let me show you a verse back in Johnís Gospel chapter 1. Weíve used it before, but itís been a long time ago now. Here John is speaking, of course, of Christ in His first advent.
"That(speaking of Jesus of Nazareth) was the true Light, (capitalized) which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." How many? Every last one. No one has ever escaped that Light that has been revealed. I donít care if theyíre the Aborigines of Australia or the darkest part of China or Africa or Timbuktu; every human has had a Light. Consequently, when Iím on that subject, Iíve always got to carry it on to the Book of Romans. In Romans, Paul can write under inspiration, in perfect accord with what John said. Romans 1 verse 19, in light of the fact that Christ the Light of the world has lighted every man - now thatís a generic term that also includes the women Ė that cometh into the world.
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them;(that is the unbelieving world) for God hath (past tense) shewed it unto them." Now donít ask me how, I canít tell you; but the Scripture says it has already happened.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;(thatís been revealed to the whole human race beginning with Adam and Eve) so that they (the whole human race) are (what?) without excuse:"
In other words, theyíre going to come before the Great White Throne for the lost of all the ages bodily; and theyíre going to come before Him and theyíre going to have to admit that they spurned the opportunity that was given them. And they wonít beg an excuse. They wonít have one; because they had enough Light to become believers. I caní t comprehend it. I canít understand it. But, I believe what The Word says. Now, back to I Peter chapter 1 verse 2. So, they were the elect, or they became the chosen; they became believers and God knew it in His foreknowledge. Not that Heíd picked some to be lost and some to be save - that was everybodyís opportunity, Jew as well as Gentile. But those who became believers, then, enter into that position of being the elect and, according to the foreknowledge of God, now back in verse 2:
I Peter 1:2b
"Ö through sanctification(or the setting apart work) of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." Like I said at the beginning, there is no Gospel of Grace in these little Jewish epistles, but that doesnít mean Peter will make no reference, now, to Christís death, burial and His resurrection; and, as he does here, speaking of His shed Blood - certainly he will, because itís a done deal, itís past. But he does not present that as a means of salvation like Paul does. Now, Iíd better go back so you can see what Iím talking about. Come back again to Romans, because I want to show you how, clearly, these things are not in these little Jewish epistles. You just canít find them. Even though thereís a reference to the blood or so forth, it does not define it like Paul does and thatís where the difference comes in.
Now, Romans chapter 3. I like to start with verse 23 as this is an all-encompassing verse on the lot of mankind ever since Adam.
"For all have sinned,(every one of us) and come short of the glory of God; (now here it comes) 24. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption (or the process of buying us back) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,Ö" Through faith in His blood! Now you see, Peter just makes reference to it as an accomplished fact. But he doesnít tell us what Christís shed blood is really doing with us in our faith relationship. But here Paul tells us that we placed our faith in His shed blood.
"Öto declare his (Godís) righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. 26. (this is where you and I are) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, (totally fair) and the justifier of him which believethÖ." Peter doesnít lay that out that clearly. And then you go on through Paulís epistles, and over and over he makes it plain that faith in the finished work of the Cross then becomes our means of going to Heaven. Now back to I Peter. So Peter is certainly going to make mention of these things that are past, that Christ has died; His Blood has been shed. Absolutely.
I Peter 1:3
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope(or a living hope. Why? Because Christ is not longer in the tomb) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," Christ has been raised from the dead! But Peter doesnít lay that out as part and parcel of the Gospel of Salvation like Paul does. Heís just laying it out as a fact to be rested upon that, even Israel has to understand, their Messiah is not dead - Heís alive! Peter does the same thing in Acts 2 and 3. He doesnít associate it with Gospel per se, but he lets it be known that the Christ they crucified was not dead; he was alive, and was still fully capable of fulfilling those covenant promises of bringing in that glorious Kingdom.
I Peter 1:4-5a
"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,(see?) and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (so theyíre also looking for an eternal existence in Godís program because of their faith) 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.Ö"
Now the question comes up so often, "How were the Old Testament people saved?" By faith - itís always been by faith. In fact we showed in our teaching up in South Dakota last week, that Adam and Eve were restored back to fellowship. Why? Because they had taken God at His Word. God had told them that they would be the progenitors of the whole human race and, because of that, Adam named the woman, "the mother of all living." Well what was that? It was a manifestation of his faith. And so, all the way up through the Old Testament whether it was sacrifices, Temple worship or whatever, it was still always precipitated by their faith.
And when you come into Christís earthly ministry, what was the basis for the Twelve knowing that Jesus was the Promised Messiah? Faith - they believed it because the Word of God had promised such a Person would come. And when they saw His signs and wonders and miracles, they believed it. Itís always been by faith. And the same way with us in the Age of Grace; but so, also now, with these Jews to whom Peter, James and John are writing these little epistles - itís always by faith.
I Peter 1:5
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."Well whatís the last time? These final seven years of human history, which would lead up to the coming of their Messiah to set up His Kingdom. So watch for this; every once in a while you have this reference, that this is bringing us to the end of the human experience, that the 1,000-year earthly Kingdom would be coming in and from there, of course, weíd be ushered into eternity.
There is no inkling that all this is going to be interrupted and filled with what we now call the 1900+ years of the Church Age. So, he said, "All these things will be revealed in the last time."
Lesson Two ē Part II
Peter Continues the Kingdom Message
I Peter 1:1 - 2:14
I have to remind you that these little epistles are addressed primarily, not exclusively, but primarily, to Jewish believers who were facing the horrors of the Tribulation, which at that time they thought were just over the horizon.
So all the language in these little epistles is preparation for testing, pressure and suffering that will be coming upon these Jewish believers in that 7-year period of Tribulation. They were not written to Grace Age believers such as you and I, as our instructions come primarily from the pen of the Apostle Paul. However we can certainly glean something from some of these writings.
I Peter 1:6
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,(now for just a little while) if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations;" Now, not the temptation to sin but the testings of persecution. Again, I think we have to understand that these Jewish believers who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah for their salvation were so relatively small in number. The vast majority of Israel had not accepted Jesus as the Messiah, so even within the Jewish community these believers were a small, small percentage.
Well, then, compared to the whole world around them, they almost felt like they were nobodies. So they were already coming under a lot of persecution and pressure, even though they werenít in the Tribulation. So, this is what Peter is addressing. Donít give up. Donít get discouraged because youíre under these kinds of testings. Verse 7:
I Peter 1:7
"That the trial(or the testing) of your faith, (They were trusting that the King, the Messiah would shortly be coming and setting up His Kingdom. And so,) being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the (what?) appearing of (Whom?) Jesus Christ:" Now letís compare some Scriptures again. Go back first to Jeremiah chapter 30 and begin with verse 4, because the Jews are resting as much on the Old Testament as was possible. Now this is prophecy written way back about 600 BC. But these believing Jews in Peterís day are looking at the fulfilling of it.
"And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah(in other words the whole nation) 5. For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, And all faces are turned into paleness? 7. Alas! for that day is great, (the Tribulation period) so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacobís trouble; (the Nation of Israel) but he shall be saved out of it."
Letís go to Zechariah chapter 13 on your way back to the New Testament, and letís begin with verse 8. Now this is all prophecy, but yet these Jewish believers now in 50-60 AD thought it was about to be fulfilled in their lifetime.
"And it shall come to pass,(what does that mean? Itís going to happen! Donít you think for a minute it isnít going to happen just because itís been delayed for 2,000 years. Itís still out in front of us) that in all the land, (that is the land of Israel) saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9. And I will bring the third part through the fire, (that is the trials and the wrath of the Tribulation) and will refine them as silver is refined, will try (test) them as gold is tried: (tested) they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: (now this is at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the 7 years) I will say, It is my people: (now itís been a long time since God has called Israel "My people." But again He will!) and they shall say, The LORD is my God."
Now thatís of course what Paul, I think, refers to over in the Book of Romans chapter 11 and verse 26 - that a remnant shall be saved, and then he calls the remnant "All Israel" because they will be the total of the nation going into the Kingdom.
Now in that same light, come back to Acts chapter 3 verses 18 through 21, and here Peter is appealing to the Nation of Israel to still recognize that the One that was crucified was their Messiah.
"But those things,(now this is Peter addressing the multitude of Jews there in Jerusalem) which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (that is the death on the Cross) 19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (how?) 20. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (but Peter knows prophecy, so the next verse) 21. Whom the heaven must receiveÖ."
Remember, for the last year or two weíve been stressing Psalms 110:1, especially when we went through the book of Hebrews.
"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."What was the "until?" When He would return. Thatís what Peterís referring to. That if Israel would repent of having crucified their Messiah, and they could experience the remission of sins, God would send Jesus Christ to fulfill the prophecies and the Kingdom would come in - but verse 21 would have to happen first.
"Whom the heaven must receive(sitting at the Fatherís right hand) untilÖ" Iím always emphasizing time words in Scripture. Until is a time word. So He would sit at the Fatherís right hand until it would be time to return, and that couldnít happen until:
"Öthe times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
Back to Peter - so what was the restitution of all things? This earth has to be cleansed of all the defilement before God can bring in that glorious Kingdom and thatís what the Tribulation is going to accomplish. The Tribulation is going to accomplish the destruction of everything that man has put on the planet the last 6,000 years. He has too! I stressed it here several weeks ago. Can God set up a Heaven on earth with bars on every corner? Racetracks all over? Bingo places and gambling casinos? Thatís all got to go. That wonít work in the Kingdom! And all the other places of dens of iniquity - theyíve got to go! Everything is going to go. Itís going to be cleansed and made ready, then, as it was in the Garden of Eden. And so all of prophecy is looking toward that day.
But these Jewish believers thought it was just over the horizon. And that was another reason why they so glibly sold their houses and their land back there in Acts chapter 2. They cashed in their savings and put everything into a common kitty, because they thought the Kingdom was just over the horizon.
Now, with the persecution thatís settling on them, they really think itís close; and Peter is encouraging that line of thinking. "Get ready because the Tribulation is right out in front of us, but once we go through the Tribulation, the King and the Kingdom will be our lot." See? All right, so verse 7 again.
I Peter 1:7-8a
"That the trial(the testings) of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; 8. Whom having not seen,Ö" Now, as I was looking at this, something struck me. What does that tell you? Evidently none of these dispersed Jews now living somewhere in that area of 50 to 65 AD, had witnessed Christís earthly ministry. These Jews had either been out of the land or for one reason or another had never been part and parcel of His earthly ministry or His miracles and signs, because Peter says, "you havenít seen Him."
I Peter 1:8
"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing,(see thereís the faith aspect, always by faith!) ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:í
I had a phone call this morning from a gentleman who had come out of a cult - you talk about somebody full of joy unspeakable! I said, "Youíve made my day!" And you could just feel it over the telephone; how thrilled he was that he had seen the light and had come out of the darkness of this cult and was now in the Grace of God! Well, these Jews were in the same situation. They had come away from Judaism with all of its works religion now with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I Peter 1:9
"Receiving the end of your faith, even(what?) the salvation of your souls." Itís always by faith, even as I stressed in that last program.
I Peter 1:10a
"Of which salvation the prophetsÖ"Now, the prophets, where were they? Way back before Christ. Going all the way back to Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the rest of it - Moses was a prophet to a degree. So, going all the way back, especially to the beginning of Israelís experience with the prophets:
I Peter 1:10b
"Öhave inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:"Now when you analyze that verse and pick it apart, what does it tell you? The Old Testament prophets had an idea of something that they could not take hold of. They couldnít comprehend it. Let me give you an example. Come back with me to Daniel, chapter 12 verse 8, and this is just one example. This just says it all, and is exactly what Peter is referring to, that the prophets knew that there was something that they couldnít put their hands on. And I still canít.
Every once in a while somebody will write or call and ask, "Les, how were the Old Testament people saved?" Well, it was by faith. There had to be animal sacrifice, I know that, but yet, when you get down to the full minutia of Old Testament salvation, itís hard to put your thumb on it. And I had a dear old widow of a tremendous Jewish Bible teacher who was in one of my classes years back and I asked her one time, "How did your husband describe the Old Testament salvation?" She said, "He said just exactly what you said tonight, you canít put your thumb on it."
And thatís the only way I can explain it because there are certain things that just keep popping up as questions that we canít answer; but here itís so obvious, then, that these Old Testament prophets understood there was something, and they looked into it. They searched diligently, but they couldnít put their thumb on it. All right, here it is; Daniel 12:8:
"And I heard,(in other words, as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance to write) but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?" In other words, Daniel, after writing all these prophecies and not understanding all the ramifications, said, "Lord what does all this mean?" And what was Godís answer? "Daniel, close the book, itís not for you to know."
