Lesson One ē Part I For Lost Mankind Ė Death and Judgement Hebrews 9:15 Ė 10:1a Hebrews 9:14a "How much moreÖ"
Lesson One ē Part I
For Lost Mankind Ė Death and Judgement
Hebrews 9:15 Ė 10:1a
"How much moreÖ"
The book of Hebrews is constantly referring back to the system of Law and Judaism Ė and that it was good. But, now weíve come on this side of the Cross, and the Law has been set aside; it was completely fulfilled at the Cross. Now everything is what? Better! And so this is exactly what he is talking about here.
The Book of Hebrews is not a book of salvation like Romans or Galatians or even a book of church position like Ephesians. The Book of Hebrews was written to Jews who were still hanging on to a lot of the things of Judaism in Paulís day. And remember that, when Paul writes Hebrews, the Temple in Jerusalem is still going.
Even though the Romans had been hating the Jews for probably a hundred years or more, God in His Sovereignty did not let them destroy the Temple until after Paulís epistles were completed. I hadnít thought of that before. So now with Paulís epistles complete (and he can say that weíre no longer under Law), there was no need for the Temple. There was no need for the priesthood, and there was no need for sacrifices.
But, it wasnít until after the revelations of this Age of Grace that God permitted the Temple to be destroyed, and the priesthood dissolved and all the things that were associated with it. What an amazing God we have! And He does everything in perfect timing. Now the other thing I like to point out about the Book of Hebrews is that itís not for the novice. I donít expect new believers to just jump in and say, ĎWOW! I can really get a lot out of Hebrews." I just donít think thatís possible because of what Paul says way back in chapter 5, verses 13 and 14. And I think itís just for this very reason that the novice cannot fully digest the things in Hebrews.
Now for the Jews (to whom he was writing), you see, they were steeped in all this. They had been for generations, but for the non-Jew, this is just something that weíre not accustomed to reading and seeing and delving into Ė and so he says there in chapter 5 verse 13:
"For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, (see!) even those who by reason of use have their senses exercisedÖ" So the Book of Hebrews is not milk, let me put it that way. The Book of Hebrews isnít for the novice, the young believer. Itís for the mature believer who studies the Word. And, consequently, I suppose, a lot of people think I may be going over their heads in these Hebrews broadcasts, but we trust that as we come through youíll understand that, even for the novice, my, to just come in periodically and feast.
Iris and I were just talking on our way up about how the world has been changing generation to generation. And she was talking about her Mom having to carry water from the well to the old washing machine and the hand-wringers and hanging out the clothes. You might remember that. Well, we didnít have any part of that Ė by the time we got married, we had the washer and the dryer. And now our kids, I suppose they think what we went through was way back in the ancients someplace and they donít do anything like we did.
Well then, as we kept on driving, I thought how this just fits with Hebrews. Hebrews is something you can just jump in and feast on like maybe an occasional trip to a high-class restaurant. Now there again, times have changed. You see, when we were first married and our kids were little, maybe three or four times a year we would drop the kids off at my folks, and weíd go to a real posh steakhouse and we would just live it up and feast.
But you know how much that cost us? Ten dollars! The filet mignon in that fabulous steakhouse was $3.75. Times two = $7.50. Plus a couple bucks for the waitress. Weíd get out of there for less than ten bucks. Oh, it was a feast. Well, thatís Hebrews. Every once in a while you come into the Book of Hebrews and you just feast on it. Now you donít do it every day, because Romans is the book for everyday, and Galatians. And Paulís Church epistles. Thatís down where the rubber meets the road as we say. But Hebrews, you just jump in there once in a while for a delicacy. All right, letís come back:
"How much more (than the blood of animals mentioned in the previous verse) shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit (thereís your third Person of the Trinity, all involved together, see? ) offered himself without spot to God, (as a lamb, remember back there in Exodus 12 Ė without blemish) purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Are you all aware of what the word purge means? Now again, I just had a firsthand understanding of it. The natural gas people are laying a pipeline across our ranch, and itís just going right next to our corral. And theyíve been cooperating with us and so the other day they were ready to lay that stretch where we wanted to have it closed up as quickly as possible. And I noticed that they had all of that pipe welded, laying above ground. Now if youíre like me and youíre going to start thinking, how are they going to get that steel pipe down in that ditch without busting it all up?
So when I noticed that they were starting to lay it into the ditch, I got out there and fortunately the foreman happened to be right there next to my corral and he said, "I watch you on television almost every morning." Well, that kind of made the day. So I said, "Now Iíve got a question. How are you going to lay all of these hundreds of feet of pipe thatís all welded together, how are you going to lay it down in that ditch without it breaking?" He said, "Well you see back up there?" That pipe was laying down in that ditch like a rope Ė it had that much flexibility. Now I was just flabbergasted. So then I went one step further and I said, "Now before your guys came and welded these things I noticed dirt was laying in it. Do you clean all that?" "No," he said, "we donít pay any attention to that. When weíre all through, weíll purge it."
What did he mean? When theyíre all through, I donít know whether they use air or water, but theyíre going to make sure that that pipe is totally immaculate without a speck of steel or welding slag or dirt. Theyíre going to purge it. Well, thatís the same word. So what did God do with our sin? He purged it. He cleansed us of it. Every last bit! And then He forgot about it!
Now even in my small ministry, Iíve had several ladies who have called who had been saved, and as they began to tell me the next part of their life they start to weep. And now I almost know whatís coming. What do you suppose theyíre weeping about? Their past. Theyíve come out of prostitution and they canít get it out of their mind. "Oh, I know Iím saved but itís my past." You know what I tell these poor gals? I say, "Listen, I know that when weíre human, we canít forget. Much as we try, you canít forget. But God does!" Thatís one of His attributes. God can forget! And when He purges us from our sin, He doesnít ever bring them up to His mind, He never will throw them up to us. Itís over so far as God is concerned." And thatís what I try to tell them.
And thereís also men that come from almost the same kind of a rotten background. And they say, "Les, I just canít get my past out of my mind. I canít forget it." Well, look at it the way God does. God has forgotten your past. He will never throw it up to you again. Youíre purged of all that. And all you can do is take it by faith and praise Him moment by moment. Oh, thank you Lord that youíll never again hold my rotten past against me! Weíve been purged. Weíve been cleansed.
But what is the cleansing element? The blood! Now you donít hear much about that anymore and itís a sad, sad commentary on Christendom. The blood is the cleansing agent. And that alone can do it. So He offered himself without spot to God,
"Öpurge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Now here again, the dead works response is directly given to the Nation of Israel, because see, theyíre the ones that have been under a religion of dead works. All their Temple worship, all their sacrifices, couldnít take away sin. It was dead works.
And so, now Paul is saying, "My, the blood of the Lamb! That which has purged us and has cleansed us from even the dead works of Judaism and has brought them to serve the living God." All right, now letís move on to verse 15.
"And for this cause (because God has with His own blood purged us of all our filth and our sin) he is the mediator of the new testament (covenant) that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament (covenant),Ö"
Now youíll notice Iím using the word Ďcovenantí rather than the word Ďtestamentí because in the Old Testament as we call it, you donít see that word Ďtestament;í itís Ďcovenant.í And the covenant back in the Old Testament was from God to Israel but with Moses as the mediator. Moses was the go-between God and Israel. And there is a new covenant coming according to Jeremiah 31:31, directed only to the Nation of Israel. But, you see, weíve come under all of the good things of what God has done to fulfill that covenant to Israel and weíre getting what Iíve often called the overflow. And everything that Christ did there at the Cross in order to establish that new covenant with Israel, weíre enjoying all the benefits as well.
All right, because He has purged us and He has purged these Hebrews of their sinfulness, He has caused them now to turn to the Living God instead of a dead religion. All right, verse 15 again:
"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, (covenant) that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, (covenant) they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Well now a few weeks ago, I think I asked my class here in Tulsa, "How long is eternity?" You remember, itís as long as God lives! Eternity is as long as God will live. And thatís how long? Forever and ever. All right, so this whole transaction then of the Cross, the shed blood, has made possible an eternal inheritance.
"For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator."
Now you know, I had to look at a couple of commentators. And, Iíve said for years back, I didnít pay too much attention to commentators and sure enough, here again, one said one thing and the other one said another. So, which one am I supposed to believe? The one said that the word testament was totally out of order. It should be covenant all the way through, because testament was the Greek and the Roman concept. Whereas, covenant was the Hebrew concept. Well, that makes sense. But on the other hand, the other fellow came back and said testament is the right word because we are under a different set of circumstances than the covenants made back in the Old Testament. So there again, see, you just almost have to flip it in the air and take your pick.
For a testament (as we refer to it, as the last will and testament) is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."
Well, thatís understandable in our economy isnít it? We know that if you have a last will and testament laying in your bank box or in your safe at home, itís of no use. It doesnít have any power until when? When you die. Then when you die, that becomes the law and by that they will establish the settling of your estate.
All right, so this is what I guess here in verse 17 is what itís referring to, that Christ could not fulfill these promises made to us in the human race until He had died. Now verse 18.
"Whereupon, neither the first testamentÖ" Now again, letís be careful. In my Bible, the word testament is in what? Itís in italics. And Iíve taught some of you now for over twenty years. What does that mean? Itís added by the translator. So I like it better without it. Just leave it out. Verse 18 again.
"Whereupon neither the first was dedicated without blood." Well, the first what? Covenant! Now what covenant is Paul referring to? Law! When Moses came down the mountain with the commandments written in stone, that was the covenant of Law. And it was the first covenant. See?
So, "Whereupon neither the first (that is the covenant of Law) was dedicated without blood." Itís always involving blood. Now again, Iím sure every believer, sooner or later, is going to come to the point and ask the question, "Why does God put so much emphasis on blood when it comes to salvation?" Havenít you? I have. And I think, Iíve got a little bit of the answer. Now you know, Iíve said so often in my class here in Oklahoma, this salvation work of God is so profound, it is so complex, it is so deep that I canít comprehend it all. And I donít think anybody else can. We can just take a little bit of it that we can really understand, and we take it by faith. But on the other hand as weíve said so often, itís so simple a child can believe it and understand it. But to really get down and understand all of the ramifications of this, I just donít think itís humanly possible. But, letís take a stab at it.
Come back with me to Genesis chapter 9. And of course, we know that God had already instituted the blood sacrifice when He dealt with Adam and Eve back in chapter 3. And we certainly dealt with it with Abel who offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain because it was an animal sacrifice involving the shed blood. But now we come to chapter 9 and this will be the first time that we have anything definitive about the blood. All right, chapter 9, right after the flood, verse 4,
"But flesh (God says to Noah) with the life thereof, which is the blood, ye shall not eat. (and the whole idea was that in verse 5) 5. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every manís brother will I require the life of man. 6. Whoso sheddeth manís blood, by man shall his blood be shed:Ö"
Well, the secret to the whole thing, I think, is up there in verse 4. Why the blood? Because Ďlife is in the blood.í The blood is the source of all living. All right, then of course, you come on over to Exodus and the lamb that was supposed to be without spot, without blemish. And then you come all the way up through the Old Testament sacrifices. It was constantly the animal sacrifices and the shedding of its blood.
I remember several years ago when we were in Jerusalem and, at that time, the guide would still take us up to the Temple Mount and into the Dome of the Rock where this huge rock comes up (some of you have been there) out of the basement, so to speak Ė where supposedly Abraham offered Isaac. But our guide was explaining that, according to legend (and of course thatís all you go by), right about in that very spot is where the priests were sacrificing all of these animals. By the hundreds, day in and day out.
Well, that involved a lot of blood. And they had discerned that the blood would go down deep into the crevices and then find its way out to the Kedron Valley. Well it makes for a good story, but the point I wanted to make was about this constant shedding of blood. And I donít think our Jewish guide had ever comprehended it before, but he made the comment, "You know folks, a lot of times the Jewish family had to offer up a lamb that was really a family pet. And that would just make it all the more devastating that that little pet lamb had to give its blood for the sins of its owners." Later, I said to our guide, "Itís the same way with Christ. When Christ died and shed His blood it was to make such an impact upon the human race, whom He loved, that it would make them conscious of the horrible price of their sin."
And you know what that good Jew said? "I never thought of that before." But isnít that true? You see, as that Jewish family would bring that precious little lamb, and they would see that lamb give its life and its blood because of what? Their sin. And if it had its right effect, it would devastate them to think that their sin caused the death of that precious little animal. And I imagine, too, thatís why God chose sheep as the primary sacrificial animal. Theyíre not a rebellious type. Theyíre not the kind thatís going to fight and buck and everything else. But, theyíre so docile and itís so easy to be touched by simplicity.
Well, itís the same way when Christ died. The Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world. He suffered, He died, and it was brought about by only one thing. And what was it? Manís sin. Thatís all. And so He went to that Cross in payment for manís sin; otherwise He would have never had to do it.
But, getting back to what we were talking about, the blood Ė life was in the blood. And even in biology, unless a seed falls into the ground Ė and Jesus used the analogy Himself in John chapter 12, I think it was. Unless that seed falls into the ground and does what? Dies. It abides alone. But, if it die, then what? New life.
Itís the same way with the shed blood, see? When Christ shed His blood, it wasnít just that alone, but it was the fact that His life was poured out and the shed blood epitomized that life and it became death and then out of that death came what? New life! And thatís where we are. We have eternal life because of that death of Christ. And not just as Iíve always stressed so often over the years, not just His death, burial and resurrection but we can never shun the efficacy of His shed blood. Because blood was the price of redemption as God had mandated from day one, that life was in the blood. And blood alone could be the price of redemption.
Alright, come back to Hebrews again, chapter 9, verse 18:
"Whereupon neither the first covenant (the covenant of Law) was dedicated without blood." And then in verse 19, we go all the way back to Exodus, and this is what had to happen.
"For when Moses (at the very beginning of the system of Law. When he had brought the Commandments down from the mountain and now has the instructions for building the Tabernacle to establish the ritual and the sacrifices.) had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the bloodÖ" Now people donít like this. Maybe thatís why I revel in teaching it. I like to rub people the wrong way, if itíll wake them up and get them into The Book. And so, it was never without blood, see? He took Ė
"Öthe blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, (that is the Book of Law) and all the people, 20. Saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you." Now right from the very beginning of Godís dealing with the Nation of Israel in the matter of the Spirit, what is preeminent? The blood! And you go back to Exodus chapter 12, what was that one thing that spared the Nation of Israel on the night of the death angel? The blood. Where? On the door. And for those Jews who had put that lambís blood on the three spots of the door, which again of course, formed a cross, there was complete safety. Without the blood, they were doomed. So the whole concept from the very beginning of the experience of the Nation of Israel is, you cannot make the first step toward God without the shedding of blood.
Lesson One ē Part II
For Lost Mankind Ė Death and Judgement
Hebrews 9:15 Ė 10:1a
We appreciate so much how your letters express youíre studying with us and youíre sitting down over a cup of coffee or whatever the case may be and I think 99 and 9/10 percent of our letters say, ĎDear Les and Iris.í And thatís as it should be. I just couldnít do it without her. I thank God for her every morning. And so we appreciate the fact that you out there in television know that sheís part and parcel of this.
As you know we try never to attack anyone as we teach. All we want to do is just open up the Scriptures and let the Lord do the work. Before we start. Iím going to read part of a precious letter we got the other day. I read it to a couple of my classes here in Oklahoma.
"Dear Les, Iím writing this letter to let you know what your teaching has done for me and my family. My husband has been watching you for years. But I was lost. Very much an agnostic. A college educated unbeliever who scoffed at my husbandís faith. I donít know how he could stand me. When our second child was born I was up many early mornings and thatís when I first heard you. And you shook me up. I had already been searching for God but not in the right places. You shined a light on Godís Word and led me home."
How much better can you put it? And those are the kind of letters that I literally weep over. I canít help it, to think that God can use just an old farmer to bring people to a knowledge of salvation. And this isnít the only moving letter, as we get them every day. And we just have to give the Lord the praise for it.
Okay, drop in at chapter 9 in Hebrews and verse 20. Again, we like to also call your attention to our Web site (www.lesfeldick.org). My, how that Internet audience is growing around the world. I wish I could get Matt on TV someday, but I donít think Iíll ever succeed. You see Matt McGee works here in Tulsa and he does our whole Web site. Now heís got some help as Robert Pennybaker is now helping him, and then we have a gentleman up in Minnesota, Carl Matheson, who also works with Matt on it. And naturally we have Jerry and Lorna Pool and Sharon Martin who do all the transcribing of the books and get things ready for the printer. But anyhow these have all made our Web site what it is Ė Thank You!
Okay, Hebrews chapter 9 dropping in at verse 21 where we just left off in the last lesson. The blood is the basis for everything in Godís dealing with manís sin. Itís the price of redemption. Now I think before I go any further here, Iíve been saying over and over since we started Hebrews that we donít have the plan of salvation per se in Hebrews like you do in Romans 10:9-10, for example. And some of the other places in Paulís epistles, like I Corinthians 15:1-4, and I Thessalonians 4:14. Paul does not make as big a deal of the blood back in those church epistles as he does in Hebrews but that doesnít mean he ignores it.
Letís just go back and review a little bit. Come back with me to Romans chapter 3, and these great salvation verses, the likes of which, like I said, you wonít find in Hebrews. Hebrews is a special diet Ė if you really want to go in and just feast on some extraordinary things, then you go to Hebrews. But, for the plan of salvation, for the daily life of a Christian and so forth, then of course, we stay with Paulís church epistles.
"For all (the whole human race) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Because weíre sons of Adam. Now verse 24, and here comes the promise!
"Being justified freely by his grace through (what?) the redemption (paying the price) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God (the Father) hath set forth to be a propitiation (thatís a big word meaning Ďthe place of sacrifice as well as THE sacrifice.í Heís it all.) through faith in his (what?) blood,Ö" Here it comes, see? The blood is the price of redemption. And when we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection then it is a given that we are also placing our faith in that shed blood as payment for our sin debt. Now verse 26.
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and be the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Now that includes His death, burial and resurrection Ė but never forget the shed blood. All right, letís come over to another one in Ephesians chapter 2. I always like to start at verse 11, because see here again, what a difference from Hebrews. Hebrews is talking to Jews whoíd been under the Law for centuries. But the Gentiles are just now coming into the picture with Paulís apostleship. And so he reminds us:
"Wherefore remember, (call to mind) that ye (Gentiles) being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called the Uncircumcision by that which is called the CircumcisionÖ" (that is by the Jew.) Now verse 12,
"That at that time (while God was dealing with Israel under the Law) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, without God in the world."
That was the lot of the Gentile world. They were hopelessly lost. Only Israel was under that economy of Law. But the next word is what? "But." The flipside! Weíre no longer in that darkened area. We are now on this side of the Cross so the flipside is:
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who were at one time far off are made nigh (that is to God,) by the blood of Christ."
By the blood! You canít cancel that out. You canít throw that aside and say thatís a slaughterhouse religion. Sorry. Call it what you will but God demands faith in that shed blood Ė as we said in the last program, "Itís the blood that purges us from our sin." And if youíre going to cast that aside, youíre in trouble. Thatís all there is to it. Youíre in trouble. I always have to come back to this Ė I know a gentleman who was trying to show his brother-in-law what the Scripture said in plain English and his brother-in-law looked at it and said, "But I donít believe that." And George said, "Then youíre in trouble."
Well put, right? Then youíre in trouble. If you canít believe what The Book says when itís directed to us Gentiles then weíve got a problem! All right so, the blood of Christ is what brought us nigh to God. Now then, we can come back again to Hebrews and after Moses has now introduced this whole blood concept, not just with sprinkling the altar; not just with sprinkling the Ark of the Covenant Ė but He sprinkled everything, including the people Ė and the reason is in verse 22.
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
Thatís what The Book says. And thatís what I always call Ďthe absoluteí Ė the last half of this verse, and youíve heard me teach it over and over. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." Now in the Old Testament economy, it had to be animals. But as we saw earlier in chapter 9, the blood of animals couldnít take away sin. It was just a shadow.
I read an interesting thing on the shadow. You know, we see this term all the time that this is a shadow of things that were coming. Well, I had a pretty good idea what it meant but I like this description even better. This gentleman had a big tall pine tree in the back yard and his friend wanted to buy it, to cut it up for lumber. So they were out there looking at it and the sun was shining brightly. And the guy asked $150-200 for that pine tree. The potential buyer said, "Thatís more than I want to pay." "Well," the owner replied, "Iíll sell you the shadow for $50." See? Well what was the shadow? It was the likeness. It had the same dimensions with the sun shining in the right way. But hey, it wasnít the tree.
And then you can take it a little bit further. Sometimes we use the word Ďimage.í The image of things. All right. You could have taken a camera up to that tree and taken a few pictures, then you would have been able to determine by the bark and the leaves and the shape what kind of a tree it was. Well, are you going to buy a picture for $200 bucks? No. Because that picture wonít build anything. But you see, this is exactly what you have to understand. That when we speak of the Law simply being the shadow of things to come, it in itself had no substance. But, when the Truth came, then God expects the human race to latch on to it.
