Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 15
THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED
Turn to Matthew Chapter 25. I’m going to stay on this theme for a little longer. Everything here in the Four Gospels is still predominantly directed to the Nation of Israel. Because the Church as we know it, the Body of Christ, is kept secret in the mind of God. And that is the word you have to get used to. It was a secret. It was part of the mysteries. Now in order for it to be a secret, it stands to reason you can’t let any part of it slip out or it’s no longer a secret. Isn’t that right? I want you to check me out; don’t take my word for anything. But go back through the Four Gospels and see if Jesus ever gives any hint of turning to the Gentiles and calling out a Gentile Body for Himself. You won’t find it.
I know the closest you will find is when Jesus said, “I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Even in that statement, I don’t think Jesus was specifically referring to the Church as we know it. Because the word “ekklesia,” from which the word “church” is always translated, is used in different manners and ways than the Body of Christ – the Church. For example, Stephen in Acts Chapter 7, refers to the children of Israel out there in the Sinai as the church in the wilderness. But remember the Church wasn’t back there. So what was Stephen really saying? That “called out assembly” in the wilderness. That makes sense. Because that’s what Israel was, they were called out of Egypt, God assembled them around Mt. Sinai, and so they were an ekklesia, and that’s not the Body of Christ, the Church. Believe it or not, when we get to the Book of Acts I’ll show you where a riotous mob in the city of Ephesus was also called an ekklesia. But the translators didn’t call it a church there, fortunately. They just called it an assembly. It was an unlawful assembly, it was a riotous assembly. It was mob rule, but still called an ekklesia in the Greek.
So always be careful that just because it’s the word “church” it doesn’t automatically follow that it’s the Body of Christ. Paul almost always qualifies our present day Church as the Body of Christ (which is the true Church), or he will say the Church which is His Body. That makes a big difference. So what I’m going to show you is that Jesus never, never gave a hint, nor did He disclose a part of that secret that He was going to reveal to the Apostle Paul at a later time. And here is the perfect illustration of that in Matthew 25, and verse 31:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory (Jesus is speaking about His Second Coming), and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Now this is a good example of what I’m always saying. Ask questions. Who is coming with Him? Angels. My next question is, “Where am I?” He’s not including me, He’s just talking about angels. Why? Because He couldn’t mention the Church yet, or He would give away the secret He was going to reveal to Paul. And to show you that the Church indeed is going to come with Him, turn to Revelation Chapter 19, and we get the clue. Indeed, we are going to be with Him.
“And to her (the Bride) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of (the believers. You and I) saints.” Now let’s look at verse 11. Now here comes the Second Coming in all of its glory, and power as Christ is descending now from Heaven.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And indeed He will. He will destroy the armies of this world.
“His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” So we know this is Christ coming back.
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
Comparing that with verse 8, you have the saints coming back with Christ. Certainly, we’ll be coming with Him, but in Matthew 25:31 He couldn’t reveal that in His earthly ministry. That was part of the secret. So you will find this throughout all the Four Gospels: there is never a reference to the Body of Christ, the saved of the Gentiles. It’s still basically all Jew and based on the covenants and promises. I’ve said so often that if people would just read and study these things, then they would see what they think is in the Bible, isn’t there. The Four Gospels don’t contain it. I think that is why the Church is in such a dilemma tonight (when I say the Church I’m not talking about any one denomination). I’ve had my class people tell me over and over, that 95% of church teaching and preaching is coming from the Four Gospels. And they are missing the boat. Not that you ignore the Four Gospels. Heaven forbid! I love to teach the Four Gospels, but our basic doctrine for salvation is found in Paul’s writings, with what Paul calls his Gospel. We have looked at it many times. Reference: I Corinthians 15:1-4. That reminds me of a verse in the Book of II Peter. Peter is writing shortly before he is martyred. Again, let’s get the chronological time-frame here. Christ was crucified about 29 A.D. Stephen was martyred 7 years later in 36 A.D. The very next year Saul is converted, which would be 37 A.D. Then in 38 A.D. we find Peter going to the house of Cornelius. Then about 51 A.D. Paul writes his first epistle, the Book of I Thessalonians. The Books of Romans and I and II Corinthians follow in 56-57 A.D. And his last letter, just before he’s martyred, was probably II Timothy about 67 A.D. Peter writes his little epistle just before he’s martyred, probably about 66 A.D. And they both lost their lives shortly before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.
Let’s go ahead and look at that verse in II Peter concerning the doctrine of salvation that Paul is preaching. Peter writes to the believing Jews, just like James did, primarily to the Nation of Israel that are saved under the Kingdom Gospel. Not Paul’s Gospel. The last meeting of Peter and Paul was a confrontation in Galatians Chapter 2, where Paul withstood him. Peter just couldn’t recognize that he wasn’t under the Law anymore, and he was free now to eat with Gentiles and to converse with Gentiles. In Galatians Chapter 2 it was such a bother to him, that even though he was visiting the Gentile Church at Antioch, and had been eating with the Gentiles, as soon as some Jews came up from Jerusalem he withdrew, because he was afraid of what the Jews might say. Peter was not yet convinced that Paul was on the right track. He knew Paul hadn’t received the Gospel that he was preaching from him or the other eleven. Look what he says by inspiration:
II Peter 3:15,16
“And account (latch on to it) that the longsuffering (or patience) of our Lord is salvation (that’s the whole purpose of this Book from cover to cover); even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
“As also in all his epistles (Romans through Hebrews), speaking in them of these things (salvation); in which (Paul’s epistles) are some things hard to be understood,…”
If people have problems with the things that I teach I can understand that, because they are not used to it. Peter was in the same boat. He said, “Look, I can’t comprehend this. That God is going to save this multitude of Gentiles without us Jews.” We are talking about nearly 40 years after the Cross. And Peter still cannot comprehend what this Gospel of Grace is all about. Then Peter finishes the verse:
II Peter 3:16
“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (or twist), as they do also the other scriptures (people become masters at twisting. That’s where the cults come in. But what’s going to be their end?), unto their own destruction.” Now that’s hard language, but Peter said it, I didn’t.