"And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
Iíve pointed this out, that from around 400 AD until about the middle 1800ís there was almost no grasp in the community of Christendom about end-time prophecy. It was never talked about - never discussed. No one had an understanding of the Rapture and Tribulation and the Second Coming. It was never talked about. And I donít think God expected them to because it wasnít the time. But, beginning in about the middle 1800ís, in so many areas of the human experience in secular technology, in prophetic understanding, in the Nation of Israel, and in the physical Nation of Israel, the return of rain, the ending of the earthquakes and the defeat of malaria; all these things started getting us ready for where we are today, the end-time.
But prior to that time, from about 400 AD until about 1860 AD or so Ė nothing. Everything just sort of went on an even keel. The Nation of Israel stayed empty. Earthquakes kept anybody from building. Malaria kept the population out. Israel remained dispersed because God kept the land, for the most part, empty. The Jews never thought about going home until, all of a sudden, since about the middle 1800ís everything starts happening! Technology. All of a sudden one invention after another comes along and now, since the turn of the century, itís just been a downhill slide in the increase in technology. Well, why didnít it happen all those intervening years? Because there was no need for it. But as soon as God was preparing for the end-time, here it all comes, as it says in Daniel 12:4.
Itís just amazing, and it should be enough to turn the darkest infidel into a believer - that all these things according to Godís divine purposes have begun to fall into place. All right, so Danielís the same way. He said, "Close the book, Daniel. Thereís no need for everybody understanding end-time events, theyíre not ready for it." And so they didnít. All right, and so the prophets all through the Old Testament could not comprehend this whole idea of a suffering Savior and yet a ruling King.
Speaking of the prophets not knowing completely about a suffering Saviour and yet a ruling king. All through the Old Testament you have parallel lines of thought just like two railroad tracks and I know Iíve said it years and years ago, especially in my classes. And the one line is the teaching of a suffering Messiah, and on the other line was this constant prophecy of a glorious Kingdom which, of course, would imply a King. All the way through the Old Testament; first they would be talking about a suffering Messiah and on the other hand here were these promises of a glorious King and His Kingdom. But, just like Peter says, they couldnít put it together and God didnít really expect them to.
Now, come back with me to Genesis. The birth of Benjamin is found over in Genesis 35, and this goes clear back, not too long after the call of Abraham, so that would have to be 1700-1800 BC., because Abrahamís call was about 2000 BC. Here Jacob and his family are back in the land of Palestine, Israel.
"And they journeyed from Bethel;(which is up north of Jerusalem) and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: (which, I think, is in the area of present day Bethlehem, a few miles south of Jerusalem) and Rachel (the beloved of Jacob) travailed, and she had hard labour. 17. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: (which in the Hebrew meant, the son of my suffering) but his father (Jacob overruled and) called him Benjamin." (which meant the son of my strength.)
Now you see you have two totally different ideas in those two names. Benoni was the son of suffering, but Benjamin meant the son of my strength. So you see, the rabbis way back in antiquity were looking at that and analyzing it and searching diligently what this could mean; and so some of them, not all of them, but some of them came to the conclusion that there had to be a Messiah who would suffer. But there would also have to be a Messiah who would be a ruling King and bring in the Kingdom. Now, then, what did they miss? That it would be one and the same.
But that He would come with an interval of time in between the suffering and the ruling and reigning. And thatís what they missed. And I think this is exactly what Peter is talking about; how the old prophets knew that there had to be a suffering Messiah and I suppose they looked at some of the passages in Isaiah, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool." And they must have had some inkling that in Isaiah 53, when it says "that He is chastised for our sins" and all these things, they knew that there had to be a suffering Messiah and yet they could look at verses like Zechariah 14 that said, "and He shall be King over all the earth."
So they were torn betwixt and between. And they could not put the whole thing together. And all you have to do is just go back some night with a concordance, and go into your Old Testament and look up these concepts of how there would be this suffering on the one hand and the ruling and the reigning of a glorious, powerful King on the other. And even today, if a Jew has any concept of spiritual things, what does he tell you theyíre looking for? The Messiah!
Now theyíre not looking for a suffering Messiah, theyíre looking for a ruling Messiah, One Who like one real Orthodox young Jew told me years ago, he said, "Weíre looking for a Messiah Who will not only be able to bring peace to the Middle East but He will bring peace to the whole world. Heíll be a tremendous individual." Well, indeed He will be; but you see, he wasnít looking for a Messiah as we understand the Messiah. He was just simply looking for a super-individual who would fulfill that role of being the King and bring in this Kingdom promised to Israel.
Lesson Two ē Part III
Peter Continues the Kingdom Message
I Peter 1:1 - 2:14
Weíre glad youíre with us and we trust that youíll study and search the Scriptures; and just donít take what I say. You can disagree with me. I donít mind disagreement one bit, but you have to do it scripturally. Not just because of what your denomination says, or what my denomination says, or anybody elseís; but what we go by is what the Book says. And I find that when we donít agree, it normally is because people like to stay in the Law rather than in what the Apostle Paul has written to us. So you have to rightly divide the Word of God.
Okay, now, to pick up again with our study. We find that I Peter is in this little group of Jewish epistles at the back of our Bible, that is written to the Jews. And we showed that, at the beginning of the chapter, he is writing to the strangers, or to the dispersed Jews out there in the Roman Empire, primarily in Asia Minor. Now, of course, there were other groups as well, but I think most of these Jews of the Gospel of the Kingdom persuasion had believed Jesus was the Christ, and theyíre now waiting for His soon return. And all the pressures of persecution are building and yet itís nothing compared to that which they think is just in front of them, which at the time Peter is writing, is the 7 years of Tribulation.
So, even though that 7 years of Tribulation has been postponed for nearly 2,000 years, yet we have come full circle, and here we are almost back in the same kind of a setting. At that time, the Roman Empire held forth, but today, Western Europe is coming up fast, as is prophesied in Daniel. So the revised Roman Empire is coming on the scene. Israel was still in the land as of Peterís writings, and they did not experience the Roman invasion and destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, so they still werenít aware of that. And the same way today, the land of Israel is in Jewish hands for the most part and we trust that when the seven-year peace treaty is signed, the first thing theyíre going to get will be a restored Temple of some sort. So all of these things are now almost back as they were before.
All right, so coming back now in I Peter chapter 1 - we left off with verse 11; how that all the Old Testament prophets had an inkling, and yet no understanding of some of the things that were to come. They knew there was to be a suffering Redeemer. They knew there was to be a glorious ruling King. And I think a lot of the old rabbis and so forth thought that they might even be two separate people. But, if it was One and the same, they certainly couldnít comprehend that it was separated by a period of time, which now, of course, has been almost 2,000 years since the suffering Savior and we are now getting ready for the return of the glorious King and His Kingdom. All right, so, reading verse 11 again just to review our thinking that these prophets in verse 10 were:
I Peter 1:11a
"Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,Ö"Which again, what does that tell you? Even the Old Testament saints were moved as Paul says, that "all Scripture was inspired of God." The Old Testament writers were just as much inspired by the Holy Spirit as our New Testament writers and here it is again.
I Peter 1:11b
"Öwhen it testified(to those Old Testament prophets,) beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." In other words, after He would suffer the death of the Cross, and He would ascend back to Glory, then in short order would come the horrors of the Tribulation, and then the King would return and set up the Kingdom. That was the Old Testament format and timeline according to Psalms chapter 2, but none of them had an inkling that God would stop it and usher in the Age of Grace with the Apostle Paul.
Now the Lord Himself did. Jesus, in Luke chapter 4 gave us, as Iíve used so often, our reason for opening up our timeline. Because Jesus understood that the Tribulation would not be coming as quickly as Psalms 2 indicated, but He did not betray that knowledge except when he read from the book of Isaiah.
Maybe we should go back and look at that because we havenít done that for a while. Letís go back to Luke chapter 4. Sometimes thereís no apparent rhyme nor reason to what I do, and yet I have to feel the Lord has done it the way He wants it done, because weíre seeing so many people understand Scripture like they never have before. Now remember here in Luke chapter 4, we have Christ in His earthly ministry, and Christ is still under the Law.
"And he(Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, (of course) and stood up for to read. 17. And there was delivered unto him the book (or the scroll) of the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). And when he had opened the book, he found (in other words, he looked for it) the place where it was written;" Now this is what he read from Isaiah.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel(or the good news, which in that case was of the King and the Kingdom) to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, (which he did when he went down into hell or hades those three days and three nights in the tomb.) and recovering of sight to the blind, (a reference to His miracles and signs and wonders) to set at liberty them that are bruised. 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him." And then, when Jesus realized that they were looking for some kind of a statement from him, He said again:
"And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture(Isaiah 61 verses 1, 2 and 3) fulfilled in your ears."
Now we always have to go back to Isaiah 61 and see why there was such consternation in that Synagogue group when Jesus stopped reading. Well, of course, the reason was that He stopped right in the middle of a verse or even in the middle of a thought.
Isaiah 61, and we wonít take time to reread verse 1, but come up to verse 2 and I want you to notice where He stopped. But no one else figured it out. The disciples didnít figure it out. They didnít understand, and so we in retrospect can. All right, in verse 2 of Isaiah 61.
"To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,Ö"(and thatís where He stopped). He stopped right in the middle of the thought. But why did He stop? Because He knew the rest of those verses were not going to be fulfilled at that time. But He never betrayed that secret. He didnít tell the Twelve what He was talking about. All right, now look where he stopped as we finish that verse.
"Öand the day of vengeance of our God;..."(the 7 years of Tribulation). See, He knew that wasnít going to come right away like all the rest of Scripture had laid it out - that all these things would come right down the pike, one thing after the other. But Jesus here, in His knowledge as God, knew that it was going to be interrupted and so He stopped in the middle of the verse, so that He could honestly say, "this has been fulfilled in your ears."
But the day of vengeance hadnít been, that was still future. And then after the day of vengeance the next thing on the agenda of all of prophecy was what?
"Öto comfort all that mourn;"Thatís the Kingdom! Thatís what the Kingdom will do. Thatís when the curse will be lifted and thereíll be no more sorrow and sin and death. And so Jesus here, I think, gives us the authority that I take in opening up that timeline and showing how everything stopped when Paul began his ministry to the Gentile world, in what we call the Age of Grace. And when this Age of Grace is finished and out of the way, then God will pick up where He left off back here in Israelís history, and then that 7 years of Tribulation and the Kingdom will come in!
All right, back to I Peter where he thinks the Tribulation is just over the horizon, and he continues to warn his little flock of Jews. And as we come back to the text, we have been studying how these Old Testament Prophets had been searching the Scriptures.
I Peter 1:12
"Unto whom(that is the Old Testament believers) it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us (the believers now at the time of Christís first advent) they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." In other words, the angels have always had that desire to get a comprehension of Godís dealing with the human race. And thatís why Paul warns us not to get involved with these angelic beings. All right, verse 13.
I Peter 1:13
"Wherefore(Peter writes) gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you (when?) at the revelation (or the second coming) of Jesus Christ." See how all of this is just as if itís right out in front of them. Hang tough! Donít give in to these persecutions because, one day soon, Christ is going to return and all of this will fade away; and weíll be in the glories of the Kingdom. Notice Peter never mentions the Rapture of the Church like Paul does? None of that was ever revealed to the Twelve. But rather it was only revealed to Paul for us in the Church Age. Arenít you glad Paul never tells us weíll have to go through the Tribulation, like Peter tells his flock they would have to? Now verse 14.
I Peter 1:14-15
"As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts (or desires) in your ignorance: 15. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;" In other words, Christ was not only their example, He was also their Messiah and coming King, and they were to pattern their lifestyle after Him, even as we do. To a certain extent, we try to live Christ-like lives - He is definitely an example to be followed, although the Holy Spirit directed Paul to write to us, telling us in 5 or 6 different places that Paul was our example and pattern here in the Church Age. All right, now verse 16.
I Peter 1:16-17
"Because it is written, Be ye holy;(set apart) for I am holy. (set apart) 17. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every manís work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:" What does that word "sojourning" imply? Just a short period of time. Just a little short period of time and all this pressure and suffering will end and the Kingdom will be their lot. All right, now verse 18. Here, again, we come as close as Peter can to bringing salvation into the lives of these Jewish believers.
I Peter 1:18
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed(or bought back) with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (manner of living) received by tradition from your fathers;" In other words, Judaism, Law-keeping, sacrifices and all that. Now these believing Jews have something more concrete.
I Peter 1:19
"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"Now remember this is after His death, burial and resurrection, and Peter can proclaim that thatís what the Cross accomplished, even though they did not believe that per se as their Gospel of salvation. Their Gospel of salvation was to believe that Jesus was Who He said He was. "Their Messiah! The Christ! The Son of God!" And thatís all God expected them to believe for their salvation. But, when they believed what God told them to believe, then God reckoned all the work of the Cross as credit to their account, naturally.
