Questions and Answers from the Bible (Part B)
by Les Feldick
Part B - Building Faith(1b) What is the difference between Law and Grace ?
(1b) What is the difference between Law and Grace ?
Book 37 Lesson One ē Part I
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward."
Dispensation is word that I have refrained from using on the program purposely, simply because too many people have heard nothing but bad things about the word, even though they donít have any idea why. So Iíve known from day one that I had to be careful how I use this word, because I would turn people off before they would give me a minute to listen. But I think by now I have built enough credibility across the country that people wonít get turned off when I use the word dispensation. Remember Paul uses that word even in chapter 1 verse 10, so itís very Scriptural.
"That in the dispensation of the fulness of time..."
We dealt with that several lessons back, but now in chapter 3 he deals with the dispensation of the Grace of God. Well to qualify a dispensation, itís just a simple word from which we get the word stewardship or dispensing. If we go to a pharmacy and give him our prescription, he then dispenses what the doctor has ordered, but along with dispensing the product he also gives you explicit instructions. You donít just take that medicine haphazardly, but rather you follow the instructions that came with the dispensing. Now bringing it back into the Scriptures, a dispensation was a period of time during which God laid particular dispensational instructions to the human race.
The best way I can illustrate dispensation from the secular world is our own presidential administration. And the one I like to use on this is the administration of Jimmy Carter and the one followed by Ronald Reagan. These were men with two totally different ideologies, but yet they both led the country under the same constitution. For a moment letís go back to the Carter years, as he builds his own administration. He appoints his own cabinet, he appoints men who have the same ideology that he does concerning how the country should be administered to. It wasnít so much the 4 years he was in the White House that made his administration, but rather what made the Carter administration was the ideology that he promoted by whatever he suggested to congress or how he handled foreign affairs, thatís what marked the Carter administration, but it ended.
Then there was transition period, and from that dispensation of the Carter years we went to someone with a totally different view and that was Ronald Reagan. He too was under the same constitution, and his term of office also came to the place where it ended. Whether he served 4 or 8 years is moot. What counted was the kind of ideology that his administration promoted for the country. So in short what makes an administration was, "What were they dispensing?" Now you can bring that into Scripture and I think you have a beautiful analogy.
When God called Moses and the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, he brought them around Mt. Sinai. He called Moses up into the mountain. What did He give to Moses? Law. And Law was a dispensation. It was a dispensing to the Nation of Israel, Godís demands upon the Nation as to how they were to worship, how they were to live; and all these things were part of that dispensation of Law. Whether it went 500 years or 1500 years is moot. Whatís important is, what did God give Moses to tell the children of Israel? The Law.
And of course the Law was in 3 parts. It was first and foremost the moral Law, the Ten Commandments. It was the ritual law - how to worship, and how to approach God with the sacrifices, and priesthood and so forth. Then it also had the civil law - how to deal with your neighbor and how to settle disputes and so forth. That was all dispensed at Mt. Sinai. But the Cross ended all of that. The Cross ended the Law, because that was when everything was fulfilled dispensationally of Law. But you see God in His wisdom could keep things secret as we see in Deuteronomy 29:29.
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God:..."
That means God can keep things totally secret as long as He wants to. And then He will reveal certain things when He is good and ready, and weíve seen that all the way up through human history. So even though all the ramification of the Law was fulfilled at the Cross, yet we find that when we come into the early chapter of Acts, not a word has been said, "That youíre no longer under the Law." Thereís not a word thatís been said, "That you no longer have to go to the temple, or keep the commandments as a system."
That doesnít come until this man Paul comes and says, "That if you have heard the dispensation of the Grace of God." This is in total opposition to Law, and is now dispensed by Paul. Now if you will come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 4, and while youíre looking for it let me remind you how dispensation was used in the Old Testament. When God was approaching Abraham, about beginning a nation through him and he didnít yet have a son, and so what did Abraham say to God?
"And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?"
What was Abraham saying? Eliezer was the man who managed all of Abrahamís wealth. Not only did Eliezer dispense orders to the servants, but he also dispensed when to sell and when to buy. Now you want to remember Abraham was wealthy. Now why am I saying all of this? Because this is what Paul claims to be concerning the Grace of God. Have you got I Corinthians chapter 4? Letís start with verse 1.
I Corinthians 4:1
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and (whatís your next word?) stewards of the mysteries of God."
Now if youíre a Bible student you will catch on real quick that Paul is always referring to the mysteries that were revealed to him. And what are mysteries? Secrets. And Who kept them secret until revealed to this man? God did. And when God called Paul out of the religion of Judaism, and saved him on the road to Damascus, He sent him down to Mt. Sinai and poured out on him for 3 years all the revelations of the mysteries. There are all kinds of mysteries that Paul speaks of in his writings, and since they were revealed to him he then became the steward of those mysteries. And if he was the steward of them then he was the administrator of them. When we understand that, then this Book becomes as plain as a 300 watt light bulb. It just lays right out in front of you. Of course this is a whole new administration or dispensation.
Youíre going to find doctrinal things in Paulís writings that you wonít find anywhere else in Scripture. But he doesnít cancel what went before, itís just an advance on it. Because now weíre coming from the very small knowledge that they had way in the beginning, and itís just building, and building, and finally the promised Messiah came, and the Nation of Israel was in the promised land, they had the temple, but yet what did they do with the Messiah. They crucified Him, and the Jews continued to reject Him in those early chapters of Acts, and in so many words God says, "Thatís the end of that dispensation of Law, weíre now going to dispense something totally new." It was just like moving from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. If you know anything about politics, it was as different as night and day between those two administrations. Well so is Grace and Law! You cannot mix them because they are so diverse, but itís the same God. God never changes, but He changes His programs. Now God says, "Instead of all of the things that the Law demanded, Iíve already settled it on the Cross, now if you will just believe it Iíll do everything that needs to be done." People write constantly and proclaim, "Oh what freedom they have found!"
Weíve come now all these 2000 years and weíre still reveling in this same Gospel that was
begun by this apostle, and that is itís by faith and Godís Grace alone. Now Iím talking about salvation. Iím not saying that youíre saved by Faith + Nothing, and then you just go on and drift. No, No. But for salvation itís Faith and Faith alone, and then when that happens, God begins to work in and through us, and He doesnít expect us to become tremendous saints over night.
Editor's Note for clarification: It is the "drifting" (maintaining a lifestyle that is contrary to God's will) that is objectionable here. Salvation is by Faith + Nothing.
Lesson One ē Part II
Paul Dispenses Grace - Ephesians 3:1-7
Now weíll be going right back to where we left off in the last lesson and that will be in verse 2. This Bible is for everybody not just for a certain group of people, and we want to be able to teach it in such a way that you can study it on your own, and search the Scriptures and see if these things are really so. The Book of Acts calls people who do that Bereans.
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
So after these believers hear Paul they searched the Scriptures (of course that was the Old Testament in those days) to see if what Paul was teaching was in accord with the Scriptures. So now letís just pick the Scriptures apart word by word,
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God..."
Now thatís where we stopped in the last lesson, and weíre going to stay stopped for a bit, because Iím still not quite through with what I wanted to get across so far as, "why does Paul define this dispensation of the Grace of God?" Now always remember every word that Paul writes, as well as every word that the Old Testament writers write, was inspired by the Holy Spirit. None of these writings was just the will of a person. Even when Paul in so many words says, "this is my idea" itís still inspired, and never lose sight of that. Every word is here because the Holy Spirit wants it here. So when Paul says in Romans.
"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,..."
Now thatís not an egotistical man talking, but rather thatís the Holy Spirit speaking exactly what He wants Paul to write. So in verse 2 letís see what he says.
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God..."
We spent nearly the whole last lesson defining a dispensation, and I hope it was clear enough. Now what is so different about Grace? In Exodus chapter 3, up on Mount Sinai, God, spoke to Moses, and gave to him the Law, and then Moses takes the Law down the mountain and dispenses it to the Nation of Israel. So this was the dispensation of Law, and thatís the way we look at it in Scriptures. Now some 1500 years later after the Damascus Road experience for Paul, the same God does something different, which is His prerogative, because Heís Sovereign. Now He calls out to Mount Sinai, a different man whom we know as the apostle Paul. And to Paul God reveals these doctrines of Grace, and Paul in turn dispenses these doctrines of Grace, not so much to the Nation of Israel, but to the Gentile world.
(Mt. Sinai - Moses - Law - Nation of Israel)
(Mt. Sinai - Paul - Grace - Gentile world)
Now of course in both cases the Law is going to have an influence on Gentiles, and Grace is going to have an influence on the Jew. But as a group the dispensation of Law was given through Moses to Israel, and the dispensation of Grace was given through the apostle Paul to the Gentiles. Now thereís only one other place in the New Testament where that term is used explicitly, and that will be in Acts chapter 20, and letís look at verse 24. Now in all the other places in Paulís writings he may refer to this Gospel as the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of God, My Gospel, and various others, but here in Acts chapter 24 and in Ephesians he refers to it as the Grace of God.
"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Do you see how plain that is? Paulís whole ministry was to proclaim the Gospel of the Grace of God. Now I think it may be appropriate if we come back to Ephesians chapter 3, that now for a moment we can look at the word "Grace."
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace..."
Now like I said in the last lesson, "very few people have any idea of the Grace of God." I donít claim to know all that much, because itís beyond human understanding. How a Sovereign, Eternal, Creator God would do what He did simply because He loved the human race. He took on human flesh, walked among men for three years on the dusty roads of Israel, and then ended up going to the Cross to suffer the most horrible death ever invented, all because of His love for mankind. And through that death on the Cross He was able to pay the price of redemption for the whole human race, not just for a few chosen ones, but for the whole race. Now listen, thatís GRACE!
And thatís beyond our comprehension. He didnít have to do that. He could have just zapped the human race and started over. But from day one, from the time that Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, on up to the rebellious multitudes just before the flood, on up to the tower of Babel when again that group of humanity met in pagan consort, God could have zapped them, but He didnít. He let them go on until He was able to find one man 200 years later in the Ur of the Chaldees we know as Abraham, and begin again something totally different, all because He refused to give up on the human race. And why didnít He? GRACE!
So everything that God does, and the patience of God toward the human race is all because of His Grace. Now I call that one of Godís attributes. It is something that is in the very make-up of the eternal God that prompted Him to pour out all this unmerited favor and love on a rebellious human race. All we have to do is just look around us today, and just stop and think for a moment, why does God put up with it when every thing is flying in His face in total rebellion? All God would have to do is speak the Word and weíd all be gone. But God doesnít do that, and why doesnít He? GRACE!
Now you see under the Law that wasnít the case. Law was demanding, Law as Iíve said so often is what? Severe! It was severe, and there was no bending it. If you broke the Law back in itís pure early stages, invariably the penalty was death? So that was the Law, and there wasnít Grace in that except it was the Grace of God getting a way for man to come back, but in reality Law was legalism, it was severe, it was the very opposite of Grace. But now on this side of the Cross we have the same God who gave the Law and all of itís severity to Moses for Israel, God now opens the window of heaven and through this apostleís writings we have the opening of the door of GRACE!
Now some people say, "Well donít you make too much of Paul?" No. Paul knew only one thing, and that was "Christ crucified for our sins, and risen from the dead," and you canít find that anywhere else in Scripture that you are to believe that for salvation except in Paulís writings. So we donít elevate Paul above that. But you see God, as He kept things secret as we saw in our last lesson, has decided that itís through this man that He would reveal the things that had been kept secret. Thatís why Paul, over and over, uses the term "revelation," how God revealed to me such and such, and he writes over and over again.
Now the other argument that we sometimes get, and praise the Lord we donít get many. We get very few arguments from all the mail we get, and when we do get an argument its usually over water baptism. And in every instance the party will try to make it sound that if youíre not baptized in water, then you canít be saved. And when I write back and answer that this is what Paul has said, then theyíll come right back and say, "But we go by what the Bible says, not what Paul says, or we use the whole Bible, we donít just use Paul."
Well if that be the case, and youíre going to argue that you do what the whole Bible says then I take you right back to Leviticus chapter 5. This is a fun exercise, it really is, because it says it so plainly. Now I could use any other portion of the Old Testament, but this one says it so clearly, and itís not real deep theologically. Itís just an everyday possibility for anyone of us.
"And if a soul (or person) sin, and hear the voice of swaring, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it: if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. (he has to tell the priest what someone has said or heís guilty.) 2. Or if a soul (or person) touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty. Now for sake of time come on down to verse 5.
"And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: 6. And he shall (thatís a command) bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he that sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb, or a kid of the goats for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin."
Now do you know what I say? Thatís what the Bible says. Isnít it? Just as plain as day. Do you bring a sacrificial offering when you touch anything dead? No. Does God expect you to do it? No. Why? Because this was Law. This is all part of what Moses instructed Israel, and weíre not under that economy. But weíre under the economy of Grace with the apostle Paul. So when people say I go by what all the Bible says, they get their foot in their mouth before they can turn around, because there are so many things back here that cannot be done today. So whatís the difference? Youíve got to separate Law from Grace.
Paul will never tell you that if you touch something dead, you go and offer a sacrifice some place does he? No. So always keep these things straight that when I say we have to listen to the apostle Paul the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), that doesnít mean we donít read the rest of Scripture. That doesnít mean it isnít profitable - of course it is, because it shows us the very mind of a Holy God. It shows us what it was like to live under the yoke of bondage which was what the Law really was. Itís what Peter called it in Acts chapter 15, and itís what Paul called it in Galatians. It was a yoke of bondage, but now under Paulís teaching of Grace, weíve been set free from all that. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 3 for a split second, and I know I used some of this in the last lesson, but let it sink in. Itís so important!
"If ye have heard of the dispensation (or the economy, or the administration) of the grace of God (and like Iíve shown that Law came to Israel through Moses. How in the world did the doctrines of Grace get to the Gentiles? Well the next part of the verse tells us) which is given me to you-ward:"
Do you see what that says? You have no idea how many times Iíve had someone at my now famous kitchen table, and I will tell them this very concept, that all of our doctrines of Grace come from Paul. Theyíll always say, "Well where do you get that?" Well hereís one good example, and this is just one. Theyíll read that verse, and say, "I donít see what youíre getting at." Then I always come back and say, "Well then you didnít read it." And they always come back with, "Yeah I did." So I have them read it as many times as it takes, usually about 3 or 4 times, and then they normally say, "Oh I never saw that before." I dare say there are multitudes just exactly like that. And here it is, "The dispensation of the Grace of God which was given to Paul, and Paul through inspiration and by the Grace of God have brought it to us Gentiles.
Now isnít that easy? Now let me show you from Scripture what weíre talking about. My thereís so much of it I hardly know where to start. Come back with me to II Corinthians. I was debating whether to use Galatians first or Corinthians, but just for sake of chronological order of the Bible weíll start here in II Corinthians. Remember just like Paul had to deal in I Corinthians with the Corinthian believers who wanted to follow Peterís teachings rather than Paul. Others wanted to follow Jesusí earthly ministry teachings rather than Paul, and their whole concept was that Paul was something less than those fellows at Jerusalem. And this is what Paul had to overcome and we covered this in detail when we taught the Corinthian letters. But this is just review.
II Corinthians 11:5
"For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles."
Wow! What does that say? I was not a half of step behind Peter. See, they were trying to put Peter up above him. And that the chiefest apostle would have to be Peter most people would say. Now if Paulís not behind him, where is he? Well heís either beside him or ahead of him. Now for the next one, stay in the same chapter and come down to verse 22. Now this verse puts Paul out a step ahead. This is speaking of the Jerusalem leadership which would include the twelve, as well as some of the other head people of the Jerusalem assembly.
II Corinthians 11:22-23a
"Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more:..."
See how plain that is? Thatís the Holy Spirit writing through the pen of the apostle Paul, that Paul is more the minister of Christ than anybody back there at Jerusalem. And this is what we have to understand. Now letís go on to one more in the next chapter.
II Corinthians 12:11
"I am become a fool in glorying; (and Paul didnít like to boast, but he had to in order to convince especially the Corinthians that he was a special instrument in Godís hand) ye have compelled me: (youíve forced me) for I ought to have been commended of you: (it was this man who had brought these people out of their abject paganism. It was his message that set them free, and brought them into a relationship with Christ. It was this manís Gospel that brought these pagans into a life of morality and hope for eternity) for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing."
Evidently there were some Jewish believers in the congregation who knew all about Peter and the eleven, and were stirring up these Gentile believers saying that Paul didnít have the authority to lead the Corinthians. So Paul tells them heís not behind Peter one bit, in fact heís in front of him. So that should tell you that Paul is the man that is given, and ordained of God to go to the non-Jew, the Gentiles, and he claims it over and over, the same as God did back when He was talking to Ananias back in Acts chapter 9.
"But the Lord said, unto him, (Ananias) Go thy way: (to Paul) for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,..."
Now turn on over to the Book of Galatians chapter 1, and this is all to back up his claim in Ephesians chapter 3:2:
"...the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:" And the you-ward is speaking of Gentiles. So now letís look in Galatians 1.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. (Paul is saying heís not following in some other manís footsteps) 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it. But by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Paul got all of his doctrines of Grace, to include this Gospel we must believe for salvation, from Jesus Christ Himself. It was a revealing, a secret that had been kept secret in the mind of God according to the verses we looked at in the last lesson. So here in verse 12 thatís what Paul is claiming. That what had been kept secret and is now revealed to this apostle, came by revelation of Jesus Christ. Now when I teach Paulís epistles I always emphasize that this revelation was after our Lordís death, burial, and resurrection, and that makes all the difference in the world.
See Jesus couldnít even preach His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation, because it hadnít even happened yet. He tried to tell the twelve about it, but they never got it, according to Luke 18:31-34, but it just wasnít in the economy of that system of Law for Israel and the Jews to understand the Gospel of Grace. It just wasnít meant to be! So now letís look at what Paul says in verse 15.
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my motherís womb, and called me by his grace,"
The other night I took the Strongís concordance, and I counted all the times that Grace was used between Matthew 1:1 and Acts chapter 9. How many times do you suppose it was? Sixteen times, and then it wasnít even used as a doctrinal term, but rather as the word Grace. From Acts chapter 9 until the end of Paulís letters I counted eighty-four times Paul had used that word. Six times more is the word Grace referred to in Paulís epistles than everything that went before his writing. Now thatís shocking isnít it? And yet it shouldnít be, because this is the apostle of Grace. I have a book at home, I think the title is The Apostle of the Soul Set Free. It was a biography of the apostle Paul. I didnít like the book all that much, but I sure did like the title. Now that says it all doesnít it? Now in the short time we have left letís look at verse 16.
