Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 41
Lesson One ē Part I Jesus Christ the Creator God Colossians 1:17-29 Now as we begin book 41 we hope you will take your Bible and search these things out and line me up against the Scriptures. And anyone else who teaches and preaches Godís Word should be lined up with the Scriptures. If you find that I donít line up with Scripture then you have a right to question me or anyone else, because after all this is where we have to draw the line, "What does the Book say?" It doesnít matter what Les Feldick says, or anybody else says, but rather what does the Book say, which we believe is the inspired Word of God. Now we want to get right back to where we left off in the last lesson, Colossians chapter 1, and we actually got through 16, but Iím going to go back to verse 15 for a few more comments because repetition is the mother of learning. Iíve had comment after comment to "keep repeating." It takes a long time for some of these to soak in, especially for folks who have never heard this before. And Iíve got folks sitting here in this room who know what Iím talking about. For example when I come down to verse 15 and 16 and show that Jesus Christ, the One Who went to that Roman cross, was the Creator of everything - that just blows people away. I will never forget the first time I taught it way back in the early 70ís in that home Bible study. And almost to the last person, they were so shocked when I taught that Jesus Christ was the Creator of Genesis 1:1 and they almost drove me into the corner with "Are you sure? Where do you get this?" I said, "Well, Iíve shown you." And here is just one of various New Testament verses that show so clearly that the God of Genesis 1:1, Who created every thing, was in the Person of Jesus Christ the Son. And thatís why Iím going to repeat these verses again for just a moment. Colossians 1:15 "Who (speaking of the Son up in verse 14, in whom we have redemption through his blood. So you know that has to be God the Son) is the image of the invisible God, (in other words, Jesus Christ was the visible, physical, manifestation of that invisible God that weíre going to be looking at quite often in the book of Colossians) the firstborn of every creature." Now letís go on to verse 16, and again. Colossians 1:16 "For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things (today we would say EVERYTHING) were created by him, and for him." Now before we go into the next verse that shows how He is also the glue that holds the whole universe together, I always like to show all the verses that pertain to His Creatorship. And of course, Iím going to take you back to Johnís Gospel for a moment. Johnís Gospel chapter 1, verse 1. I think that everybody knows and for some reason or other it escapes them that this is the Person of the Godhead Who called everything into being. And He did it with the spoken word. And that also enlightens us when we get into Revelation chapter 20, that it will be by the spoken word that He will destroy the nations at the Battle of Armageddon. Itís by His spoken word that He accomplishes His power. Now letís look at Johnís Gospel, chapter 1 and weíll just read verse 1. John 1:1-3 "In the beginning (same three words that Genesis 1:1 begins with) was the Word, (capitalized and I always emphasize, what are words used for? To communicate. So Iíve got to the place where I call Christ the Communicator, because Heís the One Who speaks the Word. And so regardless of whether Heís communicating with the invisible things that will become visible, or whether Heís communicating to the human race today, itís always God the Son Who is the Communicator) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. The same was in the beginning with God. (And now verse 3 makes it so plain) 3. All things (everything) were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." And then to confirm that weíre talking about God the Son, or Jesus of Nazareth as we know Him back in His earthly ministry, letís look at verse 14 and it puts the frosting on the cake. John 1:14 "And the Word was made (what?) flesh and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." See how plain that is? The Word, the Communicator, that Person of the Godhead Who created every thing was made flesh and dwelt among us. And John says, we beheld his glory and the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. Come on over now to Ephesians chapter 3. And I do this so that all of you out in television, if youíre teaching one on one or a Sunday School class or a menís group or whatever, will be able to show them these verses Ė that this is what the Word of God says. Now Ephesians 3 and dropping down to verse 9. Ephesians 3:9 "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (or secret) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, (the God of Genesis 1:1) who created all things (how?) by Jesus Christ." In other words, yes, the Triune God was involved in creation. The Triune God came together before anything was ever created and delegated the work of creation to the second Person of the Trinity, as we many times refer to Him, to God the Son. And so the whole Trinity is involved in creation, naturally. But it was God the Son, Jesus the Christ, Who spoke the word of creation and every thing, whatever it is, made its appearance. Okay, so much for review then. Now if youíll come back to Colossians chapter 1, we will move on in to the next verse, verse 17. And Iím sure every one of you has wondered like I have Ė you stand outside on a beautiful starlit night and maybe youíve just read something in National Geographic, or some other magazine, about the wonder of the universe. And how itís still expanding. There are still "bangs" taking place, and new stars are being formed. I stand there and I look up at that and I have to wonder, "Now why hasnít some scientific journal ever recorded that theyíve seen evidence of stars banging into each other." Have you ever read anything like that? I never have! Nothing ever bangs into each other out there. Everything is just like clockwork. And theyíre all in their particular places and if people would just stop to think Ė ACCIDENTALLY? Well, then they would be banging into each other wouldnít they? But everything is in such perfect order and such perfect timing, none of it is exploding out of order. And so Who is in control? The same Person of the Godhead, Jesus the Christ, God the Son. Now letís look at verse 17. Colossians 1:17 "And he (since He is the Creator) is before all things, and by him (by the word of His power) all things consist." (The better phrase for consist is "held together") Everything is held together by His power. And if ever He would relinquish His power, then yes, youíd have worlds in the universe in collision. But it doesnít happen because Heís in total control. Now, I certainly donít claim to be a scientist, and I know science has come a long way since I was in chemistry 101 and physics 101. And I know that theyíve learned a lot more about the atom than what my professors even understood. But I did read an article not too long ago that they havenít come that much further, except when I was back there they thought there were only two particles in the nucleus and that was the neutron and the proton. Now, of course, theyíve found many other particles in the nucleus, but the consensus is still the same. Why donít these particles break out of the nucleus and create fission? Well, thereís something that I donít think even the scientists today can explain. And my old chemistry professor just simply called it nuclear glue. Well, that stuck with a little old freshman. I never forgot it. And I know Iíve got scientists that are listening and if they can correct me, Iím ready to be told. But something is still holding the whole atomic structure of the universe together. And they havenít really got the answer, but I do! The answer is, the power of Jesus Christ! And He is the One by Whom all things consist, or held together. Now then, weíve established that Heís the Creator. Heís the sustainer of the universe, but for you and I as believers, Heís even something greater than that. He is the Head of the Body, what Paul calls, the Church. Now Iím always emphasizing that nobody but Paul refers to the Church as the Body of Christ. You wonít find that term anywhere else in Scripture. Only in Paulís letters. And so it is uniquely insulated from all the rest of Godís dealings with the Old Testament and that which is still ahead of us after weíre gone. And that is that the Body of Christ is so unique in that we are attached to our Head Who is in heaven, just like our physical body is attached to the head here. And you know how long weíd last without the head. Well, itís the same way with the Body of Christ. It just couldnít function without the Head. And so this is one of the basic doctrines of the Apostle Paul, that every believer becomes a member of the Body of Christ and He is the Head. And from the Head, then, everything flows to keep the body functioning. And thatís why the Body of Christ is not just another organization. You donít just draw up a Constitution and a bunch of By-laws and say youíre going to establish a Body of Christ. Now you can establish a church as an organization, but you canít establish the Body of Christ, because it is a spiritually driven thing and it has its livelihood, it has everything that makes it a living organism, connected to the Head, which is in heaven. And this is what makes it so uniquely different. Everything that pertains to our spiritual life is, by virtue of the headship of Christ, Who is in heaven. Now, Iíve also made the statement over the years, and so far nobody has made a big deal about it, and I say that Christ, in Paulís teaching, is never called King. He is not the king of the Church. Now He will one day be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but He is not the king of the Body. And Iím always making the definition as such. If He was the king, then I could not have that functioning between the head and a member of the Body because I would be under His kingship, I would be a subject. And oh, what a difference. But see, as members of the body of Christ, weíre not subjects to some higher authority, weíre part of it. Do you see the difference? Weíre part of that headship, which is in heaven. And that is what makes us totally different from anything that even Israel has ever hoped for in the past or can hope for in the future. Yes, theyíre looking for the King. They were looking for the King. He came and they rejected Him. But theyíre still looking for the coming King. Iíve always, more than once, put the little analogy on the program and I say this with tongue in cheek, because I know where our Jewish friends are coming from. They still canít recognize that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. They just say, "Yes, Heís coming, but He has not been here before." Now I always like to use the anecdote of this Christian clergyman who was arguing with his Rabbi as to whether Heíd been here before. The Rabbi said, "No, Heís never been here before, but Heís coming." They kept arguing and finally the Rabbi came to a good conclusion. He said, "Iíll tell you what. Letís just wait until He gets here and then weíll ask Him, "Have you been here before." Well, that is a good view of the Jewish mentality. But, theyíre looking for His kingship, rightly. He is going to be the king. But for us, as the Body of Christ, no, Heís not a king. Heís the Head of the body. And that makes us, as Romans chapter 8 makes it so plain that "therefore we are joint-heirs with Christ." Whatís His is ours. Naturally, because weíre hooked up, weíre together. Now verse 18. Colossians 1:18a "And he is the head of the body, the church;Ö" Whatís the Greek word always translated Ďchurchí? Ecclesia! And I was reading again last night in a little Greek New Testament, and every time the New Testament word Ďchurchí comes up, it is always Ďecclesiaí in the Greek. And the word Ďecclesiaí meant a called out assembly. Separated from the mass. So we always have to determine, then, what called out assembly are we dealing with? Weíre not dealing with that same called out assembly that made the nation of Israel in the wilderness, a church, according to Acts chapter 7. We are not part of that called out assembly, I donít think, on the day of Pentecost. Now, whenever someone disagrees with me on that, I say thatís fine. Thatís not going to determine your eternal destiny. Now when it comes to that, yes, then I have to get my hackles up and say, "Now wait a minute." Because eternal destiny is in view. But some of these other things, I can live with people who disagree and thatís one of them. If they want to think that the Church, which is the Body is in Acts chapter 2 and they can find it there, well so be it. I canít find it because I just canít find any church language in Acts chapter 2. But thatís not that big a deal. But that word "ecclesia" is simply translated "church" in Acts chapter 2. Whereas I feel it should be translated "assembly" because it was a separated group of Jews from the main body of Israel and they were an ecclesia, or a called out assembly. But they are never called the Body of Christ. Paul reserves that for his converts and I think Scripture is clear on that. So here is another instance where the assembly that Paul is talking about is that which he refers to as the body of Christ. Now reading on in verse 18. Colossians 1:18a "And he is the head of the body, the church: (He is again, a reference to his eternalness, to his creatorship) who is the beginning, (He comes from eternity past) the firstborn from the dead:Ö" Now here is where I always have to qualify. I maintain that resurrection never happened until Jesus Christ arose from the dead. Now you had people who were raised from the dead back in the Old Testament, but they werenít resurrected. They were simply brought back to life and they died again. Lazarus, the Lord Himself called him forth from the tomb, but that was not resurrection. Lazarus died later. So this is why the Scripture makes a point that no one had ever been resurrected from the dead until Jesus Christ. He is the first to have ever been resurrected, never to die again. And here the verse makes it so plain, that He is the beginning, He is the firstborn from the dead. Thatís why I taught way back when we were in Acts that the term, "the only begotten Son of God" does not mean His birth in Bethlehem, but it means that He is the only one that was resurrected from the dead. The Scripture makes it so plain that thatís what the term refers to. And here again, He is the firstborn from the dead, He is the first to have experienced resurrection power and here again is the reason, in the last part of verse 18. Colossians 1:18b-19 "Öthat in all things (in everything) he (Jesus Christ) might have the (what?) preeminence. (Heís above everything. Now verse 19 which puts the cap on it.) 19. For it pleased the Father (the whole Godhead has been involved in everything that Christ has done) that in him should all fullness dwell:" Now I may use the verse a little later, but for now, just come back with me to Isaiah chapter 9. And this fits right in with what Paul is saying over and over here in Colossians, that Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible Godhead. And the Godhead of course is the whole Trinity. And here weíve got them in Isaiah chapter 9 way back in the Old Testament. And so it isnít just a figment of Paulís imagination, itís something that fits with all of Scripture. Isaiah 9:6-7 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: (Who are we talking about? Jesus of Bethlehem) and the government shall be (future) upon his shoulder; (hereís the part that I like) and his name shall be called (when He once again sets up His rule and reign) Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (These are all terms concerning Jesus of Nazareth and Bethlehem) 7. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." And when will all this happen? When He comes and sets up His kingdom and establishes His throne where Davidís was on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. And until that time, as weíre going to see the word "peace" a little later in the chapter, the world will know no peace. My goodness, we like to pride ourselves for the last several years at least since World War II and the Korean & Vietnam Conflicts, weíve been at peace. Well, maybe we in America have been fortunate enough, but Iíll tell you what. At the millennial turn, I think I read in our daily paper, that there were 40 + wars raging on the planet. Oh, not great big world war type things, but for those people involved, itís war. Itís misery. Itís heartache. Itís losing everything. And the world does not have peace tonight, nor will it have until this point in time when His peace will be without end as He rules upon the throne of David.
Lesson One ē Part I
Jesus Christ the Creator God
Now as we begin book 41 we hope you will take your Bible and search these things out and line me up against the Scriptures. And anyone else who teaches and preaches Godís Word should be lined up with the Scriptures. If you find that I donít line up with Scripture then you have a right to question me or anyone else, because after all this is where we have to draw the line, "What does the Book say?" It doesnít matter what Les Feldick says, or anybody else says, but rather what does the Book say, which we believe is the inspired Word of God.
Now we want to get right back to where we left off in the last lesson, Colossians chapter 1, and we actually got through 16, but Iím going to go back to verse 15 for a few more comments because repetition is the mother of learning. Iíve had comment after comment to "keep repeating." It takes a long time for some of these to soak in, especially for folks who have never heard this before. And Iíve got folks sitting here in this room who know what Iím talking about. For example when I come down to verse 15 and 16 and show that Jesus Christ, the One Who went to that Roman cross, was the Creator of everything - that just blows people away.
I will never forget the first time I taught it way back in the early 70ís in that home Bible study. And almost to the last person, they were so shocked when I taught that Jesus Christ was the Creator of Genesis 1:1 and they almost drove me into the corner with "Are you sure? Where do you get this?" I said, "Well, Iíve shown you." And here is just one of various New Testament verses that show so clearly that the God of Genesis 1:1, Who created every thing, was in the Person of Jesus Christ the Son. And thatís why Iím going to repeat these verses again for just a moment.
"Who (speaking of the Son up in verse 14, in whom we have redemption through his blood. So you know that has to be God the Son) is the image of the invisible God, (in other words, Jesus Christ was the visible, physical, manifestation of that invisible God that weíre going to be looking at quite often in the book of Colossians) the firstborn of every creature."
Now letís go on to verse 16, and again.
"For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things (today we would say EVERYTHING) were created by him, and for him."
Now before we go into the next verse that shows how He is also the glue that holds the whole universe together, I always like to show all the verses that pertain to His Creatorship. And of course, Iím going to take you back to Johnís Gospel for a moment. Johnís Gospel chapter 1, verse 1. I think that everybody knows and for some reason or other it escapes them that this is the Person of the Godhead Who called everything into being. And He did it with the spoken word. And that also enlightens us when we get into Revelation chapter 20, that it will be by the spoken word that He will destroy the nations at the Battle of Armageddon. Itís by His spoken word that He accomplishes His power. Now letís look at Johnís Gospel, chapter 1 and weíll just read verse 1.
"In the beginning (same three words that Genesis 1:1 begins with) was the Word, (capitalized and I always emphasize, what are words used for? To communicate. So Iíve got to the place where I call Christ the Communicator, because Heís the One Who speaks the Word. And so regardless of whether Heís communicating with the invisible things that will become visible, or whether Heís communicating to the human race today, itís always God the Son Who is the Communicator) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. The same was in the beginning with God. (And now verse 3 makes it so plain) 3. All things (everything) were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
And then to confirm that weíre talking about God the Son, or Jesus of Nazareth as we know Him back in His earthly ministry, letís look at verse 14 and it puts the frosting on the cake.
"And the Word was made (what?) flesh and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
See how plain that is? The Word, the Communicator, that Person of the Godhead Who created every thing was made flesh and dwelt among us. And John says, we beheld his glory and the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.
Come on over now to Ephesians chapter 3. And I do this so that all of you out in television, if youíre teaching one on one or a Sunday School class or a menís group or whatever, will be able to show them these verses Ė that this is what the Word of God says. Now Ephesians 3 and dropping down to verse 9.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (or secret) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, (the God of Genesis 1:1) who created all things (how?) by Jesus Christ."
In other words, yes, the Triune God was involved in creation. The Triune God came together before anything was ever created and delegated the work of creation to the second Person of the Trinity, as we many times refer to Him, to God the Son. And so the whole Trinity is involved in creation, naturally. But it was God the Son, Jesus the Christ, Who spoke the word of creation and every thing, whatever it is, made its appearance. Okay, so much for review then.
Now if youíll come back to Colossians chapter 1, we will move on in to the next verse, verse 17. And Iím sure every one of you has wondered like I have Ė you stand outside on a beautiful starlit night and maybe youíve just read something in National Geographic, or some other magazine, about the wonder of the universe. And how itís still expanding. There are still "bangs" taking place, and new stars are being formed. I stand there and I look up at that and I have to wonder, "Now why hasnít some scientific journal ever recorded that theyíve seen evidence of stars banging into each other." Have you ever read anything like that? I never have! Nothing ever bangs into each other out there. Everything is just like clockwork. And theyíre all in their particular places and if people would just stop to think Ė ACCIDENTALLY? Well, then they would be banging into each other wouldnít they? But everything is in such perfect order and such perfect timing, none of it is exploding out of order. And so Who is in control? The same Person of the Godhead, Jesus the Christ, God the Son. Now letís look at verse 17.
"And he (since He is the Creator) is before all things, and by him (by the word of His power) all things consist." (The better phrase for consist is "held together")
Everything is held together by His power. And if ever He would relinquish His power, then yes, youíd have worlds in the universe in collision. But it doesnít happen because Heís in total control. Now, I certainly donít claim to be a scientist, and I know science has come a long way since I was in chemistry 101 and physics 101. And I know that theyíve learned a lot more about the atom than what my professors even understood. But I did read an article not too long ago that they havenít come that much further, except when I was back there they thought there were only two particles in the nucleus and that was the neutron and the proton. Now, of course, theyíve found many other particles in the nucleus, but the consensus is still the same. Why donít these particles break out of the nucleus and create fission? Well, thereís something that I donít think even the scientists today can explain. And my old chemistry professor just simply called it nuclear glue. Well, that stuck with a little old freshman. I never forgot it. And I know Iíve got scientists that are listening and if they can correct me, Iím ready to be told. But something is still holding the whole atomic structure of the universe together. And they havenít really got the answer, but I do! The answer is, the power of Jesus Christ! And He is the One by Whom all things consist, or held together.