I Peter 1:20
"Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you," In other words, as weíve seen in Acts chapter 2, in days gone by, long before anything was ever created, what did God set up? The Plan of Redemption. See? It was way back before eternity past. All right, and Peterís reminding them of that, that all of this was foreordained before the world was ever created but itís all been brought into the spotlight now. It has all been brought to their understanding in what times? "These last times." They think theyíre at the end of Godís program for the human race.
They had no concept of another 2,000 years before it will all wrap up. They thought they were ripe, ready for the Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom.
I Peter 1:21a
"Who by him do believe in God,(the same God) that raised him up from the dead,Ö" Peter makes no apology for the fact that Christ died and rose from the dead. But he does not proclaim it as their Gospel of salvation. Now let me show you how perfectly this agrees with what he preached on Pentecost.
Come all the way back to Acts because I want to be able to show you this whole concept of Israelís Messiah and that they were not expected to believe in the death, burial and resurrection for their Salvation. Acts chapter 2 starting in verse 22. Now this was Pentecost, that Jewish feast day where we had multitudes of Jews coming from every corner of the then-known world to the Temple worship of these seven feast days of Jehovah throughout the year. All right, this was the feast of Pentecost. Peter is addressing Israel.
"Ye men of Israel,(thereís no Gentile language here) hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:" Remember the timing. How long has it been since He was crucified? Seven weeks. Fifty days. Thatís all. So weíre close to the crucifixion. And he says, "As you yourselves know."
"Him, being delivered by the determinate counselÖ"In other words, before eternity past had even brought about creation - back there in that determining counsel. Now continue the verse.
"Öand foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."
Does Peter mention anything about their salvation in believing that? No. Whatís he proving? That even though the Messiah was crucified, God has raised Him from the dead, He can still be our King. Heís alive! Heís well! Donít give up on His Kingship. Donít give up on the Kingdom - thatís the message. Not that they were to believe it for salvation. The message of faith in His death, and burial, and resurrection for salvation was only given to Paul for us in the Body of Christ. It was never given to the Twelve for Israel. A lot of people think it was, but itís not in the Book!
All right, then he comes from the Psalms in these next series of verses, showing from the Psalms that the Messiah must suffer and die and be raised from the dead, verse 31.
"He(that is David the writer of the Psalms) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, (way back in the Psalms, 1000 BC) that his (Christís) soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32. This Jesus (whom had just been crucified seven weeks ago) hath God raised up, (from the dead) whereof (Peter said) we are all witnesses. 33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." Well, he said, David isnít talking about himself - he didnít ascend up to the heavens, but he wrote Psalms 110 verse 1 which says:
"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."And then verse 36 of Acts chapter 2. Because all of this has now been accomplished according to prophecy:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
The first program this afternoon, we went back to Acts chapter 3 where Peter says again that, if they would just repent of having crucified their Messiah and get right with their God, Christ would return and give them the Kingdom. But, the Tribulation had to come before that could happen. All right, so Peter is still on the same ground. Peter isnít on church ground. Peter is on prophecy. Peter is on the Old Testament promises concerning the Nation of Israel. All right, back to I Peter, and verse 21
I Peter 1:21
"Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."See how heís rehearsing all this that was back there in that Pentecostal sermon. Now verse 22.
I Peter 1:22-23a
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23. Being born again,Ö"Now Iíve got to stop a minute. Were did you first hear that term? Where did you first hear of being born again? John chapter 3. Jesus is dealing with Nicodemus and what did He tell Nicodemus? "Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom." The same Kingdom, which they were all looking for that is coming to the earth. Thatís the 1,000-year reign and rule of Christ we read about in the Book of Revelation. All right Peter uses the same terminology.
I Peter 1:23b
"Önot of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
Now this brings up a point. Does Paul ever use the term "born again?" No. And it seems odd. Now he certainly speaks of becoming a new person in Christ. He certainly speaks of the death of Old Adam and of a new nature. And he speaks of our being crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, resurrected with Christ. But he never uses the term, "born again." And Iíve wondered at that over the years but, evidently, there has to be a technical difference that maybe only God knows. But Peter certainly uses it now, even as the Lord used it - that, if theyíre going to go into the Kingdom of heaven on earth thatís coming, they had to be born again. Now verse 24.
I Peter 1:24a
"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass...."In other words it comes up and itís clipped off and itís done.
I Peter 1:24b
"ÖThe grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:"
I read a poem or something, years and years ago, and it has always stuck in my memory. "Snow on the River." Have you ever seen snow falling on the river? How long does that snowflake last? (Snap) Itís gone. Thatís what life is, life is like snow on the river. And this life, whether itís 70, 80, 90 or 100 years is nothing in the light of eternity. Itís about as long as a flake of snow hitting the river. All right, the Psalmist does it and so does Peter - refers to it as grass that springs up in the morning and in the afternoon itís clipped off and itís gone. Thatís life. Now verse 25, and hereís the flip side.
I Peter 1:25
"But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
Now letís go back to Matthew chapter 9 so that youíll get this concept of the gospel that Peter is speaking of. A lot of people think that when you hear the word ĎGospelí youíre thinking about the Gospel of Grace that weíre saved by - and that is, of course, as Paul teaches in I Corinthians 15:1-4, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead. Thatís our Gospel of Grace.
But, look what Jesus says back here in Matthew chapter 9; and hereís where you have to compare Scripture. And this is the Gospel that Peter is still resting on. Nothing has changed so far as Peter is concerned. They were still on the same Gospel that Jesus preached in His earthly ministry. Matthew 9 verse 35.
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people."All right, then, you come over to chapter 10 where it shows it so clearly - itís all Jewish as we see in verse 5.
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of Samaritans enter ye not: 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."And what were they to preach? "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. That was the good news of the Kingdom; that Israelís Messiah was here and is ready to give the Kingdom to Israel if they would just believe that He was that Promised Messiah. Thatís the Gospel of the Kingdom. It has nothing to do so far as their faith was concerned in death, burial and resurrection.
Lesson Two ē Part IV
Peter Continues the Kingdom Message
I Peter 1:1 - 2:14
Now letís pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and I think weíre going to start chapter 2. Now this next series of verses here in I Peter are so applicable even for you and I in the Age of Grace. And even though Iíve been stressing that these little Jewish letters here at the back of your Bible are written primarily to Jewish believers of the Kingdom economy, there are so many things in here that overlap. So we in the Church Age can glean some things from these writings, and here are a few.
I Peter 2:1
"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,"Does that apply to us? Well, I donít see why not. Absolutely itís appropriate. If weíre going to have a viable group of believers, then you certainly cannot be undercutting one another with gossip and envying and so forth.
I Peter 2:2
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may(what?) grow thereby:" Now, you see, hereís a comparison that fits perfectly with the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians, chapter 3. Letís move back there a minute. Here, Paul uses the same analogy of milk. Now, of course, scriptural milk is simply the simple things, the elementary. But, God doesnít want us to stay on the simple. He wants us to go into the deep things of Scripture. And I think thatís where Christendom as a whole has failed. The leaders have never given people anything more than milk.
All right, I Corinthians chapter 3? Verse 1 and this is what Paul writes to this Gentile congregation.
I Corinthians 3:1-3a
"And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, (people who have matured) but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (notice itís the same language that Peter is using) 2. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, (that is the meat part of Scripture) neither yet now are ye able (to take deep, meat Scripture. Why?) 3. For ye are yet carnal:Ö" Now the Corinthians were all hung up on going to law and court with one another and arguing over who was the greatest Ė Apollos or Paul or Peter or Christ. And so they were still very carnal instead of getting into a love for one another and getting into the Word and growing spiritually. So what Paul had to use was the analogy of milk to make them understand.
I Corinthians 3:3
"For(he says) ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" All right now Peter is dealing with the same kind of a situation amongst the Jewish believers. Now come back with me to I Peter chapter 2. So he uses the same analogy that they were to desire the simple things, but for goodness sakes, donít stay on milk, move on. Even in the physical. What is a sadder dilemma than to have some little infant that never grows beyond the milk?
And you know there is such a thing? We had a couple stop the other day who were asking us for prayer for someone. Theyíd just had a child and they were worried that it may have had a disease that was generations back on one side or the other. And several generations back these folks had had a little infant and, for 14 years, the child never went beyond infancy. Normal in every respect but remained an infant. Well, thatís awful. Heartbreaking! But, you see, this is most Christians. Most believers never go beyond infancy and Godís heart must just break. How He longs to see the believer grow spiritually, just like we like to see a child grow physically. .
You know, Iíve got grandkids and theyíre in that fast growing spurt and boy they come in almost every other week, and say, "Look Grandpa, Iíve grown another half-inch!" Well, you see thatís what you want. But how many believers can do that. They just never get beyond infancy with the Word of God. All right, so Peter is admonishing even these Jewish believers:
I Peter 2:2-4
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:(donít remain an infant) 3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious."
All right, now Iíve got to stop there a minute donít I? Weíre not going to take time to chase down all the Scriptures but I think most of you now know those Scriptures Iím speaking of. For example, you go all the way back to Exodus and when Moses struck the rock, Who was the Rock? Christ! And so He was the Rock that gave out living water. Well, you move on up through the Scriptures and you get to Daniel, and Daniel tells us that through his vision (as he could see all the great empires that were coming upon the earth) there was this huge image of a man. The head of gold was Babylon. The next part of the image, the silver, was the Medes and Persians. And the next part was the brass, the Greeks. And then the legs of iron were the Roman Empire and then the ten toes, iron and clay (which will be the Revived Roman Empire that is getting stronger even as we speak). Then the next verse says what? "He saw a huge stone cut out without hands, crushed all vestige of those empires, until they became dust." Who was the stone cut out without hands? The returning Christ.
The stone that crushes the empire at His Second Coming. Well then, you have the analogy in the Psalms of "the stone that was set aside of the builders." Well now, in imagery, it was beautiful. And Iím sure it was just a legend that was brought about, but the legend was speaking of when they were building the Temple at which there was not a sound of a hammer. All the cutting of those stones was done at a distance. And then the quarry men would send the stones as they were needed, as the building was rising. Well, as the story goes, to make a good scriptural application, the quarry men sent the headstone of the corner long before they were ready for it. So what did the builders do? Well, they just kicked it off into the weeds and almost forgot about it. But that very same headstone of the corner then in imagery became the stumbling block of the Jew over which they stumbled because they couldnít recognize Who He was. So all through Scripture we have over and over the picturing of Christ as "the stone."
Then, of course, when we get to Paulís writings in I Corinthians chapter 3, he becomes the headstone of our foundation. He is the "Rock" of our cornerstone, or however you want to put it. He is the foundation of the Church.
I Corinthians 3:11
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,which is Jesus Christ." And so all through Scripture we have this analogy of Christ as a Rock or as a Stone. All right, now Peter is coming back to it and he says in verse 6:
I Peter 2:6
"Wherefore also it is contained in the scriptures, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone,(speaking of Christ as He presented Himself to the Nation of Israel) elect, precious: (in other words, Christ was the chosen One of God to bring about the salvation of, not just Israel, but, the whole human race) and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded." And I think maybe if you were to go in to the translations, a better word would be disappointed rather than confounded. Now read it in that light and I donít think Iím doing any violence to the text. "That he that believeth on him (Christ as the Stone) shall not be disappointed."
Have you ever stopped to think how many millions and millions of people are going to go out into eternity and suddenly be disappointed. Oh, they think theyíve done everything that needs to be done. They think theyíre going to make it, but when life ends on this earth and they find themselves in the wrong place, what a disappointment. In fact, I just shared with a group while we were at a seminar last week about a book written by a Lutheran theologian on the Flood. And I think his name was Rehwinkel if I remember correctly. But he gave this analogy, and Iíve used it over the years. I think itís beautiful.
He said that for 120 years, Noah and the three sons were building the ark. But they must have had other people come in to help them with all the work entailed in building that huge ark. And so for 120 years Noahís friends and neighbors worked with him on the ark. But when the flood came, did they go in? No. They thought he was crazy. Then, this Dr. Rehwinkel made this analogy. He said, "Isnít that true of the church? How many people are just as busy working in the church as these builders on the ark; theyíre singing in the choir, theyíre Sunday School teachers, theyíre church officers. But when eternity stares them in the face, theyíre outside."
And the reason these people will be left outside is - They have never truly believed in their heart Paulís Gospel of salvation that Jesus died for their sins and your sins, was buried, and rose again! My how sad that is. But the ones that have will never be disappointed.
