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Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 39
Lesson One • Part I
The Whole Armour of God–Ephesians 6:1-24
Now as we begin Book 39, I feel we need to review just a little. Remember coming out of Ephesians chapter 5, we’ve been dealing with the husband and wife relationship which goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when God created man first and then the woman. From that very time on, God has always mandated that the man is to be the head of the woman, not as a tyrant, but rather as a benevolent, loving head of the woman, and consequently there will be no opposition for that kind of a relationship. The comparison that Paul makes in Ephesians is found in chapter 5 and verse 25.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it;"
So that’s the way the man should love his wife, as the whole theme of these verses have been centered on love. Well you take that same concept right on into chapter 6, because there were no chapter headings when Paul wrote. He didn’t put chapter 6 and then break it down into verses, but as he was writing and the Holy Spirit is guiding his thinking, he now moves on into another area, but it’s still involved in the home. So we move from the husband and wife relationship right on down into the family relationship, and that is between parents and children.
Now we’re hearing a lot lately from our politicians about family, and the way they look at it. But we’re going to look at the family from the Scriptural point of view, and remember the very bedrock of society is the home and family. So after coming out of the teachings on the husband and wife relationship the very first word of chapter 6 is "Children..." And some might say, "So what!" Well I couldn’t help but think while getting ready for this that I had read an article several months ago, and I dug it out, and it was a description of the Jewish Passover even as Jewish people practice it today. The author of this particular article says, "One of the major participants in the Passover meal is children."
Now I had never really thought of that before, but you see as you go through the Passover meal and they break that one piece of bread, and the largest part is wrapped and hidden some place in the home, and toward the end of the feast, the children are sent out to find that hidden piece of bread. It then just almost becomes a game for the kids. So I think we need to look at that for a moment in the Book of Exodus chapter 12. The whole purpose of the Passover, I do believe, was to not only keep the Jewish people mindful of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it was the glue that literally held the Jewish people together throughout all these centuries of oppression, persecution, and dispersion.
I think I’ve made mention of it before that as I look at the big picture in my own mind, I have to feel that the Passover has probably done more than anything else to keep the Jewish people what they are, their Jewishness, or heritage, or whatever you want to call it. Now here in Exodus chapter 12, let’s drop down to verse 23, because most of you know the account of the Passover, and the death angel passing over Egypt. And how they were to put the blood on the door, so now if we can step into the narrative beginning with verse 23.
"For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer (or permit) the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you." (now here it comes in verse 24) And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25. And it shall come to pass when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? (or Passover feast) 27. That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped."
The main criteria then of the Passover Supper, even to this very day, whether it’s the non-practicing Jewish people or the practicing Jews, as they go through that Passover meal, the children are given opportunity to ask questions of why we do this or that? And the answer is "because of what happened in Egypt." So the whole idea of the thing is to get these children to think and ask questions so they are able to tell their children about that event. So this event, the Passover, became the very bedrock of the Jewish family. Now coming back to Ephesians for just a moment we find it’s that same concept of the home, parents and their children.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."
What one basic attribute of the human makeup causes children to obey their parents? Love! But it has to be a two-way street. So we have to look at this whole concept again of love as Paul talks about it in chapter 5, between husbands and wives, and that same love carries on into the relationship between parents and children. What is the definition of "LOVE? Love = Seeking the other person’s highest good!" Now that’s the best definition of true, Biblical love that I can ever think of. Now when we speak of love scripturally of course, we’re not talking about erotic love, or sexual love, or Hollywood’s view of love, but rather we’re talking about that God-given ability to love your neighbor as yourself, which Jesus in His earthly ministry calls the greatest commandment.
Now when you love your neighbor as yourself, what are you really doing? You’re seeking his highest good. Now think about that. That has nothing to do with the physical contact of the hugging and kissing and so forth that we normally associate with love anymore. But true love is just simply doing that which will bring about the highest good, whether it’s a neighbor, wife or children. Now for a moment let’s come back to the great love chapter in I Corinthians. You all know the chapter, and we’re not going to read it all, but I do want to read a good portion of it, because it says it so aptly. I’m finding out that the television audience actually gets more out of the Scripture by reading than what I say, and that’s as it should be. I want people to literally let the Word of God itself speak to them, and not necessarily myself. Now look what the Word says in verse 1. This is Paul speaking.
I Corinthians 13:1
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, (love) I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Sort of like rattling a rock in a tin can. That’s all we are if love does not promote it. Now verse 2.
I Corinthians 13:2
"And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, (love) I am nothing."
Now as I read these verses, I can’t help but remember the letter to the Church at Ephesus back there in the Book of Revelation. And what was the admonition? Oh they had everything up to snuff, their doctrine was right, their works were right, but what was the Church at Ephesus lacking? Their first love! And it’s the same way today, I don’t care how skilled we are in the Scripture, I don’t care how faithful we are in attending our particular Church and all these things, if there’s no love behind it, then forget it, because it’s like nothing. Now reading on.
I Corinthians 13:3
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, (love) it profiteth me nothing."
Now that’s strong language and a lot of times we don’t think about it in this light. But unless we have this ability to seek the other persons highest good, and out of that motive that is God-given, then it’s totally for nothing. Now reading on.
I Corinthians 13:4-7
"Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity (love) envieth not; charity (love) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5. (love) Doth not behave itself unseemly, (love) seeketh not her own, (love) is not easily provoked, (love) thinketh no evil; 6. (love) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but (love) rejoiceth in the truth; 7.(love) Beareth all things, (love) believeth all things, (love) hopeth all things, (love) endureth all things." Now, the capstone of it all.
I Corinthians 13:13
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, (love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (love)
Now I’ve tried to emphasize to people over the years as I’ve taught, not just from this chapter, but from all over the New Testament, that as you go through Paul’s letters, you find no reference any more after the Corinthians’ letters, to tongues, and prophecies, but throughout his whole segment of our New Testament, these three words just keep popping up. FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE they never stop. These three things are just as valid today as they were at the very beginning of his ministry, and the greatest of them is love. Now let’s come back to Ephesians chapter 6, and so in that spirit of true agape, God-given love, seeking that other person’s highest good, in this case the children loving their parents, Paul goes right back again to the Old Testament to the Ten Commandments.
"Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)"
Now I don’t know how many of you remember the Ten Commandments. I read a little poll the other day, that even among pastors, a great percentage of them could not list more than five or six of the Ten Commandments. And among the general population, they could only list two or three. I can believe that. Is it any wonder we’re in trouble as a nation tonight? But I hope you’re not that far gone, that you can’t even remember the Ten Commandments. Let’s go back to Romans chapter 13 first, and then we’ll probably run back to Exodus if we have time.
"Owe (defraud) no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another (based on seeking the other persons highest good) hath fulfilled the law. (the Ten Commandments) 9. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Paul is quoting almost verbatim from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. Now verse 10.) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Now the point I want to get across is found in Romans chapter 6.
"For sin (the old Adam, the old sin nature we’re born with) shall not have dominion over you: (why) for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
Now here’s the dilemma. If we’re under Grace, and not under Law, why does Paul repeat the commandments? And he repeats 9 out of the 10, and the one that he doesn’t mention is the Sabbath which was on Saturday under the Law. But he repeats all the others. Why, if we’re under Grace? Because even under Grace the constitution of the Almighty God Himself is still valid. Just because we’re under Grace does not give us license to steal, or license to commit adultery. They are still God’s guideline for Holy, Righteous, living. And I for one am not against posting the Ten Commandments in public places, because they are non-intrusive, and they do not scorn any other religion. The Ten Commandments are a worldwide set of rules for social activity and should not embarrass anyone. Now that’s the way I look at it, but there may be some that don’t agree with me.
The major point I want to make in this lesson is that the relationship between the husband and wife, between the parents and the children is LOVE. Love is the key to all of this. I think we’ve got time to go back to Exodus chapter 20 and just look at the Ten Commandants and refresh them in your mind. It will remind us once again that which so many people have forgotten totally. God gave these Ten Commandments to Moses, who in turn took them down Mt. Sinai and gave them to the children of Israel.
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Now that knocks idolatry right out of the picture doesn’t it.
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image..." That would be part and parcel of idolatry or any likeness.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them..." Then you come on up to verse 7.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Remember for Israel that was the seventh day (the Saturday Sabbath) And the purpose was to work six days and have one day of rest. Now verse 12.
"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Paul refers to this one as the only commandment with a promise. And that was the promise, "If children would be obedient to their parents, they could have a long life on this earth."
"Thou shalt not kill. 14. Thou shalt not commit adultery, 15. Thou shalt not steal. 16. Thou shalt not bear false witness (or lie) against thy neighbour. 17. Thou shalt not covet..."
Now that pretty much wraps up the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, and which Paul still adheres to even for us under Grace. And that’s why I’m always making the statement that Grace is not license. Grace never gives us license to go contrary to God’s basic laws for humanity, which of course is the Ten Commandments. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 6 to wrap up this lesson. Now not only are the children to obey their parents, but there’s a responsibility for the parents to the children, and particularly the father. And here again we as a society have gone 180 degrees against the Word of God. Today in most homes it’s the mother who has to mete out discipline, but the Scripture never gives that to the mother. But the whole concept of Scripture is that the father was to be the disciplinarian. Now verse 4.
"And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
When it comes to fathers disciplining their children one word always comes to mind, and do you know what it is? Temperance. I think it’s in Corinthians where Paul is describing the Olympic runners as they are training and preparing their bodies for the race. And he admonishes that we’re to be temperate in everything. In other words you can’t go clear off to the right or to the left. And it’s the same way with disciplining children. Some families are so strict, those poor kids are in a straight jacket, and they cannot wait until they can get out from under dad’s roof and do whatever they want to. That’s not being temperate in discipline, that’s doing the extreme. And on the other hand we’ve got parents who don’t discipline at all. They just let their kids run wild, so what must we do? We become temperate and bring discipline into the middle. You have to discipline children, and they do want discipline, they want rules to live by, and so you can’t just give them total license, but on the other hand you have to respect the fact that they are a person, they have their certain demands for a bit of freedom, and all the time as we discipline children, it has to be prompted by love. I can’t over emphasize the word love. We discipline our children because we love them! Just for a moment let’s go to Hebrews. The Scripture says it all if you look for it.
"For whom the Lord loveth (the Lord is always seeking our highest good. So that person that God loves) he chasteneth, and scourgeth (spank) every son whom he receiveth. 7. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" Now that’s part and parcel of our living. We have to be disciplined. Now verse 9.
"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh (in this worldly experience) which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (and then verse 10 coming back to earthly fathers) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: (I don’t care what the child psychologists say, the Scripture is more true than they ever hope to be,) nevertheless afterward (discipline) it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Can you make it any plainer that that?
Lesson One • Part II
The Whole Armour of God–Ephesians 6:1-24
We trust that as we begin this lesson, that you will just take your Bible and study along with us. We hope that you don’t depend on a Sunday School quarterly, or what I or anyone else says, but learn to search the Scriptures and see what the Word of God really says and what it doesn’t say. So I hope you’re learning how to read, study, and understand your own Bible, and by the response we’re getting, we feel that the Lord is blessing that approach.
Now I feel we didn’t quite get through with verse 4 in the last lesson, so I think rather than going on into verse 5 as I had first contemplated doing, we’ll come back to verse 4 for a few moments. We’ll be dealing again with the relationship between parents, fathers in particular, and the children. You know children are the most important part of the next generation because we’re just one generation away from paganism. If parents do not teach their children the Word of God, their children are not very likely to ever come back to them, and say, "Hey I want to pick up with Spiritual things that you failed to teach me."
Most generally they’ll continue on in that same lifestyle, and of course we’re seeing it all across America where our younger generations have absolutely no knowledge of the Scriptures. You can talk about a "Damascus experience" and they look at you with a blank look. You can talk about other things that a generation ago everybody knew what you’re talking about, even though some of them weren’t believers, at least they knew that it was in the Book. But you see now that’s not the case, because I’m afraid our younger generation is so close to paganism. Now when I say paganism, I don’t mean they’re out there bowing their knees in front of idols, but they just have no concept of Spiritual things. I always have to look at the masses wherever we are, how many of them ever stop to think about eternity. Not many because it just never crosses their mind. Well here again it all boils down to how these children are being raised. Are they being raised as Paul says here in verse 4?
"...but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
See, that’s the instruction from God. We are to raise our children under those set of circumstances. As I was preparing this in my mind, I couldn’t help but go back to Acts chapter 16. You want to remember that as Paul and Silas came into the city of Philippi up there in Northern Greece, there weren’t many Jews to give that community a semblance of a knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So it was primarily pagan. They knew nothing of the One True God! Into that pagan city, Paul came with the Gospel of Salvation, and because he was proclaiming the Gospel he and Silas ended up in the jail at Philippi. You remember in that account the scourging and the beatings that they took and then were locked in stocks in the dungeon. Let’s pick it up after they had sung songs with their backs bleeding, and the earthquake had opened all cells. We find the Philippian jailer was amazed that the prisoners were all still there, and he comes and literally falls at the feet of Paul and Silas.
"And brought them out, and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’"
Now whenever I read this verse, I can’t help but compare it with another verse that says a lot of the same, but yet totally different. We find that verse back in Acts chapter 2:38. It’s the same way, when I teach Acts 2:38, I’ve got to use Acts chapter 16. In fact we’ll compare the two verses right now. Keep in mind the reason we came to Acts chapter 16 is to look at the Philippian jailer and his family.
In Acts chapter 2 we find Peter preaching his heart out to the nation of Israel, which is so obvious up in verse 36, where Peter winds up this sermon.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, (see Peter doesn’t mention any Gentiles because he’s preaching to the Jewish nation. Most preachers and teachers never mention that.) that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37. 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 (what’s the pronoun?) we do?"
So who’s asking the question? The nation of Israel? I always make the point here, that God deals with the Jews on two levels. Individually and nationally, so always keep that in mind. Here in these verses He’s dealing with them on the national level. So the nation has just asked, "What must we, the nation, do?" Remember they had just crucified their Messiah. Now look what Peter tells them.
"Then Peter said unto them, 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 Ghost."
Now that’s Peter preaching to Israel under Law, and it was exactly what God wanted him to preach to Israel. But now look at the difference in Paul’s answer to the Philippian jailer under Grace and the Church age several years later. This Gentile comes and asked almost the same question, and yet it’s not the same, because he doesn’t say, "What shall we do," but rather "what shall I do to be saved?" Now it becomes a personal thing, do you see that? Today, God isn’t dealing with the Gentiles as He did with the nation of Israel on national grounds, rather every Gentile is being dealt with personally. And that’s why we always empathize that salvation is not just bringing in people wholesale, but rather salvation today is that one at a time, as the Holy Spirit convicts and opens the understanding, and that person believes the Gospel. That’s also why a lot of people use that term, "A personal Saviour," because we have to be saved as an individual.
So this is exactly the way the Philippian jailer, as a Gentile, a pagan, an unbeliever, that’s the way he put it.
"...Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
Do you notice that Paul doesn’t say, "Repent and be baptized." Paul says what? Believe! And that’s Paul’s theme all the way through his letters, and he’s the only one in this age of Grace that has that message. Romans 1:16 is a good example.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;..." Another good one is found in I Corinthians 1:18
I Corinthians 1:18
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (unto salvation.)
And how do we obtain salvation as we just saw in Romans 1:16? By believing! Not repenting as Peter preached. And this is Paul’s theme all the way through. Some more you can look at are found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. Romans 10:9-10, I Thessalonians 4:14, and there and many others in Paul’s epistles, he never changes that theme. Now let’s come back to the Philippian jailer and see that his family was also involved. It wasn’t just a one man deal, so we pick that up in verse 31. Paul is speaking here.
"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, (now these next three words throw a curve at a lot of people) and thy house."
Well does that mean when a father is saved, his kids are automatically saved? Well of course not, but what’s implied? That if you have believing parents, you have a Christian home, Christian influence, Christian up-bringing as Paul puts it, "bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." What are the chances of those children becoming believers compared to kids that are raised in an unbelieving home? Well it’s far greater - I’m not going to say it’s 100% because even Christian homes can have kids that will end up rebellious and so forth. But percentage wise, when you’ve got a Christian home, a Christian father and mother, their kids are more apt to carry on to their homes, to their kids, this Christian tradition than when you have a family with no concern about spiritual things. Now let’s follow this Philippian jailer some more in verse 32.
"And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house."
Now we don’t know how many were in the jailer’s home, but certainly his wife and some children. And evidently the whole family must have become believers that very night. Now I’ve talked to missionaries who have seen the same thing happen in grossly uncivilized areas - when a husband and father becomes a believer, then the whole family will follow. It’s not just like a bunch of little ducks following the mother duck, but it is a real salvation experience that carries that family through thick and thin, and I think that’s what has happened here in these verses. So repeating verse 32 again.
"And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (evidently their salvation was evident) 33. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." (so the emphasis is the whole family became believers. Now verse 34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
So the father was instrumental in the whole family coming to know the Lord. Now let’s come back to Ephesians and carry that right on through as Paul is also using that same set of circumstances, that if the father, who not only is Godly in the treatment of his wife up there in chapter 5, but he also will be instrumental in raising his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Now that’s just plain common sense, remember Christianity is so practical. Christianity is not pie in the sky as some would have you believe. It’s not, as one lady in Minnesota put it, "Blab it and Grab it." But it is just simply practical, and if we have a practical operating Christian home more than likely we’re going to see Christian children, who in turn will go out and begin their own Christian home, and that’s the only thing that keeps it going. But if there’s a break in that chain, then the next generation is out in the cold.
Now I think we’re ready to move on. Back to Ephesians chapter 6, and go on into verse 5. Paul now brings it into another segment of society, and that is the work place. We have to recognize that at the time of Paul slavery of blacks and whites was still part and parcel of the economy. Today we have a hard time understanding that, but that’s the way it was, and we have to look at it in that light. Always remember when God sanctioned slavery, even back in the Old Testament times, He was not looking at the mean spiritedness of treating slave people like animals, but rather it was an economy that, had it been done in a Godly way, would have worked.
