Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 24
“BELIEVE IN THINE HEART”
Now let’s pick up where we left off in our last lesson and that’s in verse 25 of Romans Chapter 9. Remember Chapter 9 is Paul dealing with Israel’s past, and why they have been having the problems that they’ve had. And then in Chapter 10 we’re going to be dealing with how God treats Israel today, and of course never forget that in Romans Chapter 3, Paul gives us a hint to what that is when Paul says,
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
So Paul says that there is no difference. Today a Jew has to approach God on the same basis that we as Gentiles do. And then when we get to Chapter 11 it will be dealing with Israel’s future. God is not through with the Nation of Israel like 90% of Christendom would like to tell us, but Israel’s Covenant promises are going to be yet fulfilled. But of course it can not happen until God is through dealing with the Gentile Church, and we’ll see that so graphically in Chapter 11. Here in Chapter 9 we’re still dealing with Israel’s past, and so naturally Paul is going to be dipping back into the Old Testament because Israel’s dilemma was prophesied. God knew Israel was going to be blind to these things, and that she would not recognize her Messiah even when He came, so Paul makes reference in verse 25 to the old prophecy of Hosea.
“As he saith also in O-see, (Greek for Hosea) I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”
Now I think in order to pick up what Paul, and Hosea were referring to, we need to turn back to the Book of Acts for a moment. And remember there was a great counsel that was trying to settle the controversy as to Paul going to Gentiles. Whereas the Jewish believers in Jerusalem thought Paul was wrong in doing this. So consequently they had called Paul up to Jerusalem to answer these things. But as you remember, Peter came to Paul’s defense finally. And remember that a good while ago God had sent him up to the house of Cornelius, and Peter’s eyes were opened to the fact that, “Yes, God could save Gentiles without becoming proselytes of Judaism.” But here in Acts Chapter 15, let’s begin with verse 12, where they have listened to Peter as he has shared with these Jews at Jerusalem, and I imagine that included all twelve disciples, and some of the other leaders at Jerusalem, and now look at their conclusion.
“Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace,…”
Remember there had been an uproar because the Jews were jealous of their relationship with Jehovah God, and they couldn’t comprehend these things, but finally, and as I have often said, God does everything Sovereignly. Had Peter not had that eye-opening experience at the house of Cornelius, Paul would have never gotten off the hook. Christianity would have never gotten off the ground. But God did open Peter’s eyes twelve years earlier to the fact that Gentiles could be saved by simply believing. So now it’s concluded.
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon (Or Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (And now he goes back to the Book of Amos) After this (After the calling out a people for His name in verse 14.) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:”
Now here the conclusion was made then that, “Yes, God is going to call out of the Gentiles a people for His name.” Now I’m well aware of the fact that scripturally Gentiles certainly do not come into that intimate relationship that God had with Israel when He called them, “My People.” And then when they fell away, in their unbelief, then He said to Moses, “Thy People.” And it won’t be until Israel comes back in complete belief, when the return of Christ is taking place at His second coming, that they will recognize Him, and once again they will be called, “My People.” But other than this portion right here in Acts where God says, “That He’s going to call out of the Gentiles a people for His name.” We as Gentiles are more correctly referred to as “His Born Ones.”
We are the children of God, and that’s a term that Israel has never enjoyed, and never will, and that’s what I stressed even in our seminar last Saturday. We, as members of the Body of Christ, enjoy a position that Israel will never obtain, and of course I’m of the impression that the Church will be the Bride of Christ, and as such we’re joint heirs with Christ, we’re going to reign and rule with Christ, and that means that everything that is His will be ours, and everything that is ours of course is His. But this is that tremendous relationship now that we have as being the very “Born Ones” of God Himself by virtue of our salvation experience. Now back to Romans Chapter 9 again, and verse 25. I think these are the people that are referenced here by the Apostle Paul, that these Gentiles who were never reckoned in the Old Testament to have anything to do with Israel’s God, but now they are indeed a people that God has called out from among the Gentiles, called them to Himself. When He is through calling the Gentiles out, we will see in Romans Chapter 11 that He will again turn back to His Covenant people Israel. Verse 26:
“And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called (Now here comes what I just referred to – “The Born Ones” that they will be called) the children of the living God.”
Now that’s us. That’s the Gentiles. We are not a Covenant people like Israel was. Never buy into this Covenant relationship. We are not under Covenants, we are under “The Born Ones,” we have been born from above by the work of the Holy Spirit the moment we believe. And so this, I think, is exactly what we have to emphasize. That last part of verse 26 where it says, “We will be called the children of the living God.” Now verse 27 and Paul is going to go to yet another portion of the Old Testament. He’s going to go to Isaiah.
“Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:”
Now, I’ve stressed this before in the program, at least in our classes here in Oklahoma, that there is what I call a doctrine of the remnant all through Scripture. God has never enjoyed the majority. It’s always been that small remnant. Now I guess the first one that you could refer to would be the flood. Out of all those billions of people I think that were on the earth at the time of the flood, how many remained true to God? Eight! And even some of them became rather despicable afterwards. But nevertheless only eight – that little tiny remnant. And then when finally the nation of Israel comes into view, the Word would light on Jacob, the whole nation. But how many out of Jacob would respond and believe? Just the few and they were usually referred to as Israel. Now, it’s the same way here from this portion in Isaiah. God has always had His remnant even within the nation of Israel.
Now you all know the account of Elijah there on Mt. Carmel, when he confronted all the prophets of Baal. Jezebel was about 14 or 15 miles to the east. But yet you remember that account of Elijah, after he heard the threat from Jezebel, that he would be the next day, like all her priests were today. And what did poor old Elijah do? He must have been in good shape because I don’t know how long it took, but all of a sudden from Mt. Carmel, clear up there in Northern Israel, we find him clear down at the Mount where the Ten Commandments were given down in the Southern area. He ran, ran, ran, you remember, and finally as he’s all tuckered out he sits down under a Juniper tree and what does he say?
I Kings 19:10
“And he said, `I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.'” (But what did God tell Elijah?)
I Kings 19:18
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Seven thousand out of a few million is still only a little remnant. And so this is what’s always been the case. Oh we like to think that the Jews for the most part were an obedient people, but were they? No. Only a few were left as true believers, and that of course included the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elisabeth, Joseph and Mary. Just that little few that were still true believers of the God of Abraham. The rest had been cloaked in nothing more than their religion. That’s all they had – just a dead religion, and that’s why Jesus called them,“whited sepulchers” because they were a dead religion with no spiritual life whatsoever. And then you can come all the way up to the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, and again I like to use the Scripture because some of these statements are rather graphic. So let’s go back to Acts Chapter 1 for a moment, and begin with verse 15. And here we are, after three years of Christ’s earthly ministry up and down the highways and byways of the little nation of Israel.
I think most people are totally misled for most think that all those multitudes everywhere He went were all believers. They weren’t. Why did they follow Him? Not because He was the One they were placing their faith in, but He was the One that was handing out free lunches. People were no different than they are today. You promise a free lunch and the multitude will come, you promise a healing meeting, and the multitudes will come. I guarantee you they will, but they weren’t believers. The only reason He healed them all, He was proving Who He was. These people were just a multitude trying to cash in on something that was for nothing. But by the end of those three years, and after His crucifixion and Resurrection, this group of believers meet in the upper room in Jerusalem. I’m not saying that this is all there were in all of Israel, but rather all there was in the area of Jerusalem.
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty.)”
And I think that was it. I think that this was the sum total of the true believers, of Jews, at least in the area of Jerusalem. A following of 120 after three years of His kind of a ministry. And then we wonder why our numbers today are small and getting smaller all the time. Because the true believing element is getting attacked from every direction, and I’m sure you are aware of an article in the last U.S. News & World Report where these great so-called famous theologians are just gutting the Scripture. They are disclaiming all the claims of Christ. They’re telling us that He was nothing but an impostor, and I think the most ridiculous statement that one of those fellows made was, “How in the world can people believe that when the writers of the Gospels went back and quoted what Jesus supposedly said, they were asking people to remember word for word things that had been said 10 to 20 years previously.”
Logically, you couldn’t expect people to remember all the words of Jesus as He gave the Sermon on the Mount. Of course they couldn’t, and they didn’t. I’m always emphasizing every word of this Book is not picked from somebody’s notes, or put together from research, but rather it’s put together as the Holy Spirit moved these writers, and they didn’t have to stop and wonder what was said. They wrote as the Holy Spirit moved them to write, and see these intellectual theologians don’t know that. They’re strictly looking at all this from the human stand point. What do these theologians think about Moses writing the first five Books? Moses wasn’t there at the creation, and I guess that’s why they can’t believe the Bible. Moses wrote about the creation by inspiration, and how did Moses write about his own death in the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 34? By inspiration. And so it is with every writer of Scripture, and it’s the same way with this writer, the Apostle Paul. He did not have to sit and contemplate, and wonder, he wrote as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance. Now back to Romans 9. God has always had that remnant, and now since we’re dealing with Israel’s past with regards from Paul’s point of view, he’s now going to include some of the Jewish believers since Pentecost, even in his own ministry. Remember Paul always went to the Jew first, some believed, but most believed not. So this is what Paul is making reference to then, that there would be a remnant that would be saved. It’s the same way again at the end of the age. There will only be a remnant of Jews saved at the end of the Tribulation. Just a small percentage. Zechariah tells us:
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, (The great Tribulation) and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, `The LORD is my God.'” So only a third, just a remnant of the Jews will be saved, and that means that 2/3 will lose their lives. Let’s come on up to verse 28 of Romans Chapter 9.