I Peter 2:7a
"Unto you therefore which believeÖ"See, now here Peter is close to Paul again isnít he? Itís faith. For these Jews who believed Who Jesus was, and indeed the One they crucified, was the Christ. Thatís what they were to believe. And then, of course, the benefits of the Cross were imputed unto them. When you go back into the Old Testament economy, and what prompted what I said earlier that I canít put my thumb on their salvation experience - they didnít believe that Christ would die on a Roman Cross, and be raised from the dead. They hadnít even heard of such a thing. But, when they believed what God told them to believe, then all the merits of the Cross were put to their account.
Well, itíll be the same way in the Tribulation. When these 144,000 Jews go out and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom again (which was basically what we were all talking about, that Jesus was the Christ and Heís coming to set up His Kingdom), theyíre not going to believe in a death, burial and resurrection for salvation. Theyíre going to believe Who Jesus was. But, the merit of the Cross is what will be imputed to their necessity.
So, yes, the Cross is central to everything - even though they didnít all believe in that per se, as we do in our Gospel of Grace. So always remember that, even though people did not understand that Christ would die on a Roman Cross and be raised from the dead, the merit of that work of the Cross is still put to their account.
I Peter 2:8a
"And a stone of stumbling,Ö"Thatís why I went back to the legend, that when they laid the cornerstone aside, they didnít know what to do with it. Then, later on, it became a stone of stumbling - thatís exactly what Israel did. He came and they didnít know what to do with Him. And so they cast Him aside and they crucified Him. But He became then also the Stone of stumbling, reading on.
I Peter 2:8b
"Öand a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word,Ö"Thatís millions, if not billions, of people who stumble at the Word of God:
I Peter 2:8c
"Öbeing disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."In other words, they had every opportunity to understand and believe. Remember, Peter is speaking to these Jews of this day and time, shortly after the crucifixion. Now Iím talking in terms of the crucifixion at 29 AD. Peter is probably writing somewhere between 50 and 60 AD - and so these are Jewish believers who still had that connection to the Jerusalem church of Acts chapter 2. All right, and so he says:
I Peter 2:9a
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;Ö"Paul doesnít use those words, but you know what? Come back with me to Exodus 19 and youíll see, when God is speaking to Moses, theyíll just jump off the page. The same words. Exodus 19. And see this is what makes Bible study so gloriously interesting. The Nation of Israel is gathered around Mount Sinai and heís up in the mountain. All right, and so God says to Moses:
"Now therefore, if ye(the Nation of Israel) will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasureÖ." Same word in Peter! Now flip back and forth so youíll know what Iím talking about. Flip back to Peter again, "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." Now the word peculiar doesnít mean odd. It means of intrinsic value. All right, back to Exodus.
"Öthen ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:(Heís Sovereign, He can do what He wants) 6. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of (what?) priests,Ö" Now flip back to Peter. And what does Peter say? "A royal priesthood, A holy nation." Back to Exodus. See just back and forth. Itís the only way you can compare. Now in Exodus again.
"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation, These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."And Peter is claiming that very same thing now to these Jews. You are now in fulfillment of what God was telling Moses. Youíre to be a royal priesthood. Youíre to be a holy, set apart, nation. And youíre to be a peculiar people. You are to be of intrinsic value. All right, now back to I Peter and weíll continue on.
I Peter 2:9b
"Öthat ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"Now Iím going to show you how Jesus used those same words. Now come back to Johnís Gospel, chapter 3 and letís begin with verse 19. And, again, weíve got Christ dealing with Israel, not with the world in general Ė Israel. If you remember earlier this afternoon, we were back in chapter 1 and it said, "and this is that Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." But here in John 3, Jesus is directing it only to the Nation of Israel.
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21. But he that doeth truth(in other words, again believes Who Jesus really is) cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Why? Because heís going to be a different person. His deeds are not going to be evil. Now theyíre going to be Godly in their character. All right, so now if youíll come back to I Peter chapter 2. And so you have all these comparisons of God dealing with the Nation of Israel, previously, and Peter is just simply rehearsing it.
I Peter 2:9a
"But ye(as he speaks to these Jewish believers) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,Ö" Because, after all, once they were to get into the Tribulation and into the Kingdom, what were they to become? Priests to all the pagan world around them. That hadnít yet been changed. That was still part of the Old Testament economy that the Jew would become the evangelists. Now, of course, with the incoming of the Age of Grace and Israel set aside, theyíve lost that opportunity - but at this point in time, when Peter is writing to them, this was still out in front of them, that they could be a holy nation of priests.
I Peter 2:9b-10a
"Öan holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10. Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:Ö"Now, I donít know what point in time Peter was referring to. If you want to go back to before they became a nation in Egypt, thatís all right. Or you can go back to a time when they had almost rebelled completely against God, and the Shekinah Glory had left the Temple. But they had, as a nation of people, not been the people of God but now these groups of believers. Peter is saying as we finish the verse.
I Peter 2:10b
"Öwhich had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."In other words, as a result of their faith, they were now part and parcel, again, of being in Godís covenant promises. All right, now verse 11.
I Peter 2:11-12a
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you(I beg you) as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12. Having your conversation (or your manner of living) honest among the Gentiles;Ö" So what does that tell you? These were Jews that he was writing to and Peter is admonishing, "Donít let the Gentiles look at you and say, ĎI wouldnít want to be like that.í" Well, whatís the application today? Thatís where we are. Thatís how we are to behave. Weíre to behave in such a way that the lost world around us will never point the finger and say, "Iíd hate to be like that. Iím not crooked in business like they are. I donít take advantage of the poor like they do." Remember, the Jews had been pretty guilty of that. The Old Testament prophets condemned them for it Ė that they ignored their widows and that they took advantage of the disadvantaged. Well, Peter is saying basically the same thing. Maintain a testimony that the world of Gentiles cannot ridicule.
I Peter 12b-14
"Öthat, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."(in other words, I think heís referring to when Christ would return) 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lordís sake: whether it be to the king, (that is the Roman king) as supreme: 14. Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."
Come back to Romans 13 and see how Paul addresses the same thing. Godly men - whether itís of the Jewish persuasion or whether itís us in the Church Age - that part is not all that different. We are still to behave the same way, as believers, as Peter admonishes those Jews in the midst of all that Roman persecution. Romans 13 - this is Paulís approach.
"Let every soul(or every individual) be subject unto the higher powers. (now thatís not God power, thatís government power) For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God, 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, (that is of government) resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." God has placed us under our government for the purpose of being obedient to it, and, if you resist the government, you shall receive to yourselves condemnation. Now verse 3.
"For rulers(government) are not a terror to good works, (if it is working the way it should be) but (a good government should be a terror) to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:" In other words, if youíre a good citizen and weíve got good government, they should be able to recognize it. And I think it carries all the way through our daily experience. And you can just read on here and see how itís suppose to take place.
"For he(government) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;Ö"
Absolutely. Government is to punish if we act evil; but if we are as we should be, we should never have to fear the punishment of government.
Lesson Three ē Part I
Practical Godly Living
I Peter 2:15 - 3:22
Turn to I Peter chapter 2, and in the last lesson we finished verse 14. Weíll just jump in at verse 15. Now, the next series of verses thereís not much that I can put a lot on. Thereís no reason for comparing a lot of Scripture - itís just common sense Christian living. And Iíve said over the years, whether youíre in Romans or whether youíre in any other portion of Scripture, there is nothing more practical for this day and age than just solid Biblical Christian living.
Weíre not the right wing conspiracy that some would think we are, but we just feel that Biblical Christianity is so practical. Good solid Christian living gives you a happy relationship between a husband and wife. Christian living will give you good relationships between parents and children. A good Christian relationship will give you a good relationship between yourself and the community and with the nation as a whole. So Christian living is practical. The idea, even as Peter is going to lay out in these next few verses, is just common sense goodness.
I was thinking Iíd like to write a letter to an editorial writer that someone had sent me a clipping of and I wanted to use Tocqueville - Iím sure many of your have seen that name. Tocqueville wrote a book about America quite a few years ago and he was just amazed at the greatness of America. But in his book, after he got back to France, if Iím not mistaken, this is what he wrote. "America is great because America is good. And when America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
Well, I couldnít add anything to that. That says it all. And so, again, practical Christian living is just exactly that. Itís being honest. Itís living with integrity. Itís living, yes, the Golden Rule Ė treat the next guy like you would like to be treated. And so, this is really what Peter is bringing out now in these next verses. And again, Iíd like to emphasize that these little Jewish epistles are written to believing Jews, as weíve noted in our previous programs, when Peter writes "to the Twelve Tribes scattered." And his writings are on the same page, you might say, as Jesus in His earthly ministry. So much is comparable that - what Jesus taught, Peter is bringing out the same things to these Jewish believers.
Now remember, theyíre not believers of the Church Age yet. They are simply Jewish believers of that group that came out of Christís earthly ministry, composed also of the Jewish Church in Jerusalem at Pentecost. And Peter has been ministering to those kinds of Jews, now, during these years between Pentecost and his martyrdom. He never addresses the Gentile Body of Christ. I want people to realize that. There is nothing of pure Church language in these Jewish epistles. Now, granted, weíre going to have the reference to the crucifixion and the resurrection, which is apropos; but they will not claim that as the basis of salvation, and weíll see that a little later, if not in this program, in the next one.
So much of what Peter and James and even John, and Jude say, in their little epistles, will be promoting much the same of what Christ and the Twelve taught in those three years, and what Peter carried on after Pentecost. So now letís get into the text in verse 15 of chapter 2.
I Peter 2:15
"For so is the will of God, that with well doing (see? Doing good. Being good) ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:" We can use this verse for the day and age we live in. My, when you read the recent attacks on our President by the editorial writers of our liberal media - only because of his Christian testimony.
Well, I was just telling somebody before we started that the Muslim talks about Allah every other word. Nobody complains about that, but yet, if our President so much as intimates anything of his faith, they jump all over him. Well, thatís exactly what Peter is saying - these believing Jews were up against the same thing only, instead of being some liberal media, it was the Roman Empire, and they hated everything spiritual because they were steeped in almost the same kind of a mindset that weíre up against. It was anti-God. It was pagan. So Peter is telling these Jewish believers now that, in spite of all of the pressure of persecution, they were to never get discouraged - realizing that within a few years, the King would be returning and the 1,000-year Kingdom reign would come in as weíve seen in the past few lessons.
Because, as Peter is writing now (probably in the late 50ís AD) in I Peter, The Kingdom prospect was still out in front. Nobody had any idea - not even the Apostle Paul - that this was going to go 2,000 more years. So everything he writes is to Jewish believers under persecution, but the worst is yet to come before the King and the Kingdom could come. All right, so heís telling them that if these pagan Romans and the unbelieving Jews should bring reproach upon them, donít let it bother you; but instead let your good lifestyle prove them wrong. And itís the same thing for us today. So, yes, this is applicable even though it is not Church language, as I said before. Now verse 16.
I Peter 2:16-17a
"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17. Honour all men...." Even if they hate you. Now thatís not easy is it? But weíre to honor all men.
I Peter 2:17b
"ÖLove the brotherhood (that is the fellowship of believers.) Fear God. Honour the king." The Roman Emperors, see? And Paul tells us the same thing in Romans 13 - that we are to have respect for our physical governments, because theyíre ordained of God:
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. (that is government) For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." And even though theyíre a lot less than what we would think they should be, we are still to respect it as government.
All right, now he comes down into the next category of authority and that is, today, what we would call the employer/employee relationship. But youíve got to remember that back in Peterís day, and in Biblical days, they still had slaves - but, I think Iíd better qualify. I think a lot of people have often wondered, why did God condone something as awful as slavery. Well, you want to remember itís like everything else. What God instigated in the beginning was pure and good and workable. And it was because of manís sinful nature that it turned to the wicked direction that it went.
Now all you have to do is just stop and think that, back in antiquity, when all of this began, and even up as near as Christís earthly ministry, the rank and file people did not have an education. They did not have the wherewithal to have a business and to be entrepreneurs as we call them today; so what did most people have to do? They had to work for a master. And in Godís original set-up, the master was never to treat a slave like dirt. He was to be treated with some respect, and the master would give him all that he needed for a good lifestyle. Granted, they didnít have all the luxuries of the wealthy, but who in the world needs that? I donít. And neither does the common individual. So, under Godís original plan for things, the master and the servant was a good set-up for all concerned.
But men, in their old demonic nature, have destroyed that and it got to the place where their poor servants and slaves were treated worse than animals - but thatís not the way God intended it. But, as we see in Scripture, the servant (or what we would call today the employee) was to have respect for their employer or, in this case, the master. Now thatís all in view of a Biblical perspective on everything. Not taking advantage of the downtrodden and treating them worse than animals, but on the other hand, giving them all that they needed for their life and their comfort and, as even the Scripture says, their pursuit of happiness. And it was up to the masters to see to it because, after all, these people didnít have an education. They didnít have what it took to go out and make it on their own, so they had to depend on good masters. So with that as the backdrop:
I Peter 2:18
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; (in other words, respect) not only to the good and gentle, (thatís not so hard) but also to the froward (or to the less loveable, see?)." And they were still to recognize the masterís (or employerís) role. Now verse 19.