All right, so "Without the shedding of blood." All the way from Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3 to Cain and Able in chapter 4 and on up through the Old Testament, until we get to the night of the Passover Ė the lambís blood had to be applied to the doorpost or the death angel would strike. And that then became the beginning of the whole system of Judaism or the Mosaic Covenant of Law. Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Thousands of animals were killed every year and that blood was shed to placate a Holy God, but it couldnít take away their sin.
And for that reason the Old Testament believer, even the best of them, David, Moses, they couldnít go into Godís presence. Their sin was never atoned for. It was only covered with animal blood and so they, too, had to wait down in Paradise [in the center of the earth where Christ went (Matthew 12:40 and then Luke 16) until Christ had shed His perfect, sinless, atoning blood.]. So whether youíre dealing with Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3 or whether youíre dealing with you and I today in 2002 Ė "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." Itís an absolute.
God will not even look at someone who tries to approach Him without the shed blood. Now what percentage of Christendom does that take in? A big bunch of them. Most of them donít want to even think of the blood. I told you several programs back Ė I remember back in the 1960ís, one of my friends up in Iowa was all shook up (and Iím not even sure he was a believer) because his denomination had called in the hymn books. Later, they issued new ones with all reference to Ďthe bloodí taken out. A whole denomination. Well, you see, thatís just the tip of the iceberg. But Iíve got news for them. ĎWithout the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.í Itís impossible. All right, letís move on.
"It was therefore (see? Because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin) necessary (it had to be) that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; (that is with blood) but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." There it is again. See the comparison? Oh, the heavenlies. The sanctuary. And that Holy of Holies, into which Christ went after the order of Melchisedec, had to be better than everything that was taking place down in Jerusalem, the Temple or the Tabernacle. And so, the heavenlies had to be purified with Ďbetterí blood sacrifices than the animals. And so what was it? The blood of Christ!
I just thank the Lord that we get very little opposition, but when I taught back in Genesis that Eve was in Adam, that shook people up. And then I pointed out that she had to be in order to be part and parcel of Ďthe fall.í And that the Seed of the woman would one day come, in the person of Christ, of course, and be the Redeemer, the Savior of mankind. And I pointed out that the motherís blood never courses through the baby in the womb. And oh, that shakes some people up. They just canít comprehend something like that and I come back with this answer. If Maryís blood would have coursed through the baby Jesus in the womb, would He have had sinless, perfect, Divine blood? No. He couldnít have, because Mary was just as human as anybody else.
But, Maryís blood did not course through the infant Jesus in the womb. His blood originated as blood does in all mammals Ė livestock and everything Ė it begins with the what? The sire. The father. And so, since God was the Father, the Divine blood of Christ originated with God Himself. And oh, listen, without that, youíve got a mighty weak theology. Because it had to be the sinless, Divine, perfect blood sacrifice to satisfy the heavenlies. It all makes sense, see?
God is even in charge of the physiology of the human being in order to fulfill His theological things. I always remember old Dr. M. R. DeHaun Ė many of you remember listening to him on the radio Ė and one of his premises was that the blood of the mother could never course through the infant or you would not have a Divine blood in the Savior. He had another one that I hope to bring up a little later. All right now verse 24,
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true;Ö"
He didnít go into the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. He didnít go back behind the veil in the little tent in the wilderness. Oh, the Shekinah Glory stood above it, I know that. But, Christ didnít go behind the veil and present His blood in an earthly Temple or and earthly Tabernacle, which were figures, or types, or pictures of the true. But, verse 24 reading on:
"Öbut (he went) into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;"
I didnít sleep much last night because I go over all these all night long. And it just kept ringing in my ears Ė come back a few pages in Hebrews. Letís see, Iíll have to look a second. Chapter 4 just kept ringing in my ears all night long. And itís just a statement that is put a little differently than what we normally think of at His ascension. I donít know why, maybe it wonít strike anybody else the way it does me but I just love this particular word.
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavensÖ."
I donít know why but that word Ďpassedí means to me just a great sweep. With just a great sweep of power and glory He passed into the heavens. Am I making my point?
But you see, it just tells me something. That when He ascended into the Heavens (and I think with that sample of His blood with Him), that Heís now going to present it not to the Temple there in Jerusalem but into that Holy of Holies in the presence of God Himself. And He passed into the Heavens. All right, coming back now then to Hebrews chapter 9:
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; (or the picture of the true) but (He has passed) into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God (for what purpose?) for us." For us! See, thatís why we get as part of our salvation the word Ďsubstitute.í He became our substitute. He took our place. First and foremost on the Cross. He died the death that you and I should have died. He was our substitute. And now Heís in the presence of God for the same reason. Heís our substitute. Heís there in our place. And all the glory of God is funneled down to us through Him. Oh, I think weíre getting through to people.
You see, to enter into this kind of relationship doesnít mean that Iíve got to walk around Ďholier than thou,í wrapping my Pharisaical cloak around me. No. Thatís not what weíre talking about. Nothing thrills me more than when someone calls and says something like, "Les, yesterday a fellow came into my office and started asking questions, and I could share The Gospel with him." Well, thatís just being ordinary, isnít it? You donít have to be out there putting on some kind of a Ďholier than thouí front. Weíre just ordinary people. Iím just an ordinary cowman. I make no apology for it. But, I can revel in that Grace of God all day, all night for this very reason, because my substitute is right there in the presence of God pleading my case.
The same way with these women who have had a horrible past. Forget that past and come into the present, that Christ Jesus is now representing us, not our past. Our present, washed and cleansed, as only the blood of Christ can do it. All right, verse 25.
"Nor yet that he should offer himself (whatís the next word?) oftenÖ." What does that mean? Well, again, flash back to the Old Testament economy. Thatís what Heís doing. How many days a week did the priests minister there in the Temple or the in Tabernacle before that? Every day. Non-stop. They had courses of the priesthood so that that could be going on constantly. The Day of Atonement Ė once a year. But how many years? For as many years as the Law was in vogue. What 1500? Every year. The same thing Ė over and over and over. But this priest Ė He appeared in the Heavenlies on our behalf Ė once! See?
"Not yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood (animalís blood) of others; 26. For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:Ö" If that was the case Ė if His priesthood wasnít different. But it is! Itís totally different.
"ÖBut now, once in the end of the world...." (ages)
Iíve got this underlined in every Bible Iíve ever had. The word Ďo-n-c-e.í Highlight it, underline it. Once! The old hymn writer expressed it how? "Once for All." Once for all, oh happy condition. See? All right and so, "Once in the end of the ages." Now the word Ďworldí I think is a bad translation. Because coming up out of the Old Testament economy you want to remember Christís first advent was the end of everything because it was all in proximity according to the Old Testament, as soon as Christ ascended the Tribulation was going to come in. The Tribulation was only going to be seven years and Christ would return and set up His Kingdom. So all of this is in proximity within a matter of a few years, so this is what it is. That at the end of the prophetic ages, He came once to put away sin. To bury it in the deepest sea.
Now Iíve been looking. I always thought that was a Scripture but I donít think it is. If somebody can tell me where it is, you tell me. Iíve been looking and looking. But Iíve always had the idea that there was a verse in the Psalms that said Ė that our sins are buried in the deepest sea. And I canít find it. So I need help. I donít want to be like the guy I read about some time ago that always supposedly had a verse of Scripture for an answer. And everybody thought, "That old man knows his Bible. Heís got a Scripture for every occasion." Well, after heís dead and gone somebody started checking him out. Not a bit of it was Scripture! It was all just various clichés, see? So I donít want to be caught doing that. But you understand what Iím saying, our sins are far removed.
"Öhe appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
And "he appeared to put away." Never to be remembered against us. Never when you and I as believers come up before the Lord are we ever going to face God with our sins. Itís done. Oh, weíre going to have to face Him with what weíve done as a servant, as a child of God. What have we done for reward? But never will God throw our sin in our face. Thatís been done. Thatís forgiven! Itís washed in the blood. Itís purged.
All right and so, "This he did once in the end of the age, to put away sin by the sacrifice (again, not of animals, but of what?) of himself." Himself. But listen, this is what we gain by faith. Now, there is not a religion on this planet that can even come close to anything like this. Not one. They donít have this kind of a payment for sin. They donít know what it is to be redeemed. They know nothing of it.
Lesson One ē Part III
For Lost Mankind Ė Death and Judgement
Hebrews 9:15 Ė 10:1a
All right, weíre going where we left off in the last lesson. My people here in the studio got busy and they found the verses I was talking about in the last lesson that we couldnít find, when we were looking for what God does with our sins.
"Öand thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Theyíve been cast into the deepest sea. Thatís a little different wording than I had thought. And then another one Jerry found is "that they are as far removed as east is from the west." Well, Jerry remembered that I said years ago, how far is that? Because when you start going east from Oklahoma where do you stop going east and start going west? Well you never do. Youíre always going east. And so thatís how far our sins have been removed, as "far as east is from the west." Okay, so we got that covered.
Now letís come back again to Hebrews chapter 9 verse 27 and I think maybe I can spend a whole half-hour on this one verse.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the (what?) judgment."
Nobodyís going to escape judgment except who? The believers. See, the believer doesnít necessarily have to face death before the judgment because some of us, we trust a lot of us, are going to see the Rapture! Weíre not going to die. Paul says it. Letís look at that in I Corinthians chapter 15 verse 51. I donít want anybody to take my word for anything. Now this is not a contradiction of Scripture because the Scripture is not speaking of believers. But rather itís speaking of the lost of the ages. Theyíre all going to die and theyíre all going to come up before the Great White Throne, but for us believers there will be some that wonít have to die, and I think weíre close enough that Iím looking forward to it. I really think that unless the Lord takes me out ahead of time, Iím going to be hearing that trumpet call! I really believe that. Here Paul is writing to believers, as I said.
I Corinthians 15:51a
"Behold I show you a mystery;Ö" Now right there is the answer to most peopleís problems. They keep mixing all this stuff up together and they will not recognize that Paul had certain things revealed to him that were kept secret. And nobody had any idea of these things until it was revealed to this apostle and this was one of them. This is something that God had kept secret until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul. You wonít find it anywhere else in Scripture. Nowhere. From Genesis until Acts chapter 9 and from the little epistles, even in Hebrews, which was written to the Jews, all the way through the book of Revelation, there is not one hint of a group of people who will escape physical death. Paul alone refers to it. All right, read on.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold I show you a mystery; (or something thatís been kept secret) We shall not all sleep, (or die physically) but we shall all be changed."
Well, thatís obvious isnít it? If weíre not going to be changed through death and resurrection, then weíll have to be changed by another miraculous act of God and thatís what Heís going to do at the Rapture. Heís suddenly going to change this physical body. Now verse 52, how?
I Corinthians 15:52a
"In a moment., (in a nanosecond someone reminded me in Florida. Thatís the smallest division of time.) in the twinkling (or the blink) of an eye, (weíll be changed from this body to the new body. All right, and itíll be at) the last trump:Ö"
Now I get people who try to tell me, "Well this is the last trumpet in Revelation." And I come right back and I say, "Now look, just analyze Scripture. Those trumpets in Revelation are seven in number and they are given to what kind of creatures? Angels. This trumpet is singular. And Whoís holding it? God Himself!"
What a difference. Iím not waiting for the seven trumpets, Iím going to be long gone out of here before they start, but I am waiting for the trumpet call. Oh, I pray every morning, Lord sound the trumpet because itís not going to get any better. Now I know for people who have loved ones that are still lost, thatís hard to do, but nevertheless, we might as well recognize the fact, things are not going to get better. Itís going to get worse. I read a shocking thing the other day. And again, I almost hate to repeat it but it was from a reputable weekly news magazine that said since the tragedy of September 11th Ė 800,000 Americans have converted to Islam. Now thatís enough to shake your boots, isnít it?
Eight hundred thousand just since September have converted TO, not away from, Islam. And itís taking over the world. Well, we pray for the last trump.
I Corinthians 15:52b
"Öfor the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, (itíd be the dead in Christ) and we shall be changed."
We are not going to die and be raised from the dead. Weíre going to be changed if this takes place in this lifetime. And the reason is that nobody can go on to Glory until this old flesh of "corruption puts on incorruption."
I Corinthians 15:53
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
Now letís come back to Hebrews chapter 9 Ė Paulís reference of death and judgment is not a reference to the believer, but rather to the unbeliever. And remember thatís the vast majority of people.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die (physically. Theyíre going to go through death and after death, now what happens?) but after this the judgment:"
And a lot of good church people donít understand this. Come back with me to Johnís Gospel chapter 5, beginning with verse 28. If you have a red-letter edition, itís in red. From the lips of the Lord Himself in His earthly ministry. Iím finding out very few church people realize this is in their Bible. But the Lord says:
"Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, (He doesnít give any hint when,) in the which all that are in the graves (everybody since Adam and Eve until the end of time. Everybody that has lived a physical life and died) shall hear his voice."
Whose voice? Godís voice. And when God speaks, theyíll come forth from their place Ė as lost people and the saved. Verse 29:
"And shall come forth; (now here God separates them,) they who have done good (in other words, people of faith, thatís the only good that a man can do is have faith in what God has said) unto the resurrection of life; (Eternal life. Into Godís presence. But the other side of the coin are the lost) and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
The lost have remained in unbelief. Theyíve never exercised faith. And so they are workers of iniquity, theyíve done evil. Theyíre going to come forth in a resurrection to what? "Condemnation." Horrible thought. But theyíre going to. Theyíre not going to escape it. I donít care if Cain has been dead, what, 6,000 years in our reckoning? Cainís going to come forth in resurrection, as a lost person as far as we know. And whereís he going to stand? Before the Righteous Judge. Now we have to go back to Revelation chapter 20, donít we?
Paul speaks of the resurrection of the saved or the justified ones in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, and I Corinthians 15:51-58, when the dead in Christ shall rise with new resurrected bodies fit for glory. But the lost are going to be resurrected to stand before the judge and to hear their sentence here in Revelation chapter 20. And this is at the end of the 1,000 years Kingdom Age, and John says:
"And I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (see? The dead of humanity) small and great, (the great emperors, the great politicians, the corporate CEOís, all of them, small and great, and theyíre going to be resurrected to) stand before God;"
Now what person of the Godhead will they stand before? The Son! Jesus Christ is going to be the Judge. The Righteous Judge. And He will send no one to their doom that doesnít deserve it. He will never make a mistake. And so they stand before God the Son:
"Öand the books (plural, see?) were opened: and another book (singular) was opened, which is the book of life: (to show the lost that their name was not in that book) and the dead (lost) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
So the dead were judged out those things which were written in the books (plural) according to their works. Godís record. Theyíre there from beginning to end of every life.
Now you know, years and years back I used to have to contemplate something like that. My goodness, Heaven would be full of books. But if mankind can put the whole King James Bible in a chip as small as a pin head, then God wonít have any trouble keeping track of everybodyís works. And itís not going to take a lot of room doing it. His technology is far beyond human technology. So donít ever doubt this. Yes, every lost person is going to come before Him, and the first thing theyíre going to be shown is that the Book of Life does not have their name in it. Now you can look at it two ways. Either they were never entered into the Book of Life, or, like some say, every person thatís born, their name goes in then when they leave life as an unbeliever, itís taken out. You take your pick.
Theyíre going to stand before the Judge and theyíre going to have to see that their name is not in the Lambís Book of Life and then they will be judged out of those books which are a complete record of everything, from the day they were born until they die. And according to those works they will then suffer their condemnation.
Now, it stands to reason thereís going to be a lot of good people there. Good people who have never done anything vile. Theyíve never done anything, what we would call wicked or sinful, but theyíve never become partakers of Paulís Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10 and 13. They stayed in their unbelief. Itís going to be frightening. Because you know, Iíve always said thereís only one sin that will condemn a person to a lost eternity and itís unbelief! Not their wickedness, not their sin. Itís unbelief. And so yes, there will be some who are going to be Ďgood people.í But they were still in unbelief Ė condemned.
Then youíve got the murderers and the wicked, just the lowest of humanity. Yes, theyíre going to suffer. In fact, let me go back and show from Scripture that there will be degrees of punishment. Weíve done this before but you know, a lot of time has gone by and weíve got to repeat some of these things. Come back with me to Matthew chapter 10, and again in chapter 11. But letís start in chapter 10 of Matthew. And again itís the words of the Lord Himself.
"Verily I say unto you, it shall be (what?) more tolerable (what does that mean? Itís not going to be as hard on some) for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than for that city." Those wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are going to have an easier time of it at the judgment day than for that city where He had performed miracles and had preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, and rejected it. He goes on to say in verse 16:
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves." That was the instructions to the Twelve. Now letís go over to chapter 11 and He enlarges on it a little more and He names a couple of the cities that Heís speaking of. Jewish cities. Chorazin. Bethsaida. Capernaum is also mentioned in verse 23. But, look what He says starting in verse 20:
"Then he began to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, (why?) because they repented not. (they refused to believe Him. Now look what He says in the next verse.) 21. Woe unto thee Chorazin.! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! (now these were all Jewish cities.) for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, (which were basically Roman cities on the Mediterranean Sea coast and consequently were pagan and wicked Ė it would be more tolerable because) they would have repented long ago in sack cloth and ashes. 22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you."
And so itíll be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Now verse 23, Capernaum, once a beautiful city up there on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. The ruins are still beautiful.
"And thou Capernaum which art exalted unto heaven, (because it was such a beautiful city) shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."
Whatís he saying? Jesus performed miracle after miracle in the city of Capernaum. They should have believed in a minute Who He was. But whatíd they do? They did everything they could to trick Him. They accused Him of being demonic. They accused Him of everything blasphemous. And whatís the result? Their judgment is going to be worse than the vile, immoral people of Sodom.
That stands to reason. Godís going to judge according to His merit scale, not humanityís. Letís come back again to Revelation 20. The Great White Throne is going to be awful. I think preachers should be preaching how awful itís going to be at least two times a month. But instead they soft-soap it. They donít let people know that this is in their future.
"Öand the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."
And they were judged by the Righteous Judge, Jesus the Christ and Heís never going to be unfair. Now you have to remember, weíre dealing with billions of people but weíre not in Ďtimeí as we know it. Weíre in eternity and I always like to rack peopleís thinking Ė you know in eternity that would probably take, well Iím going to stretch it a little Ė things that may take a million years in time, will take five minutes in eternity. So donít ever think for a minute that God wonít have time to judge every individual. Oh, yes He will. That will not be a problem for Him, not a bit. And theyíre all going to be judged individually according to their works.
"And death and hell (the abiding place of unbelievers since Cain) were cast into the lake of fire."
We donít like to read that. I know we donít. Itís awful. But itís the Word of God. This is the second death. Their first death was when they died physically. This is spiritual death and you can remember way back when I first started teaching, I put it on the chalkboard. What is death? Well, itís the separation. Death is a separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the physical body. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul and spirit, the eternal make up of mankind, separated from God for all eternity. Thatís the second death. A separation.
"And whosoever (none excepted, good or bad) was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Listen, do you realize that Jesus spoke far more of the doom of the wicked than He did of Heaven. Far more. How many times did He refer, for example, to, "and in that day theyíll come before me and theyíll say, but Lord, didnít we cast out demons?" Didnít we do this and didnít we do that? And what will His answer be? "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you."
Thatís just one example and He gives them over and over. Itís serious business. Now on the one hand I can talk about the joy of you and I as believers, the hope of glory! And Iím going to really hammer it home in the next half-hour. Oh, the glory that weíre going to experience! But the other side of the coin, the devastation, the horror of lost mankind is unbelievable. Letís come back to Hebrews chapter 9, and verse 27 again.
"And it is appointed unto men once to die (unless they become believers and they live to see the Rapture. But otherwise Ė death hits every human being sooner or later.) but after this the judgment: (in the Great White Throne) 28. So Christ was once (once, contrary to what so many people think) offered to bear the sins of many;Ö" Now who are the many? The whole human race. You remember way back, I think, when I was in Romans, maybe Corinthians. I know I probably shook a few people up. When Christ died and finished the work of the Cross, how many sins of the world did He forgive? Everybodyís! Yes, I even made the analogy of Adolph Hitler Ė yes, his sins were paid for. The Atoning Blood had covered his sin. Why didnít he get to cash in? Because he never believed it as far as we know.
And itís the same way with wicked people today. Their sins are forgiven. Thatís what makes it so horrible. Theyíve already been pardoned. Theyíve already been reconciled to God. God has done everything that He can do. And all they have to do to cash in is BELIEVE IT. Now, Iím not talking about Ďeasy-believeism.í Iím talking about genuine, saving faith. Trusting it. Believing it. And when we come then the Lord can say, "Oh, youíre already forgiven. Iíve already pardoned you. Yes, Iíve chosen you before the foundation of the world." Thatís how all-inclusive that work of the Cross was.
