Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 18
It’s always so good to hear from our listeners. Recently we received a letter from a gentleman who told us that he now could see the difference between the teaching of Peter and Paul. Another gentleman in our class reminded me that it had been a while since we had shared Paul’s Gospel with you, the television audience, as outlined in I Corinthians 15:1-4. He said, “Those were the verses that opened my eyes, and before the afternoon is over maybe you could share with us again.” I believe this would be as good a time as any to do that since I never have a prepared format or lesson plan. Turn with me to I Corinthians Chapter 15. This may open the eyes of someone else who needs these verses. When I stress that Peter did not preach Paul’s Gospel of Grace, I’m sure that there are some out there would ask, “Well what is the Gospel that I have to believe for my Salvation.” Well here it is in plain language. And I’m glad we are doing this because as we continue on these next few Chapters in Acts, be aware that you do not see this kind of language. This is unique only to Paul, because Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, and writing to the Gentile congregation at Corinth.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
“MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (not just a gospel, but The Gospel) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;”
“By which also ye are saved (it’s believing the Gospel that saves us), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” In other words you have to understand and know what you believe. Now here is Paul’s Gospel:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (from the risen Lord), how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;” It was in such vague language in the Old Testament that they couldn’t understand, but it was there.
“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:” Now that, beloved, is the Gospel that saves you. Believing in His death, burial, and Resurrection for your Salvation.
To see how Paul puts his emphasis on that, go to Romans Chapter 1. It has been a while since we shared the plan of Salvation and after all, that is what we’re here for: to help people understand how to get right with God. How to have the assurance that if we die in the next hour that we will be in His presence.
“For I am not shamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (The Gospel) is the power of God unto Salvation (that leaves our works out of it. We can’t touch this) to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Do you see what that puts aside? The works that so many people are hanging on to just fall away. But it’s to everyone that believeth for their Salvation. Come back to I Corinthians Chapter 1 for another example.
I Corinthians 1:18
“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
When I present Salvation, I always refer to Israel coming out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Here they were at the shore of the Red Sea, with impassable mountains on the right, and populated areas to the left, the Egyptian army behind them, and the Red Sea in front of them. They’re in a dilemma! Does God say to hurry up and do something? Does He tell Moses to get out the boats and transport the Israelites? No! It’s unbelievable what God tells Moses to do – stand still. Do nothing! That’s contrary to human thought and to most of Christendom. But God tells us the same thing. When we realize that we are in a dilemma, there is no way out except to stand still and believe that The God of Scripture can get us out of our dilemma. And how? By believing.
I Corinthians 1:23,24
“But we preach Christ crucified (now think back. What has Peter been saying? “Oh, you killed Him, but God has raised Him from the dead and He can still be your King.” Peter isn’t preaching Crucifixion as a means of Salvation, but rather Peter is teaching Crucifixion to prove that God had overcome what they had accomplished, and that He could still fulfill His Covenant promises. Paul looks at the whole thing from a different perspective, and that is He did it for us that we might have life eternal), unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Now again go back to the Red Sea. What opened the Red Sea? Well not Moses, but rather God’s supernatural power. And when we believe the Gospel God works supernaturally and gives us a whole new nature. A divine nature we can’t touch. We can’t put it in there, but God does. That’s where faith comes in. It’s by faith, not by doing anything at all. But by believing. Another one is in Paul’s writings in Ephesians Chapter 2. These are verses you all know.
“AND you (remember Paul always writes to believers, for the unbelievers’ benefit of course) hath he quickened (or made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
Remember the first Law that God laid on Adam? The day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. In the Book of Ezekiel he tells us that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. Paul comes back and says you are dead in trespasses and sins, but God makes you alive. Now come all the way down to verse 8:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith (and what’s faith? Believing! Nothing else – just believe the Gospel); and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God:” There is nothing we can do – we are hopeless. But we believe, and God does everything that needs to be done. Now verse 9:
“Not of works, lest any man should boast.” But it doesn’t stop there. We are not saved just to sit down and say, “I’m not going to hell anymore.” That’s not it, that’s only a small part of it. What does the next verse say?