"To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;..." (Gentiles)
Thatís Paul specific calling, to take this Gospel of Grace to the Gentile world. And thatís why I put it this way over the years, that as the Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai for Israel, Paul goes out to Mt. Sinai, and God gave him the doctrines of Grace for us. Now thatís beyond human comprehension. Now finishing the verse.
"...immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia..." (that would be Mt. Sinai)
Then Paul goes on to say that this whole mystery of the Gospel was revealed to him, and that why Iím always stressing Paulís apostleship, and spending most of our time in his letters.
(2b) What is the difference between the Peter's gospel and Paul's gospel ?
Book 17 LESSON TWO * PART III
We are getting close to a portion of Scripture that I think has been totally confused by almost all groups, and weíre just going to take it for what it says. Weíre not going to spiritualize it, or allegorize, it we are going leave it right where it is. Verse 36:
"Therefore (because of all that has just taken place. Israel has had The Messiah for three years, performing signs and miracles, they crucified Him, God raised Him from the dead, and sent the Holy Spirit, and everything is falling into place) let all the house of Israel..."
Now you canít put us Gentiles in this verse, unless you force it. Peter is speaking to Jews on Covenant grounds. Itís the fulfilling of the Covenant which God made with Abraham. Letís pause for a moment and go to Chapter 3, so youíll know what Iím talking about. And again Peter is preaching to a Jew-only crowd.
"Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." What days? Everything that has just taken place. According to Peter, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit was prophesied. Look at verse 25:
"Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant (only the Nation of Israel. All prophecy is directed to the Nation of Israel, they are the ones that will be at the core of these prophetic events. Even the horrible events in Revelation will be directed primarily at the Jew. But the whole world will also reap the fallout from these events. Jeremiah 30 tells us itís the time of Jacobís trouble) which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ĎAnd in thy seed (through the Nation of Israel) shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.í"
So Peter is on Covenant ground. Heís still on the basis that everything that has been since Abraham, that is: the Nation of Israel was to receive the Redeemer, The Messiah, The King and the Kingdom, and it would be through Israel that God would gather the Gentiles. I never like to leave people with the idea that God had cast off the Gentiles. Oh, not at all. But He was going to use the Nation of Israel on Covenant grounds to bring them to Salvation. Even right here God has never said a word to anybody that Heís setting the Covenant promises aside for awhile. He hasnít told anybody yet that they donít have to keep Temple worship, or keep the Law. He hasnít told people they must believe in His death, burial and Resurrection for their Salvation. Not a word about that as of yet. You canít find it here. And that is what I try to tell people to understand. Donít take my word for it. Search the Scriptures, but be sure you understand that the Scripture is putting Salvation on His death, burial, and Resurrection. Remember, there is never any reason to force anything into Scripture. Just leave them where they are. You canít put a square peg in a round hole without doing a lot of damage. So here Peter is still on Covenant ground. Back to Acts 2:36:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel (Heís talking to Jew only) know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Now we have to compare Scripture with Scripture. Come to the Book of Galatians, and just look at the difference in the language. We just saw Peter accusing the Nation of Israel of killing their Messiah, and now look what Paul tells us here in the Church Age.
"Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins,..."
And thatís Paulís theme all through his writings. Itís as different as day from night with Peterís message. Peterís sermon just doesnít fit Paulís doctrine at all. And it wasnít supposed to. God hadnít revealed Paulís message yet. Itís still a secret kept in the mind of God. Now back to Acts verse 37:
"Now when they heard this (heard what? That they were guilty of crucifying their Messiah. And remember, Peter isnít just talking to 40 or 50 people. Heís got thousands out in front of him listening out there in that Temple complex. This is the feast of Pentecost and they have come from everywhere as we seen in verses 9-11) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, ĎMen and brethren what shall (whatís the pronoun?) we do?í"
Remember Peter is addressing this great crowd of Jews on Covenant ground. He has accused them of killing their Messiah, and now they are so convicted that I suppose in one way or another word gets up to Peter as he is speaking. And they say, "Well, Peter, what in the world are we (and remember that pronoun) supposed to do?" Now that is the question coming from the Nation of Israel.
Book 17 LESSON TWO * PART IV
Letís pick up again in the Book of Acts and for a short review we will start at Chapter 2 verse 36. Remember this is a Jewish feast day that is being celebrated. Jews from the then-known world have come to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. This is one of the seven feasts listed in Leviticus 23. Now itís on this day of Pentecost that this huge crowd of Jews are out there in the Temple area and Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is addressing this great gathering. And regardless what nations these Jews have come from, they are hearing it in their own language. And this is the miracle of it all. Peter is speaking to Jew only (with an occasional proselyte). There is no Gentile ground here. God doesnít put Gentiles in this group and neither should we. Itís a Jewish feast day, a Jewish crowd, a Jewish speaker, and a Jewish message. And now verse 36:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly (this is all twelve tribes that are represented here, and God knows who they are), that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Peter is accusing these Jews of killing Christ their Messiah. "Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren what shall we do?" And before we look at Peterís answer, I want to take you back to Acts Chapter 16.
In Chapter 16, Paul has begun his missionary journey throughout western Turkey. Earlier in this chapter the Holy Spirit directed him over into Greece. One of the first cities he approached there was Philippi. And that is where he met Lydia, who was the first European convert. After the conversion of Lydia, he is arrested and beaten along with Silas, and cast into the lower dungeon of the jail, as in verse 25. The setting is completely different than in Acts 2. This is all Gentile ground, a Gentile prison, a Gentile jailer, This Gentile jailer may have witnessed Paul and Silas preaching, and saw their arrest and beating. Now he was given charge over these two men along with the rest of the prisoners.
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them."
"And suddenly there was a great earthquake (we still havenít left the economy of signs and miracles, and wonders. These will pass off the scene in Paulís ministry at a little later time. But at this time we have a miraculous earthquake with a distinct purpose), so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every oneís bands were loosed."
"And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled." The Roman authority would have killed him if prisoners had escaped.
"But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, ĎDo thyself no harm: for we are all here.í" Although they could have fled they didnít, because this is a Sovereign God at work.
"Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,"
Why did this pagan Gentile jailer pick Paul and Silas out of all his prisoners? Somehow, God let him know that here was the answer to his dilemma. Heís got all these prisoners loose, ready to flee, but they are staying there. God lets that jailer know the answer to his problem, but itís going to be a lot more than a bunch of prisoners, itís going to be the manís own soul.
"And brought them (Paul and Silas) out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Now look at the comparison.
Peter, preaching in Acts Chapter 2, is dealing with the Covenant Nation of Israel. And they say in verse 37, "What must we do?" But God doesnít deal with Gentiles on Covenant ground. He deals with us as individuals. Every individual has to ask that same question. "What must I do...?" Letís compare the answers each were given. In Acts Chapter 2, it is very clear, anyone can understand it. Iím leaving every word the way itís in your Bible and mine. Iím not changing a thing. Israel says, "What must we do?" Look at Peterís answer.
"Then Peter said unto them, ĎRepent, and be baptized (the next two words are crucial) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,í"
Everyone of them would have to be converted and accept Christ as their Messiah for God to pick up where He had left off. He would have sent back The King and set up the Kingdom. Peter also tells them this in Acts 3:26. Look at the message. Peter says, "Repent and be baptized." Who began that message? John the Baptist. John was the herald of The King, and his message was, "Repent and be baptized." That was for the Nation of Israel. Now compare this with Paulís answer to the Gentile in Acts Chapter 16. Paul is not talking to the Nation of Israel, heís talking to a Gentile. And when this Gentile asks what he must do to be saved, what does Paul tell him?
"And they (Paul and Silas) said, ĎBelieve on The Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.í"
Does it say Repent and be baptized? No, and if that was the criteria it would have been in here. That was the Jewish program, and by this time it has fallen through the cracks because Israel is rejecting it again. God has now turned to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul, without Israel. So the jailer said, "What must I do?" The answer is simple: "Only Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ." Now when you know the rest of Paulís message, he only had one Gospel to believe: "That Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose from the dead." You can find that message in many places in Paulís letters, for example I Corinthians 15:1-4. Believe the Gospel. And itís no different for Gentiles today, and the Jew as well. That is the criteria tonight. We have to believe the Gospel and nothing else. You search Paulís letters from Romans through Hebrews (and Hebrews is more Jewish than the rest and there is a reason for that), and show me one place where Paul teaches repentance and baptism for Salvation. You wonít find it. Paul doesnít teach it. Paulís message is a different economy and you canít mix them. A lot of people try to. Our Lord didnít mix them and neither should we. The verses in Galatians 2:7-9 exist because they were two different messages. Thatís why Peter says Paulís message of Salvation is hard for him to understand in II Peter 3:15-16. To the Jew it was repent and be baptized. To the Gentile it is believe the Gospel. See how simple that is. Now letís come back to Acts 2 and make another tremendous comparison. Read verse 38 again:
"Then Peter said unto them, ĎRepent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,...í" The whole Nation of Israel had to repent and be baptized.
Winning the whole world has never been implied with Paul. In Acts 15, when even James had to agree that God is using Paul to go to the Gentiles, what was the expression that James used? Calling out a people for His name. That doesnít imply 99 or 100%. Christianity has always been just a small percentage. But we should always be ready to share the Gospel that Paul presents to everyone we come in contact with when the opportunity presents itself. I get a kick out of the Gallop polls, the last one I saw was 60% of Americans were professing Christians. Thatís a joke because 60% of the Bible belt arenít Bible believing Christians, let alone other vast areas of our country. But itís always been that very small percentage, and it hasnít changed that much. Another comparison here in verse 38:
"...and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,"
Iíve had questions asked of me about this for many years, and let me ask you a question. What was the prerequisite in this verse for receiving the Holy Spirit? Repentance and baptism. That is the first part of the verse. Look at it again:
"...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Is there any mention of the death, burial, and Resurrection? Any mention of the shed blood for atonement? Not a word. But only the name. When you talk about the name of someone, what does that imply? Who he is. If I say the name of one of our Presidents, what do you associate that with? The White House. You speak the name and immediately itís the position that youíre tied to. So, Peter doesnít mention death, burial, and Resurrection. But what were they to put their faith in? Who Jesus was. He was The Christ their Messiah, and they had killed Him. But God had raised Him from the dead. They were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and then they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In Acts Chapter 10, we have Peter at the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. This is seven years after the Cross. Not a Gentile has been saved. Back in Acts 2, the Jews had to repent and be baptized, then they could receive the Holy Spirit. Now look at what it says here:
"While Peter yet spake (he hadnít come to the end of his message) these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. "
And we know they all believed. Have they been baptized yet? No, these are Gentiles who havenít heard anything of the Law. But the moment they believed Peterís message the Holy Spirit came down, and the amazing thing is God had to prove to Peter and these six other Jews that God was doing something totally new, and that was saving Gentiles! Not on the basis of repentance and baptism, but the moment they heard the word and believed. Peter is still tied to that Jewish economy, so when he sees what is happening he commands these Gentile believers to be baptized after the fact instead of before as we saw in Acts 2:38:
"Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have (past tense) received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
This isnít a contradiction, this is not Chapter 10 contradicting Chapter 2, but rather a change of events. Ten is Gentile and Two is still Jew. Acts is a transitional book, so always be aware that what was good for the Jew under that Jewish economy seems like a contradiction, but itís not, itís only God changing the program. The moment we believe for our Salvation the Gospel of Grace, that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, the Holy Spirit baptizes us and we are saved. Donít put the message that Peter preached and the message that Paul preached in a blender and mix it all up and expect to understand it. That will give you heartburn, and you will never be able to see what you should clearly believe for your Salvation. But if you will realize that God is changing the program when He goes to the Gentiles, and leave the Scriptures right where they are, I believe the Scriptures will be opened to you. So many people come into my classes and almost immediately have their eyes opened. I donít do that, the Holy Spirit does that when you search the Scriptures.
Editor's Note: Peter's gospel, called the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of the circumcision, was preached to the nation of Israel under the law of Moses. Paul's gospel, called the gospel of grace or the gospel of the uncircumcision, was preached to the Gentiles under grace. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, Paul's gospel is the way of salvation for us in this present age of grace.
(3b) What part of the Bible should new believers be reading ?
Book 29 LESSON TWO * PART II
Now we'll pick up again where we left off, and what we're trying to show is how this next order of the resurrection comes about and of course that would be the main harvest: the Body of Christ. Before we begin though I would like to share that last evening we got a phone call from a gentlemen who had a friend who was an alcoholic and in a treatment center. He had been to visit her, and told her that this was probably her last chance and it was time that she got interested in the things of the spiritual. So he left this lady a couple of my tapes, and the reason he called was to tell me that from those tapes she had gotten saved, she was right with The Lord, and he was just so thrilled he couldn't get over it. So this is our whole purpose, whether you're watching by way of television or by a tape or through the printed page. The reason we teach is to help folk understand what the Bible is really all about. Remember, this is God's Word and He has left it with us to prepare us for eternity. That's the only reason we're here. This life of 70, 80, or 90 years is not even a split second compared with eternity.
We're in I Corinthians Chapter 15, and we've been talking about the doctrine of the resurrection, which is basic to our Christian faith, and at verse 20 we saw Paul sort of shift gears and now he breaks down how the resurrections are going to take place. They are not going to be all at one event, but rather first we had the first-fruits when Christ rose from the dead and those Jewish believers who came out of the graves after He did in Matthew Chapter 27.
"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And came out of the graves after his resurrection,..." Then Paul said in I Corinthians Chapter 15:23:
I Corinthians 15:23
"But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; (and) afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
Which of course would have to be the believers of the Church Age. That's us believers. So in our last lesson that was the purpose of taking you all the way back to the Book of Acts and bringing us through those early chapters when Peter was still dealing with the Nation of Israel and how then God raised up Saul of Tarsus. He made it plain as day that now this man was going to be sent to the Gentiles. And of course we saw all that in Acts Chapter 9, and we left him as they had lowered him in a basket over the wall because of the threats on his life. Now I want you to turn to Galatians Chapter 1, and in this little chapter Paul again brings us up to date as to what took place after he fled from Damascus. Now remember God is going to use this one man to take the message of salvation primarily to, but not exclusively, the Gentile world, although Jews are certainly going to be available for this same salvation. Let's start with verse 11.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man."
Now you know I'm a stickler for words, and the Holy Spirit never puts in excess words or never cuts it short, but rather He puts in everything that we need. Now look at that verse. If Paul is going to be preaching the same Gospel that Jesus and the Twelve preached then why in the world does He identify that the Gospel he preached as not being after man? Why those extra little words in there? Why didn't he just say, "I certify you, brethren, that when I preach the Gospel?." But he doesn't put it that way. He says rather, "the Gospel which was preached of me." Now that identifies him, and if you'll come across into Chapter 2 he does it even more clearly. Now years later in Chapter 2 when he meets with Peter, James, and John, and the other leaders at the Church there in Jerusalem he's going to have to give an account of what he's been preaching to these Gentiles. Now look at verse 2 of Chapter 2.
"And I went up (to Jerusalem) by revelation, and communicated (he made it crystal clear) unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,..."
And again why didn't he just say, "the Gospel?" Well, that would have left a gap, so he clarifies it by saying, "I communicated unto them that Gospel which I preached among the Gentiles." Do you see how that clarifies everything? All right, now let's come back to Chapter 1 and see how all this came about because Paul is reviewing this. Remember when he writes Galatians this is about twenty years after his conversion in Acts Chapter 9. I think a lot of people lose sight of the chronology of some of these events in the New Testament. Saul of Tarsus was probably saved on the road to Damascus around 37 AD and then after his three years of desert training in Arabia it's 40 AD before he goes out into the Gentile world. Then he has that counsel at Jerusalem, which is in Acts 15 and Galatians 2 in AD 52 and so that's about 12 years after he began his ministry. Then the first letter that he writes, according to my time-table, is the Thessalonian letters and they're written some 12 or 14 years after he began his ministry. So you see, time keeps rolling on. This isn't all just mashed together. It's all spread out over a period of 20 or 30 years. In Galatians Chapter 1 he is writing about 58 or 59 AD Remember, if he began his ministry in 40 AD then this is 18 years later when he starts writing these Epistles.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by men) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Now that tells you something. If Paul received everything that he is preaching and writing from The Lord Jesus Christ, where is Christ at the time of all this revelation? Well, He's in Heaven! He's in glory! After His resurrection! I'm always pointing this out. We hear so much of our preaching and our Sunday School material from the four Gospels. And there is nothing wrong with it to a degree. But that all took place before the work of the Cross. But this man is going to have the Lord Jesus telling him these things after the work of the Cross is accomplished, after He is ascended back to glory and now He's going to tell this man, Paul, what to tell the whole world. Not just the Jew. Not just the Gentile, but all the world. Now let's read on.
"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, (remember that's what he was when he was a persecutor. He was a religious Jew) how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God and wasted it:" He absolutely persecuted them. He tore them up. He killed and imprisoned them. Anything he could do to stop anything concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
He was a religious big-wig, and he probably gained a tremendous amount of wealth. And from that period of time I think Saul of Tarsus was married and had children. I think as a result of being sold out now to Christ, he had to put all that behind him. He lost it all. And I think that was all included when he said that everything he ever owned he counted but dung. Why? Because now he had a far higher commission in life than gaining wealth or taking care of a family.
"And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceeding zealous of the tradition of my fathers." That would be Judaism and religion Now verse 15 and what's the first word? "But." Here he came out of all this religion and all of the benefits of it, but the flip side of it is that God had something else for the man.
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace," He didn't deserve God's grace. If anybody didn't deserve it, Saul of Tarsus didn't. But God called him by his grace for what purpose?
"To reveal his Son in me, (for what purpose?) that I might preach him among the heathen, (Gentiles) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"
Here is his whole purpose, that God has brought this man on the scene for the distinct purpose of taking the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles. (Faith in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation, and nothing else.) Now, granted, it's going also to spill over to some Jews, but not many. You know, it's almost a total reverse of the Old Testament. There, God was dealing only with the Jew but a few Gentiles picked up some of the gleanings. And the same thing here. Saul of Tarsus, now Paul, is going to go primarily to the Gentiles. But there are a few Jews that come into the Body of Christ. Now in the last part of verse 16, just put yourself in Saul's shoes, running outside the walls of Damascus, not really knowing where he was going, pitch dark, no explicit instructions yet of where to go. All God had said was that he was going to suffer for His Name. Now if you had been in Saul's shoes, just outside the wall of Damascus and you put your old mind in gear, where would you have headed?
