Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 36
ONCE YOU WERE SEPARATED FROM GOD
Now to get right back into the Book where we left off in our last lesson and that was in Ephesians chapter 2 and we’ll begin with verse 11. Now again Paul is going to use that word which is almost one of his favorites, and it is “wherefore”.
And the thing I always point out is that when Paul uses that word “wherefore“ it’s a flash back of what he has just covered. Paul repeats himself, not as much as I do, but almost as much, so what he’s referring to is what he’s just covered in these earlier verses of chapter 2. And he is dealing primarily with the whole concept that we become new persons in concept, we become a new creation, not by virtue of anything we have done, but rather it’s all by faith + nothing. Now I know that rankles a lot of people because they are still under the impression that you’ve got to do something in the energy of the flesh to merit salvation. But if you would just study Paul’s emphasis of how we enter into that salvation, it’s not by what we do, but by believing what Christ has already done. So looking back for a second at these previous verses and see what he says.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith: (see, there is nothing else listed in there. It’s just by our faith, and made possible by the Grace of God) and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God:”
Then Paul goes on to say, “we are then as believers to serve.” Because after all God didn’t just save us as a fire escape, as I’ve put it so often, but He saved us to serve Him while we’re here on earth during this earthly pilgrimage. Now then coming into verse 11, and I imagine these are a couple of verses that are almost unknown to most Church people and yet these are two verses that have made such an impact, at least on me. Remember I was just like everyone else. At one time I just saw this whole Book thrown into a blender and mixed up, and spooned out like it is done in most congregations today.
Then I started teaching, and begin to realize that God was dealing with the nation of Israel on covenant ground all the way from Genesis chapter 12 until we get to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. in Acts chapter 9. And then when Israel rejected the Messiah, He chose Saul of Tarsus to go to the Gentiles. That’s when these verses became so important to me, and I’ve used them a lot in past programs, and I’m sure a lot of people will recognize them. They are so important because they point out that for over 2000 years from Abraham to Paul, that Gentiles had little or no opportunity for salvation. Although these 2 verses are oh so important, there are still many people who can’t believe what they say.
“Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,…”
Now immediately that reminds us then to whom is the apostle writing? To primarily Gentile believers. Now when I teach this facts of Gentiles, the non-Jews, being so completely different than anything that had happened before, you want to remember that at the time that God called Abraham every last human being on the face of the earth was pagan, idolater, Gentiles. At that time there had never been any Jews, and these pagan, idolater, Gentiles knew nothing of the one true God. It was at that time God decided to do something different and appeared to Abraham, and pulled out the Jewish race, and the nation of Israel. So Scripturally, we now lump everyone who is not of the twelve tribes, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a Gentile. So that includes most of us. Then the Scriptures also refers to us Gentiles as we see here in verse 11, as the uncircumcision. Now let’s read it.
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision (Gentiles) by that which is called the Circumcision (Jews) in the flesh made by hands;”
Now the only reason I’m going to take the time to do this, is believe it or not, I’ve had people tell me, “Well I mentioned some of this that you teach to my pastor or Sunday School teacher, and they’ll just say, “Well circumcision doesn’t mean anything so far as identifying one group of people, but rather it was just a matter of the surgical process of the flesh. So that doesn’t mean anything.” Well I beg to differ with anyone who has that mindset. When teachers and preachers do that then they’re putting everything back into that blender again and mixing it up real good to spoon out, and God never intended it to be that way. Now come back with me to Acts chapter 10, and I’m doing this just to show that when the Bible refers to the uncircumcised it’s Gentiles, and when the Bible refers to the circumcision, then it’s Israel, the Jew. Right here in a few verses I think I can prove that point. As I tell my classes here in Oklahoma all the time, “The main reason I teach is not just for you to learn, but for you to teach others.” We’re finding that’s coming to fruition in so many areas of the country. People are actually taking what they’ve learned and using the Scriptures, and going out to teach others. This is the way it has to work.
Now before we look at the verses in Acts chapter 10 let me give you a little back drop. This is where Peter went up to the house of Cornelius. It was the first time that Gentiles had been approached at all, and we’ll see in another lesson how even the Lord Himself went only to the lost sheep of Israel. But here Peter has miraculously been led by an act of God up to Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea coast to go to house of Gentiles. Remember Peter had a lot of trepidation about this. I’ve always put it this way, that trip for Peter was like “Heel prints in the sand!” All the way from Joppa to Caesarea Peter did not want to go to this Gentile household any more than Jonah wanted to go to the city of Nineveh. It was the same kind of a mindset. “Surely God you don’t have anything to do with Gentiles”, but God says, “Peter get going.” All right when Peter got there, here’s where you see that the circumcision is Jewish, and the uncircumcision are Gentiles. Now verse 44 of Acts chapter 10. And remember all I’m trying to show here is the definition of these two words.
