Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 35
THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULLNESS OF TIME – PART 2
Now since we spent the whole last lesson on one verse I suppose it’s time to move on to verse 8. Do you realize how many times Paul uses the word Grace? It just pops up constantly. Compare to the rest of Scripture where the word is hardly ever used. Well it’s because Paul is writing about Grace in the Age of Grace. God’s unmerited favor has been poured out on the whole human race and we’re going to see that in this lesson. How all of this has been building, and building until finally we’re moving closer and closer to the end of this whole time that God has allotted to the planet earth.
“Wherein (Grace in verse 7) he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;”
You know I had a letter the other day that said, “How do you explain the abundant life?” Now a lot of times I like to throw these questions right back at people. How would you explain the abundant life? Well you can’t put it into words really, and I guess when I do write and answer that question, I’m going to say, “Listen, it’s that complete package of the Grace of God that has given me the assurance of salvation, eternity in God’s presence. It has given the assurance that God is in total control of every moment of my life. I don’t have to worry and fret that all of a sudden I’ve been cut loose, and I’m without hope. I don’t have to feel that I’m under a constant burden of guilt. Now that’s some of the abundant life that Christ has promised for this earthly sojourn.”
It’s a life maybe not always of happiness, maybe our circumstances are not always the greatest, but the joy is there. So regardless of our circumstances we have the joy that Paul speaks of so much in the Book of Philippians. Paul is always saying in that Book, “Rejoice” And do you remember what kind of places Paul was in? In the dungeons of prison, shipwrecked, in the water, and under the scourging, and yet the man could constantly say, “be joyful.” Well that’s the abundant life. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have two Cadillacs in our garage, or the biggest house in town. But the abundant life is that we have been redeemed, we have eternal life, we have the hope of glory, we have that constant assurance that He knows all about us. We have access into the throne room of Heaven. We can pray at any time, and any place so that’s all part of the abundant life. But it’s not limited to just the abundant life, look what He’s giving us here.
“…wisdom and prudence;”
Now what’s the word prudence? I think I can wrap it up better than Webster’s dictionary. Prudence is just common horse sense! Isn’t it? When you are prudent you merely have good sense. Now if can have wisdom and with it some good common horse sense, then you’ve got the abundant life. God has given all this to you and I as believers free. We haven’t had to grovel in the ground, we haven’t had to climb the steps to St. Peter, we haven’t had to go across the ocean. He’s given all this to us, here and now. And it’s abounding, it’s more than we can handle, and how do we appropriate all this? By faith. I don’t always feel or sense it, but I come back to the Word and here it is, and I can believe it. Now that is what God is looking for, and the more we believe, I think the more He’ll bless us. Remember there’s nothing that pleases the heart of God more than the faith of a human being. For you see it’s unbelief that He’s going to hold in the strongest light against mankind. Remember when we looked at those verses in the Book of Hebrews?
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” And the opposite of unbelief is FAITH! So here it is now then. We’ve appropriated His Grace –
“Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;”
Now what’s the problem with Christendom today? They don’t have that kind of wisdom. Oh they may be saved but they’re out there floundering in ignorance of the Scripture. I just had a phone call this morning from a gentlemen. He said he had been to seminary, and the further he went in those seminary courses the further they were taking him from the truth. So he dropped out, and had discovered our lessons on the Internet, and realized what they were teaching in the seminary was running contrary to the Book. Well this is the beauty of God’s Grace. He’ll pour out wisdom and common sense to any of us who will appropriate it by faith, but we have to stay in the Book to get it. We’re not just going to be able to leave it up to the pastors. Now I’m not putting the fault totally on pastors, because they’re overloaded a lot of the time, but the average individual has to learn to get into the Word, and seek these things out. Now in verse 9 and 10, we’re going to spend the next little while, maybe 2 or 3 lessons in them.
