Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 31
2 CORINTHIANS 5:9 – 5:21
Let’s begin in verse 16. So take your Bible and follow along with us because after all I’ve stressed over and over that I don’t want anybody to go by what I say, but hopefully be able to search the Scriptures with us to see if these things are so. I remember years and years ago when Iris and I were first married, we had a young couple come into our fellowship who were from diverse denominational backgrounds and as a result they were naturally having some problems in the home. I guess it was the Lord’s way of getting me ready for all of this.
Anyway, the pastor asked me if I would go out to that farm house one night a week and just teach those two people. Well I’d never done anything like that before and I was green as grass but you know sometimes you plunge in where angels fear to tread. I’ll never forget the rude awakening I got when I began to point out some things from this Book and the young lady said, “Now hold it Les, I have always been told that my Church is my only authority, and not that Book.” Well how are you going to overcome something like that. But we did, and both of those people came to know the Lord and they’ve walked with the Lord ever since.
You see the whole idea of my teaching is not that you go by what I say, but to learn, what does the Bible say. And as I’ve stressed so often it’s just as important to see what the Bible does not say. A lot of times we have misconceptions of what the Bible says, and a lot of time it’s not even in there. So anyway we’re going to just teach and hopefully point out what the Scriptures really say. So many times people just gloss over their reading of the Word and don’t really see what it says. Now let’s begin with II Corinthians 5:16 where we left off in our last lesson. And remember when Paul starts a verse with Wherefore or Therefore he’s wanting you to reflect back to what he has just said, and he has just stressed the fact that Christ died for all, and since He died for all every last human being was dead in trespasses and sin until they’re brought out of that deadness by an act of God when we believe the Gospel.
II Corinthians 5:16
Wherefore (because that’s all been accomplished) henceforth (now remember Paul is only talking about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection so he says, henceforth since that time)know we no man after the flesh: (now who in the world is he talking about? Well let’s read on and see.) yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now (this side of His death, burial, and resurrection) henceforth know we him no more.”
Now what’s Paul driving at? Well come back with me to I Corinthians Chapter 1. Paul was constantly up against opposition of one kind or another, and some of it probably sounded real good. It’s just like today. I know people can throw arguments at me that sound real good. And sometimes they put me on the defense for a little bit, but when I stop and think, “Well what does the Word say?” And then that makes all the difference in the world. Now here was what Paul was up against in verse 12.
I Corinthians 1:12
“Now this I say, that every one (the whole congregation of how many there were) of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; (Peter) and I of Christ.”
Well what did they mean by that? “Well I’m going by what Jesus said.” Does that sound familiar? I hear it all the time. Some asked me, “Why do you emphasize Paul? I’m not going to go by what some man says, but rather what Jesus said.” Well now wait a minute, remember everything that Jesus said was under the Law. Now there are things that Jesus said that we can make application, of course we can, because it’s the Word of God. But for the most part everything He said were to people living under the Law of Moses. For example when the lepers were healed and cleansed by His own miracle, what did He tell the lepers to do? “Go show yourselves to the priest.” All right now are you going to tell me that if someone is suddenly healed of a disease or they are suddenly well again that to confirm this they are to go to the priest? Well what priest are they going to go to?
There is no Temple worship today, we’re not under the Law of Moses. And in order to make it so profoundly certain that we are no longer under the Law God prompted the Roman army to destroy the Temple. Have you ever stopped to think, “What would have happened to Christianity if the Temple would have kept right on operating?” Christianity would have never gotten off the ground. There would have been so much profound Jewish opposition that after all the Temple was viable, the priesthood was still viable, this is the only place (Jerusalem) to worship, and God knew that. So God had to have the Temple totally destroyed (in 70 AD) the priesthood was uprooted, Israel was sent out into the nations of the world so that there was no temptation what so ever to hang on to Temple worship. So this is what Paul is coming backing to here. He said since the death, burial, and resurrection, and since the revelations of the Gospel of the Grace of God then:
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man (Christ) after the flesh:…”
We are no longer going by the things that He taught to Israel under the Law of Moses. But rather we have this whole new revelation revealed by Him from glory. Now what am I talking about? Turn to Galatians Chapter 1. These Scriptures lay it out so plain. And this is what I have to constantly in my own ministry come up against when someone tells me that they are not going to go by what some man like Paul says, that they are going to go by what Jesus says. Always remember everything He taught back in the Four Gospels was before His death, burial, and resurrection. The Twelve didn’t even know that He was going to die. And after He was crucified they had no idea that He was going to be raised from the dead (Luke 18:34) Why? Because that was something that God was going to reveal back here especially to this apostle.