Now then, weíve established that Heís the Creator. Heís the sustainer of the universe, but for you and I as believers, Heís even something greater than that. He is the Head of the Body, what Paul calls, the Church. Now Iím always emphasizing that nobody but Paul refers to the Church as the Body of Christ. You wonít find that term anywhere else in Scripture. Only in Paulís letters. And so it is uniquely insulated from all the rest of Godís dealings with the Old Testament and that which is still ahead of us after weíre gone. And that is that the Body of Christ is so unique in that we are attached to our Head Who is in heaven, just like our physical body is attached to the head here. And you know how long weíd last without the head. Well, itís the same way with the Body of Christ. It just couldnít function without the Head.
And so this is one of the basic doctrines of the Apostle Paul, that every believer becomes a member of the Body of Christ and He is the Head. And from the Head, then, everything flows to keep the body functioning. And thatís why the Body of Christ is not just another organization. You donít just draw up a Constitution and a bunch of By-laws and say youíre going to establish a Body of Christ. Now you can establish a church as an organization, but you canít establish the Body of Christ, because it is a spiritually driven thing and it has its livelihood, it has everything that makes it a living organism, connected to the Head, which is in heaven.
And this is what makes it so uniquely different. Everything that pertains to our spiritual life is, by virtue of the headship of Christ, Who is in heaven. Now, Iíve also made the statement over the years, and so far nobody has made a big deal about it, and I say that Christ, in Paulís teaching, is never called King. He is not the king of the Church. Now He will one day be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but He is not the king of the Body. And Iím always making the definition as such. If He was the king, then I could not have that functioning between the head and a member of the Body because I would be under His kingship, I would be a subject. And oh, what a difference. But see, as members of the body of Christ, weíre not subjects to some higher authority, weíre part of it. Do you see the difference? Weíre part of that headship, which is in heaven.
And that is what makes us totally different from anything that even Israel has ever hoped for in the past or can hope for in the future. Yes, theyíre looking for the King. They were looking for the King. He came and they rejected Him. But theyíre still looking for the coming King. Iíve always, more than once, put the little analogy on the program and I say this with tongue in cheek, because I know where our Jewish friends are coming from. They still canít recognize that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. They just say, "Yes, Heís coming, but He has not been here before."
Now I always like to use the anecdote of this Christian clergyman who was arguing with his Rabbi as to whether Heíd been here before. The Rabbi said, "No, Heís never been here before, but Heís coming." They kept arguing and finally the Rabbi came to a good conclusion. He said, "Iíll tell you what. Letís just wait until He gets here and then weíll ask Him, "Have you been here before." Well, that is a good view of the Jewish mentality. But, theyíre looking for His kingship, rightly. He is going to be the king. But for us, as the Body of Christ, no, Heís not a king. Heís the Head of the body. And that makes us, as Romans chapter 8 makes it so plain that "therefore we are joint-heirs with Christ." Whatís His is ours. Naturally, because weíre hooked up, weíre together. Now verse 18.
"And he is the head of the body, the church;Ö"
Whatís the Greek word always translated Ďchurchí? Ecclesia! And I was reading again last night in a little Greek New Testament, and every time the New Testament word Ďchurchí comes up, it is always Ďecclesiaí in the Greek. And the word Ďecclesiaí meant a called out assembly. Separated from the mass. So we always have to determine, then, what called out assembly are we dealing with? Weíre not dealing with that same called out assembly that made the nation of Israel in the wilderness, a church, according to Acts chapter 7. We are not part of that called out assembly, I donít think, on the day of Pentecost. Now, whenever someone disagrees with me on that, I say thatís fine. Thatís not going to determine your eternal destiny. Now when it comes to that, yes, then I have to get my hackles up and say, "Now wait a minute." Because eternal destiny is in view. But some of these other things, I can live with people who disagree and thatís one of them. If they want to think that the Church, which is the Body is in Acts chapter 2 and they can find it there, well so be it. I canít find it because I just canít find any church language in Acts chapter 2. But thatís not that big a deal. But that word "ecclesia" is simply translated "church" in Acts chapter 2. Whereas I feel it should be translated "assembly" because it was a separated group of Jews from the main body of Israel and they were an ecclesia, or a called out assembly. But they are never called the Body of Christ. Paul reserves that for his converts and I think Scripture is clear on that. So here is another instance where the assembly that Paul is talking about is that which he refers to as the body of Christ. Now reading on in verse 18.
"And he is the head of the body, the church: (He is again, a reference to his eternalness, to his creatorship) who is the beginning, (He comes from eternity past) the firstborn from the dead:Ö"
Now here is where I always have to qualify. I maintain that resurrection never happened until Jesus Christ arose from the dead. Now you had people who were raised from the dead back in the Old Testament, but they werenít resurrected. They were simply brought back to life and they died again. Lazarus, the Lord Himself called him forth from the tomb, but that was not resurrection. Lazarus died later. So this is why the Scripture makes a point that no one had ever been resurrected from the dead until Jesus Christ. He is the first to have ever been resurrected, never to die again. And here the verse makes it so plain, that He is the beginning, He is the firstborn from the dead. Thatís why I taught way back when we were in Acts that the term, "the only begotten Son of God" does not mean His birth in Bethlehem, but it means that He is the only one that was resurrected from the dead. The Scripture makes it so plain that thatís what the term refers to. And here again, He is the firstborn from the dead, He is the first to have experienced resurrection power and here again is the reason, in the last part of verse 18.
"Öthat in all things (in everything) he (Jesus Christ) might have the (what?) preeminence. (Heís above everything. Now verse 19 which puts the cap on it.) 19. For it pleased the Father (the whole Godhead has been involved in everything that Christ has done) that in him should all fullness dwell:"
Now I may use the verse a little later, but for now, just come back with me to Isaiah chapter 9. And this fits right in with what Paul is saying over and over here in Colossians, that Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible Godhead. And the Godhead of course is the whole Trinity. And here weíve got them in Isaiah chapter 9 way back in the Old Testament. And so it isnít just a figment of Paulís imagination, itís something that fits with all of Scripture.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: (Who are we talking about? Jesus of Bethlehem) and the government shall be (future) upon his shoulder; (hereís the part that I like) and his name shall be called (when He once again sets up His rule and reign) Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (These are all terms concerning Jesus of Nazareth and Bethlehem) 7. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
And when will all this happen? When He comes and sets up His kingdom and establishes His throne where Davidís was on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. And until that time, as weíre going to see the word "peace" a little later in the chapter, the world will know no peace. My goodness, we like to pride ourselves for the last several years at least since World War II and the Korean & Vietnam Conflicts, weíve been at peace. Well, maybe we in America have been fortunate enough, but Iíll tell you what. At the millennial turn, I think I read in our daily paper, that there were 40 + wars raging on the planet. Oh, not great big world war type things, but for those people involved, itís war. Itís misery. Itís heartache. Itís losing everything.
And the world does not have peace tonight, nor will it have until this point in time when His peace will be without end as He rules upon the throne of David.Now, the other verse Iím sure comes to your mind is John 14, and you know it as well as I do. I doubt that thereís very many people in my whole listening audience that donít know this chapter. Letís come down to verse 8, after Jesus has said all these things and then Philip responds.
"Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"See how plain that is. Jesus said, "if youíve seen Me youíve seen the Father." Now verse 10.
"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?Ö"
I know that leaves people hanging by a thread but you come back to Colossians and Paul clarifies it. That Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified Christ, is the physical, visible manifestation of that invisible Godhead. And we have to take it by faith. We canít understand it. I canít understand a three person Godhead that can function as one. But the Bible teaches it. And so we take it by faith and one day weíll understand it, Iím sure we will, but for now, we just take it by faith Ė that Jesus Christ is the Creator of everything, He is the visible manifestation of the invisible Godhead and that in Him, verse 19 again says, that it even pleased the Father. And I think that would also include by implication, the Holy Spirit.
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;"
Now, how can you argue with that. How can someone say, "Well, I can go another way. I donít need the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Because, as I pointed out in our last program, there isnít another religion on the face of the earth that can claim the Creator as the core of itís belief system, but we do and we do that by faith.
Lesson One ē Part II
Jesus Christ the Creator God
As we begin this lesson, remember that Colossians was written to a congregation of which Paul did not have a part in founding himself. No doubt it was some of his converts from Ephesus who had gone over to the city of Colossi, which is not to far south and a little east of Ephesus, and the same way with the city of Laodicea. So Colossians is a letter written by Paul to people whom he had never met personally, but the admonitions in these chapters are just as real as in any of his other letters. I also want you to be aware that a good share of Paulís writings were not only to teach us the plan of salvation, and how to live as Christians, but to also warn us of the dangers that are constantly besetting Christianity.
In fact when I look back at history and the paganism of the Roman empire, and all the religious differences that have permeated the human race, I have to come away with the thought that, except for the Grace of God, Christianity would have never survived. Itís absolutely amazing that it has survived, but it did, and so now we read these little epistles with all that in mind. Yes itís bringing forth the plan of salvation, itís teaching us how to live, but itís warning us what we are to be aware of all around us. Now verse 20, and weíre still speaking of God the Son as we did in the last lesson.
"And, having made peace (with sinful mankind) through the blood of his cross,Ö"
Now Iím going to have to stop there for a moment for that word Ďpeace.í When the world thinks of peace what do they think of? Absence of war. Absolutely they do. The world is always talking about peace. Peace in the Middle East, peace or in Africa, or wherever thereís turmoil, thatís where you find the world politicians talking about peace. Theyíre not talking about a relationship between God and men, theyíre talking about the absence of warfare between human being. But the word Ďpeaceí here is talking about Godís relationship with sinful men.
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross,Ö"
Several programs back I made mention of Hebrews 9:22? That verse gives us the requirement of blood in the Scriptures.
"Öand without shedding of blood is no remission."
At that time I called that verse an absolute. There is absolutely no way of being restored into fellowship with the Creator God short of the shed blood. Itís an absolute. But getting back to the peace with God let me bring you back to Romans chapter 5 weíll follow up on this peace with God that Paul uses quite freely in his writing. Now the secular world out there is not at peace with God. Theyíre His enemies and weíll show that in just a moment. But for you and I who believe we are at peace with God. Weíre not in a spiritual warfare against Him, but rather we have peace with God, and this verse shows that so clearly.
"Therefore being justified by faith, (which is a Pauline term) we have peace (itís already done) with GodÖ"Now thatís quite a statement isnít it? God no longer has a controversy with the believers. God is absolutely content that the moment we believed, and He finished the work of Justification there is no longer any reason for Him to have enmity between us and Him because He has now given us that peace that only He can give, itís a relationship of love
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (now since weíre justified and have peace with God) 2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,Ö"
See you canít separate salvation from Grace. None of us deserved salvation, none of deserved what Christ did for us, but itís all of Grace! And itís amazing how few believers understand that. Another place where Paul uses this "peace with God" is in the Book of Philippians, and we looked at that not too many weeks ago. And in this portion of Scripture itís in relationship to our prayer life as we make request. Weíll begin with verse 6. These are my two favorite verses when it comes to prayer.
"Be careful (or worry) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know with God."
Thereís no strings attached to that verse. That is a free access into the Throne Room of God to let all of our supplication and request be know, but with thanksgiving, but now verse 7. Regardless how God answers our request, and He may not spare our loved one who may be terminal, He may not grant healing to them. He may not save a financial empire, or a marriage that we think needs to be saved. He may not answer the way we think that He should, but this verse 7 is the answer to every prayer.
"And the peace of God, (that which was imparted to us the moment we believed. That we are no longer in a warfare against Him, weíre no longer His enemy, but we are at peace with Him, and the peace of God) which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."In other words you canít explain this peace you have with God, itís beyond us, but we know itís there, and it will keep our heart and mind. Now let me show you the other side of the coin back in Romans chapter 8. Now youíre going to find some stark statements in here, in fact itís shocking.
"For they that are after the flesh (in other words the lost world around us) do mind the things of the flesh; (thatís all they can think about) but they that are after the Spirit (the believer. They mind) the things of the Spirit. 6. For to be carnally minded (constantly wrapped up in things) is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (that same peace with God) 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:Ö"
Now do enemies have peace? No. Theyíre in a constant warfare whether itís nations or communities, or whatever. So there is no peace between God and the lost individual because he is carnal and he is an enemy against God. Now reading on in verse 7.
"Öfor it (the carnal mind) is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Thereís nothing that is compatible. Nothing! They are totally separated, and thatís why in a little bit when we get back to Colossians weíre going to see the word, "reconciliation" But here there is no reconciliation between God and the lost person because they are fleshly minded and have no interest in the things of the spirit.
"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
But do they like to pray? Oh you bet they do. My when theyíve got a need, they pray. Well do you think God is interested in their prayers? No, because theyíre enemies. Heís not going to answer the prayer request of an enemy, as theyíre not His children. Iíve always made the statement - yes, when a lost person cries out for salvation, God hears him. Absolutely He does! Before he even calls the Book of Isaiah says. But in everyday, mundane things when the lost person prays, God doesnít hear him, heís an enemy.
You know Iíve used the illustration that if your neighbors kid come us to you and says, "I want a new bike, will you get me one?" I think it would be a rare individual that would says, "well come on son, Iíll buy you one." No, rather weíll usually say, "Well thatís your dadís job, thatís not responsibility to buy you a bicycle." And the reason we wonít buy one is heís not our kid. Well you see thatís just normal. Thatís not being mean spirited or anything like that, but just simple good economics. You canít buy bikes for all the kids up and down the block. Now God doesnít treat the human race much differently. If there is no love for Him and theyíre His enemies, Heís not going hear their prayers, until of course they call for salvation, and then He becomes the God of EVERYTHING! Verse 8 again.
"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
Then for sake of time come on down to verse 13, and this will wind up this little dissertation of people who are still in the flesh, who have never been saved.
"For if ye live after the flesh, (the things of this world is your concern, and you have no concept of eternity) ye shall die:Ö"
You know Iris and I travel and see the highways packed with people and we canít help but wonder, "How many of these people that weíre meeting on these freeways and highways ever for a moment consider eternity?" How many ever stop to think of something of the Spiritual? For the most part I donít believe it ever enters their mind. Now I hope Iím wrong, but I donít believe it does. Theyíre so wrapped up in the things of this world. So this is their future, that if all their living for is the flesh, these homes, cars, and credit card bills that are beyond their budget, and all the pressures of the world, theyíve got no time for God, and the Spiritual things and Paul says if thatís you lifestyle, "ye shall die spiritually. You have no hope for eternal life." But verse 13 continuing is the flip side.
"Ö but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
So it becomes then an option. Are you going to live for the flesh and die for eternity, or are you going to live Spiritually here and maybe miss out on a few of the things that the world thinks they have to have, and live eternally? Thatís quite an option, but itís mankindís choice. Now back to Colossians. I guess I can finish the next half hour on the next word canít I Jerry? Reconcile. I mean these are doctrinal terms that too many people never consider, but they are so basic to our faith. Now reading on in verse 20.
"And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him (the One Who finished the work of the cross) to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
In other words again, where does that put Christ? In the preeminence. Everything is under His control. Everything as you saw back in one of these earlier verses were created for His pleasure. You and I were created for His pleasure, so the whole idea of the work of the cross was to grant us justification to give us peace with God, and to reconcile us to Him, and we call that reconciliation.
Now the true Greek meaning is to turn from something totally in the opposite direction. Now a lot of times we speak of reconciliation in married couples who may have marriages simply on the rocks. But hopefully if you can bring that estrange husband and wife back together we call that reconciliation. Theyíve turned from their direction going apart from each other and have turned 180 degrees and come back together. Well that exactly what God has done with us. Everyone of us as a believer has been reconciled to God. We were going away from Him, we had no thought for Him or no love for Him, but there came a time when all of a sudden the power of God just literally hooked us didnít it? He brought us to Himself, and in the process of that He reconciled us to Himself. The best portion of Scripture to define that is found in II Corinthians chapter 5, and letís begin with verse 17.
II Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, (heís in the Body of Christ, the True Church) he is a new creature: (creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."Well that doesnít need any comment itís self explanatory. Now verse 18, and here it comes.
II Corinthians 5:18a
"And all things are of God,Ö"
Why? Because Heís the Creator of everything. You know weíve been studying about Joseph of Egypt in a couple of our classes here in Oklahoma the last several nights. Iíve seen it before but it never struck me quite so hard as it has this time, that all those bad things that happened to young Joseph. What did Joseph tell those brothers over and over. "God was in it!" See, this is what we have to realize even for us as believers today, not one moment of our life is without Godís awareness and control. Weíre in His control. God is above everything and this is what we have to understand. Even the bad thing, God is in it, to fulfill His own purposes.
Now in the story of Joseph of course, it was so evident. Had Joseph not been sold into slavery, had not ended down the second man in Egypt, Jacob and the other sons wouldnít have had the opportunity to go and cash in on the granaries of Egypt. But since Joseph was there and had the grain, the family survived. And thatís why Joseph said, "You didnít do it. God did it!" Now thatís hard for us to comprehend isnít it? Youíve heard me say before that one of the hard things to comprehend is that when God began this whole system of the human race, and He set Adam and Eve out of the garden with a free will, and He did the same thing with the nations. And so men and nations have been coming through human history making their own decisions pretty much. There is no puppet on a string involved whatsoever. And yet, here we are 6,000 years removed and where are we in Godís timetable? Right on the minute! The whole world, after 6,000 years is exactly where God blueprinted it. And yet He never took away the freedom of men and nations to pretty much do as they thought they wanted to do. Itís amazing isnít it? Now, itís the same way here.
II Corinthians 5:18a
"And all things are of God,Ö."
Now donít ever stop and try to tell me, "Oh, thereís too many people for God to keep track of." Listen, there are more stars out there, as I mentioned last half hour, and none of them ever bump into each other. There are far more stars to keep track of than there are people. And thatís why the Scripture can even bring it on down that he knows the number of hairs on the head of every individual. So donít ever limit God. Donít ever say, "Well He doesnít know about me." Oh yes He does. Now reading on.
II Corinthians 5:18
"And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us the ministry of reconciliation." In other words as we were going away from God, He in His mercy and grace just literally brought us back to himself.
I had an elderly gentleman who was well into his 70ís, call and say, "Les, I have just all of a sudden, as a result of your program, gotten a hunger for the Word. Itís the first thing I do when I get up in the morning and the last thing I do before I go to sleep. To think that I wasted all those years with no interest in the spiritual thing." I said, "You know you remind me, (and Iíve shared it with some of those people in the last week) of something that Winston Churchill said. Youíre going to smile because youíre going to remember when he said it. He said, "Youth is wonderful. But what a pity that it had to be wasted on young people!" Now isnít that exactly what weíve done? They waste all those good productive years just simply spending them to satisfy the flesh and then when they get older they suddenly realize that, "Hey, this is far better. Why couldnít I have experienced this for the last 40 years?" Well, itís one of the questionable things, I guess, of the human experience. Well, letís go on.
II Corinthians 5:18b
"Ö.who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ (It doesnít stop there. As soon as we are reconciled what has God given us?) and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."
In other words, we are to help others be reconciled. And thereís no more thrilling thing you can do. Like Iíve already mentioned, if you can bring an estranged husband and wife together, and maybe thereís some little kids at home that are torn between all this, is there anything more thrilling than to reconcile those two people and save the home and recreated a joy and happiness? That makes you feel pretty good. Well, itís the same way if you can do this with a lost person. If you can be instrumental in bringing that person to a knowledge of salvation and to be able to say, "Iíve reconciled, or have had a part in reconciling someone to God." And this is our ministry, that we are to be reconciling lost people to their Creator God. Now letís go back to Colossians, chapter 1 and verse 20b.