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;Ö" Come back with me to II Corinthians chapter 5, and letís 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 (how many?) all, (not just the few. He died for the whole human race) then were all dead." Or had a necessity of salvation. Now the next verse,
II Corinthians 5:15
"And that he died (again for how many?) all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
But the point I want to make is that when He died, He didnít die just for a fraction of the human race. He died for ALL. And thatís why, when the lost get to that Great White Throne, there is going to be no real argument. Because theyíre going to understand that the only reason theyíre missing glory is their UNBELIEF. They refused to believe. They refused to take it by simple faith. And like I said earlier this afternoon, this plan of salvation is so complex that I canít begin to fathom it. But on the other hand it is so simple that six and seven-year-old kids can enter in. They can believe it and they donít have any problem.
Lesson One ē Part IV
For Lost Mankind Ė Death and Judgement
Hebrews 9:15 Ė 10:1a
"So Christ was once(there it is again, see?) offered to bear the sins of many." And as we studied in our last half-hour, that "many" was the whole human race.
"Öand unto them that look for him, he shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Now of course, what Paul is referring to is that, when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation, those that have embraced Him throughout the Gospel of the Kingdom in that seven years of Tribulation and have survived Ė theyíre going to see Him coming, and He will come "without sin unto salvation." I feel what Paul is addressing here is that, at His first advent, He came for what purpose? To die for the sins of the world. And then II Corinthians 5 says so plainly that He was Ďmade sin for us.í He Who knew no sin.
Heís not going to come to pay any sin debt when He comes the next time. When He comes the second time it will be in wrath and judgment Ė and then establishing His Heaven-on-earth Kingdom. And I think thatís whatís referred to here, that Heíll come the "second time without sin unto salvation." Now letís move on into chapter 10, coming right back again to the Mosaic System.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come,..."
Remember I gave you an illustration of shadows (about a big beautiful tall tree. And it casts a shadow but you canít get all that much from the shadow. It can give you an idea but thatís about all). Well thatís what the Law was. The Law really didnít have anything of intrinsic value for us except that it was a foreshadowing of that which was to come.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of things,Ö"
You know I probably upset people once in a while and I donít do it purposely. But you know when it comes to the Old Testament believers, some like to tell me that these believers understood or foresaw the resurrection. How could they? How about Abraham for one? Abraham believed God. And his believing was accounted unto him for righteousness. And then they tried to tell me that Abraham understood this Christ would die on a Cross? No. I donít buy that, because he had no concept of that. How could he? The Cross was a Roman invention and didnít come for hundreds and hundreds of years later. But what little God revealed to Abraham, he believed! And God accounted it to him for righteousness.
And so here again, the Law was just a shadow of good things to come. Oh, even the Rabbis and the Priests understood that there were things here that they werenít comprehending. A verse just comes to mind that we need to look at. Weíve looked at it before, but itís been a while. Come all the way to I Peter. And Peter again is addressing the Jews who had gone into dispersion. Heís writing to the Ďstrangers scattered abroad,í which are Jews. But you come into chapter 1, and this is what we mean by Ďit was just a shadow.í Oh, there were things back in that Old Testament that the religious leaders of Israel just knew there was something that they werenít comprehending.
I Peter chapter 1? Letís begin at verse 7 and lead up to the main verse. Someday, if the Lord tarries, weíll be finishing Hebrews and then weíll go on into the little epistles of James. Some of you have already been asking. "Where are we going next?" Well, now youíve got your answer. Weíll probably go on into James and I and II Peter; I, II and III John and Jude. And then of course, Iím open for suggestions as to what will follow. Weíll go back to the Minor Prophets and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel Ė oh my goodness weíve got a long ways to go. I could live to be 500 and weíd never finish it!
I Peter 1:7-9
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 2. Whom (speaking of Jesus Christ) having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; 9. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." See, there again, even Peter is emphasizing the faith aspect. Verse 10:
I Peter 1:10
"Of which salvation the prophets have (what?) inquired (what does that mean? They asked a ton of questions.) and (they) searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you." It hadnít come yet, but they understood that there was something coming and they searched and they tried their level best to put the whole thing together, but they could not.
Now, you know, many times throughout the years weíve been on television, Iíve gone back to Rachelís death at the birth of little Benjamin. And I think most of you are aware, as she was dying, what did she say the little fellowís name would be? "Benoni." Which meant what? ĎThe son of my sufferingí because she was dying. But old Jacob overruled it and he said, "No. Weíre not going to call him ĎBenoni,í weíre going to call him Benjamin." Which meant Ďthe son of strength.í Well now, what do you suppose the Rabbis did with that? Well, thereís something here. This didnít just happen by accident. Surely thereís going to be two Messiahs. One who will suffer and they understood Isaiah 53 that said, ĎHe would be led as a lamb to the slaughter.í They could put that much together.
So evidently the Benoni was a Ďsufferingí Messiah. But then along comes Jacob and renames the little lad Benjamin, the Ďson of strength,í and the Old Testament is full of the King and His Kingdom. So that Messiah must be the King. So they thought maybe there would be two. Well, that was logical up to a point. But what did they never put together? One and the same, but in two different times! Separated now at least by 2,000 years, but we hope it wonít be much more. But they could never comprehend that the Benoni was Christís first advent, the suffering Messiah. Now, nearly 2,000 years later, we trust that soon, the Benjamin aspect is coming and what is He going to be? The King! See how beautiful it all is? But these Old Testament people never figured it out. They never figured it out, and most Jews today still havenít.
I had a nice phone call the other day from a Jew. She said, "Oh Iím with you all the way." I donít like to express the good comments that we get, but I do get good comments from Jewish people and even from a Rabbi once in a while, and we appreciate that. But see, these Rabbis just didnít have an understanding. They saw the shadow, but like I showed in my analogy, you donít build a piece of furniture with a shadow. Youíve got to have the tree. And all they could pick up was the shadow. They knew there was something they couldnít put their finger on. All right, verse 11:
I Peter 1:11a
"SearchingÖ" Now if you understand Yeshivas in Israelís educational system, all those young men do from morning till night is they just sit there and they do nothing but analyze the Old Testament; searching to see if they can come up with some little tidbit of revelation that nobody else has ever seen. Well, these old fellows were doing the same thing, searching the Old Testament.
I Peter 1:11-12
"Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, (the Benoni) and the (what?) glory which should follow. (the Benjamin. The King, the Kingdom.) 12. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us (Peter, speaking now after the fact) they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them who have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." Peter is so clear and adamant here that these Old Testament Rabbis saw the shadow, but they could not construct the whole picture because God was keeping it secret.
Now letís take you back to a verse in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 29:29. I had a dear, dear friend of mine who was in my class for a long time and his health has now deteriorated. And dear old Dr. Baker came up one night and said, "Les, Iíve found a verse that fits your teaching to a ĎT.í And here it is. Oh, Iíve thanked the Lord for it over the years. It was a long time coming. But see, this just opens it all up.
"The secret thingsÖ" What things? Secret. Now listen, a secret is a secret! And when itís a secret, how many people know about it? Nobody but one.
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God: (and nobody else) but (flipside) those things which are revealed (that are no longer secret, see?) belong unto us (Moses is writing) and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Whatís the verse telling us? That God keeps things secret until He reveals it. And Heís not going to reveal it all at once. Heís going to reveal it little by little. And so all the way up through Scripture God is revealing things that He has kept secret. And thatís why a lot of the prophecies back in the Old Testament were hard even for Bible scholars to comprehend. God didnít expect them to. There was no need for it. What good would it have done to have started preaching prophecy back there in 1000 AD. There was no need for it. Even at 1500 AD there was still no need for it. But as we approached the 1900ís, all of a sudden Bible scholars began to see the picture of the end-time coming together. Well, thatís the way God works. You see, the Apostle Paul, over and over, is making mention of that.
Now let me take you back to what Paul says. Letís go to Romans, chapter 16. Now donít forget what we just read in Deuteronomy. God keeps things secret. And until He reveals it, thatís what they are. But once He reveals it, He expects mankind to believe it. Here in Romans 16 verse 25, this is one of my favorite verses. You know, I usually ask my seminar crowds, how many of you have ever heard a sermon preached on Romans 16:25? Well, until last Fall up in Minnesota, I never got a hand. Last Fall, I finally got two or three. But see, people donít hear this. They donít want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Look what it says,
"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, (of I Corinthians 15:1-4) and the preaching of Jesus Christ. according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept (what?) secret since the world began."
See how plain that is? Well what was secret about it? In Christís earthly ministry, Peter, James and John and the rest had no idea that God would turn to the Gentile world with this Gospel of Grace. They had no concept of such a thing. The only mindset they had was that once Israel was converted, yes, then Israel could move out and bring the Gentiles in. But you see Iím always emphasizing back there in that earthly ministry, what did Jesus tell the Twelve when they began their ministry?
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Well what was that? That was something that was still kept secret from the Gentile world. They werenít to go and reveal anything to the Gentiles, because it wasnít time for it. Paulís Gospel of believing in the death, burial, and resurrection for salvation hadnít happened yet. And so Peter, James and John and the rest, they know nothing of going to Gentiles. You know, I always like to come back to Peter and the house of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Now you see, that was probably seven, eight, nine years after Pentecost and theyíd been situated only in Jerusalem all those years. If you donít believe me, read Acts 8 verse 1. ĎThey were all scattered abroad everywhere, except the apostles.í They werenít about to leave.
But finally, after Saulís conversion in chapter 9 Ė and then in chapter 10, God providentially forced Peter to go to this Gentile house of Cornelius and youíve heard me say it more than once Ė "heel prints in the sand!" Peter didnít want to go to those pagan Gentiles any more than Jonah did. But he got there and God did something that those Jews could not comprehend. Whatíd He do? Saved that house full of Romans. Now we donít know how many there were. Couldnít have been hundreds as they were all living in a house. But anyway, the point I always make is, wouldnít you think that after seeing the miraculous salvation of a bunch of Roman military men, that Peter would have just sent a messenger back to Jerusalem and said, "Fellows, Iím out of here. God is going to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, Iíll see you later!"
Is that what happened? No. He trekked right back to Jerusalem as though nothing had ever happened and when he got there they chewed him out royally. "What business did you have going to the Gentiles?" Isnít that funny that those people couldnít understand that? Why? Because this whole concept of going to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace was still kept secret. Now along comes the Apostle Paul and whatís the first thing God tells him? "Iím going to send you far hence to the Gentiles." Unheard of! Those pagan Gentiles? All right, now look what Paul writes in Galatians chapter 1 verse 11, and this is such simple language. Look what the Apostle writes, by inspiration of the Spirit.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which is preached of me (or what he called in Romans Ďmy gospelí) is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (that is by other men) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Now when you let go of a secret what are you doing? Well, you reveal it. And so this secret thatís been in the mind of God was not revealed until the Apostle Paul. Not all at once Ė little by little.
All right, so he said, "I got it by revelation of Jesus Christ." I just pointed out to someone who called on the phone (as to where I stand concerning Christís earthly ministry), "Look, Christís earthly ministry was under the Law. It was directed to the children of Israel," and I quoted to him Romans 15 verse 8. ĎNow I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to fulfill the promises made to the fathers.íí Plain English, isnít it? All right, so He came to the Nation of Israel under the Law leading up to the crucifixion.
But this man Paul, now, has things revealed from the ascended Lord. What does that mean? Well, a whole new ball game. Now weíre ready to reveal some secrets Ė read on.
"For ye have heard of my conversation (or my manner of living) in times past in the Jews religion, (as you know he was a religious zealot) how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (called out assembly of God) and wasted it." Now that wasnít the Body of Christ as is taught in Paulís letters. Here heís talking about the believers, which were Jews in Jerusalem that he was after.
"And profited in the Jews religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers," He was religious, but God pulled him out of that. Now verse 15.
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my motherís womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among (who? The Gentiles) the heathen;Ö" That was the first time this has ever been mentioned. A revelation of the Lord. Something held secret. Read on:
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me;Ö"
Now some of you have heard me teach this a hundred times. What would have been the logical thing for the Apostle Paul to do (recently Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor, but now struck down by the Lord from Heaven outside the Damascus gate and told youíre going to go to the Gentile world with the Good News of the Gospel)? What was the logical thing to do? Traipse back to Jerusalem, find the Twelve and just say, "Fellows, sit down with me. Letís get out a pencil and pad and I want you to tell me everything you know about this Jesus of Nazareth." But what does the Scripture say? Exactly the opposite Ė sent him the other direction so that he couldnít sit down with the Twelve.
He didnít want the Twelve muddying this fresh new mind recently brought from religious tradition. So He sends him out into the desert, the opposite direction. So he said:
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,Ö" Well, what was the whole purpose? To unload on this man things that had been kept secret. And he, over and over, refers to them now as the revelation of these mysteries or things that had been kept secret.
Now thereís another one in Ephesians chapter 3. Itís the same type of concept Ė and donít ever accuse the Apostle Paul of being an egotist or of being puffed up. He was the most humble of servants. He was the most used of God of any man other than Christ himself. Of course, we donít compare him to that. But I think the Apostle Paul stands head and shoulders even above Moses as Godís man for taking the Good News to the human race.
"For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you (what people?) Gentiles. (remember Gentile was a hated word in Israel) 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:"
Now I know there are some who would agree with a certain part of this. Theyíll say, not all of this was kept secret. Just maybe the ĎBody of Christ.í Now wait a minute. When we get a new administration in Washington, does half of the old group go out or all of them? All of them. Thatís the whole idea of a transition. The old goes out and the new comes in. When we have a new administration, half the cabinet doesnít stay with the old, they all move out. So the administration is the whole, not just part.
All right, now look what the Apostle says here in the second verse. "The administration of the grace of God was given to me to you-ward." Not half of it. Not just parts of it. Now, you remember in my programs in days gone by, what have I told you? That whole body of truth that is involved in the Gospel of the Grace of God Ė that that was revealed in this dispensation or administration of the Grace of God. All of it. "The beginning of the Body of Christ, to the end of the Body of Christ."
Thatís why I adamantly say that the Church cannot go into the Tribulation because that dispensation does not fit with it. It wonít. It canít because the whole body of truth was revealed to this man. So the secrets are now revealed. And oh, God expects us (like he told Moses), when He reveals it, to believe it. All right, if you think heís stretching the point, look what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write. Go all the way down to verse 9.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been (what?) hid in God,Ö"
Lesson Two ē Part I
A Shadow of Something Glorious to Come
The Book of Hebrews is written to the Jewish people, and so the whole thing is naturally flavored in that direction. Although the overall doctrines go right back into Romans and Galatians and Ephesians (and pick up almost the same things), never forget that these things are written to Jewish people who are having a hard time turning their backs on all the traditions and the teachings of Judaism. And itís no different than someone coming out of a cult. My, it is so hard to turn their backs on something thatís been pounded into them for a lifetime, and then suddenly they realize that itís no longer the right way. So, Paul is addressing these admonitions to Jews who were understanding his Gospel of Grace to a point, but they still had to be convinced that all of this was part and parcel of Godís program for the ages, as I like to call it.
Weíre going to go back to some of the things in Romans, but first letís read Hebrews chapter 10 verse 1 where he writes:
"For the lawÖ" The Law, the Old Testament economy. Usually we think of the Ten Commandments as the Law. But, you canít confine it to just the Ten. Because of the Ten Commandments, God instituted the Temple worship or what we call the ceremonial aspect of the Law. In other words, if they committed a particular sin, they had to bring a particular sacrifice. But naturally, basic to all of it was the moral law, the Ten Commandments.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, (not necessarily good while it was in practice but looking forward to something that was good in the future.) and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
Now in plain English, whatís he saying? All of this practice of the Law could never bring that Jew to a full relationship with God. It was impossible, because they were still under a system of animal sacrifices and everything was merely a shadow of that which was to come.
Since our last taping a month ago, weíve been out to Ohio and Indiana, and even up into northwest Kansas. So, it seems like a long time ago that we covered the difference between the image and the shadow.
So I think it bears repeating. Remember I gave you the illustration of this gentleman who had a big beautiful tree. And his best friend was a woodworker. And that friend could just see that beautiful tree sawed into lumber that he could use for whatever he was going to make. So, he asked his friend what he would take for that tree. Well, of course, he wanted several hundred dollars. which was a lot more than the woodworker wanted to pay. So the owner of the tree said, "Well, Iíll sell you the shadow of the tree for $50." Well, you know we smile. But the lesson is the shadow is the exact outline of that tree but thatís all it is.
You cannot determine what kind of a tree it is from the shadow. You canít see the shape of the leaves. You canít see the configurations in the bark. All you see is the outline. You can go up to the tree, and you can examine it and you know exactly what it is. Now thatís the analogy throughout Hebrews, that all these things back under the Law were not the Ďtree;í they were the Ďshadow.í But if you start at the far end of the shadow and you follow it, where does it take you? To the tree. All right, now thatís the whole idea of the Old Testament economy. Itís just like the shadow of a tree, that as you follow it, itís going to bring you to the image or the real thing.
Now the word image here in the book of Hebrews in the Greek is the same Greek word that, when the disciples were confronting Jesus about materialistic things, He asked them for a Denarius, a Roman coin. And what did He ask them? "Whose image is on that coin?" What was their answer? Caesarís. All right, now that word image is the same word translated image here in Hebrews.
When they looked at a Roman coin, what did they see? They saw the likeness of Caesar. That was the image. All right, now this is what weíre supposed to understand, that all these Old Testament things and everything that took place under the Law were just the shadow of the real thing. And whatís the real thing? Christ Ė death, burial, resurrection, ascension to glory.
Okay, so the Old Testament economy was good while it was there. But it was only a shadow looking forward to something which would be, as weíve seen throughout all these previous nine chapters, something far better. Over and over weíve seen that. Yes, that was good, but this is better. Letís go back to Romans chapter 3 where the same Apostle Paul writes now, not in the language that pertains to the Jew, but in language that pertains to the non-Jew.
Thatís why Paul is always emphasizing that he was the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). But heís basically saying the same thing. Only, heís approaching two different kinds of people.
"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law;Ö" I donít think thereís a person in this room that doesnít know who was under the Law? Israel. Israel was under the Law, not the Gentile world. Only Israel practiced the Temple worship and the sacrifices and had the priesthood.
All right, but the power of the Law to condemn didnít stop at the borders of Israel; it went to the whole human race. To every last human being thatís ever lived, the Law condemned. Read on:
"Öthat every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
Now, you know I repeat and repeat and repeat. And over and over people say, keep repeating. So Iím not going to apologize for that. But again, how many people, even right here in the Bible Belt, have got that fouled up idea that the Ten Commandments are somehow a means of gaining entrance into Heaven.
The Ten Commandments are just the opposite. Theyíre Godís reason for not letting a human being into His Heaven. Because they are all guilty. And thatís all the Law could do was show men their guilt. And this verse says it plain as day. That "all the world may become guilty." Not saved. Not made ready for Heaven, but made guilty.
"Therefore (since that was the purpose of the Law, to condemn mankind.) by the deeds of the law (or keeping the Law) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: (Jew or Gentile. Nobody. And then he repeats the reason.) for by the law is the knowledge of (not salvation or eternal life, but what?) sin."
Thatís all the Law can do is show us our sin. Every time you read the Ten Commandments, all they can do is just bombard you with what? Youíre guilty. Youíre guilty. Thereís not a one of us that can say Iím not guilty. And then the Lord Himself really made it tough with one of His remarks. "Even if you think it in your heart youíre guilty." James says, "If youíre guilty of one, youíre guilty of how many? All of them." I mean, we donít stand a chance. Thatís how condemning the Ten Commandments are. But look at verse 21, whatís the first word? One of my favorite words in Scripture.
Oh yeah, thatís all the Law could do was condemn Ė but Ė thereís a tremendous loophole. Big enough for the whole world to come through if they would, and what is it?
But now the righteousness of God without the law (now weíre coming to the end of the shadow, weíre coming to the image. Weíre coming to the real thing.) is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;"
Now whenever somebody accuses me, and they do occasionally, of being too Pauline, by saying, "You make too much of Paul. Paul isnít the only one that knows any of these things." I say, "He never claimed to." Look what he says right here. Everything that is being revealed is resting on that which went before and what went before the Apostle Paul? The Law and the Prophets. He never claims to have just come out of the woodwork with all this. His is just part of what Iíve always called progressive revelations. From Genesis 1:1, this blessed Book is a progressive revelation. You donít get it all up there in the first chapter. It just keeps flowing and as it gets closer to the end itís just like the old Mississippi. You know up there in Minnesota you can walk across it on a few stones. But by the time it gets to the Gulf of Mexico you need a ship to go across it.
Thatís the way the progressive revelation of Scripture is. It just keeps expanding and expanding and expanding. And thatís why we canít plumb the depths of it. But, Paul claims by inspiration that everything heís had revealed to him is resting on the Law and the Prophets. Through the Old Testament economy Christ came in His first advent, presented Himself to the Nation of Israel for three years, but was rejected and crucified in order to become the supreme sacrifice that the Law again, was just a shadow of. See?