I Peter 2:19
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." Now there again, thatís not always easy, is it? And nevertheless, this is what God expects us to do as believers - to let Him take care of the vengeance part.
Letís come back and see how Paul treats that same thing in Romans chapter 12. Paul is now giving the instructions to us as Gentile believers on how weíre to behave in the midst of an ungodly world, and youíll see how much of this is saying the same thing. Peter is saying it to the Jews who are still pretty much under control of Judaism. Paul is writing this to Gentiles who are under pure Grace.
"Bless them which persecute you;Ö" Itís not easy is it? Thatís just contrary to human nature. But, nevertheless, with Godís help, weíre supposed to be able to do that.
"Öbless, and curse not. (now the other one is a lot easier) 15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, (in other words, you donít have to be at the top of the totem pole) but condescend to men of low estate,Ö" Be able to converse and have relationships with the people on the low end of the economic scale just as well as the ones at the top.
"ÖBe not wise in your own conceits. (now here it comes.) 17. Recompense to no man evil for evilÖ" Now thatís contrary to the human nature isnít it? Human nature says, if he hits me, Iím going to hit him back. But Scripture says just the opposite.
"ÖProvide things honest in the sight of all men." What did I tell you at the beginning of the program? Thatís the Christian lifestyle Ė honesty, integrity.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (now here comes the verse I wanted to really home in on) 19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: (donít give in to your feelings, and hereís the reason) for it is written, Vengeance is mine; (God will take care of them in His own time. God says,) I will repay, saith the Lord."
So weíre supposed to leave the vengeance part up to God - in His own time. Remember, Godís wheels grind slowly, but what? Surely! Thereís never anything going to escape Him. Now it may not be in our lifetime. It may be after weíre gone. It may not be in their physical lifetime but. sooner or later, theyíre going to come up against the Holy Righteous God. So, donít sweat it. Okay, so back to I Peter chapter 2 verse 19.
I Peter 2:19-20
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, (youíve done a good job, youíve done everything right and they still jump all over you, then you permit it) and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
Thatís contrary to our human nature. We can all readily take applause for something weíve done well. We can also take faultfinding when we know weíve goofed up. But, to have somebody jump on our case when we know weíve done it right, we know weíve done it good, thatís pretty hard to take - and yet I know a lot of people in the workplace have to come under that. But thatís where God-given patience comes in. Now verse 21.
I Peter 2:21
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" Now somebodyís going to jump up and say, "I told you, we werenít supposed to follow Paul, weíre supposed to follow Jesus." Of course Peter is going to emphasize following Christ because thatís where he had been those three years. And thatís all that Peter really understood was to follow the footsteps of Christ. Paul, now, on the other hand, with the indwelling Holy Spirit not only in himself but in all of us, could admonish us in several Scriptures to follow him as the Apostle of the Gentiles, as he followed Christ.
Now, thatís not a lot of difference and yet itís some. But, here Peter just brings it right in that now, as these Jewish believers are still tied pretty much to legalism and the Temple worship and so forth, theyíre admonished to remember how much Christ suffered in order to pay their sin debt. Now Iíve got to qualify. If these Jews (whether itís in Christís earthly ministry or itís on Pentecost, or these that Peter and James and John are writing, or if you want to go way back into the Old Testament) had no understanding that the work of the Cross was the basis of their salvation, then why do we have this reference to it in prophecy? Now weíre going to be looking at that in a little later time, where Isaiah 53 is so definitely a prophetic statement concerning Christís earthly suffering and so forth. And then, during Christís earthly ministry, why did they even mention the fact that Christ died and rose from the dead. Well, you want to remember this. Iíll go all the way back to Adam.
Adam never had a concept of a Roman cross. I have no compunction teaching that whatsoever. Adam had no idea that one day a Person of the Godhead would go to a Roman cross. All he believed was what God told him. And thatís all God expected him to believe. And you can come all the way up through the Old Testament, one after the other of the Patriarchs - for example, Noah. Noah had no idea of the work of the cross. But he did know that God had told him to build the ark. And Hebrews 11 makes that so plain. So what did Noah do? He built the ark. He was obedient! And God reckoned it as his saving faith.
So you come all the way up through the Old Testament; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then the prophets - they didnít have a clue about a Roman crucifixion. That was never invented until Rome came on the scene. So, they were saved by their faith in what God told them to believe, but God had to - how shall I put this - reckon with the sins of Adam on the merit of the cross. God reckoned with the sin of Abraham on the merits of the cross, even though he himself knew nothing of it. Now, you come on this side of the cross, itís the same way. Ever since the cross (for example, believers like Peter and the Eleven), all they had to believe for salvation is Who Jesus was, He was their Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ. And they had no idea that it was the crucifixion, and the death, burial and resurrection that was their salvation. They didnít know that. But, God, in His righteousness, imputed the merit of that death, burial and resurrection to these people who knew nothing of it. But in this Age of Grace weíre in now, we must believe in our heart that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for salvation as Paul points out so clearly.
So Peter is going to make reference to Christís work of the cross, but not for salvation. And the reason is that these Jews can understand that, even though it wasnít a prerequisite in their faith, it was on the merit of that work of the cross that God could forgive the sins of everybody from Adam to the last one on the human scene. Everything is based on the work of the cross even though people did not, in themselves, know about it until Paulís ministry for us in this Church Age.
Now let me give you an example. Come back with me to Luke 18. I think maybe this will explain it as well as anything in the Scriptures. Here weíre at the end of Christís earthly ministry. The Twelve have been with Him now almost three years. And we know from Matthew 16, that Peterís confession of faith was, "Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel." And thatís all they knew. Now if you doubt that, read with me here in Luke 18. Remember, Heís at the end of the three years. Theyíre about ready to go up to Jerusalem.
"Then he (Jesus) 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 concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished." In other words, Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 9, and all the way up through the prophets, are now about to come to, at least, a partial fulfillment. All right, verse 32.
"For he (speaking of Himself) shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (to the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: (and all those things happened between His arrest and His crucifixion. Every one of them) 33. And they shall scourge him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again." That covers all the bases. But, now look at the next verse.
"And they (the Twelve, who had been with Him now for three years. The Twelve who had had all the Old Testament probably their whole lifetime) understood (how much?) none of these things;Ö" Well, if they didnít understand it, how in the world could they be saved by it? Well they werenít. They were saved by believing Who Jesus was. But, in Godís fairness and righteousness, He could impute salvation to these people who knew nothing of the cross because of Who He is, and because of what had been accomplished. So, always remember that, even though there may be a reference that seems clear enough to the death, burial and resurrection, until we get to the Apostle Paul and the revelations of the mysteries, it was never understood to be the plan of salvation for the whole human race. Thatís all Iím trying to get across.
All right, so come back to I Peter again. Peter can make reference to the death and burial and resurrection, but he does not lay it upon them as a tenet of faith to believe for their salvation. All right, now verse 22. (speaking of Christ in verse 21)
I Peter 2:22
"Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:" Well, thatís exactly what Paul says in II Corinthians 5. "He who became sin for us who knew no sin." Peter says the same thing.
I Peter 2:23
"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, (and we have no idea of the suffering that he went through leading up to the cross) he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" In other words, He committed Himself to the power of God the Father.
I Peter 2:24
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." Now there again, thatís as close as Paul can get, isnít it? And, yet, Peter does not expect these Jewish believers to rest on that for their salvation. Their salvation was believing that Jesus was the Promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. But, this was all done on their behalf in order to complete the work of salvation. All right, now verse 25:
I Peter 2:25a
"For ye were as sheep going astray;..." Now whereís Peter pulling that from? Letís turn to Isaiah 53, and hereís the exact wording, see? And again, who was Isaiah writing to? Israel. The Jews. So Peter can rightfully quote right from this that was spoken to Israel 600-700 years before Christ. All right, here it is.
"All we (the Nation of Israel) like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (this One Whoís coming, but they didnít know Who it was) the iniquity of us all."
And so Peter is drawing right from that which was addressed to the Jews for 700 years before it ever happened. And it was still appropriate that they were to understand that their salvation was really based upon the promises made to the prophets, fulfilled when Christ went and finished the work of the cross. But never, does Peter require their believing that for their salvation. Their salvation was believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ.
Lesson Three ē Part II
Practical Godly Living
I Peter 2:15 - 3:22
All right, weíre going to go right on from where we left off in the last lesson in I Peter. Weíre beginning today in chapter 3 verse 1. In the last lesson, we were talking about practical godly living, and what it is to be good under various circumstances - and itís not always easy to be good, but nevertheless, thatís the admonition.
Now you come into chapter 3 and the first word is, "Likewise." In other words, in chapter 2, he was probably addressing men more than the women, but lest anybody get the idea that the women werenít of any count in all this, he says:
I Peter 3:1a
"Likewise, ye wives,Ö" So these verses are first and foremost for women who are burdened with unsaved husbands. And I donít envy them. That is not a very comfortable situation. But nevertheless, Iris and I have seen that it works, as we admonish people to listen to what the Scripture says here. Even though itís Peter writing to Jews, yet, here again, this is so applicable for any period of time.
I Peter 3:1a
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;..." Thatís not politically correct is it? But we donít pay any attention to political correctness; itís the Word of God that counts. And here Peter is admonishing these wives to be in subjection to their husbands. Now remember, Iíve always stressed, even when we were back in Ephesians when Paul addresses the marriage relationship, that when he points out that the husband is the head of the wife, that doesnít mean that sheís his Ďgo-for.í
When we first started farming, Iris didnít know how to drive; and after I taught her how to drive, she found out why I taught her. Itís, "Go get this and go get that!" But I donít think she has ever been able to accuse me of being a slave master over her. But nevertheless, the husband, according to Godís design, is the head of the home and heís to treat his wife, not as a slave nor as a servant, but as a co-heir and as one who is intricately involved in his business, whatever it may be. All right, now Peter is going to use the same analogy.
I Peter 3:1b
"Öwives be in subjection to your own husbands; (and especially) that, if any obey not the word, (for salvation) they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;" Now thatís the whole concept here in these verses - that if a saved woman has an unsaved husband, sheís never going to win him by preaching at him or by trying to drag him to church every time she goes. But, rather, through her Christian testimony that she can just live godly.
Now, often, it wonít be easy. Heís going to try and take her, no doubt, to places that are totally uncomfortable for her. But I think it behooves the believing wife, if at all possible, to accompany him and be a constant testimony of her faith. Sooner or later (weíve seen it happen. Sometimes it takes a little longer than others, but), these ungodly men will suddenly realize what a rat theyíve been compared to their godly wives. And thatís exactly what Peter is saying here. If you have an unsaved husband, just live such a Spirit-controlled life before him that, sooner or later, itís going to convict him and heís going to find salvation; and the two of them then can go on and have a happy and a successful marriage. Now verse 2, and here he just simply puts the frosting on the cake.
I Peter 3:2
"While they behold your chaste conversation (righteous, Christian living) coupled with fear." Remember, the word Ďfearí here, and in many other portions of the New Testament, is not shaking in your boots with fear. Fear, here, is a respect and an awe because, after all, the God that we serve is the Creator of everything and weíre to recognize Him as such.
Well, the same way with the wifeís respect for her husband. Itís not a fear that sheís scared to death that heís going to browbeat her, but rather that she recognizes his place in Godís economy as the head of the home. Okay, now verse 2 again and verse 3.
I Peter 3:2-3
"While they (these unsaved men) behold your chaste conversation (or your righteous manner of living) coupled with fear (or respect, or reverence) 3. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting (or today we would call it the braiding) the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;" All right, now I always have to stop at this verse because too many groups have taken the approach that this just forbids the woman to do anything to make herself look attractive to the husband. I donít buy that. I think it is perfectly appropriate for a wife to be appealing to her husband; not to anybody else, but certainly to her husband. And there is nothing that forbids her wearing some jewelry or fixing her hair, whatever the case may be. But, whatís the emphasis? Donít let that be the means of winning his approval.
You know several years ago there was a book written, and I donít even like to quote it, it was so awful. But it was written, if Iím not mistaken, by a pastorís wife who was telling women how to win their husband. I mean it was awful. It was atrocious. It was strictly from Hollywood and I could never go along with that. But what Peter is saying here - let the behavior of the wife be so godly; let it be so reflective of the Christ who has bought us and redeemed us; that this man is going to finally come under conviction; and, like I said, weíve seen it happen.
