Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 15
Before we start our lesson, I would like to tell you how God got me to the place where we are today. It’s interesting to look back and see how God does work in all of our lives. But, as I have told people so often, I never dreamed, nor did it ever enter my mind, that I would be on a television program. That is the beauty of the Christian life, you never know what the Lord has in store for you.
It all began with my local church where I was teaching a class of high school kids. Periodically, we had a missionary family that would come home from Bolivia on furlough, and they had four or five children. I would have at least one of them in my Sunday School class for the year that they were home. And then in 1970 this missionary, Dick Wyman, while on furlough, began a home Bible study with two couples in northern Iowa. When Dick was ready to go back on the mission field, he didn’t just want to drop the class. So he drove out to our farm one morning and asked if I would go in once a week and teach those four people as he had been doing in the home. You know I had never done anything like that before. I had taught my Sunday School class and that was it. So I went to my own pastor, and asked, “How can I go into a home with people I only know casually, with totally different denominational backgrounds, and teach those people without them getting the idea that I’m trying to proselyte them into my own church?”
My pastor gave me good advice. He told me to start at Genesis 1 and go all the way through to Revelation. I said, “That’s easy for you to say, but I’ve never done anything like this before.” And he said, “Trust the Lord and He will take care of it.” So that’s when Iris went and bought a two-bit blackboard for me to use (as you know, I must have a blackboard for my teachings). So I’ll never forget that first night, it was the first Friday night in September of 1970. There were four people, and Iris and I made six. By Thanksgiving, that class had grown to where the house was so packed with people from several different denominations that it had to split. Within a couple of years we were having classes every night of the week, plus my Sunday School class.
Then in 1975, the Lord had other plans and He uprooted us from Iowa and brought us to Oklahoma. And the same thing happened here. As most of you know, I never go out and try to open up something. I wait until someone says, “Come down and start a class here.” It was the same way with this television program. I had never thought of being on television, but one of my students over at the Tahlequah class called one day and asked if I had ever thought about teaching on television. And I’ll never forget my answer. I said, “Are you crazy?” But he had already talked to the people at the station, and they had shown an interest, so we came and talked to them and they thought it was a great idea. Recently, I got a call from North Carolina, and the gentleman said, “I like your low-key informal approach.” I think this is why the audience has responded so well. We try to keep it simple, and hopefully never change. The Lord is blessing us beyond our fondest dreams. So that is what got us to where we are. And, of course, the more you teach the more you learn. I could never do it without the Lord’s help and the prayers of all of you believers, not only in our classes, but the television audience as well.
I’m going to review for a little bit as we have been in the New Testament for about six lessons. It’s always tough for someone to come into our classes right in the middle of a study, but maybe this little review will help. I’d rather you come in at the middle than never learn how to study your Bible at all. The reason it’s so tough is because studying the Bible is a progressive process. The Bible is a constant unfolding of human history past, present, and future. It is a progressive revelation. What’s in the Old Testament concealed is in the New Testament revealed.
We started back in Genesis and the creation of Adam, and came up through the Old testament and studied the flood, and the Abrahamic Covenant, the Exodus, and the giving of the Law under Moses. Then we came through prophecy which was primarily Isaiah. By the time we got to the Book of Daniel, we dealt with the time period of 606 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar came into Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and the city was taken to Babylon. Then the return to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah and we covered all of that. Then we were ready to come into the New Testament and Christ’s earthly ministry at His First Advent. But before we could study the New Testament, we had so many requests to study prophecy and the Book of Revelation and eternity future. So this is what we did. In the past few lessons,we have been studying Christ’s earthly ministry: those three years.