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45. And they of the circumcision…”
Now to find out who was in the house that were of the circumcision other than Peter, you jump across the page at least in my Bible to chapter 11, and look at verse 12.
“And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting, Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:”
Well who were the six brethren? They were Jews that came up from Joppa with Peter to Cornelius’ house. I mean Peter was in no mood to go to a house of a pagan Gentile by himself. So I guess for spiritual protection or what ever he took these six Jewish believers with him. Now coming back to chapter 10 and completing verse 45.
“And they of the circumcision (Peter and these six other Jews. The Scripture calls them circumcision. Do you see that?) who believed were astonished, as that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Now come all the way down chapter 11, and verse 1. Now this was after the fact and Peter was heading back home.
“And the apostles, and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision (the Jewish believers) contended with him. (why? Next verse) 3. Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
What were they called up in chapter 10, verse 45? Gentiles! Do you see that? Now that’s all I’m trying to show you. The Jew over and over in Scripture is referred to as the circumcision. The Gentile on the other hand is referred to as the uncircumcision. We refer to them as Jew and Gentile. Now if you come back to Ephesians chapter 2, I hope I’ve made my point. It’s just a matter of definition, that when we speak of the circumcision, it’s the Jew, it’s Israel. When we speak of uncircumcision, it’s the non Jew, and that’s all the Bible puts on it. A non Jew is anyone not born out of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel. Now verse 12, and we find Paul writes to these Gentiles, and to you and I where we came from, and what the situation was concerning our Gentile forefathers. Now of course now we’re about 2000 years removed from when Paul wrote, but nevertheless as we look back through human history it’s still the same.
“That at that time…”
Well at what time? When God was only dealing with the covenant people of Israel from Abraham to begin the nation of Israel, until the fork in the road when Paul was called to go to the Gentiles. I guess we’d better stop and put it on the board. I probably should have put my timeline up already, but I didn’t know I was going to do this. You want to remember from the time of the call of Abraham, and we’ve had this on the board over and over through the years. That was 2000 years before Christ was born, when God pulled off of this main stream of humanity, He pulled off what we now call the nation of Israel, by virtue of the Abrahamic Covenant.
We’ll be looking at that probably in the next lesson. We always refer to this time as Jew only, but of course there were exceptions. I have already referred to Jonah going to the city of Nineveh although he didn’t want to because they were Gentile dogs. And Rahab on the wall of Jericho, and Ruth out of Moab. But by in large all the way from Genesis chapter 12, which was 2000 BC, it’s all God dealing with Israel, and not a Gentile except these few exceptions. Now as we finally came to Christ’s earthly ministry, it was really pointed out by Christ Himself that God was only dealing with the nation of Israel in Matthew 10:5. Now if he was only dealing with the nation of Israel, then where does that leave the Gentiles? Well read on here in chapter 2.
“That at that time (from 2000 BC until Paul is sent to the Gentiles) ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, (now we don’t have the word Christ in the old Testament, but what is it? Messiah! But remember the Gentiles were never promised a Messiah, so these Gentiles) being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel…”
Now if you’re an alien what are you? You’re a non citizen, and you don’t have any rights. You take even today, even with the laxness that we’re showing toward immigrants, basically according to our laws and constitution, how many rights does an alien have? None! So by right of law he has no reason to expect governmental help, he can’t vote, and all because he’s a non citizen. Now this was the lot of the Gentile all during this 2000 year period of time, with these exceptions. I don’t want anybody to come at me and say, “Well what about Nineveh?”
Now that was an exception, but the rest of the Gentile world was out there in their pagan darkness. They were worshipping all of their gods of silver, gold, and wood, and what have you. All of that was tied to that same concept of gods and goddesses that begin at the tower of Babel. That was the lot of the Gentile world. “Only Israel had a knowledge and a contact with, and a belief in the One True God from Abraham to Paul.” “And this is what we have to understand before the Scriptures open up and begin to make sense. You simply can’t lump them all together” Now read on in this verse 12. So not only were we (our Gentile forefathers) without a Messiah, the Christ. Not only were we aliens of the commonwealth of Israel, but what were we?