All right, so after being witnessed by the law and the prophets, this is now evident that "the righteousness of God," not manís righteousness, but Godís righteousness as we see in verse 22.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:Ö" And thatís another pill thatís hard for some people to swallow, that all of this is appropriated on our behalf when we believe Ė plus nothing.
I got a letter in the mail yesterday; I havenít had time to read it all. All I saw was the first sentence, "Les, youíre wrong. Thereís more than faith plus nothing." Well, then I said, "Wait, Iíll read that one when Iíve got nothing better to do." Because it is Faith plus Nothing! Itís a free gift that you cannot work for. I donít care what any person says because, over and over, the Scriptures make it so plain that this is where itís at. It isnít faith Ďplus.í Itís BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART! (Romans 10:9-10) And we did that in our seminar out in Ohio a few weeks ago. One of the questions toward the middle of the afternoon was, "Is water baptism necessary for salvation?" And you know how that triggers me.
And so I just went back and I didnít say a word from my own thinking, I just went Scripture after Scripture after Scripture. And fortunately, I think, with the Holy Spiritís help, I was able to show all these verses like this one right here. Look at it again. This is one that I used and Iíll show you how I did it. "For it is by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe" and are baptized? I had four hundred and some people raise their heads and shake them. No, thatís not what it says. And then you can go back to Romans 1:16, what does Paul say?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;Ö" and is baptized? Is that what it says? No. Thatís not what it says. To everyone that what? Believeth! Period. And so I went all the way through Paulís epistles where it says to him that "believeth." Plus nothing. See? All right so here it is all them that believe. With no strings attached. And then of course, "there is no difference between Jew and Gentile." Now they must all come the same way, by believing Paulís Gospel of salvation.
Back to Hebrews 10, so letís move on through the last half of the verse now. This whole system of the Law, which was only the shadow, with all of its works; feast days, the sacrifices, continuously Ė never ending. And then what does the verse say?
"Ösacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
Or prepared and ready for God. Disheartening, wasnít it? And yet it was an unending process. Now, I find it hard to believe, but Iíve read it more than once, that Josephus made the claim that at the time of Christ, almost a million animals a year were sacrificed. Now I find that hard to believe because you divide a million by 365 and thatís almost more than they could kill in a day. But, we know it was a humongous number of animals that were daily being sacrificed at the Temple there in Jerusalem, and yet practically for nothing because animalís blood couldnít do anything.
"For then would they not have ceased to be offered?Ö" In other words, if those animal sacrifices were all that were necessary, wouldnít the day have come when theyíd quit? But they never could. They never could because those sacrifices could not take away sin. Reading on in verse 2:
"Öbecause that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." If those animal sacrifices were complete in themselves, those Jews should have been able to go away from that Temple. They should have been able to go back to their homes in Greece or Babylon content that all of their sins were forgiven. But could they? No. Next year they had to be back again. Now verse 3.
"But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins (how often?) every year." Weíre talking primarily about the Day of Atonement. And so Israelís sins were never removed. They just kept coming back. It was unending. And this is what Paul is proving Ė and what a difference Ė as weíre going to see the other side of the coin. Here in verse 4 is why they had no assurance of sins forgiven, because it was not possible.
"For it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5. Wherefore, when he (speaking of the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth) cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not but a body hast thou prepared for me:"
Now weíve got to stop a moment. What was he really saying? Did God take pleasure in all those innocent animals being slaughtered? No. He didnít take pleasure in it. Now when they made a dent in Israelís spiritual life, Iím sure it made a difference. But most of the time, Israelís spiritual life was in the pits. Letís go back to Isaiah chapter 1, lest we get the mistaken idea that God was so pleased when those Jews would bring those perfect little lambs or those cute little goats and have them killed. He wasnít pleased with all that, but it was a part and parcel of His demands on the Nation of Israel to let them show their obedience and, yes, their faith. If they did it right, they brought those sacrifices by faith. Because thatís the way God told them to do it, but most of the time even faith was absent. See? Here in Isaiah, this is God speaking through the prophet concerning all these sacrifices.
"Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom (now thatís the other word for Jerusalem) give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah." Now, why in the world call Jerusalem, Sodom and Gomorrah? Because of their wickedness. Oh, you have no idea, see? Now verse 11.
"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full ("Iíve had it up to here" is the way we put it donít we?) of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats."
"When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; (which of course was part and parcel of the sacrificial worship) the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting."
Now do you know how meticulous the Jews were about all that? See, most people donít understand the customs. They were so intent on knowing the exact time that a new moon came about that they would actually station people on the mountains of Israel to watch the nighttime sky for the first slightest sliver of moon and they could announce to the Temple people, the new moon has begun, see?
All right, see this is what the Lord is talking about. They made such a big deal over the "new moons, the Sabbath days, the calling of assemblies." God says, "I cannot, away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting."
Now whenever I read these verses, you know what I have to think of? I wonder how many services across the world today the Lord has the same feeling for? Most of them have just become almost an abomination. They have departed from the truth of Godís Word and God hates it. But they think that they can compensate for it with all of the entertainment and what-have-you. But Iím sure God doesnít. He doesnít swallow that. And He would like to just say, "Away with it."
"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood." Quite a condemnation isnít it?
Lesson Two ē Part II
A Shadow of Something Glorious to Come
We just trust that youíll take your Bible and line me up with the Scriptures. Just compare Scripture with Scripture and with the Holy Spiritís guidance we trust we can stay with the truth. Again, we always like to thank our listening audience for your phone calls, your letters and your prayers especially. Thatís the most important of all.
Okay, weíre going to pick right up where we left off in verse 4.
"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."
Now you know, that would be another half-hour lesson. But you see, thatís why the Old Testament believer didnít die and go to Heaven, he went down into Sheol. He went down into Hell. He went down into Hades, which was split with a great gulf fixed, as Luke tells us in chapter 16. And so the believing element went down into those areas in the Paradise side, whereas the lost went down into the torment side. But then, at Christís resurrection, He took Ďcaptivity captiveí and now with the atoning blood shed, He could take those Old Testament saints up to Glory.
So, until the true atoning blood had been shed, they could not die and go to Heaven. They went down into Paradise; and if you donít know what Iím talking about, then just think of the thief on the cross. What did Jesus tell him? "Today, thou shalt be with me (not up in Heaven, but where?) in Paradise." (also see Matthew 12:40) And so, this is all because "the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins."
"When he cometh into the world, (that is speaking of Christ coming into His earthly, first advent Ė He said) Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared for me:"
Now, there are two thoughts right there. We saw in the last part of the last half-hour what God thought of a good portion of the sacrifices made by Israel. They were an abomination to Him because they thought it would just cover a multitude of sins, and it never changed their lives. They were still cheating their neighbors. They were still selling false products. They were still committing adultery. And they were doing all the things abhorrent to God, but they thought they could just smooth that all over with their religion. Well, that doesnít work.
But, sacrifice wasnít what God was looking for Ė He was looking for, even back then, changed hearts and lives. You know, I think I put it in our last newsletter that will be coming out the first of July Ė in our time out in Indiana and Ohio, I donít know how many times people came up and said, "Youíve changed my life." Or "Youíve changed our home." "Youíve changed our marriage." Well, of course, they all know I donít do it. God does it. But anyway, weíre an instrument that brings about a change in lifestyle. And you know, Iíve stressed that as long as Iíve been teaching. If you claim to be a believer and you claim to be a Christian, there has to be a change in lifestyle. We cannot keep on living like we did when we were lost. Because when God moves in weíre going to live differently.
Now that doesnít mean that we become so heavenly-minded that weíre no earthly good. Iíve always used that little cliché. But, on the other hand, the change is all for the better. And I guess the simplest way I can put it is, when you become a true believer, you become a good husband; you become a good wife; you become a good mother; you become a good child; you become a good professional; you become a good worker; you become a good citizen. Thatís what Christianity does. It just simply makes us good people.
Tocqueville, the French philosopher, after he had toured America, went back and wrote some of his famous things; and one statement he made, you remember. Itís quoted over and over. "America is blessed" (now this is way back in the early 1800ís)ÖAmerica is blessed because America is full of good people. Well that has to be the case, see? All right, so God wasnít just looking for the sacrifices as I said in the last program. He didnít take pleasure in seeing those innocent animals killed one after the other, but it was His demand to make people conscious of sin.
All right so now, he goes on to say, that in His coming into the world, God prepared what? A body. Now you see, God in His omnipotence could have done it almost any way He wanted to. He could have set the standard. Heís Sovereign. But He chose to bring the whole plan of salvation to the human race through One of the members of the Godhead, the Son becoming a human being. Only the God of This Book could do something like that.
The god of the Buddhaís and the god of some of these other religions could never do it, but our God could. Because with Him nothing is impossible. So He saw fit to lay that plan of salvation based on a Person of the Godhead, God the Son, becoming human flesh and living amongst us. And being able to identify with all of our heartaches, our sorrows, our passions, our everything. Thatís why the Scripture can tell us that there has no temptation taken you that is common to man, but that He has helped us find a way of escape (I Corinthians 10:13). Because He faced the same things.
So, "a body thou hast prepared for me." Speaking of the baby in the womb. And I always like to make the point that from the very time of Maryís conception that baby in the womb never ceased to be the God of Glory. He was God from the moment of conception up until He ascended back to Glory after finishing His earthly sojourn. So, "a body thou hast prepared for me" for the whole purpose of bringing about this tremendous plan of redemption.
"In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sins thou hast had no pleasure."
Now this almost flies in the face of most of our thinking concerning the Old Testament doesnít it? But go all the way back to Psalms, chapter 40, where even the Psalmist makes it so plain; in fact, here is where Paul is quoting from. You want to remember, a lot of the things David said were not regarding himself, but regarding Davidís Messiah, the coming Christ. All right, in Psalms 40 verse 6, hereís where Paul quotes from. And I just want you to see that all of this was not just something that came on the scene in Paulís time, but it was from antiquity.
"Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; (thatís not what God was looking for) mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required. 7. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, (Now here is the Messiah speaking.) I delight to do thy will,Ö"
Now, in Christís earthly ministry, what was He always praying to the Father? "Thy will be done." Not His, but the Fatherís. So this is already declared back through the lips of the Psalmist.
"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is written within my heart. 9. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest." Who was the great congregation? The Nation of Israel. And Christ came and proclaimed Himself as the answer to all their needs through this One Who had been born in Bethlehem.
All right, all the way back to Hebrews again, if you will. So God prepares a body with which he can minister to the congregation, to the Nation of Israel. But, in the long term itís going to be that supreme sacrifice. That was the whole purpose of His coming, so that His sacrifice would end all sacrifices.
"Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offerings for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;" In other words, I want you to be constantly aware that we are talking about that Temple worship, the bringing of these sacrifices. Now verse 9.
"Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will O God, (thatís why I took you back to Psalms 40, itís the Messiah speaking) He taketh away the first, (the system of Law, the shadow) that he may establish the (what?) second."
Now, for those of you who have been with us from the very beginning of Hebrews, over and over this is what weíre seeing. Yes, that which was past was good as far as it went. But oh, this is so much better. And it is so much better that most of us just cannot comprehend it. We cannot even have the slightest notion that we can attain to all that God has provided for us. But, Iíll come to that a little later. For now we just have to realize that all these sacrifices arenít what made God happy. Quite the opposite. But, it was what God laid down as the prerequisite for the Nation of Israel to find salvation, to cover their sin as an expression of their faith, even though most of it was done without faith, but itís going to fade away so that something far better can come and take its place. All right, now verse 10.
"By the which (that is the second, the better economy thatís coming) will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Now look at that again. "By the which" (that is this second economy). Now when I use the word economy, Iím not talking about money. Iím talking about a system. The Old Testament economy was that Old Testament system of Temple worship and sacrifices and what have you. Our economy is that weíre saved by faith through Godís Grace plus nothing. We become a new creation, we become a different person. We now have new goals, we have new priorities, we have new desires. So thatís the better economy Iím speaking of, the present economy of grace, and itís as different as daylight and dark.
" By the which will (by this new economy, this second,) we are sanctifiedÖ."
Now way back in, I think probably in the Old Testament teachings (thatíd be several years ago), I explained that for the believer there are really two sanctifications. The moment weíre saved, weíre sanctified Ė set apart for Godís purposes Ė weíre His. But on the other hand, there is an experiential sanctification that comes as a result of what? Growth. Because I just love to see people (in my classes here in Oklahoma especially), how, that today, theyíre far more mature spiritually. They have a better handle on this Book; they have a greater love for it than they did a year ago. And the further youíve come with me, the more you can feel you have grown. Well, thatís experiential sanctification.
You are far more set apart for God now than you were ten years ago. Six months from now weíll all be more sanctified than we are today because itís a growth process.
When you havenít seen your kids for a little while, what do you suddenly realize? How fast these kids grow up. Well, why? Because time has gone by. Theyíve been nourished, theyíve been fed. Well the same thing should be happening spiritually. Every one of us should be more spiritually mature today than we were a year ago. And thatís the experiential sanctification. But on the other hand, yes, the moment we were saved, God set us apart Ė weíre His. Weíre in the palm of His hand and no one can take us out. Thatís His promise.
All right so, "By the which will we are sanctified...." In other words, this whole new economy of Godís Grace, triggered by our faith.
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Now do you see why he mentioned the body a few verses earlier? It had to come. We had to have Christ in the flesh. God had to have that body prepared so that it could be the supreme sacrifice. Now again, most of us cannot comprehend the idea and the necessity of the blood sacrifice. Itís beyond our human comprehension. One day, when we get to Glory, I think weíll understand, but I donít think most of us can even get a smidgen of the understanding of why God has demanded the blood sacrifice. The closest I can come to is that life is in the blood. And that you cannot get life unless there is first death. I mean thatís one of the laws of nature Ė for a seed to germinate and have new life, it has to die. Well, spiritually itís the same way, see? We cannot experience new life until we have experienced death to the old. Letís move on. So in verse 11, now we go back to the old economy.
"Every priest standeth daily (none excepted) ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Those sacrifices could never take away sins. It was impossible. And so the whole thing was just a failure. God set it aside. Let me show you just some of the things that the Scripture itself refers to. Weíve used these before and this again is just a little quick review. Come back to Galatians, chapter 4. And of course Galatians is written to Gentiles who were having pretty much the same problem that the Hebrews were in the Book of Hebrews. They were being tempted to go back under some of the ramifications of the Law. And Paul is just almost screaming at the top of his voice, "Donít go back under the Law!" Why? Iíll show you.
"But now, after that ye have known God, (that is through our saving saith) or rather are known of God, (in other words, we are now His. Now look at the question) how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elementsÖ.?"
Well whatís he referring to? The Law! And what was it? Weak and beggarly. Now that term beggarly in the Greek I think is even stronger than it is in the English. It meant just what it said. It begged for all the things it didnít have. It had no power. It had no transforming ability in the lives of the people that kept it. And, as I showed you in the last program, all it could do was condemn. And so it was "weak and beggarly." Then come on over to chapter 5, still in Galatians, and verse 1. Again Paul is referring to that system of Law when he says for us under Grace:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, (now here it comes) and be not entangledÖ"
Now thatís not a very pretty term is it? Have any of you ever been entangled in something? Most of you probably havenít. In a farm situation you can find those things a lot quicker than you can a lot of other places. Have you ever been in a briar patch and canít find your way out? Itís scary. But anyway, this is Paulís language for the Law. "Donít get entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Isnít it amazing what the human race wants to do to itself? Instead of being out in the freedom of grace and the glory of it, theyíd rather get back where they can get entangled in laws and rules and regulations. I can take you to another one from the lips of Peter. Come all the way back to Acts, chapter 15.
"Now therefore why tempt (or test) ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, (or upon the believers. Now weíre talking here about Paulís converts up there in Gentile country. Not talking about the Twelve Disciples. Donít get your terminology switched. So why test God, to put a yoke upon the neck of those believers) which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear."
Now again, is yoke a nice word? No, itís a detestable word. Because what does a yoke indicate? Youíre a beast of burden. It simply makes you nothing more than a beast of burden. Thatís what it was to be under the Law. My some of you have been there. You know what Iím talking about. And oh, when people call and theyíll just be exuberant. I had one call again not too long ago and all he could spit out was, "Les, Iím free! Iím free!" Free from what? The bondage. And I wonít give you the name of the denomination, but it was a denomination of bondage. Oh, to be set free from that stuff. And thatís all it is, itís stuff. Itís a yoke of bondage. Itís beggarly. Itís weak. Itís legalism.
All right, now then, letís come back to Hebrews again because Iíve got a thought that Iím sure I want to hit before the afternoon is over and I think itís in some of these coming verses.
"And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, stood daily ministering and offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin;" Now whatís my first word again in verse 12?
"But (oh, the flipside! See?) this man, (the one who received the body there in Virgin Mary. Who grew up in the carpenterís shop. Who began His ministry up and down the dusty roads of Israel. But, this man,) after he had offered (how many?) one (not a million) sacrifice for sins for ever,Ö"
Now listen if you donít remember anything else this afternoon. I want you to remember that little set of words. "But this man after He had offered one sacrifice for ever,..." That means exactly what it says.
It is forever and when we come under the power and the redeeming liberty of that sacrifice, we are safe forever. I think it was Friday night and I just emphasized, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Unending. The question came up a few weeks ago. How long is eternity? Itís as long as God lives! How long is that? No end! And thatís how long weíre going to be there Ė forever. All right, because of the sacrifice for sin that Christ made, what did He do? He sat down. See? After He had established that one sacrifice that was sufficient for all mankind for all eternity. He could do what? He could sit down. He didnít have to start making plans for the next time he would come back. He didnít have to start lining up arrangements for when He could go back to the planet and do it again.
No, itís been done once and for all. And that sacrifice has covered all the sins of the human race Ė and then we worry and moan, "Is what Heís done really enough for my salvation? Is it enough for me?" You better believe it! And donít go trying to add to it. Just believe it in your heart for your salvation! When we put our trust in that sacrificial work of Christ, weíre safe for all eternity. Nothing can take us out of that security! And weíll be looking in one of our coming programs at the efficacy or the power of the cleansing of that shed blood of Christ. And oh listen, as a result of it, He could sit down at the right hand of God.
But now picking up in the next program, Heís not going to sit there forever so far as dealing with lost humanity because Heís still going to deal in His wrath with lost mankind Ė but weíll pick that up in the next program.
Lesson Two ē Part III
A Shadow of Something Glorious to Come
I want everyone to know that as Iris or I open your letters we just thank you so much for all your prayers and help you give the ministry. Some of you ask questions, but many forget to write your return address on the envelope and we donít have an address to send the reply, so please if you write for a question to be answered, put your address on the letter.
Recently, we had a listener contact us out in Indiana; and after the devastating experience of losing his beautiful 26-year-old wife, he really came on fire for the Lord and has put together a book of about 80 some questions with the answers out of our little books Ė and heís done a fabulous job. I donít know how many hours it must have taken him. But, weíve put his web site address up here on the board, www.havefaith.org. So, if youíd like to check in on his web site you have now have the address. But weíre going to offer this nice book that heís put together for the cost of printing and mailing. Weíll send them out for $11.00 a piece. And I think itíll be $11.00 well spent. Heís got many of the most often asked questions Ė and with extensive answers. It isnít answered with just a sentence. He answers it from all the Scriptures, so I think a lot of folks are going to enjoy this. Be aware of it, as it will be coming soon. Call and ask for the book of questions and answers.
Now letís get back into Hebrews where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in chapter 10 and weíll go on into verse 12.
"But this man, (the One to whom God gave the body up there in verse 5.) after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, (not just for once a year as Israelís high priest.) sat down on the right hand of God;" Now we covered that quite extensively in previous programs. So Iím not going to take time for that today. Verse 13.
"From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool."
Once He ascended back to glory having finished the work of the Cross, "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High until." Now letís go back to Psalms 110 verse 1 and pick up the Old Testament format of that very same act Ė that all of this was prophesied. None of this is strange to the Old Testament prophecies. Psalms 110 verse 1. And this, of course, was accomplished at His ascension then in Acts chapter 1, when the Eleven watched Him go. And as He entered into the Holy of Holies in Heaven, and He sat down at the right hand of the Father on High.
"The LORD (God the Father) said unto my Lord, (God the Son) Sit thou at my right hand, (whatís the next word?) untilÖ" Now you want to highlight that or underline it because thatís the key word. He has not seated Himself for eternity. The work of the Cross is finished forever but His seating Himself at the right hand of the Father is not for eternity. It is only until the Father says:
"ÖI make thine enemies thy footstool."
When will that happen? When He returns at His second advent. When Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation, itís not going to be with love and mercy and grace and salvation. Itís going to be with wrath and judgment. Itís just simply a fact of Scripture, that God has now been pouring out His grace for 2,000 years Ė offering salvation to anyone from the top of the totem pole to the bottom, none excepted. Rich or poor. Black or white. Red or yellow. The whole human race has now had an opportunity to receive Godís tremendous salvation because of what He has done.