Always remember as we have studied, coming into the New Testament we found that it was an extension of Old Testament programs. All of those covenants and promises that God made with the Jew are being fulfilled, or at least offered to the Nation of Israel, here in the Four Gospels and the first few chapters of Acts. We have not seen the appearance of the Church as we know it. That is where so many people get confused. I had a fellow tell me at one of our classes, “For years, people have been putting the Bible in a blender, turning it on high and then spooning it out to us, and then wondering why we get indigestion.” That is a little more extreme than the way I put it. But it is a good illustration. I always say that they put the Bible in a big mixing bowl, stir it all up and then pick out just the things they like. But the overall result is the same. You come up with a mish-mash. No wonder people are confused. I try to let it be the progressive revelation that it is. Let it unfold and keep it where it is; don’t try to move Scripture into a place where it’s not supposed to be. Christ didn’t and we shouldn’t either. When you lift Scripture out of context, you do violent harm to the Word. If Christ wanted the Scripture where so many put it, then He would have put it there Himself. Just leave it where it sits. If it doesn’t make sense, wait awhile and it will.
The first thing you have to determine when you read or study the Bible is to whom was it written or spoken. Remember God only deals with two groups of people in Scripture – Jew and Gentile. Don’t try to claim something that was meant only for God’s Covenant people, the Jew. If you can separate that, it will make Bible study more exciting for you and the Scripture will be opened. All Scripture from cover to cover is for us, absolutely it is. Paul writes all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable. But not all of the Scripture is to us. Do you see the difference? For example, I had a lady question me on the Book of James. It was a valid question. And it’s hard to understand from our position in God’s Grace here in the Body of Christ. Rather than trying to answer her question from the verse that she was using in Chapter 3 of James, I told her to go back to James 1:1, as that will make all the difference in the world in what her verse is saying.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to (whom?) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”
Is James including Gentiles? He’s writing to Jews and that makes all the difference in the world. That doesn’t mean you tear the Book of James out and throw it away. God forbid! But, if it throws a curve at you stop, and think who James addresses. He was writing to Jews. And James is probably the earliest of the New Testament Epistles so James is still predominately legal. It has so much of the Law in it. It was written before Paul’s Age of Grace revelations from Jesus Christ. And so it wouldn’t be appropriate to take something from Paul’s writing and put it in James writing or vice versa. Law and Grace cannot mix. Don’t try to fight it, rather just leave it alone for the time being, because in this case it was written to Jews in particular. But it is for us but not to us. In other words, when it speaks of the tongue as being a fire, that is very applicable for us in the Age of Grace or any age. But as we have seen over the past few lessons, with John the Baptist coming on the scene and introducing Christ to His earthly ministry, that every thing has been to the Jew. No mention of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection. No mention of the power of the shed blood to forgive. But only that Israel was to recognize who Jesus was. And He was their Messiah. The Christ.
In my Tahlequah, Oklahoma class, I had a gentleman who was about 86 years old. He was a retired Presbyterian pastor of a very large church in Chicago. He had been their pastor for about 26 years. He had two seminary degrees – Wheaton College and Moody Bible Institute. He attended our class for about two years before I found out all of that. That he was content to sit and listen to me was beyond my comprehension. Anyway, we were talking about these very things and I asked the class this question, “Why did Jesus perform all these miracles in His ministry?” I’ll never forget his answer. The old gentleman said, “To validate Who He was.” I loved that, because it hits the nail on the head. This was the whole problem with Israel’s rejecting Him. They couldn’t understand that He was the promised Messiah. A Carpenter’s son? Out of Nazareth? But nevertheless they should have understood that no one else could perform the miracles that He performed. Even John the Baptist while in prison, sent two of his disciples to ask Him if He was the One or did they need look for another? And Jesus told them to go back and tell John that the blind receive their sight, the dead are being raised, and the deaf can hear. What was that to prove to John? Who Christ really was!