There, I think is perfect understanding that you can’t mix all of these things together and make sense out of them. Jesus never put the Gentiles into the Four Gospels. In fact, as you have seen in other lessons, it’s quite the opposite, but we have a lot of people who try to put us in there constantly. Some want the Church to fit in there so badly they even try to proclaim we are now the, “New Israel.” The Scripture has to be left exactly where it is. Jesus dealing with the Jew, and Peter and the eleven are the apostles of the Jews. Galatians 2:7, “But contrariwise, when they (Peter and John) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me (Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter;”
Go to II Corinthians Chapter 5 starting at verse 14. Paul writes to believers only, and these believers are at Corinth; they are Gentiles:
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ constraineth us (or drives us), because we thus judge (or conclude), that if one died for all, then were all dead:”
That’s Paul’s doctrine. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. And that’s where the whole human race is. They are dead, until Christ moves in with His life-giving power which is triggered by faith in the Gospel. Paul now appears as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Now verse 15:
II Corinthians 5:15
“And that he died for all, that they which live (believe) should not henceforth (from that time forward) live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
See how Paul is constantly placing the Gospel out in front of you? It’s not based on the Law, covenants and promises; or based on believing who Jesus was (as Israel had to believe He was) as we see in the Four Gospels. But for us Gentiles it’s based upon His death, His shed blood, His burial, His Resurrection, His power. Do you see that? And remember, just because we are under His Grace, doesn’t mean that we now have a license to sin, because what does Paul say in this verse? “If we have entered into eternal life, we should live for the one who died for us.” I would never want anyone to accuse me of teaching a loose Christian walk just because we are under Grace. Absolutely not! Now for the verse I really want to look at. Again, the Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul here.
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore (because of what Paul had just said) henceforth (from that point on as he’s writing) know we no man after the flesh: ye though we have known Christ after the flesh (Paul is speaking of Jesus. He says I’m no longer attached to His earthly ministry, or concerned about what He did in the flesh), yet now (since He died for us) henceforth know we him no more.”
That’s hard language isn’t it? This is exactly opposite of what most people in Christendom are doing tonight. I know this shakes people up, because they like to spend all their time talking about his earthly ministry, the miracles and so forth. But now we should spend our time on the finished work of the Cross. But Satan doesn’t want us to teach in that area, because that’s where our salvation comes from. He doesn’t care if you go to church as long as you don’t hear about the finished work of the Cross. Christ died the death that had to be died. He shed the Blood that had to be shed. He rose in power over sin and Satan, and everything that was against us. And now He is ready to impart His life to us if we will just simply believe it. People will say, “I’ve got to do this or that.” But God says, “No you don’t.” Verse 5 in Romans Chapter 4 says it so plainly. Who only can He save? The ungodly! So keep verse 16 in mind. That from the time of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection we are not to focus as much on His earthly ministry as much as we are on His death, burial, and Resurrection.
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ,…”
Do you see our position? That brings to mind another verse about our position in the Book of Colossians Chapter 3. And if you have anything less than this, then I feel sorry for you. I really do, because here is where we have the joy of our salvation.
“If ye then be risen with Christ (you have identified with His death, burial, and Resurrection. If that’s the case then), seek those things which are above (let them be your priority; that doesn’t mean that we get so heavenly-minded we are no earthly good), where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
See how practical that is? That’s practical Christianity. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy anything. That doesn’t mean you have to live a Spartan experience, and go through life with just a very meager existence. It just simply means, don’t let things take priority. Now verse 3. This is the verse I wanted. Why should we set our affection on things above? Why should we put material things secondary?
“For ye are dead (to the old Adam, and things of this world), and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We are hid in Christ in God.
Now to make a simple illustration, by using the old black walnut. That old black walnut has a big outer covering; inside of that covering is the hard shell; inside of that in the little crevices is the meat. Do you see that? That’s where we are. God is all around us. And then to make it even better, the hard shell that is hard to break is Christ. And we are in Him. You can’t get it any better than that. We are hid with Christ in God. Nothing can touch you or I, but that God has to permit it. And He can permit it. I’ve always told believers not to think that this Book promises a rose petal pathway. We are not promised riches, or everything of this world’s goods. We may have some but don’t expect it. Look, we have it better today than believers have ever had it. But that could be the worst thing that ever happened to the Church. When the Church was growing so much in the early centuries, they were under pressure. And it may be that way again. I’m reading things lately that make me think that pressure time is coming again, and soon. Pray that it doesn’t happen.
Let’s finish the verses in II Corinthians Chapter 5. Remember, we are citizens of Heaven, living here upon the earth.
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (as a result of our salvation experience): old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
II Corinthians 5:18
“And all things are of God (nothing can touch you unless God permits it), who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and (He didn’t stop there but rather) hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” What are we to tell a lost world? Everything has been done for you to be reconciled to God. It’s all been accomplished, and we are to let the world know that.
II Corinthians 5:19
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” Now here is our position as citizens of Heaven living in a foreign land.
II Corinthians 5:20,21
“Now then we are ambassadors (a representative of a home government to a foreign country) for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
We are Christ’s ambassadors; we are the extension of Heaven here on earth. And listen, if we don’t do it, who will? Paul makes it so clear in Thessalonians that the Church is like a dam in the world’s river of iniquity. One day He is going to lift us out, and that river is going to flood this planet like it has never been before. But until that happens, we are to be that dam in the river.