You want to remember the vast majority of those people had no education, so they couldn’t build up a profession unless they were out of the 2 or 3 percent of the elite, so the masses were totally incapable of running a business or being in production, or anything like that, so the most comfortable area for them was working for someone. So if you had a benevolent slave master, he would provide the housing and the food, and the clothing, and everything that these people would need, and life was enjoyable. But when you had a slave master who was totally the old Adam under the inspiration of old Satan, then yes, being a slave was a horrible life, and remember that most of the human race, as the biggest majority of people lived in the element of slavery. So now then Paul is bringing this into the lifestyle of the believing slave master, as well as a believing servant, and look what he says.
"Servants, (or we’d be more prone to say, ‘slaves’) be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, (because he’s your boss) with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, (and again what’s the comparison?) as unto Christ;"
Now this is talking about the believing element in society. This is not talking about those out there with their bull whips and so forth.
"Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers: but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart: 7. With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:"
Now it will be a while before we get to the Book of Philemon. I think you all understand the story behind the letter to Philemon, who also was a slave owner. He was a gentleman of means, and one of his bond slaves had evidently stolen from him, and fled the area of Colossi, which was over there in Western Turkey, and ends up where Paul is, probably in Rome, because this is one of his prison epistles. And somehow or other this slave, Onesimus, comes under the influence of Paul’s preaching, and becomes a believer. Now Paul was also instrumental in the salvation of Onesimus’ owner Philemon, and so Paul is going to bring these two people back together, the slave and his master. Now this is the whole setting of this one page letter to Philemon. And what Paul is really saying is, "Yes you own him, he’s your servant, but you are both in the Body of Christ." Hey what does that do? That puts you on equal footing. Now Onesimus is still the servant, and Philemon is still the owner, but he no longer is to treat this man like chattel. The purpose also of this letter is for Philemon to accept this slave back into his good graces, not as a wayward slave who would now be punished severely for what he had done, but as a fellow believer, and it’s a beautiful little letter. Let’s just drop in at verse 5. The setting here is that Paul is a prisoner in Rome and Philemon is probably a wealthy individual living over east of the city of Ephesus in Colossi.
"Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;"
Now who’s that including? Even Onesimus, because now he’s also a believer, and numbered with the saints. Now verse 6.
"That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love,..."
Even this slave owner, this man Philemon, is exercising the theme about love that we had on the board last lesson, "Seeking other peoples highest good." Even his servants. Now that took something didn’t it? Now verse 8.
"Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, 9. Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 10. I beseech thee for my son (in the faith) Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:"
In other words, because of Paul’s witnessing while in prison, he was somehow able to get the Gospel across to Onesimus. Now verse 11.
"Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:"
Paul tells Philemon that this man in the past was unprofitable. Why? Because he had fled his place of service, and he had also no doubt stolen something from Philemon. But now since he’s become a believer, Onesimus has become profitable to Paul as well as Philemon. That’s what salvation does for people. Now verse 12.
"Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels.(heart or innermost being) 13. Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: 14. But without thy mind (or agreement) would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. 15. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever: 16. Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? 17. If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. 18. If he hath wronged thee, (and we’re pretty sure he did) or oweth thee ought,(for anything he might have stolen, Paul says,) put that on mine account;"
So these two people, slave master and his slave, are brought back together in the bonds of love because of the intercessory work of the apostle Paul. Now come back to Ephesians chapter 6. You see that even though we’re no longer under the economy of slavery today out in the work place of the world we have the masters and the hireling. And it’s about the same set of circumstances today as it was then. A believer who is a owner and the boss over people should constantly reflect his Christianity. He should reflect his love for the Lord as well as his love for the people who are under him. Now verse 8.
"Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
And again the Scripture says over and over that God is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t impress God if a believing man is over a thousand people any more than a servant who is a believer, because in Christ we have that unity. Now verse 9.
"And, ye masters, (owners) do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening; knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is respect of persons with him."
God is saying to the masters and owners to forbear their workers, listen to them, because they’re human beings just like you are, so don’t threaten them. So the lesson carries through right to our own day and time. When a corporate manager or owner of a business has people under him, especially if he’s a believer, and he treat his employees as God treats him, he’s going to be successful. He’s going to have a happy work force, and I’ve known some small companies like that. Most of their employees were Christians and the owners were Christians and they didn’t have any labor trouble. They had excellent production records because it’s so true. What God has mandated is going to work.
Lesson One • Part III
The Whole Armour of God–Ephesians 6:1-24
Now we’ll go right back to where we left off in our last lesson, and that will be in Ephesians chapter 6, beginning with verse 10. As most of you know we as a class are not affiliated with any particular group, most of us attend our own different denomination each week. So this is truly just a Bible study that has been going on for many years now, and since 1991 we have shared this Bible study, with your help, to our television audience, and God always seems to supply our needs. So we again thank you for helping us pay the bills and for your kind letters we get each day, we just can’t thank you enough. I think most of you realize that Iris is totally a "help mete" in this ministry, and we always appreciate the fact that 99 % of our letters begin with "Dear Les and Iris." And I appreciate that so much because I just couldn’t do it without her.
I mentioned back in our study of the Corinthian letters, that you’ll notice that every once in a while Paul just seems to shift gears, and will go from one subject to something seemingly totally different, and here is one of them. Now in the last two lessons he came out of the relationship between the husband and the wife, based on love, and the comparison of the love of Christ and the Church. Then he carried on into chapter 6 with that same attitude between the parents and their children, but now we come into something totally different. Now we’re going to cover the territory of dealing with our adversary Satan and the powers that be. Now verse 10.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Now you have no idea how many letters and phone calls I get, that ask, "Is it Scriptural that we are to bind Satan?" Personally I’ve never heard it, and it sure isn’t in this Book. There is no way that we humans can bind Satan. Satan is a spirit being, and God in the power of an angel will one day, as we see in Revelation chapter 19, bind him and put him in the pit for a thousand years. But there is no way that we can bind Satan today, nor are we instructed to. I pointed out to one individual that the instruction as we see right here is to resist him, to oppose him, but there’s no way we’re going to bind him. Look at verse 11 again.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Now the first thing you always have to do in Bible study is think of a situation way back where we have a perfect example of what Paul is talking about here. I like to do this just to make people think. Where can you think of an instant where someone resisted Satan? Well the Lord did in Matthew chapter 4. Let’s go back there for a moment and look at it. Now if Satan were to have been bound, then the Lord would have done it right here, but He doesn’t, but what does He do? He resists him. And how does he resist old Satan? With the Word of God. And it’s no different for us today. We can not bind him, but we can resist him by the Word of God! And here it is in Matthew chapter 4.
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (or tested) of the devil. 2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. 3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Now we know the Lord could have done it. but He certainly wasn’t going to do at Satan’s command, so what does He do? He withstands him, He resists him, and look how He does it.
"But he answered and said, It is written, (He quotes Scripture) Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Alright now you come through these various temptations and every time, what does Jesus quote? The Scripture! Now that’s our defense, do you see that? Now coming back to the Book of Ephesians, as you look at these verses in whole, there is not one word in here that we are to attack Satan. All of the attributes of this event are defensive, and that’s all we can do. We can withstand him, James says we can resist him, and he will flee from us, so here is where we have to have a knowledge of the Scriptures in order to confront Satan if and when he approaches us.
So we’re to be prepared because he will attack at one time or another. You know, I don’t think we have to feel that he’s constantly attacking us day in and day out. I told someone the other day, and it probably shocked them a little bit, that I have more trouble with my old sin nature than I do with Satan. Isn’t that right? It’s our old sin nature that gives us the most problems. Satan, I think, is periodic in his attacks on the believer. But our old Adamic nature is a 24 hour battle, because that’s where we’re in a constant warfare. Now moving on to verse 12.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Now let’s come back to Romans chapter 8, because the only way I can teach is to compare Scripture with Scripture, because it usually explains itself better than I can. Here Paul writes in the conclusion of this great chapter of Romans 8 about our security as a believer.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, (creation) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now come back to the Book of Ephesians. In other words, these principalities, and powers that Paul speaks of are in Satan’s domain. These are the powers of darkness that Paul warns us about in Ephesians, and again he does not tell us to attack them, but rather we’re to resist them, we’re to have a defense against them, and be ready with the Scriptures to resist. We always have to understand that it’s not flesh and blood that we defend against. Paul knew that better than anyone. As he writes this letter to the Ephesians believers, where is he? Well he’s in prison in Rome, and whether it was this exact moment, or a year or two later, who became the most awful emperor that the Roman empire had ever experienced? Nero. It was under Nero of course that Paul was finally put to death.
Now I have to feel as I study some of these things that some of the freedom that Paul experienced in his earthly prison experience was because there was another emperor – Nero came in a little later. But we do know that Nero was the emperor when Paul was put to death. Nero was wicked, and like Ahab in the Old Testament, and he also had a wife that was worse than he was. She happened to be a wife that had been a proselyte of Judaism, and she of course would listen to the Judaisers who detested the apostle Paul, and wanted his life to end. So she egged Nero on in a lot of his wicked things.
So Paul writes from a position of full understanding what it is to be up against the powers and principalities and the wickedness, and darkness of this world. He knew what it was, as he was talking from first hand experience. But on the other hand, Paul never gave up, Paul never despaired, but his makeup was constantly up beat as we’ll see when we get into the Book of Philippians where his comments were rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, over and over, in spite of his horrible circumstances, and so it’s an encouragement to us.
My, we have no idea what the apostle had to go through, but we do get a little picture of the wickedness, and the things that are taking place in the realm of the principalities and powers, because all you have to do is pick up your daily papers. What is causing the murders and the random violence that’s sweeping not only America, but the whole world? Well it’s the Satanic powers, and the things that are constantly producing such wickedness. Now verse 13, and Paul begins with the word "Wherefore," since we’re dealing with something beyond the physical, this is something that is in area of the invisible. And that of course is where Satan’s domain is.
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
Now another point I like to make is, if Paul is in prison in Rome, who is constantly in his presence? Roman soldiers, as one of them was usually chained to him. So he had a first hand view of the operations of a Roman solder. It’s unique to Paul I think, that he uses the things that were around him in the everyday world to make his point even though it was Holy Spirit inspired. For example, when he tells us to run the race, what is he making the analogy with? Well the Olympics. He gives us the same background that the Olympic runners had to prepare to run their race, and so do we have to prepare to run our race for the Lord.
Now of course he’s using the Roman solder to make a point. These soldiers were known for their ability in battle. Now as he comes down through these verses he’s going to literally look at that Roman soldier, prepared for altercation of one sort or another. He may not have had all his battlefield armour on, but yet Paul was aware of all the things that Roman soldier needed before he went into battle. He was seeing it around him all the time. Paul was such a tremendous witness for the Gospel that even these pagan Romans soldiers, as they took their place as his personal guard, by the time they rotated out to another place of service, what where they? They were believers!
So this is why he could say in the Book of Philippians chapter 1:13, that the Gospel had reached even unto the palace. I mean this is hard to comprehend, that under those horrible pagan circumstances, yet the man in the power of the Holy Spirit was constantly winning these men to Christ, who in turn were going into other places of duty and were becoming a testimony as well.
"So that my bonds (those chains to which he was attached to a Roman soldier) in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;"
That is throughout Rome. Now go over to chapter 4 and this just builds on verse 13 we just looked at. Here Paul is closing the letter to the Philippians and says the following.
"All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household."
That’s why I don’t think Nero was yet the emperor, because Nero would never have allowed this. But because of Paul’s testimony to these soldiers who would come in and be his personal guard, and when they were rotated out to other places of service, they were actually penetrating the household of the emperor. Now some of course feel that this was limited to the Roman headquarters of that garrison, rather than the actual palace of the emperor. But whatever, Paul was having such an impact on those Roman soldiers as they would come into to guard him 24 hours a day that by the time they left that tour of duty they went out as believers. I think that they went to the ends of the Roman empire, and that is why that Paul could write to Titus in chapter 2 the following.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath (already) appeared to all men."
Now just stop and think about that. What a testimony that man had even as a prisoner, winning those pagans around him to a knowledge of salvation. Now if you’ll come back to Ephesians chapter 6, we find that Paul writes from first hand experience of the preparations for battle that the Roman soldier had to go through. Also that all of these things that Paul mentions are defensive weapons. There’s only one offensive weapon mentioned and it is also used defensively, and that is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Now verse 14.
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,..."
The loins is the upper legs, and that of course was to deflect the spears and the arrows of the enemy. Paul is going to bring that now into the Spiritual realm, and so as the Roman soldier had his loins protected with some sort of armour, we too are to have our spiritual loins girt about with truth. Now those of you who have heard me teach very long know there’s another term that we can always substitute for the word "truth" and not do violence to the Scripture, and what is it? The name of Christ!
If we’re literally protected by the presence of Christ, then Satan can’t touch us. You know as Iris and I travel a lot, and as we put the nose of the car into traffic, we have learned to just ask the Lord to just hedge us about with His presence. When that’s there nothing can touch us. Now we run across horrible accidents constantly, and during this last trip we made we came across four of them. That’s enough to just curl your hair, but we have to constantly rest in that knowledge that we’re in His protective care, and Satan can’t touch us. Always remember Satan can’t touch us without God permitting it to happen. So here again we are to have our lions girt about with the very presence of Christ, the Truth. Let me show you in Ephesians chapter 1.
"In whom ye also trusted, (in Christ in verse 12) after that ye heard the word of truth, (and again I can put the term Christ in there for truth, which is) the gospel of your salvation: (that’s when we became a believer. When we heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel) in whom also after that ye believed, (and nothing else. Then after you believed) ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,"
So the whole concept of Paul’s teaching is, "That Christ is the very Truth of God, He is the Word of God, and we are to be surrounded with His very presence. Now the last part of Ephesians 6:14:
"...and having on the breastplate of righteousness:"
Now those of you who remember when we taught back in Romans chapter 3, how do we receive the righteousness of God? When we believe the Gospel! Now I had to do a little research on this because I never want to put something in here that’s not here. But the breastplate of the Roman soldier that Paul was looking at as he was writing this did not just cover the upper chest as we think of a bullet proof vest today. But the breastplate actually went to the lower part of the torso where the legging then would pick up. So this breast plate of righteousness was that which covered the whole torso of the Roman soldier. Now let’s look at Romans chapter 3 for a moment. You’ll recognize the verses because we’ve used them often. And remember the breastplate is righteousness! This is our security, it’s our defense against the principalities and powers. Now verse 21 and 22.
"But now (that we’re under Grace rather than Law) the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:..."
What is unto all and upon all? Righteousness! God’s righteousness is imputed to us, it covers us, it’s our defense against the powers of darkness. This righteousness has been placed upon all them that believe! Another one I always like to use from the Old Testament is found in Isaiah chapter 61, and verse 10. Now this is a Jewish prophet, but he is also writing by the inspiration of the Spirit the same as Paul does.
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he (God) hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments,..."
Do you see the analogy? Oh as God’s righteousness has been imputed, it becomes the breastplate that Paul talks about in Ephesians chapter 6. And it’s our defense against the powers of the evil one. Now coming back to Ephesians for just a moment, let’s look at verse 15.
"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"
Now can you imagine a Roman soldier out on the battle field in briars and sharp rocks with nothing to protect his feet? Of course they had to be protected, otherwise he would have been powerless against the enemy. But we too must have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. There’s a couple of good verses for that where we have the feet referred to in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament,. Always remember, the feet are beautiful in the sight of God when we take the Gospel to other people.
Lesson One • Part IV
The Whole Armour of God–Ephesians 6:1-24
Now we’re ready to go back to Ephesians chapter 6 where we’ll finish this tremendous Book in this half hour, and maybe even have time to get into Philippians. So let’s begin with verse 15. Remember we didn’t finish that verse in the last lesson.
"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"
Now let’s go all the way back and pick it up in the Old Testament first and that will be in Isaiah chapter 52:7. This is a verse that most of you are aware of, but I always like to show that the Old and New fit so beautifully in so many ways, and here’s another one.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation;..."
I made the comment in our seminar in Pennsylvania recently, that the primary purpose of this Book from cover to cover is that one word "Salvation." The main purpose of the Word of God is to bring lost people to a knowledge of salvation. Remember God’s not willing that any should perish! And if they’re not to perish, then they need to get the remedy from the Word of God. And as I’ve said so often, that remedy can only be found for the Church Age believers in Paul’s Gospel as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4 which is faith + Nothing in the finished work of the cross. So whether it’s Old Testament or the New Testament, salvation is the main purpose for mankind to have the Bible. So looking at Isaiah 52:7 again.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"
That portion of Scripture was written explicitly to the nation of Israel, but the overall is still the same. Now come back to the New Testament to the Book of Romans where the apostle Paul uses much the same language with regard to the feet of the one that is taking good news. Now remember, this isn’t limited to pastors, preachers, and evangelists, but rather this is for every believer, whoever we are, and wherever we are. We should always be ready to proclaim the good tidings of salvation. So let’s look at Romans chapter 10 for a moment.
"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, (and here is where Paul goes back to the verse we just read in Isaiah) How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
Beautiful feet, because the Gospel always lifts people out of their misery. Now we don’t make the claim that when we become a Christian everything suddenly becomes a path of roses or smooth goings, but it is such a far cry from the misery of the world that words can’t explain it. Always remember where you and I as believers come head and shoulders above the rest of world is, yes we’re going to have problems, we’re going to have trials, we’re going to have tribulations, but the Lord is with us, and He takes us through it, and that’s what makes the difference. So be ready to take the good news of salvation wherever you are, and the moment you do you are using your beautiful feet. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 6, and looking at verse 16.
"Above all, taking the shield of faith,..."
The next is probably the most important weapon we have against Satan. This is what we’re to use in our Spiritual warfare. Now I’m sure you’ve all heard it at one time before but we’re going to repeat it again. All the things that Paul is mentioning here are on the front of the soldier, and what does that tell us? You’re to never run, because the back side is left undefended. All the Roman soldiers armour was to the front, as he was never to retreat. So now looking at verse 16 again.