I know where I would have gone. Where would you have gone? Back to Jerusalem and look up Peter, James and John! He knew that those were the fellows who had been with Jesus for three years. He knew that they headed up the group that he had been trying to destroy. And now when he suddenly realized that the One that he thought he was trying to obliterate, was the very God that he thought he was serving, common sense tells me that the man should have headed right straight back to Jerusalem and poured out his heart to those Twelve men and shared with them everything that had happened, and confessed the fact that he had been dead wrong about Jesus, and now he was ready to serve Him. But he doesn't do that. Why? There's a purpose in all of this. A divine purpose. A sovereign purpose. And look what he says in the last part of verse 16:
" ...immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:" Now who do you suppose he was referring to? The Twelve! He didn't go back to Jerusalem. He didn't confer with them. Now let's read on.
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; (now that sets it clear doesn't it?) but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
We know from another chapter in Galatians, what was in Arabia? Mount Sinai! And so that's where The Lord took him. Now we have to feel that from the account in the book of Acts, he must have been down there three years. And then from that, three years of experience at Mount Sinai in the desert, and now he's ready to take the message of grace to the Gentile world. Let's read on.
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, (not until. And by this time he has all these revelations. The mysteries are beginning to unfold and now he can go see Peter. Not to learn everything thing Peter knew but to share with Peter some of these new revelations. I've said it so often, Peter never did get them all. He never could comprehend all these revelations that the apostle Paul had received.) and abode with him fifteen days."
Now let's come back to Romans Chapter 16 and verse 25. And now at the end of this tremendous book of doctrine, the Book of Romans, (and it's doctrinal from verse 1 to at least Chapter 16) here in Chapter 16 and verse 25 comes a subtle statement, and it should blow our minds, but too many people don't even know it's in here. Look what he says:
"Now to him that is of power to stablish you (believers) according to (the Gospel? No. What?) my gospel (see how he identifies it) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation (or revealing) of the mystery, (the secret that's been kept in the mind of God) which was kept secret since the world began,"
Now isn't that plain? Why can't people see that? That here this mystery which is the whole circle of Paul's doctrines were kept secret until God revealed them to this man. Most of which came out in that three years at Sinai and the deeper revelations that come out in Ephesians. In his prison epistles, The Lord may have poured out of these deeper doctrines while he was sitting in prison in Caesarea waiting to go to Rome. Because, you see, after he'd spent that year and a half in Caesarea, he gets to Rome under house arrest and that's when he writes what we call his prison epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. So those 18 months in prison probably were not wasted at all, because that's when The Lord revealed these tremendous, deeper things to him. Now let's go to Ephesians Chapter 3 and we'll start at verse 1. And remember this is just sort of an overview of Paul getting to the place where the Lord can use him to start calling out that next great body of resurrection: the Body of Christ, the Church.
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (whom?) you Gentiles. If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God (now watch how it came. He doesn't say "which came to you by Jesus Christ". It doesn't say, "which came to you by Peter, James and John." It doesn't say, "by way of Abraham". What does it say?) which is given me (and then where did it go?) to you-ward:"
Do you see how plain that is? I had a gentleman sitting at my kitchen table one night and I had him read that verse and he said, "I know what you're driving at." So I said, "Read it again." I think he read it three or four times before he finally just almost batted his eyes and he said, "I never saw that before." I said, "Well, you're typical. That's the way people read their Bibles." They read it but they don't read it. But when he saw that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to say that this Grace of God was given to him to give to us, there was the process. But how many people understand that? That's why I'm always telling people when they call or write and tell me that they are relatively new believers, and they want to know what part of the Bible should they be reading. Paul!!! Because this is where it's at for the Church Age. Now you don't throw the rest of the Bible away, you know that. But it's Paul that reveals all these various doctrines. So now verse 3 of Ephesians 3.
"How that by revelation (the same word he used in Galatians) he (The Lord Jesus Himself) made known unto me the (what?) mystery; ..."
Now we covered all the mysteries in earlier lessons. And they are that whole composite of truth that makes for the Church Age. And they all come from the pen of the apostle Paul. I was talking to someone they other day, and they said, " Why do you make this much of Paul?" And I said, "Let me ask you something. I don't care what denomination handle you have. Do you have a pastor and deacons and Church elders?" He said, "Well, yes." I said, "Where did you get the instructions for them?" Well, he didn't know. I said, "Well, I'll tell you. You got it from Timothy. And who wrote Timothy? Paul! Does your Church practice The Lord's table?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "Where did you get it?" He thought maybe when Jesus said it. I said, "No, Jesus didn't put anything on it. All He said was, "This is My body and this is My blood, but He didn't give any instructions for the communion service. So where did we get it? From I Corinthians 11." And down the line you can go with every facet of what 99% of Christendom practices doctrinally. They get it from Paul. And yet they'll never give him the time of day. It's amazing isn't it?
Editor's Note: Paul's writings to the Gentiles (the Church) are the thirteen books of Romans through Philemon. Although Paul also wrote the book of Hebrews, he wrote it to the Jewish believers who had been saved under the gospel of the kingdom, the teaching of the twelve apostles of the circumcision (Jews). Hebrews was not written to the Gentiles.
(4b) What is the one true church ?
Book 29 LESSON TWO * PART III
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (not three, as a lot of people are depending on, and that's not what the Book says now as you can see. We've moved on into another administration or dispensation) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
"Which in other ages (generations) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ (how?) by the gospel".
Not by works, or baptism, or some other phenomena. Just by the Gospel. That's the only way. The Gospel, how that Christ died, was buried and rose again as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10. Now let's come across to Chapter 4, still in Ephesians. Now this is an interesting series of verses.
"There is one body, ..." There it is again. You don't see that in Peter's preaching. You don't see that in Christ's earthly ministry. But all through Paul's writing you find this term, "the Body". Let's read on.
"... and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, (absolutely, there's only one Name given among men whereby we must be saved) one faith, one baptism,"
I always smile when people say, "Well, I'm of the Catholic faith," "I'm of the Methodist faith," "I'm of the Baptist faith," "I'm of this faith." What do they do with a verse like this? There aren't all that many faiths. There's one faith and only one. That's what The Book says.
Book 36 LESSON ONE * PART IV
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is the body..."
Most people think that last verse should read, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the King over all things to the church." But you see that's not what it says. But rather "God hath set Him to be head of all things to the Church, which is His Body." Now if we are the Body, are we decapitated without a head? No! Now let's come back to I Corinthians chapter 12, and look at that. In these verses we're going to look at, he gets down to such simplicity that it's almost ridiculous, but Paul is trying to drive the point home. What is the Body of Christ? Well it's just like this human body, it's composed of billions of cells. And every cell whether it be a fingernail, or an eyeball, or an ear drum has a different make up and each is important. So you see Paul is using the analogy of a human body as an example of the Body which is His Church. Now let's look at it.
I Corinthians 12:12
"For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, (hands, feet, eyes, etc.) and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: (before we go any further, what controls the body? The head!) so also is Christ".
Paul is making that same analogy. You and I as believers are members of a Body of which Christ is the head. And we're just as connected in this Body of Christ, as our head is to our own human body. Looking at some more of the analogy in verse 15.
I Corinthians 12:15
"If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body?" Then let's see what Paul says in verse 18.
I Corinthians 12:18
"But now hath God set the members (that is you and I as believers) every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."
Now in our mother's womb, and I've used this analogy often. One of the miracles of reproduction is that as the mother prepares that little baby in the womb you don't have fingernail cells going any place but to the fingers. And all these separate cells go exactly to the right place. And at the end of that 9 months whenever the baby is complete, then you have birth. That's miracles of miracles. Well God is doing the same thing in a Spiritual realm. He is building the Body of Christ of believers from every walk of life from around the planet. The Chinese, or Jew, or any other nationality when they become believers are just as much a part of the Body of Christ as we are. And we're all connected to that one source, which is Christ the head. Now come on down to verse 27.
I Corinthians 12:27
"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
God never loses sight of our individualism. God hasn't lost us in the crowd, we're not just a number in God's mind, He knows us as an individual. Now that's the Body of Christ. Now come back again to the Book of Ephesians chapter 1.
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is the body, the fulness..."
Now if you have a marginal Bible, the other word for fullness is complement. As members of the Body of Christ we have become a complement. Now the best way to explain that is to go all the way back to Genesis where everything begins. We'll start in chapter 2.
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
Now you take the Hebrew root, and what do you suppose that word help meet is in our English? Complement. Or a better definition for it would be, "Someone called along side to help." Do you see that? That's the whole idea of a husband and wife relationship even to this day. The wife is that complement to the man that really completes him and brings the help that he needs, and that's what Eve was to Adam. This was all set in type of course looking forward to the greatest union that could ever take place which was the marriage between Christ and the Church. Now for a moment let's go back to the Book of Romans chapter 7. My how these verses just drop into place. Remember Paul is writing to believers.
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; (His physical body that was crucified) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, (not just to escape hell fire, but also) that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
We're to be worth something to God, we're not to be deadwood. We're to be working, and bring forth fruit for His honor and His glory. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 1.
"...and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body,..."
And that's a concept that few believers, I think, have any idea that we're members of a living organism. Now you know as well as I do that as long as we're living our body is a composite of living things. Our cells are alive, our enzymes are alive, and as soon as they die, we dead. All right it's the same way with the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is not an organization like the country club. I know that's what most Churches are getting to be like I'm afraid, but that is not the true scriptural definition of a local Church. We are to be a living organism, with life. Not physical life, but rather spiritual life. And that life is enhanced by fellowship, by the Word, by prayer, and all because we're connected to the head who is in heaven. God knows we're waiting for the day when there won't be that huge space between the head and the Body. Why? Because one day we're going to be brought into union with Him, and we're going to revel throughout all eternity in His presence, and that's something to glory in.
Book 38 Lesson Three ē Part IV
"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."
Now always remember that the word "Church" does not mean that building on the corner. As I was thinking about these things last evening, I remember when Iris and I were first married. She was from Oklahoma and I was from up in Iowa, and her expression always was, "The Church house." "Weíre going to go to the Church house." Yeah, I see you nodding your head. Well up North in Iowa, and for most people today, thatís almost an unknown term. Oh I used to ride herd on her for saying that, and would ask, where do you get that? Well she would say, "thatís what it is!" But I had never heard of such a thing, we just called it the Church. But you know what? She was right, it is the Church house, that building is not the Church.
That building is just brick and stone. The Church is made up of the true believers who meet in that Church house. So I was completely wrong on that one, but according to our culture this is the way weíve come to look at it. The Church is made up of the believing element, "the Body of Christ." and thatís the way Paul always uses the word Church. The word in the Greek is "Ecclesia" and you can spell it with kís or cís, it doesnít make any difference, and is always translated with one or two exceptions, as Church, but it should be defined as "A called out assembly."
So the called out assembly is the Body of Christ when Paul uses it, but itís not that way in other passages. For example in Acts chapter 7 we find Stephen speaks of the Church which was in the wilderness. Well now it wasnít a building with a steeple, you all know that. Neither was it a Church that practiced the Lordís Supper, and had pastors, bishops, and deacons. But rather it was the children of Israel, recently come out of Egypt. So why in the world does the New Testament call them a Church? Well they were a called out assembly of people recently in Egypt and now around Mount Sinai, but for goodness sake they werenít a Church as we think of the word Church. So when you see the word Church, this is why Paul almost always identifies it as "The Church which is His Body," which makes a big difference from the word Church thatís maybe used elsewhere in Scripture.
"...even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24. Therefore as the church..."
This composite of believers around the whole world that makes up the True Body of Christ, whether weíre Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics - thatís moot. If weíre born again and children of God, we are automatically in that Body of Christ, and that Body of Christ will be meeting in Church buildings. But always remember that not all people meeting in those Church buildings are in the Body of Christ. That depends of course how much of the "Truth" is promoted. If the people in that particular building believe for their salvation that Jesus Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose again, + Nothing, then these people are what are called "true believers, and are part of the Body of Christ!"
Book 18 LESSON THREE * PART IV
"The woman saith unto him, `Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.' Jesus saith unto her, `Go, call thy husband, and come hither.' The woman answered and said, `I have no husband.' Jesus said unto her, `Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: (Sounds familiar doesn't it?) in that saidst thou truly.' The woman saith unto him, `Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.'"
We've got to go back into Israel's history, when the Kingdom was divided under Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The Temple was in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and it carried on as usual. So what did the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom set up? A secondary temple worship. They had their own counterfeit as it were. The presence of God wasn't in it. It was another man-made religion. They didn't realize that God was dealing with Israel at the Temple in Jerusalem. Now I need to make another point as we go along. All through Israel's religious history, Jerusalem is the headquarters of God's operation. For the New Testament Church there is no earthly headquarters. That's the vast difference. The Church today is headquartered not on earth, but in Heaven! And even though Antioch was more or less the fountainhead of where the Gospel went out to Gentiles, yet the Scriptures never place Antioch as the headquarters of the New Testament Church. Nor is Jerusalem. There is no headquarters of the New Testament Church.
(5b) What is the primary function of the local church ?
Book 28 LESSON TWO * PART III
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (not three, as a lot of people are depending on, and that's not what the Book says now as you can see. We've moved on into another administration or dispensation) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us (from the greatest to the least He has given these gifts of the Spirit that He lists here.) is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, `When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Absolutely He did.) [Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended (that of course was in His three days and nights that He was in the tomb) is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.]'" Look at the gifted men he gives to the Church in verse 11.
"And he gave some, apostles; (and they even faded off the scene after the apostolic age ended. We don't have apostles in the Church today, but they were part of it even when he was writing Ephesians.) and some, prophets; (they also faded away because we now have the printed Word. Once the Word came into print there was no longer a need for gifted men to speak forth the Word, but even so, Paul still lists them here in Ephesians. Now here's where we are today.) and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;"
Those are the three basic gifts that the Church needs today. Men who are evangelists and can preach salvation, and probably going from place to place, we all understand the role of an evangelist. And then there's the man who is the gifted person to be a pastor. We know that not all of God's men can be pastors, and not all can be teachers. But these are the three basic gifts that are explained here in the Book of Ephesians, and now look also at verse 12. Why did God give the Church these three categories of people?
"For the perfecting (the maturing of believers, getting away from the milk bottle, and learning to eat the meat of the Word) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of (not for the evangelist, pastors, and teachers, but for whom?) the body of Christ:"
Now I've maintained for years that the primary purpose of the Church (and I don't care what denomination that is), is to so feed its members that those members can go out and become soul winners among the world in which they live. That's the way they did it in the early Church. They didn't have great evangelistic campaigns, they didn't have great coliseums full of people, but oh listen, they turned the Roman Empire upside down. And how did they do it? By just simply every believer being taught from the Word that he could be a living testimony to the world around him, and this is the criteria for us today. Oh, to be so taught in the Word that you can be a testimony wherever you go, whoever you are. I don't care how little education that you have, you can be a gifted person in God's program for today.
Book 31 LESSON THREE * PART III
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; (that is His crucified physical body) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Now I think when we taught Romans we brought this out. What is the primary purpose of God bringing man and woman together in a marital relationship? Fruit. And what's the fruit? Children. That not the sole purpose, but the primary purpose. Well it's the same way here. What is the primary purpose of God uniting Himself to us as members of the Body of Christ, and claiming us as His own. We are to be fruitful and bring forth spiritual children. Now we're all getting anxious I trust for the Lord's soon return. We are seeing the world just plunging into the end-time phenomena, and the things that are getting bad are going to only get worse. While you're in Romans stop with me at Romans 11:25 because here's the whole concept that as in a physical marriage God expects the fruit of that marriage to be children so also the fruit of the believer should be other believers, and we call that soul winning. And soul winning has to be done scripturally.
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (secret) lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness (a spiritual blindness) in part (one day this blindness will end) is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
Now what's the fulness of the Gentiles? When the Body of Christ is complete. When God has finished drawing that last person into the Body of Christ then we're out of here. After that happens God will pick up where He left off with the Nation of Israel. Now coming back to II Corinthians Chapter 11 and reading verse 3 again.
II Corinthians 11:3
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve (in that first marital union) through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
If Eve is a symbol of the Church, the Body of Christ, then it stands to reason that it's the Church that Satan is constantly attacking. Satan knows that it's in the realm of the Church that he has his greatest opposition. Now we hear over and over, "When good men do nothing, then bad things happen." And Satan knows that, so if he can neutralize the Body of Christ to where it says nothing then he can have full say.
Book 29 LESSON TWO * PART III
"Which in other ages (generations) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ (how?) by the gospel".
Not by works, or baptism, or some other phenomena. Just by the Gospel. That's the only way. The Gospel, how that Christ died, was buried and rose again as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10. Now let's come across to Chapter 4, still in Ephesians. Now this is an interesting series of verses.
"There is one body, ..." There it is again. You don't see that in Peter's preaching. You don't see that in Christ's earthly ministry. But all through Paul's writing you find this term, "the Body". Let's read on.
"... and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, (absolutely, there's only one Name given among men whereby we must be saved) one faith, one baptism,"
I always smile when people say, "Well, I'm of the Catholic faith," "I'm of the Methodist faith," "I'm of the Baptist faith," "I'm of this faith." What do they do with a verse like this? There aren't all that many faiths. There's one faith and only one. That's what The Book says.
"One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Let's look on down into verse 12 of Ephesians 4. Why do you suppose we're seeing all these references to the Body all of a sudden, in the book of Ephesians? More than we did in Romans or Corinthians. Paul's writings are a progressive revelation just like the Bible as a whole. Now when Paul first begins his letters he does not make that big a deal over the Body of Christ. In Romans just that one mention. In I Corinthians, one or two mentions. But now as you come into the book of Ephesians and Paul has had further revelations, this is one of the prison epistles. And he has now been sitting in prison in Caesarea for a year and a half and all of these deeper things come and now that's why you see more about the Body in Ephesians than you did in Romans and Corinthians. It's part of this greater revelation of our position in the Body, which is in Christ.
"For the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the (what?) body of Christ."
