Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 21
REDEMPTION AND JUSTIFICATION
It’s been a while since we explained who and what we are. We are not associated with any group, though I certainly have my own church background. We’re independent, and not connected to any organization. We’re not underwritten by anyone and totally rely on God’s people to supply the funds. We never try to trumpet one group over another or twist arms. We’re just here to teach The Book. I’m so thrilled that we can get letters from all different backgrounds; that folk are learning. And that’s the only reason I teach. I just want people to study, read their Bible and understand it.
A gentlemen a while back said, “You know Les, for years I would pick up this Bible and try to read it, and I couldn’t understand so I would put it back on the shelf. Then months later I would begin feeling guilty because I wasn’t reading my Bible, and I’d pick it up and read it but still couldn’t get any thing out of it, but since I now understand your line of teaching I can just revel in reading my Bible.” That’s what it’s all about. I know everyone doesn’t agree with our teaching and I don’t expect them to – that’s only human nature, but we trust we can always avoid error, and stay as true to The Word as we possible can. Now let’s get right back where we left off in the last lesson and begin with Romans Chapter 4. Here Paul is going to come back to Abraham. Now Abraham is one of the Old Testament characters that Paul alludes to probably more than anyone else, and in the Book of Galatians he will even say:
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
That’s thrown a curve at many people. Does that mean when you become a Christian you become a Jew? Heavens no! Gentiles are Gentiles, and our Salvation doesn’t make a Jew out of anyone. But it’s just that Abraham was saved by Faith + Nothing. Abraham didn’t sacrifice, didn’t practice circumcision, nor did he have the Law. Abraham simply did what God told him to do, so he was saved by faith + nothing, and that’s exactly where we are. That’s the connection: Abraham and Christians today entered in by faith and faith alone. So Paul uses Abraham over and over. Back to Rom. 4:
“WHAT shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found (as a Jew)?”
What was Abraham by birth? A Syrian. Abraham had two brothers you remember up there in Haran in Syria. But Abraham by virtue of his call and by the Covenant promises, becomes the father of the Hebrew Nation. But his blood didn’t change, he was still genetically a Syrian. So although Scripture considers Abraham the father of the Jewish race, and consequently the first Jew, genetically Isaac would be the first Son of Promise, and then would be what we would call the first real Jew. Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees, then came into the Land of Promise after believing God.
“For if Abraham were justified (notice Paul is still dealing with this whole business of justification. And Abraham becomes an ideal example of a man who was justified, declared as if he had never sinned, because if Abraham were justified) by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.”
If Abraham were given the ability and freedom to boast or to glory he would have had a lot to brag about. After all Abraham became a great man. He’s known throughout all of history. But he couldn’t boast one word before God. You know I’m always reminded of Job. For a moment let’s go all the way back to that Book, sometimes I think these things just add a little salt and pepper to a lesson. For a moment let’s look at Job Chapter 38. Job, if you remember, was in a dilemma wasn’t he? Here he had been living a righteous life, he was the pillar of his community, and yet all of a sudden God permitted Satan to strike him, and took away everything that he had. Then his three “friends” came alone and told Job all the reasons for his problems. But yet you really don’t get to the crux of Job’s problem until you get to this chapter. And Job did have a problem. We don’t like to admit that, we like to think that Job was perfect. No he wasn’t! Had he been perfect I don’t think all of these things would have befallen him, but God had a tremendous lesson even for Job. And He could have said the same thing about Abraham.
” THEN the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, `Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge (who is God referring to? Job’s friends. He says who are these guys that try to spew out all this stuff without any knowledge)? Gird up now thy loins like a man (what’s God saying? He says don’t be a wimp. Stand up like a man. I’ve got some things I want to ask you Job); for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me (now this is lowering the boom). Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.'”
See what God is doing? He is putting Job in the place of not being able to say a word. Job didn’t know how creation happened. He couldn’t tell God how He did it, but God says, “Tell Me if you know.” What’s implied? Job thought he knew a lot. See that?
“Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof:”
What could Job answer? I don’t know. But up until this time Job thought he was a pretty important person, and he had been. And it was the same way with Abraham. Abraham was a man of stature in his day and time, and yet when he came before God, could he boast? Not a word. He had nothing going for him. All Abraham could do was be a man of faith. Take God at His Word. And that’s the lesson the Scripture is trying to show us. Back to Romans 4.
“For what saith the scripture?…” Not what anyone else says. Paul uses this again in the Book of Galatians, and let’s look at it.
“Nevertheless what saith the scripture?…”
Do you see that? The Scripture is what counts and nothing else. What does the Scripture say? That’s where we have to prepare ourselves when we meet Christ one day. I remember many years ago (I guess the Lord was already preparing me to teach even back then) we had a young couple that started attending our Church, and that was when we were still up in Iowa. They were from two totally opposite denominational backgrounds, and naturally they were having some problems in their home life and spiritual life because of these diverse views. So after attending a few times our pastor asked me one day if I would just go out to their home and teach that couple on a one on one basis. I had never done anything like that before, and I was probably shaking in my boots, but I’ll never forget what a tremendous learning experience that was. Because when we sat down at their kitchen table, and I begin to open the Scriptures as best I could she immediately backed away and said, “Now wait a minute Les, we have always been taught that we don’t go by what any book says, but rather what our Church teaches.”