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, (the Roman soldier used the shield to deflect arrows, and so forth) wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." (or the wicked one)
So the shield is what? Our faith! And how I’m always emphasizing faith, and what’s my definition of faith? "Taking God at His Word!" See, we have all these promises that God has given us, and so how do we appropriate them? By faith, we believe them. And everything that comes from the opposition, we deflect with something that the Word has promised. I think that even the staunchest believer has to admit that Satan will come and hit us with doubt. I don’t think that there is anybody that isn’t hit at times with doubt. Well, how are we going to deflect it? With our faith. How are we going to resist all these attacks of the evil one? With our faith. It’s just simply "but God has said it and I believe it," and if God has said it what more do you want. So our shield is faith, and oh what a word that Paul uses over and over. In fact just back up a page to Ephesians chapter 2.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith;..."
Remember faith isn’t something that you can lay out on the table, faith isn’t something that you feel. But rather faith is something that you just simply take the Word of God and say, "I BELIEVE IT" because this is what God has said. In every aspect of our Christian experience, how do we know that the Holy Spirit dwells within? Remember the Holy Spirit didn’t make some big announcement saying, "I’m coming in to live with you." There isn’t a diploma that someone signs, that the Holy Spirit dwells within. So how do we know that He does? The Bible says so, and we take it by faith. We can’t feel it, but we know He’s there, because this is what the Word teaches.
I just had a phone call early this morning, and I’m going to take you back to the verse that I gave them in the Book of Matthew chapter 24. The question that was asked was, "What about all these different things that we’re hearing and reading about in Christendom today?" They are as different as daylight and darkness, and they are as false as false can be, and what does all of this tell us? Well, according to Matthew chapter 24, it just tells me that we’re at the end of the age, and one of the basic signs of the end times is a tremendous wave of deception, and we’re seeing it. Look at what the Lord Himself says in this great chapter. And as we look at this let’s start with verse 3. This is in the Lord’s earthly ministry and the twelve have approached him with a question.
"And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (age) 4. And Jesus (the God of glory Himself) answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
So what is it? Deception is a sign of the end times, and we’re seeing it like never before in all of Church history. The various idea and contraptions that are coming at people from every direction are deceiving many, many people today. You can hear and see everything but the Gospel proclaimed today. When is the last time you heard the plan of salvation as outlined by the apostle Paul for the Body of Christ believers proclaimed anywhere? We are seeing this wave of deception and the only way we can confront it is to have the truth, and our faith in the Word of God. That’s our only defense, because the masses are going to fall for these deceptions, and we’re seeing it on every hand. Alright so it’s through our faith that we rest on what God has said, and what He has promised, and with it we deflect all these deceptive statements and teachings and doctrines that are being spewed out from every direction.
Now you can be coming back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 6. On Monday morning we have so many phone calls with questions because of what the people have heard the day before, which of course is Sunday. And when they ask most of these questions I usually asked them a question in reply. "Can you find it in your Bible?" And most of the time the answer is no, that’s why I’m calling." Well if you can’t find it in your Bible in the age of Grace teachings, especially with Paul teachings, then run from it, because it’s a deception. It’s part and parcel of the end time scenario where people are believing men, and what they read in books instead of coming to the BOOK!
Now I’m not going to condemn good authors and good books, but we’re living in a day now where good Christian books are hard to find. It’s like one lady called from one of our major cities that has one of the largest Christian book stores in the country. And she said, "Les until about 5 or 6 years ago the whole front of that store was Bibles, but today, they’re all gone, they’re at the back of the store, and nothing but New Age material are up in front, and people are buying it by the case load." Well what is that? It’s that wave of deception, and they can make it sounds so good. But the problem is they’re putting the Book at the back of the store, and they’re putting the books up front, and that’s exactly what we’ve told to be aware of.
Now coming back to the Book of Ephesians and this shield of faith, we know that all these false statements can come at us and how are we going to deflect them? What does the Bible say? Does the Book say it? If it doesn’t, then deflect it as a false teaching, and that’s the only thing I can tell people. Now let’s go on one more step in verse 16.
"...wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." (one)
There again it’s a defense. We don’t attack him, but rather we defend against him, and we do it with the Word of God. Now verse 17.
"And take the helmet of salvation,..."
What does the helmet protect? Well the head, and what’s in the head? The brain, and what’s in the brain? The mind, and to look at the mind turn ahead to Philippians chapter 2, and then we’ll go back to Romans chapter 12.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7. but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8. and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
I think I emphasized a few weeks ago the death on the cross, I know I did in one of our Oklahoma classes. What made the death of the cross so unique so far as you and I are concerned? Not just the crucifixion, because they crucified them by the thousands back in Jesus’s day. But it was unique because it was on Him that all the sins of the world were placed. That’s the death of the cross. That my sin and your sin was laid on Him, and that is why Isaiah could write that He was more disfigured than any man that had ever lived. Because of that curse of man’s sin that was laid upon Him as He died that death of the cross.
But the point we want to see here is that it all come to us through the mind. The Spirit gives us understanding and we with our mental capacity except these things by faith. Now for a moment let’s follow the mind to Romans chapter 12, because we can’t take the mind out of this. It’s part and parcel of our makeup, and it’s through the mind that we function, spiritually as well as physically.
"I beseech (beg) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your (physical) bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. (There is nothing unreasonable or bizarre about that request at all is there? Now verse 2.) And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed (made totally different from the world around us) by the renewing of your mind,..."
This is where we have to start. We have to analyze it, and have to think of all these things that God has done on our behalf, and it has to be done through the thought processes, and you can’t do it any other way. I shared with a pastor in North Carolina, and he agreed with me so whole heartily, and it’s a verse that I like to use over and over and it’s almost a daily prayer of mine. So again turn with me to Acts chapter 16. This is when Paul and Silas went to Philippi. Now remember this is the first time that the Gospel had been on the European side of the Aegean Sea.
"And on the sabbath 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, heard us:(now here’s the part I always pray for. Oh Lord give me Lydia’s today. ) whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
Now that says it all doesn’t it? Even the apostle Paul, had the Lord not opened Lydia’s heart, how far would he have gotten? Well as we say today, not even to first base. But you see as Paul was laying out the Gospel of the Grace of God, how that Christ died for the sins of the world, and how He rose from the dead in power, and glory. And as Paul laid that out to her, the Lord opened her understanding.
Have you ever stopped to think that when the apostle Paul began his ministry among these pagan Gentiles, they had no knowledge of any of this. They had no knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures or the God of Israel. They had no knowledge of a promised Messiah and King to the nation. Oh they knew those Jews were different, but they knew nothing of Judaism or nothing of the Old Testament. And yet this apostle can come into these pagan cities and preach a crucified Jewish Messiah who rose from the dead and they believed it by the thousands. It was to such an extent that it literally penetrated and turned the Roman empire upside down, now this is unbelievable.
At least you and I, when we share the Gospel with people, hopefully they have a certain amount of knowledge of these things. They at least know the story of Christmas and Easter if nothing else, but these people had none of that. So the Lord opens their understandings, and immediately they could embrace it, they could believe it, and of course Lydia’s house, I think, became the very first congregation on the European Continent. But it took the Lord supernaturally opening the mind and the thinking processes of this lady so that she could comprehend what Paul was talking about. So always remember, whether it’s myself or you, or anybody else, we are just beating the air unless the Lord opens the heart and the mind to those we are witnessing to. Now coming back to Ephesians again.
"And take the helmet of salvation, (our whole process of thinking and believing it, taking it by faith. Now we come to the only part of all that’s listed which is a weapon. and what is it?) and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God."
Now I know you’re all aware that when they came to arrest the Lord in the garden, what did Peter draw and strike out with? A sword. I don’t know if it’s still there are not, but I was reading a gentlemen who wrote back in the 1800’s, and at that time in Rome there was a statue of Paul, and he had on his side this little Roman sword. It was not the big long battle sword, but rather what we would call a dagger. Then I happened to think of Peter the night of the arrest, so it must not have been unusual for these men to carry a defensive weapon on their person wherever they went.
I’ve often thought, and I know that he was under the Lord’s protection, but on the other hand the Lord sometimes in certain situations leaves us to our own abilities. But I often wondered, how did Paul survive those wilderness treks through Asia Minor where robbers and bandits lurked at every turn? Was he armed with something of self-defense? Maybe he was, but whatever, Paul uses the analogy that as a believer we do have the weapon that we can use in our defense, and you all know what that weapon is. "The Word of God!" Now let’s compare some scriptures again. Oh my, do we only have 30 seconds left? Quickly turn to Hebrews chapter 4.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
We also know that from the Book of Revelation, that you have the same analogy that God’s Word is the sword with which He fights.
Lesson Two • Part I
As Believers, Always Rejoice
Now we’ve got a lot to cover again today so let’s buy up the time and drop right back into our study. We were to start with the introduction to the Book of Philippians in this lesson, but as I was preparing for today, I happened to realize that it has been a long time since I had put the timeline that has brought us all the way from Genesis to where we are now. So for the benefit of many of you who have not been with us all that long, I’m just going to make a real quick review of the timeline. You have to start with the Old Testament program, and the reason I call it that is because there’s nothing in the Old Testament or in the four gospels that ever spoke of the Church Age.
The Church Age was something that was unknown, and as Paul puts it, "It was a mystery," and that mystery had been kept in the mind of God until revealed to the apostle Paul. Deuteronomy 29:29 is a verse we’ve used so often over the years where it says so plainly, "the secret things belong to God," and that’s His prerogative, because He’s Sovereign, and if He doesn’t want to reveal something, He doesn’t have to. So for the last 1900 + years God has been dealing mainly with the Gentiles, and it was His prerogative not to reveal anything concerning the Church Age, and this period of time we are now living in.
Now looking at our timeline, we have the first 11 chapters of Genesis that dealt with creation, and then the flood of Noah, and then the Tower of Babel, and by then the whole human race had again gone down the tube. And at that point, beginning with Genesis chapter 12, we find God pulls out of the main stream of humanity one man, and of course those people that come from this one man are going to go back into the mainstream at a later date. We find that when he pulled Abraham out of that mainstream, He gave him a covenant, and that covenant said that He would one day make out of that man a nation of people. That nation of people would be separated from all the rest of the human race, it was to be a covenant people. Then one day God would put them in their own homeland, and we find that delineated in Genesis chapter 15. That homeland was certainly not just from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, but all the way from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates River down to the Red Sea, and back up to the river of Egypt and that was all deeded to Abraham back there in that chapter.
Well as time went by we went through the Patriarchs and the appearance of Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 sons. Then Israel became a nation while they were in captivity down in Egypt, so that when Moses brought them out of that land they were now one of the largest nations in that part of the world. So from the call of Abraham and the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant we see God dealing almost exclusively with that Jewish nation.
Then when you get to Daniel, which was written about 600 BC, we find that Daniel was revealed a time outline for the nation of Israel’s next 490 years. Now those of you who have heard me teach for very long know that prophecy is directed only to the nation of Israel, and almost always within a time frame. In other words, when God first promised Abraham that the nation of Israel would be coming on the scene He gave it a time frame of 430 years. And it was exactly 430 years from the time of Abraham’s call until Moses took them out in the Exodus.
Well one of the major prophecies is the one in Daniel chapter 9, where God prophesies on the nation of Israel 490 years. So that 490 years, according to the Old Testament, took them on up to the cross, but also would include the 7 years of wrath and vexation after the cross, which we know has not taken place yet. So 483 years of that prophecy ended at the crucifixion, but since Israel did not receive their King, the other 7 years were pushed out into the future, but will still happen one day. Now to make this Scriptural we’ll need to go back for a moment to Psalm chapter 2 which I have always referred to as the outline of other prophetic programs, or the Old Testament program. I think it’s so easy to see and to follow so let’s just begin at verse 1.
"Why do the heathen (Gentiles) rage, and the people (Israel) imagine a vain thing? 2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers (again of Israel) take counsel together, (so you have Jew and Gentile now conspiring) against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3. Let us break their bands asunder, (that is the bands and control of the Godhead) and cast away their cords (reign) from us. 4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. 5. Then (that’s a time word,) shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. (that of course is the Tribulation that we feel is not too far in the future. That seven years will complete the 490 years that was prophesied on the nation of Israel) 6. Yet have I set thy king upon my holy hill of Zion."
Now in verse 6 we have the 1000 Kingdom reign that will come on the scene after the 7 years of Tribulation. So that’s all the Old Testament ever knew as you read the prophecies of Joel 2, and Zechariah chapter 14, Isaiah 11 and many more. This is the 490 year program in Psalm 2 that they are all referring to, it’s as plain as day. All the Old Testament speaks of that. That’s what Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24, and that’s all Peter could speak of in Acts chapter 2 because that’s all they knew. But in the mind of God, kept secret was this lower timeline that includes something that’s not on this upper timeline, and it’s this Age of Grace that we’re now living in. On this upper timeline Psalms chapter 2 is laid out just perfectly the way the program was supposed to have been completed. But on this bottom timeline since Israel rejected their King, God turns to the Gentiles through the apostle Paul, with this Age of Grace, and the 7 years of His wrath and vexation, and the 1000 year Kingdom rule has been pushed out into the future. And since this is something totally removed from the Old Testament program or prophecy, it cannot be mixed with prophecy so that’s why I am such an adamant proponent of the Rapture.
The Church cannot go into that which pertains to Israel, and the Tribulation is Israel. The whole Book of Revelation is directed to the nation of Israel. Matthew chapter 24 is only directed to the nation of Israel! Once people see that, then it’s easy to understand that, yes, if God is going to pick up where He left off with Israel up here on this top timeline, then it stands to reason that He has to remove the Body of Christ that we see on the second timeline, and take it out in what we call the Rapture of the Church. After that happens we will still have the unfolding of the rest of the prophetic program that is directed to Israel. 7 years of wrath and vexation, the Second Coming of Christ, and then the setting up of the kingdom. Now as soon as you can understand that process this old Book just opens up plain as day.
So much of the stuff that people send me pertaining to end time events from our television audience, bless their hearts they mean well, but they’ve got it all jumbled up together, they don’t separate anything, and I’m sure that’s the way they’ve been taught. I finally had one guy who said, "Yes we’ve got to rightly divide the Word of Truth, we’ve got to separate the New Testament from the Old." Well that’s over simplifying it. You don’t just separate the New from the Old because when you come into the four gospels that’s Christ earthly ministry, and promises being fulfilled in the Abrahamic Covenant to the nation of Israel. (Matthew 15:24 and Romans 15:8) And the early chapters of Acts are still Old Testament.
Now let me show you what I mean by that. Turn to Acts so we can see some of these verses that just scream at us to pay attention to whom it is written. Here in Acts chapter 3 so far as Peter was concerned he was up here on this top timeline. He was in this Old Testament prophecy and the prophetic program and he knew nothing of the mysteries that were revealed to Paul down here on the second timeline. Remember Peter wasn’t ignorant, he wasn’t out there by himself, he had the power of the Holy Spirit to direct him. Now we’re in Acts chapter 3, Pentecost was in Acts chapter 2, so this may be a week or so later, but whatever. Peter goes through another message to Israel telling them that the One they crucified was the Messiah, was the Christ, and then come all the way down to verse 24 and 25. I don’t see how God could make this any plainer if you really want to see it. The trouble is most people do something God wouldn’t do, they just put us Gentiles in the place of the Jews and Israel here and say, "this is for us. Don’t bother me with what the Scriptures really say!"
"Yea, all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days,"
Well what’s Peter talking about? Christ’s first advent. The whole picture, His coming, His ministry, His crucifixion, His burial, and resurrection was all in the Old Testament, and that’s all Peter had. It was all prophecy. So Peter says, "you’re seeing what they prophesied happen." But don’t stop there. Verse 25.
"Ye ( You Jews to whom he’s preaching) are the children of the prophets,..."
See that’s why I said this was predominately Jew only, because the prophets didn’t write to Gentiles, but only to the nation of Israel! Now the only time prophecy refers to Gentiles back here is how God some day will pronounce woe upon them for the way they have treated Israel, but nothing in the Old Testament is written to those Gentiles. When Peter is writing this Israel is still under the Law and look what he says.
"Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
So you see up here on this top timeline, Peter is still looking forward to this wrath and vexation, and he knew it still had to come, and also the coming of the Kingdom, because he’s still on the Old Testament prophetic program. Peter has no concept whatsoever that God is going to all of a sudden do something totally different and that He’s going to go to the Gentiles with the apostle Paul. Now the Jew had an understanding, that yes, they were to be vehicles to the Gentiles someday. In fact someone had that come up in their Sunday School class and was sharing that with me. Let’s look at Israel’s prospect they had of being the vehicle to bring Gentiles to the Lord. And to do that let’s turn over to the Book of Isaiah. There are many Scriptures that shows us this fact, but today let’s just start with chapter 42. Of course God hadn’t given up totally on the Gentiles, but they were going to have to be brought to Himself through the nation of Israel, they were the vehicle. But you see by the time we get to the apostle Paul, things have changed so much that the program is totally different than that. At that time God turns to the Gentiles without Israel. Oh He uses a Jew in the apostle Paul, but not as a vehicle of Judaism. But nevertheless God’s purposes for the nation of Israel was that they were supposed to be the light for the rest of the world.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: (the Him here refers to Christ, the Messiah) he shall bring forth judgment (rule, government) to the Gentiles."
Do you see how plain that is? Sure God had His mind on the Gentiles, but He’s going to do it through Israel. Now let’s flip on over to chapter 59. Now these are all verses that people who have been watching the programs for several years have heard it all before as we use these verses occasionally. But if you’re new to the program, hopefully this will help you see where I’m coming from.
"And the Redeemer (the Messiah, the Christ) shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
Now here you’ve got to know your Bible. It’s not speaking here of Christ’s crucifixion when He comes to Zion, but rather it’s to be their King! You see David ruled from Mount Zion, not from the Mount of Olives, or Mount Moriah, but rather from Mount Zion, so this is a reference to His coming to be the King so that He can reign and rule for those 1000 years. Now verse 21, and here God almost gives word for word the new covenant that He gave Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31, and is strictly to the house of Israel according to my Bible. But now come on down to chapter 60.