"Ö.by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he (Christ Jesus) reconciled."
Lesson One ē Part III
Jesus Christ the Creator God
We want to thank you for your letters of encouragement, and sharing with us how the program and the Word of God is making an impact on your lives. We also want to thank you for contributing to the ministry as the bills have to be paid. And for those who only send a small gift, donít apologize for that. Donít ever apologize because the Lord looks at the heart and that $5.00 gift means just as much to Him as a $5,000.00 gift from the heart of somebody else. So donít feel obligated to give more than you can afford. And if youíre strapped in your income with bills to pay, then donít feel obligated to send anything to us. Just keep watching and studying.
I think weíre ready to go back to where we left off in Colossians chapter 1. Weíre going to take it verse by verse and now weíll start with verse 21. Remember in our last lesson we were talking about reconciliation, how that God when He justified us, redeemed us, and forgave us, He also brought us back into that relationship with Himself which we call of course reconciliation.
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies (see people donít like to think of the lost in that light. But the lost person is an enemy of God, and we were also before salvation. So this is the thing that we have to keep uppermost, that the lost person, the unregenerate person is so far as God is concern an enemy. And as a result of a person being lost their works are wicked) in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
Letís go back to the Book of Galatians and look at the works of the lost person. In chapter 5, we get a good picture of how we were at one time or at least we had that potential. I know a lot of us came from good homes and are not guilty of all these things in the activity of our daily life, but nevertheless potentially everyone us were capable of doing all these things. These are basically the things that the Scripture refers to when they talk about the things of the flesh.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:Ö"
Those are all the things that are the acts and works of the flesh, and the spirit wants us to realize that. Now back to Colossians again. So this is what we were all capable of whether we actually did it or not is moot, we were capable of it.
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
And of course when Paul wrote to the Colossians thatís what they had just came out of. These Colossians people didnít have the wherewithal to come from Christian homes like a lot of American do. Remember they were pagans, and idolaters, and all the attendant vice that was with that lifestyle. For us of course like Iíve already said, it merely means that weíre capable of it, but most of my American listeners at least have been raised in a Christian environment to some degree. At least we have not been out there in a home that practice paganism and idolatry, so always redeemer that these early believers, thatís what they came out of and weíll see that again when we get to the Thessalonian letters. Now verse 22.
"In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy (set apart. God has taken us out of that environment of wickedness and of the world and He has set us apart.) and unblameableÖ"Now when I read a word like that, immediately verses come to mind. So letís come back to I Corinthians chapter 1, and letís begin with verse 5 to pick up the flow.
I Corinthians 1:5-8
"That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8. Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now what kind of believers were the Corinthians? Carnal! They were not a spiritual group of people. They had all kinds of problems, and so even to those carnal believers at Corinth who had still not totally removed themselves from all the excesses of their pagan background, they were still experiencing immorality, they were still experiencing divisiveness in the congregation, but yet Paul writes the Corinthians were blameless. Now thatís not license but rather GRACE, and thatís what it says. And the reason for that is because the work of salvation is so complete. Now back to Colossians again.
"Öto present you holy and unblameable and unrepoveable in his sight:"
Now some people are going to jump on this word if in verse 23 here and say, "well that means you can lose it." No I think Paul merely puts the thought here that we are dealing with something that is so precious that weíre not to take it lightly.
"If ye continue in the faith (how?) grounded and settled,Ö"
In another place he says, Ďnot driven about with every wind of doctrine,í And thatís what a lot of people have been guilty of. We get letters all the time where they have jumped from this group to that group and ended up just totally confused. Theyíve gone with every wind doctrine. What just say, "Well this is what the Book says."
"If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; Ö"
Now thatís quite a statement isnít it? Now Iím not taking away from the need to send missionaries to foreign places. But over and over the Bible tells me that people have already been given enough that theyíre going to be held responsible. Now thatís shocking I know. Let me show you what Iím talking about. Come back with me to Johnís gospel chapter 1. And donít ever construe this as an excuse for not going to the mission field because there is a dire need for missionaries in many many places around the world. But on the other hand when Paul writes in Romans chapter 1 that one day these lost benighted souls will stand at the Great White Throne and here their condemnation and Paul says, "they are without excuse." Well how can they be if they have never heard the Gospel before? Well evidently they have. Look at Johnís gospel chapter 1, verse 6.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (the Baptist) The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, (a reference to Christ, the Light of the world) that all men through him might believe. 8. He (John) was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (now if that doesnít grab you I donít know what does.) 9. That (speaking of Christ) was the true Light, which lighted every man that cometh into the world."
Thatís what it says, and whom am I to argue with it. Every man in the world has received a certain degree of Light and consequently then "they are without excuse." Letís look at that verse over in Romans 1, verse 20. In fact we really should read verse 19 also.
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (the whole human race) 20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, (created) even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they (the whole human race) are without excuse:"
Thatís also what it says, and Iím sure that the Lord will say to them when they come up before Him at the Great White Throne judgment. I know theyíll say, "I never had a chance, I never heard," And Iím almost confident that Heís going to come right back and quote John 1:9. "I was the Light that came into the world. I Lighted you at one time." Now we donít understand how this is possible, at least I sure donít, but the Scripture is true, let God be true, these people are going to be held responsible. Itís just totally beyond my comprehension but Iíve got to go by what the Book says.
Now back to Colossians chapter 1. Here again Paul uses that same connotation that every human being has somehow or other been made aware of the Gospel. Letís look at Romans chapter 2, verse 16. Iíll bet this is a verse that 9 out 10 professing Christians donít know is in here, and yet it fits with what weíve just been saying.
"In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my (Paulís) gospel."
Isnít that something? Now what does that mean? At judgment day there at the Great White Throne the masses of the whole human race are going to be confronted with Paulís Gospel even though it was only preached from Paulís time on. Donít ask me to explain that because itís beyond me. But again let God be true. Every human being will stand before the judge absolutely without excuse because somehow or other the Light of the Gospel has appeared to every man. In Titus chapter 2 he says basically the same thing.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."Now back to Colossians chapter 1, and letís look at the last part of verse 23 again.
"Öwhich ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven: (now we know there are areas in South America that are practically uncivilized. And we have to say, Ďtheyíve never heard.í So letís just leave that in Godís hand.) whereof I Paul am made a minister;"
Thatís what made me think of Romans 2:16 that said, "they will be judged by Paulís Gospel. And what is Paulís Gospel? I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10 explains his Gospel perfectly, and by believing Paulís Gospel is the way to have eternal life.
"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,Ö"
And again that goes back to all the physical suffering that the Apostle Paul went through for the sake of the Gospel. My goodness he could have just thrown up his hands and given up and gone back to Jerusalem, and lived high on the hog couldnít he? But he didnít do that. He continued on and counted the things of this world as trash, things that was worthless so that the Gospel might continue throughout the Roman empire.
"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh (his own sufferings that we have read about so often) for his bodyís sake, which is the church:"
See there again the Apostle Paul is making the distinction that the Church he refers to is the Body of Christ. Do you see what a difference that makes? Always remember that no where else in Scripture do you see that. You donít see it in the four gospels, or the Book of Acts, but only from the Apostle Paulís pen do you find the Body of Christ, the Church. This is uniquely Pauline see? That Body of Truth as weíre going to see in a little bit he refers to constantly as the revelation of the mysteries. So he says, everything that heís gone through is for the sake of the Body which is the Church.
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you,Ö"
Now remember, what kind of a congregation was Colossi Jew or Gentile? Well it was Gentile. Oh there may have been a smattering of Jewish believers, but it was primarily a Gentile congregation. And look at his language in that verse.
"Öaccording to the dispensation (or administration) of God which was given to me (Paul) for you. (It was for the benefit of these Gentiles, and for us today) to fulfil the word of God."
And this is why we have to differentiate that God dealt differently with Israel then He deals with the Church. And the only place we can differentiate is that Paul writes to the Church where the rest of Scripture writes to Israel. Now come back to Ephesians and he uses almost identical same language, and remember repetition is for emphases. This is why Iím sure the Holy Spirit caused him to write it. I donít think Paul set there beating his head, and wondered how he could repeat this. No the Holy Spirit just caused him to dictate it or however he did it, and thatís consequently the inspiration of the Scriptures.
"For this cause (because of what he wrote in those first two chapters) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (what people?) you Gentiles."
Now donít miss that. It is specifically directed to the Gentiles. Now we know that everything from Genesis chapter 9 up through the four gospels accounts and early chapters of Acts were all directed to the Jews. Let me show you for example in the Book of Acts chapter 2 so you can see the difference. This is just for comparison sake, and letís just start with verse 22. Now watch this real careful because Iím going to throw you a curve.
"Ye men of Israel, (and all you Gentiles. See it doesnít say that. Everybody thinks it should, but it doesnít include a Gentile no how, but rather) Ye men of Israel, hear these words;Ö" Now come on over to chapter 3 and youíll see this isnít just a misprint. Just as clearly as Paul says, "to you Gentiles," Peter says "to you Jews." Verse 12.
"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of IsraelÖ."
Do you see how Peter qualifies who he is speaking to. And then come on down to verse 13.
"The God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, (Peter is speaking to Jews)
Now in Ephesians and we find that Paul is going the other direction and he says, "I am the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles." And in Romans 11:13 he tells us who he was sent to minister to.
"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles;Ö" Now back to Ephesians 3 and look at verse 2.
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:"
Now the part I really wanted you to see was the last part of that verse which is identical with Colossians 1:25. Whatís the process? God revealed this whole body of truth to this one man, this Apostle of the Gentiles, and he was instructed that he was to take this message to the Gentile world. Now granted he tried to go to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles, but when the Jews rejected his message he would end up with his greatest results among the Gentiles. And thatís the way God intended it as this is the age of Grace with God dealing primarily with us Gentiles. Now coming back to Colossians and letís read verse 25 again.
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;"
Letís go all the way back to the Old Testament to see how it all fits together. Come back to Isaiah chapter 42, and then weíll have a couple of others that we can look at. Oh my goodness you mean we only have a minute left? Ok Isaiah 42 and maybe this will suffice.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: (who are we talking about? The Messiah.) he shall bring forth judgment (rule) to (what people?) the Gentiles." See God had forgotten about the Gentiles. Verse 6.
"I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, (Israel) for a light of the Gentiles;" That was Israelís prospect. Now chapter 60.
"And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,Ö"
Lesson One ē Part IV
Jesus Christ the Creator God
Now letís get back to where we left off in Colossians chapter 1, and verse 26. To fulfill the Word of God coming out of verse 25, and this is all part of fulfilling.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,Ö"
Does that mean what it says? Yes it means what it says. This whole body of truth thatís coming out of Romans through, especially the little letter of Philemon, is truth that was never ever revealed before to the human race. Oh the background for it had been, of course. Paul says that himself, "that all of this was built on the prophets and the apostles, but so far as the doctrinal truths that we find in Romans through Philemon, this was hidden from human understanding until it was revealed to this apostle of Grace. Thatís why so many times when people write or call with questions especially concerning the Book of Acts. Well the first thing that I will tell them is look, there is no Pauline doctrine of such in the Book of Acts, because Acts is the in between Book that moves from the Judaism system into the Church Age or into the Age of Grace. But when it comes to Church doctrine you have to go by what Paul says. And it was to him that these mysteries were given.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generationsÖ"
Now some of you are going to say, "Oh no not again." But letís go to Deuteronomy chapter 29 and look at it. Now this is for the benefit of new listeners who are probably just catching us in the last few days for the first time. This is Moses writing to the nation of Israel, but like I showed you in the closing moments of the last half hour, God has always been the God of the whole human race, not just Israel and not just Gentiles, but each in their own segmented period of time. First He dealt with Israel, and now Heís been dealing primarily with the Gentiles. And this portion of Scripture just falls right in with what Paul says.
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God:Ö"
Why? Because Heís Sovereign. Now listen, most of you that I can see here in the classroom have been parents, and when those kids were little were there things that you didnít want your kids to know? Well of course there were, you were the parent. I can remember when I was little my folks, if they didnít want us to know what they were talking about, would talk in German. Youíd sit there and cock your ear and thought you had lost your hearing, but they were keeping some things secret from us kids. Well God can and has done the same thing, Heís Sovereign, He doesnít have to tell everything, and He didnít. Now for the next part of the verse.
"Öbut those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we (as far as Israel is concerned) may do all the words of this law."
God is dealing on that same basis with the Gentile world. He has kept all these revelations that come through the apostle Paul a secret. Jesus never betrayed any of these secrets in His earthly ministry. Jesus never made mention of anything about the Body of Christ, and the saving of Gentiles outside of Judaism. He never did any of that. Why? It was not time to reveal it, and He was not about to betray that Sovereign attribute until He wanted it revealed. I personally think that the secret of understanding Scripture, is that God didnít not reveal everything all at one time. As He came up through Scripture, even dealing with the nation of Israel, He didnít tell them everything from start to finish, it was a progressive revelation.
Then you come to the ministry of Christ and again even thatís a progressive revelation. But when we come finally to Acts chapter 9 and the appearance of the apostle Paul, out comes these revelations of secret things. Paul is always referring to them as the mysteries. And remember the word mystery in the Greek is "musterion." It is the word translated usually as mystery, but also at times is translated secret. So the two words are synonymous. If itís been a mystery kept in the mind of God, it was a secret, and thatís what Paul is constantly referring to then as this body of truth that he calls the mysteries. Letís come back to I Corinthians chapter 4, and these are all verses that weíve looked at in days gone by but letís look at least some of these reference.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards (or overseers, or managers) of the mysteries (or secrets) of God."What secrets? The things that He has kept secret until now are being revealed. Now verse 2.
I Corinthians 4:2
"Moreover it is required in stewards, (managers, or overseers) that a man be found faithful."
Now when you go all the way back to Genesis when Abraham was being promised a son and none was forthcoming and he was almost getting frustrated.
"And Abram said, Lord GOD what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?"
Well, what did he mean? Eliezer was the manager of Abrahamís possessions. It was more than what Abraham could handle himself, so he had this hired manager or steward. Now, it stands to reason, if youíre going to be faithful to the owner of the estate and you are now at the second tier of management, if youíre going to be all that you should be, you will be what? FAITHFUL! Because the name of the game is to do all that you can to enhance your masterís estate. Now Paul is bringing this same idea down to the revelation of the mysteries, this revelation of secrets that you and I as believers are put in a place of responsibility as a manager over a business. We are to be faithful in passing these things on to those who have never heard. Itís our responsibility. And youíd better know what youíre talking about because this is what the world is hung up on. Confusion and deception, and we have to come with that which is pure truth. The revelation of things that had been kept secret. And the Apostle Paul is the only one who is over and over referring to that very same concept.
Alright, youíre still in I Corinthians, arenít you? Come on over to chapter 15, and dropping down to verse 51. And here again, Iíve made it very plain on the programs, as long as Iíve been on the air, that I am a proponent of a Pre-tribulation out calling of the Church, the Body of Christ, which is the Rapture. And a lot of people are all shook up by it and canít understand it. Well, itís because they donít understand the mysteries that were revealed to Paul. Granted, there is never anything else in Scripture, in the Old Testament or the Gospels, or Acts, or Revelation or any of these others, that even alludes to what we call the Rapture. Why? Because itís a Pauline revelation. Now, when I say Pauline, I mean Paul in the other extent. Itís a Pauline revelation and here he calls it what it is. But all the other writers when they speak of the Lordís return, theyíre speaking about His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation and not the Rapture of the Church just before the Tribulation begins.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I shew you a (what?) mystery: (a secret) We shall not all sleep, (die) but we shall all be changed."
Paul says heís going to reveal a secret. This is something thatís never been revealed before. Never! And what is it? That thereís coming a day, and Paul thought it was a lot closer than it was, and maybe we think itís closer than it will be, and I think itís getting close, but thereís coming a day when all of a sudden thereís going to be a great resurrection of the believers who have died and at the same time we who are alive shall be changed into a new body. Weíre not going to die if we as believers are alive when this event happens. Now verse 52.
I Corinthians 15:52a
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:Ö" Not one of the angelic trumpets in Revelations. This is a singular trumpet in Godís hands.
I Corinthians 15:52b
"Öfor the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Thatís a revelation of a secret. Itís never been revealed before. The Lord never talked like this. The Lord talked of resurrection, but He never talked of a group of people who would be alive at the time. And so here we have a revelation of a mystery. Now, Iím not going to have time for all of them, but if youíll come on over with me to Ephesians chapter 3 where this whole period of grace was unknown to the whole human race. Jesus never referred to it. Peter couldnít have referred to it. But Paul is the one that God, by grace, used to reveal these secrets to the whole human race. And what is it?
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation (or administration. Just as Eliezer was the administrator of Abrahamís estate. And it was a viable thing, so also is this administration) of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward."
Listen thatís never been held before the human race before. If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward and here it comes.
How that by revelation (whatís the other word for revelation? A revealing) he made known unto me the mysteryÖ." (secret.)"
And whatís the secret? This whole body of Pauline truths, how that the work of the cross completed every thing that the human race needed for salvation. We donít have to do a thing. God has done it all. But you donít find that until you get to Paul. And this is the whole revelation of that which was kept secret. Now reading on in chapter 3 of Ephesians. We looked at this a few weeks ago when we were in the book, but now verse 4 & 5.
"Whereby, when ye read (Paulís epistles) ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. (a secret) 5. Which in other ages (generations) was not made known (see how plain that language is when you understand what weíre talking about. Donít forget Deuteronomy 29:29 which says, "The secret things belong to God." Heís Sovereign. And He doesnít have to reveal it until Heís good and ready. And that was when the Apostle Paul was sent to the Gentiles) to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."
And remember Paul had others that followed in his footsteps. I think Barnabas could be considered one and maybe Timothy and some of those. But here was the whole concept that was never revealed before. Now verse 6.
"That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs (not just subjects of Christís kingship like Israel will be, but Gentiles are to be brought into that position of joint heirs of Christ. You canít find that anywhere else in Scripture except Paulís epistles. Itís just not in there. You can look, but here it is.) and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." Now letís go on down to verse 9, which we used a couple of programs back.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (secret) which from the beginning of the world hath been (whatís the next word?) hid (see how plain that is?) in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."
All the way through Paulís epistles you have this word popping up - "the mysteries." That it was revealed only to Paul. Now a verse just comes to mind. Poor Peter, bless his heart. And I donít put him down one iota but letís come back to his second epistle, chapter 3 and weíre going to start at verse 15. We havenít used these two verses in a long, long time. But now, remember, Peter didnít have the mysteries revealed to him. Only Paul did. But as Paul began to preach these mysteries and the Gospel that was Paulís Gospel and the appearing of the Body of Christ, Peter just stood there, I think, from the outside looking in. Letís read the verses first and then Iíll comment. And remember Peter writes these little epistles about the same time Paul is writing the prison epistles. It think the two men were probably martyred within a year of each other. And so this is at the end of Peterís ministry. Shortly before heís martyred.
