Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 29
I CORINTHIANS 15:24-54
As we start this lesson we are still talking about the resurrection in the greatest resurrection chapter of Scripture, and that’s Chapter 15. We’ve been spending a lot of time now on the 23rd verse. Not the verse per se, but what’s building up to it. In other words, where does this particular company of people come from. They certainly are not Israel. They are not out of the Old Testament economy. They certainly are not in reference to that which is still ahead – the Tribulation. So, who are these that are going to be coming when Christ comes? We’ve been pulling out the fact that Paul has now been raised up to go to the Gentile world with a whole different concept of salvation. It’s going to be based on that finished work of the Cross. How that Christ died for our sins, His blood was shed, He was buried and He rose from the dead for our justification. You won’t find that in Scripture until we get to the revelations given to the Apostle Paul. We are studying I Corinthians 15, but right now we’re building this whole concept of the Body of Christ. It’s this Body of Christ that is called out from the Gentile world that will one day be resurrected in total. And for those that are alive and remain, we will be changed.
Now, let’s look at Romans Chapter 12 and verse 4 and see what it says. What I’m going to do now is to look up all these verses that have a reference to this Body of Christ. Always remember that back in Christ’s earthly ministry and Peter’s and so forth, they were proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. And that was the Good News that Christ was as the King in their midst and He was ready to fulfill all the Old Testament promises concerning Israel and His Messiah-ship, and so it was the good news of the Kingdom. It was for Jew only. There was nothing in there for the Gentile.
Now when Israel rejected the Gospel of the Kingdom and the King, and they crucified Him, God turned to this other Jew, Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul as we now know him, and he begins to proclaim the Gospel of Grace. The Gospel of Grace means that nothing of law or legalism can be associated with it. It is primarily, but not exclusively, to the Gentiles. But to the Jew, it was the Gospel of the Kingdom. And when it was rejected, God turned with the Gospel of Grace. Now through the preaching of the Gospel of Grace, instead of calling out a Covenant people such as Israel was, we are calling out what Paul refers to as the Body of Christ. Never does Jesus or the Twelve ever use the term “the Body of Christ.” Never! I’ve challenged people for years – “If you find it, you show it to me.” No one ever has. They did not know about it and they did not use the term. Jesus knew about it, but He never revealed it. Then, on the other hand, you will never see Paul refer to the Gospel of the Kingdom! Why? Because he’s not concerned with the Gospel of the Kingdom. That was Jewish. He is concerned with the Body of Christ, the Gospel of Grace and it goes to Gentiles. There’s that big fork in the road, if I may put it that way. Now we’re going to look at all these verses that make a reference to the Body of Christ. That is a Pauline term exclusively. Never is it used anywhere else in Scripture.
“For as we have many members in one body, (using the human body as an illustration) and all members have not the same office:”
Well, all he’s saying is that fingers don’t do the same thing as a toe does. The eyes don’t do the same thing as the ears. Every member of our body has an intrinsic purpose. Now let’s look what the next verse says.
“So we (as believers of the Gospel of Grace) being many, are one body (where?) in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
Now we’ve had missionaries in our home the last couple of days and we were sharing this. That here they have believers down in the jungles of Bolivia and yet they’re in the same Body as we have right here in Oklahoma and the rest of America. We are all members of that same Organism, that spiritual make-up of the believers from wherever they are, from whatever station in life, we are all members of this one Body. That’s crucial to understand. Now let’s go on to the next scripture, I Corinthians 12.
I Corinthians 12:12,13
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: (he’s referring to our human make-up. The hands, toes, ears, eyes, etc., but we’re under one central nervous system. The head controls the body) so also is Christ. For by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) are we all (and I always emphasize that word. It isn’t just the spiritual who get baptized into the Body. Every believer of whatever station in life, when he becomes a believer, a child of God, then the Holy Spirit baptizes that person into the Body of Christ) baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink (or partake) into one Spirit.”