"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, (always remember that Isaiah is always writing to the Jews, the nation of Israel) and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (at Bethlehem when He was born and presented Himself as their King) 2. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, (the nation of Israel) and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (hopefully because they have embraced their King and their Messiah) 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy (Israel’s) light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
I’m always stressing that God separated totally the nation of Israel from the rest of the world. Let’s come back to chapter 32, but since we’re that close let’s also look at a verse that we talked about earlier. Here in Deuteronomy 29:29 this is so obvious. My goodness a child can understand this.
"The secret things (something that no one else knows,) belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." God can keep things secret, but when He reveals it, what are we to do? Believe it! Now turn the page to chapter 32 and verse 8. This is the verse we came here for with regard to Isaiah.
"When the most High (that is the name of God with regard to the Gentiles) divided to the nations (the Gentiles) their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel."
Now what does that tell you? At the very core of God’s dealing with the people of the world is the little nation of Israel, and you can’t take that away from them. I just shared with someone just the other night that if someone cast doubt on the Scriptures, and actually asked you, "Why do you believe that Book anyway?" You answer with one statement, "Because of the Jew!" The Jew is living proof that this Bible is supernaturally written, because everything concerning the nation of Israel is unbelievable. In view of the fact that they’ve been scattered into every nation under heaven, and now here they are thousands of years later, back in their homeland, back with their old original Hebrew language, that should have never happened. But you see this old Book said it would, and so it’s living proof. Now coming back to the Scriptures for the moments we have left let’s pick up again with the prospects that Israel had of being the vehicle to bring the Gentiles to their Lord, and that would be in Zechariah chapter 8.20, and this says almost the same thing.
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21. And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, (Jehovah) and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, (where His throne will be set up) and to pray before the LORD. 23. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
Do you see Israel’s potential? But when the Messiah came and presented Himself, proving Himself with signs and wonders, and miracles, what did Israel do? They rejected and killed Him! They said "nothing good can come out of Nazareth." So Israel dropped the ball, and they lost that opportunity of being this light to all the nations of the world. But it didn’t stop God. God just picked out one little Jew, a little fellow, and he turns the Roman Empire upside down, one man, and we’re going to be commenting on that when we get into Philippians. How that one man was such a vibrant testimony of the Gospel, that he just literally permeated that wicked, vile, Roman empire with the Gospel of the Grace of God aside from Israel.
See, Paul never did say, "You’ve got to go to Jerusalem and worship at the temple, or bring your sacrifices," but rather Paul said, "That’s all done!" Christ satisfied all the demands of the Law when He died on that cross, was buried, and rose in power and glory, and announced through this apostle something that had been kept secret in all the prophetic utterance. "We’re going to put this wrath on hold, God’s going to postpone it until a future date, and then God opens up this bottom timeline with at least 1900 + more years than Paul expected. Paul expected the Lord to return in his lifetime and take his little group of believers out in the Rapture. But here we are 1900 + years later and I think He’s going to take it out in my life time. Maybe He won’t but I’m just pretty sure that He will, but if not the Gospel of Grace will continue on primarily to the Gentiles, because Israel is blind as a nation to the Gospel.
I know there are some Jews that are saved, but for the most part they just can’t believe that He was the Christ, and so it’s predominately a Gentile period of salvation. But one day this Age of Grace is going to come to an end and the Body of Christ will be complete and Christ will call us out and up. He’s going to meet us in the air as I Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us. After that happens then God’s prophetic program will pick back up with the nation of Israel. At that time the wrath and vexation will come, followed by the Second Coming of Christ, and then followed by that glorious Kingdom on earth.
So always remember that the prophet program was something that Jesus never alluded to. Now He knew it, He could have told us the exact day and hour that the Lord would come, but since it was a secret held in the mind of God, He couldn’t. And if you’ll just check His language throughout His earthly ministry you will notice that there were times He could have made references to the Church Age, but He didn’t. He just glaringly leaves it out of the picture, and keeps it a secret, and so that’s why then the apostle Paul is always referring to the fact that he was the one to whom this revelation and secrets of the Church Age was revealed to.
Lesson Two • Part II
As Believers, Always Rejoice
Now hopefully after our last lesson on the review of the timelines, we’re ready to get into the letter of Philippians. Those of you who have been with us all the time know that in Paul’s letters so far we have come through Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and now we’re ready for the next letter that Paul writes, and that is to the Philippian Church. As you can see I’ve drawn a make shift map here on the board because I think a lot of people are not always aware of geography. We have Antioch up in Syria, directly North of Jerusalem which was the church that Paul and Barnabas left from to go on their first missionary journey, but that was limited only to Asia Minor which is now Turkey, and then they came back to Antioch.
The next journey, Paul took Silas with him and they were spending some time Ephesus. And then when they got to Troas, which is probably the old ancient city of Troy as we know it, they had intended to go back up through Bithynia and then back to Antioch. But while at Troas they received a call from the Holy Spirit to go to places that the Gospel had never been preached. So let’s look at that in Acts chapter 16 for a moment. This is more or less introductory to the Book of Philippians.
"Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, (central Turkey) and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed (intended) to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. (fairly close to the sea coast) 9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, (Northern Greece) and prayed (begged) him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us."
Well I had almost the same thing happen in the state of Washington recently. I received a letter from a group of people who also said, "Please come out here and help us." Well we did and my it was worth it. But anyway that’s another story. Here Paul gets the vision that they were to go across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia. Now verse 10.
"And after he had seen the vision, immediately (no argument, no debate, he knew the Lord was leading) we (Luke is writing this) endeavored to go into Macedonia assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."
Now remember the Gospel had never gone onto the European Continent before this. Now verse 11.
"Therefore loosing (they were going by ship) from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: (it was a Roman colony which meant that they had certain amount of freedom) and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13. And on the sabbath (remember Paul is still fresh out of Judaism, so it would be the Saturday sabbath) 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."
Now evidently Philippi did not have an official synagogue. There were probably not enough Jews in that part of northern Greece to warrant one. So evidently these were just a group of Jewish women who were having their devotions and so forth, because there’s nothing to indicate that it was a synagogue. Now verse 14. Oh my goodness this is one of my very favorite verses and you know it is.
"A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, (the most expensive of the clothing) of the city of Thyatira, (she was probably an up and coming business lady, and highly civilized) which worshipped God, (but was lost) heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
Notice Paul didn’t open Lydia’s heart, but rather the Lord opened it. And that Jewish lady who thought she had all she needed suddenly realized from Paul’s message that she was as lost as those pagans around her. I think I’ve shared this before, but I recently told a pastor out in North Carolina that I pray every morning for Lydia’s. I asked the Lord to give me people who hearts He has opened. Always remember we’re working for nothing unless the Spirit does the ground work.
Then as you continue on in this chapter you’ll find that Paul and Silas ended up getting beaten, and in trouble with the authorities, and thrown into the dungeon and that’s the story of the Philippian jailer and his salvation. So what you probably have here between Lydia and the Philippian jailer, and probably another few, are the very seed of the Philippian Church. So this is the congregation that is now grown over the years to which Paul is now addressing this little letter we are about to study. Now let’s come back and look at this letter to the Philippians which Paul wrote from Rome where he was in prison. There’s a lot of debate whether he had one imprisonment or two, and I don’t think it makes a lot of difference which is correct. We do know that he wrote all these prison epistles while in prison in Rome. That would be Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, and then the Romans would behead him in death.
Also for background in order for you to get just a little picture of what the man is talking about, the Roman Empire had almost forgotten a lot of the mythological gods, and it had become a worship of "Caesar," and in this case it’s "Nero." So it had come to the point that whoever was the Caesar at that time, the people worshipped him. So this even made it harder for Paul while in prison. It wasn’t so much pagan gods and goddesses that he was up against, but this whole concept that Rome was the seat of world power, they were the seat of world religion, because the emperor was now god. This also was what caused so much persecution among the believers, because when they made their allegiance to Christ, then that meant that they had turned their back on the Roman power and this is what brought in the horrible persecution.
Also remember that while he’s in prison, he’s right next to the palace of Nero. He’s probably associated more closely with the praetorian guards which were right next to the palace. As I was thinking on these things, I couldn’t help but remember when we were in Desert Storm, and we were up against we thought the most fearsome troops that Iraq had, and what were they called? The Red Guards. And what were? They were Saddam Hussein's personal guards. They were supposedly the toughest fighters in the Middle East. Well they didn’t turn out to be quite that good, but Paul is up against the praetorian guards who were probably battle hardened soldiers of the Roman Army who had come in as the elite to be the personal guards of the emperor Nero. Also remember that one of these soldiers was chained to the apostle Paul at all times. Early on Paul had the freedom of what we call house arrest, but by the time we get to his writing of these prison epistles I think they’ve got him more confined, and he is now constantly chained to these hardened Roman soldiers. And as we study Philippians I want you to see what an impact that man had even on those kind of men. So also use that as background as we begin our study.
"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints..."
Not just the Church leaders or the hierarchy, but rather this letter is written to the lowliest member of the Body of Christ. You know I’m always using the analogy of Tyndale’s prayer as he was being burned at the stake was "God, open the Kings eyes, and put the Word of God in every plowboy’s hand in England." How much education did those plowboys have? Not much, just enough to read some, but yet they were capable of handling the Word of God. So this Bible is not just for the highly educated or the theologians or the Clergy, but rather it’s for everybody regardless of our status. So back to verse 1 again..
"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus..."
Notice Paul never writes to the unbeliever. It’s always to the saints, the believers in Christ Jesus, and that puts a load of responsibility on us to share these things with the unbelievers. See that’s God’s way of doing thing. The unbeliever can read this, and can’t get anything out of it. It’s just Greek to him, and I’ve had that happen over and over and over. God doesn’t expect them to get anything out of it because He’s got the saints to show and explain it. So Paul writes to the saints.
"...which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
Now the word bishop throws a curve at most people. When we hear that word we normally think of someone in the hierarchy, up there at headquarters. No, the word in the original Greek simply meant "the overseers." Paul is just simply writing to some of the fellows who are more or less holding the group together. Now remember this isn’t a big congregation. Mostly we think today the Church as a great big plant with swimming pools, tennis courts, and basketball courts, and all the rest of the entertainment you can think of. But that’s not the New Testament Church at all. That Church was just a small group of believers, probably meeting in homes, and I think the true Church will come back to that before too long.
But whatever, Paul is writing to the bishops and deacons of this little congregation up there in Philippi. And of course which is in accord not only to the grammatical and the official way of addressing people, but Paul does this through all his letters.
"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,"
Now you’ve got to remember, what was Paul thinking of? I’m sure he thought of that very first experience up there in Philippi where the authorities had beaten him and Silas to a pulp, had thrown them down into the dungeon, and then God miraculously sent an earthquake. Do you remember all that? Now Paul was just as human as you and I, and I suppose every time he heard the word Philippi the first thing he thought of was that beating, that dungeon, the salvation of the jailer, of Lydia, and then years later he comes through Philippi and it appears that he was on his death bed. He was deathly sick, and almost no hope to recover, but the Philippian Church ministered to him, and he survived it, and he makes mention of it then on how close he was to death. So Paul had a lot of reasons for thinking pleasant thoughts of all that had taken place in Philippi. Now verse 5.
"For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day (when he first set foot in Europe and Philippi with those Gentile believers.) until now; 6. Being confident (now when Paul says confident he means confident. He means no doubt, no I wonders, this is it, I believe it with all my heart.) of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"
Now here again you’ve got to be a Bible student. What is "the day of Christ?" That’s only a Pauline term, and you won’t find it any where else in Scripture. "The day of Christ" will be the day that the Rapture takes place and removes the Body of Christ from the earth. Everything beginning at Paul’s conversion experience and the building of the Body of Christ, which is also a term used only by him, is waiting for the day when the Rapture of Church will take place. The dead in Christ will be raised first Paul says in I Corinthians chapter 15 and I Thessalonians chapter 4, and then we believers who remain and are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Now that’s "the day of Christ!" Remember everything written to the Church is written in that parenthetical unknown period of time. (Church Age) And it is leading up to "the day of Christ," which will end the Church Age.
Another term used in Isaiah chapter 2, and verse 12 is "the day of the LORD," Let’s look at that Scripture for a moment. Now this is back in the prophecy end again, and I would remind you that everything written to Israel is prophecy, it’s within a time frame. And the term day of the LORD is associated with this same prophecy and Christ’s Second Coming. Now here it is.
"For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:"
Can you see, that’s not Grace. That’s judgment, and judgment is coming upon the proud and the high and lofty, and all the verses that follow verse 12, and none of that is language for believers, but rather for unbelievers. And that’s going to be the day of judgment, the day of the Lord. Always remember that "the day of Christ" is not a day of judgment. It’s a day of suddenly being out of here for us Church Age believers.
Now let’s go back to Revelation and look at this day of the Lord, and coming judgment. Revelation of course is the picture of the whole 7 year period of Tribulation, and the accompanying Second Coming of Christ, which is all part of that day of the Lord, or the day of Jehovah, and it’s finally going to culminate then with chapter 19.
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God."
Well then you come all the way down through that chapter and come to verse 16.
"And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
And so that is the day of Jehovah, the day of judgment that is coming on the earth. But you see the Body of Christ never has that kind of language. The Church is never warned to look for the sun being turned into blood, and all these cataclysmic things that will happen. We’re not warned that these things are associated with what Paul calls "the day of Christ," but they are associated with the day of the Lord.
Now for a moment let’s look at Paul’s term, "the day of Jesus Christ." and let’s begin in I Corinthians chapter 1, and I just want you to see how often Paul uses this term. And remember no other writer does. The prophets never refers to the day of Christ, the four gospels don’t refer to the day of Christ, but only Paul, and that again should tell us something. This first verse we’re going to look at is almost a carbon copy of the verse we just read in Philippians, that he was confident that the Lord would keep these Philippians until the day of Christ. Now look what he writes to the Corinthians and remember they weren’t as noble as the Philippians. See the Philippians were a good bunch of people, I mean they were, I think, Paul’s pride and joy. The Corinthians to Paul, I think, were kind of a disappointment, they were a drag. They were carnal, and had a lot of divisions and problems where the Philippians had none of that. But Paul still writes the same things even to the Corinthians, and look what he says.
I Corinthians 1:8
"Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless (those Corinthians? Yeah that’s what the Book says) in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Isn’t that something? Now remember Paul expected the Rapture to take place in his lifetime, but even to these carnal Corinthians, he said, "If the Lord should come you’re going to meet Him, so be ready." Now there’s another one in chapter 5:5 and this is even more graphic. Now this isn’t license, this isn’t telling the believer to go ahead and do whatever you want to and you don’t have to worry. No way, because we’re still going to all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we’ve done in our bodies for our reward. Here Paul is dealing with the immorality in the Corinthian Church.
I Corinthians 5:5
"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, (physical death) that the spirit may be saved (when?) in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ,"
Now there’s the Rapture of the Church, "the day of Christ!" So even these immoral Corinthians, had the Lord come, they would have still been saved. Now he would have to deal with that sin at the loss of rewards because of it, but his sin was totally forgiven and taken care of, and I know many can’t understand how God can forgive such, but if God could kick out a true believer then it wouldn’t be Grace, and Romans 8:39 would be a lie. Now in II Corinthians 1:14 we have the next one.
II Corinthians 1:14
"As also ye have acknowledged us to part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus."
All Paul was looking for was the time when this great day of Christ would become a reality. Now the next one is in Philippians 1:10
"That ye may approve things that are excellent; (different) that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;"
The next one is in chapter 2, verse 16, and isn’t it amazing that only Paul was given by inspiration this wonderful term. Have you ever wondered why? Because only Paul writes about the Body of Christ. Well I see the program is ending to quickly for me, so we’ll pick this verse up in the next lesson.
Lesson Two • Part III
As Believers, Always Rejoice
Now we’re going to get right back into where we left off in the last lesson. I ran out of time so we’ll go back and pick that verse up. I was looking at it and didn’t have time to read it, and that would be in Philippians chapter 2. Remember we were talking about Paul’s term "the day of Christ, or the day of the Lord Jesus Christ" which is a reference to the end of the Church Age in what we call the Rapture. And only Paul was given this term to use.
Now again, teaching the line that I teach, I have to constantly remind people that when only Paul speaks of something, then mark it down that it is only for the Church, the Body of Christ. No other portion of Scripture refers to "the day of Christ." They refer to "the day of the Lord, or the day of Jehovah, or the day of the wrath of God." But Paul uses this term, "the day of Christ, " referring to the Rapture or the end of the Church Age as we know it. Now the verse I wanted to read in our closing moments was Philippians chapter 2:16
"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."
In other words, everything was looking forward and still is to "the day of Christ." It’s that day when the trumpet call will sound and we’ll be gone from this old earth. Now then let’s go back and pick up where we left off in chapter 1, and that would be in verse 7.
"Even as it is meet (appropriate) for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all (every member of that Church) are partakers of my grace. 8. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels (or the innermost being) of Jesus Christ 9. And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment:"
The average Christian today is so ignorant, and that doesn’t mean that they’re short on brain cells. It isn’t that they’re short on intellectual ability, but they’re short on teaching. I just look at so much of the stuff that people are being taught, it is just fluff. I haven’t been to a fair in a long, long, time, but it used to be we see kids running around with what we called cotton candy. I know what it is, it’s nothing but air they put in their mouth, and it disappears. Well that’s mostly what our Sunday School material is, it’s just cotton candy. The people take it in and there’s nothing there.
Well Paul is constantly praying that believers would gain knowledge. And you don’t gain knowledge of the Word unless you study it. My how we thank God for all the letters that come in that tell us, thanks to our program they’re studying the Bible. We want people to learn to study, and this is Paul’s constant prayer. Remember one of Paul’s prayers back in the Book of Ephesians, let’s go back and look at that one. And this is all so appropriate for every believer today, young or old. We even had a letter yesterday, that a 13 year old girl was watching the program. Well anyway this is for every believer.
"Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:"
You know I’ve given the example on this program over and over, that one of the most impacting things that I think has happened to me is when I asked someone, where he was coming from. And his answer was, "Who in the world is Jesus Christ?" And I thought, "In America we have this question?" In my part of the world? And now I’m finding out, that’s most people, they really don’t know who He is. They don’t know that He is the Creator of everything. In fact I was going to make reference to it a little later in the chapter, but I guess I can do it now. You know people probably sometimes wonder, "Why did the apostle Paul have such an allegiance to Jesus Christ?" Why should we just be willing to pour out our life for Jesus Christ? It’s because of who He is! He’s the God of glory, the Creator, the One who even today is in control of all the galaxies by the billions. And now the Hubbell telescope tells us, "they’re still out there exploding, and forming," and He’s in control of every bit of that.
Then someone like the Pope can go anywhere and people will flock to him by the millions just to get a glimpse of him or his airplane, and that’s their prerogative. I’m just making the comparison, why can’t they do that with the thought of Jesus Christ? But they don’t. You could announce that Christ is coming to some airport, and I don’t think you’d get a crowd, but tell them the Pope is coming and they’ll clog the interstate for miles around. Now listen the Pope is a human being like the rest of us, he puts on his pants like I do. He has to eat and sleep like anybody else, he gets sick, and one day and it probably won’t be too long, he’s going to die, why? He’s human. But oh the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of everything. And see, that’s beyond human comprehension. And this is all Paul is praying for, that we could get a little better grasp of who He really is. Now to complete our thought in Ephesians chapter 1 about the knowledge of Him.
"...may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18. The eyes of your understanding bring enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19. And (we can know) what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."
Oh listen, all of this is beyond human understanding. Now coming back to Philippians again and picking up with verse 10, and this is his prayer even for us today.
"That ye may approve things that are excellent;..."
Now it’s unfortunate that the King James translators used that word excellent, because every place else in the New Testament that Greek word is translated different, and read it that way.
"That ye may approve things that are (different) that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;"
Well what’s the difference? Well I read one commentary once and he said we have to determine the difference between right and wrong. Well maybe? But I think the things that really are different is "Law and Grace." See, the Philippians understood that. They understood that they were under the Grace of God. They had no compunction to try to go back to Jerusalem and carry out the feast days and temple worship. They knew better, because they had discerned the difference between where they stood in Grace and the Old Testament believers under Law. But there are millions today that still don’t know that difference. They think that somehow or other we’re still connected to that Jewish program, and we have to keep the commandments, repentance and baptism, and have to do this and have to do that or we’re lost. But no, no, no, under Grace there is none of that., "IT’S ALL DONE!" So many people try to bring what was under Law and put it over in Paul’s teaching. They try to hook something to Paul’s Gospel to try and make it complete. Listen it’s complete just like God wanted it as it sits in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 10:9-10, and other places Paul has written, and we just stand in His wonderful Grace.
So the whole concept here in this verse 10 is that these Philippians, and Paul is still encouraging us the same way, that we can discern the difference between God’s dealing with Israel under the Law, and His dealing with us Gentiles under Grace. And oh when you can see that, then this Book just opens up, and you’re able to rightly divide the Word.
And I know that it’s difficult for people to turn the Law loose, especially when Jesus and the twelve were teaching it, and I know it is. That’s why our Lord had Paul write that he, Paul, was our apostle and about five times tell us that he, Paul, was our example and we are to follow what he teaches in this Age of Grace, and most can’t accept that. But anyway determine the things that are different, and Law and Grace are so different. Ok now verse 11.
"Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
Now a verse comes to mind, and I hope I’ve got the right one in the Book of Romans, chapter 7. Now remember what Paul just said, "That we might be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which comes by Jesus Christ." Now drop in at verse 4.
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law (just like a spouse dies, and that spouse is no longer legally connected to the one who remains. so you are dead to the law) by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, (now you can’t be married to Christ if you’re still married to the Law. It just won’t work. So the Law has to be declared dead, and out of the way, so we can be married to Christ. See how plain that is?) even to him who is raised from the dead, (I’ve always said that salvation is not just a fire escape that most people think, but) that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
We’re to be producing fruit. Now then in a marriage relationship, first in the physical, what is the fruit of a marriage relationship? Children. Absolutely it is. We are to produce others that will take our place. Now it’s the same way in the Christian experience. Once we’re married to Christ, what should we look for? The result of that union, which should be other believers that we can take with us in the Rapture, or take our place when we’re gone if we have to go by the way of the cemetery. Now look at it again in that light.
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law (we’re under Grace) by the body of Christ; (His work of the cross) that ye should be married to another, (now we’re in union with Christ) even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
And the fruit is "New Believers!" That’s our job, and that’s why I’m always making the point, that it isn’t just the Church’s responsibility to save the lost, because lost people don’t go to Church anymore, they’ve got too many other things to do. So who’s going to reach the lost? You and I. And how can you do that if you’re not prepared. How can you reach the lost if you can’t show them a verse of Scripture? And that’s the problem. Oh, listen if America’s Christians get as sharp in the Word as the apostle Paul was, do you know what we would do in a matter of a year or two? We’d turn this country inside out. But the Christians won’t do it. They’re ignorant of the Scriptures and don’t want to learn, so they must be waked up. There must be that desire to be filled with the righteousness of Christ, and in turn bring forth fruit unto God. Now back to Philippians chapter 1.
"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;"
Now I imagine that most of us, if we had been in Paul’s shoes, would have said, "Why?" Here I was out there turning the Roman Empire inside out, I was getting Churches established, I was seeing these pagans glorious saved, now Lord why am I locked up in prison?" Isn’t that right? But what did Paul say? Hey it was for all the right purposes. Now you all know the verse and should be already thinking of it in Romans 8:28.
"And we know that all things work together for good (is this for everybody? No, but) to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
And you see that’s where Paul was, he was exactly where God wanted him. Even in that Roman prison right next door to Nero’s palace. And in the midst of the Praetorian guard, and here he says, "everything has fallen out to the furtherance of the Gospel." Now verse 13, and remember, why is Paul there? For the furtherance of the Gospel.
"So that my bonds (chained to a Roman soldier) in Christ are manifest in all the palace,..."
Now think about that for a moment. Things weren’t as big as they are today, but nevertheless Rome was quite the empire. All roads led to Rome in that day. Rome to the ancients was what Washington DC is today. The whole world goes to Washington and goes home with our money. And it was no different then. We’ve noticed that every place we go in the Middle East is tremendous Roman improvements. The great pillars, and buildings, streets and everything. Well listen, those poor pagan uncivilized people of that outer fringe of the empire didn’t have money for that in Paul’s day, so where did it come from? Rome. Where did Rome get it? Taxes. So things have never changed.
If you study Roman history, we in America today are lock step with them. Sure we are, we’re in lock step with the Romans. Everything that they saw happen to the Roman Empire, we’re seeing happen here today. All roads led to Rome, and now all roads lead to Washington D. C. Everything gets so big and corruption comes in that you can’t control it, it’s impossible. Well when that comes along pretty soon you’ve got more goods and services than you’ve got money, and so when there’s a shortage of money, what does every government do? Print some more, and when you do that you’re asking for inflation. That’s what happened to Rome. Rome killed itself from within with it’s gross immorality, but also with it’s inflationary economic practices. So as I’ve said, nothing changes.
So here is the apostle Paul in bonds, chained to a Romans soldier, and that guard would be changed maybe twice a day. And Paul is right next door to Caesar’s Palace. From what I can gather in my readings, it wasn’t the actual residence of Nero so much as it was the headquarters of Nero’s private guard. And then the platinum was where his actual residence stood which was right next door to the Praetorian guard. So Paul was in an eye shadow of Nero’s Palace, but his most contact was through these private guards of Nero. Now keep all that in your mind, because I’ve got a reason for bringing that up in just a moment.. Now reading verse 13 again.
"So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places."
Now hold that in your computers and come on over to the last chapter of Philippians, and let’s look at verse 22. Oh I hope I can get you to feel this. I mean I want you to feel this. Now I’m not much on emotions as you know because feelings isn’t a word in Scripture, but here’s something that I think we can all begin to feel.
"All the saints salute you, chiefly (or most importantly) they that are of Caesar’s household." Now come back and look at verse 13 again.
"So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;"
Here he is in bonds chained to Roman soldiers who rotated day in and day out. They were hardened veterans of the war campaign, and evidently many of them as a result of being chained to Paul for maybe 12 or 24 hours became believers. He must have had a tremendous power of witnessing. And as they rotated I’m sure some of them went on into the palace in the line of servitude. Now if you were in Paul’s shoes, and you were suddenly realizing that your testimony, your witnessing actually bearing fruit among these hardened Roman soldiers who were in turn bearing fruit in the very palace of the most wicked person that ever lived in Nero, what would it do to your emotions. Wouldn’t it just thrill you to death?
Consequently even though he’s in prison and in bonds and chained, what is the key word to the Book of Philippians? "REJOICE!" This man was literally bubbling over with joy in spite of his circumstances. I got to thinking, my wouldn’t any one of us feel the same way? We get letters from people that are picking us up in Washington DC and you wonder how close are these people to our government? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a letter from someone who actually worked in the White House? I think I’d get pretty excited, and I think you would also. Just to think that somebody right up in the upper echelons of our government are hearing me teach the Gospel, and getting saved, and spreading it around the capitol? Hey if that wouldn’t make me happy then they’d better get me out of this business. And if I would share that with you, what would you do? Oh you would rejoice with me, and see that exactly what he’s trying to tell the Philippians. Rejoice, the Gospel is penetrating the palace of Nero.
And for us here today, let’s get excited because we might be able to reach into some of the hallowed halls of Congress or our state capitol, because this man did. This man who was no better or any more gifted than anyone of us. Remember he was always bringing himself down to the level of an ordinary believer, but also remember he was the tremendous apostle Paul. Now moving on to verse 14 in the time we have left.
"And many of the brethren in the Lord, (the believers) waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
You know what these believers were doing? When they saw Paul’s circumstance and I think he’s still talking about some of these Roman guards, some of these employees or the slaves that were working in the palace of Nero, when they saw that joyful out look, and probably heard him singing hymns while in prison, it encouraged them also. Hey if he can do this under those circumstances, then I can too. And I think this is why this letter is written for you and I today, so that we can come out from not being confident, and realize that God can use you and me even though we’re common ordinary people, because this is the type of people to whom this Book is written. Now verse 15, and this is probably a bad verse to end the program on today.
"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:"
Now what does that mean? Well I think maybe some of the people that didn’t really like Paul, and they may have been some of the Jewish people who were trying to get rid of him thought they could get him deeper in trouble by proclaiming his Gospel out there, and telling people they had picked it up from Paul that guy you’ve got in prison. They were hoping that that in turn would come back and get him into worse trouble, but whatever, Paul says, "It doesn’t matter, as long as people hear the Gospel of Christ it’s going to touch their hearts, and finishing with verse 16.
"The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds;"
Now you see some people will go to any end to bring about a little bit more misery for a believer, and it’s always been that way. So even unbelievers can propagate the Gospel, it’s not the best way, but God can use it, and so always remember that the circumstances of this apostle in this prison in Rome is beyond our understanding, but on the other hand we can learn from it , and we can do many of the same things that he did.
Lesson Two • Part IV
As Believers, Always Rejoice
Now coming back where we left off in the last lesson and that would be chapter 1 and verse 17. Now for those of you who missed the first half hour or two, you want to remember that Paul is writing from a Roman prison just outside the praetorian guard in Rome right next door to the palace of Nero. Also remember that Nero was probably the most wicked world leader that ever lived. He made Hitler look like a Sunday school teacher. I was reading in some secular material just the other day that the horrible immoral practices that Nero would force his people in servitude was such that the ordinary civilize person wouldn’t put on paper.
Now I don’t know what it would have been, but you can use your own imagination. Well I tell you some of the things that he did to his own family to show how he had no respect for anyone. First off he had his wife Octavia killed so that he could marry Poppaea, a proselyte of Judaism, who of course encouraged all the activity against the apostle Paul because you know how the Jewish people felt about Paul’s apostleship. Not only did he have his wife Octavia killed in order to marry Poppaea, but he also murdered his step-son, and murdered his own mother Agrippina, and that was only a part of the personality of Nero.
So you want to remember for Paul to make inroads into a government headed up by a man like that, no wonder he was thrilled. No wonder he could say, "I’m ready to be offered, if it’s time for me to go, I’m ready, and if not, then I’ll carry on." Paul was experiencing the salvation of these Romans all the way into the very elite part of the Roman government. Now continuing on in chapter 1.
"But the other of love,..." Remember in our last lesson his closing remarks were, "Some people were actually promoting his Gospel in order to hopefully bring even more harm to him, but it doesn’t matter as long as people heard the Gospel of the Grace of God." Let’s look at verse 16 again.
"The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, (just for the purpose of making it harder on the apostle’s condition in prison) supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17. But the other of love,..." There were actually people now under all those horrible circumstances of Nero’s persecution which is going to grow intensely worse.
"But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel."
What do you think he’s talking about? When Paul would get his time in court. I think the apostle Paul just cherished those moments he had before King Agrippa and Festus in the Book of Acts, and that’s why he appealed to Rome, which was proud of their judicial system. They weren’t as complete a democracy as we are today, but remember they were a republic. Their laws were fair, and like us, they did not declare anyone guilty until he was proven guilty, or as we put it, "innocent until proven guilty."
So Paul, I think, was almost relishing another opportunity to come into a judge and jury situation where he could use the power of the Holy Spirit to just unload on these Roman magistrates. So he says, "I am ready for the defense of the Gospel." You want to remember that’s the only reason that this man is in prison. Paul hadn’t broken any law, or had been trying to overthrow Rome. Paul hadn’t been using any bad remarks about Nero or even the gods and goddess of mythology, but rather all Paul had been doing was preaching the Gospel that saves you, Christ crucified, and risen again. But when the Gospel would transform the lives of the makers of idols such as up there in Ephesus with the Silversmiths, it got him in trouble.
"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, (from these who were doing it simply trying to get Paul into deeper trouble) or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
Nothing thrilled the heart of that apostle more than to hear of someone saved, especially in Caesar’s household. I hope you all realize that Caesar was a title in Rome, like we would use the word king or president. Nero was the Caesar of this hour. Now verse 19.
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Now we’ve got to stop again for a moment. Does Paul think that all this activity is going to bring about his own salvation? Why heavens no! You know that Paul knew that many years before. Paul had his salvation, it was secure by his faith, but what he’s talking about is the out working of it all. Let’s read it again.
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation (freedom) through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Now I’m going to read between the lines, and I may be as wrong as wrong can be, but I think Paul was confident that with the prayers of the saints, and with his own ability to meet the magistrates and judge and jury of Rome, that he would gain his freedom. And that’s what he was saying in this verse. "Your prayers are going to bring about my salvation." Not his spiritual salvation, but his actually being set free from prison. Now some people think he was set free. You read some of your writers and it’s almost 50/50 as some think that at this particular time when he took his defense of the Gospel that he actually gained his freedom, and these people call it, "the two imprisonments" Then after being free for a year or two, and some feel it was at that time he went to Spain, but I don’t agree with this thinking. I think he only had one imprisonment, but whatever, if he did indeed gain his freedom then certainly this verse is apropo, that it was the result of the prayers of the saints.
Now don’t ever sell the prayers of the saints short. Iris and I don’t. My there’s nothing that we revel in more than your prayers. We just got back from one of our travels of 5000 miles, and to know that we’ve got people praying for us everyday all over the country, so we know that prayer works. It’s the same way with this television ministry, my we would have never dreamed we’d ever go beyond Tulsa, Oklahoma. I figured after 6 months it would be a dead duck, and we’d be out of here. Well here we are 9 years later and it’s still growing, people are being saved, and learning how to witness to others, and all because of the prayers of the saints. Now verse 20.
"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always , so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."
In other words, he speaking of his constant day in and day out testimony among these Romans. That reminds me of another verse and I imagine many of you also thought of this verse as we were reading verse 20. Go back to Romans 1:16 for a moment. I try to go slow to give everybody a chance to see the Scriptures for themselves, but every now and then I get a letter that says, "I go too fast." So I guess I’ll have to slow it down a little bit more and give you a chance to find these references. Here Paul is writing several years before he wrote Philippians.
"For I am not ashamed (do you see that?) of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation (for how many?) to every one that believeth;..."
Do you see that? There’s no condition of being baptized in water or anything else to becoming a believer of the Body of Christ. See, if God had put a price on salvation then people would have just flocked to it, because man always wants to do something himself. But He didn’t, it’s free! So Paul was not ashamed of that Gospel that he preached so freely. Now come back to Philippians, which I said was written several years later than Romans, and he has the same mind set. He’s still not ashamed of the Gospel or ashamed of being in prison. He’s been in prison more times than any of us would like to think of. And it was all for the sake of the Gospel, Remember Paul never did anything that was worthy of arrest and imprisonment.
"...in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."
I don’t put a lot of stock on secular news, but I have read that when Paul was a little ways from where they were going to behead him that he actually ran the last few steps to lay his head on the block. That’s a little far fetched, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened like that. How anxious he was to give his life for the sake of the Gospel., and always remember that Grace is sufficient. If something like that ever comes our way, and I hope it doesn’t, then God’s Grace will overwhelm us also like it did Paul. Now verse 21 says it all doesn’t it? Oh, when Paul realized that there was nothing more he could do to promote the Gospel, when he was convinced that his time was finished, that God had done everything with him that he wanted to do, what is he? He is so ready to go.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Now as you know, we’ve got it so good, that’s our problem. We’ve got it so good until maybe we’re on the death bed with a horrible painful cancer or something, and I’m sure that would change our mind. But most of us in our average existence have it so good that we’re not really anxious to die. I’m not anxious either! I don’t want to see death, in fact I hate death. Now I’m anxious for the Rapture, in fact I wish it would take place today, because you see that’s going to be a real easy way out of it all. That’s going to be tremendous, don’t have to lay in a hospital bed, or a nursing home, or anything like that would be great. It’s just suddenly going to be a whole new body, and everything for eternity, yeah I’m looking forward to that. But death? No, I don’t like death, but this man was so ready to die because it is to gain Christ. Let’s look at the flip side in verse 22.
"But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot (know) not. (why?) 23. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. (of course it would be better than a Roman prison) 24. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."
