Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 31
THE CONCEPT OF GIVING IN THE AGE OF GRACE – PART 2
Now we will just pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and I realize that we’ve taught 2 lessons now on giving, and we’re not going to run a good thing into the ground and move on into some new territory. So in this next lesson we will begin with Chapter 10. Now I know that some of these things are repetitious, but it’s not just me that’s repetitious, the Scripture is also. How many times the Bible will repeat and repeat, and repeat. And of course the Holy Spirit is the Master Teacher, and He knows better than any secular teacher that repetition is the very basis of good teaching. In one of our lessons in the near future I’m going to go back and put my timeline on the board again, because you have no idea how many people have written or called to say it was the timeline that gotten them interested in this program and in Bible study.
So I just trust that people will begin to enjoy their Bible to study, and to read it, not just to be able to say, “I read my Bible today.” But to really feed on it and to understand what it’s talking about. Now speaking of repetition, how many times have I said that the apostle Paul is always having to defend his apostleship. And here we have it again in Chapter 10. You see the poor man was under constant attack, especially from the Judaising Jews that he was an impostor, that he had dreamed up this new Gospel, and these revelations himself. And after all, he had no badge of authority, he had no letters of commendation, he couldn’t claim that he had walked with Jesus three years like Peter, James and John, and so this was the thing that he had to constantly overcome. They would ask, “Who do you think you are?”
That reminds me of a lady who called from Minnesota several years ago and that’s exactly what she said. I answered the phone “Feldick’s” And she said, “Is this Les Feldick?” I replied, “Yes,” and she said, “Who in the world are you?” I said, “Well, I’m a nobody.” And that’s all that I’ve ever claimed to be. Paul didn’t have to say that. Paul said, “I’m somebody, I have been commissioned as the apostle to the Gentiles.”
“For I speak to you Gentiles, (non-Jews) inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
So here again in verse 1 of Chapter 10 we find:
II Corinthians 10:1,2
“Now I Paul myself beseech (beg) you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, (speaking of himself) but being absent am bold toward you:”(that is in his writings) 2. But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.”
Now do you see what Paul is saying? There were people out there probably among his congregation who did not recognize his divine appointment as an apostle of Christ, because you see Paul couldn’t have claimed to walked with Jesus in His earthly ministry. In Acts Chapter 9 we have the first of three accounts of his conversion on the road to Damascus. Which I’m sure most people have heard from the pulpits and Sunday school materials, but I’m afraid too many teachers overlook one of the crucial statements of the Lord Jesus Himself here in this chapter. This is after Saul has had this tremendous experience outside the city, and we find the Lord speaking to a Jew named Ananias.
“And the Lord said unto him, `Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.’ (in other words the Lord is preparing everything) 13. Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: (that is in his persecution) 14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.'”
Remember Saul of Tarsus’ whole purpose was to totally remove from the Nation of Israel anybody who had recognized Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, as the Messiah. And Ananias knew that and was sort of arguing with the Lord about going. Now verse 15.
“But the Lord said unto him, `Go they way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles, (and you want to remember up until this time that was almost a dirty word in the language of a Jew.) and kings, and the children of Israel:'”
Of course he always went to the Jew first. Paul never lost his desire to see Jews saved. Now look at the next verse. Jesus says long before Paul’s ministry ever begins:
“For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
What goes around comes around. Now you want to remember he had caused most sufferings for the Jewish believers. In fact let’s look at that in Acts Chapter 26 where Paul readily admitted the havoc that he had wreaked among the Jewish followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Here Paul is speaking in the first person as he is addressing this court room before Agrippa.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (in His earthly ministry) 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (the believing Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”
Do you see that? It wasn’t just a normal persecution, he persecuted them to the death. Paul voted against them when they were put to death. In other words when these people came up before the Sanhedrin, and made their confession of accepting Christ as the Messiah, the Sanhedrin would take a vote, and Paul said “I voted to put them to death.” He had no mercy, and his persecution I think was cruel. Now verse 11.