II Peter 3:15
"And account (understand) that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; (of course. Thatís the main theme of the whole Bible) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him (by the revelation of the secrets) hath written unto you. 16. As also in all his epistles, (from Romans through Philemon) speaking in them of those things (the things that pertain to salvation) in which are some things hard to be understood, (Thatís Peter writing by inspiration.) which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
Do you see what the man is saying? That when Paul reveals these mysteries that had been kept secret it was such revelation, such breaking of new ground, that even good old Peter couldnít grasp it all. It was beyond him. And I can see why. Because Peter was steeped in Judaism. He was steeped in legalism. He was steeped in the Christ of His earthly ministry. And so when the Apostle Paul comes along and presents all this to the Gentile world, like I showed you in the last program, who did Peter address in Acts chapter 2 & 3? "Ye men of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers", and then all of a sudden have these things promoted among the Gentile world. I can see why Peter couldnít comprehend it. And I donít believe he had a full understanding of it right up until the time he was martyred. It was just something totally beyond him.
And so when Paul speaks of these mysteries, for goodness sake donít just shove it off and say you just canít understand what heís talking about. Heís merely telling us that he is being used of the same God that called Abraham, that called the twelve disciples up there in Galilee, but the same God is now revealing to this apostle a whole new concept of things that had never been heard of before. One of which is that we are joint heirs with Christ. Another one is that one day the trumpet will sound and weíre going to be gone. Now I know thatís hard for a lot of people to swallow, because itís not in the rest of the Scriptures, but itís only in Paulís writings. It is part of the revelation of the mysteries, and then itís not hard to comprehend. So now coming back to verse 26.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages (thousands of years God kept it secret) and from generations, (all the generations of Israel) but now is made manifest to his saints:
The world doesnít know what weíre talking about, and a good percentage of Christendom donít know what weíre talking about. Do you know why? Because they avoid Paulís writings like the plague, they wonít come into Paulís writings if they can possibly avoid it. I had a gentlemen tell me the other day, "Les Iíve been keeping track, every Sunday morning for the last three months, our sermon has been out of the Book of Matthew." Why would this be? Now I have nothing against Matthew, itís the Word of God, but when you spend 100% of your time in Matthew, youíre missing the revelations of the mysteries.
Youíre missing justification by faith alone, youíre missing this whole concept of the Body of Christ, as itís not in Matthew or the four gospels. Youíre missing this whole concept of the Grace of God, itís not in Matthew. Youíre missing the whole concept that youíre sins are already forgiven. Youíre missing the whole concept about the blessed hope as Paul writes to Titus that one day the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ will appear for us in the air. See thatís not in Matthew. And there are just countless others that youíre missing including Paulís Gospel by which is the way we have eternal life. That was only given to Paul. So when you leave Paulís writing out of your study youíre missing out on all the good things that God wants us to have.
Iíll never forget years ago, I hadnít been in Oklahoma very long and I had a doctor come to my class. He would sit right in front of me. And oh he would almost sit there like a starved bird and would say every so often, "Les why havenít we been taught these things before? Fifty years Iíve been going to Church and now I can see theyíve been cheating me." Well Iím afraid thatís too often the case, and you know why? Because they will not study the mysteries, and this is where itís at for us Gentiles. And I say this kindly. You have to understand the revelation of the mysteries to understand Godís dealing with Gentile world. Now moving on.
"To whom (the saints, the believers of the Church Age) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;Ö"
Now Iím not leaving the Jewish people out of this, but Iím going to say what the Scriptures says, that this is directed primarily to the Gentiles. I know I have many Jewish believers in the listening audience, I know I do. We stay with a Jewish Christian couple when we go up to Minnesota, and we can revel in these things, but for the most part the Jew canít except the fact that Jesus has already come the first time. So this secret in particular thatís heís talking about here is for the Gentiles.
"ÖGod would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, (by the person of the Holy Spirit) the hope of glory:"
Thatís what weíre living for. Weíre not living for this world. Oh we all have our ambitions and Iím just as ambitious as anyone. I love my cattle herds and my ranching as much as anybody, but hey this isnít the end. Glory is the end, but that doesnít mean we canít enjoy these things in this earthly sojourn.
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (or spiritually mature) in Christ Jesus: 29. Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
Lesson Two ē Part I
Paul Warns the Church
As we begin this series of the next four lessons, I must let our television audience know that weíre finally in our new studio here at channel 47 in Tulsa. When Lesea sold the old building and bought this new one we had to put up with that makeshift studio, which was more cramped, with no room for tables, while they built this whole new addition. Anyhow I certainly want to thank the Lesea people and their president Pete Summerall for this state of the art studio.
Now weíre ready to start our study for today, and weíll begin with Colossians chapter 2, and verse 1. I was going to put the timeline on the board again, but I think Iíll refrain until we finish Colossians. Itís been a while since weíve had it up there, and it helps so many people to understand their Bible better. But before we go into the Thessalonian letters I will again review some of those things. I hope you do realize that we have new listeners everyday, and we have to keep reviewing these things so that they also know where weíre coming from and what weíre talking about.
But for now weíre in Paulís little epistle of Colossians, which was written to a little congregation east and south of Ephesus. Then, almost due north of Colossi was the other little city in Asia Minor or western Turkey called Laodicea. So when Paul makes mention that the Colossians should pass this letter on to the Laodicean people, it was just that they were a neighborhood congregation. And as I mentioned in one of the earlier programs, Paul himself had nothing to do with starting that Laodicean church. They were probably begun by some of his converts in the Ephesus Church. He makes mention that heís never met them face to face, but he has such concern for them because false teachings followed the apostle everywhere he went, and consequently it disturbed him. Now he writes beginning with verse 1.
"For I would that ye knew what great conflict (struggle) I have for you,Ö"
He was struggling with the fact that these people were left with no written Word. Never forget they didnít have any New Testament until Paulís letters started coming, which was in about the early 60ís or late 50ís and heís already been out establishing churches for 15 or 20 years, so you can see his concern. So he says I just want you to know what a great struggle I have for you.
"Öand for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh:"
They had never seen the apostle Paul personally. So he didnít have a direct part of establishing these two little congregations. Now for the time being letís just go on into verse 2.
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understandingÖ"
Now this is why I teach. So many Christians have made a profession of faith, they joined the Church, they get active in the social aspect, but they know nothing of the Scriptures, and Iím sure youíre all aware of that. But you see Paulís hearts desire was that even these people in his day, who had come out of idolatry and paganism and knew nothing of even the Old Testament, could maintain their Christian experience with no more background than they had. So his concern was that they had a full understanding.
"Öof the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ."
Now those of you who have been with me for ever so many years, you know Iím always stressing the mysteries that were revealed to the apostle Paul. In fact just in the last week I donít know how many people have called and said, "Iíve never even heard the word mystery before." Well that doesnít shock me too much, because I think as I look back that I probably didnít either. Remember Paul was the only one given the mysteries, and since most preachers and teachers donít bother with his writings then most people donít know about the mysteries either. But the heart of Paulís gospel is this revelation of these mysteries. Now letís look at some of them, so come back to Romans chapter 16:25.
"Now to him that is of power (thatís another one of Paulís favorite words. The power of God, The power of His resurrection, The power of His Spirit) to stablish (or root) you according to my gospel, (not Jesusí gospel that He and the twelve preached, but rather Paulís gospel that had been given to him only) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery,Ö"
Not the preaching of Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, these secrets. If I remember correctly in our last program, I went all the way back to Deuteronomy 29:29 and found that "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God." What does that tell you? In His Sovereignty, He doesnít tell us everything all at once, and He doesnít have to. But He says, "Those things which are revealed belong to us and our children."
So you always have to look at this whole concept of the revelation that Paul talks about are these secret things that God did not reveal to the Old Testament writers, or to Peter and the eleven, but rather He waited until Saul of Tarsus was converted, and He sent him down to, I think, Mount Sinai and poured out at least a good portion of the revelation of the mysteries.
"Öwhich was kept secret since the world began."
God kept this whole package of truths secret, and never gave anybody an inclination of what was coming until it was revealed to this apostle. The other night I woke up in the middle of the night, and the thought hit me of this verse that weíve looked at many times in Peter. And letís look at it again, because Peter didnít have any concept of what Paul was going to have revealed to him, these things that are called the mysteries.
As I was lying there, two things struck me in particular. First, Peter is recognizing that the Gospel for this period of time came from the epistles of Paul. The second point was Peter puts Paulís writings as Scripture, which meant that Paul letters have just as much authority as Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, John or Peter, or any one else, because His words are Scripture. Before we read I want to remind people of when these things were written. Peter is writing this shortly before heís martyred, at the end of his life. Heís not writing this way back there 20-30 years ago. This is at the end of his life, and probably in the middle 60ís shortly before the temple is destroyed.
II Peter 3:15
"And account (or understand) that the longsuffering (the patience) of our Lord is salvation; (thatís the whole purpose of this Book. Whether itís Old or New Testament, itís to bring mankind into a knowledge of salvation, whether it was under Law or the Kingdom economy, or now under Grace. Godís heart is for the salvation of lost mankind.) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;"
Now youíve got to remember, what group of people is Peter addressing? Jews of the dispersion, and he tells us that in I Peter 1:1. So even to his own Jewish people he is admonishing them to go to the letters of Paul. Now Paulís earliest epistles had only been out there 7 or 8 years, and his later epistles had only been out there probably a year or two. But Peter is admonishing his fellow Jews to go those letters of Paul for instructions. Now verse 16.
II Peter 3:16a
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (that is salvation as we now understand by faith alone through the Grace of God) in which are some things hard to be understood,Ö"
Now most people read right over that, and donít even realize what the man is saying. But here Peter is admitting that this revelation to the apostle Paul was hard for good Jews to comprehend. Why? Because it was totally, totally different. It was completely removed from temple worship, it was completely removed from the covenant promises of Israel, and here was the offer of salvation to these pagan idolatrous Gentiles that if they would just simply realize their lost estate, and believe the Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4, God will bring them into Himself. Hey, thatís hard for a good Jew to comprehend. Now finishing the verse.
II Peter 3:16b
"Öwhich they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, (twist) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
So whatís Peter doing with Paulís epistles? Heís lumping them in with the rest of the Bible. They are Scripture! Theyíre the inspired Word of God! Now isnít it amazing that men just ignore this, and almost refuse to go into Paulís writings? I donít know why, but I can see it over and over that they just almost ignore them purposely. "Willingly ignorant," as Peter says concerning the flood in his little epistle. Well anyway, this is all part and parcel of this revelation of what Paul calls his Gospel, and that is God in Grace. Now of course as weíre going to see a little further on in Colossians the mysteries are in several different categories. Weíve got, for example, the mystery of what I call the Rapture or the catching away of the Church. Itís a mystery we find in I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." Another mystery was that the Gentiles would come into the Body of Christ on equal basis with the Jew.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:"
Hey, that had never been revealed before, so it was a mystery. Now here in Colossians weíre going to see that this particular mystery is a revelation of the Godhead in a way that the Old Testament never explained it. This is an explanation of the Godhead the likes of which Peter and the apostles couldnít even preach or comprehend.
But now itís revealed to this apostle, that this Godhead, and thatís the term Paul will use a little later in this chapter. Itís that composition of the Three Person and yet One. See, this throws a curve at so many people. I had a phone call early this morning, and the person was hung up on this very same thing. They could not believe that Jesus was God! And the term that throws so many people is the "Son of God." Which means that God procreated Him. Itís absolutely unreal what people are being taught. But you see they canít conceive of the fact that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all three co-equal. There is no One of them that is above the other, and yet they operate as One. I canít understand it, I canít describe it, but I sure believe it, because itís in the Book. Now here it comes in verse 2 of Colossians chapter 2.
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, (and what is God? Well at least in most of the translations, the mystery of God is this composite of all the persons of the Godhead,) and of the Father, and of Christ; 3. (that in this Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Spirit) in whom are hid all the treasurers of wisdom and knowledge."
Now weíre in a technology explosion today arenít we? I was just reading to Iris a little article last night that in the next 5 years weíre going to see more technology exploding around us then weíve seen in the last 50 years. Now goodness sake weíve had a lot of technology in the last 50 years. Then the author of the article went on to explain that the fiber optics, for example, had just sort of been laying dormant. But the Lucent Company has just suddenly brought in such technology for the fiber optic system that it just blows your mind. But you know what? Every time they discover or invent a new technology God smiles and says, "Hey I created it." Well if He created it, then He knows the deepest secrets of every electrical formula, and all the steps of physics, He created it, so He has the knowledge of these things before theyíre ever discovered.
When God speaks of His wisdom and knowledge, I always have to think of poor Job. And when I say, poor Job, Iím not referring to him that way because he lost all of his daughters, and livestock, but rather Job lost his pride. Oh, the Lord must have made Job feel, as we would say today, not worth two cents. Letís go to Job 38, and everyone wonít agree with me, but I think Jobís basic problem was pretty much like today. He was proud. Proud of his what? His humility. He was proud of the fact that he was blessed of God, that He was a righteous man, he loved God, and I donít take any of that away from him. But when you come through the whole Book of Job and then come to chapter 38, and I feel sorry for the poor old fellow. My, when the Lord got through speaking to him, he must have felt like crawling into a rat hole. Just look at what God says.
"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, (now I wish I had time to read all of chapter 38 and 39, but Iím not going to so donít worry. But you do that in your spare time, and then youíll get the drift of what Iím talking about. Now look what the Lord says) 2. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"Well the casual reader is going to say, "Well God is referring to Jobís three friends. No. God is talking to Job, and He says Ė
"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3. Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me." Now Job is on the spot isnít he? Oh heís on the spot. Now look at what the Lord says in verse 4.
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare; if thou hast understanding." What did Job say? Nothing. I mean, heís helpless, heís wordless, he doesnít get a word in edgewise.
"Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?"
Do you get what Iím driving at? What is God imparting here? That Job thought he knew it all. In so many words God says, "Ok Job if you are so smart Ė and this is exactly what God could do with our scientists today. Oh, He could take the greatest brain from Silicon Valley and put him in front of Him and say, "Ok where were you- If youíre so smart tell me." God could bring things into their thinking that they have not even yet considered as Heís doing here with Job.
"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof: 7. When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8. Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth,"
And one of the verses that I was really thinking of when I saw this in Colossians was verse 22. Which of course now in our technology even our little grade school kids know this from fourth and fifth grade science I guess. But back in the ancients they didnít have the microscopes and so forth. But look what God says here to Job.
"Hast thou entered into the treasurers of the snow?Ö"
Well whatís He talking about? That even in a tremendous blizzard thereís no two snow flakes alike. Did Job know that? No. Then come all the way up to verse 31.
"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, (or what we call the seven sisters I think) or loose the bands of Orion? Job can you control the stars in their orbit? Can you control the constellations?
"Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"
Do you get what Iím talking about? And with every question He just puts Job lower and lower, lower, and finally Job has to realize that he doesnít know anything. Now as time has expired I guess weíd better come right back to Colossians and looking at verse 3 again. Itís this same God that confronted Job and reveals all the knowledge of those two chapters of Job 38 and 39. He is the One -
:In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Lesson Two ē Part II
Paul Warns the Church
Now in this lesson weíll pick up our study in Colossians, chapter verse 4. Iím going to pretty much skim over these verses 5, 6, and 7 because verse 4 and verse 8 Iím going to tie together. But Iím going to wait till we get to verse 8 before I teach verse 4. They both teach about deception, about being beguiled so weíll put them together.
"And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. 6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
A verse just comes to mind that we need to look at. Like I just told Jerry, a lot of times I donít intend to start chasing Scriptures, but we trust the Holy Spirit has a reason for prompting me. Come back with me to II Corinthians chapter 11, because Iím sure this is exactly whatís on the apostleís mind as he writes. Now remember the Corinthian letters were written several years before the prison epistles, and here heís rehearsing his sufferings.
II Corinthians 11:27-28
"In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (and I even skipped the verses about his beatings and stoning, and shipwrecks, and being robbed so often) 28. Beside those things (the physical sufferings) that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches."
I mean the man was just constantly burdened, wondering how that Church in Philippi was doing? How are those folks over in the Colossi Church? How are the members over at the Ephesus Church? See, all of this was on his mind constantly, and it was a daily concern for him. Now coming back to Colossians chapter 2. I canít help but feel that those Churches were on his mind as he wrote verses 5, 6, and 7. Now Iím going to come into verse 8, and tie that up with verse 4. And whatís the first word of verse 8? Beware! Look out, because thereís danger ahead. And whatís the danger? False teachings.
You know Iíve often said, I know with God, Heís Sovereign and He saw to it that the Church survived. But have you ever stopped to realize what a miracle it is that Christianity ever survived? I mean itís a miracle. Here we have little groups of believers that have just come out of paganism, they had Paul and one of his helpers for a few weeks, and then they moved on to another congregation. They had no printed Book to leave with them, and no trained pastor to leave with them. Then the moment they moved on to a new congregation the false teachers, the Judaisers, would come right in behind Paul and tell these people that you canít be saved by faith and faith alone. You have to keep the Law of Moses, you have to be circumcised, this and that act is also required. And itís almost that bad today with false teachings, and the passing on of tradition. Iím amazed that it all survived. But of course God is Sovereign and He watched over it, we know that. Now letís read verse 8 again.
"Beware lest any manÖ" So in the Colossians Church I feel there was somebody who was guilty of this and Paul didnít name him, but he certainly made the congregation aware of what he was doing.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Now tie verse 8 and verse 4 together.
"And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words."
Now listen, Iíve been telling people for 25 years, that youíre not going to have someone come in behind your pulpit and just flat out say, "Now look folks, Iím going to deceive you." You know better than that, nobody would do that, but rather they come up there like wolves in sheepís clothing donít they? Again I got a call from west Texas where this Church had a guest preacher situation, and it was pitiful what he was proclaiming. Yet the congregation didnít even realize what he was. Well it was a wolf in sheepís clothing. Iím sure the guy didnít come into that pulpit and say, "Iím going to fill you up with false teaching today. But instead these false teachers make it sound like theyíre the authority and youíd better believe it. Like Paul say, "they come with enticing words." Now letís compare that then with the apostle himself, and letís go back to Romans chapter 16. Paul is always showing the opposite side of the coin with his own ministry. That he would never deceive any body, he would never bring anything but the truth.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; (their own physical, material appetite. Boy doesnít that ring a bell? My theyíll come into our congregations and just milk them from start to finish, to line their own pockets.) and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
Weíre not talking about simple minded people, but rather believers who are not yet rooted in the truth. And like a child who was still simple these early believers could be so easily led astray. So Paul is warning them to be aware. For such people offer nothing but to fill their own physical and material desires. Now letís go to another one in I Corinthians chapter 2, and I think I want verse 4. Now this is how he came to these congregations as opposite of false teachers.
I Corinthians 2:4
"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of manís wisdom, but (my preaching was) in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:"
Remember, I told you in the last lesson that Paul likes that word power. The Holy Spirit inspires him to use it every once in a while. It was the power of God that kept driving him on. Now verse 5. Why did the man just simply, totally depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, and to make sure that everything he said was honest, and above board? It was to enhance their Spiritual well being, and here it is.