Now I don’t know how many times you or other people out there think about it, but have you ever tried to think about the circumstances that these new believers found themselves in such as up at Philippi and Ephesus and so forth? Here they are just recently out of idolatrist paganism, with all of its excesses. Those of you who have been over there have seen the evidence of the gross immorality everywhere you look such as in Pompeii, and Corinth, and so forth. How these people came out of that by simple faith in Paul’s Gospel, and then were immediately were confronted with persecution, and the threat of torture, how did they maintain their faith, and grow in it?
Because until Paul begin his letters, which was probably around 58 AD or about 5 or 6 years before he writes his prison epistles, they had no written New Testament to go by. They couldn’t read the New Testament and take comfort from it like we can. You also want to remember that the average Gentile certainly didn’t have the Old Testament, as that was pretty much confined to the synagogues and the rabbi’s. Those Gentile believers just didn’t have a lot going for them except the power of the Holy Spirit to keep them. So this is why he writes in verse 24 that if was more needful for the believer if he stayed alive.
"Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."
Hopefully Paul would be released and once again make the circle of visiting all the Churches that he had established. What’s the verse I’m going to? I think it’s II Corinthians? Come back with me, and I’ll find it in chapter 11, and we’ll just drop in at verse 22. Remember when I taught the Corinthian letters I was always emphasizing that Paul had to defend his apostleship, especially to the Corinthians. Because remember they were putting him down, and saying, "Well we’d rather follow Peter," others said "No we’re going to follow Christ, after all He proved who He was." Then along comes Apollos who was highly educated, and so he won a few. Some said "No, we’re going to stay with Paul." So he always had to defend his apostleship, that he was not an impostor, that he was invariably the true apostle of the Gentiles.
II Corinthians 11:22-23a
"Are they Hebrews? so am I. (that was in reference to the twelve back there in Jerusalem whom some said were the only ones with authority.) 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) (Paul’s humbling himself) I am more: (the ministers of Christ then they were, and here’s the reasons) in labours more abundant,..."
Remember Scripturally we have no account of the twelve ever leaving in ministry the area of Jerusalem. I had a letter from a gentlemen, that I’m quite sure was from the Catholic persuasion, because I have a lot of those folks as my listeners. But he said that he couldn’t agree with me on my statement that Peter had never visited any Gentile city, and I didn’t say that. I said that Peter had no ministry among the Gentiles. Now I know Peter visited Antioch in Galatians chapter 2, and I’m sure he visited Rome, and he probably visited other places, but, he had, according to this Book, no ministry except to the Jew! So consequently even though those twelve men were all martyred, they didn’t suffer the years of privation that this man did. Look what Paul says.
II Corinthians 11:23
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes (the 40 lashes) above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft."
What he means by that is near death. Remember at Philippi, he was sick nigh unto death, in Ephesus he seemingly escaped with his life as he said, "I escaped the beast in Ephesus." I don’t think it meant that he was in the coliseum and had to fight off the lions, but the beast of the pagan world. Then of course stoned to death for a little while at Lystra as he was caught up into the third heaven for we don’t know how long as we see in the next chapter, verse 2 and 3.
II Corinthians 11:23b-28
"...in death oft. 24. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day I have been in the deep. (Mediterranean Sea) 26. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (and then here it comes, the biggest burden of all) 28. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
He had a constant concern for all the Churches he had started. They may have been small compared to our Churches today, but they were precious in Paul’s sight, and he knew the pressure that they were all under. So he was constantly aware of and concerned about those little groups of believers that he had established. So all the other sufferings horrible as it was, did not press him down as much as the care or concern for these little cells of believers that he had established. Now come back with me to Philippians.
"Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." To encourage them, the keeping them from falling back into their pagan practices. To keep them ready for persecution or death, if and when it should come. Now verse 25.
"And having this confidence, (that God was in it all. That everything that fell out to his daily happening were in the providence of God) I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;"
In spite of all the hardships this guy had so much on which his memory could constantly feed. He could remember the time when he was a Jewish religious zealot, what did he do to the Jewish believers? Tortured them, threw them in prison. Saw to it that they were put to death. He couldn’t arrest them fast enough to satisfy that ravenous appetite of religious fervor, so that was constantly on his mind. How he persecuted those early believers. Then to meet the Lord on the road to Damascus, what an experience that must have been? To find out that the God of glory was the same one that he thought he was stamping out? Jesus of Nazareth was the Jehovah that he worshipped? Listen that was something that would knock anyone’s socks off, wasn’t it?
And Paul never forgot it, and then he moves on and all the converts coming out of paganism, and how he could see their lives just cleaned up, and brought out of gross immorality, and became living examples of faith. Even those Roman soldiers, I’m sure that as the praetorian guards would come in and they could almost sense that higher level of morality that was an aura around the apostle Paul. And they knew that here was something not so much the man, but rather the God whom he served. So I’m sure that all of these things just flooded the man’s memory and it would all give rise to a ferverance of his joy. So over and over Paul would say, "Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice." Now verse 26.
"That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again."
So what’s Paul looking forward to? Getting out of prison. He was pretty confident that he was going to beat the rap, and that’s why he was so ready for his defense. He honestly hoped that day would come, and like I said before, some feel he did get out of prison, and some feel he did not. Now verse 27.
"Only let your conversation (in some places the word conversation means citizenship, like it does in chapter 3, but here it means manner of living, your life style) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
That’s all that counted. He didn’t worry about how much food they had to eat. He didn’t worry about how many Cadillacs they had in their garage. All Paul was concerned about, is their faith that which would prepare them for eternity. But today we’re living in such a materialistic age that we are just sort of programmed to equate everything with the material. Oh yeah I’ll be spiritual if it’ll give me material blessings. Listen that’s not in here. I got a letter the other day where this person got a kick out of the time I made the statement, "I’ll never tell you to send me 50 bucks so you’ll get a thousand." Listen that’s not in this Bible, that is not the work of Scripture, but rather it’s our faith in the Gospel.
Lesson Three • Part I
Titus 2:13 Declares Jesus Christ as God
Well 9 years ago this month we started with this format of "Through The Bible" and we just trust that the Lord will continue to use this program for His glory. And how we thank you for letters that reveal that hearts which have been hardened for years and years the Lord has opened and brought to a knowledge of salvation. And also for those of you who for the first time in your life are now enjoying your Bible, and we just give the Lord the praise for it.
Now let’s turn to where we left off in our last lesson and that will be in Philippians chapter 1 and we had gotten as far as verse 28. And remember that Paul is writing this letter while he is in prison in Rome. As we pointed out in the first chapter he had already won numerous of the various Roman soldiers to a knowledge of salvation who had come in to be his personal guard. And we’ll see at the end of this letter these very same people actually became then, part of his greetings to the Philippian believers. So I think there is a theme of joy that comes out of this letter to the Philippians over the fact that he was reaching right into the upper echelon of the Roman empire. Now verse 28.
"And in nothing terrified by your adversaries which is to them (the adversaries) an evident token of perdition,..."
Do you know what that means? We read these things but we don’t really stop to think on them. It’s those who oppose the believers. Those who have brought persecution on the believers over the centuries have simply set their nose with flint to their eternal doom. And that’s not going to change. Anyone who opposes the Gospel, anyone who brings persecution on the believer, short of his own salvation of course, are headed for any eternal doom, now that’s what perdition means. So that’s what Paul is saying, "For those who persecute believers and bring pressures on us, are headed for their own perdition, their own doom."
But it’s also an evidence of our own salvation, when they bring persecution on us. You had better be careful if everybody has nothing but good to say about you. Because the unbelieving world really shouldn’t be able to complement us much because they don’t like who we are and what we stand for. So Paul makes it so plain to these Philippians that when the pressures from the outside world, whether it was the Judaisers or the Pagans or the Romans, come, it is evidence of their perdition and out salvation.
Also remember at the time of Paul, Emperor worship had almost superseded the god and goddesses of mythology. Mythology was still out there of course, but especially the intellectual community of the Roman empire was into Emperor worship. And every Emperor, Nero included, set themselves up as a god, and to be worshipped as a god. So along comes something like Christianity, and that flew in the face of Emperor worship, and so this is why Paul is making the point, that when someone opposes the believer, it an evidence of two things. The opposers are headed for their own perdition, and the believer a confirmation of what and who he is. Now verse 29.
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
Now that again is contrary to what most of Christendom has been led to believe in the last 50 years. Too many people have gotten the idea that when you become a Christian you’ve gotten a bed of roses. When you become a Christian the money just comes rolling in, your debts get canceled, and all of a sudden you’re just rolling in wealth. But you see that’s not what my Bible teaches. My Bible teaches that for the most part, when we become a believer we’re going to come under the hatred and the pressures of the unbelieving world. Yes we have that hope of His glory, the hope of eternity, but in the present life we do not have that much promise to us from the Scriptures.
I always have to remind us that we here in this great country have been so spoiled because we’re so blessed, and we do not realize how much Christians have had to suffer down through the hundreds and hundreds of years since the time Paul wrote this. Most of the time Christians suffered for their faith, most of the time they were driven from place to place because they didn’t conform. It’s only been since our beloved land has been blessed and we’ve had our constitutional rights that we as Christians have become complacent. It hasn’t always been this way, we are rare according to the annals of history, so we had better be aware that we may yet have to suffer for His sake. And that of course is more than compensated by the glory which shall be revealed to us, as Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8. Now verse 30.
"Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."
Now here I’m sure he’s making reference to all the times that he had to suffer for his testimony, which were the scourging and beatings, and imprisonments even as he writes. And all of these sufferings were for the sake of the Gospel. He was guilty of no law breaking, or anything else, but he had proclaimed Grace instead of Law and it was of course because of the accusations of the Judaisers. And here you have to go all the way back to what got Paul in prison in the first place. Remember when he started standing on the premise that you’re not under Law, you’re under Grace, and the unbelieving Jewish people and even the believing element in Jerusalem to a degree didn’t like that.
They came down on him even to the place of trying to take his life, and then of course while he was in prison in Caesarea, and couldn’t make any headway with the authorities, so he appealed to Caesar. Paul was convinced as a Roman citizen he would get a fair shake in the Roman courts. Well I imagine had it been anybody but Nero he would have. But Nero was such a horrible personality that it ended up in his martyrdom. Now chapter 2, and we come into the chapter that I could hardly sleep last night thinking about it, and how I could comment on especially after we get to verse 5, because these are some tremendous verses.
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels (inner-most part,) and mercies, 2. Fulfil ye my joy,..."
Now we pointed that out in chapter 1, what was pumping this man up with so much joy and rejoicing? The fact that Paul was penetrating the higher echelons of the Roman empire. He was actually seeing these hardened Roman soldiers come to a knowledge of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. Most of these soldiers carried out all the gruesome acts that Nero wanted. I read once that possibly one of these soldiers even killed Nero’s own mother and step son. So these were the kind of people that were in contact with the apostle Paul and were coming out of all that wickedness and that horrible sin background and becoming testimonies of God’s Grace. Hey that would be enough to make anybody happy, so here was the sound of his joy.
"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, (as joyful as I am) having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;..."
Now again, compare the life of the average Philippian believer in their mundane, everyday Christian experience, compared to where Paul was chained to a Roman soldier, with his life on the line. These Philippians could bicker over any little thing, and we’re no different today. And I think Paul is trying to get them to see that comparison. "Don’t bicker over little incidentals that amount to nothing, but always stop and think of my circumstance, what if you were where I am, then these little things wouldn’t seem so important."
Well it’s the same message for us today in this age of Grace. How many Churches bicker, bicker, bicker. Iris worked in the nursing profession, and worked with people from every background you can imagine. She came home once and said, "Isn’t it amazing what Churches will fight and split over?" Well one of her co-worker’s Church had just split because they couldn’t agree on the color of the upholstery for their new pews. Who cares what color the pews are? The only thing that should matters is "is the Gospel of salvation going out? So this is exactly what Paul is saying, " That they were not to be so concerned about the little nitty gritty things of everyday life, but to consider the fact that they are not where he is. Now completing verse 3.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Now that comes right back again to my definition of love. Do you remember what it is? "Seeking the other persons highest good." So this is exactly what he has in mind.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
Now he’s not advocating covetousness. Paul isn’t saying, Look at your neighbors stuff and wish you had it. But rather what he’s saying here is, "everything that you do with regards to your friends and neighbors and relatives, do it in the spirit that you’re going to seek their highest good." A verse comes to mind in I Corinthians chapter 13, the great love chapter. Maybe this is an appropriate place to go back and look at it again.
I Corinthians 13:3
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, (love) it profiteth me nothing."
Now here it comes, and this is exactly what he’s telling the Philippians and what he’s telling us.
I Corinthians 13:4-5
"Charity (love) suffereth (endureth) long, and is kind; charity (love) envieth not; charity, (love) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5. (love) Doth not behave itself unseemly, (or unnaturally, love) seeketh not her own, (love) is not easily provoked, (love) thinketh no evil;"
Boy when I read it like that you almost think I’ve got an NIV don’t you? But I don’t have, I’ll just stick to my King James Version. Now back to Philippians. So that’s exactly what Paul has on his mind in verse 4 and the Holy Spirit inspiring it. Looking at the verse again.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."(with that attitude of love, and not with an attitude of covetousness.)
Now I wish I had more time to complete the next couple of verses in this lesson, but we’ll get as far as we can and pick them up in the next lesson. Now beginning with verse 5, and this is the portion that I just about laid awake all last night thinking on how I can bring this portion out clearly so that anyone whether they’re 5 or 105 can understand completely what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:"
Now to put that in plain English, how would I put that? "Have the mind of Christ! Think as He would think." I always remind people when they say, "Walk in the footsteps of Jesus." Because I say tongue in cheek, what are you going to do when He gets to the shore of Galilee, and He keeps going? So it gets kind of hard to walk in His footsteps at times, but nevertheless, how can we think as He thinks? Well there’s only one way, and that is to be saturated with the Word, literally saturated.
My goodness I was talking to a lady last night who said there was an elderly gentlemen in her community, whose heart was as hard as nails for years. She said nobody could ever talk to him about spiritual things, and finally as he was in the final stages of chemotherapy, which wasn’t working, but nevertheless, this lady talked to the guy’s wife, and wanted to know if he had ever softened up on spiritual things? She said "Yeah, all of a sudden he doesn’t want to do anything but read his Bible." So this lady offered this gentlemen’s wife some of our little books for him to read, and she said, "Wait a minute, there’s only one guy that my husband listens to, he’s a tall fellow who teaches from a music stand." So to make a long story short the Lord opened the old boy’s heart and he had just literally begun to saturate himself with the Word.
Now isn’t it sad that some people waste a whole lifetime of perhaps 90 some years and then finally in the last few months of his life, they can begin to do what they should have been doing for a long time and that’s to study the Word of God. But you see this is the secret of having the mind of Christ, we just literally saturate ourselves with the Word, but remember, God doesn’t expect us to get so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good. And that’s possible. I mean people can just simply get freaked out and can think and talk about nothing else. Now that isn’t what God wants because we’re still functioning in this old body here on the earth. But when it comes to having the mind of Christ, there’s only one way, and that is to just be in the Word.
It’s the same way with witnessing. I tell my Oklahoma classes the reason that most Christians don’t witness is because they’re so ignorant of this Book that they’re scared to open their mouth. They know if somebody asks a question, they’re immediately backed into a corner and can’t answer it. Now that’s not God’s fault. God has given us the wherewithal to study, and to become skilled in the use of the Scriptures. I don’t care who it is if they know their Bible, and if they can at least show people where a few things are written, they don’t have any trouble witnessing. They don’t have any trouble talking about the Lord, because they’re confident. But the average believer doesn’t have that, so consequently he clams up. But isn’t it sad, because all they have to do is simply get into the Word.
You’ve heard me say it on this program probably dozens of times, that if old William Tyndale wanted a copy of the Scriptures in the hand of every plowboy in England, what does that mean? You don’t have to be college educated to understand this Book. The Holy Spirit gives us what we need, so whoever we are, don’t just say, "Well I can’t understand it anyway, so I’m not going to spend time reading it." No, if you get into the Word, the Holy Spirit will begin to open your understanding. So looking at the verse again.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:"
Even though we can’t obtain to His perfect righteousness, we can’t obtain to Who He was, because He was God. But we’re to endeavor to be more like Him tomorrow than we were today. We’re to endeavor today to have more of a mind to think like Christ does than we did yesterday. In fact let’s look at another verse on this in the Book in Romans chapter 12.
"I beseech you therefore,..."
Because of everything he had written in these previous chapters, especially the first 8 chapters. Remember chapters 9, 10, and 11 are parenthetical. So what Paul wrote in the first 8 chapters is what I think he’s referring back to here with the therefore.
"I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, (not sinless perfection, or that you sprout a halo, but holy simply means that you’ve been set apart, you’re different, you belong to God, you’re no longer a part of the world. So this is what we are to be, holy,) acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
See God isn’t unreasonable. God’s knows we’re made of dust. He knows we’re sons of Adam, He knows all these things, but He does expect your reasonable service. Now the verse I wanted to come to.
"And be not conformed to this world: (we’re to be different) but be ye transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind,..."
Now we’ve got to remember that everything we say, do, and see comes and goes through our mind. The mind is the core of everything. You look at me and the first thing the mind tells you is my name or whatever the case may be. You can look at a wall and the first thing your mind tells you is what you’re seeing. It’s the same way spiritually then, that if our mind is lined up with the things of God, and according to the teachings and exhortations of the Holy Spirit then our mind is going to think as God wants us to think. I read a cliche the other day, "A person is what he thinks!" So if our mind is on the world’s garbage then that’s the way we’re going to think. If on the other hand the mind has been saturated with the Word of God, then that’s what we’re going to think, and it’s going to start showing.
