Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 22
Let’s turn to Romans Chapter 5. The main subject we have dealt with in the past couple of chapters is justification. Remember, when Scripture repeats something two or more times in a short period, it’s for emphasis, and it’s the same way with this whole theme of the doctrine of justification. This is something you don’t take lightly or gloss over, and say, “Oh well, I don’t understand it anyway.” There are a few things I think are crucial. The first one is Faith, and that is simply Taking God at His Word. In other words, what He says is, when we believe it, this is what God is pleased with. And that’s all faith is; nothing more. And then this term of justification. It’s that judicial act of God, where the Sovereign God in all of His Holiness and righteousness, the moment He sees the sinner believe the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) then God declares him justified. Just as if he had never sinned. Now that’s hard for us to comprehend, and certainly none of us `feel’ it.
`Feel’ is the word that so many people use mistakenly when it comes to our Christian experience. “Well, I don’t feel this and I don’t feel that.” Listen, The Bible never uses the word `feel,’ we’re not supposed to feel justified, or forgiven. You know you are because The Book says so, and that’s what we have to keep hammering away at people. Don’t try to figure it out in the human, because it can’t be done. Rather just rest on what God has said, and The Word says that when we recognize we are indeed a child of Adam, there’s that great gulf fixed between us and the Creator; and the only way back to a fellowship with Him is by believing the Gospel. “That Christ died for our sins, and that He was buried and that He arose from the dead.” And the moment we believe that with all our heart, then God just does everything on our behalf, and remember I put all those terms on the board several lessons ago. One of them was “Justification.” Romans Chapter 5:
“THEREFORE, being justified by faith (just as if we had never sinned by virtue of us taking God at His Word), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
“By whom also we have access by faith…”
See how this is emphasized? We have access into this glorious state as a believer now in relationship with The Creator Himself. My, when I see the people in the world and all their activities, they think they are living it up. And even if they can live it to the fullest for a whole 70 years, what is that compared to billions upon billions and billions of years that eternity will be? If only people could get the perspective, that we’re not talking about just limiting ourselves, and ignoring all the pleasures of this world that we might have a few years of bliss, but rather for us it’s an eternity forever and ever and ever. And for the world who are out there thinking that they’re living it up, it’s at most for a whole life-time of seventy years or so. But you see out of that seventy years, how many years can most people really live it up? Ten to twenty? The old body can’t take it much longer than that, and then instead of an eternity of bliss and glory they’re facing an eternity of regret, doom, and separation from The Creator.
It’s so ridiculous that you wonder people can reject it. I can’t comprehend it. I mean if God was expecting us to cross a raging river and hope that we could make it, or if He was expecting us to climb some sheer cliff as you see some of these rock climbers do; if God was putting that kind of requirement on our Salvation, then I could see people not buying it. After all, that’s just too difficult; but here He’s made it so easy. He’s made it so simple, and the rewards are so great even in this life, and yet the world just passes it by and walks it underfoot. I’ll never understand it. Now verse 2 again:
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (that’s indeed what we’re looking forward to). And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience, and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Now come in at verse 6 and let’s begin our study today. “For when we were yet without strength,…”
Now remember how many times I have taken you back to Israel on the shores of the Red Sea? To me it’s as vivid an example as there is in Scripture. How the Nation of Israel stood there on the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptian armies behind them ready to destroy them, forbidding mountains on their right, and no possibility of going to the left. So they are locked in, and they’re without strength, and they knew not what to do. And instead of trying to hurry up and build bridges or find boats and rafts what did God tell them to do? “Stand still, and wait for the power of God.” And of course they didn’t have to wait very long, because He opened the Red Sea and Israel went through on dry ground. You all know the account. That’s exactly where we found ourselves before we had Salvation. We, too, were without strength. We were without hope, and helpless, and there was nothing we could do. And then God just opens the way through His Grace. Verse 6 again:
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Remember as we saw back in Chapter 4, what kind of people were we? Ungodly! Now the word `ungodly’ does not mean necessarily that they have to be on skid row. And it doesn’t always mean that they have to come to the end of themselves, because the little prefix `un’ simply means what? Without. So these people are without God, though they may be good people. They may be the very epitome of society. They may be the very best of church members, but if they have never experienced God’s saving Grace they’re ungodly, because they are without God in their lives. Do you see that? And so let’s be careful of the terminology. Always remember, God saves the down and out, but He also saves the up and out, and everything in between. So in due time, then, Christ died for those that were without God. Now a verse just comes to mind that we need to look at in II Corinthians Chapter 4, and this again says it all. And for those of us who try to enlighten the unbeliever, those who are going their merry way to a Christ-less eternity, we sometime wonder why we can’t get through to these people. I can tell from some of our letters and phone calls that we are getting through to a lot of people, but I know there’s millions more that we can’t touch, and here’s the reason, and we had better understand that this is what The Book says about it.