But, thereís coming a day, and we think weíre getting close, where this Ďuntilí will finally come to pass. And that is when He will make His enemies His footstool, when He returns with wrath and judgment and cleanses the earth of all the wickedness Ė everything that smacks of this materialistic, wicked, sensual world will disappear as well as the people with it. Now, to give you a glimpse as to how even the Jews of Jesusí day were looking forward to this. Come with me to Luke chapter 1, because here we have a beautiful description of what the believing Jews of Jesusí day were looking for, but the Nation of Israel as a whole, rejected it.
But this is from the lips of a man filled by the Holy Spirit. Luke chapter 1 and he lays it out so clearly of what God was ready to bring into the Nation of Israel. They rejected it, but God is still going to do it. Heís still going to return at His second advent and all of these things spoken of here by Zacharias will become a literal fulfilled reality. All right, letís jump in at verse 67 where Zacharias now (the father of John the Baptist, one of the priests working the Temple rites in Jerusalem) has just been filled with the Holy Spirit and he is prompted to speak this:
"And his father (that is the father of John the Baptist) was filled with the Holy Ghost, and (he) prophesied, (or spoke forth) saying, 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel;Ö" Not the whole world yet, but Israel. Iíve said it more than once, people get a little bit upset when I point this out Ė that Christ came only to fulfill the covenants made with His covenant people, Israel. And so this makes it so plain and Iíve often had to quote Romans 15 verse 8 where Paul says, "I say now, that Jesus Christ was (past tense) a minister of the circumcision. (The Jew.) For the truth of God (not because Paul dreamed it up but because it was a fact of Scripture) that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to fulfill the promises made to the fathers."
That was the purpose of His first advent. And this falls right in line with what Zacharias is speaking by the leading of the Holy Spirit. All right look what he says, verse 68.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed His people, (Israel) 69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us (who are the Ďusí) in the house of his servant David; 70. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world (ages) began. (Speaking of the Old Testament writers.) 71. That we (Israel) should be saved from our (what?) enemies,Ö"
Now, when Psalms speaks of sitting at the Fatherís right hand, until He puts His foot on his enemies, what does it speak of? Heís going to destroy them. Theyíre under his control and Heís fed up with them. And theyíre going to disappear. Look what it says:
"That we should be saved from our enemies, from the hand of all that hate us;" My doesnít the Middle East just ring in your ears? Yeah, itís coming. Those that hate Israel, and are blowing them up every day. Oh, their enemyís day is coming. The God of glory is yet one day going to bring peace to Jerusalem.
"To perform the mercy promised to our father, Ö"
What did the verse in Romans 15 that I quoted earlier say? Youíd better go back and look at it. You probably canít remember what I quoted anyway. So come back to Romans (keep your hand in Luke) because, see all these things fit. Thatís the best word I can put on it, because it fits like fingers in a glove. Here in Romans chapter 15, this is from the Apostle of the Gentiles who is declaring the finished work of the Cross. But heís letting it be known so clearly that Jesus had nothing to do with Gentiles in His earthly ministry (with one or two exceptions), and hereís the reason:
"Now I say that Jesus Christ was (past tense) a minister of the circumcision (the Nation of Israel) for the truth of God, (and hereís the purpose for His coming.) to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:" Now how much plainer can English make it? Now you do have to be a little bit of a student of Scripture Ė what were the promises? Oh my goodness, I could fill the rest of the program with them. But primarily it was that, after theyíd become that chosen nation and after God had brought them into their promised deeded land, God in the Person of the Messiah, the Son, would be their King. And all those promises were wrapped up in those three formats. That here they are now, the covenant people, a nation in the Promised Land, waiting for the coming of their Messiah, Redeemer and King.
Now all you have to do is go back and just read some of the promises of the Kingdom as theyíre laid out in the Old Testament prophets. When Isaiah speaks of the day when the lion will feed with the lamb. And when the wild animals will literally be the playmates of kids and children. And when there will be no suffering, there will be no death, there will be no sickness. Itís going to be Heaven on earth. All those were promises made to the fathers. And itís coming. Israel didnít believe it the first time around, but they will the next one. And theyíll recognize that Messiah and to the last Jew that remnant nation will be saved. See? And then all these things are going to become a reality. Read on.
"To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73. The oath which he sware to our father Abraham." See how plain all this is. Zacharias is just simply taking us back to where Iíve just taken you. The Abrahamic Covenant and then all the promises that were associated when that covenant would finally be fulfilled. It hasnít been yet, but itís coming. My, you know, I tell my classes and my seminars everywhere I travel Ė if anybody ever questions you why you put so much faith in this Book, you answer it with two words. The Jew. Heís the proof of the pudding.
The Jew - my goodness, he should have disappeared hundreds of years ago. In fact, the latest book by Patrick Buchanan using demographics that are coming out from research outfits, by the year 2050, the Nation of Germany will disappear. There will no longer be German people; theyíll be assimilated. Not much longer than that America will disappear, as America. Great Britain will disappear as Great Britain. Because weíll all be assimilated into these third world people that are multiplying ten children per woman where most of Western Nations are one child per woman.
That doesnít take a mathematics major to figure that out. If only one child per woman is what keeps a nation going, you need two to play even, you need three to grow. And so, one means the demise of the people. All right, but the reason Iím pointing that out is this. Germany today is a nation of 75-80 million people. Weíre a nation of 270 million and if weíre going to disappear as a people in 50 years, then how in the world is this little nation of never more than 15 million people (most of the time more like 10 or 11 million, scattered out into all the nations of the world for now 2500 years) still there? Just like this Book said they would be. What did God tell them?
"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee," Then down to verse 4.
"If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5. And the LORD thy God, will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it;...."
Then you jump up into Ezekiel 36 and some of the other prophetic books and they all say the same thing. That after Israel has been scattered amongst the nations, God will one day bring them back to their homeland. And there they are. The world can scream and holler all they want that they donít belong there. Well, the world doesnít know this Book.
This Book says thatís where they belong. And itís proof that this Word is true. That after almost 3000 years of being scattered amongst every nation Ė they should have lost their identity 2000 years ago. They should have lost it at least 1000 years ago, but they havenít. And so there they are back in their homeland just like God said they would be. And donít ever let anybody tell you that these people who call themselves Jews, really arenít, because archaeology proves it over and over and over.
Here in the last few years theyíve dug up Jewish writings that were intrinsic to the Ashkenazi Jews, Jews in Eastern Europe and those writings had been there for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. All associated with the Jews of Eastern Europe. Well then only about a year or so ago, they found the same kind of a cache of great library works from the other segment of the Sephardim Jews that had been primarily in Spain and North Africa, all proving that these people, both groups, have been totally under the control of this Old Testament Bible for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. And there they are! Proof that this Book knows what itís talking about.
All right, so now if youíll come back with me to Luke chapter 1. So when Zacharias spoke, Israel wasnít ready for it and they rejected it all. But now weíre approaching the day Ė Israel is back in the land and most of the Jews do not even realize that itís time for their Messiah to come. Oh, theyíve got that inner heart-cry. They know they want Him to come but yet they wonít voice it verbally. But here it is:
"The oath which he swear to our father Abraham. 74. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear," How is He going to bring the Jew out from under the hand of their enemies? Heís going to destroy them. When Heís going to put His foot on their neck, as it were, like a footstool. Oh, the day is coming. The Bible repeats that over and over, how that, after ĎHe had sat down waiting until He would make His enemies His footstool.í Verse 75:
"In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (itís going to be a Kingdom of righteousness. Thatís why we call it the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.) 76. "And thou child, (speaking of John the Baptist) shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;" Which, of course, John the Baptist did in his ministry. "To give knowledge of salvation unto his people and by the remission of their sins through the tender mercy of our God whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us."
Oh I could just keep going. But for sake of time letís go back to Hebrews. But these are the promises that will be fulfilled when the Ďuntilí of Psalms 110 verse 1 comes about. When He will have his enemies as His footstool. And we always put the expression, when Heís got His foot on their neck. And they are submissive to Him and He will destroy them all. Now come back to Hebrews chapter 10 and we come in at verse 14.
"For by one offeringÖ" Now I know this is repetition of Scripture to hammer it home to these Jews that were hanging on to this old economy (Law). But, like Iíve shown you today, Paul says the same things only in different language back in Romans and Galatians and so forth. That that system of Law which was good for its time is now worn out. Itís useless and itís been set aside by this, which is so much better.
"For by one offering (that death on the Cross) he has perfectedÖ" Fine tuned it. You remember Iíve stressed it over and over wherever I go. Twice in all of Biblical history, which also includes human history Ė twice God did something so perfect by which there was not one thing that He could add to improve it. There was not one flaw that He had to patch when He finished it Ė it was so perfect that what did He do? He rested. The first one was when He finished Creation in Genesis chapter 1. And He saw the work of Creation, man is now on the scene, the animal kingdom, the bird kingdom, the fish, everything is in Godís Creation and it was perfect. There wasnít anything He could change or correct, and so next verse says, "He rested." Thatís understandable isnít it? How can you add anything if itís perfect Ė and so then what had you might as well do? Sit down. Enjoy it. And thatís what God did.
Now the second time is when, in Hebrews it tells us, that after He had purged us from our sin (which of course is the work of the Cross, His death, burial, His shed Blood, His resurrection and He ascended back to glory), He did the same thing. It was such a perfect complete work of redemption that not one human soul could ever say, "Well, I missed it because it wasnít good enough for me." Itís perfect, and itís complete. And again, what did He do when He completed the work of the Cross? He sat down. There wasnít anything more He could do. And so this is what Hebrews is screaming at us. It was such a perfect work of redemption. Once for all. And so, by that one death on the Cross, He has perfected forever those that are sanctified (or set apart), purchased by His blood. All right, verse 15.
"Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he had said before, 16. This is the covenantÖ"
Now the reason the Holy Spirit is brought in here, the Holy Spirit prompted Jeremiah to write this covenant; and weíll go back and look at it in just a second. But the Holy Spirit prompted Jeremiah to write, "This is the covenant that I will make with them (Israel. The Nation of Israel, His Covenant people.) after those days, saith the Lord. And I will put my laws into their hearts." Not on tables of stone, but in the heart of every Jew. "And in their minds, I will write them and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Itís going to be a done deal. Come back to Jeremiah 31.
Jeremiah 31:31 and whenever you hear or see the Bible speak of the New Covenant, this is what it is. Now you and I are not under the New Covenant because weíre not Israel, but weíre certainly enjoying all the ramifications of it. Everything that God did to fulfill the covenant made with Israel has been our benefit. It was just like the Law, when He gave the Law, who came under it? Israel. But, did the Law stop at the borders of Israel? No, it went to the whole human race and they have all become guilty.
Well, the same way with the work of this New Covenant. Yes, the ramifications of it are limited to Israel as they go into the Kingdom. But, you and I now as Gentiles for the last 1,900 and some years have enjoyed all the ramifications of it. Even though we are not part and parcel of Israel.
"Behold the days come, saith the LORD (now remember this is written about 600 BC) that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the House of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt; (Which was the covenant of Law) which my covenant they brake. although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:" Yet they were constantly in rebellion, see? Now verse 33:
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, (in other words, when this time finally comes) saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Israel isnít there yet. But theyíre getting there. Theyíve come back from their dispersion. Theyíre back in the land. Oh not all of them of course, but I think enough so that these things can be fulfilled. But there they are, and against all odds. They should have disappeared hundreds of years ago. But you know why they havenít? Because God says down there in verse 36 that if the sun and the moon and the stars would fall out of their orbit, then maybe Israel would cease being a nation. But until then, theyíll never stop being Israel.
Lesson Two ē Part IV
A Shadow of Something Glorious to Come
Now letís get back to where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in Hebrews chapter 10.
Remember we were talking about this new covenant that God is going to fulfill with the Nation of Israel which will happen when He leaves that position at the right hand of the Father, having defeated all of Israelís enemies; and Heíll return and give them the Kingdom. And itís going to be glorious. Of course, we will have already been taken up into Heaven and weíll have had seven years of time with our Lord in Glory. Weíll have been through the Bema Seat experience where we receive our reward for what we have done in this old body while working for Him down here today.
But the main thing weíre looking at here is this new covenant as itís directed to the Nation of Israel, and it will be fulfilled to the last jot and tittle. And every Jew will no longer have to practice the sacrifices. They will no longer have to battle the old sin nature and Satan, but it will be Heaven on earth. The Nation of Israel will be in their physical bodies in the Kingdom Age, along with all believers who make it through the Tribulation.
"Now where the remission of these is, (that is their sins and iniquities that God has now cleansed them of) there is no more offering for sin." Itís all over. No more sacrifices. No more crucifixion. Itís all done with that one-time offering of Christ. All right, now in verse 19, weíre going right back again up into the throne room of Heaven as it were.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiestÖ" The very Holy of Holies in Heaven, and we can enter in boldly. Now this is beyond human comprehension that you and I will one day have access literally, in physical ways. But now we have it in the realm of the Spirit where we can enter in to the Holy of Holies boldly because of what?
"Öby the blood of Jesus." The blood of Christ. That all sufficient sacrificial price that was paid for our redemption.
Now before I go any further, Iím reminded of a couple books that I read when I was still rather young. I imagine I was in my thirties and I was just beginning to really get interested in the Word of God. And I read two books, both titled ĎTrue Spirituality.í One was written by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, a tremendous Swiss theologian. But his was so deep that I would sometimes have to go back and read it over three, four, five times before I could get what he was trying to say. I finally came to the conclusion that I could not attain to that level of spirituality that he was writing about. It just seemed so far beyond me that I just finally quit reading it.
Then sometime later I read another book titled the same way, ĎTrue Spirituality,í by Watchman Nee, the Chinese. Well, I had the same response to that one. I thought, thereís no way Ė I could never get this spiritual. I could never get to where these guys are. And I laid that one aside. But see, I can see now why young believers, or maybe even young people in physical age, cannot get exercised by these things because it just seems so unattainable, because weíre so wrapped up with the things of this world. After all, weíre trying to be successful in life. Weíre raising our kids, and all the things associated with it and then these things just become almost mundane.
But I hope I can get people out of that rut regardless of where theyíre listening to my voice Ė that these are attainable. Even for the young person. Even for the teenager. Even for the thirty-something covered up with activity. Yet, God wants us to understand that we can enter into the Holiest of Holies, right now today. And so itís not something unattainable, itís not something that only some great theologian or evangelist can attain. But you see, I keep myself at your level, so you and I can attain. Iím not one foot above any one of you.
And so now look what heís talking about, that we have this boldness because of that tremendous sacrificial price of the blood of Christ that we can now come into the very throne room of Heaven, the presence of God.
"By a new and living way,Ö" Again, that Greek word translated in English Ďlivingí is more than what meets the eye. But itís an ongoing thing that has potential for how long? Eternity. This living way is not just alive for today. It will be alive to the extent of eternity. Itís never going to run down.
"Öwhich he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;" Now Iím sure many of you have heard the term that the body of Christ was Ďthe veil.í Or the veil was the body of Christ. And itís always been an enigma to me. I think you know what an enigma is. Itís when you see somebody through a frosted glass and all you can see is the outline. You canít see detail. Well, this whole concept of the body of Christ being the veil was an enigma for me, I think, until I started this series in Hebrews.
And hopefully I can pass it on to the ordinary everyday believer. When Christ took on human flesh and He became sin for us, it was that body of flesh then and that shed blood that opened up the way into the Holy of Holies. Now again, maybe I can better put it on the board. You know, that back there in the Tabernacle and later on in the Temple, this was the veil. Huge. Thick as the width of a manís hand. And they would come in from the east and here were the furnishings of the front and right behind the veil was this Ark of the Covenant, with the wings of the cherubim over spreading it and so forth.
But anyhow the veil is what kept the priests of Israel from coming into the presence of God because, after all, from Adamís fall, what separated mankind for God? Sin! Sinful men could not come into the presence of such a holy and a righteous God. So it was that great veil that just kept us out. All right, but now when Christ came bodily Ė come back with me to Colossians, and the other one is in II Corinthians chapter 5.
"For in him (thatís in Christ) dwelleth (and that means just exactly what it says. For in Christ dwelleth, or abideth) all the fulness of the Godhead (how?) bodily." That body that Hebrews said was given to Him in the womb. That body of flesh that was prepared for thirty-three years of living on this planet for the sole purpose of going to that Cross, to shed divine blood as payment for mankindís sin.
So we have to picture this veil then as Christís body of flesh because it stood for the sin of mankind. Now, come back to II Corinthians. Not that Christ was a sinner; donít ever get that idea. He was holy. He was perfect. He was righteous. But, in order to fulfill the demands of a Holy God, what did He have to agree to do? To become sin for us. Now here again, these are things that are beyond human comprehension. I canít comprehend it. But I can take what little bit I understand by faith. These are so profound that itís way beyond us, but we take it by faith.
II Corinthians 5:21a
"For he (God) hath made him (Jesus the Christ) to be sin (why?) for us,Ö" Do you see that? He became that veil, that sin for us, that stood between us and the presence of God. But when that flesh was given up on the Cross, what happened to this veil? Well, in the Temple at the day of the crucifixion, you all know the account. It split from top to the bottom. Well what was the purpose? To show now that the way into the Holiest of Holies was wide open. But, what did the Jews of that day do? They sewed it up. With no understanding of what they were doing, they closed it back up. But you canít undo the work of God. And so, spiritually speaking, they didnít close it up. They couldnít because it was a, once for all, done deal. That now, the way into the Holiest of all was made possible through the flesh, the body, the crucified body of the Son of God. All right, come back to Hebrews 10:
"Having therefore, brethren, boldnessÖ" No trepidation. Thereís no shrinking back. We can just come right in and say, "Lord, I belong here. This is where Iím supposed to be. Iím not on strange territory." Now, do you see what I mean when I said that I was reading about true spirituality back there in my thirties; I just thought there was no way I could attain to that kind of an act and that kind of behavior. Me? Able to come into the very throne room of God Ė boldly? Now I can tell you, and it isnít just Les Feldick, itís every one of you. Every one of you, if youíre a believer tonight, youíre in the same position I am. We go right into the throne room of Heaven. Iíll never forget a gentleman out in Ohio last year at our seminar. He came up. Big fellow. He came up and he grabbed me on one shoulder in each hand and he said, "Les Feldick, you have changed my life." And his wife was sitting nodding her head. How true.
Well, this year we were back there and spent a couple of evenings in their home and what a joy! He said, "Now when I say that youíve changed my life, God never had a part in my life before. "Now," he says, "I talk to Him all day long." This gentlemen is a well-to-do businessman. What a difference! Well can you say that? Do you talk to Him all day long? Donít feel that you have to have some sort of a special status or you have to have some special way of approach. No. We can come in twenty-four hours a day, at any moment. Whatever youíre doing, you can come and you can approach the Father with your prayer needs.
Now of course, Iím a great proponent of a prayer time. I think every believer should have a few moments every day where you can come in and spend some time on your knees. But thatís not the only way of prayer. You can pray all day long, wherever you are. Because we have the right to go boldly into the very throne room, the Holy of Holies
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." The Holy of Holies. That place in the Temple that was behind the veil. That place up in Heaven where Christ went and presented His blood. Now verse 20.
" (We come boldly) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;" So when that body of flesh hung there on that Cross and the blood was shed, this veil that had separated men from God for 1,500 years (Law) was now rent from the top to the bottom. And now we have full access into the throne room.
"And having a high priest over the house of God;" Now this is why, earlier in Hebrews, we spent all that time on the priesthood of Melchisedec Ė Christís high priesthood on our behalf. Not the Aaronic priests for Israel Ė this order of Melchisedec was for the non-Jewish world, as well as Israel. It was an all-inclusive priesthood. But it was that priesthood that now gave us this same kind of access into that very throne room of Heaven. Now verse 22.
"Let us draw near (let us take advantage of this access into the throne room) with a true heart in full assurance of (what?) faith." Now you see faith and feelings are miles apart. Faith does not demand feelings and feelings does not confirm faith. Faith is something that stands by itself. You just simply take God at His Word without any confirmation. Without any physical. Without any emotion. Faith is that abiding ability to trust the Word of God. Now completing the verse.
"Öhaving our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,Ö" This word sprinkling goes all the way back of course, to the sacrificial worship in the tabernacle first, and then later on in the Temple. Now, when the high priest would go in on the day of atonement, heíd come in and heíd make his way back behind the veil (once a year). And what would he do? He would take the blood of that sacrificial animal and he would sprinkle it. In other words, he wasnít just pouring the blood all over that golden piece of furniture. But it was a sprinkling. And it was Godís way of accepting the fact that the blood had now been offered and it covered the sins of Israel. It didnít have to be completely bathed in blood; it was a sprinkling that God recognized as sufficient. The next word Iím going to spend a little more time on as we complete verse 22.