“Having made known unto us (Paul) the mystery of his will,…”
What’s another word for “mystery“? Secret. Oh let’s go back and look at it in Deuteronomy 29:29 I was talking to a gentlemen recently that said, “Les after I saw that verse I just used it over and over, because it just says it all with regards to the revelations of the apostle Paul when he claims that these things were kept secret and that they were revealed to him and him alone from the ascended Christ.” Sometimes people will ask me, “Now are you taking things away from what Jesus said during his earthly ministry?” No I don’t take it away, but I know one thing, what He said from His ascended place in glory carries a lot more weight for us today than what He said to the Jew under the Law. And of course everything that Christ says from glory is through the apostle Paul. Now here it is.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: (what kind of things? Secret things. Now what’s a secret? Something that nobody else knows anything about.) but those things which are revealed (that’s from the word where we get revelation) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Now of course here Moses was writing under the Law, but he’s dealing with the same God. The same God that we deal with has told us the same thing. That He has kept things secret until He saw fit to reveal it. Now back to Ephesians 1 again for a moment then we’ll be going to Romans. Verse 9 again.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:”
In other words, where does everything start and finish? In the mind of God. Now let’s go back to Romans a moment and look at one of my favorite verses.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel (do you see how Paul uses the personal pronoun) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since (Christ earthly ministry? Since Peter’s message? No, but rather since anything was ever created. God has kept all of this secret, since) the world began.”
Now that’s the reason Jesus couldn’t preach Paul’s Gospel, that’s why Peter couldn’t preach it, because Paul’s Gospel was still kept totally secret in the mind of God until Paul received it. What is the revelation of the secret then? How that because of that price of redemption as we saw in the last lesson, because it has been accomplished, the work of the Cross is done, because of the power of His resurrection, God can now pour out on the human race this whole package of Grace and revealed truths that come from the pen of the apostle Paul. In it we have all of the truths that the Church needs today. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get the truth that we need. Now that doesn’t mean you throw away the rest of your Bible.
All the Bible is going to work for its common end, but if we would just see Christendom tonight spend 90% of its time in Paul’s epistles, and 10% of their time in the rest of the Bible we’d see things begin to happen. But it’s the other way around, most people spend 90% of their time in the Four Gospels and Old Testament, and they look at Paul’s epistles like they’re waste paper, and that makes old Satan happy. The expression I get from one of my fellow ranchers is, “They treat you like an unlovely step-child.” Well I think that’s the way most of Christendom treats Paul, like an unlovely step-child that they really don’t want any thing to do with, but you know they’ve got to admit he’s there. Now I see that all the time, but you see in Paul’s writings is where we have to be, because it was to this man that these secrets that had been held in the mind of God were finally revealed. Now just for a moment let’s turn to Ephesians chapter 3 to show you what I’m talking about.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, (this unmerited favor poured out from the very heart of God) that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;”
Now it’s interesting if you want to really do some language work. This word unsearchable really means “you can’t find the beginning of it.” It just goes back so far that you can’t trace it, and it began before Christ ever created anything. Now reading on, and remember what we’re talking about. It was revealed only to the apostle Paul.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (this secret) which from the beginning of the world (age) hath been hid (the same word in Deuteronomy 29:29) in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
That’s the mystery, this whole package of revealed truths that now comes only from the pen of the apostle Paul. Let’s name a few of these truths that was revealed only to this apostle. 1. Our beautiful salvation Gospel as recorded in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 16:25. 2. Redemption by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Our redemption price has been paid. 3. He has justified us. 4. He has forgiven us. 5. He has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
6. He has baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, and what am I always saying about that term? You won’t find that term Body of Christ anywhere else in Scripture except in Paul’s writings. And there he refers to this Body of Christ, this composition of saved people, black or white, rich or poor, east or west, it makes no difference. Every believer becomes a member of this Body of Christ. That’s one of the revelations of the mystery. It had never been revealed to anyone before.
7. Another one of the mysteries given Paul is the rapture of the Church this sudden out-calling of the saints when we meet the Lord in the air is another one. I get such a kick out of people sending me articles and books about the Church going into or through the Tribulation. And I just can’t read them when I see where they’re headed. I just lay them down. They’re all doing the same thing. They are ignoring the apostle Paul. I know where they’re coming from, Matthew 24 where Jesus is speaking to the Nation of Israel, and His second coming to the earth. Now listen, you and I aren’t concerned about the Second Coming, we’re concerned about the out-calling of the Body of Christ, the Rapture to meet the Lord in the air, and that is strictly a Pauline revelation. No body else even mentions such a thing.