“For we are his workmanship,…”
Now what does that mean? God’s divine fingers have now come into our life and He has put us together as a new creature. For what purpose? To bring glory to Him. We are not to live for self. Now the world ridicules that, but the world only has 70 years on the average to try to enjoy life. That’s their Heaven, but listen we have ages upon ages ahead of us. And it’s going to make this old world at its very best seem like a smelly pig pen. That’s the best way I can put it. The most beautiful thing you can find on this earth by comparison is just a smelly old pig pen. The Scriptures say that things are awaiting us that we can’t even imagine. Eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. So I don’t really care that we go through this life of seventy years without much. I don’t need it, because the best is yet to come. And it’s not just for me, it’s for you and everyone that believes. Now let’s go on a little further in Chapter 2. verse 11,12, and 13. This falls right in with what I have been teaching in the Book of Acts: that Peter is still on Jewish ground. He’s still preaching to the Nation of Israel, everything is still based on the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Gentiles are not included, but now look at what Paul says to us Gentiles.
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision (Gentiles) by that which is called the Circumcision (Jews) in the flesh made by hands;” In other words that was the way a Jew would refer to a Gentile. Now verse 12:
“That at that time…”
Now I’m a stickler for language. What time? When the Jew was still uppermost in God’s program, and the Jew was looking down on the Gentile as the uncircumcised dogs of humanity. The Jews were in the driver’s seat. Remember, all the way from Abraham to the Apostle Paul, who is uppermost in Scripture? The Jew. The Nation of Israel. But now read on:
“That at that time ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens (non-citizens) from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the (what?) covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”
Now did you think I am crazy when I say it was Jew only, with exceptions. Not really. I think I got it pretty straight. Because this confirms it. That while God was dealing with Israel the Gentile was out there without hope, and without God in this world, because he was not a part of the Nation of Israel. But don’t stop there.
“But now (from Paul’s day) in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh (not by keeping the Law, not by Temple worship, not by animal sacrifices, but by what?) by the blood of Christ.”
Do you see that? That’s what makes the difference, and now it is announced to us Gentiles that everything that has been done has been done for us. Now since I’ve gotten this far I might as well answer the question that has already been coming in over the phone. “Les you have been saying that you don’t believe that the Church began at Pentecost.” I used to teach it that way but I’ve never been comfortable teaching it that way. I’ve been showing why, with the language throughout those Chapters. I know that 90% of preachers and theologians who may listen to me are disagreeing and that’s their privilege. But people say, “If the Church didn’t begin at Pentecost then where did it begin?” Well, there was a period of time when I had to say I don’t know, but I’m looking. Then one night several years ago as I was reading my Bible I ran across the Scripture in I Timothy Chapter 1 that blew my eyes wide open. And I’ve shared it with folks ever since. When they say “When do you think the Church the Body of Christ began?” I tell them I think it began with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Here is my reasoning:
I Timothy 1:15.
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Now let’s break this verse down.
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation (no room for argument), that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (now wait a minute, hold everything. Way back when John the Baptist announced Christ, he did say, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” but that was almost lost in the dust. But what did John the Baptist really proclaim that Christ had come for? To become The King. The King is here. But Paul doesn’t mention Him being The King, nor setting up an earthly Kingdom. Paul says He came into the world to save sinners. But the next part is what I want you to see, and every sermon I have heard preached on it the preacher would say that Paul proclaimed himself to be the worst of sinners, by virtue); of whom I am chief.”
But all you have to do is get a Greek dictionary or Strong’s Concordance and look up every place in the New Testament where this word `Chief’ is found, and it comes from the same Greek word, and in every instance it is referred to as the “Chief man of the Island” (The Governor) “The Chief Priest” (The High Priest). Paul and Barnabas were in a pagan city and they called Paul “Mercurius” because he was the “Chief Speaker.” Now does any of that indicate something bad? No. It denotes a place of leadership. The head of the line. Have you got that? So read it like this: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am at the head of the line.” Now look at the next verse:
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Now let’s also break the verse down.