“But I certify (or guarantee) you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (And remember Jesus Christ was now in glory) 13. For ye have heard of my conversation (manner of living) in time past in the Jew’s religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (assembly of Jewish believers at Jerusalem) of God and wasted it: 14. And profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. (Paul was a religious zealot remember) 15. But (the flip side) when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen: (Gentiles) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, (where he received all these revelations from the ascended Lord that he could now take to the Gentile world) and returned again unto Damascus. 18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” (and remember James wasn’t one of the Twelve)
Now why is all of this in here for? To show us (Church Age believers) that as soon as God saved this Jewish religious zealot He did not permit Him to have contact with the Twelve. He purposely kept Him from them, sent him instead down to Mount Sinai in Arabia to give him these revelations, because you see had Paul gone back to Jerusalem, what do you suppose the Twelve would have drummed into him? Well, what they had been preaching. That Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, The Son of God, yes He was crucified, but God raised Him from the dead, and He’s still willing to be the King of Israel if Israel will only repent.
But God says, “No, no, Paul. That’s not what I want you to learn, I’m going to show you these things from my own position in Heaven. So He reveals this whole sphere of doctrine that we call Grace. And it was completely separated from Judaism, and yet an extension of it. Now, I’m always talking progressive revelation in Scripture, because everything is progressive. The same way here. As soon as Paul receives these revelations – that doesn’t cancel everything that’s gone before but rather it builds on it. So as the Abrahamic Covenant was given and brought Israel to the place of having the Messiah come, does that cancel the Old Testament? No it was all fulfilled. And then Israel, according to prophecy, rejected the Messiah and then God saved this man and said,
“I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles.” Well now Jesus didn’t teach anything like that. Jesus certainly never taught the Twelve to go out to the Gentiles:
“Go not into the way of the Gentiles…”
And especially with the Gospel based on His death, burial and resurrection. He couldn’t have because that hadn’t taken place yet. I wish people could see that. Jesus never told those Twelve to go out and preach His death, burial and resurrection for salvation but this man, the apostle Paul, that’s all he knows. Now I was thinking of another one last night in my waking hours. You know I do more studying lying on my pillow than any place else. And again the thought came last night, and I’ve never taught this before, but I’m going to give it to you today. You know there is no earthly headquarters for the Body of Christ, our headquarters is Heaven. But the one place on earth where Christianity did begin was not the church (or assembly in Jerusalem) but rather at Antioch.
“And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people, And the disciples were called Christian first in Antioch.”
Do you see that? Antioch which was 150 to 200 miles north of Jerusalem was the place from which Paul and Barnabas were first commissioned by the Holy Spirit to go to the Gentiles up there in western Turkey and not Jerusalem. I want people to think about that. Why didn’t he just go back to Jerusalem, learn everything from the Twelve, and then have Jerusalem be the place that they would jump off into the Gentile world? Well because God wouldn’t have it that way. And so even when there was a jump off place, and I don’t like to call Antioch the headquarters of the Church, but it was the place from which Paul and Barnabas left. It was the place to which they went back to. It was the place from which later Paul and Silas left again to go to the Gentile world, and again they came back to Antioch. Not Jerusalem. Do you see that? Why? Well all of this is to show us that God is just keeping Judaism and Christianity so far apart even though they are connected by virtue of their beginning. And that’s what we have to understand. Now coming back to II Corinthians Chapter 5, and maybe I’ve made my point. And this is why the apostle can write by inspiration:
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: (and you know he’s talking about Jesus as we see in the next part of the verse.) yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
And yet I ask people to analyze most of your preaching today and see where it’s coming from and you will find it’s from Christ’s earthly ministry. Now there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of that. Absolutely I’m in agreement with that because we have to understand the story of Bethlehem, and the virgin birth. It’s good for us to know all the miracles that Christ did in the midst of the Jews to prove that He was Who He said He was. It’s good to understand what led to His crucifixion. It’s good to know how they responded to His resurrection there in John Chapter 20 and 21. But that’s not the Gospel. The Gospel of salvation comes out where Paul comes on the scene and tells us “that Christ commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, and He gave Himself for us.” And that’s all the man knows, the preaching of the Cross. Now this is why he’s stressing it in verse 16b.
II Corinthians 5:16b
“…yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
Now that’s loaded. Why does the Holy Spirit prompt him to say that “we have known Christ after the flesh?” I think Paul and Christ were about the same age. We know that Jesus was 30 when He began His earthly ministry, He was 33 when He was crucified. We know that the apostle Paul or Saul of Tarsus was one of the key men of the Sanhedrin, and no doubt was in his thirties as well. I think they were almost the same identical age. So Saul of Tarsus, that Pharisee of the Pharisees, was hearing all about the miracles that this Jesus of Nazareth was performing. And every time Saul would hear about more Jews following after the Messiah from Nazareth, it infuriated him because he was defending his religion. (Judaism) Then he had to defend his religion, and later as Paul, he had to defend his apostleship. The poor guy had a lifetime of fighting didn’t he? But at the first, as Saul, he had to defend his religion, and he started to stamp out every Jew that had embraced Jesus as the Messiah. But now he knows Jesus for Who He really is, and I like to show that from Acts Chapter 9. A lot of people have never seen the impact of this. In his conversion account written by Luke, most of you know the account on the road to Damascus.