Now what’s this poor old farmer going to do with something like that? I’d never been confronted with anything like that before. I thought that everybody went by what The Book says. But she was quite adamant, and it took me almost all evening to convince her that whatever Church anyone belongs to was men, those were human beings, but The Bible is The Creator God speaking. So we finally brought her around to where she could see that, and they both came to know The Lord. But even today there are so many that tell you the same thing. “I don’t care what you say, I go by what my Church says.” And that’s fine if their Church lines up with The Book, but if it doesn’t then those people are in trouble. They’re going to be in eternal trouble. Back to Romans Chapter 4.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God,…”
There’s a tremendous difference between believing God and believing in God. At first glance the average individual says, “What’s the difference?” It’s just one little preposition. Hey, it’s all the difference in the world; this is the difference between Heaven and hell beloved. For the most part the world believes in God. They believe in God and prayer but know nothing of believing God. When you believe in God you just recognize He’s up there, that He is in control or whatever. But when you believe God then you become a person of“Faith.” Do you see the difference. When you believe God, now you’re taking what He has said and you’re believing it then and that’s faith. For example, He tells us how to be saved here in Paul’s epistles, and when we believe for our Salvation what those Scriptures say then we are saved (Reference: Rom. 1:16. I Cor. 15:1-4, Rom. 10:9-10 & 13). When you simply believe in God you’re just recognizing His presence. Here in verse 3 we see that Abraham didn’t believe in God, but rather he believed God. In other words when God said it Abraham believed it. That’s the beauty of it. He believed God, and as soon as he did:
“… and it (it modifies his believing) was counted unto him for righteousness.” Remember Abraham was a pagan, an idolater. Let’s look at it. Come back to the Book of Joshua Chapter 24.
“And Joshua said unto all the people, `Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your father dwelt on the other side of the flood (river) in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they (the whole family) served other gods.'”
They were all idolaters, and you want to remember that was only about 200 years after the Tower of Babel. And there probably wasn’t a single believer in the One true God left. The whole world was steeped in idolatry including Abraham’s family. And that’s why God had to tell Abraham in Genesis Chapter 12 to leave his family, his city, and go to a land that He will show him. He did not want Abraham’s family down in the Promised Land because of their idolatry. So into this idolatrous home, and this idolatrous city of Ur God in His Grace again just about like He did with Saul on his road to Damascus. God in His Grace reaches down to one man Abram.
“NOW the LORD had said unto Abram, `Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred (God wanted the break from idolatry), and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:'”
Now when God said for Abram to do all that, what did Abram do? He did it in response to faith. And now in Romans 4, verse 3 we see God counted him righteous for believing Him. You see Salvation is so confound and so complex yet it’s so simple. It’s simple when we first enter in, even a child can understand it, but you see as we grow in our faith as a believer, we begin to realize how complex it all is. We’ll never plumb the depth of it, it’s impossible. I can’t comprehend that the Creator of the universe permitted those Romans soldiers to nail Him to that wooden Cross and raise it up. I just can’t comprehend that, but He did. I can’t comprehend how the God of creation hung there and suffered and shed His divine Blood to be buried, and raised from the dead just for you and me. And I always try to make this point to believers. “If you would have been the only person on earth Christ would have still gone through the work of the Cross.” That’s what we call a personal Salvation. We have to understand that. Christ didn’t just put the human race under an umbrella, but rather He died for every individual. And that’s why it becomes an individual responsibility to believe the Gospel. After Abraham believed God, then God could look at Abraham and say, “As far as I’m concerned you have never sinned. You’re justified.” What had Abraham done? Nothing! He believed, and as a result of his believing he left town no doubt about it. But it was his believing that put him in a right standing with God.
“Now to him that worketh (tries to merit favor with God. Here we’re talking about Salvation, not about Christian experience and works) is the reward (of Salvation) not reckoned of grace, but of debt.”
Who are we going to put into debt if we can do this by works? God! And you’ll never put God in debt because He’s beyond that. But the human race is still trying to put God in debt by saying, “But God, I’ve done all this and that and you owe it to me to let me into Heaven.” No, He doesn’t. He’ll never owe any man anything, not even a righteous man like Abraham. We just have to understand that we’re all sinners by virtue of being born from Adam, and that the only remedy for or sins is The Gospel, that Christ died, was buried, shed His Blood, and rose from the dead for you and I, and when we believe it for our Salvation it’s just like God saw Abraham believe, then God imputes to us His righteousness.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly..”
That flies in the face of human reasoning, but that’s the only kind of person God can deal with. He’s the one that recognizes that he’s ungodly. I always think of this analogy. Take a swimming pool full of kids on a hot day. They are screaming and having fun, and the lifeguard sits up here seemingly uncaring. But if they’re doing their job they’re not, and out of all that noise going on, what can they hear in an instant? Just a little plea for help. Immediately that life guard is in the water bringing salvation to that drowning kid. I liken that to exactly where God is. He looks at this whole world with all of it’s activity, and turmoil, and commotion, but what’s His ear constantly tuned to? A sinner crying out, “Lord Save Me!” And at that moment He’s there. But God can’t until we cry out for help. Now come back to the lifeguard again. What if one of those kids is just having a ball even though he’s in deep water and he’s in no trouble at all, but the lifeguard comes to take them to the edge of the pool. What would that kid think? “Hey, I don’t need you.” It’s the same way in the spiritual realm. God isn’t going to go in and try to save the person that says, “I have no need.” He’d be totally rejected if He tried. So what does God wait for? That cry for help.
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, `Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, `They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.'”
It’s the same way spiritually; when we realize our need and cry from the heart for Salvation, then God is there instantly. And it’s all based on believing it, do you have the kind of faith that “Yes the God of creation took on human flesh, went to the Cross, suffered, died, shed His Blood as full payment for our redemption, and then rose victoriously over sin and death and the old Devil himself, and is now able to impart eternal life.” Verse 5 again:
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”