Do you see that? Now, let me make a point. Not every church member across the world is a member of the Body of Christ. In fact, I'm going to stick my neck out and say a small percentage of them. I don't care what church you belong to. Mine included. Yes, I'm a member of a local church. Some people call and ask. I love my pastor and I think it's mutual. But there are members of my church that are as lost as lost can be and they are not in the Body of Christ. I don't know who they are because I'm not judging. I'm not looking at somebody and saying, "Well, you're not in the Body." In fact I told somebody the other day, and I'll tell my whole television audience, don't ever look at anybody, I don't care how far down the tube they are, don't look at them and say, "Well, you're going to Hell", because you don't know that.
Salvation may come to that person at some future date and you don't know that. And so, please, don't ever tell someone that. That's God's prerogative, not ours. And the same with judging whether someone is a believer. I can't and neither can you. Only God can see the heart. But I do know from the Scripture and from everything else that bombards us, there are a lot of bonafide church members who are not members of the Body of Christ. Only The Lord himself places a person into the Body of Christ. Denominations can't, your preacher can't do it, a priest can't do it. This is something that only the Spirit of God can do. So, what is the purpose of all the things that God has been doing on behalf of the Church? To edify the Body of Christ, the true believer!
(6b) How can we help others to be saved ?
Book 38Lesson One ē Part I
Maturing in Godís Word
As we begin this new book, let me remind each true believer that weíre all laborers together for our Lord. We are part of what Paul calls in I Corinthians 3:9 "...Godís building..." As we study I know there are countless millions who are so hung up on tradition, and they based their very eternal destination on some of these traditions Tradition is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, and many never bother to check the Scripture to see if these traditions are really true for the Body of Christ believer. I just thank the Lord that over half of the New Testament was written by Paul for the Body of Christ, who gives us canít miss instruction for eternal life.
Last lesson we left off in Ephesians chapter 4. Today weíll pick up with verse 12. Remember that in verse 11, Paul leaves the Church with evangelists, pastors and teachers as we discussed in the last lesson. These are specially gifted men that God is going to provide for the Christian community. I think it also ties in with I Corinthians chapter 13, the love chapter. Itís almost the same kind of scenario, only we shake out off the superfluous things and we end up with the three things that in the end will abide. And what are they?
I Corinthians 13:13
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, (or love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
Those are the things that remain with us even today. These three words in Paulís epistles just keep popping up. Now all three may not be together all the time, but watch for those words. Now coming back to where we were in Ephesians chapter 4, and we have much the same thing. So forth of the various gifts and so forth, that people make so much ado over even today, theyíve more or less just fallen by the way side, but three of them remain. These three are as absolute as anything can be even today, and what are they? Evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Those are the three main criteria for any local group of believers. Now verse 12, and whatís the purpose of these three?
"For the perfecting of the saints, (notice Paul said to perfect the saints, not the lost. and whatís the purpose again?) for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"
You know Iím always stressing that I think too much of Church activity is geared in the wrong direction, not that itís all that bad, but so much Church activity is supposedly directed to lost people. Oh weíve got to save the lost, most Churches will say, and Iím also concerned about the lost, but the best way to reach lost people is not wait for that poor preacher, or Sunday school teacher to do it all, but every ordinary believer should be in the position to open the Scriptures to lost people, and thatís what I think Paul is referring to here. Now look at it again in that light. All evangelists, pastors, and teachers are given for what purpose?
"For the perfecting (or maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" This is where all Paulís effort is being directed to the to edifying the believer. Now verse 13.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,..."
Now those of you who hear me teach over a period of time, know that Iím always stressing that thereís no use trying to go out and witness to people if you donít know what youíre witnessing about. You have to know the subject, and you need to be able to show the lost the correct Scripture so they can see with their own eyes. If you ask an auto mechanic, or some other person in a specialized field about their profession, they show how professional they are real quick with their knowledge of the subject. But if you asked them something thatís out of their field, they would clam up, because they donít know. Well itís almost that ridiculous when we try to send people out to witness to the lost, when they know nothing about the Word of God. So the whole purpose in Paulís writings is to edify the believer, and now letís look and see what the believer is supposed to do.
II Corinthians 5:18
"And all things are of God, who hath (past tense) reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us (the believer) the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, (that is to say) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses (sins) unto them; (theyíre forgiven) and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.:"
In other words, weíre to tell a lost world that because of Christís death, burial, and resurrection, He has already reconciled them, but they have to believe that beautiful Gospel. And how are they to believe it?
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (or proclaimer?) Paul tells us someone must present this Gospel to them. Now finishing our thought with verse 20 of II Corinthians chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:20a
"Now then we (as ordinary everyday believers) are ambassadors for Christ,..."
Now whatís an ambassador? Heís a representative of his home country, but heís living in foreign territory, and everything that he does is being viewed by the foreigners. Everything that he says is being analyzed by the people in the country which he is serving. Now folks thatís exactly where you and I are. We are in foreign territory whether we know it or not. Everyday that we live we see it more and more, I mean the opposition is rising against Christianity. Weíre in foreign territory! Paul tells us as believers our homeland, and citizenship is in heaven, and weíre to be ambassadors.
Now let me ask you something, would any president in his right mind send somebody to Japan to be an ambassador from my background, for example. Would he just send an ordinary dirt farmer over there to represent this country? Why I wouldnít know how to even begin a conversation. So before we send an ambassador to a foreign nation by an appointment, usually of the president, and the congress has to OK it, what do you expect that person to have in his background? Everything that prepared him to be an ambassador. You wouldnít send anyone over there with no education or background, but isnít that exactly what we do with most Christians? We send them out into that world of wolves with no background, they have no knowledge of the Scripture, and as soon as the scoffer hits them with something, they absolutely melt, they donít know what to say or where to find it.
This is why we have to teach the Word, this is why God has left evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The believing community has to be prepared to go out into the world and win the lost. Weíre to have a heart for lost people, of course we are. God has a heart for lost people, but you see too often we put the cart up in front of the horse, and we wonder why it doesnít work
Book 37 Lesson Two ē Part IV
I Corinthians 2:14
"But the natural man (the unbeliever. I donít care if heís in church every Sunday. If heís still unsaved and in the natural he) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; (itís impossible for him. Why?) for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
So when youíre talking with unbelievers, and you try to express some of the deeper things in Scripture, then expect them to look at you with a blank look because they canít help it. The Bible says, "They can not know about these things. The spiritual things must be spiritually discerned." So the unbelieving world will argue and fuss with you and give you all their ideas, but listen, itís nothing but secular gibberish. But when they finally get the Spirit of God, then they can certainly comprehend. Thatís why Paul makes it so common for the believer to understand these deep things of God, and he expects us to. Now letís go back to the Book of Ephesians.
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (that is the love of God that brought us unto Himself. That we ) 18. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;"
We can step into the whole spectrum of spiritual understanding, and the unbelieving world canít get that. But oh listen, for us, itís all here if weíll just search it out. Now then verse 19.
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Read that verse again)
"And to know the love of Christ,..."
Remember a program or two back when we were following the "unsearchable riches of Christ?" And I mentioned, "How can you and I, mere mortals, comprehend the fact that the Eternal Sovereign Creator God condescended to be born of an ordinary little lady in Israel, to be born under the humble circumstances of Bethlehem, and then go through 30 years on this old planet for the sole purpose of going to that Cross." Now listen thatís beyond human comprehension. But what did it? "The Love of God!" How God loves the human race! And how He paid the very extent of the very riches of heaven to accomplish a plan of redemption!
Now remember lost humanity is under the clutches, chains and control of a powerful, powerful being. Oh, never lose sight of that. And in order for God to bring salvation to the human race, first after taking upon Himself all the sins of this human race, He also had to break the powers of Satan. He literally had to break the bands of Satan that held everything in itís power, which He accomplished at the Cross. And then again you repeat that for every believer that is saved, then God has to do it all over again, breaking the power of the Satanic forces that hold us. Keep your hands in Ephesians, but for a moment letís come back to II Corinthians chapter 4, and look at this for a moment so you can see what Iím talking about.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (now remember every human being on the face is lost until theyíre saved) 4. In whom (in lost people) the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
So whoís the culprit? Who is keeping lost people lost? Well Satan is! Weíre in a society that you almost cringe to use the term, "Satan." People think youíre a fundamentalist kook if you use that term. But listen, the Bible explicitly tells us that his power is tremendous, and only the power of God can break his blinding the unbeliever. And thatís where I think prayer comes in. Oh let me give you another one that I use. Come back to Acts chapter 16, and Paul has been up in northern Greece, and comes to Philippi.
"And on the sabbath (remember that early on in Paulís ministry, heís still coming out of the law background, and this of course was the Saturday Sabbath, and so these were Jewish women no doubt) we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14. And a certain woman named Lydia a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, (she was Jewish and worshipping the God of Abraham, and this Lydia) heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, (now before the Lord could open her heart to believe Paulís Gospel, what other power did God have to exercise? He had to break the blinding power of Satan. This Lydia was no different than anybody else. Just because she believed in God, doesnít mean she wasnít blind to the truth of the Gospel, for she was blinded. But here we have the perfect account of how the Lord opened her eyes, and heart, the Lord broke the bands of Satan) that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." (Lydia believed Paulís Gospel and became a believer.)
Now this is all part and parcel of what weíre up against even in our own day. Satan has blinded the eyes of those that believe not and only the power of God can open their understanding. Now letís come back to Ephesians chapter 3, and letís read verse 19 again.
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
We canít comprehend what love it took to drive Him to the Cross. And all the fulness of God is what weíre to be filled with. Now I donít think any of us understand what that is do we? I donít think thereís ever been a human alive, at least not on this side of the apostle Paul that has really understood the fulness of God. We canít even come close, but potentially itís there for us. Now verse 20. Here Paul ends this prayer.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"
What a prayer request on behalf of you and I. Just for a moment letís come over to the Book of Colossians and look at another prayer for believers.
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, (that is their salvation, we) do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;" Does that ring a bell? Itís almost the same thing we were looking at in the Book of Ephesians. Now verse 10.
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, (remember God never tells us to be a thorn in people. We are not to be obnoxious, or to make a fools of ourselves, but rather we are to be a living example of the love of the One who died for us.) being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (now thatís a constant thing isnít it? We donít get all this knowledge of God all at once, and say, Ďwell Iíve arrived.í) 11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
My goodness, what a prayer request for us. And thatís for every believer, not just for the preachers and teachers, but rather itís for everyone of us. Now back to Ephesians and weíll wind up the chapter.
"Unto him be glory in the church (the Body of Christ) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
In other words this isnít the end. Eternity is out there in front of us, but our Lord Jesus Christ will never change. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!
Book 7 LESSON THREE * PART I
I Corinthians 1:18
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;"
At some point in the next few lessons we are going to come back to the New Testament and show that so much of what we are hearing today is leaving out the Cross. And we can't do that. No one can be saved by simply believing in Jesus. It has to be the work of the Cross. And so Paul states that here. The world may think the preaching of the Cross is foolishness, but to us that are saved, it is the power of God. It takes the power of God to save us, to set us free from the shackles of sin And that power can never be released from God until we BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. That Christ died, was buried and rose again.
I may say it again before these next four lessons are over. I always tell people that it's not because I'm getting senile, but I repeat a lot of these things purposely for emphasis, because the Scripture does. What we have to understand is that today, even among evangelical Christians, there is too much use of what I call "clichés." Now, you know what a cliché is? It's just a little coined statement, that we've learned to use in the proper places.
I think too much of Christianity is using clichés which, if the person fully understands the whole Gospel picture, that cliché may say it all. But too many don't. You say, "what are you talking about?" You have all heard the expression (I've used it and imagine you have used it) "Well, I've accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior." Now, there is nothing wrong with that, but what is it? It's a coined phrase. It's not in the Bible! You show me one verse where it says that if you will take Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior, that you will be saved. It doesn't say that.
Now, if you take the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, based on the fact that He, the very Son of God, became flesh, went to the Cross, shed His blood, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you put that whole truth into your cliché, then I have no problem with that. But how many people can do that? Another one we like to use is, "Well if you just believe in Jesus." Which Jesus are you believing in? Are you believing in the Jesus of the three years that He ministered to Israel, or are you putting your faith in that Jesus that went to the Cross, and rose from the dead?
Do you see what I'm saying? How many times have you heard the expression "Well if you'll just take Jesus into your heart," and again, there is nothing basically wrong with that, except, unless the person who is taking Him into his heart, understands that the only reason you can have Christ in your heart, is because He died on that Cross. This is what worries me, that people are being led into a false security by simply taking a shortcut, or clichés without knowing the full truth of the matter. So we are saved by the power of God, from the preaching of the Cross.
Editor's Note: In summary we see that:
1. Every believer should be in the position to open the Scriptures to a lost person
through their knowledge of the scripture.
2. Only the Lord can open someoneís heart.
3. When we have the opportunity to share the scripture with someone we should
clearly share the Gospel with them, first and foremost. Corinthians 15:1-4
(7b) Will God talk to us ?
Book 4LESSON ONE * PART IV
"And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaohs house (becoming part of his harem). And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife."
In the Old Testament days God dealt more directly than He does today. In fact, I was thinking the other day as I was getting ready for this lesson, there is a good book by Sir Robert Anderson entitled: The Silence of God. It is rather hard to comprehend. It is written in Old English, more or less. It seems like an odd title, but Sir Robert Anderson was a Bible scholar as well as the head of Scotland Yard. He must have been a layman. But, he was a tremendous Bible scholar. In his book, he draws this analogy of God constantly dealing in an intrinsic way with the Old Testament characters. But when we get to our Age of Grace, God is comparatively silent because we have The Book. God doesn't have to talk to us audibly. God doesn't have to appear to us in the miraculous. I always have to qualify that. That doesn't mean that I don't believe God cannot miraculously answer our prayers. Sir Robert Anderson makes a point of the fact that in this Age of Grace it is as if God is silent, compared to His dealing in the Old Testament,.
Think about that. We just don't expect angels to appear. I told someone at a class one night, "If all of a sudden on my way home at 11:00 at night I'd see a bunch of angels on the highway, do you think I could take it? I know I couldn't. I don't think you could either!" What if all of a sudden God would just appear as He did back in the Old Testament? It would crack us up. We're not prepared for that. And God doesn't expect us to be. Indeed, God is silent today compared to the days we are reading about. Here, God even appeared to pagan Pharaoh and revealed to him that, "This lady out there is not what you think she is. She is a man's wife."
"And Pharaoh called Abram and said, `What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife (God told him, but Abram had not)? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.'"
Book 28 LESSON TWO * PART III
I Corinthians 12:11
"But all these (the things that he has listed up there in verses 8, 9 and 10) worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally (differently) as he (the Holy Spirit) will."
Do you see that? So it's not for you and me to go and say, "Oh I want this gift, or that gift," No, you just take the gift that God has given you. Now I think the greatest thing we can do is just simply say, "Lord here I am, I'm available, use me." And let Him direct you where He want to use you. I've told people this for years that I don't wait for God to say something out loud, He's never spoken to me out loud, but I'll tell you how He talks to me, and that's with open and closed doors. He gets us just exactly where He want us. If something doesn't fly and the door closes, don't push against it, you just take it that God doesn't want you in that direction. You will find another open door someplace else so just take that one. And then from the Word, His Word can just impress you so much. Another one is by prayer, and that's some of the ways that we can find what God wants. But just to simply go to God and say, "I want the gift of such and such, no I don't think this is what the Bible permits. We are to leave that up to the Holy Spirit.
Book 37 Lesson Two ē Part III
I Corinthians 3:16
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Now again to just point out Paulís revelations and I think this is all part of the mysteries, did you ever read that the believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit of this in the Old Testament? No way. Now they knew of the Holy Spirit, but you want to remember like David and Samson, the Holy Spirit would come upon them, but He wasnít there permanently, He could leave at the drop of a hat. And of course thatís what happened to Samson. When the Holy left off with Samson he was as weak as a dish rag. But when the Spirit was upon him, he had all kinds of power.
Now here Paul is making it so plain then that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. How do I know the Holy Spirit lives within me? I donít feel Him in there. I donít hear Him talking to me. Iím not one of those who hears God talk out loud. Iíve never yet heard Him talk audibly to me. Now I think He affects our thoughts, and as we study the Scriptures God speaks to us through His Word. But to hear Him say, "Now Les I want you to do this." Iíve never had that happen, and Iím a little bit dubious when people talk like that, because the Bible doesnít teach that. But we do have the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit living within us. Now back to Ephesians chapter 3. So Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit is dwelling in our hearts as believers. By faith is the only way of knowing.
(8b) What is the meaning of baptism ?
Book 14 LESSON THREE * PART III
"For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (see it's also in Isaiah. I took you back to Malachi but Isaiah also speaks of John the Baptist) saying, `The voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" You know all about John, so now I would like for you to come quickly down to verse 6:
"And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
Think for a moment. Can you think of any other subject in Christianity that will cause more controversy, more anger, more disruption of fellowship and more everything else that you can think of, than baptism? Oh, I've experienced it over and over. I see people who seemingly have real sweet fellowship until all of a sudden they realize they didn't agree on baptism and then, oops, there goes their friendship. Now there's something wrong when something can cause such division amongst believers. And I guess I'd have to say it's because we have so many different views of this baptism. Some feel that it's mandatory for salvation. Some, that it has nothing to do with salvation. Some in sprinkling, some in immersion. So you have all of these conflicting ideas, and I think it's a pity.
Now we are going to see what the Scripture says. But here, John no doubt about it, maintains that if these Jews of Israel are going to show saving faith in the fact that their King and Kingdom is here, then they would have to show it with the baptism of repentance. And that is why it is always called the "Baptism of Repentance." The two could not be separated. These Jews were repenting then of their failure of the system of law, and everything else. They were now preparing their hearts and minds for the King and His Kingdom. I have a question for you. Why baptism? That throws a curve at almost everyone. Now remember that we are dealing with the Jew, and if you go back to the Old Testament economy, in order for the priest to be prepared for service the first thing they had to do was wash, wash, and wash some more. They had lots of practice at washing. Throughout the whole system of the Law of Moses there was that constant washing to show to the very mind of Israel that sin was a filthy thing. This is what we are dealing with here. Sin!
That is why leprosy is used as a picture of sin. Now most of us don't know how horrible a man with leprosy can look, especially in the final stages. It is beyond comprehension. And that's what sin does. Naaman, the Syrian General, had leprosy and the servant just begged him to go to the prophet of Israel and be healed. So he ends up with Elisha, and the old prophet doesn't even come but rather sends his own servant out, and tells this big Syrian General to do what? Go dip in the Jordan River seven times. Well he finally did, and what happened? He was healed of his leprosy. Now the water didn't do it. God did it because Naaman, as reluctant as he was, was still exercising faith. But that dipping in the Jordan River indicated a cleansing. In the same way, the priesthood with their wash, wash, wash, were merely emphasizing their need for a spiritual cleansing. The water in no way could do that. Remember, we looked at Scripture a couple of lessons back where Israel was told that every Jew was to be a priest of God. What little rite had to happen before they would be ready for a priesthood? They had to be washed. And they experienced that symbolic washing with their baptism. Now that is all you can put on it. Nothing more!