“And I punished them oft (the Jews like to punish with the lash. Thirty-nine stripes each time, and Paul was always in favor of it. Whip them, make them deny their confession) in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; (now listen, he didn’t do that with words, he did that with the action of the authority, and the whip masters and what have you, until the poor Jewish believers were either beaten to death, or would finally succumb.) and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
He didn’t confine it to Jerusalem. Wherever Saul of Tarsus heard there was a believing element of Jews that Jesus was the Christ, he went after them. And of course this was his whole purpose of going to Damascus. He thought he had pretty well cleansed the little Nation of Israel, and now he had to leave the country and get those Jews up there. Now all of that is the ground work. First God commissions him to go to the Gentiles. God tells Ananias that this man is going to suffer great things for my name sake. And on the other hand Paul tells us how much great suffering he had caused. And I have to feel that every time Paul came under one sort of oppression or another that was his first memory. “But look what I did in opposition of this myself.” God had the perfect candidate to take all the abuse, because he had handed out so much himself, and it just carried him, I think, until the day that he was beheaded. We all believe that Paul was beheaded by the Roman government, and I read some place the other night that the last few yards to the chopping block, he literally ran. He was ready to give it all up. He was ready to offer himself, and I think it’s probably true. Now back to Chapter 10 of II Corinthians. So here we find Paul again defending his apostleship Now verse 3.
II Corinthians 10:3
“For though we walk in the flesh, (Paul was only a man like you and I. He had to fight the same temptations that you and I do.) we do not war after the flesh:”
You know I’ve made the point over and over that Paul is our example. Let’s go to Philippians Chapter 3 and just look at verse 17. Now this isn’t the only time that Paul says this by inspiration. I have people jump on me once in a while and fortunately not too severely, but they will say, “But Les, I go by what Jesus said. I’m following Jesus.” I always come back and say well that’s not what my Bible tells me. Look what my Bible tells me and I trust yours tells you. Here he’s writing to Gentile believers up there in Philippi.
“Brethren, be followers together of me, (Paul) and mark them which walk so as ye have us (Paul) for an ensample.”
I Corinthians 4:16
“Wherefore I beseech (beg) you, be ye followers of me.”
II Thessalonians 3:7a
“For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us;…”
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause (because Paul was first in the long line of sinners in verse 15) I obtained mercy, that in me first (Paul was the first one to be placed into the Body of Christ)Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsufferings, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
Now that’s not taking anything away from the Lord Jesus, not at all. But you want to remember that when Jesus walked the footsteps of the Galilliean Sea, He was God. I can’t walk in the steps of God. Remember He was totally man, but also totally God. When He started walking across the sea of Galilee I couldn’t follow. I’d be like Peter, I’d go down. So we have to be careful how we take some of these things. But this man, Paul, was just as human as I am. He got just as hungry, and angry at times, and he had just as many failures and temptations as you and I have. Now that’s the kind of person I can follow, because I know that is humanly possible. So Paul tells us that he is our example, and if only believers could only walk in the footsteps of this man, who, as he put it, followed Christ.
I Corinthians 11:1
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Of course he followed Christ, that was his whole life. Remember he said, “to die is gain.” but he lived in order to follow and please his Savior. Now back to II Corinthians and looking at verse 3 again.
II Corinthians 10:3
“For though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh.”
In other words, the things that he is writing to the Corinthians, and to us about, were not the material and the physical, but rather the spiritual. So he says, “Yes I’m walking in the flesh, I’m an ordinary human being, but the warfare is in the spiritual realm.” And we’re going to see that more and more. Satan is pulling all the plugs today isn’t he? And when the Lord Jesus warned the disciples that one of the first signs of the end-time would be mass deception. He said, “be not deceived.” Beloved, we’re seeing it on every hand, and we have only one alternative. Don’t run to me or some denomination, but rather you run to the Book to see what it really says about it. Over and over people will call and tell me what they are up against with their denomination’s teaching. I say, “What does the Bible say about that problem?” They come back with, “Well I can’t find it in the Bible.” If that’s the case then you run from it, because if it’s not Scriptural then God has no intention for you to follow that kind of teaching. But Paul says that his war was not after the flesh, but in the realm of the spiritual.
II Corinthians 10:4
“(For the weapons of our warfare, are not carnal, (not of the flesh) but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”
And did he pull down strongholds? Oh you bet he did. As he moved into those pagan cities (remember the city of Ephesus was so completely taken over by the worship of the goddess Diana), he made such an impact on that city, that his impact was literally destroying the work of the idol maker, and those silversmiths until they caused a riot. Now one man did that to a complete city. So that’s an example of pulling down strong holds. Now verse 5.