II Corinthians 4:3
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”
The believer understands what the Gospel is all about, it’s what got him where he is. But for the lost masses of humanity, they really don’t know the plight that they’re in, and don’t really understand why they are what they are. But you see The Bible makes it so plain. Now who’s hiding the Gospel from the lost? A lot of time I teach you that God hides things from the human race and that was His prerogative as we’ve seen so often from Luke 18.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, `Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.’ And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” God did that for a purpose in those verses, but now we’re dealing with the other side of the coin. Look at verses 3 and 4 again in II Corinthians 4:
II Corinthians 4:3,4
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom (the lost of this world) the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not (Satan has blinders on them, and you and I can’t take them off. That takes an act of God. Satan has so blinded the unbelieving world), lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Now doesn’t that say it all? This is why we have such a hard time trying to convince the masses of their needs, they are blinded by the god of this world, and I don’t have to tell you who that is. That’s the old Devil himself, and unless God somehow strips away that blindness, then even you and I are helpless. In that same light, turn to Acts Chapter 16. And this again is what everyone of us, as we try to deal with people, have to understand. Yes we have to do our part, we have to open the Scriptures, but we can’t stuff it down their throat. We can’t force them to believe it, that’s going to take an act of God Himself. Here in Acts Chapter 16 Paul and Barnabas are now in the Greek city of Philippi up in Northern Greece. They had just begun their work on the Continent of Europe. And as they went out to a little place (where evidently some Jews were permitted to worship since they didn’t have a synagogue in Philippi), they come to this little park along the river, and some Jewish women were there who believed in God, but they were as lost as lost can be.
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God (she believed in God, she was religious, but she was still lost), heard us: whose heart the Lord opened (we must never lose sight of Who opens the heart. Now we must do our part but God has to open their spiritual heart. He has to open their understanding that they can believe the Gospel), that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” God used the human instrument Paul, but He had to open her spiritual heart and eyes. Now back to Romans Chapter 5. Remember the last word of verse 6 was `ungodly.’
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die (now that makes sense doesn’t it? Why should Christ die for a world of people who didn’t need Salvation? It would have been ridiculous to the extreme. Even Christ used an example when He said that the well didn’t need a doctor, but rather the sick, and it’s the same way here. He wouldn’t have had to die if the world was righteous, but the world isn’t): yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” Now I love this next verse. I think I’ve known it since I was a kid.
“But God (you know how I’m always pointing out that three letter word `but.’ Here’s another good example. For righteous men there would be no need for Christ to die, even if people were good it wouldn’t be quite so mandatory, But God) commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Now we were dealing with a young lady when we had our seminar out in Denver, and hopefully by now she’s into the tapes so she will probably hear me rehearse this. But as we dealt with her that evening around the dinner table, the first opposition she had was this. She said, “Les, I’m not that bad. I’ve never really sinned, or did anything immoral. I’ve never stolen from anybody.” So we had to go all the way back to Genesis and show the young lady that it all began with Adam, and many people need that, so she wasn’t unique. There are hosts of people that do not understand that we’re not sinners because we break God’s laws, but rather we break God’s law because we’re sinners, and that began with Adam. So we took the young lady all during the dinner hour to these various concepts that it was in Adam that every human being became a sinner. I guess by ten o’clock that evening she was beginning to almost bat her eyes because she was hearing things that she had never heard before. She had been in church the Sunday before, but she had never heard this. So this is why we have to show people that they’re unrighteous, and ungodly not because of what they’re doing or their lifestyle, but because God has decreed every child of Adam as being a sinner. Now we can have good sinners, wet sinners, dry sinners, but we are all sinners until we recognize it, and are saved of course by believing the Gospel. Verse 8 again:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Remember that Paul writes to believers. So he is writing to you and I who have become believers of this Gospel, telling us again what God did on our behalf. Remember we, too, were at one time sinners. We’re sons and daughters of Adam just as well as everyone else. And while we were in that sinful state, God had already taken the pain to go to the Cross to purchase mankind’s Salvation. I was thinking as I was driving here to Tulsa today. You know I love to teach this Book and I love to teach the beginning back in Genesis, and I love teaching the endings in Revelation, but as I mentioned here a few lessons ago, it’s kind of hard to get people to zero in on where we are in the Book of Romans. But The Lord has been answering our prayers, and now we’re getting almost as many calls and letters commenting on the Book of Romans as we did on the Book of Revelation, and I would have never expected that, so we just trust The Lord is using the teaching in this Book.