Now this is something that I don’t think Peter ever got the whole story. And most people today do not comprehend the position that you and I as believers of the Gospel have in Christ. We are already seated in the heavenlies, Paul teaches, and we are waiting for the day when we will be taken up into the heavenlies and to be in union with Christ Himself. Now let’s look at verse 27 of Chapter 12.
I Corinthians 12:27
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Do we lose our identity? No! This is the beauty of it. You and I can go to The Lord in prayer and does Peter come and say, “Hey Lord, number 55678 is calling”. God knows every one of us by name. Not by a number or a group, but by individual name. And so he says we are members in particular of the Body of Christ. Now let’s turn over to Ephesians. And here again, Christ is being presented as the Head of the Body.
“Which he wrought in Christ, (the mighty power of verse 19) when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” That’s our position. When He’s in Heaven, we’re in Heaven. Now verse 21.
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, (that’s where Christ is. He is above everything that is named) not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And (God) hath put all things under his feet (whose feet? Christ’s) and gave him to be the head over all things to the (what people?) the church, (the ecclesia, which is now the Body of Christ) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
We looked at this several weeks ago and remember what the word fullness meant? Complement, which means that Christ will finally have the Body in His presence then He Himself considers Himself complete. Remember, we went back to Genesis and when poor old Adam was alone and was naming all the animals and they all had their mates, what did God say? “I will make a helpmeet for him.” And what was the other word for helpmeet? Complement. And so as Eve was the completion of Adam, so also will the Body of Christ be the completion of Christ Himself. Now, let’s look at Ephesians Chapter 3 and verse 6. Let’s start at verse 5 so we can pick up the thought.
“Which in other ages (generations) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ (how?) by the gospel”.
Not by works, or baptism, or some other phenomena. Just by the Gospel. That’s the only way. The Gospel, how that Christ died, was buried and rose again as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10. Now let’s come across to Chapter 4, still in Ephesians. Now this is an interesting series of verses.
“There is one body, …” There it is again. You don’t see that in Peter’s preaching. You don’t see that in Christ’s earthly ministry. But all through Paul’s writing you find this term, “the Body”. Let’s read on.
“… and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, (absolutely, there’s only one Name given among men whereby we must be saved) one faith, one baptism,”
I always smile when people say, “Well, I’m of the Catholic faith,” “I’m of the Methodist faith,” “I’m of the Baptist faith,” “I’m of this faith.” What do they do with a verse like this? There aren’t all that many faiths. There’s one faith and only one. That’s what The Book says.
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Let’s look on down into verse 12 of Ephesians 4. Why do you suppose we’re seeing all these references to the Body all of a sudden, in the book of Ephesians? More than we did in Romans or Corinthians. Paul’s writings are a progressive revelation just like the Bible as a whole. Now when Paul first begins his letters he does not make that big a deal over the Body of Christ. In Romans just that one mention. In I Corinthians, one or two mentions. But now as you come into the book of Ephesians and Paul has had further revelations, this is one of the prison epistles. And he has now been sitting in prison in Caesarea for a year and a half and all of these deeper things come and now that’s why you see more about the Body in Ephesians than you did in Romans and Corinthians. It’s part of this greater revelation of our position in the Body, which is in Christ.
“For the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the (what?) body of Christ.”
Do you see that? Now, let me make a point. Not every church member across the world is a member of the Body of Christ. In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say a small percentage of them. I don’t care what church you belong to. Mine included. Yes, I’m a member of a local church. Some people call and ask. I love my pastor and I think it’s mutual. But there are members of my church that are as lost as lost can be and they are not in the Body of Christ. I don’t know who they are because I’m not judging. I’m not looking at somebody and saying, “Well, you’re not in the Body.” In fact I told somebody the other day, and I’ll tell my whole television audience, don’t ever look at anybody, I don’t care how far down the tube they are, don’t look at them and say, “Well, you’re going to Hell”, because you don’t know that.