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (now the voice is also coming from Heaven, so the pronoun me strikes the man, `Well it must be God speaking.’ Now read on.) 5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord?…”
Now you want to remember the word Lord in the Jewish vocabulary was that which replaced Jehovah. They didn’t even want to voice that word. So in his mind he’s saying Jehovah, but with his lips he says Lord. So put it in that light.
“…Who art thou Jehovah? (and how does Jehovah answer?) And the Lord said, I am Jesus…”
Now how would you like to have been in his shoes? Because it was Jehovah that he was serving, and it was Jesus that he was trying to stamp out and then to suddenly realize that they are One and the same. It just blew his mind, in fact it blew him blind. That’s what it amounted to as he ended up blind. So they had to lead him by the hand into Damascus. But once Saul of Tarsus saw Who Jesus really was he became the unstoppable dynamo that carried Christianity to the Gentiles. Oh he had his times of discouragement as we saw in a recent lesson, as he was even nigh unto death itself. He was burdened with all the care of those Gentile believers, but they couldn’t stop him until finally Nero had to take his head off, and that’s the only thing that stopped him.
So don’t lose sight of the fact that when Paul speaks of knowing Christ in the flesh back here in II Corinthians 5:16, Paul knew all about Him, although I don’t think he had a visible confrontation with Him. At least there’s nothing in Scripture that would indicate that. But Saul knew what was going on in Israel. He knew what was going on up in Galilee and I have to think at times he was on the outer perimeters of some of the crowds that were following Jesus, and it was just burning him up. Remember Saul thought that Jesus was an impostor, He was blasphemer, He was a false teacher, and it was just destroying the religion of the God of Abraham. But once he was confronted on the road to Damascus the man did a total 180 degree turn, and now he can say, “Henceforth we know him no more.” Oh if we could just get people to realize this. There’s nothing wrong with studying Christ’s earthly ministry, don’t misunderstand me. But listen, that is not where it’s at for us. Where it’s at for us is that which follows His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. Now let’s go on to verse 17.
II Corinthians 5:17a
“Therefore (since we’re no longer hanging onto Christ’s earthly ministry, but rather we’re hanging everything on His death, burial, and resurrection) if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:…”
Creation is a better term for the English language, it means the same in the Greek. So we become a whole new creation of God. Now going back up to “if any man be in Christ,” We need to look at that in I Corinthians 12:13:
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) are we all (every believer) baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (also see Ephesians 4:5)
So how do we get into Christ? By believing in our heart the Gospel and by letting the Holy Spirit do His work. The Holy Spirit places us into the Body of Christ. Now coming back to verse 17 of our text. So now we’re a new creation, we’re a work of God. Also remember that that part of us which has to deal with eternity is invisible. You and I or any other human can’t touch the invisible. Only God can deal in that area, so then in the area of the invisible God has done a work of creation. Also remember that the old Adamic nature had to be crucified, he had to be put to death. Now again that’s in the spiritual realm, that’s an invisible part of us, so only God can do that. Only God could put our old Adam to death in the crucifixion with Christ. Now the same way only God can give us that new creative personality, the new nature, because again it’s in the area of the invisible. So we are a new work of creation which God alone can do, then look at this change.
II Corinthians 5:17b
“…he is a new creature: (creation) old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
Every believer is suddenly going to have a change of appetites, a change of lifestyle, a change in behavior, a change in attitude. Why? Because we’re a new person, we’re different than what we were. Now that doesn’t give us a halo around our head, or make us sinless, or anything like that, but we are now the result of the creative work of the Creator God. We now have a whole new concept in life. I remember years ago there was a man that was my same age who spent every Saturday night in the bar. He came to my class one night, and as we were sitting having a cup of coffee together he said, “Les, why don’t I ever see you in the bar on Saturday night?” And I said, “For the same reason I don’t see you in church on Sunday morning”. Well that’s exactly the way it is. They have their own lifestyle, they have their appetites, and it is so totally different from ours. It’s as different as daylight from dark. So this is why I question professing Christians who see nothing wrong with doing everything that the world does. Hey, there’s got to be a change in attitude, and actions, and if nothing has changed then I have to doubt that anything has happened. Remember this says it all. If we are the work of a creative act of God then old things are passed away, and everything becomes new.
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