"Öhaving our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and with our bodies washed with pure water." The blood of Christ has cleansed us. Because itís been applied to our hearts by faith and our bodies washed with pure water. Now thatís not baptism. Some people will try to associate it, but this is not a reference to baptism. But again, itís a symbolic thing that we have to understand; that, even though all of these things weíve been speaking about are in the realm of the spirit and the soul and we speak of the salvation of the soul, where is the soul residing? In this body.
And so what does Paul teach concerning the body? Hey, itís the Temple, itís the Tabernacle, itís the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. And weíre supposed to treat it accordingly. This is not just some ramshackle piece of cloth thatís a tent. This body is the temple of the Holy Spirit when we become a believer. And so it has to be reckoned as such and we are to reckon it as cleansed.
Now thereís several verses that refer to the body. Go back if you will, to Ephesians chapter 1, starting with verse 13. The same writer that writes these things in Hebrews; the only thing is, heís writing to Jews who had an understanding of the Old Testament economy, which of course, the Gentiles of Paulís day knew almost nothing of Ė but nevertheless, he brings about the same basic truths only from a different perspective.
"In whom ye also trusted,Ö" Most of you know now, even my television audience understands, who did Paul always write to? Believers. Paul never writes to the unbeliever. And so to the believer he says:
"In whom ye also trusted, (placed your faith, you believed) after that ye heard the word of truth, (well, naturally you canít believe something until you hear it. And what was the word of truth?) the gospel of your salvation: (how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." The Holy Spirit came in as Godís mark of ownership. Now verse 14.
"Which (this indwelling Holy Spirit in this tabernacle of flesh) is the earnest (down payment, earnest money) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory." Now youíve got to really pick this apart. If the Holy Spirit came into this tabernacle of flesh at the moment of salvation, then you would think that this body was redeemed as well as the soul was, wouldnít we? But it wasnít. The soul was redeemed. We know that. The soul and the spirit are already Godís, theyíre His, theyíre marked as His. But this old body is still down here under the curse, isnít it?
Not a one of you are immune to sin or pain or suffering or death. None of us. Because this old body is still an unredeemed piece of flesh. Got that? But, the indwelling Holy Spirit is Godís what? Down payment. And itís a down payment of such a size that one day Heís going to finish the payment.
All right, now letís see, I think I can come to Romans chapter 8. And this all has to do with our physical body of flesh. Itís the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Itís the dwelling place of our now-redeemed soul and spirit. Consequently, we are responsible with what we do with this dwelling place until we leave it. All right, Romans chapter 8 verse 18.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. 19. For the earnest expectation of the creature (or the creation, all of creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Or the children of God. You and I. All of creation is waiting for the day when weíre suddenly going to be ready for that glorious Kingdom. Now verse 20.
"For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, (the curse) not willingly, (it wasnít the animal kingdomís fault that Adam sinned.) but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." In other words, just as soon as Adam sinned, God came right back with the plan of redemption in Genesis 3:15. So, He subjected everything under the curse but, at the same time, He subjected it in (what?) hope Ė that one day the curse will end. 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. (Thatís you and I.) 22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23. And not only they, (not just the animal kingdom and the birds and the fish and everything else) but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, (we believers, weíre still under the curse. Now here it comes) even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, (or this great transaction) to wit, the redemption of our (what?) body."
Lesson Three ē Part I
The Lord Shall Judge His People
Hebrews 10:23 Ė 11:8
We try not to preach at anybody, and we try not to attack anyone. I donít think weíve ever done that. In fact, I had a letter the other day that made that point. It said, "I love your program because you never attack anyone." Well, why should we? Because the Book speaks for itself. And thatís all we want to do is just get folks to see what the Word of God says. Not what I say, or what anyone else says, but what does the Book say? And with that letís get right back to where we left off in the last program and that would be Hebrews chapter 10 verse 23.
"Let us hold fast (just like an anchor) the profession of our (what?) faithÖ" Faith. Now you know that is one of the key words that Iím emphasizing. And weíre going to see it explained explicitly when we get to chapter 11. But faith - faith Ė faith! I just canít emphasize enough, is simply taking God at His Word! And this is the whole idea of our relationship with God is to believe what He has said.
And even though we use all of Scripture, yet Paul is the Apostle to us as Gentiles, and I maintain that if people would just simply study and believe what Paul writes in his epistles, you wouldnít need these bookstores full of ĎHow Toí books. Wouldnít need them because he covers every problem of life. And we can solve that problem with what? Faith! Believing what God has said about it! But itís so hard for people to get that through their heads, that faith is just simply Ė Taking God at His Word! God said it, and I believe it! And now Paul says, "hang on to it." Donít let it just become something that youíre careless about but just hang on, that this is what God says and Iím believing it come what may.
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;Ö" Why does Paul admonish these people then to hang on to their faith?
"Ö(for he is faithful that promised;)" God is faithful! See men can say things, they can even sign contracts but itís not worth the paper itís written on. But thatís not what God is. God is faithful and he will always keep His Word. Now verse 24.
"And let us consider one another to provoke (or to prod) unto love and good works:" You see, the beauty of the Christian community is that we should not be attacking each other. We should not be smiling and laughing over some fellow Christianís misfortune. But, rather, we should be constantly encouraging one another, because you donít get a word of encouragement from the world. I mean not a word. And yet weíre all human. I donít have to have my feathers stroked three, four times a day; but once in a while it sure helps to have someone say, "Les, your program has blessed my life." Of course, weíre human and we appreciate that.
But even in our everyday contacts with fellow believers, we should be encouraging one another Ė not attacking and pulling each other down. So, we provoke or prod one another, we encourage one another to love each other as well as to practice good works. Now I think maybe I shared it in the last taping, but a lot of times people, especially when they get older and theyíre no longer able to do the fast-paced work of when they were young, will say, "Well, Les what can I do? Thereís nothing I can do so far as works are concerned."
Well, I had a gentleman come up at our seminar in Oklahoma City; and he liked to work with wood and that was his hobby. Well, he had started making beautiful wood walking canes, and he said, "You know what I do with these? Just as fast as I can make them, I take them out to people in nursing homes who need a cane. And it just thrills them to death that now theyíve got a beautiful, handmade cane." Well, who would ever think of something like that as good works? Well, God does! God looks at that and thatís a good work. Thatís something that is bringing some happiness, some joy to people in a particular need. So donít ever say, "Well thereís nothing I can do." Youíd be surprised how many places there are that God can use whatever youíre capable of doing.
All right, verse 25 Ė a verse that is often taken totally out of context. And itís stretched to the limit, but weíre just going to take it for what it says, that now as fellow believers, we are in the business of encouraging one another. We are to increase our love for one another because of Who has loved us first.
"Not to forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,Ö" Now when you get into the Greek, this assembling of ourselves is a lot stronger than here in the English. What it really means is. "Assembling together with our own kind." Birds of a feather do what? They flock together. But too many times Christians donít. And I have people calling constantly where theyíre attending a church that things are said and done that just simply donít fit with their own belief system. And what am I going to tell them? "Get out of there! Theyíre not your own kind. Find a place where they are." And this is exactly what it means, that you are to assemble yourselves together with like-minded believers.
Donít try to compromise your own belief system in order to get along with a group that is contrary to what you feel the Word declares. Now again, weíre in a time, in an age, when most of us think that if your church isnít 6,000 members and if you havenít got a 200-voice choir and a big orchestra down front, youíre just not with it. Well, Iíve got news for you. That is not the New Testament Church at all. Now it has come to that, and we certainly arenít going to tell people to lock their doors. But that is not the concept of believers coming together in the early church and I donít think itís going to end up that way.
I think, once again, itíll come back to where you have true believers meeting in rather small groups. I was reading a secular magazine the other night, and I could just gather between the lines that our days of freedom and liberty as true Christians are numbered. I mean that. Our days are numbered. And if the Lord doesnít come, even those of us that are a little bit gray haired, weíre probably going to see some tough times. And thatís why I think we should pray earnestly that the Lord will come Ė and with those kinds of situations like in China, remember, after the Communists took over China. The Church went underground, and by that we simply mean, that they met secretly in their apartment complexes. They had Ďhouse churches.í And so when missionaries went back into China after the doors kind of opened up, they were just astounded at how many true believers were throughout China simply because they had survived with small Ďhouse churches.í And weíd better get prepared; it may come back to that.
So rather than just try to find something thatís the biggest church going and the most exciting and the most entertaining; itís far more profitable spiritually to gather with maybe a smaller group that are truly feeding on the Word of God. In fact, as I look at this verse, I have to think, what did the Lord Himself say back in the Gospels? "Where two or three are gathered in my name, Iím in the midst of them." And so letís always keep that in mind.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,Ö" We do need Christian fellowship. Now of course, I know we get letters every day from shut-ins, from people who are no longer able to go out into a public place of worship, and programs like ours are of course, their spiritual food. And thatís understandable, but as long as weíre able to assembly with fellow believers, even if itís in a smaller environment, donít ever forsake that.
"Öas the manner of some is; but exhorting (or encouraging) one another,: (this is probably written in the early 60ís AD and Paul says) and so much the more, as you see the day approaching." Well, what day is he talking about? The Lordís coming! And I always emphasize that especially lately in our local classes here in Oklahoma, you want to remember that the whole concept up until just before Paul is martyred is that the Lord would be coming in short order. They had no idea that it would be 2,000 years! That never entered their minds. They were expecting the Lord to come almost any moment. Even in Paulís lifetime.
And so hereís another indication of that. Donít forsake yourselves meeting together, Paul says; especially as we draw near to the Lordís return. Well, if it was apropos in 61 or 62 AD, how much more today? You know, Iíve always gone back to the cartoon of the old caveman who had written across his cave, ĎThe end is near.í But the second picture he had added what? Ďerí See? Today the end is nearer than it was yesterday. Today this verse is more appropriate. Itís 2,000 years closer than when Paul wrote it. And so as we see the day approaching, encourage one another that the Lord is coming! Donít be caught asleep. Donít be caught unprepared.
In fact, I John chapter 3 comes to mind. See now, all these things I donít prepare the night before. I wish I could but I just canít, as I donít know exactly how the Holy Spirit is going to lead as I teach. Weíll be getting into these little epistles when we finish Hebrews, hopefully. Here youíll see Johnís concept of the Lordís coming is the same as Paulís. It could happen anytime even back there in the early first century, in the 60ís AD.
I John 3:1
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we (as believers) should be called the sons of God: (or the children of God.) therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." Now thatís plain enough isnít it? My goodness, after three years amongst His own people, what was the statement of the majority? "Crucify Him! Kill Him!" They didnít know Him. Well, thatís the worldís attitude toward us, whether you know it or not. All right, and so it knows us not because it "knew him not." Now here it comes in verse 2.
I John 3:2-3
"Beloved, now we are the sons (or the born ones) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3. And every man (thatís a generic term meaning also women, boys and girls who are believers) that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he (the Lord) is pure."
What does that tell us? Iíll bet you one thing for sure, if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that by 12 oíclock tomorrow the Lord would have come for us in the Rapture, youíd act a lot different for this next 24 hours. Wouldnít we? I mean every one of us! We would make sure that we hadnít had any evil thoughts cobwebbing our minds. We would make sure that we are spiritually, as well as physically and materially, ready for that trumpet call thatís going to come sometime between now and noon tomorrow. I know we would. There isnít a person in this room that wouldnít take special note to be ready when that moment comes.
Well, we should be just as ready all the time, see? But weíre human. We get lax and the first thing you know weeks have gone by and we havenít really thought about the Lordís coming. But hey, itís got to be on our mind constantly, especially as we see as Paul says in Hebrews, ĎThe day appearing.í All right, now then the other one that I just thought of while I was reading this one of course was Philippians. So letís go back to Philippians chapter 3, starting at verses 20 and 21.
"For our conversation (or if you have a margin, itís citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21, Who shall change our vile (or this corrupt) body, that it (this body) may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, (the resurrected body) according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." In other words, what are we to be constantly aware of? That maybe in the next hour, weíre out of this old body of flesh and weíre in the new and weíre in Glory! Thatís our blessed hope and I canít stress it enough that all through the early days of Christendom it was that imminent return of Christ that they were looking for. And like Iíve said over and over, Paul wrote of it as though He was coming in his lifetime, until just before he was martyred. He finally speaks of the fact that heís going to go through physical death, but I donít think Paul ever expected to. He thought the Lord was going to return before he would die a physical death. All right back to Hebrews chapter 10. And so:
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together (with like-minded believers) as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Verse 26 and here again is a verse that arouses so many questions and really itís quite simple.
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," Now in order to understand this youíve got to get the big picture. Who are the Hebrews? Jews! What is their belief system? Judaism. And what was Judaism based on? The Temple worship and the sacrifices and the feast days and all the various demands Ė for a particular sin, you would bring this particular sacrifice. Now this whole book of Hebrews as Iíve been stressing, was written first and foremost to those Hebrew believers. And they were having such a hard time breaking from their old religious system of Judaism with Temple worship and the sacrifices and the whole Ďnine yards.í
And as I explained to one of my classes just this last week, you take people who have come out of a cult, and cults are satanically capable of brainwashing people to such an extent that itís almost impossible to bring them out of it except for the power of God, but I have had some that have broken free. And the first thing they tell me, "But Les, itís so hard to break with what we have been taught for a whole lifetime." I know that. It is hard. But if youíre going to be a believer in the Word of God thatís what you have to do. Well, these Jews were the same way. They had been steeped in Judaism ever since 1500 BC. Israel was under the Law and they were steeped in Temple worship with all of its attendant sacrifices.
Now then, the key to this whole verse is the last part of the verse; that if youíre going to willfully turn away from Paulís revelations of the grace of God and go back into Judaism, what would they be practicing? Sacrifices! Theyíd be going back to their animal sacrifices, but would it do them any good? No. And thatís what this verse is screaming at them. If youíre going to turn around and walk away from this that has been revealed to you by the grace of God and youíre going to go back into Judaism with all of its Temple worship and sacrifices, then hey, youíre out of it. God is no longer dealing with people on the basis of the animal sacrifices because He was the complete, perfect sacrifice.
And when people turned around and said, "Well, Iím going back to my Temple worship. Iím going back to the animal sacrifices;" they were, as it says in chapter 6 Ďcrucifying the Lord afresh.í How? By telling Him that His sacrifice counted for nothing! That animalís blood was better than His. Do you see the picture?
All right, verse 27. That after theyíd received the knowledge of the truth and there remains no more sacrifice (animal sacrifices wonít help you). But if youíre going to go back into Judaism there is:
"But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary." Judgment because they had spurned Godís grace. Whatís it speaking of? The Great White Throne Judgment when lost Jews are going to be condemned to the Lake of Fire just as well as lost humanity in general. If theyíre going to turn away from Godís offer of grace and salvation by faith in that grace alone; if theyíre going to go back to animal sacrifices, then theyíve got nothing facing them but the fiery indignation of eternal doom.
Now, to chapter 6; I said itís referring to the same thing. So if somebody asks you, "Well what about Hebrews 10:26?" You tell them itís the same thing as Hebrews chapter 6 and then youíre out of it! So letís review Hebrews chapter 6 verse 4 for a moment.
"For it is (what?) impossible (and that means what it says, itís impossible) for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift," Now Iíve had quite a few people respond already because some of the stations show this on Sundays and so this has already been out on the air and weíve already had some comment, that they never realized before that you do not sustain any amount of energy by simply tasting something. You can taste from now until doomsday and youíll starve to death because you donít really latch on to something if all youíre doing is tasting it.
And thatís what the people did. They looked at Paulís program. They looked at this offer of salvation through faith alone. The Holy Spirit enlightened them enough for them to consider it, and they could have stepped over the threshold. They could have had it but did they? No. Now read on.
"Öand were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (the Holy Spirit had come along side) 5. And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (In other words, the view of the coming Kingdom.) 6. If they shall fall away,Ö" Remember when I taught this several months ago, I explained that this word in the Greek is not the same that translated Ďa falling awayí in Thessalonians. This is a Greek word that is never used any other place in Scripture. ĎParapipto.í And that means turning your back scornfully.
Now the word for Ďfalling awayí in Thessalonians is Ďapostasia.í Two totally different words. All right, so this parapipto meant to turn your back scornfully, as a woman who was turning her back on her husband and going into an adulterous situation. Now thatís what the word implies. Not just someone who hadnít quite understood it. Not someone who was caught in a moment of weakness but someone who had fully comprehended all this. Someone whom the Lord has opened up their thinking but in a scornful rejection they just said, "Iíll have nothing to do with this. Iím going back to my religion." Now you got the picture?
And when I talk about cult people, thatís exactly where most of them are. Even when they see the truth, they get all the pressure from their fellow cult people and back they go and they scorn what they have been enlightened to see. All right, so now then, if you want the answer to Hebrews 10 verse 26, you just tell folks to read Hebrews 6 because it means the same thing. Another example is when these people willfully, scornfully said, "weíll not have anything to do with this Jesus of Nazareth." Now verse 27 again.
"But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation (in other words, the Lake of Fire that is facing the lost.) which shall devour the adversaries. 28. He that despised Mosesí law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:"
Now you know youíve heard me say it over and over, especially those of you who are in my classes every week. The Law was what? It was beggarly and it was cruel! The Law had no mercy. The Law was strict. And, consequently, when someone knowing that it said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," went ahead and did it anyway, what did the Law demand? Death. Not with a spear, not with a sword, but how? By stoning, which was a slow torturous death. Thatís what the Law demanded. Severe! Thatís the word I was looking for. The Law was severe! It was merciless. And so this is what Paul is stressing. Now remember the Law of Moses was severe and yet it had none of the opportunities that this Gospel of Grace gives us. So if God permitted the Law to severely punish those who broke it, then how much more capable is He of consigning lost people to the Lake of Fire?
Lesson Three ē Part II
The Lord Shall Judge His People
Hebrews 10:23 Ė 11:8
I think weíll just jump right in where we left off in the last lesson, and that would be in chapter 10 and verse 29. Remember that this book is addressed primarily to Jewish believers (I think probably within one synagogue congregation), whereas, Peter is going to write to the Twelve Tribes scattered throughout.
This letter I feel is addressed to one local church; I donít think itís the Jerusalem church, but it was evidently a congregation of some decent size. And the whole problem was that some of them, probably not many, but some, after experiencing this tremendous salvation based on the finished work of the Cross were being drawn back into Judaism and the sacrificial system of Temple worship.
Now remember, the Temple is still going even as all of our New Testament is written, except maybe the book of Revelation. And even that, I prefer to think, was written in the 60ís AD as well. But you all know, that all of Paulís letters and all the four gospels, and the little epistles following Hebrews were all written before 70 AD, when the Temple is destroyed.
Remember I made the point Ė isnít it amazing how God forbid any empire to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and the Nation of Israel until Paulís letters were completed. And within a couple of years after the completion of Paulís epistles, the Temple has now become moot (of no count), so why worry about it.
Well you see as soon as Paulís letters were finished, then Temple worship had become moot and what does God permit? Titus to destroy the Temple and the city. And I think it all fits in and just screams at us that these people should have been able to see that all the Old Testament promises had been fulfilled in Christís death, burial, resurrection and ascension back to glory. It was all prophesied. And yet they never saw that. So always remember that, even though the Book of Hebrews is written to Jewish people who were fighting this traumatic experience of being pulled back into their old religious system, yet Hebrews is just full of knowledge for you and I as believers.
But also remember thereís no plan of salvation in the Book of Hebrews. You canít take someone to Hebrews and lead them to the Lord, because those salvation Scriptures are not in there, at least not like the Roman Road or Ephesians, I Corinthians or something like that. But, it is so full of basic information that enhances our own faith. All right, letís begin with verse 29.
"Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, (or a common thing, I think is a better word) and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
Now remember in our last program, we were looking at those previous verses of someone who willfully turned back and went into the religion of Judaism with its animal sacrifices. And then, the verse that we closed with in the last program, how that the Law, the Mosaic Law was severe, because there was no mercy. If someone was caught even picking up sticks on the Sabbath day, what was the punishment? Death! Now thatís severe. My we would never stand for something like that today, would we? But thatís the way the Law was, it was so severe! And when the Law was severe and they rejected it then there was no doubt that Godís wrath would be placed upon them to their eternal doom.
All right, if a religious system like Judaism prompted the wrath of God, then you see, How much sorer punishment, how much more Godís wrath can be poured out on those who have walked under foot the Son of God, the blood of Christ? Now youíve heard me emphasize this over the years; whatís the reason God consigned lost humanity to such an awful eternal doom? Because Heís done everything he could for them to prevent it. Heís done everything they needed to escape that eternal doom without lifting a finger. By just simply believing what He had done. And when they walked that under foot and they scorned it, then God is perfectly just in consigning them to that kind of a punishment.