We need go to the Book of Acts Chapter 11. I always comment that from Adam to Abraham is 2000 years. And from Abraham to Christ, where God is dealing with Jew only (with exceptions), is also 2000 years. All the Old Testament prophets are writing only to the Nation of Israel. In our last lesson, as Jesus sent the Twelve out He commanded them to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. You find that in Matthew 15:24. Then we looked at several verses in the Four Gospels where Gentiles wanted to talk to Jesus, or have Jesus minister to them in some way, and in almost every case He refused. Why? Because the Gentiles would be saved under a completely different program than the Jews. The Jews had the Covenant and promises, and the Gentiles didn’t. In Acts 19 we have mention of the stoning of Stephen, and then the next event is the conversion of Saul. But as late as the stoning of Stephen, which is about seven years after Pentecost, the Book says that those Jewish believers preached to the Jew only, because the Nation of Israel knew they were not supposed to minister to the Gentiles. Now verse 19:
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
The Book says it, I didn’t. Jew only. That’s the terminology I use also, except I temper it a little bit by using “Jew only with exceptions.” God is dealing only with the Jew. I know I’m coming into territory that some people are unaware of. Jesus told the disciples in John Chapter 6 the following (I’m using this hoping you don’t turn my teaching off also):
“Then Jesus said unto them, `Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.'”
“When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, `Doth this offend you?'” They were turned off.
I hope you’re not offended that I’m showing many of you things you may never have been taught. I hope you will stay with me and together we’ll see what the Scriptures say. The disciples in verses 53 and 61 couldn’t comprehend what Jesus was telling them, but I hope you are beginning to comprehend exactly what the Scriptures do say, and can become a real Bible student. Let’s look at a Scripture in Ephesians where Paul makes it so plain:
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision (Jew) in the flesh made by hands: That at that time (when it was Jew only) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world (that was the lot of the Gentiles. But look at the next verse): But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” See the difference? But until that was revealed, the Jews had to believe that Jesus was The Christ.
Now let’s turn to John’s Gospel. I tell my classes that as I teach I, too, am learning. I see things that I had never seen before. Studying in John recently, our class read Chapter 20:
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:”
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Who died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead? Our Bible doesn’t explain that here. Isn’t that amazing?); and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
I add my comment to make people realize that our Gospel of Grace message is missing here. A lot of the things we think are in here, aren’t. You can’t find the Gospel based on His death, burial, and Resurrection until you get to Paul’s writing, so don’t try to bring in his writing about salvation here. But this is what the Nation had to believe for their salvation – who Jesus was.
Recently, I showed you four professions of faith for the Jew. The first one was Peter in Matthew 16:16, “And Simon Peter answered and said, `Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” The second one is at the death of Lazarus, where Jesus is talking to Martha and had told her that He was the resurrection, and the life: “Believest thou this?” She answers Him in John 11:27,”She saith unto him, `Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of God,…'” Then Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts Chapter 8, where Philip is reading to him out of Isaiah 53, and the Ethiopian eunuch comes to an understanding of the verses. They come to some water and the eunuch asked Philip if he could be baptised. Philip told him that he could if he believed, and the eunuch said in Acts 8:37, “…And he answered and said, `I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'” They never mention the Cross or shed blood or the power of Resurrection. Why? It was still a secret in the mind of God, and Paul wasn’t on the scene yet. But their profession of faith was their salvation because that was what was revealed to them.
Then you have Saul of Tarsus (Paul), a raging bull who was converted on the road to Damascus. He wanted to arrest those believing Jews, haul them back to Jerusalem to throw them in prison. He thought he was doing God a favor, but guess what happened? The Lord saved him by Grace. BUT not the basis yet that he understood that Christ died, was buried and rose again for him, but rather on the same basis as the other three. We see that Saul gets his sight back, is baptised and starts to preach immediately in the synagogues in the Book of Acts 9:20, “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” We will cover Paul’s conversion better when we get to the Book of Acts, but at this time, this is all that Paul knew. We know that later on God will reveal to him the Gospel of Grace mysteries. Now, we as Grace Age Believers also must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It’s foundational, but by itself is not enough. Christ makes that so clear in the writings of Paul. For the sake of comparison, let’s go to Romans Chapter 3. And what a difference you will find here. The Cross makes all the difference in the world. What did The Christ, the Son of the Living God do? He went to that old rugged Cross.
“For all have sinned (the whole human race), and come short of the glory of God (but we don’t have to stay short); Being justified freely by his grace (there are no works in Grace)through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (that’s never been mentioned before), to declare his righteousness(the righteousness of Christ) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just (fair), and the justifier (that puts Him in the place of doing) of him which believeth…” Faith + Nothing!
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