“…and strangers from the covenants of promise,…” As soon as God begin to deal with Abraham He made all these promises. In fact let’s go look at it for a moment, and you’ll see why Paul uses the word “promises.” Remember the Gentiles were outside the covenants of promise. Genesis chapter 12, verse 2. Now just look at the promises, and since God is speaking these are promises.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shall be a blessing:” These were all future tense. There was no way Abraham could see how all of this would happen, but it was a promise from God. And then the greatest promise of all was in verse 3.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: (Why? Because through this man that all the promises were given would come the redeemer for the whole human race. Read on) and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Not just for Israel, although that will come first, but it’s going to end up being the plan of salvation for the whole human race, but it began with Abraham. See that’s why I’m always reminding folks, you take our Bible from cover to cover, who wrote it? Sons of Abraham. That’s what we call Jews, “The sons of Abraham wrote this Book to the last man.” I’m seeing more and more proof everyday from various articles and writers that even the one that a lot of people try to say is a Gentile, and he was no Gentile at all, and that was Luke. Luke the physician was not a Gentile, but rather he was a Jew that had taken on a Gentile name, but so did Saul of Tarsus when he was given the name, “Paul” so that wasn’t so unusual. When Paul was out in the Gentile ministry he was given a Roman name. And it was the same way with Luke. So I still stand on the premise that this whole Book came through the sons of Abraham. Now come back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 2. So the Gentiles during this 2000 years before Christ, when God was dealing only with His covenant people the non Jewish world were what?
“…strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”
Now I know that sounds awful. It sounds like God was cruel, and unforgiving, but that’s not the case at all. Because you see for the first 2000 years from the creation, all the way past the flood, and Tower of Babel, and up until the call of Abraham the whole human race had opportunity for salvation. The whole human race had access to God, it wasn’t just one group of people. And what did the whole human race do with it? Well they rejected it. And if you don’t believe me, you’ll certainly all believe the account of the flood, and I personally think there were 4 or 5 billion people on the earth even at that time, and how many were true believers? Eight! Now we think we’re getting pretty small in percentage today, but we’re not that few yet. It may get to that, but I sure hope not. But nevertheless that’s what happened those first 2000 years of human history, for the most part they just walked it under foot like they’re doing today. They just didn’t care. Most people have absolutely no interest in the things of the spirit. Why? Because it’s always been that way. So looking at the end of that verse again and let’s see what it says.
“…no hope, and without God in the world:”
Our Gentile forefathers up until Paul had no knowledge of the One True Creator God. They had no concept of Him. All they had was their gods, and their goddesses, and their temples, and what have you. But so far as the True God of Creation there wasn’t a Gentile that knew anything of Him whatsoever. So this was the lot then of the whole non Jewish world until we get to Acts chapter 11. A lot of times people have a hard time believing me when I say that Christ in His earthly ministry had nothing to do with Gentiles with two exceptions. The Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion were the only Gentiles in Scripture that Jesus had anything to do with, and that’s all we can go by.
I know a lot of people try to say that Galilee was Gentile, and since He performed so many miracles, He must have done it on behalf of the Gentiles, but the Book never says that, and you can’t read that into the Book. Always let the Book stand on what it says. In fact Matthew 10:5 says that He came only to the nation of Israel. So this Book says that they were only Jews that He dealt with! Now here in Acts this is a recap of everything that took place when they were stoning Stephen, which I maintain was about 7 years after Pentecost. And look what it says in Acts 11:19.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word (Old Testament)to none but unto the Jews only.”
Remember only the Jews had the Old Testament at that time. Do you see how plain that they preached only to the Jew? How can anybody miss that, but I know they do. I had a friend of mine try to show one of his friends something recently, the guy read it, look him in the eye and said, “I don’t believe that.” So my friend said, “In other words you’re calling God a liar?” Now isn’t that sad, but you see there are multitudes of men with many degrees behind their names that would just literally say, “But I don’t believe that.” They say that Jesus ministered to Gentiles, and Peter ministered to Gentiles, but our Bible says that all the way up to the stoning of Stephen they ministered to none but to Jew only. Now how did it come about that all that changed and finally God sent someone directly to the Gentiles? Just back up to Saul’s conversion in chapter 9, and drop all the way down to verse 15.
“But the Lord said unto him, (Ananias) Go thy way: for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…”
Now if you want to see what the Jews thought of Gentiles turn quickly to Acts chapter 22. In this chapter Paul has already been out in the Gentile world establishing little congregations, and he’s back in Jerusalem, and he’s trying to explain to his Jewish listeners what God had been doing though him with the Gentile people. In verse 17 we find Paul in a trance while praying in the temple in Jerusalem, and now let’s look at verse 18.
“And saw him saying unto me Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they (the Jews) will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19. And I said, Lord, they (the Jews) know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them (the Jewish believers) that believed on thee: 20. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. 22. And they gave him audience unto this word. (what word? Gentiles at the end of verse 21.) and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.” Can it get any plainer how the Jews felt about the Gentiles?