I guess one of the biggest questions has been, "Why was Jesus baptized? He didn't have any sin to repent of." But again, He came to be a prophet, priest, and King, and in order to fulfill all of the requirements of the priesthood again, symbolically what did He have to experience? The washing. So as He went down into that baptism in the Jordan, he symbolically fulfilled the washing of the priesthood, and at the same time He identifies Himself with His Covenant people the Nation of Israel. Do you see how everything just fits so beautifully together? There is a reason for it, but we have to understand it.
Book 3 LESSON ONE * PART I
I Corinthians 12:12,13
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Now, does the Holy Spirit baptize with water? No! So, this is not talking about water baptism, yet nearly every Christian group will not accept a person for membership without water baptism. Do you really believe that every member in your congregation is a born again child of God? Of course not! We are all members of congregations where there are unbelievers who have been baptized under whatever form of baptism their particular group uses. There are still people coming into every group who are totally unsaved; they're baptized and they are members there, but they are not members of the Body of Christ. There will be no unbelievers in the Body of Christ because that's the work of the Holy Spirit - to immediately place or baptize them into the Body of Christ. The reason Paul uses this analogy of the human body is that some believers' roles are no more that that of a little pinkie finger. Some may even have the role of a little toe, which most people never see. Others may be in more visible roles, but every one of us, regardless of where God has placed us in the Body, has a function in that Body, be it small or great.
We'll get back to Romans 8 in moment, but here in I Corinthians 12, it shows very clearly what God expects of His children. Here, Paul mentions the gifts that really amount to something; the very gifts Christ uses, by an act of the Holy Spirit, to search the heart. The Holy Spirit will never place an unbeliever into the Body of Christ. None of us can examine someone else close enough to screen him from the membership in our local church. We can't do it, and we're not supposed to. That's why Jesus gave the illustration during His earthly ministry of the "tares and the wheat." Years ago, when I was teaching in that concept of the tares and the wheat, an agronomist at the college brought in some tares and wheat. You couldn't tell the difference, but one would never give a grain and the other would. It's the same way in the church. We can't judge and say, "That church member is not a child of God." That's not our job. But, we have to be aware that in the Body of Christ there are no false professors - only the genuine believer is in the Body of Christ, and that's the only Christ there is.
So that's the membership you'd better be sure of. Don't worry about whether you are member of the biggest church in town or the smallest; just be sure you are a member of the Body of Christ, and remember the qualification: It's for all! "For by one spirit we were baptized into one body!"
Book 8 LESSON ONE * PART IV
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: (many people will disagree, but I'm convinced this is not a water baptism. Water baptism cannot do what Paul is talking about here.) that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
No baptism can give new life. Only the power of God can do that. So I am convinced, maybe contrary to the way I was taught in my earlier years, that this is Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this in I Corinthians Chapter 12. I hadn't intended to do this but I feel the Spirit is leading this way for a reason, so let's look at this verse. In Chapter 12 is what I consider the only valid baptism for us in this Age of Grace. And it's a baptism that human hands cannot touch; it's a baptism that a lost person can have no part in. In water baptism, we can never be sure of a person's salvation.
I was brought up in a congregation where candidates for baptism were examined very thoroughly, yet I've come to the conclusion in my later years that there is no way a group of men, or pastors, can truly determine a person's salvation. We can hear their testimony and come to some human conclusions, but we can never look on the heart. That is something that only God Himself can do.
I've told my class that I don't think it will actually happen this way, but if it were, and we get to glory, we are suddenly going to realize that a lot of people are there we didn't think would be. And there are going to be a lot of people not there that we thought should be. We probably won't have that kind of knowledge, but just hypothetically if that were the case, we would be surprised and disappointed. But we can't look on the heart, only the outward veneer to reach a conclusion. But that's not the heart. This is where the Scripture says also "Judge not!" Consequently this is the baptism that Paul refers to here in verse 12:
I Corinthians 12:12,13
"For as the body (that is this human body. In other words from head to toe, we are controlled by one central nervous system, one mind, one brain) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body (ten fingers and toes if we are normal): so also is Christ."
And here Paul is referring to the Body of Christ. Now, verse 13, and this may shock some people, but again I'm not changing or twisting the wording, we are going to leave it exactly where it sits.
I Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit (notice that Spirit is capitalized, so it is in reference to the Holy Spirit.) are we (and remember Paul always writes to believers. What's the next word?) all (not just a favorite few, or a special elite, but how many? All But of course that's according to God's determination of who is a believer, whether weak or strong, spiritual or carnal) baptized into one body," So reading the verse again: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Let me qualify the Body of Christ, which of course came on the scene in the New Testament, I think after Pentecost. Some people disagree with me, and that's fine. But you search the Scriptures until you are sure you can prove me wrong. But I'm convinced that the Body of Christ didn't necessarily begin at Pentecost, because Pentecost was strictly a Jewish holiday, with a Jewish message. When the Gospel of Grace begins to go out to both Jew and Gentile, especially at the church in Antioch, in Acts Chapter 11, where it says that the believers at Antioch were the first to be called Christians; this was about 10 years after Pentecost.
That's where they were first called Christians. Not the Jewish believers in Jerusalem in those previous years. But when Gentiles started coming in by faith in the Gospel of the grace of God, they were now called Christians as the Scriptures says, so that's where I feel the Body of Christ began when Paul begins to preach this message of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. And by faith and faith alone without the Law. And as men and women began to believe that, then the Holy Spirit baptized, or placed them, into the Body of Christ, the Church. Now, I asked my class the other night, as I have over the years, as I don't care what denomination you are a part of it doesn't make any difference, the question is still valid: is every member on your church roll a genuine born again Christian? No. Remember we are not to judge, but we know for a fact that they are not all true believers. What about the unbeliever? Are they members of the Body of Christ? No, they can't be. They are unsaved. Only the saved go into the Body of Christ. So this is where I get the premise, that the only baptism that really counts for eternity is this one. The one that places the true believer into the Body of Christ. Let's also look quickly at Ephesians 4. Again, Paul writing to believers says:
"There is one body, (The Body of Christ) and one Spirit, (The Holy Spirit) even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism," How many? ONE. Do you see that?
So you can have your name on as many church rolls as you wish. But unless you are in the Body of Christ you are doomed. The Scripture makes it so plain. But if you are a child of God, you are in the Body of Christ by virtue of the placing it there by the Holy Spirit, as Paul makes it so plain. And then as members of the Body of Christ, we all maintain our individuality, we all have unique place in that Body, and yet we are all what? ONE. That's also why, when you walk into a room full of fellow believers, are you a stranger very long? No. I've experienced it and I know you have. I've had people from far off states come into my class, and on the way out they will say, "The minute I stepped into this room I felt at home" And that is as it should be, because when you are with fellow believers there is that oneness that any other group can never experience.
Book 33 LESSON THREE * PART IV
THE TRUE INTENT OF THE LAW IS CONDEMNATION
Now this lesson will finish book 33, and I find that unreal. That means we've come to Tulsa 99 times to do these tapings of "Through The Bible." Before we begin, let's review where we ended our last lesson. Paul is writing to Gentile believers for the most part and says:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
And as I mentioned in the last lesson when Paul speaks of faith in Christ he's speaking of that whole finished work of redemption, which is faith in His death, His shed blood, His burial, and His resurrection. Paul stresses constantly the power of His resurrection.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into (your denomination?) Christ have put on Christ."
Well that's the way most people read it, isn't it? Sure. You ask the average individual, how did you become a member of your Church? Well I was baptized into it! But you see that's not what the Scriptures says. Here it says, "that you have been baptized into Christ." Now there's not a drop of water in this verse. It's as dry as a bone, and to follow up with another verse come back to Romans chapter 6, and you have the same thing. I'll never forget the first time I heard a guest preacher in one of our previous churches where we were members, and this preacher preached from Romans 6 and when he said there wasn't a drop of water in this third verse we thought he was way out in left field. And at that time I was probably one of the strongest, but oh I can see now that he was 100 % right because there is no water in Romans chapter 6. Here it's basically the same thing as what Paul is saying in Galatians chapter 3.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into (not into a denomination or church, but rather into) Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
If you've been placed in Christ then before you can get there you had to be identified with His death. And how have I always put it? When Christ died, God saw every one of us on the Cross in the Person of Christ, because He died in our place, and this is what God saw. He saw you and I crucified and that's what He means in Galatians 2 when Paul says -
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;..."
Now just as surely as God saw us on the Cross in the person of Christ, He also saw us in the tomb. So here we are in the tomb, we're buried with Him. Not by water but by virtue of God determining that now since He's paid the sin debt for all that believe, and appropriate it then yes God said, "You're dead, you're crucified, I saw you in Christ, I saw you buried with Him in his death, in His tomb, and so also we've been resurrected with Him to a new life. We are totally different people as a result of this power of His resurrection, and so it's a God thing. God in His Omnipotence, in His power, in His Omniscience, in His ability to work in the area of the invisible, He has placed us in all of these places.
In the area of the invisible He has seen everyone of us crucified with Christ. In the area of the invisible He saw everyone of us in the tomb with Christ, and in the area of the invisible He has resurrected everyone of us to a new life. How often haven't I made this illustration? If you were to go down to the morgue and accompany a pathologist in a autopsy, would you ever see the soul of a person? Would you ever see their spirit? Of course not, it's invisible. Does that mean that it's not for real? You better believe it's for real or you wouldn't be here. But the soul and spirit are invisible, and that's where God works, in the area of the invisible. He works in the area of our soul and spirit, and human hands can't touch that. You can baptize this old body a hundred times and it's not going to change the soul and spirit. Remember this is only an outer tabernacle, but only God can work in the area of the soul and spirit. I wish people could understand that. Looking at the verse again.
"Know ye not, that so many of us is were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized (or identified) into his death?" And then to verse 8:
"Now if we be dead with Christ, (in other words if we've been crucified with Him, if we've been buried with Him then) we believe that we shall also live with him:"
How are we going to live with Him? By His resurrection power. Do you see that? We've been raised in resurrection power. We're a new person, we're a whole new being, and now we are placed into Christ. How? Now on your way back to Galatians stop at I Corinthians chapter 12. These are verses that we use over and over because they are so foundational and so simplistic. You don't have to have a seminary degree to understand some of these verses. They're so simple but most people don't understand them. Also keep in mind that Paul tells us in Ephesians now in this age of Grace that there is only one baptism and then I Corinthians tells us what baptism that is.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism,"
I Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit, it's capitalized) are we all (believers of Paul's Gospel for salvation) baptized into one body, (the Body of Christ. Now here's another verse that is as dry as a bone. There is not a drop of water in this verse. It's the work of the Holy Spirit working in the area of the invisible placing you and I now in that new resurrected personage into that relationship with Christ.) whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and we have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
There is no color line in the Body of Christ, we believers are all baptized into that Body of Christ, and we are all one in Christ. We just came back from a cruise on the Mediterranean, and we had 62 of us from various parts of the country. But you know what? In just a matter of 24 hours we had all come together as though we had known each other all our lives. Why? We were all believers. We were all members of the Body of Christ, and you're not strangers long when you're believers, and it's so beautiful. Now next week we'll be going back to Israel, and we'll have a different group and I know the same thing is going to happen again. That whole group of people is going to come together and by the time we come back it's going to be as close knit as family. It just shows the fact that when you become members of the Body of Christ there is that unity that nothing can take apart.
Now this is what comes alone from the writings of the apostle Paul. This isn't taught in the Four Gospels, this isn't taught in the Old Testament, but Paul is constantly at it. That when we have faith in the Gospel then we become a member of the Body of Christ. Now back to Galatians chapter 3. Now verse 27 is too good a verse to just casually go over, I'm going to spend some time in it. So if you have been baptized by that Holy Spirit's work into the Body of Christ, then something else has happened. What? You have put on Christ.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Book 3 LESSON THREE * PART I
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
He didn't say, "To everyone who repents and is baptized" or "to everyone who does according to man's traditions," but he said "to everyone that believeth"! He stated very plainly that if we believe this Gospel with all our hearts - that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead - then that Gospel becomes the very power of God Himself. The very power that created the universe is released on us, to us and in us so that we, by that power of God, become children of God. It is beyond human understanding, so we must take it by faith. The Bible says that is what the Gospel is, and when we believe it, God counts it as righteousness for us. But it is imperative that we be very careful what we believe!
(9b) What is the role of the Holy Spirit ?
Book 26 LESSON THREE * PART III
Now then Paul comes right into verse 16, which is tied to our lifestyle that's going to merit rewards or lack of it, by bringing up a completely new doctrine in Scripture. You don't find this in the Old Testament, you don't find Jesus teaching it, Peter and the eleven don't teach it, only Paul teaches it, and what is it? "That God Himself is dwelling in this body." Now that's a concept that you have to take by faith, because you didn't feel Him move in, you don't feel Him moving around in you, but He's there because the Book says He is. Now let's look at it.
I Corinthians 3:16
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
Even these poor old carnal Corinthians were temples of the living God. To every believer, the moment he believes, the Spirit comes and indwells. Now usually when I teach young people (and that doesn't mean it doesn't apply to older folks), but I usually tell young people, "Now look, when you go to some ungodly place, you're not going to check God at the door. You take Him wherever you go. You cannot check Him wherever you think it's not fit for Him to be, so you'd better be careful where you go. Because this body is the temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit and He comes the moment we believe!"
I Corinthians 3:16
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
Now that's plain language. You don't have to be a theologian to understand that. The third Person of the Trinity, as we refer to Him - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - the third Person of the Trinity comes and indwells the believer. That's why God can know every thought. Now that's scary, isn't it? God knows our thoughts. God knows every place we go. He knows everything we do. Because He's here in our heart. Now in your mind's eye, if you will, go all the way back to when Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, which was going to be the dwelling place of God. When the Temple was complete, and they dedicated it, what happened? Well, the presence of God in the Shekinah Glory came right down into that Temple there at Jerusalem. The presence of God dwelt in that dwelling place, which was the Temple Now that was just a foreview of this Age of Grace where, when God saves an individual, he immediately becomes a Temple, a dwelling place. And just like the Shekinah Glory came into Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit comes into us. Not as visibly. It isn't manifested in much the same way, but according to the Book, this is what happens. And if the Book says it, we have to believe it. He is dwelling within us.
Book 23 LESSON TWO * PART IV
"Likewise the Spirit (the Holy Spirit who is now indwelling us, according to Paul's teaching) also helpeth our infirmities (our weaknesses. There's not much we can do about it because we're dealing with the invisible, in the realm of the Spirit. But let God do it. God can strengthen us in our places of infirmity): for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
That verse is kind of hard to comprehend, except to say I think that there will come places in our lives when we just don't know how to pray. We have an idea of what we want, but we can't put it into words. I've told my classes over the years, when you get to that situation, just be quiet, shut up and let the Holy Spirit commune for you. This is not necessarily a tongues experience. That's not what Paul is talking about. But we get to this place where the Holy Spirit actually intercedes on our behalf. Now, come back to I John. This is a different intercessory power that John talks about in his epistle.
I John 2:1
"My little children (who is he talking to? Believers! He doesn't call the unbelieving world his children. It's the believing element that is being addressed), these things I write unto you, that ye sin not (now what have I stressed over the years - that we are under Grace and not under law. Grace is not license. Just because we're under Grace, just because the sin is always less than God's Grace, that doesn't give us license. And so John says the same thing. He begs the believer - sin not! Don't sin!). And, if any man sin (that's conditional. What are we going to do? We're going to sin! You might as well admit it), we have an advocate with the Father (now what is an advocate? It's an intercessor. We have Someone Who is interceding for us to the Father. And Who is it?), Jesus Christ the righteous:"
Absolutely He is! He is there 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I've told my classes over the years, and I think I've even said on the program, this is one of the miracles of our God. I'm sure that at any one moment of time, there are probably a million believers in all areas of the world that are approaching the throne room. But He hears every one as an individual. He doesn't hear just a mumble-jumble of voices coming up before Him. And so when we pray we have that assurance that He hears us and He knows all about us as a person. Now, back in Romans 8, the Holy Spirit is interceding on behalf of us. And again, I think we have all three Persons of the Trinity involved, even in our prayer life. All three Persons are working for us constantly. A little later in this chapter, no wonder Paul will write, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" We've got all three Persons constantly working on our behalf. Let's read on.
"And he that searcheth the hearts (this is the area in which God works. You and I can't look on each others hearts. I can't judge anyone, nor would I ever try. But God does) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit (now hold it. Where, so far as you and I are concerned, is the Spirit? He's in us. Now, that's a concept that we cannot understand. A person of the Godhead dwelling in me? Absolutely! It's what The Book says. And again, we take it by faith that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is indwelling the believer. And it's through that Holy Spirit that God searches the heart of the believer), because He (the Holy Spirit) maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
Does that leave out the Son? No! It just involves all three. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and the Son intercedes on our behalf to the Father. It's just fantastic.
Book 26 LESSON THREE * PART III
Now the question has come up and I think I answered it in my last newsletter, if I'm not mistaken. At the Rapture of the Church, and all the believers are taken out, does that mean the Holy Spirit is gone too? And you know, shortly after I'd sent my newsletter out with my answer, I was reading a well-known theologian and bless his heart (or mine), if he didn't answer it just exactly the same way. And that is; that just because the Holy Spirit goes out and finishes His role as indwelling the individual believer, doesn't remove Him from the earth. Because the Holy Spirit has always been the Omnipresence of God on the planet. You go all the way back to Genesis Chapter 1 and after the deluge of verse 2, when everything is under water, what moved upon the face of the deep? The Spirit! And so all throughout the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was evident, otherwise nobody could ever have knowledge of God. But He did not indwell the Old Testament believers like He does today. And the same way in the Tribulation - yes, as the indwelling Person of the Godhead, in the believer, that is going to end. But He's going to remain on the earth as the Omnipresence of God or else no one would be able to be saved during the Tribulation and we know they will be. So every believer then, in this Age of Grace in which Paul is dealing, is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Book 43 LESSON TWO * PART II
All right, verse 6 (of II Thessalonians chapter 2) is where we quit in our last study, how that there has to be a restraining force now, beginning at some point in human history to hold everything in check lest things start rolling too fast and the anti-Christ would make his appearance before the right time. I think that is all that is implied here, is that God has instituted a restrainer so that the anti-Christ could not be brought on the scene ahead of time. Hopefully, we made plain that the restrainer is the work of the Holy Spirit, as he indwells you and I as believers.