How many times have you heard people say, “Well, when I can clean up my life, and can quit this bad habit, then I’ll become a Christian.” I remember several years ago I was holding a series of morning and evening classes up in Iowa, and a dear lady was the first one that would come to the morning and evening classes. She would be there at least a half hour early so that I could lay out the Scriptures to her. Finally, one evening I asked her why in the world she didn’t just simply believe the Gospel, and enter into this glorious life. And do you know what her answer was? “Les, if I could just quit the booze I would.” Do you hear that? She was probably a borderline alcoholic. But listen, that isn’t the way it’s done. You become a believer and then God helps you quit the problem, but most can’t see it that way. But this verse makes it so plain:
“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s exactly where God finds us. Now go into verse 9.
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood,…”
In other words, through faith in His Blood. You know I don’t ascribe to the teaching that we have to drink of the literal Blood of Christ as some are taught. But by faith we have the power of His shed Blood applied to our need. I think it was old Doctor De Haan of the old Radio Bible Class that I remember hearing years ago, and he made a statement one morning that I never forgot. He said that according to our physical chemistry, if you were to place something into a little basin of blood, it’s going to come out blood red or at least a dark shade of brown. But in God’s chemistry when something is placed in the Blood of Christ, it comes out as white as new fallen snow.” Now that’s God’s chemistry, and this is what we must understand. We think, “How can we be washed in the Blood and come out white?” Well, in the physical it can’t be done, but in the spiritual realm, in God’s chemistry the red in the Blood of Christ makes us as white as snow. Looking at this verse again:
“Much more then, being now justified…”
Declared by a judicial act of God, we are now just as if we had never sinned. Think about that for a moment. Just as if we had never sinned. In other words, where does that place us? All the way back to when? To Adam before he fell. Not in the physical; this old body is still going to be corrupt, this old body is still going to be prone to disease. And I’ve told people for twenty-five years, if an alcoholic gets saved, don’t expect that body that has been wrecked by alcohol and cirrhosis of the liver to become new. He’s not going to get a new liver. I know The Lord can do a lot of things, but when a body has been ravaged by sin, then Salvation isn’t going to give us a new physical body. But in the eyes of God being justified, yes, God sees us as Adam was before he ever fell. Because this is the whole theme of this Book from cover to cover: that God wants to reconcile the human being back to what he was in Adam before sin entered in. But now as born-again believers, justified and placed securely in Christ, we can never fall as Adam did. And you see this is exactly what God can do when we believe the Gospel; He can declare us just as if we had never sinned. Now I’m going to keep almost shouting that at people for months to come, because so few professing believers even realize that we are to reckon ourselves just as if we had never sinned because that is what God has declared us to be.
Now I think psychology even comes in here, and I have nothing against psychology if it’s used correctly. However, some of it can be abused. But psychologically speaking, if you were to tell a young man coming up out of high school years, “Well, you’re never going to amount to anything, you’ll never be anything but a drunk and probably end up in prison.”I can just about guarantee that he will end up just exactly that, because he is psychologically programmed to believe that everybody expects him to be a drunk and a reform school drop-out. But on the other hand if we encourage a young person, “Now, you can be this and you can do that, and you can be the glory of God in person,” then he’ll quite likely be that. Now bring this into this same psychological mindset, that if I constantly remind myself, and my wife and I help each other to remember throughout the day and week, that in God’s eyes we are just as if we have never sinned, psychologically, what’s that going to help us do? To be just that. Listen, if I am a justified person then I had better live accordingly because this is the way I’ve been divinely planned to operate. But, you see, the lost person doesn’t have that going for him. And so he says, “Well, everybody else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?” And so they find themselves in broken homes, in prison, and in all sorts of problems simply because they won’t take God at His Word. Finishing verse 9:
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood (we can’t go around that. You remember I put that on the board several weeks ago as one of the absolutes of Scripture? That without the shedding of blood there is no remission? The liberals and the preachers can do whatever they want with it but you can’t go around, over or under it. You have to face it head on. That without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Let’s read on now) we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Not for anything we’ve done, but by simply believing in that finished work of the Cross. I can’t put it in any more simple words. The finished work of the Cross, how that Christ died for my sins. His Blood was shed that I might be declared just as if I’d never sinned. He rose from the dead in power and victory and when we believe it, God has guaranteed, as we’re going to see in our next lesson, that we’re going to have eternal life. Oh, we’re not just going to have it better for the 50 years that we’ve got in this world, but eternal life. Which means forever and ever and ever in His presence. And I think too many people lose sight of that. And I guess the best little glimpse we’ve ever gotten is when Paul in I Corinthians 2:9 had just a glimpse of it and then he came back and he said…, “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard the things that have been prepared for them that love Him.”