Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 21
THE IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD:
ROMANS 4 – 5:5
I might tell you that these little books that are transcribed from the videotapes are now even being used in foreign countries by foreign missionaries. We also had a gentlemen call this week and order some for a prison in Ohio. So the Lord is using every means to get The Word out. We’re just here to teach The Word and let the chips fall where they may, and you would be surprised how people’s eyes get opened to what The Book really says, and what it doesn’t say.
Turn to Paul’s writings in the Book of Romans Chapter 4 and we’ll review just a little. When I speak of the writings of Paul, I am not elevating the man. Don’t forget, he was merely a human instrument that God used and spoke through as He wrote. It was the same way with the other writers of Scripture. I read famous men who will make a statement like this. “Well you know Luke must have been a tremendous researcher. Luke must have been a tremendous note taker,” They insinuate that these men wrote on the basis of information they were able to collect. But no Word of Scripture came to pass that way; every writer of this Book wrote as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. So when I speak of the writings of Paul, I’m not talking about the man and his intellect, but rather I’m talking about the man God used to put these things in print. I was looking at a verse last night in II Corinthians Chapter 10 and it was so applicable where they said his speech was contemptible.
II Corinthians 10:10
“For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
We know Paul was not a very handsome orator, but his letters were weighty. Even though the Apostle Paul addressed many many people face to face, what he says here on the printed page is different than what he probably said verbally, because this is The Word of God. Paul may have been able to preach and teach these basic things, but it still didn’t have the weight and impact of his written letters, because these have become The Word of God. And I’m quite sure even as Paul was writing these various letters to the various Churches that he did not know that one day these would become part of the written Word. But God knew better. So always remember these writers, when they wrote, were moved by the Holy Spirit to pen The Word, and did not have to rely on 1st or second hand information from someone else.
We begin our review here in the Book of Romans. And the first thing the writer does here is take us back to Abraham. Now that’s Old Testament isn’t it? So it would behoove us to go back to Genesis Chapter 12 and review a little bit about this great man Abraham who is referred to quite often in Paul’s epistles, and certainly has been established as a great man of faith all through Scripture. Why does Paul, by inspiration, refer back to Abraham when he is teaching a lesson on justification by faith and faith alone? Let’s begin with verse 1.
“NOW the LORD had said (back in Chapter 11 how they left Ur of the Chaldees) unto Abram, `Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee (future tense, a promise): And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee (and in this next statement is the very epitome of this whole Covenant promise), and in thee (through the man Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed.'”
Not just Israel, but the human family would benefit from the promises and Covenants that God is making with this man. Look for a moment at the timeline we use occasionally. In our mind’s eye, flash all the way back to Adam, and we know that about half- way between Adam and the Cross we have the appearance of this man Abram who later of course becomes Abraham. Now we know that 400 years before Abraham came on the scene we had the flood. And about half-way between the flood and Abraham we have the Tower of Babel. And so we saw that for the first 2000 years there was complete failure on the part of the human race.
Then God in so many words said, “I’m going to do something totally different.” God had given the opportunity for Salvation to the whole human race, all they had to do was be prompted by conscience that they had sinned, and they rebelled against the laws of conscience that God had placed there. Then all they had to do was bring a blood sacrifice, confess their sin, and God would accept them; it was that simple. But what did they do with that plan? They rejected it totally, until finally it had gotten so bad that God had to destroy the generations with the flood, and started over with Noah and his three sons. And then within two hundred years the offspring of those three sons are again in total rebellion, they were in total ignorance of God’s offer of Salvation, and tried to make their own way. They tried to approach heaven through their own false worship leading to the Tower of Babel.
Try to put yourself in God’s position, and I know that’s an extreme statement. Here He has offered a restoration and reconciliation. If they would just do what He had asked them to do by bringing a blood sacrifice, He would accept them. And we have that typified with Abel. Remember Abel was accepted because he did what God had told him to do. Cain of course rejected those instructions; he rationalized and thought he could go his own way, but nevertheless after 2000 years of God dealing patiently with those early people, He finally came to the point where we will see Him do something completely different with the man Abraham. He took that one man in whom He found a particle of faith, who would be obedient to what God told him. So in so many words God said, “I will make him a whole group of promises in Covenants, and out of him I’m going to bring a special race of people who will be different than all the other nations on the planet, and I’m going to work a plan of Salvation through that race of people.”