In closing of the last lesson, I mentioned that even in Israel tonight, with the tremendous chasm between the secular ( how shall I call it), the unbelieving Jews. They take no respect for the Scriptures, the Old Testament, as they are secular. They donít take God in their lives at all. In fact I was reminded, as I read that little article, when Iris and I were in Israel the very first time. That goes back too many years! We came out of the hotel dining room after dinner and a well dressed, Jewish business man said "You are from America, arenít you?" We said, "Yes." He said, "What do you think of our little country?" Well we were impressed with how far they had come in just those few years after the Six Day War. So, I just earnestly said, "Itís amazing what God has done here!" Do you know what his answer was? "God didnít have a thing to do with it. We did it."
Well, see thatís the secular attitude. They think God has nothing to do with it. But you see, on the other hand, you have that percentage in Israel who are still, what we would call religious. They are Orthodox and they are still spending their time in the Old Testament scriptures. But, itís gotten to the place that the secular part of Israel will be for anything that the religious segment is against. And visa versa. Whether itís political, economical, moral, whatever. As soon as those Rabbiís express themselves, the secular world comes up against it.
Well you see, we are in the same situation in America. Not quite to that extreme, but we are up against the same thing. Just as soon as we try to oppose something, then we are just called mean spirited. We are just simply against everything. Well, of course we are. It is our responsibility as believers to stand against these things that we know are Biblically wrong. Yet our nation has become so secular now, that regardless of what the outcome may be, they are going to be counter against us, simply because we are standing on the Scriptures. But, this is our role. This is why God has left us here. We can be used of the Holy Spirit to be a restraining force to hold back these forces of evil. Because we know, that the minute we are out of here (and we are going to see that in the next verse) that the wickedness is going to run rampant across the planet. And, that is what justifies the wrath and vexation of God. Now verse 6.
II Thessalonians 2:6-7a
"And now ye know what withholdeth(or the one who restrains) that he (the anti-Christ) might be revealed in his time. (or not before the time.) 7. For the mystery (or the secret) of iniquity doth already work:Ö"
Now there is probably a debate, "When does Paul feel this mystery of iniquity began?" Did it begin as soon as he went out among the Gentile world with the Gospel? Possibly, but I prefer to think that this mystery of iniquity actually began at the tower of Babel. And, my reason for thinking that is every false religion, even our modern day cults (and throw them in with the Oriental religions) - they all have their roots going right back to the tower of Babel. Everything false goes back to the tower of Babel. Then if you have done any study at all of these false religions, you will notice that almost all of them, at the core of their belief system, are what they call, the mysteries. Now, you just think for a minute. The Oriental religions are mystery religions. And it is simply because only the inner sanctum of their priesthood have access to these mysteries. You will find this, all the way up through every false religion. And so this is what makes me think that this term mystery refers to all these false pagan religions that even Paul was confronting now, face to face, by bringing these people out of it. Indeed, the mysteries of paganism, of false worship, have been already revealed and were on the scene as Paul wrote this letter.
II Thessalonians 2:7a
"For the mystery(secret) of iniquity doth already work:Ö" It was permeating the whole human race. Now the next part is also interesting. There is a lot of debate over it, but I believe if you just look at it in the big picture, that Paul is dealing with the Body of Christ being taken out before this final seven years of wrath comes in. So he says in verse 7.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
"Öonly he who now letteth (hindereth) will let (hinder) until he be taken out of the way."
Now those are personal pronouns. So again, I am thinking you have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit. The personal pronoun that "he who now hindereth," the indwelling Holy Spirit, is the same Spirit that we saw in verse 6 "will hinder." Heís never going to stop. Heís never going to give up. I have always felt that this hindering work of the Holy Spirit is such that until the Body of Christ is gone, itís going to be like a dam in the river. And the iniquity is just piling up and piling up, just like a large reservoir. All right, so look at the verse again.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
"Öonly he who now letteth(hindereth. Now I know that the King James says letteth, but again if you have a Bible with a marginal, they have all realized that the word meaning has changed 180 degrees. So the person of the Holy Spirit who) will let, (hinder) until he be taken out of the way."
Now, if the Holy Spirit is working in the believer today to withstand the forces of wickedness, then it stands to reason that as soon as he is taken out, it will be like the floodgates of wickedness that will come over the world.
Book 11 LESSON TWO * PART IV
The Holy Spirit today in the Age of Grace points people to God, the Son. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to point lost people to the Son. For we believers, it's the Holy Spirit's work to teach and encourage and reprove us, so that we might in turn bring honor and glory to the Son.
(10b) How can we understand the Trinity ?
Book 1 LESSON Two * PART I
God says, "Let us make man in our image." Scripture is always so accurate! Isn't it unique that the plural pronouns are used throughout this verse? Why do you think they were used?
Remember that in Lesson 1, we spent time discussing the Trinity. In verse 26, this triune God is speaking unanimously and simultaneously, saying "Let us make man in our image."
In Lesson 1, I pointed out that the word translated "God" in verse 1 is "Elohim," and it too, refers to the Trinity and is in the plural form. However, we went on to see in the New Testament that even though the entire Trinity was involved and at work in the creative acts recorded in the first few chapters of Genesis, that it was God, the Son, who actually spoke the word which caused creation to become a viable act. Whenever we get to any of the acts of creation, we are dealing directly with God the Son, Jesus the Christ (the anointed one). He is the one who actually spoke the Word, and things happened. That's why John's gospel begins, "In the beginning was the Word." I want to emphasize that "Word" indicates or denotes communication. You can't communicate, describe, or accomplish anything without putting it into words.
So God the Son was the One Who, by the spoken word, created everything that's ever been created, including man himself. But we cannot leave out the other two, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, because they're all three involved! So in the words of Verse 26, the pronouns are referring directly to the Triune God, but it's actually God the Son Who is speaking all this, including the first man, into reality.
Book 15 LESSON THREE * PART I
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know, "Him (This Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
Now what does the determinate counsel of God mean? The only way I can look at it is that the Trinity, the Triune God, Three Persons yet One, consulted within this Godhead before anything was ever created. They agreed within the Trinity, knowing everything that would take place: that fallen man would need a Redeemer, and salvation would be that Second Person of the Trinity Who would step down from the invisible Godhead, take on flesh, and go the way of the finished work of the Cross for man's redemption. Now all of that was foreknown and consummated in the thought-process of the Trinity. When I teach this, I don't imply that the Three sat down around a table and talked about which One would do what, as men would do. But within the Trinity of the Godhead, whether it was a split second or whatever, all three Persons of the Godhead had agreed that this is the way it would be done. And that's exactly what this verse means, "...by the determinate counsel."
Book 1 LESSON ONE * PART III
Verse 2 says; "by whom (Jesus) also He made the worlds."
These verses indicate that God (The Triune God), ordained all this to take place, but it was through Jesus (God The Son) that the words of creation were spoken. It's very difficult for us to understand the Trinity. Look at John 14:8. Philip says to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father."
Jesus' answer to him in verse 9, was: "'He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.'" Now turn to Isaiah 9:6-7:
"For unto us (Israel) a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The ever lasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
This passage refers to Jesus, yet it calls Him, "The Everlasting Father." There is such intricacy in the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each separate and unique, yet they are One together. And we must be careful not to think of them as in order from top to bottom - they are all co-equal. One is not more important, or more powerful, or more in control than any of the other two.
Book 25 LESSON TWO * PART I
"That their hearts (and Paul is speaking of the believers up there in Laodicea in Asia Minor) might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment (or the acceptance) of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
So we see that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the mysteries of God. What is the revelation here that the Old Testament is vague about? The Trinity! Now we know that the Old Testament has evidences of the Triune God, but you see this is why the Hebrews, and the Rabbi's even of our own present day, call Christians almost pagan because we worship three Gods. They don't recognize the Trinity back there in the Old Testament, and they still don't. But here is a revelation that God is a Triune God, and it's a revelation that Paul brings out that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Book 29 LESSON THREE * PART II
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who (speaking of the Son up in verse 13.) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: "
Now Who is the invisible God? The Triune! The Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They're Spirit, and they were invisible, but out of that invisible Triune God stepped the Son, and He became visible. In the Old Testament economy it was a temporary thing, and then He would disappear, but in our New Testament account He became visible, tangible, touchable, He lived in the flesh by virtue of His Bethlehem birth. All right, it's the same God now manifested in the flesh by the Son.
Book 10 LESSON THREE * PART III
"The kings of the earth set themselves (the rulers of the Gentile nations), and the rulers (of Israel), take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
What's this about? Rome, Pilate and others in authority, consorting with the high priests and rulers of Israel to crucify the Messiah. In those final days of Christ's earthly life before He was crucified, what's the Jews position? When Pilate said, "I see nothing wrong with this man," they said, "We have no king, but Caesar. Away with this Man. We'll not have Him to rule over us. Crucify him."
That's the prophecy. They're rejecting His offer of ruling them as a benevolent King. They don't want any part of it. So they say, "Break his bands asunder." I'd like to stop a second. Do you see the pronouns here are plural? Where the people say, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." Why plural? Remember what I taught you way back in Genesis Chapter 1, Elohim is a plurality. It's a Godhead of three, not one. Here's the reason for the pronoun. Same way back in Genesis 1:26, when God said, "Let us make man in our image," what are the pronouns? They're plural. Because Elohim is a Trinity. He's a plurality in the Godhead.
Book 32 LESSON ONE * PART IV
PAUL'S GLIMPSE OF GLORY
II CORINTHIANS 11:22 - GALATIANS 1:7
Let's pick up here in Chapter 13, and I'm not going to take this last chapter verse by verse, as you can read it at your leisure. However, I do want to close the Book with the final verse which is verse 14. This verse is probably the clearest statement concerning the Trinity that you can find anywhere in Scripture, next to Christ's baptism. I know when someone writes wanting to know where we get the idea of the Trinity (and if we can give them Scriptures for it), that the two we use the most are this one and where Christ was baptized:
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, `This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'"
At His baptism you have all three persons of the Trinity there at one time. Now here in this verse we have the apostle Paul making reference also to the three Persons of the Godhead in a pure unadulterated statement. Now verse 14:
II Corinthians 13:14
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, (The Father is implied) and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
Now it's interesting that, normally when we speak of the Trinity, out of habit we put them in the order of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But when you look at this verse, there is something different. Paul changes the order of the three. Paul puts Christ first rather than the Father. Not that there is any change in the way the Trinity operates. Never. You've all heard me teach that there is no such thing as God the Father having power over God the Son, and over the Spirit or vice versa. They are all three co-equal. They are all three members of the Godhead. Let me take you, for a moment, to the Book of Colossians where Paul makes that same statement.
Here is where the Jewish people in their Old Testament background refer to Christianity as a polytheism. They call us a religion of three Gods. But we're not three Gods, it's three Persons in one God. And of course the Old Testament does not clarify that like it does in the New Testament.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9. For in him (that is in Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Now backing up a little bit to Colossians Chapter 1. And I think all of this gives us a clear picture that the Godhead is that invisible Spirit out of which God the Son stepped and became visible.
Who (speaking of God the Son and the redeeming Blood in verses 13 and 14) is the image of the invisible God, (the Godhead) the first born of every creature: (in other words Christ was pre-eternal in His existence just like God the Father, and God the Spirit.) 16. For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (or held together. Remember now this is speaking of God the Son) 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; (referring to His resurrection) that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19. For it pleased the Father that in him (Christ) should all fulness dwell;"
So the members of the Godhead are not One above the other, but rather they are all co-equal. Now returning to our text in II Corinthians. This is why, now, that Paul in complete liberty, and again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can sort of reverse the order that we normally use. Looking at verse 14 again:
II Corinthians 13:14
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
Book 23 LESSON TWO * PART I
"And if Christ be in you, the body (the old Adam again) is dead because of sin (in other words Adam and the flesh was all under the curse, and this body is going to die if The Lord doesn't come to translate it. That's all part of the fall of man that death came in, and so all men has to die); but the (Holy) Spirit is life because of righteousness." I think Paul is referring to eternal life, that life which will never end because of righteousness.
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead (here we have the implication again of the Trinity. God the Father used the power of the Holy Spirit to raise the Son. See how clear that is? So if He) dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
(11b) In the Age of Grace, what does the bread and wine (communion)
speak of ?
Book 4 LESSON TWO * PART II
In the Age of Grace, what does the bread and wine speak of? The Lord's Supper; the Communion Table. The only way we can really identify that is to go back to Matthew's Gospel where we have The Lord's Supper. Jesus instituted The Lord's Supper at the Last Supper, at the Passover.
"Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve."
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, `Drink ye all of it;'"
I'd like to ask a question. Did the disciples understand what all of this stood for? They didn't have the foggiest notion. They followed His directions, but there is no explanation by The Lord Jesus, or even by the writer of this Gospel account, that they had any idea what He was doing. So, we have to wait until we come to the writings of the Apostle Paul. Now we understand what it was all for. Turn with me to I Corinthians, Chapter 11. Here, again, is progressive revelation. The eleven there at the night of the Passover didn't understand it. Jesus didn't explain it; it wasn't time yet. The Lord's Table of the bread and the cup is a memorial of His death, and on the night of the Last Supper His death hadn't taken place yet.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.' After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, `This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.'" Verse 26 gives us the explanation. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till he come.'"
This is the purpose of The Lord's Supper. It is remembering what Christ accomplished on the Cross; that just as in ignominy and shame His Body was broken, the bread is broken. The pouring out of His Blood is, of course, in the cup. Back in Genesis we have the picture of His death, burial and Resurrection, but that's all.
Book 28 LESSON ONE * PART IV
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God."
Now that wasn't what they normally used in the sacrifices of Abraham's day. So why in the world did Melchizedek offer bread and wine? Well, it was a subtle prophecy. Oh, it was so subtle because what was the bread and the wine, as Jesus administered it in Matthew 26, going to represent? The resurrection. And that's what the whole idea of the Lord's supper is. It is to be a constant reminder that every time we partake of that bread and that cup it is a reminder of that finished work of the Cross. And this is the first time that's it's explained. In fact one commentator that I've read puts it this way: "This is probably the first time that Jesus is quoted chronologically in the Scriptures, because the Four Gospels hadn't been written yet. Have you ever thought of that? The Four Gospels hadn't been written so Paul couldn't go to the Gospel of Matthew. But rather Paul's interpretation of the Lord's supper came by revelation. And isn't it amazing how God does everything in His own order, as before the Four Gospels were ever written Paul writes to the Corinthians the very same words. Now read on in I Corinthians, verse 26, and here is the doctrinal reason for the Lord's supper.
I Corinthians 11:26
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (or remind yourself of) the Lord's death till he come."
Now I'm going to point out two things. There is no stipulation from the apostle as to how often a Church practices the Lord's supper. I don't care if your denomination practices it every Sunday, that's your prerogative. If you want to practice it once a year that's also your prerogative. Because the word is whenever you have the Lord's Supper you had better have the right mind-set when you do partake of it. And that is that you are reminding yourself that Christ died, His blood was shed, and He arose from the dead. And that's the only purpose of the Lord's supper, and it is to be a solemn experience. And again, the Corinthians were so abusing this beautiful, beautiful picture in type, by their indulgence with food, getting half drunk on too much wine, so how in the world could they receive the impact of such a solemn service. So Paul had to upbraid them and tell them to stop it, because it was a solemn occasion. And as the last part of verse 26 says the Lord's table will not stop until the Lord returns. Now verse 27, and here comes the apostles description of what our attitude should be as we partake.
I Corinthians 11:27,28
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
When it says, "But let a man examine himself,..." I think that's the secret to behavior at the Lord's table. You don't examine the next person to you or judge someone else, but just look at your own heart, and attitude. Am I right with the Lord? Am I right with my fellow believers? And if you can say `yes' and `amen' to that, then you feel free to partake. If you can't, you'd better refrain, because then you are drinking and eating condemnation. Now verse 29.
I Corinthians 11:29
"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
That is speaking of someone who partakes of the Lord's table with the wrong attitude. The Corinthians were going into that supper with almost an attitude of revelry, totally wrong. Many others of the Corinthians had a real thing against someone across the room, and their enmity was just like sparks, and Paul tells them that won't work. You can't take the Lord's table with that kind of attitude. Now verse 30. Since the Corinthians were guilty of many things that should have kept them from partaking:
I Corinthians 11:30
"For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, (in other words God was already chastising them by taking away their health) and many sleep."
What does he mean? They had died. Now there is a sin unto death recorded in one of John's little epistles, and we won't have time to look at it today, but John also tells us that we don't pray for it. Even though you think that someone is awfully out of step, you never pray, "Lord take them out." That's not our prerogative, but the Lord does have that prerogative. That if a believer will not shape up, and if a believer continues to walk in known sin, then yes, God will take them, because He's not going let anybody drag His name through the mud. Now we know there are people who have made profession of salvation, they've probably been members of the church, and they're doing the same thing. And if the Lord doesn't deal with them, if the Lord doesn't chastise them, then Paul teaches in the Book of Hebrews that they are not His children.
"...My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
So the Lord had been chastening the Corinthians because Paul says:
I Corinthians 11:30
"For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
Book 29 LESSON TWO * PART II
"How that by revelation (the same word he used in Galatians) he (The Lord Jesus Himself) made known unto me the (what?) mystery; ..."
Now we covered all the mysteries in earlier lessons. And they are that whole composite of truth that makes for the Church Age. And they all come from the pen of the apostle Paul. I was talking to someone they other day, and they said, " Why do you make this much of Paul?" And I said, "Let me ask you something. I don't care what denomination handle you have. Do you have a pastor and deacons and Church elders?" He said, "Well, yes." I said, "Where did you get the instructions for them?" Well, he didn't know. I said, "Well, I'll tell you. You got it from Timothy. And who wrote Timothy? Paul! Does your Church practice The Lord's table?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "Where did you get it?" He thought maybe when Jesus said it. I said, "No, Jesus didn't put anything on it. All He said was, "This is My body and this is My blood, but He didn't give any instructions for the communion service. So where did we get it? From I Corinthians 11." And down the line you can go with every facet of what 99% of Christendom practices doctrinally. They get it from Paul. And yet they'll never give him the time of day. It's amazing isn't it.