So donít ever listen to those kind of arguments such as, "Well, how can a just God send somebody to a Lake of Fire?" Well, Heís got every reason in the world to because Heís already done everything to keep them from it. All right, so: "How much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot." Now donít lose the picture. They have literally walked under foot in scorn the Blood of the Covenant, that is His sacrificial Blood of the Cross and wherewith he was sanctified and they have considered it a common thing. I think that a better word than unholy thing is a common thing. Theyíve considered it something common. No more different than the sand and the gravel that they walked on. And, theyíre going to suffer for it. Now verse 30.
"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me,Ö" Now, of course we do, as believers, know the God of glory. We know this Saviour of mankind on a personal basis and so we can agree with Paul when he says, "For we know him that hath said, ĎVengeance belongeth unto me." Heís God. Heís Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. He doesnít have to save anybody but He chose to save some, as Paul puts it in Romans.
"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense saith the Lord, And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
Before we talk about the Lord judging His people, the saved for rewards (and that will probably be in the next lesson), lets talk about how He is going to pour out His wrath on those who have rejected His offer of salvation. Now, let me show you a comparison. A lot of people donít realize that the Lake of Fire is evidently going to have levels of punishment. Come back with me to Matthew chapters 10 and chapter 11. Letís look at chapter 10 first because you have to understand that when I maintain that good people, church members, choir singers and deacons and yes, a lot of pastors are going to miss Heaven, because they have never believed in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation, as Paul instructs us to do. Theyíve tried to get to Heaven some other way. Oh theyíve been good, so now are they going to suffer the same level of the Lake of Fire as a murderer? No. No, thereís going to be levels of punishment. Now, theyíre still going to miss glory but they are not going to suffer to the extent that some wicked individual will. Now, hereís my reasoning. Matthew chapter 10 verse 15. These are the words of the Lord Himself during His earthly ministry.
"Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable (or the punishment is going to be less severe) for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." Those wicked sodomites are going to have an easier time of it in the eternal doom, than these Jews who listened to Christís earthly ministry. So, itíll be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, thatís the Great White Throne of Revelation 20, than for that city.
Behold, (he says) I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:..." Well, who were the wolves? The Jews of Jesusí day who would not respond to His ministry. All right, chapter 11 verse 20. Same kind of a concept. Again the Lord is speaking in His earthly ministry.
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, (His miracles) because they repented not:" In other words, the miracles never even phased their unbelief. They continued to scorn and reject Jesus of Nazareth.
"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! (now those were beautiful cities up in the Galilee.) for if (see, conditional) the mighty works, which were done in you, (that is His miracles. Feeding the five thousand and raising the dead at times, and healing the sick) had been done in Tyre and Sidon, (which were wicked Gentile cities on the Mediterranean seacoast.) they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22. But I say unto you. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you." Tough isnít it? Thatís tough language.
"And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven,Ö" I donít think anybody goes to Israel who does not visit Capernaum and think even in its ruins, itís beautiful! And all you have to do is just close your eyes and imagine what a beautiful city that must have been on the north shore of the Galilee at the time of Christ. And they knew it. They were a puffed up city because of all that they had going for them.
"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, (because they were such a beautiful city) shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." In other words, had Christ preformed the kind of miracles in Sodom and Gomorrah and preached the message that He preached in Israel, Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented and cleaned up their act. But Capernaum wouldnít. You see the difference?
All right, now itís the same way back here. When people are confronted with this glorious Gospel of Grace, and they can enter into salvation by faith and faith alone. And then they spurn it and walk it underfoot Ė can anybody blame God for casting His wrath upon them? Of course not. And the Scripture makes it so plain. Verse 31, as a warning to people then as well as today:
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Now four times in the Book of Hebrews youíve had the term Ďthe living God.í Twice as it appears for us as believers, ĎHe is our living God,í but twice as it applies to the unbelievers, who also are going to have to deal with Ďthe living Godí Who is alive forevermore. All right, when the lost come up before Him and He pronounces their final doom, there isnít a word of argument because He is the living God! Heís not some idol made with stone and wood. He is the living Creator of the whole universe and Heís Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants.
In fact, letís just go back and look what Paul is alluding to. Revelation chapter 20. Not many people will even refer to it anymore. But, Iím still not afraid to and you know, the day may come when theyíll force me off television for using verses like these. Well thatís okay. Weíve had twelve years already and weíve accomplished what I feel the Lord has wanted us to do so far. But, weíre not going to shirk from showing people what the Bible says. Revelation 20 starting at verse 11. And this is exactly what weíre referring to that the lost, whether they are good people, or whether they are the down and out gutter of the world, makes no difference; theyíre all going to come before the Great White Throne.
"And I saw a great white throne; and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;Ö"
Now you want to remember this is in that time interval between the end of the Kingdom, the thousand-year reign, and the onset of eternity. And I think Peter makes it so plain that when the Kingdom is completed this whole universe is just going to disappear in a puff of smoke and there will out of it come, for eternity, a new Heaven and a new earth. Now not everybodyís going to agree with me, but I think the language is such that it canít be otherwise. And I think the reason is that Satan has defiled everything God ever made. Out to the edges of space, Satan has defiled everything, and so, consequently, I feel, it will all be melted down as Peter says.
All right, so in this time frame now between the end of the Kingdom and the onset of eternity, weíre going to have the Great White Throne judgment for the lost of the ages. What God has done with all the believers while this is going on in the meantime, you leave that up to God; Heís not going to lose any of us! And weíre going to be someplace in utter safety. But one thing for sure, weíre not going to be at this Great White Throne. This is only for the lost from Cain until the end. Now then, verse 12.
"And John saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; (now God of course, here will be Jesus Christ) and the books (plural) were opened: and another book (singular) was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
The lost are now ready to hear their doom. The first thing they will be shown are the blanks in that book of life where their name could have been. But itís not there and so they canít argue Ė I did this and I did that. No, your name is not in the Lambís Book of Life. Then he turns to the books (plural), which is the record of their daily activities on earth. And so, they were judged, to see what their level of punishment will be.
Now I think Iíve mentioned this before, for years I used to wonder, even God in His Omnipotence, is He going to keep track of every individualís daily life? Yeah. And now with our technology and they can put the whole King James Bible on a chip the size of a pin head, well if man can do that, then God can keep a record of a few billion people. No problem.
So Heíll check the record and heíll probably show it to them, hereís your life. Who are you to say that you can come into my Heaven? Your name is not in the Lambís Book of Life, your life has shown nothing that smacks of a believer and then theyíll have to admit their doom is justified. All right then, verse 13.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (not everybodyís going to suffer the same. Thereís going to be degrees, see?) 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Death is separation. The first separation was soul and spirit from the body. The second death is the separation of the lost from God. Horrible, awful thought! But itís Scriptural and people need to be warned.
All right, back to Hebrews 10, so indeed as we read in verse 31, and itís not stretching the envelope one bit. "It is a fearful thing (as an unbeliever, itís a fearful thing) to fall into the hands of the living God." But for us nothing better could happen! We are in His care. We are in the hollow of His hand. We are hidden in God in Christ. We have nothing to fear. But the lost, oh my goodness, I donít see how they can go to bed at night. Verse 32.
"But (after realizing what an awful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God as a lost person) call to remembrance the former days in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;"
Remember what I said in the last program Ė when cult people try to come out of that cult, what happens? All the pressure that family can put on them, all the pressure that their organization can put on them, all the pressure and the threats are so great, it just draws them back. And itís almost, without the power of God, impossible for them not to be pulled back in. Well, Judaism had the same kind of a pull. That big beautiful Temple complex and with all the activities surrounding it, the feast days, and boy, it was something to behold. And then to turn their back on all that and step into a life of separation, it wasnít easy. The next verse tells you how much harder it was even than we would think, because:
"Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, while ye became companions of them that were so used,"
Now whatís he talking about. That as soon as they made their break with Judaism, what did all their Jewish friends begin to do? Castigate and disown them. They still do to a degree. My, if youíve ever read the account of Jewish converts, not always, but many times, the family will disown them. In some instances theyíll actually hold a funeral for them, treat them as if theyíre dead. And then of course, back in the first century you still had the persecuting power of the Romans.
Letís go back to Acts chapter 17, as Paul is making his first sojourn out amongst the Gentiles and he would always begin in the Synagogue of the Jews and consequently there were quite a few Jews in those early days of Paulís ministry. And here Paul has just begun from Northern Greece; heís been up at Philippi and you know what happened there. He ended up in the dungeon. But he keeps on proclaiming the Gospel of Grace and he always starts in the Synagogue of the Jews.
Letís start in chapter 17 verse 1, because this is exactly what this verse in Hebrews is referring to; how that when these Jews believed, the rest of the Jewish community came down on them hard.
"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and (for) three Sabbath days (or for three weeks) reasoned with them out of the scriptures." How much Scripture has been written by the time Paul is on his missionary journeys? Only the Old Testament. Nothing of the New. So whenever you speak of the Scriptures until Paulís epistles start coming out, itís Old Testament. They had no New Testament. And so, he reasoned with them out of the Old Testament Scriptures.
"Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus (of Nazareth) whom I preach unto you is Christ. (the Messiah.) 4. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason and sought to bring them out to the people. 6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7. Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9. And when they had taken security of Jason and of the others, they let them go."
Well, this is just a brief picture that wherever Paul began his ministry, he would always start in the synagogue of the Jews because at least he had people who knew of a one God. They knew of the Old Testament Scriptures and it was the logical place to start. And some of them would believe. But the most of them would reject it and then he would turn to the Gentiles. But for these believing Jews, who had turned their back on Judaism, do you see what they were under? They were under the pressure of their fellow Jews and consequently suffered inexorably for their new-found faith.
All right, back to Hebrews chapter 10 and verse 33 as we read that, as these Jews who had solidly embraced Paulís Gospel and had turned away from the sacrifices of Judaism, they "were made gazingstock by reproach and afflictions and while you became companions of them that were so used. For you had compassion on me (Paul says, where?) in my bonds." When he was in prison. Now listen, to become a believer throughout most of Christendom was a tough row to hoe.
Lesson Three ē Part III
The Lord Shall Judge His People
Hebrews 10:23 Ė 11:8
We welcome everyone again today, and let me say, we just cherish your letters, your phone calls, your financial help, everything. Because, you know, we are just ordinary cattle ranchers, and we donít have a lot of money backing us. I think a lot of people may think that because weíre ranching in Oklahoma, weíve got oil wells on every forty acres. Well, thatís not the case. We just ranch on a pile of mountains and rocks; but the Lord seems to provide our needs. And in the ministry, itís the same question every month. Are we going receive enough to get our bills paid? But we always seem to, thanks to our faithful viewers, so we just give the Lord the credit for using us in what little way He has.
Okay, now letís get right back into Bible study because thatís what this is all about - comparing Scripture with Scripture and tying it all together. Now in Hebrews chapter 10 picking up from our last program where he says in verse 34 to these Hebrew believers:
"ÖFor ye had compassion of me in my bonds,Ö" Which means that this must have been somewhere in the early 60ís AD, whether it was referring to Paulís first imprisonment in Rome, or whether in another case where he was in a prison such as at Caesarea or whatever; we certainly know that Paul was imprisoned more than those years in Rome. But these people were aware of his being imprisoned and they had compassion on him.
"Öand took joyfully the spoiling of your goods,Ö" In other words, they helped him financially even though most of them had not that kind of money. And out of their love for the Apostle he said:
"Öknowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." You know what heís saying? Just because they gave of the meager things they had of this world, they were still what? Richer for it. And so I think a lot of times we have to realize today that people are reluctant to give because theyíve got so much to spend it on, and not thinking of eternal things.
In fact, Iris and I were talking about that driving up to Tulsa again this morning. There are so many fads and gadgets that are thrown at us, especially in America. All these gadgets and fads that come along, and some people in their weakness think they have to have every last one of them. No we donít. You donít need it all because most of it just ends up in a closet someplace and probably used only once or twice. But, how much better if they would spend some of that to promote the Word of God.
And thatís what Paul is saying here, see? That you took the spoiling, or the cashing in, of your goods, your material things and they knew within themselves that eternity had something far better. In fact, it goes right back to Ė how did the Lord put it? "Donít lay up treasures on this earth where moth and rust do corrupt, but rather lay it up in Heaven." And as some have said, send it on ahead! I think thatís a good way of putting it. Send it on ahead because itís drawing far better interest up there than it will down here. Now verse 35.
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of (what?) reward."
Now we were just talking at break time a little bit, you see, the lost people have nothing to look forward to but the reading of their works, which will determine their level of punishment in their eternal doom. But for you and I as believers, as well as these Hebrew believers, itís not a matter of a degree of punishment. Itís not even a matter of a degree of how high weíre going to be in Godís program. But, itís going to be what? Reward. And I donít know what those rewards are going to be but I know that my God knows how to be absolutely fair and just and so yes, we are laboring as believers, not for salvation but for reward.
Maybe weíd better go back and look at it. I Corinthians chapter 3. See, this is why I donít get through, Honey. I told Iris last night, maybe I could finish Hebrews today! Well no, I get up here and I think of all these other things and weíre not going to rush Hebrews and skip all this good stuff. So come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 3, where Paul is dealing with the rewards system for the believer. Not the punishment level for the unbeliever but the reward system for the believer. Big difference, isnít it? And weíll almost have to start at verse 9 to pick up the flow, where Paul writes:
I Corinthians 3:9a
"We are labourers togetherÖ"
Like I said, as believers, we donít labour for salvation that comes by faith and faith alone. But as soon as we become a believer, God is going to give us opportunity for service, working for Him. And when you truly work for Him then thereís going to be rewards.
I Corinthians 3:9-10a
"We are labourers together with God: ye are Godís husbandry, (see? Heís in control.) ye are Godís building. (Heís the One that is putting it all together.) 10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, (Paul writes) as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation,Ö"
Now do you see why I emphasize Paul? If you were to show me a beautiful new home, you know one of the first things I would ask you? Who was your contractor? Who built it? If everything went as it should be, what would you do? Youíd be glad to tell me who it was, what a great job he did and you know what I would ask you? When did you bring your contractor on the scene? When you had the first floor finished? No. I like to see heads shake. No, of course not. When did your contractor begin the work on your new home? When he set the stakes. He dug the foundation. He started from the bottom up.
Well see, thatís what the Apostle Paul is claiming. Heís not the foundation; heís the one who laid the foundation. See the big difference? And so Paul says, as a wise masterbuilder, the contractor, "I laid the foundation." Not Peter, James and John. Not even Jesus. I was just reading another one the other night, ĎJesus didnít start anything.í How true. He didnít start the church. He became the basis of the church but He didnít start it. Paul did. And so Paul takes by the Holy Spiritís inspiration full credit for laying the foundation.
I Corinthians 3:10b
"ÖI have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon."
Now here comes the works system we are to enjoy after our salvation. Weíre saved by that foundation which is Jesus Christ and His finished work of the Cross. (I Corinthians 15:1-4) But now weíre building on that, as believers. Now verse 11.
I Corinthians 3:11
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid (itís already done. And Paul doesnít take credit for being the foundation. Who is?) which is Jesus Christ."
Now again, you can go back into the secular world, you can go back into Scripture. I donít know whether it was a parable or not but you remember, Jesus used the analogy of building on the sand. How long will it last? Until the first good rainstorm. Pfffft! There it goes. But if you want that building to last, youíre going to build it on what? A solid foundation. That was what He was teaching.
Well, Paul was saying the same things. Weíre not building on the sands of some false religion; weíre building on the foundation of the One and Only True God-given basis for salvation. And that is that work of the Cross. So then verse 12. Now Paul says, as a believer youíve been saved through the foundational work of the Cross. And now as a believer youíre going to start building on that foundation for reward.
I Corinthians 3:12
"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble."
Now that is six materials that weíre going to build with. Three of them will never burn up. Three of them would go in a puff of smoke like a western forest fire. Why? Because those works were good for nothing, just a waste of time. And how many Christians arenít going to find out that thatís what has happened to their works. But, those other three materials will abide, gold, silver, precious stones, no fire can destroy them. If anything it will enhance them. And so Paul is using that analogy, Now verse 13.
I Corinthians 3:13a
"Every man (now thatís a generic term remember, when Paul says man, heís not leaving the women out. So every believerís) work shall be made manifest:"
And whatís the explanation I always use for manifest? Put in the spotlight. Just like turning on the microscope and put the slide over the light and thereís everything manifested. Well, thatís exactly whatís going to happen to our works. Theyíre going to be manifested. Theyíre going to be put in the spotlight.
I Corinthians 3:13b
"Öfor the day shall declare it,Ö"
The judgment day. Now itís not the Great White Throne Judgment, as thatís for the unbelievers. But we as believers must appear before the Bema Seat Judgment in II Corinthians 5 where it says, ĎWe believers shall all appear before the judgment of Christ (the Bema Seat).í I think itís unfortunate that the translators used that word Ďjudgment.í That scares people. Most think that believers are going to come up and have a whip laid over them. No, no! When we believers come before the Lord itís going to be the Bema Seat. The place of reward.
And Iíve always likened it to the Olympic races. My, as those athletes ran past the finish line, who determined who was first? Who determined who was second and third and so forth? The Bema Seat judges. And thatís why Paul refers to that when we come before the Bema Seat for reward, then the Ďfiery eyes of the Lord Jesus,í which I get from Revelation 19, where Heís going to have Ďeyes as flames of fire.í
I Corinthians 3:13c
"Öbecause it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work of what sort it is."
Now remember the analogy, is it gold, silver and precious stones; or is it wood, hay and stubble?
I Corinthians 3:14
"If any manís work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward." In other words, as a believer; and if itís gold, silver and precious stone, itíll remain and you will receive a reward. We donít know what theyíre going to be. We can speculate all you want but I cannot tell someone, well this verse says this is what weíre going to have, I canít do that. All I know is that God is fair. Heís just. And His reward is going to be beyond human comprehension, whatever it is. But, now the other side of the coin is, verse 15.
I Corinthians 3:15
"If any manís work (as a believer, now weíre talking only about believers. And even believers are going to come before the Bema Seat with nothing but wood, hay and stubble. Theyíve never done anything worth a plug nickel to further Godís Kingdom, but theyíre believers. All right, and so their work) shall be burned,Ö" Now thatís not talking about hellfire burning. Itís just simply a point that itís going to be set aside like trees that are pruned and the branches are burned.
I Corinthians 3:15b
"Öhe shall suffer loss:Ö" The loss these believers will suffer will not be their salvation, but rather theyíll lose their reward. Thatís all. Theyíll suffer loss of reward.
Remember way back when I was teaching this, it was about the time that, I donít remember what the TV commercial was (I donít watch that much television. In fact I donít watch any, anymore), but, at that time there was a commercial with the baseball player, Bob Uecker. You remember that? Old Bob Uecker was sitting clear up in the upper reaches of the stadium all by himself. And it was a funny commercial and I donít know what the point was, but my point was, these believers that are going to end up without reward. Theyíre going to be there. But theyíre going to be up in the ĎUecker seats.í
Theyíre going to be up there where thereís no activity. Thereís nothing like being on the playing field. See what Iím driving at. But theyíre going to be in glory. Iíll never forget a man that I witnessed to over and over back many, many years ago. And then he used to always come back with this same argument, he said, "Les, all I care about is that I can just slip under the door." I said, "But youíre not going to slip under the door." You either come full force in salvation or youíre going to miss it! But that was always his excuse. "If I can just slip in under the door."
A lot of people have the same idea. But here we have the picture. The believer who has produced and who has been in the right attitude and his motivation has been to please the Lord; itís going to be gold, silver and precious stones. If all heís done it for is earthly acclaim or the pat on the back of fellow human beings, itís wood, hay and stubble. Itíll count for nothing. Now let me finish verse 15 so I can make the point.
I Corinthians 3:15
"If any manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
The believer will suffer loss, as he wonít get a reward, but, he himself shall be saved! Heís going to be in glory. "...yet so as by fire." In other words, it will be by the Ďskin of his teethí if I may put it that way.
All right, letís go back to Hebrews chapter 10 and so you have the same concept, that these Jewish believers who were suffering for their faith would experience, one day, reward. Verse 35 is where we came from on that thought.
"Cast not away therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. 36. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
Now of course, to a Jew, the ĎPromisesí were everything, I guess, from Abraham on up through the Old Testament and flowing on into Christís Kingdom reign in the future.
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come (what?) will come, and will not tarry."
Now Paul expected it in his lifetime. And he didnít have any idea that it was going to go 2,000 years. But here we are now, almost 2,000 years after the fact and what can I stand here and say? "He that is coming will come!"
Donít you ever doubt it for a minute. Let the scornful scoff all they want. In fact, I can show you a verse - if that isnít exactly what weíre seeing today. Go forward a few pages in your New Testament to II Peter chapter 3, and letís drop down to verse 3.