Now just as soon as God revealed even the embryonic part of that plan of redemption you can rest assured that the Devil kicked into high gear. I’ve had people ask me over the years,“Why have the Jews suffered so much.” Well that’s the basic reason. Just as soon as God revealed that this special nation of people would bring about the plan of redemption, the Devil turned everything loose on them. And if you’ll read your Old Testament you will see the evidence of how Satan has tried to thwart God’s plan of redemption by destroying the people through whom the Redeemer must come. Don’t forget that, if Satan could some how disrupt the plan of God for the Nation of Israel, then he would disrupt God’s whole plan of Salvation, and so they have been under constant attack.
Now of course they didn’t keep Israel from producing The Messiah, so now you see Satan has yet another goal and that is to interrupt God’s prophetic program. Think for a moment. If the Nation of Israel should suddenly disappear from view then prophecy would be left hanging on a string, and The Book would be a lie. Do you see that? So the whole Satanic thrust against the Nation of Israel is to destroy them, wipe them off the scene so God’s prophetic Word cannot be fulfilled. Then all of a sudden you can see why a man like Hitler would turn against them. Why do the nations of the world even today constantly bombard that little nation with all their accusations. Now on the other hand I always try to make people aware of the fact that that doesn’t make Israel’s government perfect. The Jew today is not perfect; he is just as much the son of Adam as the rest of us. Their government is just as corrupt as any other government. I still get the Jerusalem Post and constantly they are rooting out corrupt individuals in their government. That part isn’t any different. But in the big picture we have to understand that everything that is going to happen prophetically to this planet is centered on that little nation of Israel. And so Satan is still trying to disrupt God’s total program by getting rid of that little nation.
Now a most sinister thing I think is happening and if it weren’t that I know the Scriptures has guaranteed this nation will never fade off the scene I would have to wonder if this nation will survive, because I read recently in the Jerusalem Post that 52% of all Jewish marriages are now mixed marriages. They are marrying Gentiles. Let’s go for a moment to the Book of Matthew Chapter 24, and I’m still talking about the man Abraham. Here in this chapter The Lord Jesus made a graphic statement. Lets start in verse 32.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh (in other words it’s a prophetic picture): So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it (the second coming of Christ) is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, `This generation (now that doesn’t mean a generation in time like 40 or 50 years, but rather the Greek word here is `genea’ which means the race, the breed of the Nation of Israel) shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.'”
Now that’s a promise from the Creator Himself, and if it weren’t for that I think we would have reason to think that, yes, the Nation of Israel will yet disappear. Remember the whole world is against them, and they are intermarrying at an alarming rate. How long would it take for them to lose their identity if they keep on intermarrying at the rate of over 52%? Not long. I feel this is just another sign that points to the fact we are so close to the end, because in spite of everything that is going against this little Nation of Israel, we know they will not disappear until everything is fulfilled.
Now coming back to Genesis Chapter 12, we find God has promised this man Abraham a nation of people that would bring about the Redeemer and King, and the nation, and their geographical area and through it all God’s purposes would be fulfilled. Now when we teach about Abraham, I always like to point out that all the things concerning Abraham and his earthly people the Nation of Israel are always “earthly.” There is nothing heavenly connected to this little nation. But when we get to the New Testament and we come to the Body of Christ, the Church, there everything that is promised is “heavenly.” This is why, Paul by inspiration, uses Abraham as an example of faith, and it is still appropriate for you and I as New Testament believers, even though Abraham is part of the Old Testament program. We have no problem with Abraham being the father of the Jewish people, we know that came about genetically through Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 Sons. But we get a curve thrown at us when we as believers of the Church Age, are connected to Abraham to the place where the Scriptures say that we are children of Abraham. I hope I can show you. Now after the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12 where God promises him a nation of people in a geographical area of land, and one day they will have a government and a King. Turn to Chapter 13 where God enlarges on this Covenant promise of Chapter 12.
“And I will make thy seed (or offspring) as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.”
