Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 31
OUR SINS HAVE ALREADY BEEN FORGIVEN
Now this is Bible study, and it’s the only reason we’re here. Our teaching is simply to help people study on their own, to be able to read and understand what the Bible is all about. We are currently in Paul’s Epistles, in II Corinthians Chapter 5. In our last lesson we left off in verse 9 where Paul has just been dealing with the fact that as soon as a believer dies, their soul and spirit leave the body, and goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. Now when they get to Heaven, what their activity is and what their state is I’m in no position to say because the Bible is fairly silent on the subject. All we know from Scripture is that they are in the Lord’s presence, and they are waiting for the great resurrection day for their new body.
Now the only thing I can do to temper our thinking on this is that in eternity there is no time, and so even though Adam has been dead 6000 years, when the resurrection day comes he won’t suddenly realize that he’s been off the scene that long, but rather it will seem to him it’s only been a matter of hours because time is irrelevant. So keep in mind that when our departed loved ones will be reunited with us they won’t realize it’s been a long time since we saw each other. I read once that it’s just like you took one of your loved ones to the train depot (back when trains were a main form of transportation) and they got on the train in one of the front cars, and got them all situated, but before the train pulled out of the station you suddenly decided that you would also go buy a ticket and you had to get on the last car of the train. Well you’re both going to arrive at the same destination at the same time. I think that’s what it’s going to be like.
Although our loved ones may have left for Heaven years ago, when the Rapture of the Church takes place (and we meet our loved ones) it won’t be like we haven’t seen them in 30 or 40 years, but rather just 5 minutes ago. So all these things enter into these events that will happen and often we make it more difficult than it really is. But Paul has now been dealing with the departure of the soul and spirit from the body which puts us in the presence of the Lord.
II Corinthians 5:9
“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent (that’s beside the point) we may be accepted of him.”
Approved of Him is a better word than accepted of Him because we’re not dealing with salvation at all here. And this is what I want to emphasize: in these verses from 1-13, he is not dealing with salvation whatsoever, but rather it is totally in the area of reward for our living here in this life as believers. And that’s the admonition to a believer. We’re not just saved to escape hell fire, but rather we are saved to serve, and that’s why He leaves us here. In fact, even the Twelve disciples in Christ’s earthly ministry in Matthew Chapter 19 wanted to know what, serving Him, would be their reward. The eleven had been with Jesus in this Scripture for almost the whole three years. They have their salvation so they’re not about that, and remember we’re not counting Judas. But in verse 27 we find:
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, `Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (what’s Peter referring to? What kind of a reward are we going to get for having left all of material blessing, his fishing, and business, their home and family? And look at how Jesus answers them.) 28. And Jesus said unto them, `Verily I say unto you. That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration (that is when the 1000-year kingdom would be set up) when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'”
Now what was that? That’s their reward for having served Him so diligently during those three years of His earthly ministry. It didn’t have anything to do with their salvation but it had everything to do with their rewards. Now back to II Corinthians 5, and we have the same concept for you and I as members of the Body of Christ. Paul’s not dealing with our salvation here, but rather with rewards.
II Corinthians 5:10a
“For we must all (no one is going to escape it, they won’t be able to fast talk the Lord out of this situation. because all believers must) appear before the judgment seat of Christ;…”
Now I wish the King James translators wouldn’t have used the word judgment, because I think that scares people. The Greek word for this judgment is “Bema,” and we must all appear before the Bema Seat. In the Greek it’s Bema, and most of you know that it was a raised platform that was used to judge people by. The parties would come and stand in front of the judges who were on the Bema Seat. It was also used in the Olympic games for the seat of the judges who determined who would win. So this is the analogy that I think Paul is more apt to have the Olympics in mind rather than the political situation at the Bema Seat of government.