Iíll never forget one gentleman, years ago, told me, "Les I was getting ready to go out with the boys and hang one on, and all of a sudden I came under such conviction. How could I live this kind of a life when my wife had become so Godly, and had loved me so much when I didnít deserve it?" He continued, "I just dropped on my knees right in my office and asked God to save me." Well the man went on from there and became a real trophy of Godís Grace, all because his wife did what I told her to do six-months earlier. She, at the time, had said, "I donít know if I can do this." But she did. And the fruit was born.
All right, so let it not be just an outward physical attraction (that which pleases the flesh), but now verse 4.
I Peter 3:4a
"But let it be the hidden man of the heart,Ö" Now weíre talking about the personality - thatís what the generic term Ďmaní is. Let these women who have an unsaved husband or maybe unsaved children (it can go all the way down the line), let their testimony be such from within, from the heart:
I Peter 3:4b
"Öin that which is not corruptible, (that which is in the realm of the Spirit) even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Now you see, thatís why I will always admonish women or, if itís the other way around, a husband with an unsaved wife. You donít win them by haranguing them and preaching at them and pestering them - you just simply live that quiet peaceable life of Godís Grace and it will do its work. All right, now verse 5.
I Peter 3:5
"For after this manner (This isnít anything new, it isnít something psychology has suddenly dreamed up. This goes all the way back to antiquity. Even in this manner) in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:"
We donít see much about the faith of the women in the Old Testament economy. We know there were a few in Israelís history like Deborah and Ruth and so forth, but for the most part we do not have a lot of detailed descriptions of the Godliness of these Hebrew women. But they were. Not all of them of course. But, Sarah and Rebecca and some of these were Godly women; and were they bad to look at? How about Sarah and Rebecca? They were so gorgeous that the King of Egypt wanted them in his harem. They werenít awful-looking women. They didnít just let their hair grow all scraggly and not care how they looked. No, they were beautiful; the Scripture says they were. But they werenít just beautiful on the outside, they were beautiful on the inside and thatís what counts.
And this is what Peter is admonishing - that even these women on the Old Testament economy who, we know from Scripture, were beautiful, they were attractive; yet their major attraction was the meek and quiet spirit which was of the heart, incorruptible and in the sight of God a great price.
I Peter 3:5a
"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, Ö"
So these "holy women." Now thereís that word Ďholy,í and I guess Iíd better stop and define it. It scares a lot of people to be called holy. Well, Iíve explained it before and Iím going to explain it again. To be holy doesnít mean that you are so God-minded that you are of no earthly good. Thatís not what holy means. Holy simply means youíre set apart. Youíre not the same as the crowd. Youíre different. And thatís all it means. For example, the utensils in the Temple were called Ďholy.í Why? Because they were not to be used for the mundane butchering of the meat, and so forth, during the week - they were to be used only for the sacrificial worship. And so they were called holy. They were set apart for Godís purposes. Thatís all it means. All right, so donít let the word Ďholyí scare you.
I Peter 3:5a
"For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also,Ö" Theyíd been set apart. They werenít like the pagan Canaanites around them, and so forth. And they were in subjection to their own husbands. They knew Godís order because thatís the way God ordained it. Now letís go back to I Timothy. Often people will accuse Paul of being anti-feminist and that was not the case at all. Paul was strictly inspired of the Spirit, every word he wrote - it all was according to Godís provident design. And it started way back with Adam and Eve. I Timothy 2:12. Now donít read more into this than what it says.
I Timothy 2:12a
"But I suffer (permit) not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man,Ö" Now thatís the key part of that phrase. God never intended for women to be in authority over the men.
I Timothy 2:12b
"Öbut to be in silence." In other words, they were to know what and where and when to speak. Now hereís the reason in verse 13. Not because Paul had a thing against women, not because I, or anybody else, would have a thing against women, but itís Godís design. The reason Paul says what he says in verse 12 is:
I Timothy 2:13
"For Adam was first formed, and then Eve." And that was to be the process from that time forward. See? That Adam was the head of the home and Eve was subjected to his authority. Never forget that. And, again, like I mentioned either in the early part of this program or in the last program, always remember that, as God instituted these things, it was for mankindís own good. And when it got defiled, it was because manís Adamic sinful nature spoiled the original. So, now then, back to chapter 3 of I Peter:
I Peter 3:6a
"Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord:Ö" Now the word Ďlordí here is just like we would use ĎSir.í It has no divinity associated with it whatsoever.
I Peter 3:6b
"Öwhose daughters (remember heís still addressing the women) ye are, as along as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." All right now verse 7, heís going to come right back and hit the men between the eyes with the same concept.
I Peter 3:7a
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, (Godís knowledge) giving honor unto the wife,Ö" Saying it a little different way than what I said a moment ago - the woman is not just to be walked on, sheís just not to be the husbandís Ďgo-forí - she is to be treated with honor.
I Peter 3:7b
"Öas unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs togetherÖ" Now speaking of heirs, this is a good time to look at joint-heirs and heirs. So, come back to Romans chapter 8 and see that this is what makes our Christian faith so glorious - and nobody but Paul teaches this. Peter doesnít speak of this relationship with Christ as Paul does.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, (that is those of us who are believers) that we are (not hope to be, not may be, but are) the children of God: (weíre the born-ones of God by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit) 17. And if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;Ö" Thatís our relationship and one day weíre going to cash in on it! My, we have no idea of the glory thatís awaiting us. The Bible doesnít tell us much, and I think thatís the reason. My, if the Bible would just give us a real good look at whatís waiting for us, weíd probably all be prone to start starving ourselves to death and get off this planet as soon as possible because thatís how glorious itís going to be - so He hasnít told us a lot. So all we know is that God is getting something ready that is beyond human comprehension because we are joint-heirs with Christ.
What a relationship! How few people understand that - that just like the husband and wife are joint-heirs in their physical and material properties; so also, one day, weíre going to be in that position with Christ Himself. All thatís His is going to be ours. Thatís what it means to be a joint-heir. And then people are afraid to become a Christian because theyíre afraid theyíre going to lose out on something? Iíve got news for them - the things of this world are nothing, as Paul says in the next verse.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." So the best is yet to come. Okay, back to I Peter again.
I Peter 3:7a
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life:Ö" There can be nothing happier on this earth than a Christian home. A father and a mother who love the Lord, and kids who love the Lord; thatís almost Heaven on earth, see? And so the Scripture is admonishing the husband to realize that when he becomes a joint-heir with a believing wife then, together, the two of them can cash in on the Grace of life, even in this material world. And, then, here comes the spiritual promise:
I Peter 3:7b
"Öthat your prayers be not (what?) hindered." Now what does that tell you? That when a husband and wife can pray like-minded, they are far more apt to see those prayers answered than if they pray separately. Now, that should also answer a question that comes up so often back in Acts chapter 16. Paul and Silas have been up there in Philippi, and have been put in prison. Theyíve been scourged by the authorities and theyíre bleeding and theyíre hurting and in stocks. But, in spite of all of that, they have been singing praises unto the Lord, even at midnight - and God miraculously sent an earthquake that opened the prison doors and dropped all the shackles. And the keeper of the prison was going to commit suicide thinking heís lost all his prisoners.
"But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29. Then he (jailer) called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" No doubt, he had heard Paul preaching up in Philippi that afternoon before they arrested him and Silas - and I think he must have gotten pretty much the message that Paul had been talking about. How that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, and to believe that for salvation. And so now he comes under conviction and he says, "What must I do to be saved?"
"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." And that throws a curve at people. Yeah, what does that mean? Just because the man was saved, does that mean that automatically his wife and kids are going to be saved? No, not automatically, but what is it? Itís a matter of chances.
If youíve got a saved husband, the chances of him winning the wife and his children are pretty good. But if youíve got a saved husband and a saved wife, the chances of winning their kids are very good. Not always 100% but theyíre going to have a real good chance of winning most of their kids to the Lord. And thatís the whole concept - that if you have that Christian influence from the father and the mother on the kids, youíre quite likely Ė Iím not going to guarantee it in every case - to have a Christian family.
And you know, Iíve mentioned on the program before, we get so many phone calls of parents, sometimes fathers, sometimes mothers; almost weeping that their kids are out in the world. Married and theyíve got kids with no spiritual concern whatsoever. And you know my first question? Where were you when you should have been winning those kids to the Lord? Well, too many times, they were lost themselves. They were bar-hopping. They were partying. And they were doing anything but being spiritual parents. So, it just naturally follows that, when parents are believers, theyíre going to have a far better chance of winning those kids to the Lord, than if they are not. Okay, now back again to I Peter chapter 3 verse 8.
I Peter 3:8a
"Finally, be ye all of one mind,Ö" Now Peter is talking to the whole congregation again, the men and the women and the younger people.
I Peter 3:8-9
"Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, (in other words have feelings for everybody elseís needs and hurts and sorrows,) be courteous: 9. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise (on the other hand) blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." Now what is this? This is just the good life. You know I was thinking the other night as I was mulling all this over in my mind and Iris was laying there sleeping. I go clear back, and we had come down to visit Irisís mom here in Poteau, Oklahoma (we were farming up in Iowa). I had to have some work done on my car and it was a beautiful Spring day. So I just drove down to the garage, which was only about a mile from her folks, and I left the car and I walked back. And like I said, it was a nice Spring day, so doors and windows were wide open and I walked by this one house; and such screaming, and such profanity, you canít believe! I could hardly wait until I was out of earshot. When I got home, I told Iris about it. And I have to wonder, how many homes are like that almost all the time?í The husband was screaming at the wife, and the wife was screaming back at the husband. The kids were bawling and you could just almost, in your mindís eye, see what was going on in there. Well is that a happy home? Horrors! And yet thatís the case with far too many.
But see the Christian doesnít have that kind of thing, hopefully. If everything is as it should be (because Peter is saying that if we have this kind of behavior between the wife and the husband and between believers and other believers), then he will love life.
I Peter 3:10a
"For he that will love (what?) life,Ö" Now we all like the Ďgood lifeí donít we? Thatís what this is. This is promoting the good life.
I Peter 3:10b
"Öand see good days,Ö" Now thereís nothing wrong with being happy; thereís nothing wrong with being prosperous.
I Peter 3:10c
"Ölet him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:" Well now, did I leave you with the picture of the opposite? Oh, my, it was days before I got the sound of that raucous argument out of my mind; and it stands to reason it cannot promote happiness.
I Peter 3:11-12a
"Let him eschew (or hate) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,Ö" And with that, Iím thinking of a verse over in the Book of Proverbs Ė"righteousness exalteth a nation." Never forget it.
Lesson Three ē Part III
Practical Godly Living
I Peter 2:15 - 3:22
For those of you joining us on television; of course, you realize weíre an informal Bible study and thatís why Iíve never apologized for the coffee cups around. So, if youíre ever coming through Tulsa, come and join us. We make four programs in a row and after each half-hour program we take a coffee break. And we just have a good time all afternoon, fellowshipping together and studying the Word of God. Okay, letís go right back into I Peter and we were in chapter 3 verse 12.
I Peter 3:12
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."Now so often the question comes, "Does God hear the prayers of evil people?" What do you think? Would you, if you were in Godís position? No. Unless itís for salvation. We know Heís always bending the ear for salvation. But when evil, wicked people, all of a sudden get the word from their doctor that theyíve got cancer, do you think God hears their prayers? No. He doesnít hear those prayers.
Now, if theyíre asking for salvation, and if they believe Paulís Gospel for their salvation, then they can come right into the throne room of God with their petitions and thanksgivings, and have every right to.But the obstinate, the rebellious, no. Godís not going to do anything for them. Heís given them opportunity enough on the other side of the coin. So, always remember that God is always aware of the righteous; theyíre His! Theyíre His number one concern, they have become right with Him.
The lost are His concern only because Heís already purchased their redemption. All they have to do is cash in on that because Heís not willing that any should perish. But donít think for a moment that prayers like, "You bring me through this particular battle, Iíll go home and live for you," will be answered, when they get home and just forget all about it. Those prayers are never answered whatsoever.
Letís go back to that verse in Proverbs that I quoted in the last moments of the last program, and thatís Proverbs 14 verse 34. On your way to Proverbs, let me mention that I had a phone call early this morning, and they said, "Les, do you ever see a parallel between Godís dealing with Israel and His dealing with America."
Yes, thereís a parallel, to a degree. Remember, weíre not under the Covenant Promises, but I think God has so blessed America since our founding was on Biblical principles. We have been, for the most part, a God-fearing nation. And I think God has blessed us even as He promised to bless Abraham back in the Old Testament. So I do draw a parallel, and always have, that I think there is that distinctiveness in Godís blessing America like He has blessed no other nation on earth.