"...that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
We get letters that ask, "How can I know the will of God?" I’m sure everyone of us have asked that question. Well I think you put all this I’ve just said in this lesson in a thought, "By being saturated in the Word." And when we’re saturated with the Word, then God operates through our mind which is now the mind of Christ and we will begin to fulfill the will of God. I for one have never gone out and just knocked down doors so that I can do something for the Lord, that hasn’t been my style, and still isn’t. I wait till the Lord opens doors, and I think that’s still the proper way of doing it. And as we wait for these open doors, and go ahead signals, then we end up in the will of God. And as long as we don’t rebel and say, "I won’t do it," God will get us where He wants us. Remember this is the reason that He’s left believers on the earth, so that we can function as emmisaries of His Grace, and that we can constantly be promoters of the Gospel of Grace.
Now coming back to Philippians chapter 2 for the few seconds we have left. Let’s read verse 5 again and then verse 6 which we’ll pick up in our next lesson.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (now I’ll go on into the next verse although we won’t have time to comment on it. Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ) 6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (He did not think it was something that He was grabbing that was not rightfully His) to be equal with God;"
Why? Because He was God! My, the Scriptures declares that He was God. I know there’s one particular group that their main hang up is that they just can’t believe that Jesus Christ was God. You can show them some of these verses and they’ll say, "Well that isn’t what it means." Well it’s hard to deal with someone like that, but I guess my favorite Scripture to prove to them that Jesus Christ is God is found in Titus chapter 2.
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
There’s no room to argue with Scriptures like that!
Lesson Three • Part II
Titus 2:13 Declares Jesus Christ as God
As most of you realize Paul’s letters begin with Romans and I like to give Paul credit also for Hebrews, so that would mean that this apostle wrote over half of the New Testament. But his prison epistle which begin with Ephesians were written from prison in Rome, and are head and shoulders doctrinally and positionally ahead of the other epistles. So these prison epistles are really meat for the soul. Now back to Philippians chapter 2 where we left off in the last lesson in verse 6.
"Who, (speaking of Christ in verse 5) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:"
Now we always have to remember and especially when we get into these succeeding verses never lose sight of who Jesus Christ was, and is, and always will be. He is the Eternal, Sovereign, Creator God of the universe, and nothing less. I know there are a lot of groups that have trouble with that, but He was God in the flesh. Consequently He did not feel that when He claimed to be God that He was grasping for something that was not rightfully His. And that’s what it means here then when Paul said. "...He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Because He was God. He could rightfully claim to be God. Now verse 7.
"But (as the Eternal, Holy, Righteous, Omniscient, Sovereign God) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"
Now you want to remember the word servant in the Greek was, "a bond slave." literally a bond salve. And of course there were various categories of slaves, but I think the epitome of slavery, at least back in the ancient times, was to be that poor fellow on the bottom part of the ship pulling the oars. I mean those were slaves, and they sat down in the holes of those ships and pulled those oars until their hands were like hamburger, and when they died they pitched them overboard and put another one in their place. Now that was a bond slave, and of course they had other categories, but this is the one that I usually think of. It was someone who was delegated to a horrible kind of a life till they died, and that was most of the ancient world.
Very few enjoyed the comforts of life that we do. It was just a small percentage, and most were wealthy that would enjoy life. Now this is what precipitated the French Revolution, not that it was right but the masses had been held down, and caused so much suffering for so long that finally like a seething pot, just boiled over. But whatever, so Christ made of His own volition Himself a bond slave, at the lowest of human categories, made in the likeness of men:
Now come back to Genesis chapter 18 which I usually teach as an event in the Old Testament account, to show us so graphically how God would come down and appear to the Patriarchs in human form. But of course back here in the Old Testament it was temporary, and as soon as He had accomplished that particular purpose for coming down and appearing in this case Abraham, He would just simply disappear and go back into glory and to the Godhead. But He still appeared to these people in human form which was all just a precursor of when He would finally come in the flesh at Bethlehem, not for a little while, but to be confined to that body of flesh and bone I feel all eternity. Now verse 1 of Genesis chapter 18.
"And the LORD (that’s Jehovah, God the Son in the Old Testament terminology) appeared unto him (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre; and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day: 2. And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him. and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground."
Now men have always looked like men. There wasn’t a time when they had funny looking ears and eyes that bulge. Men have always looked like men. They did not have wings or glowing halos around their head, but rather they were three ordinary wayfaring men from their outward appearances. Now verse 3.
"And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4. Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, (ordinary human feet) and rest yourselves under the tree:" And for sake of time let’s come on down to verse 8.
"And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; (these three men) and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat."
All three ate, but who are these three people? Well one is the Lord Himself, and the other two are angels. But do you see what happened? They came down in human form, came walking up to Abraham’s tent, and Abraham recognized them as wayfaring strangers, and show his middle eastern hospitality, and fix a meal for them. Little did he know that one of them would be Jehovah God Himself. Now it was the same way with Jacob. Remember he wrestled with a man, not some figment of his imagination as the scoffers would say, but rather Jacob wrestled with a flesh type human being. But this man was the Lord in a temporary appearance and then He went up from Jacob.
But you see when He comes by the way of the virgin birth, He is the same God, but instead of just all of a sudden appearing, He comes all the way through the birth of a woman. He comes through His childhood, He comes into manhood, and He begins His ministry at the age of 30. He begins to show by His signs and miracles His Deity, who He really was. People could touch Him, they could shake hands with Him, they could eat with Him. But yet when He was on the roaring waves of Galilee He could raise His hand and simply say, "peace be still," and what happened.? The wind died down, and the waves became normal, and the disciples were just amazed, and what did they say? What kind of a man is this, that even the wind obeys His voice.
Well I’ll tell you what kind of a man He was, He was God! He never, never, stopped being God! In the womb of Mary He was still God! As a little child playing on the streets of Nazareth, and in the carpenter shop, He was God! As He confounded the doctors at the age of 12 there at the temple, He was God! So never lose sight of that. Now coming back to our text in Philippians chapter 2. Remember He didn’t look any different than any other man during His three years of earthly ministry. They couldn’t look at Him and say, "Oh that’s the God-man." He looked just as normal as anybody else. But when a particular situation demanded it He could show His Deity that He was God in the flesh. Now verse 8.
"And being found in fashion as a man, (from all outward appearances, and His daily activity, not a higher echelon man, but rather a lower echelon man. Joseph and Mary were probably next to poverty. He lived as a bond slave, that was his level amongst humanity.) he humbled himself,..."
The government authorities of Rome didn’t humble Him, the priesthood in Jerusalem didn’t humble Him, but rather He humbled Himself It was of His own freewill, of His own volition, He brought it all to pass. Another verse comes to mind that I hadn’t intended to use, but let’s turn to Acts chapter 2 for a moment, and let’s look at verse 22 and 23. You’ll recognize it as soon as you see it. Peter is preaching to the nation of Israel on the day of Pentecost.
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man (see, Peter doesn’t call Him the God-man) approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God (in His whole triune being of course) did by him in the midst of you, (up and down the towns and villages of Israel) as ye yourselves also know: (most of them had seen at least some of those miracles) 23. Him, (Jesus of Nazareth) being delivered (up to the cross) by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, (God had programmed all of this. God had drawn the blueprint, that when men would sin, He would provide a Redeemer, and that Redeemer would have to go to a Roman cross) ye (Israel) have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
So that was all in the foreknowledge of God. Now coming back to Philippians chapter 2 again. So when Christ sent His eyes of flint toward the cross it was His own volition, although the whole Godhead is certainly involved in the operation of it all. Now verse 8 again. I’m going to spend the rest of this lesson on that verse.
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became (again because of His own volition) obedient unto death (not just an ordinary death) even the death of the cross."
Now this is what I want people to realize, it wasn’t just the crucifixion by itself that made this so unique, because thousands of people were put to death by crucifixion under the Roman emperor. Nero at one time had 2000 crucified and placed on each side of one of the Roman roads so that he could ride up and down the road between them with his chariot and gloat at their suffering. So you see the crucifixion alone was not what made our faith in the Gospel unique. But I’ll tell you what made it different from everything else, and if I don’t teach anything else today that will sink into the minds of people, this is what I want it to be.
When Christ died on that Roman cross every sin of the whole human race from Adam until the last person before we go to eternity was laid on Him. Now imagine all the horrible sins and guilt of a Hitler was laid on Christ. Every sin, thought, and deed of a man like Nero was laid on Him. Every wicked person that you can ever conger up in your mind, every sin, was laid on Him, on that cross. That’s what we mean by the death of the cross. So nothing short of the power and the might and the Holiness of an Omnipotent Creator God could have even thought of doing such a thing.
Listen, there is not another religion, if you want to call it that, on the face of this earth that can claim to have someone within their belief system that can claim to have all the sins of the world placed upon them. Mohammedism couldn’t do it, because he was human regardless what the Moslems may think, he was still human. The head of the Buddhist religion couldn’t do it or the head of Hinduism couldn’t do it, Joseph Smith couldn’t do or any of these other cult leaders couldn’t do it. There has never been another individual that could have ever come close to taking every sin of every human being and have that sin put on him, and this is what we have to understand. Now let’s look at a verse in II Corinthians, chapter 5, and maybe this will sort of explode in your mind, at least I hope it will. This is a verse that we all know, but do we really contemplate the impact of a verse like this? What does it really say? God, up in verse 20 is the point of reference here.
II Corinthians 5:21
"For he (the God of verse 20) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, (in other words He took my sin when He was on the cross. He took your sins, and took the sins of every human being, even the most wicked, the most ungodly, to be sin for us,.) who knew no sin: (of course not for He was God, He was sinless, and for what purpose?) that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Now there’s another verse in Isaiah chapter 52 that we haven’t used in a long time that fits here also. The last time I used this Scripture I got several letters from people who were all shook up because they never knew that this verse was in their Bible.
"Behold, my servant (there’s that reference to bond slave again) shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. (and we’re going to see this a little further on in the Book of Philippians) 14. As many were astonied at thee; his visage (His outward appearance) was so marred (or disfigured) more than any man, and his form (His whole bodily appearance was so disfigured) more than the sons of men;" (more than anyone in human history)
Now you know what that tells me? No wonder Mary in the garden the morning of the resurrection, couldn’t figure out that it was Jesus. Just put yourself in her shoes. This description in verse 14 is what she saw hanging on the cross as they left to go home. This is the mental picture of the Christ hanging on the cross before Joseph of Arimathaea put Him in the tomb. And then to suddenly wake up and see Him in the dim early light, seeing someone standing there who looked very normal, - do you see what I’m driving at? This is why she couldn’t comprehend that it was Him, because as He stood there in front of her He had come back in His resurrected body looking very normal. That’s why she thought He was the gardener.
But listen the sins of the world were all placed on Him and that’s what makes this verse in Philippians so outstanding. That Christ was obedient to death, not just a death of taking away His life or an ordinary crucifixion, but when it says, "even the death of the cross." This is what I feel the Scripture is trying to tell us, that His death was so horrendous, and that no one but the Sovereign, Eternal, Creator, God could have attempted to do such a thing, but He could, and did for you and I. See that’s what makes Christianity all by itself. This is why no other religion of the world can even come close, because they have no one that could make the claim that He has taken all their sins and put it on Himself.
So here again this is where you and I have to stand up and let it be known that all the religions of the world are just so much fluff, because they can’t make this kind of a claim. They can’t deal with men’s sin. All they can hope to do is evaluate man morally that maybe by his works he can make it to heaven, and we know that God will never buy into that. I was so thrilled after our seminar up in Minneapolis the other day about a very distinguished looking gentlemen that came up, and told me that he was a retired pastor, from a different denomination than mine. But he came up and told me, "I am so thrilled that you proclaim the same exclusive Gospel that I do."
Well I’ve used that word before, because it is exclusive. It excludes everything else, and stands head and shoulders by itself! We’re going to see that a little later on in this chapter, that the name of Christ stands above every name. And then we have people dare to claim that they have another way of access to God. How ridiculous can they get when they have no sin barrier such as we have! See this is what you have to have. You have to have a sin barrier, because we can’t take our sin into glory, and eternity, it has to have been dealt with, and it was at Calvary! And then all we do is appropriate it by believing it! By just simply believing it.
Hitler could have believed that his sins were paid for, realizing that Christ had done it all, and had been raised from the dead, and he could have gone into glory, just by believing that for his salvation. As horrible as he was, his sins were already paid for, they were already laid on Christ, but you see he no doubt rejected it in unbelief. And you can think of any other horrible individual, and that’s exactly what Paul mean in Romans chapter 5. Let’s look at that portion for a moment. This says it a lot better than I could.
"Moreover the law entered, that the offence (or sin) might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:"
So no matter how hideous the sinner, or how heavy his sin load is, it’s all been laid on Christ, even the death of the cross.
Lesson Three • Part III
Titus 2:13 Declares Jesus Christ as God
Now as we’ve been coming up through with our study of "Through the Bible" we’ve pretty much been going verse by verse in Paul writings, because you want to remember that Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles. Paul is the one who has everything that is apropo for us today in this age of Grace, and that’s why we spend so much time in Paul’s writings. Let’s begin with Phillipians 2:9.
"Wherefore (because of what we just explained in our last lesson how that Christ was the Eternal, all sufficient Omnipotent God of everything. And as such He could indeed take the sins of the world on Himself. No one else could have ever come close to doing that, but He did. Consequently wherefore) God (the Triune God) also hath highly exalted him, (God the Son) and given him a name which is above every name:"
Now I had a gentlemen call me the other day, and was all upset that his daughter had gotten into some kind of a cult where they worshipped angels. He tried to tell her that was not Biblically correct, because Christ died for you, and rose again. And do you know what her answer was? She said, "Daddy that’s all old fashioned." Now isn’t that sad? Well let’s hope and pray that maybe someday she’ll have her understanding opened also. But listen, there is no other name, He is the only One. And because God has given Him a name that is above every name look at what has to take place in verse 10.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee (from Adam to the last human being ever born) should bow, of things in heaven,..."
Even the angelic. Yes the angels bow to Him because they’re beneath Him. In fact let’s look at a Scripture in Hebrews. While in Minnesota the other day I taught a study in the Book of Hebrews, and a lot of those things are still on my mind. Let’s look at Hebrews chapter 1 for a moment. And if one has been swayed to worship angels, then I’m sure there many, many others, and maybe someone can hear this, and be brought to their senses.
"And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, (declaring Christ as God again) is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom."
Now drop on down to verse 10, as there is so much in here and we can’t take time to read it all.
"And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; (He’s the Creator) and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11. They shall perish; but thou remainest: (because He’s from everlasting to everlasting) and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, (the Creator will, and recreate) and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (now verse 13) But to which of the angels said he (God) at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"
But who did He say it to? God the Son. He said it to Christ. And go on over into chapter 2, and verse 5.
"For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, (angels don’t have that kind of power) whereof we speak. 6. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visited him? 7. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet...."
Why? Because He’s the God of glory, He’s the creator of everything, and when He humbled Himself and made Himself subjected to the death of the cross, that then set Him up to become even more the God of glory, and the God in whom we can place our trust. Now coming back to Philippians chapter 2 for a minute and then we’re going flip over to a couple of other portions of Scripture. Iris, you can be turning to Acts chapter 4, verse 12, but for those of you here in the studio, let’s look at verse 10 and 11.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, (even the angelic host) and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Now coming back to Acts chapter 4, verse 12. In fact let’s go up to verse 10 to begin. That one is too good to miss. This of course is Peter up in verse 8, filled with the Holy Spirit.
"Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him (Christ) doth this man stand here before you whole. 11. This is the stone (speaking of Christ) which was set at nought (aside) of you builders, (Israel) which is the head of the corner.". (which Israel rejected)
Now verse 12 which fits so beautifully with Philippians.
"Neither is there salvation in any other: (what is that? Exclusive! There is no other name, there is no other way. I don’t care how intellectual or politically correct they may get,) for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Now that’s what the Book says. And then some come back as scoffers and say, "Yeah but that’s only what the Bible says." Also always remember there is no other Book except this Bible that can tell the prophecies this Book can. There isn’t another Book that could foretell things that happened 3,000-4,000 thousands of years in the future, but this Book can. There isn’t another Book that foretold the fact that Israel would be dispersed into every nation under heaven, and yet one day toward the end would be pulled back to her homeland and revive her Hebrew language, but this Book foretold that! So we can just rest on this Book that by virtue of the fulfilled prophetic statements that when this Book says there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved, this is truth. This is what we have to rely on, and all mankind is going to be held accountable to, "Have they believed what the Word of God said."
Another good one is found in I Corinthians chapter 3. Coming about again to Paul writing to the Church at Corinth, and we can start with verse 9. Remember Paul always writes to believers. He doesn’t write to the unsaved world at all. And as he writes to the believer, the message will go to the unbeliever.
I Corinthians 3:9-11
"For we are labourers together with God: ye (believers) are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, (the head architect, the head contractor, that’s Paul) I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. (including you and I as believers) But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, (it’s already done, and that foundation) which is Jesus Christ."
There is no other! And there can be no other! So you put all these things that we’ve been talking about today, and base it on the fact that Christ was the Eternal, Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, Saviour, God of the universe. And it’s on that finished work of the cross, that death where all the sins of the world was laid on Him, and consequently when He was victorious over that in His resurrection from the dead, in that victorious power, God can now declare that it’s at THAT NAME, that every knee shall bow.
Now I know there are some evangelists who like to put it this way, "You’ll either bow in this life and become a believer, or you’ll bow in the next life, and admit that you deserve what’s coming." Well that may very well be the fact, but I’m going to have you come back with me now to Revelation chapter 20. And this is indeed where every knee will bow, that has never recognized Him before. Now for you and I as believers we have no problem bowing before the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether it’s on our knees in prayer or whether it’s in our mental attitude, we have no problem whatsoever kneeling before the Lord Jesus Christ.
But the world out there tonight will have nothing to do with Him. The great empire builders, they’ll never bow their knee to the carpenter’s Son, but they will someday. I don’t care how powerful they’ve been, or how many armies they’ve marched, the day is coming when Alexander the Great, and the other great world leaders are going to stand right here in verse 12. And here they are.
"And I saw the dead, (of all the ages) small and great, (from the lowliest unbelieving slave to the highest unbelieving king) stand before God;..."