Yes, all the rest of Scripture speaks of the Second Coming, and it is coming, but before that happens, we’re out of here, because we won’t fit in that Tribulation scenario. It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole; the Church won’t fit. The Tribulation is God dealing with the Nation of Israel, the Tribulation comes out of all the prophet’s statements of the Old Testament. The only time Paul even mentions it is in II Thessalonians chapter 2, where he makes it so plain that after we have departed then shall appear that man of sin, and the Tribulation, and all the rest of it. Otherwise the Second Coming has nothing to do with Paul’s teachings. I just get so frustrated, why do people keep sending me this stuff that the Church will go into or through the Tribulation when all they would have to do is read Paul’s I Corinthians 15:52-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. He’s the only one that has had these secrets revealed concerning the Church. So remember the Rapture and the Second Coming are two different events – separate by at least seven years.
Now there’s nothing secret about the prophetic things that the Old Testament prophets wrote about. There was nothing secret about Christ coming to the Nation of Israel was there? Why it was even revealed where He would be born. It was revealed unto Mary that His name would be called Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. There’s nothing secret about that. The Old Testament in Psalms and Isaiah were full of crucifixion, His burial and resurrection, it was all back there, it wasn’t secret. It’s the same way with the Book of Revelation. There’s nothing in that Book that’s a secret. It all fits with the Old Testament prophecy. All you have to do is read Joel and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and they all fit with Revelation, that’s not a secret. But when you come to these things like we’re looking at now, that here we are by God’s Grace having wisdom and prudence poured out on us, the like of which has never happened before, nor will it happen again once the Church is removed. I mean, we’re on separate special grounds as believers of the Church Age. Now let’s look at another one of the mysteries in Colossians I think I’ve already mentioned 6 or 7 of them, and we haven’t touched on all of them.
“… whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Paul has to let us know that he’s God’s authority.) 24. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, (not His body of flesh, but what”) which is the church: “
Now you don’t find Peter using that term. You don’t find Jesus in His earthly ministry talking about the Body of Christ, because all He dealt with was Israel and the prophetic. But in Paul’s writings he’s constantly reminding us that we are members of the Body of Christ, a special combination of believers from every walk of life, from every corner of the globe, by virtue of having believed the Gospel. Now verse 25.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, (Gentiles) to fulfil (or bring to completion) the word of God; 26. Even the mystery (the secret) which hath been hid (most people don’t even want to read that. I think they must close their eyes when they come to some of these words, but here it is, these things which have been hidden) from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”
Now that’s from the pen of the apostle Paul. Oh goodness go on up into chapter 2.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, (listen this isn’t Greek, this is all so plain if we’ll just read and study it) to the acknowledgment of the mystery (secrets) of God, and of the Father, and of Christ: 3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Because He’s God! But what are we reading? He has now seen fit by His Grace to release these things that had been kept secret, and is now sharing them with us through the apostle Paul. God has never revealed these truths before. Now just for a moment let’s go to II Corinthians chapter 11. We studied these verses during our Corinthian study, but they’ve blessed my heart so that I’ve been using them over and over. You see this is what we’ve got to get people to understand. Oh they only want to go by what Jesus said. Well that’s all right up to a point, but Jesus didn’t reveal the mysteries in His earthly ministries. Some say, “Oh I’m going by what Peter says”, but Peter didn’t have be mysteries. But look at what Paul says in verse 5
II Corinthians 11:5
“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.”
He’s not a step behind Peter in authority, in fact he’s ahead of Peter. Then he repeats it again in verse 22 and 23, and he’s referring to the Twelve in Jerusalem.
II Corinthians 11:22-23
“Are they Hebrews? so am I, Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.”
Then come into chapter 12, and drop down to verse 11. And again Paul is defending that apostleship here. He is trying to show the authority he has as the apostle to the Gentiles.
II Corinthians 12:11
“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: (what did he mean by that? Well they were putting him down. They were constantly saying, `Now wait a minute Paul, you’re all right, but after all Peter had more authority. Peter is the big wheel in Jerusalem.’ And others used Apollos as their example, but look what Paul says) for I ought to have been commended of you; (Paul was the one that brought them out of pagan darkness, not Peter, not Apollos) for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, (but in his humility he says) though I be nothing.
Paul has now become uppermost in authority. The Twelve are now behind him. They are still beating a dead horse, so to speak, because God has turned from Israel, and they were the apostles for Israel. (Galatians 2:9) God had now turned to the whole human race, and this was all part and parcel of the revelations of mysteries which had been hidden in God, but now have been revealed to this man. And I’m sure just like the Church today, Paul was up against himself when he said, “All in Asia have turned against me.”