In other words, there would be a great offspring of Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, and the Nation of Israel. You want to remember that we are dealing now with over 4000 years of time. Even though they have been a small nation, yet there have been tremendous numbers of people that have come out of this Covenant promise. But now as you turn to Chapter 15, God does something totally different. He gives this man a promise that ties him to us in the Church age today, and we find that in verse 5.
“And he brought him forth…”
I think the Lord dealt with Abraham on a face to face, eyeball to eyeball basis. I think God came down and took on human form like He did at the calling out of Ur, because the word in the Greek in Acts Chapter 7 is `optomai’ which deals with the sight and Stephen rehearsed that The Lord appeared `optomai’ to the man Abram, and of course the word also appeared back in the Hebrew, so I’m sure that’s how God dealt with the man. And of course it’s very evident in Genesis Chapter 18. So I believe that God and Abraham are standing there on the mountains of Central Israel, looking out in all four directions. Now let’s finish the verse.
“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, `Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars (not the particles of the dust as we saw in Chapter 13), if thou be able to number them:’ and he said unto him, `So shall thy seed be.'” What’s He talking about? A spiritual relationship of people. Abraham is not only getting the view of the earthly promises that are going to come through the Nation of Israel, but he is also getting a view of the heavenly people that will also be part and parcel of His promises. Remember the last part of Chapter 12 and verse 3:
“…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Not just the Jews, but all the families of the earth would be blessed. Now let’s come back to Romans Chapter 4. I want you to keep what we just looked at in your mind for at least the next two or three lessons. We are going to be looking at Chapter 4 which is constantly referring back to Abraham in detail. I’m not going to rush through this because I think these are things that very few believers comprehend, and hopefully we can open some eyes. Let’s read.
“WHAT shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” If Abraham could have merited favor with God by his works then what would he have naturally done? He would have gotten puffed up and proud. And he would have been able to tell his people around him, “Look what I have done to inherit eternal life.” But you see he couldn’t because he did not work for his Salvation. He did nothing but believe God. Now verse 3:
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Abraham didn’t repent, he didn’t get baptized, he didn’t join something, he just simply believed God. That’s what The Book says. Now Abraham wasn’t any better morally than anyone else. It wasn’t that he was such a holy man, he was very ordinary, because we saw that in later chapters where he had his failures like everyone else. But yet this whole premise of faith – remember Hebrews 11:6 says:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him:…”
And by that faith then Abraham so pleased God that God called him a righteous man. It was just that simple. What’s the lesson? That’s also exactly where we are. That when we believe what God has said, and stand on it by faith, then God does the same for us. He declares us righteous. He declares us justified from all things.
“Now to him that worketh (that’s 99% of Christendom, they think they’ve got to do something, they can’t just rest on what God has said; they’ve got to do something, but that’s human nature) is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
We were in Colorado last week holding a seminar, and while there we had a chance to do some trout fishing, and for the first time in all of our trips there we literally got skunked. But something compensated for that, as there was a gentleman just down a little ways from us and we had been tossing comments back and forth for a little while, and finally we got close enough together to introduce ourselves, and he looked at me again and said, “You’re the guy on television.” Anyway, he was a pastor of a small Church there in the Denver area. He said, “I appreciate your teaching because you get so down to earth and to the truth of it all.” He said that people were missing it. He went on to say that he had a lady come to him in his ministry recently. Previously, she had been in two other organizations, had been baptized, and had joined three churches of his denomination. Then she came and wanted to join his church. When he asked her if she had ever had a Salvation experience, and had she ever believed The Gospel (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4), she looked at him with a blank look and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He asked her about all the other places she had joined, and she said that none of them had ever asked her. Well, this is exactly where the Church is in trouble. They are not pointing these people to the fact that there has to be a personal Salvation. So when he led her through the plan of Salvation she was gloriously saved and he said she went away a happy woman. Here again it’s not what we do, or who we join up with, but rather what do we do with The Gospel. Now looking at verse 4 again.
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” That person can never have grace if they have worked for their Salvation, because now they’ve earned it. But we will never put God in debt for a dime. He will never find Himself in debt to any human being. So the whole admonition is this. “We have to come God’s way, and that way is by God’s Grace through faith + nothing.”