Now we know from other Scriptures that the person of God will again be Jesus Christ. He’s been the saviour of mankind, but here He’s going to be the judge. Here all the unbelievers are going to come before Him one at a time. He’s not going to deal with the unbelievers in mass, but rather they’ll come up before Him one at a time. And as the Lord spoke in His earthly ministry, what are they going to say? "But Lord didn’t I do this, and that in your name? And what’s the Lord going to say? "Depart from me I never knew you." Now beginning again with verse 12 again.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened..."
The record of their life, and they’ll see that every bit of their record is true, and when He condemns them to their eternal doom, there will be no more argument. And every knee will bow before Him, and recognize that He is indeed who He said He was. Now back to Philippians 2:10. I mean this bears repeating. Oh I wish you could wake up and see this verse in your sleep.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12. Wherefore,..."
Because of all these things we’ve just seen in these preceding verses. Because all the sin of the world has been placed on Him, and consequently through the power of resurrection God has raised Him from the dead, and has declared Him to be the greatest name that anyone could ever hope to worship.
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,..."
Now let’s stop a moment. I’ve made this point before. You want to remember that wherever Paul went in his evangelistic endeavors, in his missionary journeys, he was the first one into town with the Gospel of Grace. He did not have any forerunners, or any advance men setting up the stage as evangelists do today. But rather he had to go in unannounced totally at the power of the Holy Spirit. And then when he would bring these pagans out of their pagan darkness, and establish these little groups of believers, he could not hand them all a Bible, and say, "Just keep studying the Word, and God will be with you." Remember there was no printed New Testament. His own letter that we have today did not come about until 15 or 20 years after he began his ministry. So they had to be left to pretty much shift for themselves, and waited for gifted men to come up in their group that again would have the gift of speaking the truth of God’s Word.
You know when I look back on these things and see all the pressure from Rome, from the Judaisers, from the mythology people, how did these little groups of believers survive? But for the Grace of God they wouldn’t have, they couldn’t have. But here they are under all this pressure and persecution with no Bible to take comfort from, and yet evidently most of them did not succumb. So this is why Paul says in verse 12.
"Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,..."
They remained true to what they had learned from this apostle. Now just let that soak in for a little bit. Now of course there were congregations where Timothy finally comes in a little later on, and Titus and Barnabas, but for the most part these early little groups of believers were almost left to themselves, because Paul would have to move on to establish new ones and revisit the congregations that he had started. Now reading on in verse 12.
"...but now much more in my absence (he’s in prison in Rome) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Now that does not mean that they’re going to work for their salvation. They’ve got that already. So what does Paul mean when he says, "Work out your own salvation?" That their salvation become a part and parcel of their everyday experience. And evidently they did, because you know that Christianity turned the Roman empire inside out. How else could it have happened had not these little cells of believers been active in winning others, and that’s the way it went. They didn’t have the big evangelistic campaigns we see today, or the Word of God. So it had to be the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit that these little groups of ex-pagans were now permeating the Roman empire in spite of all of it’s opposition. Now verse 13, and here is the clue.
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
And God can do the same thing today, but you know what’s wrong today? We’ve got too many other things that side track us, and occupy our time, and if we do have a little extra time we’d rather sit down and see what’s on that stupid television. But in those days they didn’t have all that diversions. They didn’t have all these CD’s and tapes, and what have you, so they could go out into the community.
And they did meet in market places day in and day out buying their vegetables and their fruits and so forth, and I can just envision those people that every place they were in contact with other people they were sharing the Gospel that Jesus died for their sins, was buried and rose again. And today even in our enlightened era, and in our so called Bible belt, my goodness we’re scared to death at the thought of mentioning the name of Christ. But they didn’t have that fear, even though they could have been arrested and put to death, they still propagated the Gospel of salvation. Now verse 14.
"Do all things without murmuring and disputing:"
Now just as soon as you hear the word murmuring, what should that make you think of? Israel coming out of Egypt, and what did they do? They murmured and murmured and they murmured. And in spite of the presence of God on every hand, in spite of His miraculous opening the Red Sea, just as soon as they get on the other side and go a day or two without water, what do they say? "Oh would to God that you’d have left us in Egypt." And when God come down on Mount Sinai with the thunder and fire and smoke and the first thing you know, they’re making a golden calf. I mean it’s unbelievable, and when you read the account of their travels back there in Exodus and Numbers, just about every other word was, "they murmured."
Well are we much better than they? A lot of times we’re not because we complain, "Why doesn’t God do this or that? Well maybe it’s why don’t we do something about it? But Paul’s admonition is, "Whatever you do, don’t murmur, don’t be in dispute. Now verse 15.
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons (children) of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, (now that hits home doesn’t?) among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Look where we are today even our beloved America. I can remember as a kid very seldom men would draw up a written contract every time they made a deal. What was the contract? A shake of the hand. And people would never break that for anything. Now today you’ve got to have a contract signed and witness by attorneys, and it’s still suspect, because you still don’t know if you’ve got a deal. Why? Because we’ve become such a crooked and perverse nation. We are! Let’s face it, we’re no longer the Christian nation that Europe looks up to.
You know a great European writer once wrote a book after he went all over America and went back to Europe and said that America has been blessed material and every which way because America is good. Well he couldn’t write that today could he? We have become more and more like these people in Paul’s day a crooked and perverse nation.
But in the midst of the perverseness, in the midst of all the crookedness, in the midst of all the shenanigans of politicians, and anything else you can think of what are we to be? Like lights in a darkened world. And certainly if there was a time when it was appropriate as the Lord spoke to the disciples, "You are the light of the world." You and I have the Light. We too can be the salt, we can be the one that preserves, and we can be the one that enhances, but always remember these things that Paul wrote to Philippians are just as appropriate for us today as they were when Paul wrote them.
Lesson Three • Part IV
Titus 2:13 Declares Jesus Christ as God
Now this lesson will conclude book 39, so let’s get back to where we left off in the last lesson, but before we do we trust that you are learning how to study, and comprehend God’s Word. I guess the one thing we’ve been able to do more than anything else in our teaching others is to separate Israel from the Church. When you can do that then the Bible just becomes so much easier to understand. And of course when you separate Israel and the Church, you also separate Peter and Paul. (Galatians 2:7-9) Paul’s salvation message to the Gentile Body of Christ is found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. and Romans 10:9-10, and looks nothing like the salvation message preached by Peter.
Now they both served the same Christ, but always remember that Peter held forth before the cross and shortly after in the early Book of Acts, but his message was pretty much the Gospel of the Kingdom. Where everything that Paul writes concerns the resurrected Lord. And after our Lord ascended to His place in glory He revealed all the mysteries to this apostle for the Body of Christ in this Age of Grace. So consequently his message is pretty much to the Gentile world, and especially to the Gentile believers of the Body of Christ.
Now that doesn’t mean that we cast aside anything of the rest of Scripture. We use everything in our study, because everything just dove tails together so beautifully if you will just separate the Scripture as I have showed you. You just can’t mix it all up or it won’t fit. Don’t try to force part of Peter’s message into Paul’s message or vice-a-versa. Don’t try to force something in Scripture that the Lord Himself didn’t force. Just let everything set where it is in Scripture.
A good example of separating the Scriptures is found in Mark 16:14-18, where the message Jesus gave the Jewish believers was that as signs they could pick up serpents and drink poison and it wouldn’t hurt them, but don’t try that in this Age of Grace or you’ll be in trouble. So to make things simple, just keep Paul’s writings to the Church Age believers separate from the rest of Scripture for your Christian walk and doctrine. And when you do that you will see how all the pieces fit, then this Book becomes so exciting to study.
Now coming back to our study in Philippians chapter 2, and let’s start with verse 16. In verse 15 we finished with Paul telling us that we are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. And remember things are no different today than they were in the Roman empire. In fact if you know anything of history at all, you know that history repeats itself. All the things that brought down the Roman empire are going to bring down our Western civilization if not America by itself. So always be assured that historically these things are happening over and over and over. This isn’t just unique to the Roman Empire, but even today we are in a crooked and perverse nation and remember we are to shine as light in the world. Now verse 16.
" Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."
Now of course we covered this several programs back, "The day of Christ is the end of the Church Age when Christ will come for His bride, the Body of Christ and meet us in the air." After that the anti-Christ will appear and the seven years of Tribulation will unfold and God will finish doing what has been programmed and prophesied for the nation of Israel. Now there’s getting to be more and more opposition to a pre-Tribulation Rapture. More and more are teaching that the Church will go into or through it, but always remember our best argument is, "That you cannot mix Law and Grace, You can not mix Israel and the Body of Christ, the Church,"
We are in the Age of Grace and the Church didn’t fit in the Old Testament economy, and it won’t fit in the Tribulation economy, because both of those ends are Israel under the Law whether in the Old or New Testament, and we have no part or parcel with that. So remember before God can pick up and finish His last seven years with the nation of Israel, the Gentile Church, the Body of Christ has to be removed, and consequently then that’s what we call the day of Christ, when we’re called up to Him and go back into glory.
Now the day of the Lord is a different story. The day of the Lord is the beginning of wrath and vexation, and judgment. That of course is what will follow the day of Christ. But Paul doesn’t refer so much to the day of the Lord as he does to the day of Christ. So it just makes common sense that if all of the origins concerning the Body of Christ, the terminology, the doctrine, the organization, in other words the term of pastors and bishops, and deacons, all come from Paul and no where else. The indwelling Holy Spirit which is the down payment of a believer, and that also can be found only in Paul’s writing, and all these other glorious mysteries concerning the Body of Christ that were given to Paul only, then it follows that all the aspects of the Church Age having come from the writings of Paul then the end of the Church would also be in Paul’s writings, and indeed it does in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. No where else is the Rapture of the Church foretold. That’s why Paul starts the passage in I Corinthians with, "Behold I show you a mystery, (secret) we shall not all die but we’ll all be changed." Which of course is referring to the day of Christ when He will descend to the atmosphere and call us out.
Another thing I always like to point out is that with the Rapture, and us being called out, there is not a word about pending cataclysmic judgments. There is nothing to indicate that just before the Rapture the sun will be turned into blood, and the moon darkened, but for the Second Coming of Christ all you see is the horrors of the wrath of God that will attend the Second Coming, but never the Rapture. We are just going to be silently taken out and the world will probably think it’s good riddance if they miss us at all. Now so much for that, let’s come back to verse 16.
"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, (Paul really thought that he would live to see the day when Christ would return and take the Church out) that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."
Now that’s obvious isn’t it? Here he had suffered all the privation of scourging and whippings, shipwrecks, and imprisonments, and he lists them all back there in II Corinthians chapter 11. Oh how this man suffered for the sake of the Gospel. Well how would the man have felt after all that sacrifice in the human era, and then to see it all just disappear and fall apart? It would have been heart breaking wouldn’t it? But this is what he’s saying. These Philippians were not letting him down, and he could readily see that he had not run in vain, he had not laboured in vain, but indeed it was all coming to fruition. Now verse 17.
"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."
He could joy and rejoice because of all that God had done throughout the Roman Empire, but especially when he was seeing the Roman guards and people in the palace coming to a knowledge of salvation through his Gospel and Christ. Now verse 18.
"For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."
Now that shows it’s a two way street. Now I know most of you don’t have as much opportunity as Iris and I do. Almost everyday we get a letter where someone has come to know the Lord or has led someone to the Lord. We had a lady sometime ago that had written a letter and said, "Oh I wish I could have the joy of leading someone to a saving knowledge." Well it was only a couple of months later and here comes this thrilling letter. I mean you could almost tell from her opening words that she had been able to win a co-worker to the Lord. Now that’s what it’s all about! And it is a thrilling experience, and so we have this opportunity that when folk share their joy, it thrills us, and even as we share our joys and our victories we know it causes you to rejoice. So this is what Paul is talking about in verse 18. That they were maintaining their faith, they were seeing the Gospel going out, and even though he was confined to a Roman prison yet the news was getting back to him and how it thrilled him. Now we come down to verse 19, and here we have a reference to his son in the faith, Timothy.
"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state."
Now you’ve got to remember, that here in probably 64 or 65 AD the Roman Empire was lustrous as you can tell when you go over and look at some of the cities and roads, you can tell they certainly weren’t cavemen by any stretch of the imagination, but their communications were slow, travel was also slow. A ship was probably the fastest way to go from one place to another, so you’ve got to take all this into consideration. So Paul has to send Timothy from Rome to go around the Southern end of Greece, and back up into the Aegean Sea in order to get to Philippi. And he sends him with the idea of bringing back to Rome a report as to how those Philippian believers were doing. Now verse 24.
"But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."
As we said in an earlier lesson, I think Paul thought he would win his court case and be released, and some theologians think he did, and then arrested a second time when at that time he was martyred. But I put all these things in the balance, and still feel that he only had the one imprisonment and did not secure his release, but if he did, so be it.. Now verse 25.
"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, (who was a citizen of Philippi) my brother, (in the faith) and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants."
Epaphroditus had ministered to Paul’s needs in Rome, and the poor fellow must have just about died of some kind of an illness or something.
"For he longed after you all and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick."
In other words when the Philippians heard that one of their co-believers was nearly sick unto death, they were really upset about it. Now verse 27.
"For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him: (by sparing his life) and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow."
In other words, Paul would have shared the sorrow of losing this good friend and fellow soldier, Epaphroditus. Now verse 28 So now he not only sends Timothy, but also Epaphroditus.
"I sent him therefore the more carefully, (Paul is saying, ‘I made sure that he was strong enough physically to make the trip’) that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30. Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, (I’ve never been able to read anything to what his problem was) to supply your lack of service toward me."
Now then coming into chapter 3, and we won’t be able to finish Philippians today, but we’ll get as far as we can.
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord...."
Now I trust you’ve all been keeping track of the constant reference to joy and rejoicing, in spite of their circumstances. In spite of the persecution, and the constant pressure that was on all the Gentile believers, as well as Paul in prison. Now when I say Gentile believers, you always have to remember that the Judaisers hated Christianity. And this is no put down on the Jewish people. I mean after all, they could see that Christianity was making in road into their religion which they had enjoyed for 2000 years going back to Abraham. Now nobody wants somebody to make in roads into their religion, and you know that. Religion is an integral part of most people, and when you start fooling around with their religion they get up tight real fast. Well it was the same way here. The Jewish people were fighting Paul’s little Churches tooth and nail, because it was a complete change of direction from Judaism, and that’s what Grace and Law are. So these little Churches were under so much pressure from every direction. So Paul says, "in spite of all these circumstances rejoice!
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. to write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (now comes the warning) 2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Has anything changed since that’s been written? Nothings changed. This is just as appropriate for you and I today as it was for the Philippians in 65 AD or whenever he wrote this. Let me take you ahead to II Peter chapter 2. Now granted Peter writes primarily and I say that specifically and not exclusive, but he writes to the Jews who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, and I think they were little congregations of Jews. These were the Jews who had come away from Judaism, had believed that Jesus was the Son of God, had repented and been baptized in water as was Peter’s message. These were, I think, Kingdom Age Jews who had not really come under Paul’s Gospel message per say, but the warning is the same regardless.
II Peter 2:1-2a
"But there were false prophets (past tense. So what’s he talking about? The Old Testament era, back in the years before the New Testament even began.) also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, (the Devil has used every device to confuse the issue. Way back in Israel’s past, and on up into Israel’s future.) who privily (or secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways,..."
In the medical field (when associated with pernicious anemia), what does pernicious do? It just eats up the red blood cells, it destroys them, so that a person will just gradually get anemia and become white as snow because this disease is eating the red blood cells. Alright, the word pernicious is appropriate here, because that’s exactly what false teachers are going to do with the teachings that these believers are resting on. They’re just going to keep chewing them up until finally there is no spiritual life left in them.
II Peter 2:2
"And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
Oh does that ring a bell? Of course it does. The truth is not well spoken of today, because people don’t want the truth. They want something that will tickle their ears. Now verse 3.
II Peter 2:3
"And through covetousness (they want anything they can grab) shall they with feigned words (oh it sounds good on the surface) make merchandise of you: (in other words, there are con men who try to take advantage of you, even spiritual things. Oh the con men come along, and make all these things sound so good with their feigned words) whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
God knows what they’re doing and one day they’re going to come before him at the Great White Throne and then they’ll bow the knee, and recognize who He really is. Well let’s drop on down to verse 12. This is one of my favorite Scriptural descriptions of false teachers. These people who are conning the masses.
II Peter 2:12-13a
"But these, (false teachers) as natural (they have no spiritual life) brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; (these false teachers for the most part hate the message of Grace) and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13. And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. (rather than wait at night. That puts them in a category by themselves, doesn’t it?)
Now back to Philippians chapter 3, verse 2 again.
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
I’m sure that’s a word making reference to the Judaisers who wanted to put the Gentiles under the Law. That reminds me of a Scripture or two in the Book of Acts chapter 15. We spoke to a Sunday School class several weeks ago and I used these verses, and you would be surprised how many of those people came up after the class and said they never knew this was in their Bible, and I’m sure they’re not alone. There are multitudes that don’t have a clue that a lot of these things are in their Bible. Let’s just look at verse 1, and we’ll have to do it quickly. And remember what Paul’s warning was. Look out for those of the concision, and here it is. This passage is dealing with the Gentile congregation up at Antioch.
"And certain men which came down from Judaea (the believing Jerusalem assembly) taught the brethren, (these Gentile believers) and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."
Now your Bible says that also doesn’t it? And now come on up to verse 5 for another shocker.
"But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, (they were members of the Jerusalem Church) saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, (Paul’s Gentile converts up in Antioch) and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
Now you see why you’ve got to separate Peter and Paul? That tells us what the early Gentile Churches were up against. And as soon as Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas left town and left these little congregations to themselves in would come these kind of people and say, "Now wait a minute, you can’t just go by what Paul says alone. You have to be circumcised, you have to keep the Law of Moses." Well what were they really trying to do? Make Jewish proselytes of them. And when Paul writes this letter while in prison he’s says, "That hasn’t stopped. It’s still a constant threat." Well for you and I today we don’t have to deal with circumcision, we know that, but all the other things that are required for salvation by a lot of congregations in addition to faith in the Gospel (legalism) just keep bombarding the New Testament Grace Age believers everyday.
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