So looking at it from an Olympic sports event scenario we must all appear before the Bema Seat, not to be judged for our sins, but rather for our rewards. Oh, I can’t stress that enough because you have no idea how many people over the years have said, “Les, am I going through all these trials and tribulations because of sin in my past?” Well the first thing I ask those people is this. “Are you a believer? Are you a child of God?” And they always say, “Yeah, I know I’m saved.” “Well then, where do you get the idea that you still have sin on your back, because it’s not in this Book? You do not carry past sins because they have been judged at the Cross.” Let’s look at a few verses to confirm this because there are some who will say, “Les, where do you get these things?” Turn to Ephesians 4:32:
“And be ye kind one to another, (remember Paul is addressing only believers, But he is doing so on a higher level than he did the Corinthians. Also remember that the Epistles of Paul are progressive. We move from the simplistic to the more in-depth, and those things that are more doctrinal.) tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath(past tense, already) forgiven you.”
You don’t forgive one another so you can be forgiven. See what the disciples prayer says back in Matthew. In those Scriptures you have to forgive everybody before you can be forgiven.
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (This was written to the Nation of Israel under the Law. Do you see that difference?)
There is a vast difference between Law and Grace. But you see Paul doesn’t write that way to the Grace Age believers. Paul says to be ready to forgive your neighbor because you have already been forgiven. Do you see the concept? Now reading verse 32 again:
II Corinthians 4:32
“And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath (already) forgiven you.”
Now that doesn’t just take you up to a certain point in time, but that means now and forever you are forgiven. Let’s carry it a little further by going to Colossians Chapter 2. The Scriptures don’t lie, and we have to believe it, because this is what God is going to hold us accountable for. Do you believe His Word? God calls that faith. And without faith it is impossible to please Him.
“And you, being dead in your sins (in our pre-salvation existence) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (regarding pagan Gentiles) hath he (God of verse 12) quickened together with him, (when Christ died, we died, when He arose from the dead, we arose to newness of life) having forgiven you all trespasses;”
He has forgiven every last sin that we have committed, are committing, and will commit. These sins are already forgiven. I’ve stressed in our last series of lessons how that when Christ died, how much of the world’s sins did He die for? All of them! He tasted death, the Book of Hebrews says, for every man. I’m going to keep repeating it. I want people to know if they go out into a lost eternity it wasn’t because their sins weren’t taken care of, it won’t be because the atoning Blood wasn’t for them, but rather it’s because they rejected it in unbelief. And, oh, pass this on. Make people realize that their sin debt is paid in full, but God can’t activate that payment until they believe the Gospel. That’s the kicker! We have to believe before we can appropriate this forgiveness. But for those of us who believe – yes, we are totally forgiven. Now let’s look at Colossians Chapter 3:13 and again it’s that same concept that we are forgiven.
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
Now coming back to the text in Chapter 5 of II Corinthians. When we come before the Bema Seat or the Judgment Seat of Christ, it isn’t that we are going to have to face our sins because they are taken care of, they’re forgiven, they’re cancelled. So we come before Him now to be judged on what we have done as believers in our earthly sojourn. It’s not going to be so much on how much we have done as the motivation behind what we have done. Why do we do the things that we do? In other words, if the only reason I taught was to show people how much I know; hey, it would count for nothing. It has to be the right motive. So everything we do has to be done in that light. Am I doing it because I love the Lord, and He’ll receive the glory? If so then it will count for rewards. But on the other hand if we’re doing it to show people how much we can accomplish then it will count for nothing. It will be nothing more than hay, wood and stubble. Now reading on in verse 10:
II Corinthians 5:10,11
“For we must all (believers) appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, (while we’re here in the body) according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
So let’s look at this whole concept of working for rewards. Turn to I Corinthians Chapter 3, and we find the same idea. Verse 12:
I Corinthians 3:12,13a
“Now if any man (remember Paul only writes to believers) build upon this foundation (Christ up in verse 11) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13. Every man’s work shall be made manifest:…”
It will be under the spotlight, and the very fiery eyes of Jesus are going to examine everything that we’ve done as believers. We can either have those things that the fire can’t touch such as the gold, silver, and precious stones or we’ll have some of the stuff that goes up in a puff of smoke – wood, hay, and stubble. So that again is pretty much self-explanatory. And again that will be primarily based on our motives. Why do we do the things that we categorize as good works? Is it just for pleasing the flesh or someone else or strictly done for God’s honor and glory.
I Corinthians 3:13
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day (what day? That day when we stand before the Bema Seat. For that day) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire;and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
And here we have to go back to that portion of Scripture in Revelation, where the eyes of the Lord Jesus are as what? Fire!