Salvation may come to that person at some future date and you don’t know that. And so, please, don’t ever tell someone that. That’s God’s prerogative, not ours. And the same with judging whether someone is a believer. I can’t and neither can you. Only God can see the heart. But I do know from the Scripture and from everything else that bombards us, there are a lot of bonafide church members who are not members of the Body of Christ. Only The Lord himself places a person into the Body of Christ. Denominations can’t, your preacher can’t do it, a priest can’t do it. This is something that only the Spirit of God can do. So, what is the purpose of all the things that God has been doing on behalf of the Church? To edify the Body of Christ, the true believer! Now let’s go on down to pick up the whole thought. All this that’s been going on in the earthly sojourn as he points out in verse 11, “apostles; prophets; and some evangelists, teachers, pastors. All of this is to edify the Body of Christ. Now let’s look at verse 13.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, (in the body) and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (or mature) man, (not sinless perfection. We never reach that in this life)unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Let’s look now at verse 14 and if this isn’t apropos. I have to feel that the people I teach can look at this verse and say, “Yep, I know what it means.” Because if we’re taught then we will not be tossed to and fro.
“That we henceforth (have grown in our faith and stature) be no more children, tossed to and fro; and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight (or cunningness) of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
There’s more deceptions today than the world has ever seen. How are we going to confront it? With a knowledge of the Word and a realization of what our position is in the Body. Now let’s look at verse 15
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him (in that position in Christ) in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
Now Paul is always using the human body as an illustration. Where does everything originate in the operation of our fingers, legs, toes and everything else? The brain! The mind! The head! That’s what Christ is. He is the Head of the Body and as the Body functions, even in this world, where does its marching orders come from? The Head! Not some denominational hierarchy. I’ve got nothing against denominations, if they’re into the Word. So be it. All I’m saying is, that’s not where you get your marching orders. You get your orders from the Head and He is going to speak through the Word. Now if your pastor is preaching the Word, then great. But if he isn’t, then you’d better come back to The Book because here is where you’re going to be held accountable. Now let’s go on into Colossians and let’s begin at Chapter 1, verse 15. And again, this is just simply showing the preeminence of the position of Christ Who is the Head of the Body.
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”
I had a letter from a lady the other day who said, “I’ve enjoyed your programs, your teaching, but when I heard you say that Jesus was God, I had to shut you off and I don’t want to ever listen to you again.” Well, that’s her privilege. But what is the poor girl doing? She is closing her eyes to all the truth of Scripture that Jesus Christ is very much God! You can see it all the way through the Scripture. Not just an off-spring of God, or something created by God, but he is God! Verse 16.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him:” And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the (what?) body, …”
Now are you beginning to see it? That He, in His position in the heavenlies, is the Head and we are functioning as the Body and we move, like Paul said to the Athenians in the book of Acts, everything we do – we breathe, we eat, we move, all because of Him. And so He is the Head of the Body.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Yes he’s preeminent. Now, let’s come over to Chapter 2 verse 14:
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, (the Law) which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over then in it. (In His work of the Cross) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; (what does that flash back to? Judaism! The Law! That’s all behind us. It’s all been nailed to His Cross.) Which are a shadow of things to come but the body is of Christ.”
Now I don’t think the Body of Christ even had the preview of the types in the Old Testament, but the Cross did. His resurrection did. But I don’t think the Body did. Now, there’s one more scripture I want to get here in Colossians. Colossians Chapter 3 and verse 15.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom; …”
God doesn’t want a bunch of ignorant believers in the Body. He wants every child of His to be well-taught, to be well instructed, to be grounded and to enjoy our faith. There’s no room for a miserable Christian. If they’re miserable, they’re out of fellowship with The Lord. They are out there in the world where they shouldn’t be. But it’s a joyous life and God wants it to be that way. Now reading on.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”