I see this great push to throw Christianity completely out of the American social fabric. Remember thatís what Israel did at times. But, even though Israel always had that remnant of believers, they were such a small remnant that the majority kicked God out of their thinking, as our country is trying to do today. They had wicked kings and, consequently, what did God have to do with the Nation of Israel? Took them out. Brought in Nebuchadnezzar. He destroyed the city and they lost probably a million people. And they went into captivity. They went under the heavy boot of the Babylonians because the nation for the most part rebelled against God.
But, what happened to the believers? They went out with them. Thatís how Daniel ended up in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, because he was one of the slaves taken out of Israel because of Israelís wickedness. Well, you see, I think the day is coming when God is going to do the same thing with America. I think Billy Graham said it years ago, and Iíve said it before on the program, that America has been left with so much responsibility. Weíve got churches on every corner, Bibles in every home and we, like no other nation on earth, have been blessed of God - and if we are going to kick Him out, then we can expect, as a nation, His wrath and His judgment to fall.
We hope it wonít but, on the other hand, this verse in Proverbs makes it so plain that thatís the direction that our nation is going. Now the liberal press may not like that. And the gross unbelievers in our society may not like it but they still cannot remove the fact that God is Sovereign, whether they believe it or not. All right, Proverbs 14 verse 34.
"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."Remember what I said a program or two ago? What did Tocqueville realize? America was great because America is good. And America will cease to be great when America ceases to be good. Donít you forget it. All right, so "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Now, thatís so plain a third-grader can understand it, and if we as a nation donít understand it weíre in trouble, thatís all there is to it. Of course, we hope the Lord will come and remove the Church in the Rapture, before that should happen. Back to I Peter again.
I Peter 3:13
"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" Well, it sounds good but what happens? Many times good people are persecuted. In fact, what prompted Nero to turn so viciously on the Christian community? He supposedly trumped up himself the burning of Rome, and then blamed it on the Christian community. He was able to turn on them and the horrors that Nero brought on Christians I donít even like to repeat in a mixed crowd like this. Itís beyond imagination. So, yes, bad things can happen to even Godís good people.
I Peter 3:14
"But and if ye suffer for righteousnessí sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;"Could we handle abject persecution like is taking place in so many places in the world? You know, I have to tell the Lord almost every day, "Iím spoiled." We all are. Weíve had it so good. We havenít had to fear persecution. We havenít had to fear losing our livelihood. We havenít had to fear that somebody would come in the middle of the night and shoot us just because weíre Christians. But, if and when it should come, are we ready to handle it?
Well, I always remember an old pastor of mine. A long time ago, when Iris and I were first married, I spoke that fear to him one morning after church and this was his answer. "Les, donít worry about it. If and when that day comes, the grace of God will be sufficient." Well, Iím resting on that, and I think that must have been the case back in the Dark Ages. People were burned at the stake and they were put on the racks and my, the martyrs by the millions. And yet, there is never a record that any of them ever complained. So grace must just be sufficient for the hour. But, Peter is admonishing his believers here, and remember now that heís writing primarily, not exclusively, but primarily to Jews there in the area of present day Turkey, I feel, more than just at the Jewish church in Jerusalem.
I Peter 3:15
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"Now what does that tell you? Well, thatís just pretty plain English. No matter who it is, if they confront you under whatever circumstance, and they say, "Well now, I know youíre different. I know youíve got a different attitude than most people that I know. Why are you different?" Well, what do you tell them? Because you have been saved by Godís grace, you know that youíre a child of God and, as a result, He has made you different. You have different ideologies, you have different appetites, you have different desires. Weíre different. Weíre just not like the world. And weíve got to be ready to tell anybody and everybody that stops and asks us.
I Peter 3:16a
"Having a good conscience;Ö"Not a hypocrite, who on the one hand does one thing and tries to live something else.
I Peter 3:16
"Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation(or manner of living) in Christ." Okay, what happens? Well, Iíve already given you an example of Nero. What did Nero do? He falsely accused that Christian community of setting Rome on fire, and he probably did it himself.
Well, you see, thatís just a blatant example of what the world does to believers constantly. They can trump up false accusations. In fact, I remember years ago quoting to someone the words of the Lord Jesus Himself; I hope I can recall them. "Blessed are ye when men say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." Did you get that? So itís going to happen. Theyíre going to accuse you of doing something thatís as false as a three-dollar bill. But, if you know itís an untruth, then we donít have to let it bother us, because the Lord Himself told us that thatís part and parcel of our existence in a sin-cursed world, that they will falsely accuse us. And they were doing it here. And so Peter is admonishing them, "Donít let it throw you a curve. Donít let it upset you, because this is part and parcel of living a godly life in a wicked world."
Live your life so completely honest that, even though they make false accusations, it will be proven a lie and then they can be the ones that are embarrassed and ashamed. All right, verse 17.
I Peter 3:17
"For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing."Our prisons are full of people who have done evil and they live to regret it, of course. But my, the letters that we get from prison inmates. Over and over and over and it has prompted me to use the term "bad choices," because thatís what most of them will tell you. While they were growing up they made bad choices. And you know, you make enough of them, thatís where youíll end up Ė behind bars. And thatís where a lot of them are now finding Godís saving grace. I believe thereís almost a revival of sorts amongst our prisoners. And itís just amazing the response that we get from the TV program as well as the little books. Here they have been guilty of doing evil and theyíre paying the price of it - whereas if you suffer for well-doing, hopefully itíll be for nothing more than some persecution and so forth.
All right, now we come into these verses in Peter that, again, have caused so much controversy. So many questions. And Iím not sure that Iíll be able to answer them to satisfy everybody but weíre going to take a stab at it. Hopefully we can make some sense out of verse 18.
I Peter 3:18
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,(and, of course, that goes back to that agony leading up to the cross) the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" In other words, the Spirit of Christ never died. Donít ever think, for a moment, that God died when Christ died on the cross. His flesh died, yes. But never His Spirit.
I Peter 3:19
" By which(His Spirit) also he went and preached unto the sprits (small Ďsí, which is the soul and spirit of those who were) in prison:"
Back in our Old Testament economy and before the crucifixion, down in the center of the earth, with a great gulf fixed, was Hades.Hades was the term in the Greek. Sheol was the Hebrew. And Hell is our English. And they all mean the same thing Ė the place of the departed or the dead.
Now up until Christís death, burial and resurrection then, this was where all the departed ones went after death. They went down in the center-most part and Iím going to show you the Scriptures in just a minute. The Old Testament saints all went here, and weíll go all the way back to Adam and Abraham and all the rest of them - they went at death down into Hell, or Sheol, or Hades; but they went on the Paradise side. There were two sides down there, the Paradise side and torment side.
Now the best way you can explain that is, what did Jesus tell the thief on the cross? Today thou shalt be with me where? In Paradise. And this is exactly what Heís talking about. That from the cross, then, the thief as well as Christ Himself, in the realm of the spirit, went down into the Paradise side in the center of the earth. Today Paradise is in heaven, but at that time, it was in the center of the earth. Now letís use the Scriptures. Turn with me to Matthew, chapter 12. I didnít intend to do this; it didnít even cross my mind until last night, that I was going to do this. But, I think Iím thinking of all the questions that have come in about all this, so weíd better. The setting here is in Jesusí earthly ministry.
"Then certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:"Now what does that tell you? Jonah (Jonas), was a real event. It wasnít just a legend, as some would try to tell you.
"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleís belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."Thatís what the Book says. I canít imagine now, from all the pictures you get from science, the heart of the earth is molten - nothing but molten whatever. Well I have to lay that aside, as the Book says "in the heart of the earth" is this place of the departed dead. All right now, in order to pick up a brief picture of that (and thatís all it is, a little window of information) letís look in Luke 16, where we have the account of the rich man and Abraham and Lazarus. Now verse 19.
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich manís table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abrahamís bosom:(Thatís down in Paradise.) the rich man also died, and was buried; 23. And in hell (Sheol. Hades.) he lift up his eyes, being in (what?) torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24. And he (the rich man) cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26. And beside all this, (now here comes the picture) between us and you (between Paradise and Torment) there is a great gulf fixed: (do you see that?) so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my fatherís house: 28. For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
Sobering isnít? But all I want you to get here is this picture of this scenario in the heart of the earth - that down on the one side of this Hades, Sheol and Hell, is Paradise. Then, the great gulf fixed, and on the other side is Torment. Now, when the Apostleís Creed, I think it is, that says, that they believe that Jesus died, was buried and His soul went down into Hell. My, that has thrown a curve at so many people. You mean Jesus went to Hell? Well, not the flames of torment - that wouldnít make sense. But He went down into the Paradise side, and thatís why He told the thief, "today thou shalt be with me in Paradise." Not Torment.
From here, weíve got to go over to Ephesians chapter 4, and weíll begin with verse 8. I think Paul kind of puts the frosting on the cake and, hopefully, we can put all this together now.
"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive,Ö"In other words, those souls that couldnít go into Glory were down there in Paradise like captives. Now that takes a little further explanation. When you look at the whole idea of the redemption process by blood; animalís blood could not take away sin. All animalís blood could do was cover it. Iíve used the expression Ė "swept them under the rug." So, animalís blood could not take away the Old Testament believers sin. Consequently, he could not go into Godís holy presence until the atoning blood of Christ Himself was shed.
So it just follows, then, that after His death on the cross and the shedding of His blood, He went down into the Paradise side and He preached to those spirits in prison. So what did He preach? "The atoning blood has been shed!" I can now take you with me into the Glory. Got it?
"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?[see how that fits with Matthew?] 10. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
So now what happened? When Christ had shed His atoning blood, here on the cross, He could tell the thief, "today thou shalt be with me in Paradise." They went down for those three days and three nights into the lower parts of the earth, but into the Paradise side; and when Peter says He preached to those spirits in prison, this is what he could preach Ė "The atoning blood has now been shed. You are now fit to go up into the heavens."
Now that took care of the Paradise side of hell, but what about these in torment. The Old Testament says that Hell has simply been enlarged, so instead of half of it being Paradise and half Torment, it is now evidently all Torment; and when we speak of Hell, thatís what we normally think of, isnít it? The place of torment. The place of punishment. But, in the Old Testament economy it was the place of all of the departed dead.
Now come back with me to I Peter, and weíll again pick up a couple more verses. So in the Spirit, while His body of flesh was laying in the tomb up there in Jerusalem - in the spirit:
I Peter 3:19-20a
"By which alsohe (Christ) went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20. Which sometime were disobedient, (while still in the old Adam) when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing,Ö"
How long? A hundred and twenty years to build that ark. A hundred and twenty years God was patient with that wicked people living there at the time of Noah, while Noah and his sons (and probably some hired help) were building the ark.
Okay, now thatís what Peter is talking about, see? These people who had lived before the Flood. They, too, had been sinners, but we know that God has always separated the human race between the lost and the saved. And even though, from Adam until Moses, there was no Law - there was no formal system of worship - yet there were saved and lost people. And so now, when we get to the next verse in our next half-hour, weíre going to see that, through the horrors of the flood, how many people were saved? Eight. And thatís all!
Lesson Three ē Part IV
Practical Godly Living
I Peter 2:15 - 3:22
Okay, I Peter chapter 3 and weíre in verse 20. In the last lesson, as we closed, we were talking about Noahís Flood, and how Christ related to it when He went down into Paradise. And we also covered that the atoning blood had never been shed until Christ died. Before that, animalís blood could not atone for sin, only cover it up, and so the Old Testament saints could not go into Glory when they died.
Now, of course, some of you have probably been thinking (and I get the question once in a while), what about Enoch and Elijah? Well, you see, Enoch and Elijah, so far as we know, have never died physically, so their day is still coming. How Godís going to do it, I donít know. The rank and file of believers in the Old Testament were not allowed up to Glory until the atoning blood had been shed. All right now, I guess weíd better read verse 18 to get the flow.
I Peter 3:18-20
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened(or alive) by the Spirit: (so He was in the Spirit) 19. By which also he went and preached unto the (Old Testament believers) spirits in prison; 20. Which sometimes were disobedient, (of course, every human being has been in that position.) when once the long-suffering (and patience) of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, (after the years of preparation for the ark. A hundred and twenty years, remember) eight souls were saved by water."
Now that throws a curve at some people; they think the water saved them when actually it drowned everybody else. Well, it was the water, you see, that was the judgment of God on unbelieving mankind; but the believers escaped the judgment because of the ark floating in the water. And thatís where the water comes in. All right, letís go in to verse 21 and we can probably clarify.
I Peter 3:21-22
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22. Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."
All right, now then, letís just take all three of these verses together going back again to verse 20. While Noah was preparing the ark, a hundred and twenty years, every hammer blow, everything that was taking place was a sermon of coming judgment to the people of Noahís day. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was about to happen. Now, of course, they didnít know what because they wouldnít believe a word God said anyway. Well, you see, there again, weíre in the same situation today. I think the world, in general, out there knows that something is about to happen. If they donít, theyíve got their head in the sand. And as Iíve been stressing once in while on the program, but especially in my classes in Oklahoma, why are we all of a sudden hearing all of this language of Weapons of Mass Destruction? Itís everywhere. Everybodyís got them. Weíre not alone. Iraq isnít alone. Theyíve all got them.