(12b) Will God perform miracle healings?
Book 28 LESSON TWO * PART III
I Corinthians 12:9
"To another faith by the same Spirit; (now whether you know it or not, if you're a believer where did you get the wherewithal to believe the Gospel? From the Holy Spirit, because it's a gift, and as we exercise that gift of faith we respond by believing. Also some have greater faith than others and there's nothing wrong with that.) to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;"
There's no doubt they exercised this gift in the early Church. We know that even Paul himself exercised this gift in the Book of Acts as he performed miracles. But by the time you get to his later letters there's not a word about these kind of miracles, and he doesn't perform them himself. One of his best friends, and fellow laborers in the work was sick on the island of Miletus, and was nigh on to death, but could Paul heal him? No. So what did he admonish the believers to do? The same as we do today; pray for him. And we know that Timothy evidently had a stomach ailment, and we know Paul didn't heal him, he gave him a remedy for it, but he didn't heal him. And it was the same way with many of his own catastrophes in his life experience. Did he get healed? No. The Lord brought him through them, but no sign of any miraculous healing. In this area of Scripture, remember, that it's only in the letter to this carnal Corinthian Church that he deals with these particular gifts. Now let's finish verse 10:
I Corinthians 14:22a
"Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but (the flip side) prophesying (being able to speak forth the Word before they had the New Testament)..."
So signs and all this is not going to accomplish all that much, but what will? Preaching the Word! This is what people need to hear today, people have to hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). They have to hear the plan of salvation, they don't have to see some kind of miracle, and I'm not condemning these people that can prove some miraculous manifestation. But they've got to prove it before I believe it. If they can prove it, then I'll say, "Yes, I know we have a God Who can perform miracles." I know God can heal miraculously, and I do not deny that.
Book 38 Lesson One ē Part I
"But speaking the truth in love,..."
Not with the idea of causing a controversy, or argument, but rather in the spirit of love we are supposed to be sharing the Gospel with a lost world. We are to get so skilled with the Gospel and supporting Scriptures that when we get out into the work day world weíll be able to share in a moment if the occasion arises.
I got a call from a gentlemen from Mississippi just before we left to come up here this morning. And he had been to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and had seen a young mother with a super hyperactive child who was taking a prescription for being hyperactive. The mother had told him the medication works, but leaves the child in depression. This gentlemen said he felt so bad because he didnít have any advice for her. He said I couldnít tell her to just turn it over to God, because here he is a believer and had his prescription in hand.
I said, "Did you share with her your knowledge of the Word and the power of prayer, and tell her that you would be passing out the prayer needs of that little fellow? Because I know that prayer works?" Jerry you know it works donít you? My weíve made many, many prayer requests across our classes in Oklahoma. Now I donít believe in "healers" you know that, but I believe in the power of prayer. So we just need to learn to share with people how that God can meet our needs by simply making it an item of prayer, and we know that God can do it. Now He may not always answer the way we think He should, but Heís still a prayer-answering God. Now these are all the things that Paul is referring to here.
"But speaking the truth in love,..."
Letting people know that Christ loves them, and that He died for them, and that He defeated all the powers of Satan and death when He arose from the dead.
Book 41 LESSON ONE * PART II
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (and now since weíre justified and have peace with God) 2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,Ö"
See you canít separate salvation from Grace. None of us deserved salvation, none of us deserved what Christ did for us, but itís all of Grace! And itís amazing how few believers understand that. Another place where Paul use this "peace with God" is in the Book of Philippians, and we looked at that not too many weeks ago. And in this portion of Scripture itís in relationship to our prayer life as we make request. Weíll begin with verse 6. These are my two favorite verses when it comes to prayer.
"Be careful (or worry) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know with God."
Thereís no strings attached to that verse. That is a free access into the Throne Room of God to let all of our supplication and request be known, but with thanksgiving, but now verse 7. Regardless how God answers our request, and He may not spare our loved one who may be terminal, He may not grant healing to them. He may not saved a financial empire, or a marriage that we think needs to be saved. He may not answer the way we think that He should, but this verse 7 is the answer to every prayer.
"And the peace of God, (that which was imparted to us the moment we believed. That we are no longer in a warfare against Him, weíre no longer His enemy, but we are at peace with Him, and the peace of God) which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
In other words you canít explain this peace you have with God, itís beyond us, but we know itís there, and it will keep our heart and mind.
(13b) How should someone that is saved deal with sin ?
Book 37 Lesson Two ē Part I
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (thatís everyone of us. But look at the next verse.) 24. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"
Now you all know what redemption means? Thatís the process of God buying us back out of the slavery of sin. When I teach Romans chapter 3 I always use the analogy of the Roman slave market, and I think itís a very appropriate one, because it was very real. As the Romans would go out with their legions and they would conquer other people they would bring back, especially the younger people who were capable of slave duty, to Rome and they would end up in the slave market. And I drew the analogy, here we have a young blond, blue eyed fellow from northern Europe who finds himself in this market. Now that slave market was awful, because if you were bought out as a common slave you could end up doing any kind of horrible slave labor to include being sold to shipmasters to row their ships. It was awful, it was hot, and when they died, they just pitched them overboard. And if these slaves were not bought they could end up in the coliseums as meat for the wild animals. So that was the prospect of a Roman slave market.
But there was also the good side They could have a benefactor come and buy them out of the slave market. Say a benevolent slave owner would buy a slave and clean him up, give him a whole new set of clothes, give him light duty around his estate of trimming the lawns and so forth, and remember the Romans lived sumptuously. So hereís this young slave whoís been bought out of that horrible situation, and given this beautiful place to work, and have all the best food. Then one day this benevolent Roman owner comes and says, "Young man Iím going to go one step further, Iím going to give you your freedom. I have bought your citizenship. You are free to go and do whatever you want to do." Now the analogy Iíve always used before is, "Whatís this young man going to say? ĎListen youíve done so much for me, and I have learned to love you so much, I donít want my freedom, but rather I want to stay here and serve you the rest of my life.í"
Now thatís where Iíve always left that analogy. But you know what a lot of Christians are doing now? What if this same young man would say, "I want to stay right here and serve you, but once a week can I go back into the slave market?" Now isnít that ridiculous? Isnít that as ridiculous as you can get? Here heís been spared the horrors of the slave market, and thatís where every lost person is, theyíre in Satanís slave market. Christ paid the price of redemption, He bought us out of it, and then we have the audacity to say, "But canít I just go back and get a taste of that sinful world once in a while?" Listen thatís what Christians are doing when they go back into the world! And to me it just does not fit. Iím not saying weíre going to be perfect, of course weíre not. We all fail, we all sin, but to go back into gross sin, and just glibly say, "Oh well, Iím saved and donít have anything to worry about." I donít think a true believer can look at it that way.
When a true believer sins, theyíre going to be convicted as David was. And when David saw his sin, what does the Book of Psalms say he does? He wept tears of repentance, and oh how he bemoaned the fact that not only had he sinned against the humans that were involved, but against God. And when we sin, this is what we have to come back and realize. Well all of this I just sort of lob into the "Unsearchable Riches of Christ." Itís beyond human comprehension. I canít understand it, and I donít think anyone else can. But does that mean, we just close our eyes, and say, "Forget it, I canít understand it anyway?" No. You just keep digging, and learning, and keep getting more and more excited about what Christ has done for us. And not only just for the here and now, but for all of eternity to come. Just like Paul says in I Corinthians chapter 2.
I Corinthians 2:9
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
And thatís about as much as it tells us about what weíre going to enjoy in eternity. We donít know because the Bible doesnít tell us, but we know itís going to be fabulous. What God has in store for us is going to be a million times better than the things you and I like to do down here, and itís all because of the "unsearchable riches of Christ." Oh to have the knowledge that we can come into the very throne room of heaven in prayer and petitions is simply incomprehensible. Isnít it? Just think we can immediately come into the very throne room, without having to go through any rituals. We donít have to go into some prescribed place, at a prescribed time or God wonít hear us. As you sit there and as I speak you can be in an attitude of prayer, and youíre right in the throne room. Now thatís all part of the "unsearchable riches of Christ."
Book 31 LESSON TWO * PART III
II Corinthians 7:12
"Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, (I Corinthians) I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, (although certainly that man was involved) nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you."
Now think about these things. What's Paul saying? If Paul would have treated this as the congregation was and just glossed over it, what would that have said to the congregation about him? Well he's no better than the rest of us. He looks at like we do so it must not be all that bad. But when Paul dealt with it, and he dealt with it severely, when he told them. "You deal with this man, and turn him over to the power of Satan that Satan can touch the flesh unless he turns around in repentance and gets right with God." I mean it's just a perfect picture of how you and I, even today, deal with sin because God hates it. God will never wink at sin even though He has paid for it and forgiven it through His death on the Cross, yet God is never going to wink at sin. He can't. So Paul tells us that all of us profited from this situation. Paul did, the congregation did, and certainly the guilty party did.
Book 41 LESSON THREE * PART IV
"Put on therefore, (as a result of all that Christ has done) as the elect of God, (the ones that God has saved by His Grace) holy (set apart) and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (now verse 13. This is part of the Christian Grace.) 13. Forbearing one another, Ö"
You know what Iíve always said? You donít have to like everybody, but youíve got to love them. I mean there are some people that you like to be with a lot more than others, and thatís perfectly normal. But whether we like them or not, weíre to forbear them, and not be all angered and upset and have nothing to do with them, because everyone of us that have things that irritate others. I know I probably irritate people, but I thank God that they forbear with me, and thatís what we have to do with others. But the one thing we can never compromise is our love. We love them regardless, see? Now reading on in verse 13, Iím going to go rather quickly now, because I think we can finish Colossians this lesson. These are all just plain logical, common sense admonitions from the pen of the apostle as to how to walk and live with a child of God.
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: (and weíre going to, because weíre human. Weíre going to have differences of opinion. Weíre going to have some unhappy situations, but donít let it destroy your relations. And if you have a quarrel,) even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Now what does that tell you? Weíre forgiven, weíre totally forgiven, and I donít have to go back everyday and say, "Oh God forgive me." Thatís all done, it was done at the cross. A lot of people canít quite agree with me on that, and thatís all right, but forgiveness is a done deal. Now I know we have to still recognize our sins, and see them as God does. And I think we have to ask God for cleansing, and my whole approach to that is, the night that the Lord was washing Peterís feet. He came to Peter and what did Peter say?
"Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10. Jesus saith to him, he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit and ye are clean, but not all.
Peter had already been saved. Heíd had his bath already, but by virtue of walking from that bath house to his home in the ancients, the streets were filthy, and before he could go into his own home, he would have to wash his feet. Well the picture of course is where we are. Weíve been saved, weíre forgiven, weíre cleansed, but weíre still in this old world, and as we go though this world our feet are getting dirty, and so what do we need? Cleaning!
We donít need forgiveness, thatís all done, but we need cleansing, and how do we cleanse? I just told somebody on the phone yesterday. How do you wash a strainer? A gravy strainer or a tea strainer, how do you wash it? You certainly canít run a piece of cloth through every little opening, so how do you wash a strainer? Oh you just swish it through the water, isnít that right? You just simply cleanse it with the washing of water. Now thatís what Paul uses in Ephesians, and this is what we have to do. We get daily cleansing, by the washing of the water, but what does Paul say the water is? The Word of God! Do you see that? Boy isnít that beautiful,? We donít have to come crawling to God every time we do something that is wrong, and plead that He forgive us. He must get tired of that, and tells us, "Iíve forgiven you!" But we do need cleansing. We have to see our sin as He sees it and then be cleansed from it by the Word of God.
Book 9 LESSON ONE * PART IV
"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day (while we still have this kind of an opportunity); lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Always stop and think. How do we recognize sin, and how do we deal with sin? I want it in only one word. Faith. Because, unless we can believe what God says about certain activities or certain acts, we don't know that it's sin. But when God says it and we believe it, then we know what it is. Our whole daily walk is prompted by faith in God's Word. Think about it. When Romans 3:23 says that "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," I always said that's the first step to salvation, to believe that I am what The Book says that I am. And that is, short of the glory of God. It's taking God at His Word concerning myself, concerning you. So faith is that which guides us not only into salvation, but all through our Christian experience. It's all based on what The Book says. Not what someone else says. People have told me and I appreciate it, "You know, you don't condemn this and you don't condemn that. Do you notice that?" I don't have to. I don't have to tell people, "Stop doing this and stop doing that" because as soon as they get into The Book and see what The Book says, by faith, then they're going to take appropriate action. I still maintain that if you get people into The Book, you get them to believe in what God says, and all those things that a lot of people scream about; they'll take care of themselves.
(14b) Are we supposed to give 10% of our income for a tithe ?
Book 30 LESSON ONE * PART IV
I Corinthians 15:58
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
We may not reap the rewards of our labor in this life. We may go to the grave as poor as church mice, but don't let that discourage you. God hasn't promised that, "Just because we're believers we're going to drive cadillacs, and live in mansions." No way, but God has promised that He is keeping a record of our earthly activities. Then one day we're going to cash in on the rewards in glory, and remember that Paul is always teaching that. We are to run the race for rewards. Now go to Chapter 16 to wind up I Corinthians. Here Paul is going to deal with something totally different from resurrection. Here he is going to come down to the nitty-gritty of, "How we're to give." Many people are hung up on the legal system of tithing. I've got nothing against giving. But you are not under the tithe. Now I know this is going to ruffle a few feathers, but remember the tithe was part of the Law. Tithing was given only to the tribe of Levi. I dare say if we could ask some of our Jewish friends whether they teach tithing today, I'd be very surprised if they would say yes. Because they, too, do not know who the Levites are so I just have to doubt that good Jewish people still tithe. Always remember that Paul never says tithe, because that was part of the Law, but that doesn't say that God doesn't expect you to give. Let's look how Paul puts it.
I Corinthians 16:1a
"Now concerning the collection (of money) for the saints,..."
Paul was always instructed to remember the poor saints at Jerusalem. Why? They had cashed in land and everything they had and brought the money to the feet of the Twelve disciples. It all went into a common kitty back there in Acts Chapters 2 and 3 in light of the Kingdom. But the Kingdom didn't come because the Jews had rejected it. So what happened to these poor Jewish saints? They had to live off the kitty and I imagine it was a pretty good existence for a while. But God took care of them through Paul's Gentile converts, and the money was taken back to Jerusalem for them. Now continuing on:
I Corinthians 16:1,2
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, (Jewish saints at Jerusalem) as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye (at Corinth). Upon the first day of the week (not on the seventh day Sabbath. Why first day of the week? Resurrection day!) let every on of you lay by him in store, (as a tithe? No, but rather) as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
Now that's one of the beauties of the Christian life, that's the beauty of God's Grace. He has left us with that free will. We can give as much as we want to, but God is not putting the thumb on our head, and saying, "You will give 10%! Now that's a guideline, and I'll always say that. God more or less lets it be known that 10% is a guideline for giving. But God's not going to zap you if you don't give 10%. Now you may lose some reward in glory, but you are under no mandate under Paul's teaching to give a set amount. That's up to you as a believer as God has prospered you. And God has enough respect for your free will as a believer that you're going to give as much as you can.
Paul told these believers at Corinth to take this offering before he came so that they wouldn't be under his influence. He wanted that all taken care of before he arrived. Paul doesn't want them to dig down in their other pocket and say, "Paul is here, and he'd better see how much I've given." But Paul wanted that all taken care of before he got there.
Book 31 LESSON THREE * PART I
"Who, (speaking of Christ Jesus in verse 5) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (because He was God, the God of creation, the God who owns everything in the universe) 7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..."
Now too often we read that word servant and we kind of glide over it without realizing what is the better term for servant? Slave. How much material goods did a slave have? None. He may be here today and gone tomorrow. The rowers in the ships of those days were down there in the stench-ridden hot areas of the ship. They rowed until they died and then they were just pitched overboard. How much of this worlds good did those fellows have? None. Well this is where the Lord Jesus took Himself. He took Himself to the depths of being a slave with absolutely nothing of this world's goods to call His own. Unbelievable? It is from the human side. I can't comprehend it, but it's what the Word declares. The Almighty God Himself in the Person of Christ became a slave in so many words. Now reading on:
"...was made in the likeness of men:"
Now imagine from the exalted area of the Godhead to come down to this earth, and become nothing more than a human being like the rest of us, how far can you go? And yet that's what He did.
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, (He didn't have to) and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Now why is Paul using that in relation to Christian giving? Well we have to take that same kind of attitude. If God, in the Person of Christ, was willing to leave that area of absolute control of the universe and took on the role of a slave for our salvation, then who are we to say, "Yeah, but I can't give anything." Now back to II Corinthians Chapter 8:
II Corinthians 8:10,11
"And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward, (zealous) a year ago. 11. Now therefore perform (or complete) the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have."
What's Paul driving at? Well for the last year he has been encouraging these churches in Greece to get their offerings ready for the day when someone would come along and pick them up and transport them to Jerusalem. Now as I was studying this, I couldn't help but remember something that Gary, the station manager, had told me a long time ago. For those who are in this business of television that statistically - and I know that there are lies, and then there are statistics, but nevertheless statistics do have a certain amount of relevance here. But statistically, out of 300 people who may be listening to me over the next several weeks, most will say, "Now I'm going to send that man an offering." How many will actually get around to doing it? One. Isn't that amazing? But you see that's human nature, and Paul was dealing with the same thing. For a whole year they had been talking about getting these collections ready for the poor saints in Jerusalem. But they still hadn't done it. So Paul says, "Let's get busy and complete it." Paul wanted it all done before he got there so they wouldn't give because of his presence. And I understand exactly how he felt because you never like to make someone feel obligated to give just because you happen to be there personally on the scene. So this is exactly what he's talking about. Now verse 12. Remember this is all in regard to Christian giving, and notice there's not a word in here of him naming ten percent. He never says a tithe. All he's talking about is the general concept of giving.
II Corinthians 8:12
"For if there be first a willing mind, (remember everything we say or do has to begin with the thought process.) it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
Now does God expect someone who is on a very meager income, maybe nothing more than just a little social security check, to give all that to ministry or some church? No way. More than once I've had to write to someone and tell them, "Now listen, if you're on a meager income I don't expect a dime." Now that's between them and God, and if they feel that God is still instructing them to give some then that's fine. But I never want someone on a meager income to feel obligated to support this ministry. Other ministries may not care, but I don't want it on this one. But here God is making it so clear that giving is based on that ability to give. And now in verse 13.