I Corinthians 2:5
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
Our faith isnít set in the wisdom of men, and weíre going to see when we get back to Colossians when it speaks of philosophy and traditions of men. Thatís not where our faith rests. Our faith rests in the Word of God! Now read verse 5 again.
I Corinthians 2:5
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
See when we rest in the power of God, then weíre on solid ground. Now letís go to another one in II Corinthians chapter 11, and verse 13. Iím always afraid I donít use enough verses, and yet I donít want to use too many that we waste time.
II Corinthians 11:13-15a
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (they are self proclaimed) 14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;Ö"
Now thatís scary language isnít it? What does it tell us? Oh we have to be so careful. We canít just sit down and say, well that man is using the Bible, and heís behind the pulpit, and if heís behind the sacred desk, so what he says, must be true." Donít you ever do that. Not with me or anybody else. But what we have to look at is this. "Is what he is saying lining up with the Word of God? Also is he separating Law and Grace? Remember Law and Grace wonít mix." Now reading on in verse 15.
II Corinthians 11:15b
"Öwhose end shall be according to their works."
Do you know what tells me? Theyíre going to be at the Great White Throne! And we all know whoís going to appear there donít we? Only the Lost! Because these men canít be the possessors of eternal life, or they could not be used of Satan in such a way. Now I have another one in Ephesians chapter 4, and verse 14.
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, (in our spiritual learning) and carried about with every wind of doctrine,Ö" Now there again you have no idea how many people will call and say, "theyíve been in many, many different groups, and one was just a bad as another, but finally they saw the light and came out and embellished the truth." Listen the world is full of these false teachings, and a lot of times itís the cults, but not always. So Paul is warning us here "not to be carried about with every wind of doctrine."
"Öby the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
See, thatís their job. Itís also all theyíre living for, is to deceive the masses. And oh weíre seeing it, and yet the Scriptures warns us that those kind of people are to be avoided at all cost. Now I think I have one more in the next chapter, and that would be in Ephesians chapter 5:6. See how much Paul deals with, "beware of deception?" Itís almost as much as the positive, and this is what we have to be careful of.
"Let no man deceive you with vain word; for because of these things, (these false teachers) cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."And these guys are going to be part of it. Theyíre going to be part of the people they have deceived. Now verse 7.
"Be not ye therefore partakers with them."
Stand up and say, "Hey, Iím not going to follow this." My, weíve got people in other states around the country that have come out of some of these groups, and theyíll admit with a question, "How in the world did we sit there for 10 years and listen to this stuff?" But you see they didnít know any better. I hope I can say this and get away with it, one guy said, "We had a guy come into our Church, and say, "Now look people, so far as youíre concerned, I am your God." And he said, "It didnít even bother us a bit that you could tell, as the rank and file of people are still going." But the Lord opened their eyes and they came out of it.
Youíd be surprised at what we hear, but thatís whatís out there. See this is what the apostle Paul was constantly aware of, that you had all these false teachers coming in and hoodwinking the people. Oh I could stand here all afternoon and give example after example of what people are telling us that theyíre being subjected to. Itís frightening. And even the Lord Himself warns of this. Letís go back to Matthew chapter 24 for a moment and look what He says. In my Oklahoma classes I almost deluge them with this verse for six straight months. Every week I would remind them what the Lord said in this chapter. And letís just start with verse 3. The Lord here is in His earthly ministry and before His crucifixion.
"And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples (the twelve) 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 answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you."Now what does that tell you? Thatís a sign of the end times! The world is going to be inundated with deceptions. And we know the world has to be made ready for the man of sin, the global leader thatís coming on the scene, and I feel weíre getting closer and closer to that day. So consequently in order to get the world ready for him, Satan is deceiving them so that theyíll be ready for him with open arms. But you see, you and I are to know better. Weíre not to fall into that trap, weíre not to be ready for the man of sin, but rather weíre to ready for the Head of the Body at His soon return. Now coming back to Colossians chapter 2. Again I thought weíd finish Colossians today Jerry, but I donít think weíre going to make it.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophyÖ"
That is the thoughts and mind of educated men. Now Iíve got nothing against education, but Iím going to look at it the way the Scriptures does. When educated men get puffed up and feel that their thoughts and their own idea supersedes the Scriptures, then I have to get my hackles up and say, now listen weíre not going to go by the intellectuals idea of menís philosophy..
"Öand vain deceit, after the tradition of men,Ö"
Now youíd be surprise how many times I can ask a pastor a particular thing that he may not agree with me on. So Iíll just ask then to show me in the Scripture, "Why you do what you do", and they canít.! "Then why do you do it?" And after a blank stare of about 30 seconds here it comes, "tradition." And oh how Paul hated the word. You say, "Where do you get that?" Back up a few pages to Galatians chapter 1. And of course Galatians chapter 1 and 2 is a recap of course of his early ministry. Chapter 1 is conversion to the road to Damascus, and heís given us a brief glimpse of his background.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. (heís not following philosophy of man) 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (now thatís the mystery again that he referred to in Romans 16:25.) 13. For ye have heard of my conversation (or manner of living) in time past in the Jewí religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God, and wasted it:"
In other words those Jewish believers who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah for their salvation, had come aside out of the main stream of Judaism, although they still kept temple worship. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and had repented and were baptized in water as was required by Peterís gospel of circumcision. These Jewish believers were now congregating on their own, and recognizing that Jesus was the Messiah. Alright, thatís the people then that the apostle Paul just ravished, because he thought they were imposters, and heretics. But thatís not why we came here. Look at verse 14.
"And profited in the Jewsí religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers."
Now you want to remember weíll see this a little more clearly as we come along in our study. The Judaism of Christís day was a far cry from the original with Moses and the tabernacle worship in the wilderness. Well what had happened? Well the Rabbiís, bless their hearts would sit there by the days and hours and would be examining all these concepts of the Torah, and like today they would set up a commentary of what it really meant. Well after all the Rabbiís had made these commentaries, Judaism by what Iíve been able to put together by the time of Christ was 613 rules. Now Iím going to be commentating on that again when we get to verse that these Law and rules had been crucified. But nevertheless, that was the tradition of the fathers that Saul of Tarsus had been steeped in. I dare say, he knew all 613 forward and backwards. He just knew them, and it was part and parcel of him.
Well weíre seeing the same thing today, when people are steeped in some false cults for a lifetime, maybe 70 years, and then they begin to see the truth, but is it easy? No! Itís never easy to give up tradition. Itís a battle to pull away from it, and every time they make a step forward, that old pull of tradition draws them back. Well this is what Paul knew was to follow the traditions of men. So even for us today, we have to be constantly aware, "Are you just simply following what grandpa believed?" What if grandpa is in Hell? Are you going to follow him there? And thatís what we have to realize. Just because grandpa could quoted Scripture, that doesnít mean that he had the truth of the Word of God.
Lesson Two ē Part III
Paul Warns the Church
Now as we start this lesson weíre going to just read verse 8, as I finished commenting on it, but we need to read it to introduce verse 9.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, (that which is strictly materialistic) and not after Christ. 9. For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Now you have to constantly remember that when Christ made His appearance among men back there in Bethlehem He never stopped being God. Now because He was God He was able to limit his powers, He didnít abuse it like we would, but He never stopped being God. In fact we look at that several lessons back, and just turn the page back to Colossians chapter 1:15. See the reason Paul keeps repeating this all the time is to drive the fact home as to who is Jesus Christ. Well He is the visible manifestation of the Godhead, all three.
"Who (speaking of God the Son in verse 13) is the image of the invisible God,Ö" (the Godhead)
Then to show who He really was you go on into verse 16 and it shows us that He was the Creator of everything. Heís the God of Genesis 1:1.
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" Now coming back to Colossians chapter 2, and letís read verse 9 again.
"For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Now I know this is hard for us to comprehend, I know it is. Letís take the time to look at Johnís gospel chapter 14 to follow up on this. This is a passage of Scripture I think we used a couple of weeks ago, but it just says it all. But you know I donít mind when people have a little trouble comprehending this because the twelve disciples couldnít either. Itís epitomized here when Philip says, "show us the Father" Now letís start with verse 7. And here Jesus is speaking to the twelve.
"If ye had known me, (If you really know who I am) ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (Do you see that? Now thatís a hard pill for many to swallow, and it was for the twelve.) 8. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us."
Now you want to remember that these people were just as ordinary as you and I are. These men had the same thoughts, they had the same questions that we do. Now look at Jesus answer to Philip.
"Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, (three years now) and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath (already) seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"
They had seen the Father. How did they see Him? Because in Christ dwelt the Godhead bodily. So always remember that when Scripture speaks of the Lord Ė let me give you a good example. Come back with me to Acts chapter 16. This is a good verse to use periodically anyway, and I havenít now for a few weeks. In fact Iíll just use several Scripture as we can also go back to Matthew 16. In fact letís just start with Matthew chapter 16 so that you can see that all the persons of the Godhead can be referred to synonymously.
Here in Matthew the setting is Jesus and the twelve clear up in northern Israel at the headwaters of the Jordan river. Theyíre going to be making their way down to Jerusalem for the last Passover and His crucifixion, and He ask the question up there in verse 13. "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" And they said Ė and remember they had been with Him for three years, and seen miracles upon miracles and also remember the Bible gives us only a little sample of all the miracles that Jesus performed. He must have performed miracles by the dozens everyday because the last verse of Johnís gospel says Ė
"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."
Now even if that were a play on words it just simply tells us that we only are told a sampling of the ones that He performed. Now look at how the disciples answered him in verse 14.
"And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; (Elijah) and others, Jeremias, (Jeremiah) or one of the of the prophets. See they had all kinds of ideas except the right one, that He was the Messiah) 15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?" (And Simon Peter answers with the right answer in verse 16.) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."Now hereís the verse I wanted you to see in verse 17.
"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
Now in our line of thinking, who was the One that should have given Peter that kind of knowledge? Well the Holy Spirit. Isnít that right? Itís the Holy Spirit who gives us knowledge in those things, but here itís the Father. And Iím sure it was the Spirit that accomplished it. Now letís go to Acts chapter 16, and weíll begin with verse 14. Here of course we find Paul and Silas at Philippi.
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened,Ö"
Instead of the Father opening her heart it was the Lord. Now who is the Lord? Well God the Son. It was Christ. But we know from all the rest of Scripture what person of the Godhead actually opened the eyes of Lydia? Well the Holy Spirit, as Heís the One who opens our understanding. Now let me prove that over in I Corinthians chapter 2. Now donít let this throw a curve at you because you want to remember that the three persons of the Godhead even though we recognize their separate entities, yet they operate as One. It doesnít make any difference if itís the Spirit who opens Lydiaís heart or the Lord or the Father, itís still the same God. Here in I Corinthians chapter 2 itís definitely the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 2:13-14a
" Which things also (Paul says) we speak, (all of these things heís been writing about) not in the words which manís wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: Ö."
Now, does that leave God the Father and God the Son out of the picture? Of course not! Theyíre all involved constantly in the working of any one of the three. And so always be careful that you donít just say, "Well, now I canít figure out who is doing it. Is it the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit?" Now come back to Colossians chapter 2 and verse 9.
"For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
There you have it. Christ is God the father, God the Son and God the Spirit. But yet they function in their individual roles. Now letís move on.
"And ye (believers. Remember, Paul never talks to the unbelieving world. He always talks to the believer) are complete in him, (that God head epitomized by Christ) which is the head of all principality and power:"
What does that involve? Everything!! Whether itís the satanic powers or the angelic powers or earthly powers, or kingdoms, He is in control of everything. Thereís never been an emperor that assumed a throne without that sovereign God in control. He doesnít use a puppet string, but nevertheless, in His sovereignty nothing happened. Now again, let me show you from the Scripture what Iím talking about. I hate to have people think, "Well where does this guy get this stuff." Because I imagine Iím accused of that more than once. Come back to Romans chapter 13 and letís start at verse 1. And remember why Iím coming back here. Christ is the head of all principality and power. Not just in the realm of the spiritual but in everything.
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. (Heís not talking about spiritual power here. Heís talking about political power or government.) For there is no power (government) but (how?) of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
Thereís never been a government on the face of the earth that wasnít ordained of God. Even a Hitler or Stalin. They are all there for His purposes. They are all ordained of God and we canít ignore that. Now come back to Colossians and it says just exactly what it means and it means what it says. That Jesus the Christ, the very epitome of the Godhead bodily is still the One who is the head all principality and power. Now, Iím going to have to do with a couple of verses here like I did in the last program. Iím going to have to jump down and I want to cover verse 13, before I cover verse 11. Now that may seem like gobbledy-gook to you but I think itís going to make sense when you see what Iím doing. Letís drop down to verse 13 and then Iím going to come up and deal with verse 11. Donít worry, Iím going to hit verse 12 too, but weíre going to leave it for now.
"And you, (talking to believers) being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he (God) hath he quickened (made you alive) together with him, having (past tense) forgiven you (how much?) all trespasses;"
Now weíre going to look at the word Ďjustificationí. Weíve been justified from all things. You remember what my definition of Ďjustificationí is? Itís the judicial act of God whereby He declared the sinner "just as ifí he had never sinned." Thatís beyond human comprehension. But you see, that what the Grace of God does the moment we believe. Now, letís explain from Scripture what heís talking about in verse 13. Come back a few pages again, to Ephesians chapter 2. Now this is going to get a little sticky and I know it is. Iím going to have to go as slow as I can. Letís look at verses 11 and 12. These are verses that weíve used a lot of times.
"Wherefore remember, that ye (the Ephesians. But heís writing just as well to us today) being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,Ö"
In other words, our genetics were not Jewish. They are non-Jew, so we are Gentile. Thatís all the word Gentile means. A Gentile simply means someone who is not a Jew. So whether youíre Oriental, African, American Indian, European, or whatever, as long as weíre not out of the stock of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, weíre a Gentile. Itís just that simple. So now then Paul is saying of us Ė
"Öthat ye being in time past Gentiles, in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;"
The Uncircumcision. That was the Jewish term for a non-Jew. He was the Uncircumcised. And a lot of times they would add the word, "dogs." "Uncircumcised Dogs" is what they thought of Gentiles. Now, Iím going to give you one more. Come back a few more pages to Galatians chapter 2 and verse 7.
"But contrariwise, when they (the leadership of the Jerusalem Jewish assembly) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;"
Now how many classes of people do you have? Two! Paul and Barnabas were the apostles of the uncircumcision or the Gentiles. Peter, on the other hand, and James and John and the other of the disciples, were the apostles of the circumcision, or Israel. I could stand here for another hour on that alone. Why do you suppose Jesus chose the twelve inside of Israel? Because they were to be the apostles of Israel. Thatís why He told them not to go to the Gentiles in Matthew 10:5. Why do you supposed He chose the apostle Paul outside of Israel? Because he was to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And so all of this just fits together. But what Iím trying to show you here is the terminology, the uncircumcision, is the non-Jewish world of which you and I are a part. The circumcision was the Jewish world. Now, letís go back to Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 11. Iím almost sure Iím not going to finish these two verses in this half hour.
"Ö.who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made hands." In other words, the Jew would refer to the Gentiles as uncircumcised. Now letís go to verse 12.
"That at that time (while God was dealing with the circumcision, Israel) ye (uncircumcision, Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
That was the lot of the Gentile world. Because God was dealing with Israel. But the day came when Israel rejected everything and God turned to the Gentile world through this apostle. Now, come back to Colossians chapter 2 and Iím going to try and take this slow enough that I donít leave everybody totally confused. But now letís look at Colossians chapter 2 and verse 13.
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,Ö."
Now you tie the two together. Why were they dead in their sins? Because they were outside the covenants of Israel, outside the citizenship, they were Gentiles. And so this is what Paul is saying Ė This was our past. We were dead spiritually, mostly because we were Gentiles and were outside the covenant promises. And so as the uncircumcised physically, we were dead spiritually but what has God done? Heís quickened us. Heís made us alive. What has happened? Come up to verse 11 and Iíll leave this half hour in total confusion, Iím afraid.
"In whom (Christ) also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,Ö."
What is he talking about? A spiritual circumcision with which the flesh had nothing to do with. Now, I guess the Lord must have instituted circumcision in the flesh knowing that the day would come when it would be the perfect example of spiritual circumcision. And this is what weíre going to see in these two verses. Iím not going to finish it in this half hour, I know I canít. So now then, we who in the flesh, uncircumcised, in the spirit we are circumcised, not the fleshly circumcision, but a spiritual one. I hope I can put it on the board in the next half hour and clarify it. And that simply means that God has done something spiritually that was a good example of that which practiced in Israel physically. And that was cutting off that which is superfluous or no longer needful. Thatís the whole concept.
Now for you and I as believers, what did God cut off that was now superfluous? The old Adam! The old Adam has been cut off. Itís been crucified with Christ and weíll pick it up in our next half hour so hang by a string if you can. But anyway this is the whole idea of these two verses Ė that yes, in the flesh weíre uncircumcised, weíre Gentiles. But spiritually weíve been circumcised by virtue of the old Adam being crucified with Christ, cut off, and is no longer something that we have to deal with as far as eternity is concerned because it has been done by God Himself.
Lesson Two ē Part IV
Paul Warns the Church
I had a letter from one of our listeners yesterday who said, "My husband and I watch the program sitting on the back row of your class in our recliners" Well thatís a nice way to put it. Theyíre actually not back there, but they are whether theyíre watching us. We like to hear comments like that, and how we appreciate your letters. I think the thing that thrills us the most is for example a couple made the comment last week, "you have turned our Bibles into something that was collecting dust, to where we study them now everyday, and are wearing them out." We just want people to realize that this is the greatest Book ever written. You canít plum the depths of it or exhaust it.
Now back to where we left off in Colossians chapter 2. You know I didnít finish my thoughts in the two verses 11 and 13 dealing with circumcision and our being dead in sins, but now we are circumcised Spiritually and weíve been made alive Spiritually. So come back with me to verse 11 and 13 and letís read verse 13 again first.
"And you being dead in your sins (a Spiritual death) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (thatís where we were genetically. Weíre not in the family of Abraham, but rather we were Gentiles) hath he (God) quickened (or made us alive) together with him, (which of course ties us to His death, burial, and resurrection. And the moment we believed that Gospel of Salvation, God forgave us.) having forgiven you all trespasses:" Now weíll come back to forgiveness a little later, but for now letís also look at verse 11.
"In whom (Christ Who is the fullness of the Godhead of verse 9) also ye are circumcised (now we are circumcised, not in the flesh, but Spiritually) with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (remember circumcision depicts a cutting off of that which was superfluous. So for the believer now we have had something cut off which is no longer necessary and it is the old Adam.) by the circumcision of (or by) Christ:"
Now Iíve put this much on the board for starters. Body, Soul and Spirit, and I donít know how I can best approach this, but letís try. See when Adam was created, he was a complete entity of body, soul, and spirit. The soul was that personality of mind, will, and emotions, but it was in tune with his Creator. The spirit was the communicating part with his Creator, and the body of course enjoyed all the ramifications of this beautiful relationship with God Himself. But the moment Adam ate of that tree in disobedience to God this soul became a sin nature. All it could think was that which was contrary to that which is Holy and Spiritual and God. Adamís spirit of course immediately died when he ate. The body of Adam began to die (the Lord still let him live 930 years). So thatís what happened the moment Adam sinned.
