Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 37
Now we’re into an area of Scripture that a lackadaisical Christian won’t get into. But for those of you who really love the Word, and love the Lord, and love to study, of course Ephesians is a tremendous little Book that’s only 6 chapters long. But the whole idea of this Book is for us to understand who we are in Christ. It doesn’t matter whether we’re rich or poor, Jew or Gentile that is not the point. We are all one when we become members of the Body of Christ, which we’ll be seeing later even in this chapter.
Now picking up where we left off in the last lesson, we had gotten down to verse 3 where Paul again is taking credit for having the revelation of the mystery or the secret that has been held in the mind of God ever since the world began, which you pick up down in verse 9. In fact let’s just read verse 9 so that you’ll see why I’m spending so much time on this up here in the first 2 or 3 verses.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (secrets) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,…”
See, that goes right back to our first lesson this afternoon where God has the ability to hide things because He’s Sovereign. (Deuteronomy 29:29) As we teach we always try to be Biblical, it isn’t just my idea, or some denomination’s idea, but what does the Word of God really say? So these things have been hidden in the mind of God ever since the very onset of human history, but now are revealed particularly through this apostle. Now always remember when we speak of the apostle Paul as having the revelations there were other men that followed in his footsteps. We know that Barnabas started out with his ministry, and then came Silas, and then you have Apollos who comes into the picture. Then of course Timothy and Titus, and then there were also probably others, but they were all working in Paul’s footsteps, and each were proclaiming Paul’s Gospel of Grace. Paul makes that so plain in his second letter to Timothy.
II Timothy 4:1a-2
“I charge thee therefore before God,…2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (And now verse 5 and 6)
II Timothy 4:5-6
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
Paul is going to be taken off the scene, but he is charging the young man Timothy to continue with these mysteries you might say, that have been revealed to this unique individual. So now back to verse 3, where Paul tells us about these secrets.
“How that by revelation (by revealing) he made known unto me the mystery; (these things that had been kept secret) (as I wrote afore in few words, (in chapters 1 and 2) 4. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)”
Now what in the world can he be talking about unless it’s something that had never before been revealed. This is the idea then of the revelations of the mystery. All right let’s go back to Romans so we can put some other Scripture verses with this. Romans is the foundational Book of Paul’s letters so far as doctrine in concerned. And yet Romans does not relay some of these deeper things that we’re already seeing in Ephesians, but he does make one reference to all this in his closing remarks in chapter 16.
This is a verse that I’ll refer to time and time again, because it says so much that most of Christendom hears nothing of. And why preachers and teachers avoid it I’ll never know, but I would love for people to just call me if they hear a sermon on Romans 16:25, because I’d like to know about it. So those of you out there who are pastors and are listening to me, goodness sake preach a sermon now and then on this verse, because this is what people have to hear.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, (we have to proclaim the message) which was kept secret since the world begin.”
See, Paul was the very first one to preach this Gospel that Jesus died for you, was buried and rose again. No one else in Scripture preaches this as a salvation doctrine. This had been kept secret in the mind of God since the world began until revealed to this apostle, and you just can’t get around it. I’ve had people ridiculously try to tell me that Adam was saved by believing the Gospel. Isn’t that ridiculous? The Gospel hadn’t been revealed. All Adam and Eve did for salvation was do what God instructed them to do. Abel did what God instructed him to do, but they certainly didn’t know anything about the death, burial and resurrection and a crucifixion. They couldn’t have or this verse would be a lie.
They couldn’t have crucifixion because crucifixion wasn’t invented until the Romans thought it up, Sovereignly of course. No one had a concept, according to Paul, of the Gospel as we now know it. In fact let’s go all the way back to Peter’s first little epistle. And this was written at the end of Peter’s ministry, just as well as II Timothy is written at the end of Paul’s ministry, and I think they were both martyred within a year or so of each other. So this Scripture was written at about 65 or 66 AD, and Peter writes starting in verse 10 of chapter 1.
I Peter 1:10-11
“Of which salvation (as we now know in the age of Grace, and I’m sure he is now alluding to Paul’s Gospel at least somewhat.) the prophets (Old Testament writers) have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (now look at the next verse) 11. Searching (they were looking, and looking for something they couldn’t find. And they never did find it.) what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
Now when I teach my classes here in Oklahoma we have time for questions and discussion, these things come up and we can cover them in detail. Now all the way though the Old Testament, in fact I usually put it this way on the board: all the way through the Old Testament you have two parallel lines of thoughts, they’re just like two railroad tracks. All the way up through the Old Testament, especially from Genesis chapter 12. “One of them is the coming of a suffering Savior, and the other one is the coming of a ruling King.” Scattered throughout the Old Testament there are verses that allude either to the first one or the second one. I remember reading many many years ago where some of the ancient Rabbi’s were all hung up on the situation around Rachel and the birth of Benjamin. And those of you who know your Old Testament know that as Rachel was dying she named Benjamin.
“And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”
Benoni was “the son of my suffering.” But Benjamin was “the son of my strength.” Well the Rabbi’s could deduct that this was either the name of a suffering Saviour, which would be Benoni. Or Benjamin the son of my strength which depicted a ruling King, so for centuries were hung up about this. Well how could this be unless they would have two Messiahs So that was also in their thoughts, “Maybe there are two Messiahs instead of one.” So when the Messiah came He had to be first the suffering Savior, you know that. He couldn’t be the King until He’d redeemed the Nation of Israel. So for most Jewish people today, bless their heart, they still can’t reconcile the fact that He has already fulfilled the “Benoni” part, but are waiting for the soon return of His Second Coming to be the ruling King. It’s the same Person, but fulfilling both roles 2000 years apart. Now this is exactly what Peter is talking about. Now read it again.