II Corinthians 8:13
"For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:"
In other words, Paul says, "He is not going to make anybody, whether they are wealthy or poor, to feel obligated to give because of his presence. Do you see that? Now he comes all the way down through verse 16 - 24 speaking of the men who would be coming along to pick up these offerings. And again he's showing the need for integrity in handling the affairs of God. Paul is telling the Corinthians that the men who are probably headed up by Titus, are men of integrity, they don't have to worry about turning over their offerings to them because they will get every penny of it to Jerusalem where it's supposed to go. Now I want to come quickly over to Chapter 9 and begin with verse 1.
II Corinthians 9:1,2a
"For as touching the ministering to the saints, (the poor saints in Jerusalem who had been left destitute because of their offerings into the common kitty back there beginning with Acts Chapter 2) it is superfluous (or it goes beyond saying) for me to write to you: 2. For I know the forwardness (the zealousness) of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia,..."
In other words what was Paul actually doing on behalf of the Corinthian believers? He was boasting to other congregations on what a good job they were doing in making these collections. Now verse 3.
II Corinthians 9:3
"Yet have I sent the brethren, (these that will be picking up the offering) lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf, that, as I said, ye may be ready:"
Now I think Paul is using a little psychology isn't he? He is building them up as he says, "Now look Corinthians, Titus, and the gentlemen that are already making collections up here in the poorest part of mountainous Greece, when they come into a culture and commercial center like Corinth, then it stands to reason there's going to be more wealth available than there would be up there in the mountains." So I think Paul is sort of setting them up and preparing them that these men are going to be expecting something of you, because you have so much more to offer than these poor churches up in northern Greece. Now reading on:
II Corinthians 9:5
"Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, (their offerings) where of ye had noticed before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness."
Do you see this constant drumming of the fact, "Now have this done when these fellows get there, don't put it off, don't procrastinate, have these offerings collected and ready so that they can pick it up and take it on to where it has to go there in Jerusalem. Now verse 6. Here we come to the whole concept of Christian giving.
II Corinthians 9:6
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
Now you want to remember that the vast majority of people in this day and time were agriculturally connected. So Paul is talking about sowing a crop of grain. And any farmer knows that if you sow half a crop of the required seed, you're not even going to get half a crop. Now you don't sow more grain than is necessary, but you put on the stipulated amount to get a full crop of grain. However, it's brought into the Christian experience on the same level. If you're going to be tight with your giving, if you're going to hold back when you have the ability to give, then God will kind of hold back on His blessing.
And that's exactly what Paul is teaching here. Now I'm not a name it and claim it type. I do not claim that if you give a $1000. dollars a year, then God's going to pour you out $3000. No way does this Bible teach that. But I think that we all realize that our God is so great that if we do it with the right attitude, we do it by faith, we can't out-give God. One of my favorite clichés is "There is a line between faith and fantasy." By faith I can do certain things and realize that God is going to respond, but I can't be foolish. Fantasy would say, "Well I'm just going to give that ministry $500. because I just feel that God's going to turn back and give me $50,000." Now that's what a lot of people think, but it's not going to work that way. That's fantasy.
But we know that God is able, and here I must qualify. A lot of time we think that our giving should immediately have something returned in kind. But it's doesn't necessarily have to work that way. Have you ever stopped to think of all of the potential expenses that God can spare you because you were liberal in your giving? In other words, that old car may go another 50,000 miles where otherwise it may break down. You may end up as fortunate as Iris and I have over the years with practically no money spent for medical expenses. Do you know what I call that? That's the pay back. So you have to look at this whole thing on the big picture, not just in, "If I give a $100, will I get $500 back?" That's not the way to look at it, but rather look at the whole concept of how God is going to respond. Now verse 7. Here is the very foundation for our giving.
II Corinthians 9:7
"Every man (person) according as he purposeth in his heart, (and the Holy Spirit will motivate the heart) so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:..." (legalism)
I can remember years ago a gentlemen up in Iowa was so upset that his particular pastor had came out to his farm, and looked at the size of his home, and furnishings, his car and pickup, and he turned around and said, "Well it looks to me like you should be able to give $600 a month." Well, how do you think the guy felt? He was totally turned off. He said, "Nobody is going to tell me how much I'm supposed to give." And I agreed with him. No one has a right to do that. That's strictly between the individual Christian and his Lord. Now reading the verse again.
II Corinthians 9:7
"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: (legalism, or because somebody has laid it on you) for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Now if you have a marginal Bible the word cheerful in the Greek meant "Hilarious." How many people go to church on Sunday morning, and lay that offering on the plate with a hilarious attitude? Not many. They do it out of a sense of duty, they do it because they think somebody is laying a burden on their shoulder that they have to give. No you don't. If you don't want to give, and if you can't give hilariously, God in so many words says, "I DON'T NEED IT, AND I DON'T WANT IT."
But for a believer to give as God has prospered and do it joyfully, and give it to a place where the Word is honored, where the Gospel is proclaimed for salvation. (I Corinthians 15:1-4 or Romans 10:9-10) then God will give you the direction, and God will show you how much to give and where to give it. I wanted to take you back to the Book of Malachi, Exodus, and Leviticus, and the giving stipulations were all given to the Nation of Israel. All I ask people to do is go back and read Malachi 1:1
"The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel ( not the Church in the Age of Grace) by Malachi."
Book 31 LESSON THREE * PART I
Now remember believing what God says is the whole basis of studying and understanding the Word of God. Now granted we have to be careful. We're not going to bring into operation things that God told Israel to do back in the Old Testament. In fact we had a call from a person who said, "Doesn't the Book of Malachi say to bring your tithe and offerings into the store house?" And I said "Yes, but doesn't the same Old Testament say bring me your sacrifices?" The caller said "Yeah." Well then what are you going to do? Just because the Bible says to bring an animal sacrifice, are you going to go out and buy a lamb? Well of course not, we're not under that today, we know better than that. And yet it carries all the way through on everything. Just because the Old Testament told Israel to do something, that doesn't mean that's still valid for us today, and so we have to shake these things out. You can't just pick and choose what you want, like a lot of people are doing. Remember what was for Israel is completely different from what Paul tells us in the Church Age. Now continuing on with verse 7.
(15b) What does the Bible say concerning marriage ?
Book 27 LESSON TWO * PART II
I Corinthians 7:1
"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman."
So the question must have been, "Is it right for men and women to marry?" And you might ask the question, "How in the world could they come up with a question like that?" Well you must again realize the situation. You know I've always taught from day one that when you read a portion of scripture the first thing you determine is who wrote it, and to whom was it written, and the third part is, what are the circumstances. Well here we have Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, writing to the congregation in the wicked city of Corinth who have come out of abject immoral, idolatrous background, and they are all hung up on this marriage relationship that now is Biblical compared to what it is in paganism. Now you want to remember that in paganism under idolatry, the marriage relationship didn't amount to that much. It was really just a place to propagate the family, but so far as any moral integrity, or fidelity of the marriage relationship, the pagans knew nothing of that.
And so now they are going off the deep end. "Is it right for us to marry?" Now don't misinterpret the last half of verse 1 when Paul says that it is good for a man not to touch a woman. He's not saying that they shouldn't get involved and get married. But he is saying in the light of these verses in Chapter 6 that as believers now men as well as women, have to be careful in their contact with people of the opposite sex in their everyday experience. And when Paul says, "That it's good for a man not to touch a woman," and if I under stand the Greek at all, what he's talking about is that a man should not get physically involved with a woman to excite the sexual sense. He is certainly not bringing in the shaking of the hands with women. Even in the early Church they granted the "Holy Kiss" where they would embrace much like our middle easterners still do, and that also caused problems in the early Church, and so that was finally pushed out the back door.
So Paul is answering their questions, "It is not good for a man to touch a woman, not to embrace her, or get involved with her enough to excite the basic instinct of her or him." But he is not saying that they can't get married. And I know that a lot of people take this verse to mean that Paul is anti-marriage. No, he is not anti-marriage. In fact before we go any further let me show you some verses to back that up. Let's go to the Book of Hebrews for a moment. We've already seen what God said back there in Genesis concerning the marriage relationship, and that they were to replenish the earth, they were to have children, and they were to enjoy the marriage relationship. Now look what Paul writes in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 13, and verse 4. And he's not going to utterly contradict this with his statement in I Corinthians Chapter 7, so you have to put the two of them together.
"Marriage (As we understand it) is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:..."
Now you know we've come mercifully away from Victorianism, which was the extreme in the other direction. Sex in Victorianism, was such a dirty word that it couldn't be mentioned in public, and it was almost taboo except for the purpose of child bearing. Well that certainly wasn't right, but now on the other hand we've gone too far the other way. Now completing verse 4 we find the other side of the coin opposite marriage being honourable, and the bed undefiled.
"... but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
God is not going to wink at that. They're not going to get away with it, and they're going to face up with it some day. The Great White Throne Judgment is waiting for the lost, and they're going to come up before God with all this on their record. Now if you will come back again to I Corinthians Chapter 7 again.
I Corinthians 7:2
"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, (or falling into the trap of immoral activity) let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
Now we have to be careful. Is the sole reason for getting married, not to be tempted to go out and be promiscuous? Well of course not, but it does have that redeeming effect, that if I have my wife, and she has me, then we're not tempted then to go out into the world, and be promiscuous with those we have no business being with. And so this is what Paul is saying. Also I've got to bring you back to that situation at Corinth with all their rampant prostitution, and for a young man it was a constant temptation. So Paul says, "rather than being tempted with that, have your own wife." Now verse 3:
I Corinthians 7:3
"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: (we're living in a day where you see so much wife beating, and wife abuse. Well why is that? Well again it's because these people have not been taught plain, simple Biblical principals. And that is that a husband is to treat his wife as something that he would die for, and not as something that he can beat around the house. That was not God's intention of the marriage relationship.) and likewise also the wife unto the husband."
I had a letter recently asking why God condoned slavery? Why did He ever permit it to happen? Well, when you analyze the greatest period of time of human history, what percentage of the people were actually educated enough to carry on and be an entrepreneur, or be a good enough business person to make a good living. Not very many. The vast majority was totally illiterate, were totally incapable of decision making, and we saw that in Russia, after 70 years of communism. So under those kinds of circumstances a benevolent master was the best thing those people could have.
I think that most of you are aware that when slavery was holding forth in the South, there were masters like that. And those slaves loved them, didn't they? They had it better than they could have ever hoped to have it out there on their own. But you see man has totally again adulterated God's purposes, and instead of masters being benevolent they became bestial, and less than merciful, and then slavery became awful, and God never intended it to be that way. Well it's the same way here. The husband and wife relationship, if it's as God intended to be, should be a happy situation 365 days a year. There is absolutely no reason for husband and wives to be on a constant battle ground. I can say from experience, Iris and I have been married for 43 years and I think our kids will tell you that they have never heard us raise our voice at one another. It's not because we're so perfect, but rather because we know that The Lord is in control of our home. And this is way He wants it.
Book 1 LESSON Two * PART II
God has created man, as we saw last week, as the crowning act of His creation. Man is the epitome of His perfection. We are created in His image and given a will in order to be able to make choices of obedience or disobedience to God.
The whole concept of this thing compares to the very attitude of marriage in the human relationship. God has always had myriads of angels, but they were never created to have this special kind of love and fellowship relationship with God as mankind was. But in Adam, God deliberately created a will, and had Adam chosen to be obedient to God, He would have had someone with whom He could share this special love and fellowship throughout eternity. As I see Scriptures, this is the primary reason for man's creation in the first place - that God wants a creature that He can love and who will return that love to Him.
In a moment we're going to turn to Ephesians 5:22. I want to use this verse for a two-fold purpose:
1. To help our attitude concerning marriage and the home and the husband-wife relationship, and
2. To establish that this is the reason man was put here in the first place; because the relationship is so much the same.
I am of the conviction that if a home survives or doesn't survive, I blame the man. I know that there may be alternatives to that, but for the most part, I believe that the success or failure of a home and marriage is primarily the man's responsibility.
Ephesians 5:22-25: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;"
The passage starts "Wives, submit ... unto your own husbands," and it means not that the wife is meant to be a slave or a "go-fer," but rather that God has ordained the man to be the head of the home. The husband is not to be a taskmaster nor slave master, but rather he has been given the place of authority in the home. The very key to this verse is "as unto the Lord."
Verse 23 says: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body."
Notice He is the Savior not only of the soul (as so many churches teach), but also of the body. Don't miss that God is just as concerned with the body as with the soul; He is vitally concerned with our entire being - spirit, soul and body.
Verse 24: "Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
So when we tie the husband-wife relationship to that of Christ and the Church, as this verse says we should, we find that there's no room for abuse in either the authority of the husband or in the submission of the wife. Everything is just so perfectly ordained if we will do it God's way! Verse 25 is the one I use for putting the responsibility for a successful marriage on the husbands.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;"
This is a COMMANDMENT! And interestingly, nowhere in the Scripture is the wife commended to love her husband. I know that Peter says mothers are to instruct their daughters in how to love their husbands, but that's a far cry from commanding it (in the husband-wife relationship). The reason that I tie this Scripture in with Genesis 1 is that God put man on the scene with a will so that when God would extend His love and grace and blessings on this creature, God expected love returned.
It's the same way in the marriage relationship, and I still maintain that (with rare exceptions) if the husband will truly love his wife Scripturally as Christ loves us, the Church, then it automatically follows that the wife is going to respond to that love. If a woman doesn't, then there's something wrong with her because God has created within her that responsiveness, so that when the man extends his love, she's going to respond, and you have a happy relationship.
(16b) How can you help an unbelieving spouse find the Lord ?
Book 27 LESSON TWO * PART III
I Corinthians 7:10-16
"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, (so this is The Word of God) Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, (still in paganism) and if he be pleased to dwell with her, (who is now a believer) let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, (who is a believer) and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: (who is a believer) else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. (Paul says `let the unbelieving spouse go if that's the way they want it.') A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, (Who is a believer) whether thou shalt save thy husband? (who is lost) or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife?"
Now we know that we can't save our spouse and the spouse can't save us, so what's Paul talking about? Well let me bring you back again to Peter's little epistle in I Peter Chapter 3. Here, especially in the city of Corinth, and this is the only letter where Paul deals with these things, and so consequently I have to feel that the Ephesians weren't under this kind of situation, nor the Philippians, or the Colossians. Maybe to a degree they were, but not like they were here in Corinth. It was just beyond comprehension, and everyone of these converts of Paul had been in idolatry. So if they were married then naturally they both were, so if one of them is saved and comes out of idolatry, and becomes a believing Christian then here we have in the home this division, as one is still in idolatry, and the other a believer. How were they going to handle it? The same would be for missionaries who minister to people who have more than one wife in the family. We're so immune to all these things, we've been so protected in our American society, but these things were real to these people. Now look what Peter says here.
I Peter 3:1
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; (sounds like Paul doesn't it?) that, if any obey not the word, (they're not a believer) they (the husbands) also may without the word (without preaching at them, without dragging them to church, without bringing them under the television ministry, without saying a word, that lost husband may) be won by the conversation (or manner of living) of the wives," Now verse 2:
I Peter 3:2-4
"While they behold your chaste conversation (manner of living) coupled with fear. (a reverence fear, rather than being scared to death) Whose adorning (speaking of the Godly, believing wife) let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; (but rather let her win the husband by) but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, (that born again spirit within that believing woman) even the ornament of a meek and quite spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
Now what is Peter admonishing the believing wife to do? Listen, don't nag that unbelieving husband, don't preach at him, don't try to drag him to church because that's not going to work. So what does the wife do first and foremost? She lives an exemplary Christian life in front of him.
I remember when I was teaching up in Iowa, and I had a Saturday night teenager class, and we would have 45 or 50 kids that would come in every Saturday night for Bible teaching. One of the neighbors of the host home wanted to know, "what in the world is going on in your house on Saturday night?" So Gladys the host, said, "well we have a Bible study for young people." The neighbor lady wanted to know if there was a chance that she could come and sit off in the corner someplace, and listen and watch, and naturally there wasn't a problem with that. So this lady, who was a doctor's wife, had a lovely home, but her husband was something else. And they don't mind me telling this story on them, as they share it with everyone now. But anyway, she came to that class on Saturday nights over a few weeks time, and Mary Beth was gloriously saved.
Well it wasn't but a few weeks after that, and Iris and I were attending a wedding where she was also, and she met us out in the lobby of the church, and she started to weep - I mean weep. I said what in the world is the problem. And she said, "My husband John." I said, "Yeah, I've heard about John." You see John had more than one mistress, and his wife knew it, and as a result of her Salvation he became her number one burden. And so I took out my Bible and showed her these verses here in I Peter, and I told her that this wasn't going to be easy, but my Bible tells me that if you can do it, then God will do it. Well she said, "I'm willing to try." So I told her just to do what she knew John likes. If he loves a good T-bone steak have one ready when he comes in. If he likes hot apple pie, have one ready for him. Well to make a long story short, do you know how long it took to win John? 4 months. And old John told the story himself.
John said, " I was in my office one Sunday morning, and had just seen my last patient, and I was in a hurry to get out to the country club. I was just gong to spend the day boozing it up with my buddies. Before I could get out of my clinic, The Lord just came on me with such conviction that my wife was such a far better person than I could ever hope to be, that right there in my office I dropped to my knees and said `Lord, I'm a sinner, save me, and The Lord did.'" And this man has now been a Church leader almost ever since. He is a living example of what a believing wife can do without saying a word.
Most women get the idea that they're going to drag their husband to church, and get everybody trying to collar him, and that's not the way to do it according to my Bible. I've also seen it the other way around. In one instance the husband came to the class first and was saved, and got a burden for his wife to be saved, but she wanted nothing to do with The Word of God when he tried to read it to her. But he just kept living the example, and finally one day The Lord in His Sovereign Grace caused a friend of hers, who was a believer, to just stop in for coffee one morning, and in the process of having a cup of coffee, led this lady to The Lord. And they are still living the exemplary Christian life together today. So I know this works. So back to I Corinthians, and this is all Paul is saying, that if a wife or husband finds themselves still in a marriage relationship with a rank pagan unbeliever, to just hang in there. Don't break up the marriage if at all possible, but live the example so that the day will come when they will open their heart to The Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) and then you can have a happy marriage relationship, a happy home, and of course the children will more than likely follow suit.
Copyright ã 2002 Les Feldick Ministries. All rights reserved.