Iris and I were talking about it coming up today. Iíve always said, for the last thirty years at least, that I do not expect any nuclear holocaust to begin until weíre in the Tribulation - or they are Ė weíre not going to be here. But, once the Tribulation starts, then these Weapons of Mass Destruction will be waiting to fulfill everything that Scripture says is going to happen to this world in Godís wrath. So everything is getting ready. But, I do not see it happening until the Tribulation.
There may be a small event, but I do not look for someone to go and Ďnukeí some big populated area which, in turn, will trigger the enemy to recriminate back. I donít look for that because that will just start the chain reaction that will bring about the whole planetís destruction, which will come in the closing days of the Tribulation. So what the world should realize tonight is that everything is getting ready. The stage is being set. And I donít set dates. I came close one time a few years ago and I was left with egg on my face - Iíll never do that again. But, we are getting close. Whether itís three years, five years, seven years - I donít think it will be much longer than that, but who knows? But the world is getting ready. All these Weapons of Mass Destruction are being accumulated everywhere, and once they start using them on one another, whoís going to stop it? And so the world is getting ripe for judgment.
And at the same time, the moral fabric of the world is rotting so fast it scares us to death. But Godís finally going to say, "Enough!" and then His wrath and judgment will fall. All right, now it was the same way, of course, leading up to the flood - they, too, were such a wicked generation. Violence was filling the earth, Genesis said. And God says, "Iím going to destroy them." But, He still had that little tiny remnant of believers, so He brings about Noah building the ark so that it can be a place of safety for those few believers that were left.
Now remember when we talk about "few," there must have been almost four or five billion people on the earth in Noahís day and they all went except eight. Babies. Women. Children. Nobody was spared. Everything went under the horrors of the flood, except the eight who were in the ark of safety. Now the ark of safety was just that because of (now come back with me to Genesis for a moment) the makeup of the ark. And the ark is always just a box. The other word for ark in the Old Testament is a coffin and a coffin is not shaped like a boat. A coffin is rectangular. Itís a box. Well, so was the ark of Noahís time. It was a big rectangular box. All right, Genesis chapter 6 verse 13 and 14.
"And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them;Ö"My does that ring a bell? I just heard again on the radio coming up, they blew up another bus in Haifa, Israel. Killed another what? Fifteen Israelis. See? Itís everywhere. All around the planet. Violence. The taking of human life one way or another. All right, and so God says:
"Öand, behold, I will destroy them with the earth."Now we also know that when God put the rainbow in the sky, it was a promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water. But Peter is going to tell us, here in a few more programs, that He will destroy it the next time with fire. And so that is still coming, but He will never again destroy it with water. But here He did. Now then, verse 14. Godís instruction to Noah was to:
"Make thee an ark(make a box, make a coffin, a huge one) of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, (and now here comes the kicker) and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch." Now pitch, of course, was tar, or at least thatís what we would call it. It was a tar-like substance that would seal all of the seams between the boards, or the logs or whatever they used. So, the pitch is what really was the thing that made the ark a place of safety. It couldnít leak because of that tar sealing. Now itís interesting that the same word translated Ďpitchí here in this verse is translated Ďatonementí in other places. So the pitch in Noahís ark became then in type, the atonement that guaranteed the safety of those in the ark. Thatís the whole picture. The ark was a place of safety going through the waters of judgment.
Thatís the whole idea of the flood - to teach us that God is going to bring through that segment of believers because of the pitch that sealed out the water of judgment. And thatís why, back when we teach Genesis, we always teach the ark as a picture also of our salvation. That the blood of Christ is what seals out the wrath and the judgment of God thatíll never touch us, no more than the flood water ever touched Noah and their families.
And so, here is the whole picture, that the ark became a place of salvation for these eight people in the midst of horrendous wrath and judgment on the rest of humanity. All right, now then, maybe this will make a little sense when you come back to I Peter.
I Peter 3:20b
"Öeight souls were saved by water."They were saved by or through the water, because the water destroyed all of the wicked generation, and the ark floating in the water was the salvation of these who escaped.
All right, now then, maybe this will help us a little bit - verse 21. Now remember, this is Peter, this isnít Paul. Peter is coming out of that Jewish mentality of water, water, water. And it began way back when God told Moses that the Children of Israel would be a kingdom of priests. And then you go into Leviticus chapter 8 and you get the picture. What did the priests have to go through to start his service as a priest? Wash, wash, wash in water. All right, you come all the way up through and you get type after type. Naaman, the Syrian general was plagued with leprosy and he bit his pride enough to go and find old Elisha. But then his pride really got stomped in the mud when Elisha didnít even go out himself - he sent his servant boy who told Naaman to go dip in the Jordan seven times. Well, what a come down.
And I imagine old Naaman thought, "Whatís the matter with that Jew, why didnít he come out and tell me himself?" Well, he was just putting Naaman down where he belonged. See? And so he sends his servant boy out and tells Naaman, "You go dip in the Jordan seven times." Well, what was the response of this Syrian general? "That filthy Jordan? You know, itís just a little creek. Iím supposed to get into that when thereís a beautiful freshwater river flowing through Damascus?" Well, it wasnít the idea of whether the Jordan would take away his leprosy; it was his faith. And he did what Elisha told him to do. He finally did go and dip seven times in the Jordan and his leprosy was cured.
All right, the water didnít do it; it was his faith. And so all the way up through the Old Testament you have this washing. So then you come all the way up to Christís own baptism. Why did He demand baptism? Not because He had sin to be cleansed of. Not because He needed identification with Israel (that was obvious through His genealogy). But whatís He getting ready for? A priesthood - so as a priest He, too, had to signify it with a washing. And so that, as far as Iím concerned, was the reason for Christís demanding baptism by John; to prepare Him for His priesthood as the priest after the order of Melchisedec and so forth. Now, when you bring all that in here, Peter is still of the water mentality. He canít help it, and Iíll show you why.
Come to II Peter, now Iím going to jump ahead a few weeks but you bear with me. Weíre going to hit it again when I get there because I love these two verses like you canít believe. II Peter 3:15. Youíve heard me use them over and over on the program and here in Oklahoma.
II Peter 3:15a
"And account(or understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;Ö" Thatís the whole purpose of this Book - to bring lost humanity to a place of salvation. All right, so Peter is showing it even here.
II Peter 3:15b
"Öthat the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;Ö"People read and read and they donít read it. Somebody just told me the other day, they had read a verse many times and they finally saw it for the first time. Well itís typical. And so Iím sure the same thing happens here. I can read it and most people donít get what Iím driving at. But Peter says:
II Peter 3:15c
"Öeven as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;"What is Peter admitting? That Paul has a knowledge that he canít comprehend. And Paul makes it so plain in Galatians chapter 2, "When we compared our notes, they didnít add anything to me." Speaking of the Twelve. But, he said, "I added a whole truckload to them." Because he had so many more revelations. And they couldnít comprehend it, Peter still canít. And this is at almost his dying day. I think Peter was martyred just shortly after he finished this II Peter. So he says: "Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him (the revelation of the mysteries) hath written unto you;" (I think referring to the book of Hebrews, but now look at verse 16.)
II Peter 3:16a
"As also in all his epistles,(thatís Romans through Philemon) speaking in them of these things;Ö" What things? Salvation! See thatís why heís been saying all that. You wonít find the plan of salvation in these little Jewish epistles. Peter says, "You go to Paul". All right, so you go to Paulís epistles, where itís speaking of these things pertaining to salvation. Now hereís the part I like.
II Peter 3:16b
"Öin which(Paulís epistles) are some things hard to be understood,Ö" Hey, this is at the end of Peterís life. This is some 28 years after Paulís conversion, or more, and still Peter doesnít get it. Well, he wasnít supposed to. God didnít expect him to. Peter is still of that Jewish mentality. Peter is still more tied to the Law than he is to Paulís Gospel of Grace, and so he could never quite get it all straight.
II Peter 3:16c
"Öwhich they that are unlearned and unstable(and I donít think it necessarily means that they havenít been to seminary. But they havenít been enlightened by the Holy Spirit) wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." But they donít stop with Paul, they twist what? They twist all of them. They twist them all to fit their own doctrines and their own theology. But, whatís going to be their end? "Their own destruction." The Book says it, I donít! Thatís not a very kind word, I know it isnít. But thatís what theyíre going to get because they have twisted the Scriptures and they have avoided the Truth.
All right, now then letís go back and hopefully not rile too many people and get them too angry - but here is not what Peter is referring to as our understanding of baptism. But remember that baptism, in its true definition, is placing something "into." Now again I can use all kinds of references that were not water. When Israel came out of Egypt, they went through the Red Sea. The Scripture tells us that Israel was "baptized into Moses." They werenít baptized by the water, they went on dry ground, the dust was around them, not water. And so they were placed into Mosesí leadership and the cloud. They were placed into that.
All right, now then you come along and whatís the next one? Well, Christ Himself was placed, by virtue of that water baptism, into a priesthood. The other one I thought of was Christ at His Passion. As he was approaching Gethsemane, what did He tell the Twelve Ė or the Eleven Ė "I have a baptism that you know nothing of." Can you be baptized with it? And I think Peter glibly said, "Yes we can," and he didnít know what he was saying; because Christ was speaking of being placed, inundated, into the sufferings and the Passion, as we call it, of that death of the cross. It was a baptism. No water, but it was a placing "into." I know the other one I wanted to use, we might as well look at this one, I Corinthians chapter 12.
We have been so programmed (the human race over the last 2,000 years), that baptism automatically means water. No it doesnít. It merely means when something is placed "into," whether it was Mosesí leadership, Christís priesthood or Christ into His suffering and His Passion. Now weíll see how Paul uses it as we are placed into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:12
"For as the body(the human body) is one, and hath many members, (hands, feet, eyes, ears) and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."
Now Iím going to use an analogy. If you were to drop a heavy object on your big toe, how far does it hurt? All the way to your head. Why? Because the toe is a part of the body and itís going to affect all of it. Now the Body of Christ is the same way. Weíre all brought into the Body of Christ and if one of the members hurts, we all hurt. Christ hurts. Now come back to our text, verse 13.
I Corinthians 12:13a
"For by one Spirit(Holy Spirit) are we all (not just a few, every believer is) baptized into one body,Ö" How? By a work of the Holy Spirit. No water. Not a drop. But the Holy Spirit places us into the Body of Christ, and itís called a baptism. And thatís as it should be. We have been placed into the Body of Christ, so that we can function under the headship of Christ.
My, what a position we enjoy! Not the king and His subjects. The Head of the Body and the members of the Body. Okay, so now then, maybe that can qualify that baptism doesnít automatically mean water. Well, for Peter, of course, the flood and Noah and everything - that included a lot of water - but heís not putting any salvation on any kind of water baptism; but heís using it as a figure that even as baptism:
I Peter 3:21
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
Now we wonít take time to go back and look, but when John the Baptist began his ministry, what was his message? "Repent." That was his message. And how were the Jews of his day to manifest that repentance? With baptism. And the same way all through Christís earthly ministry and on into the day of Pentecost - Peter preaches the same thing that John did. And what was it? Repentance and water baptism. Later on, Paul will tell us that John preached a baptism of repentance - totally different than where we are under this Age of Grace. In fact, I just had a conversation and my idea is that, today, repentance is not a prerequisite for salvation; itís the result of it. Itís the result. Because when weíre saved, weíre going to change directions and thatís what repentance is all about. But see, so many people put the cart out in front of the horse. Youíve got to repent first and then get saved. Hey, thatís the flesh talking. The flesh wonít save anybody. But, when you let the Spirit convict, and you let the Spirit bring us into a place of salvation; then, weíre going to experience a repentance. Weíre going to experience a change of lifestyle and all these things. All right, verse 22 and, remember, we ended verse 21 with "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
Now you want to remember, these Jews of Peterís day are only shortly removed from the crucifixion. Their Messiah was put to death. And they have to be constantly reminded that Heís no longer dead, Heís alive. Heís up in Glory waiting to return in order to bring these people into the Kingdom. Thatís what they were waiting for. The King and the Kingdom. So Peter again reminds them that this One Who was crucified and has gone into Heaven now in verse 22:
I Peter 3:22
"Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."What does that mean? Even though He had become man, and even though He had died the horrible death of the cross, God raised Him from the dead and His power is just as supreme, if not more so, than ever before. And thatís what the Scripture says, "Therefore God hath highly exalted Him so that His name is above every name." The world doesnít like to buy that today, do they? But itís true.
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