Now we come along as Gentiles on the other side of the cross, and now Paul teaches that the moment we believe for our salvation that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead in power and victory over the adversary, then all we have to do is believe it with all our heart. Because we recognize before believing that this is our state, that weíre sinners, weíre enemies of God and the moment we believe Paulís Gospel, God reckons old Adam as crucified with Christ. Now in our old Adam is where our Spiritual circumcision comes into play. God reckons old Adam as dead, and in his place the power of God has now given us a new nature which is Spiritual, itís the very nature of God Himself. This then comprises that circumcision by Jesus the Christ where He cuts off that old adamic sin nature and replaces it with a new nature. And at the same time He regenerates our Spirit, and thatís the best word to use, He regenerates it.
I once gave the illustration of a car battery. If you leave your lights on all night and get to the car the next morning, youíll find the battery dead. Itís useless, and has absolutely no power whatsoever. I gave the illustration that you could go out with a pan and some hot soapy water and really clean up that battery to where it would look brand new. But when you get in the car what happens? Nothing. And see thatís what most of Christendom is trying to do today. Theyíre trying to simply clean up the outside with the effort of the flesh, but theyíre still dead.
I read the other day, and Iím not going to say I agree with it, but someone was of the opinion that probably 60% of American Church members are lost. Well Iím not going to say heís wrong and Iím not going to say heís right, but I know what a lot of those Church members are doing. Theyíre just simply trying to clean up the outside. Thereís nothing wrong with being good. My the world needs good people, but thatís not going to prepare you for eternity. So the only way we can get that car battery to where itís worth what itís suppose to be is to what? Regenerate it! And where do you get the power to regenerate it? From an outside source. And thatís exactly what has happened here. God now with His outside power has regenerated our dead spirit. He has now crucified old Adam, Heís cut him off, and He has given us a new nature, and these two entities now of course have their effect of the body, and how we behave as believers.
Thatís what these two verses are showing. On one hand weíre Gentiles in the flesh, and on the other hand we were spiritually dead until the power of the Gospel made us come alive the moment we believed. For those of you who doubt me, we have a long list of verses covering that. We send them out constantly to people on how to be saved and there is not one word in there about doing anything but believe for salvation. Now under Law yes, works were required for salvation, but under this age of Grace through the writings of the apostle Paul, you must only believe.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;Ö"
I Corinthians 1:18
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved (by believing) it is the power of God." (unto salvation)
"That if thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousnessÖ." (becomes right with God)
The world is constantly trying to say just like they did in Paulís day. "Thatís not enough. Youíve also got to do this or that." Paulís Gospel says, "Christ did it all!" Itís done, itís complete, and we dare not try to add to it. Remember Galatians tells us that if you add to it, then you cancel it! But thatís what so many do. Ok, back to Colossians 2 verses 11 and 13, which now make a little more sense.
"In whom (in Christ by virtue of our believing the Gospel and weíve been placed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, which we'll see in verse 12) also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (spiritual. The cutting off of our old Adam. That which defeats us every time we turn around. But heís been taken away so far as his influence) in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:" Then down to verse 13.
"And you, being dead in your sins (absolutely, we were as under the control of the old nature, our spirit was completely out of fellowship with God and so thatís what Paul says we were in the world. We were dead in sin) and the uncircumcision of your flesh (by virtue of being Gentiles) but hath he (God) quickened (has regenerated our spirit. He has crucified old Adam and has given us a new nature. A divine nature) together with him, having (already) forgiven you all trespasses."
Now letís look at Colossians 3:13. And again, Paul repeats this twice in two chapters to drive it home. And oh, most of Christendom has a hard time swallowing this, I know they do. But here it is again.
"Forbearing one another, (remember, heís writing to believers congregated in an assembly) and forgiving one another, if any may have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Now look at that verse very carefully. Is there any demand in that verse that you forgive your enemy before you can be saved? NO! Thatís already done by the Grace of God. Youíre forgiven. But now since you and I are forgiven, what should we be ready to do? Forgive whoever we have ought against, whether itís in the Church or neighborhood or whatever. There is nothing stipulated in Paulís Gospel, nor his writings that first we have to forgive everybody before we can be forgiven like the Lord Jesus said during His earthly ministry under Law. For example, The Lordís Prayer isnít appropriate for us today. The Lordís Prayer was under Law. It was to Israel. And it says "forgive us our trespasses (when?) as we forgive those who trespass against us." Now thatís Law. And absolutely a Jew could not be forgiven until he went and forgave his neighbor. But that doesnít hold true today. Weíre forgiven by the Grace of God. And if weíre forgiven, then why in the world canít we forgive our neighbor? Thatís the teaching. So twice in two chapters he says we have been forgiven of all our trespasses and all our sins. Now letís go back to Ephesians 2:1.
"And you (writing to these Ephesian believers) hath he (Christ) quickened (made alive. Same concept. As soon as we believe the Gospel, God imparted to us that new divine nature. He gave us the regeneration of the spirit. Itís divine, eternal life that we are now partakers of) who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world (everyone did) according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. 3. Among whom also we all (he included himself) had our conversation (manner of living) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (doing what comes naturally like everybody else.) 4. But (the flip side) God (not me, not I, but God) who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. 5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:) 6. Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (see our position now as believers?) Now verse 8.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; (plus how much? NOTHING! Thereís nothing else listed here. Itís by grace through faith) and that not of yourselves; it is the (what?) gift of God:" How much work do you do for a gift? NONE! But, people are having all this stuff laid on them. There is nothing in here that says youíve got to do such and such except believe that Christ has already done it. Itís finished! And we canít add to it.
Now, back to Colossians 2:12. Iím going to repeat something that I said on my program years ago and Iíll repeat it again and for years to come if the Lordís tarries. There is probably no other one thing in all of Christendom that will cause enmity and will just make the hair stand up on the back of peopleís necks like baptism. Iíve learned it first hand, over and over. You disagree with somebody on baptism and you may have had the best friend in the world, but he is no more. It simply puts a division between people and thereís more arguing and more controversy over baptism and who should be baptized and how they should be baptized and it almost gets disconcerting. Itís not in Paulís instruction to the Church age believer. It is not to be something that should be divisive. Verse 12.
"Buried with him (with Christ) in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
Letís read it again. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
Now, I donít know which way to start. Should I start with the Holy Spirit, or should I start over in here. Letís start with the Holy Spirit. And go to I Corinthians chapter 12 and weíll start at verse 12. And I guess you all know this is still Paul writing to the believers at Corinth who had a lot of problems. We covered all that when we taught the Corinthian letters.
I Corinthians 12:12
"For as the body (this body that we live in) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, (still one body) are one body: so also is Christ."
I have put this over and over on the board that the Body which is the Church, is strictly a Pauline term. Nobody, nobody - the Lord didnít, Peter didnít, the other disciples didnít, the Old Testament, Revelation doesnít Ė speaks of the Body of Christ but Paul. Check me out. Search the Scriptures. Youíll never find the term, "The Body of Christ" except Romans through Philemon. If you want to go on through Hebrews, and I feel Paul wrote it, although he wrote it as it says, to the Hebrews. But never does anybody use the term "The Body of Christ" except Paul. So here is another instance that heís using this as an example. Our physical body which is composed of everything from the little toe that usually no one ever sees, to our facial features which everyone sees. Now, thatís the Body of Christ.
Weíre all functioning in a different area of the Body and yet we are all intrinsically important to the function of the body. But remember, the body stops here. The rest is what? Head! And whoís the head of the body? Christ is. He is the nerve center of the Body, which is the church. Now that again, is all part and parcel of Paulís language Ė that Christ, by virtue of His finished work of the cross, by His justifying us by faith and faith alone, He in turn places us into this living, spiritual organism that Paul calls the Body of Christ. Now, how do we get in to the body of Christ? You canít buy your way in. You canít work your way in. So you have to do something else and what is it? Nothing except believe! Now letís look at verse 13.
I Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit (Holy Spirit) are we (whatís the next word?) all (not just the elite, nor the clergy, not the deacons, not just the good people, but every believer, whatever his station in life, whatever his behavior as a believer. He may be rather carnal like the Corinthians were, but every believer. And whatís the next word?) baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Look at the first two words of verse 13. Theyíre prepositions. "For by one Spirit." Not by a denomination, or by a preacher, or by some cult leader. There is only one valid baptizer in the Church Age and that is the Holy Spirit. And this is the Holy Spirit baptism that Paul teaches, and it happens the moment we believe. Now let me show you in Ephesians, chapter 1 and verse 13.
"In whom ye also trusted, (or placed your faith) after that ye heard the word of truth, gospel of your salvation: (what did you do with it?) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise."
Iím not doing any violence to Scripture to say at that same moment you were baptized by the Holy Spirit and thereby God branded us as His own. And so the only valid baptism, spiritually speaking, is when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ. Now the reason I have to emphasize that is because of Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 4. Oh, this is hard for people to swallow but it is so plain and simple in the Book. Just as simple as it can be.
"There is one body, ( not 1500. I read somewhere the other day that there were 1500 Christian denominations in California alone. But there isnít.) and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: 5. One Lord, one faith, one (what?) baptism." (And what is it? The Holy Spirit. Itís the only one that counts. Now I donít forbid water baptism. All I tell people is that it has nothing to do with your eternal destiny because the only baptism that counts for eternity is, "have you been placed into the Body of Christ by the baptizing power of the Holy Spirit?" If you havenít had that, youíre doomed. I donít care how many times youíre baptized in water, itís the Holy Spirit baptism that settles it for eternity.
Lesson Three ē Part I
The Cross Abolished all Legalism
Colossians 2:14 Ė 4:18
Now we pray that as we labour, the Lord will continue to open hearts and lives. If you could just hear people tell us how they are learning, and how the Lord is just opening their eyes. But we donít take any credit for that, because thatís the Lordís doing. Youíve heard me say that as I pray, I ask the Lord to give me Lydias today, whether theyíre men or women, boys or girls, because, like Lydia, the Lord must open your heart before you can understand.
Now weíll begin with Colossians 2:14 today, but weíll read the previous verse. Iíve said so often that Paul only writes to believers, and the whole purpose is if we can equip the believer with right thinking, then youíre going to go out and share it with others. Now I maintain that this is why most Christians are scared to death to open their mouth. Theyíre afraid that if someone comes right back and asks them a question they canít answer it, then theyíre embarrassed. So this is the whole idea of teaching, to become skilled.
Donít just take it in like the Dead Sea. See the Dead Sea is dead because all does is take beautiful fresh water in from the north from the Jordan River. But as soon as it reaches the Dead Sea, it canít go any further, so it becomes dead. So the fresh part of the water evaporates, and all the other stuff is left behind. Well itís the same way with Christians. If all you do is take it in without ever giving it out, then youíre going to be a stale Christian. So learn to use the Scriptures even if you donít know all of them. You know these people that come to your door, arenít you aware of what Scriptures theyíre going to use? And they know how to use them, and thatís why they can hook so many people. Well you be the same way, only get it right when you share. Then you can have the thrill of winning someone to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I might add thereís no greater thrill. Now for our study.
"And you, being dead in your sins (in the old Adamic part of us) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (in other words, Paul is writing primarily to Gentiles) hath he quickened (or made alive, and brought us out of that Spiritual deadness) together with him,Ö"We were crucified with Him, we were in the tomb with Him, and weíre resurrected with Him. Identification is the whole concept of Scripture. That as He died, we died, as He was buried, we were buried, and as He was raised in resurrection power so are we raised. So this is exactly what Paul is putting together. Now to continue the verse.
"Öhaving forgiven you all trespasses;"
Now thatís hard for people to swallow. Yet every sin of every person that ever lived was forgiven by virtue of that work of the cross. Hebrews says that Christ tasted death, not just for believers, but for how many? For every man. Yes a Hitler, or Stalin, or any of the other horrible persons that have gone across the stage of human history, he tasted death for every one of them. And why couldnít they cash in? Because they never believed it! And so this is the problem with the human race even right around us where ever we live. Itís all been done, but they will not appropriate it by faith, and thatís what we have to do. Take it by faith. Now verse 14, and here weíll get into the meat of this 30 minute study anyway. This is one of my favorite verses, because Iím always separating Law and Grace. Youíre not under the Law, youíre not under the Ten Commandments, but rather under Grace. Look what this verse says.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (rules and regulations) that was against us, which was contrary to us,Ö"
Now stop for a moment. What is the first thing that happens to the human make up and especially when theyíre young when you say, "You canít do that." Whatís the first thought that comes into their minds? Why not? You know Iíve used the illustration over and over, you put a wet paint sign on the wall, and 99 out of 100 people that walk by it are going to say, "Iíve got to find out." Isnít that right? All right now thatís what the Law did. Just as soon as the Law said, "Thou shalt not steal," whatís the first human reaction? Well why not? Now the Law was against us, it was contrary to us.
"Ö and took it out of the way, (and how did He do away with it? By) nailing it to the cross."
Now isnít that plain language? Now Iím always teaching that when the Lord gave Moses those Ten Commandments, He put them on tables of stone. Moses brings them down to the nation of Israel, that is after he wrecked the first set, and got the second one. Any how he brings them to Israel, and youíve heard me put it this way more than once, "they were strictly on tables of cold stone. Those Ten Commandments had no power whatsoever, and all they could do was point the finger of condemnation." Condemn was all they could, and so from Godís point of view, yes it was perfect, it was the perfect constitution for human living all wrapped up in those Ten Commandments. But for man to keep them it was weak and fleshly, because it was contrary to human nature, and they had no power to help us keep them. So consequently what happened to Israel under the Law? Oh they failed miserably over and over. I think maybe thatís why they were prone to fall into pagan worship, because that was easy compared to keeping the Law. Keeping those Ten Commandments was severe, it was a tough go because it was so demanding, and commanding.
Now along comes the work of the cross, and this will be a good time to come back to Romans chapter 3. See this is so hard for the run of the mill Church member to get through their head. Most of them are of the thinking that if I keep the Commandments, if I do the best I can surely God will accept me, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I had a young lady just the other night that was almost depressed. Sheíd had a class of some of her peers for the past two years, and had been using our tapes and herself explaining how weíre not under Law, but rather Grace. Then she asked one of her students about her salvation and where she would spend eternity if she died? Do you know what her answer still was? "Well Iím keeping the Commandments the best I can, and I doing the best I can." The teaching lady said, "Thatís enough to make you scream. How could she be hearing this for two years and still make that statement? Sheís heard over and over that itís by simply believing Paulís Gospel that Christ died and rose from the dead!"
Well thatís the human race, and unless the Lord does like He did with Lydia, and opens their understanding, thatís what weíre up against. We just sort of beat a concrete wall until the Lord opens their understanding. But here we are in Romans chapter 3, and Paul is telling us exactly how the Law operated. Verse 19.
"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, (sometimes the Law will mean the whole gamut of what we now call Judaism. The civil law, the worship law, and the moral law. The moral Law being the Ten Commandments. Thatís the Law heís talking about here) saith to them who are under the law;"
Now who was under the Law? The Jews were, the nation of Israel. The Gentiles had no contact with Israelís Ten Commandments. But in the mind of God now, it went beyond Israel, and it didnít just stop the nation of Israel, but it went to the whole human race.
"Öthat every mouth may be stopped, and all the world (not just Israel) may become guilty before God."
And see thatís all the Law can do. It can only point the finger of condemnation whether Jew or Gentile, and it says, "Youíre guilty!" The little Book of James written to Jews says, "If youíve broken one of the Laws, youíre guilty of breaking all of them." So thereís no way you can win. The Law is something that you canít beat. We canít keep from breaking it, and thereís nothing we can do short of what Christ has done, and weíre going to see that in just a moment.
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: (and hereís the reason.) for by the law is (not the knowledge of salvation, but rather) the knowledge of sin."
All the Ten Commandments can do is point the finger of condemnation. It canít save anybody! But oh, how the world thinks that if they at least try to keep the Ten Commandments, that somehow theyíll merit favor with God. No Way! God never intended the Law to do that, but rather all He intended the Law to do was to show what His mind was concerning human behavior. So human behavior couldnít be affected by the Law because there was no power of the Holy Spirit behind it. Consequently when Christ went by the way of the cross Ė now to follow up on that thought come with me on over to chapter 7 here in Romans. This shows what weíve been talking about that the Law has been nailed to His cross. And this is why it was cold stone, without power to help anybody keep it.
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the deadÖ."
Now you see you and I can have no connection with Jesus of Nazareth as He walked in Galilee. He told Andrew and Philip that He couldnít have anything to do with Gentiles until He had been put to death, buried, and raised again. So itís only the crucified, risen again Christ that you and I now as believers in the Age of Grace can have any union with. The Jesus of Nazareth and His earthly ministry was only to the nation of Israel, it was still under the Law, and now this is why Paul says, "You have become dead to the Law." Itís a done deal, and weíll see that in another verse in just a minute, but first letís finish this verse.
"Öthat we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Weíre to be soul winners after becoming believers. Now letís keep going in Romans and come on over to chapter 13, and maybe this will nail it to the cross as he says in Colossians 2:14.
"Owe (or defraud) no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."
Now just stop and think a moment. What was the crowning word concerning the work of the cross? What put Christ on the cross? His love! It was His love for lost humanity that drove Him to the cross. And consequently Paul can say, "that love now then is the fulfilling or ending of the Law." Then Paul goes on to say that he doesnít give us license to do the things that the Ten Commandment forbids. No, but rather itís under a whole new economy, now itís love rather than Law. And if you truly love somebody you wonít want to do the following:
"For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt 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."So once weíve experienced that love of Christ that was epitomized at the cross, we donít have to worry about keeping the commandments, as they become secondary. Now verse 10.
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Do you see how simple all that is? All right now letís come back quickly to Colossians and maybe this statement of Paul will make a little more sense. As He died on that Roman cross, fulfilling all the demands of those Ten Commandments, and was capping it with love, now to settle the question completely, what does He do with it? He crucifies it, He nails it to His cross. Now we know that the Law as such was an inanimate thing. But Spiritually it certainly wasnít, and yet when He finished the work of the cross He could say the Law had been nailed to cross in the person of Christ, and what does that mean? Itís dead. It no longer has any power over the human race, because the cross settled it. I donít know how anybody can over look that. When you nail something to the cross and crucify it, then itís done! Itís finished, and you canít continue to say, "Well Iím trying to do the best I can."
Now donít misunderstand me, for the unsaved world, those Ten Commandments are still the criteria for behavior, we know that. But once you become a believer the Law means nothing, itís dead, itís crucified. You ask, "Does that mean that I can do as I please?" No, Grace is not license. But instead of having the heavy hand of Law keeping me from committing adultery or stealing, now we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that indwelling Spirit will never tell a believer to break one of the commandments which of course is part of our whole social structure.