II Peter 3:3a
See this is what I like about Scripture. There are things that we are supposed to know. Not guess or hope so. Peter says:
II Peter 3:3a
"Knowing this first that there shall come in the last daysÖ"
Remember, when Peter wrote of the last days, what was he talking about? Within the next ten years. Now I say ten because they knew there was a seven-year tribulation in there. So within ten years they expected all of this to be consummated.
II Peter 3:3b
"Öthat there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lust," (or desires) Theyíre of the world, theyíre fleshly. Now this is what the scoffers will say. Does it ring a bell?
II Peter 3:4a
"And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep,Ö"
Remember who are we dealing with here? Jews. So who were the fathers? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets, see? And so these Jews of Peterís day and Paulís day are saying the same thing. Why, ever since the fathers theyíve been talking about the Lordís coming. And they had. Every Jew that had any knowledge of the Old Testament was looking for the Messiah. Jews today that have any knowledge of their Scriptures are looking for the Messiah. All right, so this is what the scoffers said then, "Why youíve been talking about the Lord coming, the Messiah coming, ever since Abraham." Now finish the verse.
II Peter 3:4b
"Öall things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
Isnít that exactly what people are saying today? Oh, I read articles almost an average of once a week where some writer, some editorial writer who scoffs at our idea of apocalyptic judgments and so forth, and they just scorn it. Hey, theyíve been talking about this for centuries. Nothing different has ever happened. The worldís going to keep going. This isnít just the end.
Well, Iíve got news for them. This is the beginning of the end. Weíre seeing it; but with God, of course, His wheels grind slowly. All right, so come back to Hebrews 10 again. Verse 37, repeating it.
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
Donít ever doubt it. He is coming again. And He will not tarry. When itís time for Him to come nothing is going to prevent it.
Now verse 38, again you know, I always say that Paul shifts gears. Just all of sudden, he just shifts from one gear down to the next. All right, now here we have a shift.
"Now the just (the believers) shall live by (what?) faith:Ö"
Just because heís writing to Jews doesnít change it one iota because he says the same thing back in Romans and Galatians. See? "That the just shall live by faith!"
"Öbut if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
If they do not embrace these things by faith, then God says Ė "my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Because God, as weíre going to see when we get into chapter 11, looks first and foremost for only one human attribute. And itís not goodness, itís not kindness, itís not love; whatís the first thing He looks for? Faith! Can you take Him at His Word!
And when youíve got faith, all of the other things fall in place. But faith has to come first. All right, so "The just shall live by faith. But if any draw back from that faith, then God has no pleasure in him." Now verse 39.
"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition: but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
Paul writes: We are not of them who draw back unto perdition." Weíre not turning our back scornfully and going back into a religious system that will make them miss Heavenís glory. But, he says, "We are of them that believe."
Now all the way up through Paulís epistles thatís been the precise instruction for a right relationship with God Ė to believe what He has said. And the synonymous word of course is faith, see? So "to them who believe to the saving of the soul." Well, now I think we can just slip right into chapter 11 Ė Iím amazed that the chapter didnít start up there a couple verses when we started talking about faith. But here we have it now, this whole system of believing, or faith.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,Ö"
Now I imagine as many people as we have in this room, you all have a different idea of Ďsubstance.í Donít you?
Do you know what I think of when I think of substance? I think of the core of something that holds it all together. In other words, just picture a wheel, just a simple wheel. What is the substance of that wheel? The hub. Because the hub is that which goes out to all the rest of that wheel. You take away the hub and youíve got nothing. And thatís substance. Now I suppose you could take it into almost any other area of life. What is substance? That which counts, see?
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Not seen. So how do we know theyíre for real? Faith. God said it. And we know itís true. All right, verse 2.
"For by it the elders obtained a good report."
Weíre going to see that in our next program, that "by faith the elders (the Old Testament patriarchs) obtained a good report." Now verse 3.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
He didnít have to go into His chemistry workshop and put some things together and then throw it out. All he had to do was speak the Word and out of nothing the universe began to appear. And I donít think the whole universe exploded at one time. I think the universe has been exploding and going out and going out and going out over the period of time. But whatever, it was done by the spoken Word and all of Scripture substantiates that.
"So that things which are seen (our universe, everything around us on this planet) everything that is seen were not made of things which do appear." Now you see, the scientist canít accept that. Can he? He just has a hard time with that. And so they spend billions and billions of dollars trying to figure out the origin of the universe and if they found out what good would it do them? Nothing. Itís not going to change anything. Not one wit.
You know Iíve even told geologists; you go through all the conflict of geology and everything that youíve learned Ė is that going to change where the oil is? Of course not. Thatís not going to change one iota. And so we have to accept the fact that when God spoke the Word, the universe came into being. And I donít care when it was. I donít care if it was 6,000 years ago or six billion years ago. Makes no difference. Again, Iíll use my word Ė itís moot. What difference does it make? And so all Paul says is that we are believers. This we know that the universe was framed by the Word of God and the God Who spoke was Jesus the Christ. He is the One Who is given credit for speaking everything into view. All right, now I guess weíd better go on into Abel at least.
Now hereís the great faith chapter. Hebrews chapter 11. I told Iris I think I could almost spend four programs in chapter 11. Maybe we will, I donít know. Iíd like to get moving on, but anyway. "By faith." By simply taking God at His Word:
"ÖAbel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous. Ö"
Now faith has always prompted God to declare that believer righteous. Thatís been the case ever since Adam and Eve back in Genesis chapter 3; and so Abelís faith prompted God to restore Abel into fellowship and He declared him now, a righteous individual. When we start the next program, weíre going to jump right back to Romans chapter 4 and see how thatís Paulís primary example of Abraham. That when he became a man of faith, God declared him what? Righteous!
Lesson Three ē Part IV
The Lord Shall Judge His People
Hebrews 10:23 Ė 11:8
All right, for those of you joining us maybe for the first time, weíre just a simple Bible study. We try hard not to attack different groups, and we donít claim that weíve got all the answers, but hopefully we can just open the Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit be the master teacher. Now, as we finish this program today, this will finish up book number 51. That means weíve been on the air almost twelve years. Unbelievable isnít it, Honey? My itís just like yesterday we drove up here for the first taping and had no idea it would go more than six months, let alone twelve years!
Now letís just continue on where we just left off in the last lesson and that would be in Hebrews chapter 11, and verse 4, and remember this is the great faith chapter. All the examples of people of faith; and remember from Adam until the end of the human experience, faith is always the number one criteria for a right relationship with God, as weíre going to see in this lesson.
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,Ö"
Now we have to go back to Genesis chapter 4 for that account. Iím not going to do it with all of these faith people in Hebrews but we are for some. But letís come all the way back to Genesis chapter 4 where we have the account of this first bringing of an offering by these two brothers Cain and Abel. Now we donít know how old they were but they were old enough to have already established their own lifestyle. One was a sheepherder and the other was a farmer. And, thatís about as far as we can go with their occupation. But, the clue to all of this is verse 3.
"And in the process of timeÖ"
And that is more or less implied, I think, from the Hebrew that it was a time of instruction. Now remember, God is never unfair. God would not expect these young men, Cain and Abel, to do something that He had never told them to do. If that was the case then it wouldnít be faith. But He had instructed them and no doubt knowing the God of this Book, He instructed them explicitly on how to approach Him with the blood sacrifice, which is already set as an example in Genesis 3, with Adam and Eve.
In that chapter, God killed the animal and so He no doubt instructed them on exactly how to kill the animal, and how to present or sprinkle the blood. It wasnít haphazard. It was intrinsically instructed. All right, so both young men have the same Word from God on how to approach Him. If youíll notice in Scriptures, we have the natural man first. So we deal with Cain first, the natural. And so, Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, whatever it was. To begin with, there are two major points here.
Number one, it was a bloodless offering. Number two, he was bringing that from the ground that from which one day Abelís blood would be spilled and it was cursed. Now it hadnít happened yet, but it will and so Cain now is stepping off on the wrong foot by bringing a bloodless offering.
I have to emphasize that because several years ago our own Jerry Pool wrote to his Sunday School material supplier and called to their mind, "Why didnít they point out in the childrenís quarterly, that the reason Cain wasnít accepted was because he didnít bring a blood offering," Well, Jerry showed me their response. Now you talk about dancing around the subject without ever saying anything, thatís what it amounted to. Wasnít it Jerry? And all they could say, was, "Well that didnít have anything to do with it, Cain just simply had a bad attitude." No, it wasnít Cainís attitude, although that was certainly involved in the fact that he had no faith! He didnít take anything that God said into account. And so he rationalized and he said, "Well surely, if God knows how much sweat I have already dropped on all this, Heíll accept it. I donít have to go over and barter with my brother to get a lamb." And so Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, whatever it was. It was bloodless. Remember one of the absolutes in Scripture that we learned in Hebrews 9:22?
"Öand without the shedding of blood is no remission." And so "God had no respect unto Cainís offering." So by faith, as Hebrews chapter 11 reminds us:
"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flockÖ"
Well now you donít have vegetables called flocks, so whatís implied? Sheep or goats. More than likely a sheep. And God had instructed them on how to present that animal sacrifice. And so Abel, because he believed what God said, did it as God instructed and he was accepted, and for that act of faith, will have eternal life.
Now whenever I taught Genesis years ago, or in my classes here in Oklahoma, I make this statement. Cain may have been a nicer guy than Abel. Cain may have been an easier guy to get along with in everyday things than Abel, we donít know. But that wasnít what counted. What counted was that Abel did what God said to do and he was accepted. Cain went his own way and he was rejected, see? All right, so read verse 4 again.
"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:"
In other words, Abel brought the very best and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain he had no respect. Why? Because it wasnít what God had instructed. Thatís all. And you find this all the way up through Scripture. Example: Jacob and Esau. I have no doubt that Esau might have been a nicer guy than Jacob, because otherwise why would Isaac have had such an inclination to Esau? I think he was a good son. But what was Esauís problem? No faith. He didnít believe a word God said. Never registered with him.
And so Jacob, even though he may have been a rascal, he was a man who could believe what God said, and God honored his faith. See? All right so now as we go back to Hebrews chapter 11, we have to realize that itís by faith and faith alone that everyone has been brought into a relationship with God. And then, based on their faith, yes, Abel brought the animal sacrifice. You get up into the system of Law; it was faith that prompted a believing Jew to keep the Law. Faith. Nothing else.
All right, I guess on our way back to Hebrews, letís just stop in Romans chapter 4; in fact I think I alluded to that in our last program that we would turn back to Romans chapter 4 where Paul is using Abraham as the epitome of a man of faith. Now again you have to get the background. What was the culture of the man Abram? Pagan. Idolatry. Mythology. No knowledge of the One True God. And yet when God spoke to Abram out of that background of idolatry, what did Abram do? He believed God. Now thatís faith.
"What shall we say then that Abraham our father, (now Paul writes here as a Jew so Abraham is the father of the Jewish Nation) as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2. For if Abram were justified by works, (by doing something) he hath whereof to glory; (or brag) but not before God."
No human being will ever put God in his debt, and thatís what a works religion does. A works religion tells God, "Iíve earned it, and you owe me." If you work for someone, at the end of the week, you can go to your employer and in so many words what can you tell him? "You owe me, until youíve paid me." Well you see thatís what a works religion does to God. It says, "God you owe me. Iíve worked for it." But God wonít have any part of that. And so, it says that Abraham could never glory, because heís dealing with the Holy, Omnipotent God. Now verse 3.
"For what saith the scripture?Ö"
Boy thatís my favorite guideline isnít it? What does the Book say? Well, does the Book say, "Abraham believed God" and brought a sacrifice? No. "Abraham believed" and was baptized? No. "Abraham believed" and spoke in tongues? No. "Abraham believed" and joined the church? No. Doesnít say any of that.
Whatíd he do? Believed plus nothing! Abraham believed God, and put his faith in what God said. Now like I said in the last program, and what does God do the moment He sees our faith? He declares us righteous. Now thatís not being big-headed, or egotistical. Itís just simply a matter of faith that when we become a believer, God declares us righteous. Not because of what weíve worked for but because of our faith. Faith! By faith and faith alone! Paul just screams it all through his epistles, see? Verse 4.
"Now to him that worketh (for salvation) is the reward not reckoned of grace. (Godís mercy,) but (rather it is reckoned) of (what?) debt."
Youíve worked for it so God owes you. It wonít fly. God will never be in debt to any human being! No matter his station in life. Not even Abraham, and so this is the whole admonition of Scripture then that itís by faith alone. In fact, I canít go back to Hebrews without reading verse 5. Oh my goodness, I donít know how many people weíve led to the Lord by showing them what Romans 4 verse 5 says:
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth (and again nothing else follows it) on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
God canít justify someone who says theyíre good enough. God can only justify the person that says, "Iím a sinner." I can go back to the hundred little sheep out on the desert. Ninety and nine went out, lost and never knew it. The Saviour didnít save any of them, but which one did the Lord save? The little fellow caught in the crevice bleating his little old heart out because he knew he was lost. And thatís the teaching of Scripture, that you cannot be saved until you know that youíre lost. And oh, people donít want to admit that, because to admit that youíre lost is a blow to your what? Pride!
Pride is the biggest enemy of mankind because pride says, "Donít you admit that you have a need. Youíre good enough, and God will accept you." No He wonít. The Scripture says we have to be lost before we can be saved. All right so, "To him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly." Now I pointed out in one of my classes the other night here in Oklahoma, to be ungodly doesnít mean that youíre a drunkard and youíre down on skid row and all these horrible pictures that we get of lower humanity. No. You can get the best person in Tulsa and they can be ungodly. Because the term "un" simply means "without." So if you are without God, youíre ungodly. Itís that simple.
And so you can have the highest elite in society, as good as they can be; but if they havenít got God in their life, theyíre what? Ungodly. And thatís the kind of a person that God wants to save.
All right, so here it is, "To him who worketh not but to him who believes on him who justifies (or declares absolutely forgiven and sinless) the ungodly." And then, "his faith is counted for righteousness." Now back to Hebrews chapter 11.
"By faith (by taking God at His Word) Enoch was translated that he should not see death;Ö"
Now we donít know an awful lot about Enoch. Heís back there in the genealogies, and back there before the Flood, but thatís about as far as we can go, but the Scripture here tells us that it was by faith that Enoch was translated. In other words, he was here one moment and gone the next, which I think is a preview of the Rapture of the church and so he was "Ötranslated that he should not see death." Enoch didnít die. They never buried him. He was translated. He was here one second; gone the next.
"Öand was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."
And before his translation, before he was snatched off the planet "he had this testimony." This is what his life told everybody around him. "...he pleased God." But youíve got to go into verse 6 to find out what Enoch did to please God. What was it? He was a man of faith! See how it follows? Enoch pleased God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him:Ö" (God)
Without faith it is impossible to please God. So you put two and two together and get four. What does that mean? Enoch was a man of faith. Thatís all.
Notice that doesnít say anything about his works. Doesnít say anything about practicing religion or sacrifices. All it says, he was a man who believed God. Now we donít know how much God told Enoch. You know Iím always trying to impress on people, faith isnít necessarily knowing that 2,000 years out into the future God in the Person of the Son would go to a Roman cross and die. Thatís wasnít revealed back here. They had no concept of a Roman cross. My goodness, crucifixion was invented by the Romans. And so you have about twenty-six, twenty-seven hundred years of human history before crucifixion comes into the picture.
So they didnít know anything about a cross. But whatever God said to them, they believed it! And when they believed it, God counted them righteous. Itís so simple isnít it? All right, so "without faith it is impossible to please him." You can give millions. You can work your fingers to the bone. You can be in that church building seven days a week, and if itís not based on faith, youíre spinning your wheels. Itís all for nothing!
"Öfor he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
And "he that cometh to God." For salvation, and then as a believer, we come to Him constantly with our needs, with our petitions, with our praise; but we do it all how? By faith. And that without it, we have nothing. Now letís move on down to verse 7.
"By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,Ö"
Whatís it talking about? What did God tell Noah? "Hey, Iím going to destroy the earth with water. The whole shebang is going to be covered with water. Itís going to rain forty days and forty nights." Had it ever rained before? No. It had never rained a drop. They had never even had a thundercloud. So how did Noah know it would rain enough to cover the earth? By faith. God said it, and when God said, "Noah, Iím going to destroy the earth with water. Build an ark." What did Noah do? Built an ark!
Now donít you know he felt as foolish as a three-dollar bill out there where it had never rained. There never been a flood of any kind. No river had overflowed. And he starts building this huge box. Have you ever thought how foolish he must have felt? Have you ever realized how he was scorned and ridiculed? But what kept him going? God said it! And he believed it! And forget the scornful if God said it, itís going to happen! Now it took a hundred and twenty years if I read my Bible right, 120 years before it happened. But, Noah never gave up on his faith because God had said it.
"Öprepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world."
Now I hope you all realize that at Noahís flood, the earth probably (I say probably, I canít prove it, but I think itís quite likely) could have had anywhere from four billion to up to where we are today, six billion people. Because if you want to just take your computer someday, you that are math nuts. Just start with two people and let them reproduce for nine hundred years like Adam and Eve did. Let all those kids reproduce for nine hundred years like they all did. And they had multiple births. You know that because there are ample evidence of twins in the Old Testament and man, you have no problem at all coming to four-five billion people after 1,600 years of human history.
And so the earth was highly populated. And in the midst of all of that activity, as Iíve taught earlier - they had tremendous technology. And the more their technology exploded the more wicked they became. Does that ring a bell? Todayís the same way. The faster our technology grows, the faster our moral fabric is rotting away from under us.
But all right, this whole race of humanity, with exception of those eight people on the ark is going to disappear. Theyíre going to go. Now when I talk about this present day population totally disappearing from the scene by the end of the Tribulation, people probably think Iím nuts. I wouldnít doubt it a bit, but just about all will be gone. Theyíre going to be gone because thereís only going to be a small remnant surviving. Well, if they say, "Well how can it be that small?" Then I have to ask how small was eight compared to four billion people? Pretty small. So Noah had the faith:
"Öand became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
All right, but Noah by faith built the ark and then he became the "heir (again which faith always prompts) of (what?) righteousness." Righteousness. God didnít look at Noah like a vile old sinner because of his faith, God now looked at Noah as a righteous man. Now if you want to use the term righteous as right standing with God, Iíve got no problem with that. Thatís what righteous implies. We are now in a right standing with God. As sinners, weíre aliens, see? And we need reconciliation.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went."
Well, weíve already talked about Abraham so weíre not going to stretch this. God didnít pick Abraham up out of Ur of the Chaldees and supernaturally transport him over Canaan and give him a birdís-eye-view, like even Moses had from Mount Nebo. And God didnít take Abram out over Canaan and say, "Now Abraham if you believe me this is what Iím going to give you." No. God just simply told this pagan man Abraham down there in the Euphrates Valley, "Leave your city, and your family. And go to a land that I will show you." Now that takes faith.
That takes faith! He had to break with his family. He had to break with his business. He had to simply turn his back on everything and leave his homeland. Thatís what faith has to do. All right, and so "he goes into a place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance and Abraham obeyed." He did what God asked him to do, and thatís faith. "...and he went out not knowing whither he went."
Now when he finally gets there which is the land of Canaan years and years later, heís still operating by faith.
"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,Ö"
Which of course, God promised to him back there in Genesis chapter 15 and on. And so he, "lived by faith in the land of promise as in a strange country." Now whatís the lesson?
You know Paul says in Romans that all these things back in the Old Testament were written for what purpose? Our learning. Right! And so whatís the lesson? Well, this is where you and I are. You and I were called out of the Ur of the lost estate. We were snatched out of the slave market of sin. But when God transformed us and made us a believer and declared us righteous, He didnít take us to Heaven - be nice if He would! But He didnít; He left us here. And so in the picture, where are we? Weíre among strangers. Weíre amongst a hateful world. The world has always hated Christians.
Now our Constitution fortunately has protected us thus far and for most of Western civilization their government has protected Christians. But you go into Sudan today, are Christians safe? Ha! Theyíre dying by the thousands. Go into Indonesia. Are Christians safe? You better believe that theyíre not. And in so many areas of the world, theyíre living amongst a hateful enemy. And the only reason we donít feel it is because our government guarantees our safety; but take that away and I think you and I would be shocked at how fast they would turn against us.
But the picture is that Abraham was now dwelling amongst strangers. Oh, God deeded him the land in Genesis 15 but who was still occupying it? The Canaanites. So now you have to picture in your own mind, here comes this man Abraham with his flocks and his herds and his servants Ė what does he have to ask as he traverses the land? Permission. He would ask permission. "Can I bring my flocks on to your land? Can I bring my flocks into your orchards?" He had to because he was a stranger sojourning amongst strange people. But what was the promise? God was with him, and God blessed him.
So itís the same way with us today. Yes, we are now Ďcitizensí of Heaven by virtue of our salvation experience. But God didnít take us to Heaven when we were saved; He left us here. And so we are dwelling amongst the lost humanity around us but we are under His protective care. Weíre His, we belong to Him and so all these examples of faith are for our learning.
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