II Corinthians 10:5a
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,…”
Now just stop and think a minute, are we seeing it? On every hand. Oh we’re seeing all this stuff that looks so great, but does it line up with the Book? Is it the power of God? That’s what we have to ask ourselves. Now reading on in verse 5.
II Corinthians 10:5b
“…and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Now that’s quite a statement isn’t it? I’m just like everybody else. Where do we have our largest problem. Well in the thought processes. That’s where we have to fight most of our battles. “The temptations in the thought.” As I mentioned in the last lesson, before we do or say anything, what do we have to do? We have to think it out. So we have to consider that this is where we have to fight our major battle. Now verse 6.
II Corinthians 10:6
“And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
That’s plain language. The more obedient we are to the Word of God the more disobedient we will be to the things of the world. When you get disobedient to the things of the world, you’re going to start hearing about it, you’re going to start feeling it. Verse 7.
II Corinthians 10:7
“Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s even so are we Christ’s.”
And then he’s going to go on and say, that we have to be able to examine our own faith. To be sure that you are certain of your eternal destiny, never take it carelessly. Now reading on.
II Corinthians 10:8a
“For though I should boast somewhat more of our (now he’s using the plural pronoun but he’s speaking of himself,) authority, (talking about his apostolic authority.) which the Lord hath given us…”
Paul didn’t get it by working for it. He didn’t get it by coming up through the ranks like we normally think of things in our present world. When a corporate president reaches that pinnacle of success, usually he’s paid his dues. He comes from the lower echelons and he’s worked his way up, but you see the apostle Paul didn’t do that. He came from being an abject persecutor to the apostle of the risen Christ to the Gentiles. Now verse 8 again.
II Corinthians 10:8,9
“For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: 9. That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.”
Well they were making references to his first letter where he really read them the riot act, and we pointed that out as we taught I Corinthians. How he was correcting their abuses, and he called a spade a spade, and he made no bones about it. Now Paul is quoting some of the rumors that had come back to him, and don’t think for a minute that the apostle didn’t hear just about everything that was ever said. It would always get back to him.
II Corinthians 10:10
“For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
Now you have to stop and think about some of these things. There was something about the apostle that did not just automatically draw people to him like some charismatic men can do. He had something about him that was almost the opposite. And I think I know what it was but we will probably have to wait and cover that in the Book of Galatians when we get there. But he had a physical appearance that did not turn people on, as we say today. It just kind of held them at bay. And his speech was contemptible. Now that’s hard for me to believe except as I look at it in one light. Paul said back in I Corinthians Chapter 14, that he spoke in languages more than all of them. I think his basic language was Hebrew and Greek. There was no doubt other people throughout the Roman Empire with different backgrounds to whom he ministered.
Now I’ve told you before about our guide in Israel that we use. He speaks almost perfect English although you can tell it’s not his mother tongue. But he told us before the tour was over that he could speak seven languages, but I’m willing to bet that some of those seven languages were not always grammatically pure. They did not always ring 100% pure even as he did with us. I could catch him in English once in a while where he did not have perfect grammar. So when people get picky you see that’s all they need. So I think what they’re saying is, when it came to some of these other languages other than his native tongue, he may not have the perfect grammar, and they would grasp at anything to criticize, and remember the man is just human. Now verse 11:
II Corinthians 10:11
“Let such an one (who says things like this) think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will be also in deed when we are present.”
Now of course as he dictated these letters most agree that he used a secretary of sort with the exception of the Book of Galatians. So maybe this secretary was able to help him with some of the grammar, but they couldn’t find fault with his letters They were perfect, Holy Spirit inspired. Now verse 12:
II Corinthians 10:12
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.”
Now in so many words do you know what he saying? Folks, I know that you have people coming into the congregation who are finding fault with me. And they’re trying to elevate their own position, but in their lack of knowledge they really don’t know what they are doing. Now when we get to Galatians I’ll be pointing this out especially in Chapter 2. Because when Paul makes reference in that chapter to the Twelve down in Jerusalem he speaks of them as men who seemed to be pillars, and that’s exactly what this verse is saying. There were men who were ridiculing, and criticizing his ministry who no longer had the power and the clout that they thought they had, and they hadn’t realize that their power was slipping away. But Paul says, “I am the apostle to the Gentiles.”