“For he will finish the work,…”
God never does anything halfway and then quits. Man does that. But what God starts, He finishes, and He started a work with Israel in 2000 B.C., and He hasn’t forgotten them, and He is yet going to finish what He started with Israel. Now granted, there’s been over a 1900-year gap that God hasn’t been dealing with them on Covenant basis, but He is still going to finish what He started. Verse 28 again:
“For he will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness:…”
In other words, once that seven years of Tribulation starts it will be seven years of Him primarily dealing with the Jew, and He will be dealing with the Jew according to His righteousness. You can’t go beyond that. His righteousness is going to mandate that by the time that seven years is ended. The unbelieving element will have suffered His wrath, and His judgment, but the believing remnant are going to come into His rule and reign when He sets up His kingdom. Remember 7 years is not a very long time compared to the 6000 years it’s been since Adam. Now finishing the verse:
“For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” Now that’s also reference to Matthew Chapter 24:22:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:…”
Well I’ve always taught that to mean that the seven years will end right on schedule, and won’t be extended. When that seven years is complete then God’s through, He’s in total Sovereign control. Now verse 29:
“And as Esaias (Isaiah) said before, `Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrah.'”
Now again, what’s the reference? Had it not been for the remnant every time what would have happened to the Nation of Israel? God would have had to destroy them like He did Sodom. And that’s exactly what Paul is making reference to. But even though Israel was constantly turning back in unbelief, beginning especially at Kadesh-barnea when they could have gone in and had the land of promise, but in unbelief they turned around and went back into the wilderness. But there again there was that remnant of true believers, and it’s the same way as we come to the end of the age. There will be that remnant of Israel that will cause God to spare the nation.
“What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.”
They came out of their bleak, dark, godless idolatry, paganism, and they have stepped into the glorious light of God’s grace, something that Israel could never understand. But Paul is again reminding them that these Gentiles, who of course had not been following after righteousness, but they’ve attained it. Why? Because they had faith, and that’s what the Jew even today cannot comprehend. I made mention recently that I had read where the First Lady was so thankful that America was finally throwing away absolutes. Well, if they could only see that’s our problem, but you see this is a Book of absolutes, and I usually stress two of them in particular, and most of you know what they are.
“…and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
“But without faith it is impossible to please him:…”
Those are absolutes, and that was Israel’s problem, they couldn’t believe what God said. But here come these Gentiles, and they hear the Apostle Paul preaching and they could believe it, and Israel just shook her head, so that’s exactly what Paul is talking about. Now verse 31:
“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, had not attained to the law of righteousness. (Why?) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law….”
We’re not that much different today. I would again just in general say that 90% of Christendom, and I’m including Protestant, Catholic, and all the rest that use the Bible as their rules of order, are still living under a “Works Religion.” Do this and that, and then maybe God will accept you. But Paul screams that it’s not of works, but it’s all faith. “Faith + Nothing.” Oh, nothing thrills my heart more than people that have been steeped in this kind of religion who come up and tell me what a total difference when they realized that, and they simply rely on the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Now verse 32 again:
“Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;”
And Who has been the Stone of stumbling? The Christ! Jesus of Nazareth for Israel, and He’s still the Stone of stumbling for the world today. They stumble over these precious truths concerning Christ in His finished work of the Cross. Verse 33:
“As it is written, `Behold, I lay in Sion (Zion) a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.'”
And so we know Who the Stone of all Scripture is. It’s Christ in all the various aspects of a stone, but here He is a Stone of stumbling. There’s a legend, it’s not Scriptural, but is so appropriate for this. When they were building the first temple all the stones were cut at the quarry. Nothing was ever hammered at the sight of the Temple. So the quarry sent in the head cornerstone, the one that was to be the final stone to hold everything together, and it came in too early and the builders didn’t know what to do with it. So what did they do? They threw it off into a vacant lot, and with time, grass and weeds grew up around it, and over time people would use that vacant lot for a shortcut. And as they would take a shortcut through that vacant lot they would stumble over that stone that had been misused by the builders. And that is the perfect picture of what we’ve done with Christ.