Just stop and think, What if everybody in a society constantly broke all the commandments? What would you have? Weíd have anarchy. You wouldnít have a society, it would be pandemonium. Well the Ten Commandments are still the basic structure of human behavior but the difference is for you and I as believers weíre not under that condemnation that if weíve broken one, weíve broken them all. But rather weíre over here under Grace, and the Law has been crucified. It has been set aside, and we are now free! Speaking of being free, letís just back up a couple of pages to the Book of Galatians for one of my favorite verses. And this is all because weíre not under the Law. I trust that you all understand that Grace is that unmerited favor that was poured out in the term of mercy and compassion and that of course was Godís prerogative.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,Ö"Now the Law didnít give anybody liberty. The Law, as Iíve said so often, was severe. Back when it was in full force, if someone broke these Ten Commandments what was the sentence? Death. But since that has now been set aside and nailed to His cross, we now stand in liberty. Total freedom! Then the apostle goes on to say -
"Öand be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Youíve been set free, and all the binding power of Satan has been severed, along with all the binding power of the Ten Commandments have been served. I mean, youíve been set totally free. Then why try to come back under those Ten Commandments and say, "Tie me up again!" And thatís exactly what people do. Enjoy the freedom and the liberty that we have under the Grace of God. Then looking at verse 2 he tells us that as soon as you start doing things tied to legalism or anything you can do in the flesh, then Paul makes this tremendous statement. Now of course circumcision was the big factor back in the Galatian Churches, but it can be anything that you can do in the flesh, I donít care what it is.
"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (or anything else that you can do for salvation) Christ shall profit you nothing."
And yet this is where most people are putting themselves, as for salvation they say, "Well Iíve got to do this or that." Boy, I had the most exciting phone call early this morning from a fellow out east, and he had seen it for the first time. He was a pastor he was just elated. He said, "Iíve never seen it before, but now I can see how you separate Law and Grace, and when I did, I just shouted,í hallelujahí" I knew what kind of a pastor he was as we talked a couple of weeks ago. So I asked him, you mean the Lord has opened your eyes in the past couple of weeks? He said, "Totally!" But oh listen, when people can finally see it, you just wonder why did it take so long? But itís so evident and so plain.
"For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law."
Now you see since the temple is destroyed, that leaves the whole human race in a dilemma doesnít it? Because you canít keep the whole Law unless there is temple worship, sacrifices, and a priesthood., and none of that is available. So when someone says, "Iím going to keep the Ten Commandments for salvation," theyíre barking up the wrong tree, as it just wonít fly. Because there is no way you can keep the whole Law. All the things which pertain to the Law have been aside, and theyíre no longer operating, so if it werenít for Grace, weíd be in a dilemma. But we donít have to worry about any of that because we are set free, weíre under Grace.
Lesson Three ē Part II
The Cross Abolished all Legalism
Colossians 2:14 Ė 4:18
Now as we begin this lesson weíre in chapter 2, and our next verse is 15. Remember now in the last half hour, how we saw the Law, the Ten Commandments were nailed to His cross. In other words, the Love of God which sent Him to the cross finished the power of the Ten Commandments over us as believers. Now for the world in general, yes itís still a criteria for society. We know that the world needs something like that, but for us as believers it is no longer a valid thing, itís been ended by nailing it to the cross of Christ. Now not only in verse 14 did He nail the Law to cross and all the things pertaining to it, but now in verse 15 we find that He also defeated Satan.
"And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
In other words none of this was done in a corner, it was all done in the open, and He became victorious over them in his finished work of the cross. Now letís go back to Genesis 3:15. Itís been a long time since weíve even mentioned Genesis in the programs. The years have been going by and weíve been spending a lot of time of course in Paulís epistles, and weíll continue to spend a lot of time there because after all thatís where itís at for us today in the Church age. This is the chapter of course where Adam and Eve have disobeyed and partaken of the fruit of the tree. Theyíve fallen, and now are sin natured, but God comes right back immediately with the potential remedy. Here the Lord Himself is speaking to Satan.
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;Ö"
Now of course we have to pick up from other portions of Scripture that Heís referring to the Seed of the woman that Paul says in Galatians is Christ. So what you have here way back here in the chapter of the fall is the promise of a coming Redeemer in the Seed of the woman. Now the Lord continues to speak as we finish the verse.
"Öit shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel."
Now remember the Lord is talking to Satan who has embodied a serpent. And how do you utterly defeat and crush a serpent? You crush itís head. So thatís the implication that God literally crushed the head of the serpent or Satan, but remember that Satan would also get his licks in by causing Christ to suffer, which is implied in the bruising of His heel. So way back here immediately after the fall, we have the promise then of a coming plan of redemption. Now I guess the other verse that comes to mind is in Romans chapter 8. My where should we start. I hate to just jump in on one verse so letís start with verse 20. Remember what I want you to see is, that when Paul says in Colossians that He defeated these forces of Satan, and He did it openly. So utterly defeated the powers that were against Him. Paul looks at it in a little different light beginning in verse 20.
"For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected (or inundated the whole creation) the same in hope."
Now you see as soon as Adam plunged everything in creation under the curse by his disobedience, God came right back in Genesis 3:15 with the promise of the Seed of the woman, and that was what? Hope. So for the last 6 thousand years, all of creation has been living in hope of that which was accomplished of course at the cross, when the Seed of the woman then became the victorious One over Satan and his minions. Now verse 21.
"Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption (the curse) into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Which I feel look all the way forward to our resurrected state when weíll rule and reign with Him in the Kingdom age.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body."
When we will be totally in union with Him in our resurrected state. Now then another one Iíd like to have you look at is in the Book of Hebrews chapter 2. And letís just drop down to verse 14, and this is all backing up the statement that he made that Christ triumphed over the principalities and powers of Satan, and the demonic world.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; (He became flesh as Paul says in Colossians chapter 1. He became the visible image of the invisible God) that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil;"
And so the devil was utterly defeated, and operationally destroyed when Christ arose victoriously over sin and death on the resurrection morning. Now coming back to Colossians again. Remember we have to understand constantly that it wasnít just another crucifixion, or another death, but Christ actually defeated all of the horrendous satanic powers, and the dominions and principalities that are under Satanís rule, and He triumphed over them. Now verse 16. Since now everything has been done, since the Law has been crucified and nailed to His cross, and we can rest assured that He was victorious over sin and death, and Satan, and here we are as believers. Now remember Paul is writing to believers, so here we are set totally at liberty, and weíre free. Now look at our situation we find ourselves in today.
"Let no man therefore judge youÖ"
I had a fellow call the other day that he was getting involved with a group that wanted to put him under the Saturday Sabbath, and the next thing they wanted him to do was quit eating pork. I said canít you see their putting you under the Law? And weíre not under Law, weíre under Grace. Now here it is. Donít let anyone tell you what you can are can not do.
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, (youíre free from all of that. Youíre going to let the Holy Spirit help you decide whatís good for you and whatís not. Weíre not under a set of rules like the Law demanded, and this is what Paul is talking about) or in respect of an holyday,Ö"
Now youíve got to know definitions, so whatís the definition for holy? Well it isnít something supernatural perfect and righteous, but rather holy meant "set aside for Godís purposes." So these holy days were simply days in Judaism and the Jewish economy that were indeed set apart for Godís purposes. You had the Passover, and all the Feast days, but you see in this age of Grace weíre not under any of that. We donít have days set aside for special treatment.
"Öor of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:"
See where Paul puts Sabbath days? Itís frivolous, it has no use for us whatsoever, and donít let anybody try to tell you "that youíre going to hell because you donít keep the Saturday Sabbath." I hear that all the time from our listeners. "Oh the preacher said today, "That if we donít keep the Saturday Sabbath weíre going to go to hell." How awful when you have verses like this that contradicts that completely. Donít you let anybody tell you what day you have to worship God. Now those things were valid, they did have a purpose in the Old Testament economy because they were a shadow of that which was to come. That was their purpose, they were to show forth something that was coming. Now even Israel didnít understand what they were, but God knew so He was showing it. Now let me show you another verse in Hebrews that says basically the same thing. Oh I can hardly wait till we get into the Book of Hebrews even though it was written to Jewish believers and not necessarily the Body of Christ, nevertheless there is so much that we can learn from that Book, and here is one of them. Paul is reviewing all of the aspects of the temple worship, or the tabernacle out in the wilderness or whatever.
"Now when these things were thus ordained, (that is the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, and all these things) the priests went always into the first tabernacle, (the first room what we normally call the sanctuary) accomplishing the service of God. 7. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, (on the day of atonement) not without blood, which he offered for himself, (then he would have to go back out and kill the second animal and offer itís blood) and for the errors of the people:"
"The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all (the very throne room of heaven there behind the vial) was not yet made manifest, (no man dared to go into the presence of God except the high priest once a year) while as the first tabernacle was yet standing." Now hereís the reason we came here in verse 9 and 10. All those practices of Israelís temple worship were just a picture of things to come.
"Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10. Which stood only in meats and drinks, (in other words their various offerings) and divers washings, (baptisms) and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."
They were forced to worship this way. All these things were forced on the children of Israel as part of their obedience to a Holy God who was not operating in Grace, but rather God was operating under the severity of the Law. Now when I say the Law was severe, what do I mean? If someone was caught in the act of adultery, what was the sentence? Death! There were no ifs ands or buts, no matter what the excuses. It was death, and on top of that it wasnít instant death, but death by stoning, it was awful. The Law was severe, but it was also a picture of that which was to come. Now when I say that the Law was severe and hurtful as putting to death by stoning is, but remember this was a picture of the work of the cross. And what happened at the cross? Christ suffered beyond human comprehension, and for what purpose? Because He loved the human race, and it comes down to that same concept that the work of the cross was precipitated by the love and mercy and Grace of a Holy and Righteous God!
Now come on back to Colossians chapter 2, and verse 17. I would be willing to bet my ranch that 9 out 10 Church going Christians do not see the last few words of this verse. Look at it. All of these things in the Hebrew religion, everything, the holy of holies, the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, the day of atonement, the brazen alter, the table of showbread, and all the things that pertain to the temple and tabernacle were just a preview of things to come for what group of people? The Body of Christ. Did you ever see that before? Look at it.
"Which are a shadow of things to come; but (the flip side) the body is of Christ."
Now thatís what it was all pointing to. The day when Christ because of His finished work of the cross, could call out sinners from every point on the globe. Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor, and He could save them by Grace and bring them into the Body of Christ. I had a gentlemen the other night that that we had a nice friendly discussion with and I made mention of the fact that there are people in almost every group where there are true believers. Depending of course on how much Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4 they have preached at them. I said it doesnít matter whether theyíre Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist or whatever, if theyíre a true believer then theyíre in the Body of Christ. His eyes got that big, and said you mean that you think that people can be saved even though theyíre not in our Church? I wonít say which one he said, you probably know already.
But listen, thatís not according to the Book. The Body of Christ is that composite of believers from whatever back ground that have been saved by the Grace of God when they simply believed the Gospel for their Salvation. And that Gospel is that Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose from the dead. That comprises then the Body of Christ, which was the fulfillment of everything that had been taken place for over 2000 years. Now letís move on to the next verse. Boy I wanted to finished Colossians today, I really did because that would wind up one whole tape series, and we may yet. Now verse 18. And just like in our last taping, Jerry put a perfect heading on part II of this particular book. "Paul Warns The Church," and hereís another one.
"Let no man beguile (or deceive, or trick) you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels,Ö"
My goodness, someone sent me a little booklet the other day, and again I donít have to name the group that had given this little booklet to this person. But they had given this booklet to their little 6 or 7 year old child, and just asked them all to read it. Well they sent it on to me and I opened the very first page and there it was, "before God made anything He created a special angel, and that angel He designated to create everything else. That angel that God had created in the booklet was a reference to what Christ would do." That made Christ nothing more than a created angel. That is so contrary to what the Word of God says concerning Jesus Christ. Now here is a warning to the Church. Donít be taken in by that kind of thing, donít establish a false humility and then try to worship something less then the Christ of glory. Now continuing on with the verse.
"Öintruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."
See thatís the new age movement. They have to appeal to the flesh, because there is no power of the Holy Spirit in it. So thatís what they do, they will appeal to the flesh, and with their high convoluted statements. My I read one of them again the other day that someone had sent me. It is a combination of higher intellectual, highly educated people you could tell that, but thereís not an ounce of truth in what they write, and yet people are falling for it. Here Paul is warning us, "Donít fall for these things." Now verse 19.
"And not holding the HeadÖ"
Now in our last taping, I said the Body goes up to here just below the Head, and thatís where we are, weíre members of the Body, but Christ is the Head. Itís from Christ that the central nervous system in the analogy would come from. Itís the Head that controls the Body, and thatís what Paul is saying. "Donít beguile by something that will turn you from the Headship of Christ."
"And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishments ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." But where does it all originate? Christ the Head of the Body, thatís where it has to come from. Now verse 20
"Wherefore (because of our union with Christ) if ye be dead with Christ (dead to that old sin nature of Adam, and you have considered him dead, and God has considered him crucified with Christ) from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,"
What happened to those ordinances? They were nailed to the cross. Why try to resurrect them and put yourself under them, and what are they?
"(Touch not; taste not; handle not;"
Do you see that? Oh thatís what the legalists try to tell you to do. Oh the legal one will always say, "You canít do that, or this, and youíve got to do this or that." And that is what Paul is calling beguilement, itís deception, and weíre not under that set of circumstances. Now maybe I can finish the chapter.
"Which all are to perish with the using;)Ö" In other words these works of the flesh, all will perish with the using.
"Öafter the commandments and doctrines of men?"
Now you look at all the religions of the world, and way at the top they have one or two top kick men. And the whole group goes by what one man has decreed, even though it may not line up with Scripture. Now verse 23.
"Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship,(remember, this is all in the flesh) and humility, (when they try to show humility in the flesh, what kind of humility is it? Itís a false humility. Itís the kind of humility that people will say, "Iím proud of the fact that Iím humble!" Isnít that right? Thatís the flesh. The flesh can say, "Iím proud that Iím so humble.") and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."
Now to bring that around to where we can understand it, what Paul is really saying is, "These kind of people do all of this to satisfy the flesh," but they donít bring any glory to God by doing it because they are always going to come back and say what? "Look what Iíve done. Look what Iíve accomplished." And listen, none of us can ever say that. I canít say it. You canít say it. Because if we have accomplished something, it is still not us. Itís God working in through us.
Lesson Three ē Part III
The Cross Abolished all Legalism
Colossians 2:14 Ė 4:18
Well in our last lesson we finished Colossians chapter 2, so weíre ready to begin chapter 3. I have to admit when I first started teaching this series in Paulís letters, I thought, now I know that Paul repeats a lot of things and Iím afraid that Iím not going to keep peopleís interested by going verse by verse. But every time I start a new letter like Colossians, the mail comes rolling in, and the response is, "Oh Colossians is the best one yet." So we just have to feel that the Lord is in it, and Heís the One using His Word. After all, as Iíve said so often, this is just an informal class, weíre not tied to any group, and all we try to do is get people from whatever background, just to simply search the Scriptures and see what we say is true. All right now verse 1 of chapter 3 of Colossians.
"If ye then be risen with Christ,Ö"Whatís the if for? If youíre a true believer! If youíre not a believer then none of these things apply. This is only for true believers, not a professor, but a true believer. So thatís why the little prepositional "if" is there.
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,Ö"
I think 99% of us can hardly wait for the Lord to come, because we understand the glory thatís waiting for us. Weíre not tied to this old world as beautiful as it is in places. Iíve always said that I love my cattle, and Iíve got as good as they come, but they pale in insufficiencies when I think of eternity, and going into the Lordís presence. So we do, we seek those things which are above.
"Öwhere Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." (positionally)
Now again, you know I had someone ask one time, and I canít blame people for wondering, "You mean Heís just up there seated on a chair next to God the Father for the last 2000 years?" Well hardly. But positionally, He is there, and this is what we have to see, that positionally Heís at the Fatherís right hand interceding for us. Of course thatís not just a Pauline concept, so come all the way back to the Book of Psalms 110:1. This is way back a thousand years before the birth of Christ. This is Davidís Psalm, and this is good for people to realize. This isnít so deep that youíre got to have 4 or 5 degrees to understand it.
"The Lord, (the Father) said unto my Lord, (the Son) Sit thou at my right hand, until (thatís a time word) I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Positionally then when Christ finished the work of the cross, He ascended and went right into the very throne room of heaven, and positionally is at the Fatherís right hand interceding for us. Now come on back to the New Testament and we can go to Hebrews chapter 1, and we have that same comment. Now all these things substantiate, and thatís why we repeat things. Weíve got to lock it in, that this isnít just some fluff. You lock it in, because Scripture has repeated it over and over. Letís start with verse 1.
"God, (the triune God) who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets," Now what that speaking about? The nation of Israel back in those days of antiquity. He spoke to the nation of Israel by the prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the rest. Now verse 2.
"Hath in these last days (what are the last days in Godís program? His first advent on. From Christ this direction are the last days. God has already) spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he (the Son) made the worlds;" Now verse 3.
"Who being the brightness of his glory, (see He never was less than God) and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, (see how that fits with Colossians chapter 1 where it says, Ďby Him all things consist.í) when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
Itís the same kind of language of Psalms 110:1, but itís a positional term. Itís like Paul tells us "weíre citizens of heaven." Well weíre still down here, but our citizenship is up there positionally. Do you see that? Now letís look at another one in I John chapter 2.
I John 2:1
"My little children, (so even here, who is John writing to? Believers. This doesnít apply to the unbeliever.) these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"
Now John doesnít refer to Him as sitting at the right hand of the Father, but according to the rest of Scriptures isnít that where He is? Sure Heís our advocate. Every time we fail, every time we sin, Heís right there, and He is confronting the Father, as he says, "Yes he sinned, but he's under the blood, Iíve paid for that sin." And this is our comfort that we have. Now come back to Colossians chapter 3. If weíre a believer, and if weíve experienced that death, burial, and resurrection, weíve been identified with His finished work of the cross, then we realize that our advocate is seated at the right hand of the Father. Now since thatís our position then we should automatically do the following.
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Now thereís nothing wrong with things. God doesnít tell us that we have to live without things. God doesnít tell us that we have to just barely get by, God doesnít tell us that we have to just simply exist because weíre Christians. But whatís the word? Priority. Thatís the word Iris and I are always using on the kids. Get your priorities straight. Thereís nothing wrong with things if theyíre in right level of priority. But what should be number one? Heaven, where our citizenship is, and where weíre soon going to be going.
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."Now here are two verses that I just love in verses 3 and 4.
"For ye are dead, (to the old Adam, to the old flesh, the natural. Youíre dead,) and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Itís hard for us to comprehend death and life in the same sentence. But, do you ever realize that throughout all of nature you canít get life until thereís death, you know that. Every seed you put in the ground, before it can have new life, must die. The Lord Himself used the same analogy so beautifully back in John chapter 12.
"And there were certain Greeks (non Jews, Gentiles) among them that came up to worship at the feast:Ö"
Now it doesnít say that these Gentiles were worshippers, but they were there watching all the activity that was going on. Every time we go to Jerusalem, and the temple mount, naturally we go to the Wailing Wall. We, as tourists, stand back and watch those Jewish people holding their bahmitzvah and so forth as they worship. Weíre just on lookers as I think these Gentiles were. They were alluded by all the activity of these thousands and thousands of Jews gathering for the feast days, so they were just among them. So these Greeks came to Philip.