“His (Christ) eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
Now it doesn’t say that His eyes are fire, but rather they are as fire, and that makes a big difference. So as Christ’s eyes penetrate the works record of every believer, the stuff that was hay, wood, and stubble will just disappear. And that which was gold, silver, and precious stones will remain, and from that we will receive a reward.
II Corinthians 3:14a
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward….”
Now you can’t argue with that. Many people don’t like that concept, but I’ll never forget quite a few years ago I had a gentlemen who had been pastor of a large Church in Chicago. He came up one night after I’d been teaching this very thing, and he told me, “Les teach it, and teach it, and teach it, because so few people understand this concept of rewards for the believer.” Absolutely we’re going to receive a reward. Above and beyond our salvation, above and beyond the promises like the street being paved with gold, and the mansions in glory, but that’s not the rewards. The rewards are going to be something else, however I can’t totally put my finger on it, but I’d like to think that it will be places of responsibility in the heavenlies.
I noticed in the Daily Oklahoman this morning that the Hubbell space telescope has just found the largest star ever. That’s just mind boggling, and if I remember correctly the analogy was that that star put out more energy and heat in a few moments than our sun does in a year. So I think that whole area of outer space is going to be the domain of the Church Age believer , because we’re told that we’re going to rule the heavenlies. Israel is promised the earth, and we’re going to give them that, but the believer of the Church Age, the Body of Christ, we are going to rule in the heavenlies.
Now I think there’s also going to be a certain amount of interfacing between those of us in our resurrected bodies, and the Millennial citizen who will be in flesh and blood for that thousand years, I would think. But whatever, there’s going to be areas of rewards that I want every believer to work for. Remember you don’t work for salvation, that is a gift. Let’s look at that for a moment in Romans Chapter 6. This is a concept that is so hard for a lot of people to overcome because they’ve had it drummed into them since they were little that they have to work, they have to do something for their salvation. But Romans 6:23 just blows that out of the saddle.
“For the wages (something that you earn) of sin is death; (spiritual death) but (the flip side) the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Now how much work can you do and still call it a gift? None. You can’t work for something and then call it a gift, because as soon as you work for it, it is no longer a gift. And so it is with salvation. It has to be something that we take totally as a gift of God without having to do any work of any kind. But once we’ve become a recipient of that gift, what does God logically expect? Now we go to work and work for rewards. That’s the whole idea that we’re not saved to sit, but rather we’re saved to serve. Now another thing I don’t want you to confuse rewards with and that is the crowns. Now I don’t think the crowns have anything to do with the rewards that we receive from the Bema Seat. Now, there are various crowns listed. The crown of righteousness, the crown of life, and so on and so forth. But I don’t think they are one and the same whatsoever.
Now we know when we studied the Book of Romans when Paul listed the gifts to men that He gave to the Church; not everybody has that same gift. They’re not all going to work in that same area for the rewards, but every believer has something. Don’t ever lose that. I don’t care who you are, or how old or young you are. You have something that God has given you that can be used as a gift, and it in turn can precipitate your rewards. Now let’s come back to I Corinthians again and look at Chapter 9 where Paul alludes to this over and over and this is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this isn’t just man’s idea. This is what God wants us to understand.
I Corinthians 9:24,25a
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. (Not salvation, but rather the prize, the reward.) 25. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things….”
I know here Paul is alluding to the Olympic athletics. So what did the athletes do? They trained, and trained, but they did it with temperance. They did not destroy their body with over-training, not one. On the other hand did they arrive flabby, and in no condition to run the race? No. And so with common sense, and being temperate in all things, they prepared for these Olympic races. So here Paul is telling us the same thing. Now reading on:
I Corinthians 9:25b
“… Now they (these Olympic runners) do it to obtain a corruptible crown; (a wreath of leaves) but we (who are also running a race. and running for rewards we’re looking for) an incorruptible.”
A crown that will never end. In other words once the Lord establishes our place of responsibility in the heavenlies for eternity that will never end. It’s going to be ours forever and ever and ever. And if only more people could get a concept of eternity. Eternity is without end and whatever reward we have earned we are going to enjoy for all eternity.