“Howbeit for this cause (ask yourself questions as you read. What cause? That He came to save the chief of sinners) I obtained mercy, that in me (what’s the next word?) first (now what does first mean? It means first! There is no way you can foul that word up) Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering (mercy or Grace), for a pattern (now ladies, when you are sewing a dress what do you use? A pattern. What’s a pattern? It’s the outline of the original. It’s the first. Now if you’re going to make three dresses, you use the pattern to cut out the first dress. What do you use for the next pattern – the piece of material or the original pattern? The original pattern. I can remember when I was young and I was building a small outdoor building, and I was busy cutting rafters. That was long before everything is as modern as it is now, and I was still cutting them with a hand saw. And I had four or five of them all ready cut when my dad came along, and he said, “Which one is the pattern?” I said whichever one I used last. And he said, “Les you’re going to have a roof that will have all kind of bows and sways in it.” I said why? He replied, “Because every time you make a little mistake you will multiply it in the next one. Always use the first for a pattern.”
I had to learn like all the rest of us. Now it’s the same way here, there could only be one original pattern of a sinner saved by Grace. And who was it? The Apostle Paul. Have you ever seen the likes of the Grace of God as it was poured out on that rebel on the way to Damascus. There is nothing like it in human history. And he was saved! – the least meritorious of any human being I’d say that was living at that time. He had caused people to be thrown into prison, caused people to be put to death, and then God saves him. He did it without a cause, but by Grace. Now read on. And remember Paul is now the original pattern) to them which should hereafter (that means from this point on. This goes forward from Paul. Now this next word is very crucial, does it say to repent and be baptized? No but that’s what Peter says in Acts 2:38. But Paul says to ) believe on him to life everlasting.” Reading the verse again.
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
I don’t call someone a heretic if they disagree with me and still adhere to the Jews at Pentecost as being Christians. I’ve said over and over The Bible doesn’t call them Christians. The Bible doesn’t call people Christians until the Gentiles at Antioch. But here I think the Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is laying out so clearly that at that Salvation experience on the road to Damascus that God saved the chief of sinners. Not the worst necessarily, although he was apologetic for that all through his letters. But God saved the leader of sinners, and that everyone who now comes into the Body of Christ, the Church, is going to come patterned after him. And will follow him.
I made a comment several years ago in my McAlester OK class. We were studying Peter going up to the house of Cornelius. Those of you who know your Bible know that’s in Acts Chapter 10. And we had just studied Saul’s conversion in Acts Chapter 9. So the next week when I got into Chapter 10 and I was ready to start teaching about Cornelius, I said “Praise The Lord that Chapter 10 follows Chapter 9.” Well everybody laughed, they thought I was trying to say something that was funny, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t talking about the numerical following of 10 after 9, but the content. Because in Chapter 9 the chief of sinners is saved, he’s the pattern, he’s at the head of the line, now what’s in Chapter 10? The Salvation of a house full of Gentiles. Do you see that? Now if Cornelius would have been saved in Chapter 8, then all of this would fall apart. And I wouldn’t stand here and teach it. But it doesn’t come in Chapter 8, it comes in Chapter 10. And then as we go on through the Book of Acts, we’re going to find that with the conversion of Saul, God’s going to take him down in to the desert for three years and reveal to him all these doctrines of Grace associated with the Church. Things that are a mystery and have been kept secret. I’ve been stressing on this program for a long time Deuteronomy 29:29. This is so fundamental to our understanding. Why did God hold some of these things from Peter and the eleven? Why couldn’t they have heard it and comprehended it? Because God is Sovereign.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us…”
Now what do you do with a secret when you reveal it? It’s no longer a secret, everybody knows it, but until it’s revealed it is a secret. Do you remember back in Genesis one of the names of God implies that He is not only Sovereign, but He has the right and ability to keep things hidden, or a secret, until He reveals them.