"The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
And remember Jesus had already told them back in Matthew 10:5 "that they could not go to the non-Jew, but only to the lost sheep of Israel." They had never ministered to the non-Jew, nor do they this time. But these Gentiles came up to Philip and said, "Weíve been hearing about this Jesus of Nazareth. Take us to Him." How do you suppose old Philip thought he could handle this? He didnít want Jesus to embarrass everybody by just telling those Greeks that He didnít want to have anything to do with them. But he didnít want to take full responsibility so what does he do? He comes and tells Andrew. Now canít you just put that conversation in your mind? Iím sure he tells Andrew, "Thereís some Gentiles out here, and they want to talk to Jesus, and we know that Heís not going to talk to them, but what are we going to do?" So Andrew says, "Well we shouldnít take the responsibility ourselves. Letís go in and ask Him." So they find the Lord Jesus, and I always picture Him probably in one of the buildings in the temple complex, but whatever.
"Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."Hey there are Gentiles out here that want to see youí Does Jesus say, "Bring them in?" No, but He gives the reason.
"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come (this is a matter of hours before His crucifixion) that the Son of Man should be glorified. (that will happen at His resurrection) 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Of course the seed kernel dies, and up comes the blade, and hopefully produces at least a hundred kernels. Here in John, Heís referring to His own death, burial, and resurrection. And the Gentiles would have no object of faith until He would accomplish that death, burial and resurrection. So thatís why He didnít invite them in. They could not come and partake of Him until He had finished the work of the cross. So this is exactly then what Paul is talking about in Colossians 3:3
"For ye are dead, (like that seed we just read about, we have died to that old Adam) and your (new) life is hid with Christ in God."
Now Iím going to use the board to draw some circles, and here we are way down in the recesses of the Godhead. Out here at the outer circle we have God the Father, and in the inner circle we have Christ the Son, and here we are way down in the middle. Now there is nothing that can touch any one of us believers, without coming all the way through the Father, and the Son. and thatís impossible. Now isnít that comforting? Thatís where we are tonight.
In my classes in Oklahoma I use the example of the old black walnut, as we have a lot of them around here. That old big black walnut with that thick outer shell, that no one wants to fool with really, but if you want to get to the meat of that walnut, youíll clean that outer shell off, and then youíll get to the hard part, that hard shell of the walnut. My little wife is good at cracking walnut. She puts them on a piece of concrete and beats them with a sledge hammer until they crack. Then down in the crevice is where the goodies are. So every time I break a black walnut I canít help but think, "Thatís where we are in God." We are hidden in Christ, and Christ is hidden in God, and listen, thereís no way possible for you to get out of there once youíre in there. Now a lot of people have never really gotten there, but once youíve really believed Paulís gospel for your salvation, God secures you forever. Youíre safe, and nothing can touch you, because you are hidden with Christ in God. Now thatís what the Book says. Thatís our position, thatís our safety, once we become true believers. Now verse 4. Oh it just keeps getting better.
"When Christ, who is our life, (the One who not only saved us, not only keeps us, but now He gives us eternal promises) shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
Now Romans 8. This is enough to even excite young people. I know when weíre young weíve got our life ahead of us, and the hope of ambitions of being successful and having a family and all that, but as rotten as the world is becoming I hope that young people realize that thereís not much good future left on this planet, so youíd better start looking at eternal things. Letís get started with verse 14.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (or born ones) of God. 15. For ye (if youíve been born of God) have not received the spirit of bondage (legalism) again to fear;Ö"
Have you ever realized that every religion of the world (such as the followers of Buddhist and Mohammed) is basically scared to death. Theyíre superstitious about doing anything contrary to their religion, lest they lose the hope of whatever theyíre looking for. I donít care what religion you get involved in itís going to be a bondage.
Itís going to be a constant fear, even in Protestantism and Catholicism here in America,if youíre going to depend on works for salvation there is that bondage of fear that youíre not working quite hard enough. For those who have a concept of eternal doom, they are scared to death in their superstitious legalism, and consequently they canít have this liberty that we have. So if youíve living under bondage and fear youíre in a works religion. Verse 15 again.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear (see the two go together) but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (we have been placed, by virtue of our salvation, into a position into the Body of Christ) 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are (not hope to be, but rather itís a done deal) the children of God: 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
If weíre His children, then weíre going to be glorified together with Him. Weíre going to be united with Him, weíre going to be joint-heirs with Him, like a husband and wife today, and everything that is Christís will one day be ours and all of glory is going to be ours to enjoy. There will be no limits. You know what I like to think? If we want to go to Pluto we can be there in a split second. Weíre going to have that new resurrected body that wonít be confined by time and space, weíre going to have absolute freedom, and full knowledge. We wonít need computers to project our travel, weíll be able to just about do anything that you can imagine, and weíll have total freedom. Now thatís just a little glimpse. Now back to Colossians chapter 3, and with all that as a prospect, then for goodness sake -
"Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth.;Ö"
The things of the flesh. Of course thereís only one place a human being can put these things to death, and that is the cross. When we become a believer we automatically put to death these things that are part and parcel of life on this earth. Then Paul begins to list them as he does over and over in his letters, admonishing Christians that this not part of our lifestyle, and weíre not to have any part of it. And what are they? The same things as before.
"Öfornication, (sexual immorality) uncleanness, inordinate affection, (affection that is not normal) evil concupiscence, (evil double meanings) and covetousness, which is idolatry:"In other words you donít covet something unless you intend to idolize it. Now verse 6.
"For which thingsí sake the wrath of God (these are the things that bring on the wrath of God) cometh on the children of disobedience:"
Come back with me to Leviticus 18. Even though itís Scripture the language is such that Iím not going to read it in a mixed group, but you can read it in the privacy of your own home. We donít have time to also go back to Genesis chapter 15, but if you will remember that in that chapter God told Abraham that his offspring Israel would have to wait 400 years before the iniquities of the Amorites would be full so that He could destroy them, and let Israel have the Promised Land. Do you remember that? So the Amorites live another 400 years and then they got so wicked, and immoral that God told Joshua to destroy every one of them regardless of their age because of their wickedness. All right now look at the conclusion in Leviticus 18. After He lists all the immoral things that weíre reading about everyday in our paper lately, and God has one word for them, "abomination." Now look what He says in verse 24.
"Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; (that Heís written in the previous verses) for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:" Now, Iíve got to take you up to verse 30.
"Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God."
Lesson Three ē Part IV
The Cross Abolished all Legalism
Colossians 2:14 Ė 4:18
Now weíre going to pick right up where we left off in the last lesson. I think maybe since we have a lot of mundane things listed here in the rest of Colossians we can maybe finish the Book. Iris and I were talking on the way up that it would be nice so far as our video format is concerned if we could finish Colossians and that would complete book 41 wouldnít it Jerry? Then we can start book 42 with I Thessalonians.
We had just made comment in our last lesson about verse 5, where Paul again lists the things that were indicative of a life in the flesh. And of course you want to remember, Iíve said this all the way up through Paulís epistles, he lived in the midst of the pagan Roman Empire, and with the exception of those isolated pockets of Jews and their synagogue worship, the rest of the Roman Empire knew nothing of the God of Scripture. They were pagan and either worshipping the things of the mythological gods and goddesses or even the emperor of Rome. So they knew nothing of the God of Scripture, so naturally it follows that their lifestyle was rank, it was immoral, it was filthy. And into the midst of that filthy immoral world came this one little man, and turned the Roman Empire upside down.
My goodness, I think that if anyone of us could do just part of what Paul did, weíd see a different country. But nevertheless he went into that kind of a thing, and this is why heís always mentioning, "This is what you once were."
"Ö(you were in) fornication, uncleanness, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6. For which thingsí sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:"
Now I always have to qualify, remember all the things that have taken place over the last thousands of years throughout human history are not the wrath of God, that is still future. The wrath of God will be poured out when the Tribulation begins, or at least the last half of it. So the world really hasnít tasted the wrath of God. Now of course the people who are lost, when they die they immediately enter into their lost state, then I guess you could say, that the wrath of God is already evident. But as we normally think of Godís wrath, is in that future period of time. Iíve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. People ask me, "Well Les why should this final generation suffer such horrific events that we know are going to come to pass during the Tribulation?" Itís numbers. There are more people living on the planet right now, and weíre multiplying at a very high rate each day. So today thereís more people alive on the planet than lived in total, going at least back to Noahís flood. So when God pours His wrath out on this generation He will be judging the vast majority of people who have ever lived previously. So thatís why the world is rushing to judgment. Thatís why weíre seeing a population exploding. The wrath of God is going to be poured out on these multitudes of Christ-rejecting people.
Hopefully you saw in our closing moment in the last program, "God brought down His judgments on those tribes of Canaan because of their immoral practices, and He called them an abomination." Well listen, weíre not under the Law of Leviticus, but the God that designated those things as abominable has not changed, and those things are still an abomination, and donít you ever forget it. God is not going to put up with it forever. The day is coming, when He finally says, "Iíve had enough!" At that time the Age of Grace will come to an end, and then His wrath will be poured out. Now letís move on quickly then to verse7.
"In the which (that horrific lifestyle) ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them."
Isnít it amazing? So where did these people come from? Out of that wicked lifestyle. My, we had such a tremendous testimony in our McAlester class last week, and Iím sure the gentlemen wonít mind my sharing it. Jerry I think you were there. Weíve got a gentlemen who was a football player in years back with one of our large universities, and like he says, "When youíre in that kind of situation, big man on campus, you can just about do as you please." And he said, "I did. I did it all." Well a few weeks ago he went back home to visit some of his family, and one of his brothers took him into a sports bar, and he said, "All I could think of was, this is what I used to be. The language and smell of the cigarette smoke, the booze was wicked, and I couldnít wait to get out of there." He said when I got back out on the street, I had to stop and think, "Thatís what I was, before salvation. Thanks to God and you who opened my eyes, now Iím clean!" Thatís the words he used. "Now Iím clean!"
Well thatís exactly what Paul was telling these people. "Well this is what you were, but now they had been washed, and no longer walk in those things." And along with the ones he listed in verse 6, he lists some more in verse 8.
"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9. Lie not one to another,Ö"
See, thatís typical of the unsaved world. They donít mind lying, they never worry about getting caught, and even if they do, theyíre just going to lie some more to get out of it. So Paul says, "Thatís not for us. We donít lie, we tell the truth." So this is all admonition for the Christian lifestyle.
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man (or the old Adamic nature) with his deeds:"
What does the Lord Jesus say concerning Satan? "He is a liar from the beginning!" And he is the god of this world, so naturally follows the world out there are going to be liars. But Paul tells us, "Youíre not like the world." Do you see that? Now verse 10
"And have put on the new man,Ö" (the new Adam, the new Divine nature)
Come back with me to II Corinthians chapter 5. Itís been a long time since weíve been back in those earlier epistles. And letís just drop in at verse 14.
II Corinthians 5:14
"For the love of Christ constraineth us: because we thus judge, (or conclude) that if one died for all, then were all dead:" What does he mean by that?
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;"
Other than Christ who was not a sinner, not a person has ever not come short of the glory of God. So here he repeats it II Corinthians. "That if one died for all, then weíre all dead." Remember in Hebrews a couple of lessons back, how many did He taste death for? "Every man!" Well if thatís the case, then they were all dead, that is Spiritually.
II Corinthians 5:15-16
"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth (from the time of their new birth, their salvation) live unto themselves, (seek those things which are above, and not the things here on the earth) but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, (that is His earthly ministry) yet now henceforth know we him no more,"
Because now weíre tied to His resurrection! Now here it comes in verse 17.
II Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, (if weíre in the Body of Christ. If weíre hid in Christ in God, if that has happened then) he is a new creature: (creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
And I guess most of us have experienced that, havenít we? The things that use to appeal to us, now we wonder, how in the world did we put up with it. The things we used to hate, now becomes our whole life. We just canít get enough of it. Well thatís the way itís supposed to be. Now verse 18.
II Corinthians 5:18
"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."
Well this is all that concept that comes from the pen of the apostle Paul, with regard to our new nature, as against the old Adamic nature. Now back to Colossians chapter 3, and verse 10 again.
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in (full) knowledge after the image of him that created him:"
In other words, Christ becomes our goal, He becomes our pattern, He becomes everything that we hope for. Now talking about the Body of Christ we find the following in verse 11.
"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Now weíre living in a time where there are some groups that are trying to put back the Jews in a separate place from the Gentiles. But the Scripture, as revealed to Paul says, "there is no difference!" A Jew has to be saved just like a Gentile, and his keeping the feast days or the Sabbath wonít do him any good, any more than it will anybody else. So we have to understand that the Jewish people today have to consider themselves as lost sinners. Theyíre in the same boat with lost Gentiles. But when they do become believers they come into the same Body of Christ as the Gentile does, and we become one in Christ when we become then a member of the Body of Christ. Looking at verse 11 again.
"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
He is the great field leveler. We like to talk about a level playing field, and thatís what Christ does, He levels the playing field and there is no difference in any segment of society. Once weíre in the Body of Christ we are all on with Him. Now verse 12.
"Put on therefore, (as a result of all that Christ has done) as the elect of God, (the ones that God has saved by His Grace) holy (set apart) and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (now verse 13. This is part of the Christian Grace.) 13. Forbearing one another, Ö"
You know what Iíve always said? You donít have to like everybody, but youíve got to love them. I mean there are some people that you like to be with a lot more than others, and thatís perfectly normal. But whether we like them or not, weíre to forbear them, and not be all angered and upset and have nothing to do with them, because everyone of us that have things that irritate others. I know I probably irritate people, but I thank God that they forbear with me, and thatís what we have to do with others. But the one thing we can never compromise is our love. We love them regardless, see? Now reading on in verse 13, Iím going to go rather quickly now, because I think we can finish Colossians this lesson. These are all just plain logical, common sense admonitions from the pen of the apostle as to how to walk and live with a child of God.
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: (and weíre going to, because weíre human. Weíre going to have differences of opinion. Weíre going to have some unhappy situations, but donít let it destroy your relations. And if you have a quarrel,) even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Now what does that tell you? Weíre forgiven, weíre totally forgiven, and I donít have to go back everyday and say, "Oh God forgive me." Thatís all done, it was done at the cross. A lot of people canít quite agree with me on that, and thatís all right, but forgiveness is a done deal. Now I know we have to still recognize our sins, and see them as God does. And I think we have to ask God for cleansing, and my whole approach to that is, the night that the Lord was washing Peterís feet. He came to Peter and what did Peter say?
"Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10. Jesus saith to him, he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit and ye are clean, but not all.
Peter had already been saved. Heíd had his bath already, but by virtue of walking from that bath house to his home in the ancients, the streets were filthy, and before he could go into his own home he would have to wash his feet. Well the picture of course is where we are. Weíve been saved, weíre forgiven, weíre cleansed, but weíre still in this old world, and as we go though this world our feet are getting dirty, and so what do we need? Cleaning!
We donít need forgiveness, thatís all done, but we need cleansing, and how do we cleanse? I just told somebody on the phone yesterday. How do you wash a strainer? A gravy strainer or a tea strainer, how do you wash it? You certainly canít run a piece of cloth through every little opening, so how do you wash a strainer? Oh you just swish it through the water, isnít that right? You just simply cleanse it with the washing of water. Now thatís what Paul uses in Ephesians, and this is what we have to do. We get daily cleansing, by the washing of the water, but what does Paul say the water is? The Word of God! Do you see that? Boy isnít that beautiful,? We donít have to come crawling to God every time we do something that is wrong, and plead that He forgive us. He must get tired of that, and tells us, "Iíve forgiven you!" But we do need cleansing. We have to see our sin as He sees it and then be cleansed from it by the Word of God. Now letís move on to verse 14. So weíre to forgive as Christ forgave us.
"And above all these things put on charity, (love) which is the bond of perfectness."
Remember the word perfect in the New Testament means mature. Love then is the sign of our Spiritual maturity. Now verse 15.
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,Ö"
A lot of people donít have the peace of God. A lot of Christians are in turmoil because they do not except the fact that God has justified them from all things, He has forgiven them, and so consequently they canít enjoy the peace that God wants them to have. And all they have to do is recognize where they are. God is full of Grace, God is ready to cleanse, and there is no need for Christians to go through life not having this peace of God.
"Öto the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
See there it is again, the Body of Christ, which all believers of the Paulís gospel is a part of. If you havenít used works for salvation but only believed, then youíre in the Body of Christ! Now verse 16, and letís go quickly till we get to the end.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;Ö"
Now Iíve got to take you back to chapter 1. I could take you also to Ephesians, but Iíll make it easy on you, so just turn back a page in Colossians1:9. This is Paulís prayer on behalf of the Colossi believers.
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, (that they had become believers) do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding:"
To be able to search the Scriptures and dig these things out, and put them into daily practice, because how many times have I said, "Christianity is the most practical thing on earth." And I mean that. Christianity is what makes people a good citizen. Christianity is what makes a person a good neighbor. Christianity makes a person a good parent. Christianity makes a person a good teenager, Christianity is what makes an honest person a good businessman. So all the way through Christianity is so practical. Itís not pie in the sky, or some foolishness over here, but just simple practical everyday living. And thatís what God is looking for. Now verse 10.
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, (we donít have to be like sandpaper to people who are around us. However they must also realize that weíre different than the world) being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Oh listen, when I realize how ignorant so many so-called Christians are, how it must grieve the heart of God that they havenít learned. Remember ignorance is not a lack of brain power, that has nothing to do with it. Ignorance is a lack of teaching. Now that may be of their own free will, some donít want to be taught, but many times itís just simply theyíve never thought about it. But to be willingly ignorant of what the Scripture says, means that you simply donít want to learn, so remember that. God wants you to increase in the knowledge of His Word and Himself. Now back to Colossians chapter 3, verse 17 for some more of just practical admonition.
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Now thereís the process again, as Paul also gave it in Ephesians on how weíre to pray. I still have people ask, "Are we still supposed to pray in the name of Jesus?" Absolutely! Come back with me to Ephesians chapter 5. Youíll see this is plain English, this is the process.
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father (how?) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Now thatís the Scriptural instructions, and Paul says the same thing here in Colossians. Now looking at Colossians again.
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
By the Lord Jesus, because after all Heís the One thatís at the right hand of the Father, Heís the One thatís the advocate, Heís the One that is the intercessor, and it only makes common sense. In fact another verse comes to mind in I Timothy chapter 2. Again itís a good admonition for all of us.
I Timothy 2:1-5
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2. For kings, (our government) and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honestly. 3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. 4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth. 5. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
Oh arenít you glad you donít have to go through a priest, or a religion, but you have clear access into the throne room. Oh boy, only 1 minute left, so letís come back to Colossians quickly. I know we didnít finish the Book, but this will still wind up Colossians , I can tell folks to just read chapter 4, because it has a lot of greeting in it, but now Paul has one more strong admonition for the family in verse 18.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20. Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." 21. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
We have to use common sense as fathers. Then he comes down to employees with regards to their employer, and all of this is just plain practical common sense instructions for a child of God.
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