I Peter 1:11
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them (as they wrote by inspiration) did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, (the Benoni) and the glory that should follow.” (which was the Kingdom Age where He will rule and reign as King)
But did they ever figure it out? No. Was it their fault? No, because they weren’t supposed to as that was all kept secret in the mind of God. Now after reading Romans 16:25 a moment ago where Paul says “it’s the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mysteries,” let’s come on to I Corinthians chapter 4, and look at another one. Remember Paul writes here to the Gentiles at Corinth so in effect he’s writing more or less to us.
I Corinthians 4:1
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
Now I told you in a lesson or two back that a part of the administration of the Grace of God, or a part of the dispensation of God was that there had to be an administrator. Abraham spoke of it way back when he was promised a son, and said, “Lord all I have is this Eliezer of Damascus who is the steward of my property.” Eliezer was the administrator, so that’s a perfect analogy. Now let’s come back to what we used earlier.
Here we have a corporation, and we have a gentlemen at the very top, he’s the chief executive officer. This gentlemen has gotten his education, he’s probably gotten his degree in business administration, he goes and gets a masters degree from Harvard, and he works his way up through the ranks, and all of a sudden he’s the chief executive officer of this great corporation. Now he’s worked hard to get to that position, and he’s being paid well for it. What is expected of him? To be a good administrator. That’s his job. Now that’s exactly what Paul is telling every one of us, that as soon as you get a good grasp on these mysteries, on these revelations that have been given to the apostle Paul, what are we to do with it?Pass them on! Administrate them, dispense them, do you see that?
But oh Christendom is so slow to react, and I keep thinking all the time of some of the great Bible teachers of generations back who saw the apostasy that was coming. They were almost pleading then already that the average Christian would get skilled in the Word of God so that when the apostasy would come that we could by person to person pass these things on. So this is what the apostle is saying, in verse 1, “that we are to be stewards of these secrets of God that are now revealed ” Now reading verse 2.
I Corinthians 4:2
“Moreover it is required in stewards, (or managers,) that a man be found faithful.”
We’re not to be sloppy, we’re not to be careless. We are to be constantly passing the Word on, and showing folks, what does it say. Not what you think it says, not what I say, or some preacher says, but show them what does the Word say. So we’re to be faithful stewards of the mysteries. Well let’s come on over to another favorite one of mine, and that of course is I Corinthians 15:51. And we’re getting closer and closer to this portion of Scripture being fulfilled. I think it’s a lot closer than most people like to think. Notice the word mystery just jumps off the page at you.
I Corinthians 15:51-52
“Behold I shew you a mystery; (Paul is going to tell us something here something that has never even been hinted at anywhere else in the Bible. The Old Testament knew nothing of it. Jesus never referred to it, although He knew about it. He too kept it secret, and the mystery is that) We shall not all sleep, (or die physically) but we shall all be changed. (we can’t go to glory in this old body of flesh, so we’re going to have to be changed. Now reading verse 52.) In a moment, (a finely split particle of time. It’s actually less than a second) in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the (believing) dead shall be raised incorruptible, (like Christ’s resurrected body) and we shall be changed.”
Those believers who are alive when this happens will be changed! Now that’s what the Scriptures say, this isn’t my idea, but rather this is what the Book says. We will be made incorruptible, because you see this corruptible body can’t go into glory so it has to be changed, and it will be in that split second. Well that’s all part of what Paul calls the mysteries. Since we’re in this chapter, let’s go back to those first four verses and look at another mystery that was only given to Paul. We’ve used these verses over and over because they are so paramount to our being ready for the mystery of what we just read. This passage is the Gospel of the Grace of God that all must believe in order to be changed at the Rapture of the Church we just read about. Here it is, this is the Gospel of the Grace of God, and according to Romans 16:25 it had been kept secret since the world began before being given to Paul. In fact Paul says it’s “his Gospel,” and the reason he could make such a statement was it was given to him for mankind by the crucified risen Lord in glory.
I Corinthians 15:1-3a
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand: 2. By which (the Gospel) also ye are saved, (now that’s as plain as you can get it.) if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (now here’s the Gospel we must believe) 3. For I delivered unto you first…”
And he was the first one to reveal the Gospel of Grace. So here the Holy Spirit is absolutely true in having him write that I delivered it unto you first of all. Why? Because Paul was the one to whom it was first revealed, and oh that’s so hard for people to swallow. Oh they say what did Jesus preach if that’s the case? Well He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom.The Gospel of the Kingdom was a whole different message than the Gospel of Grace that was given Paul. Also remember Jesus preached that which was still under the Law. Every word that Jesus taught and preached in His earthly ministry was to the Nation of Israel under the Law. Never once did Jesus tell someone, “Well you don’t have to go to the temple, you don’t have to take sacrifices, you don’t have to keep the Law, because you’re under Grace.” Most people think that’s the way it was, but nothing could be further from the truth. Read your Bible and see what it says.
On the other hand that was Paul’s message. They didn’t have to keep the law, they weren’t under the demands of the law, but rather the Gentile Body of Christ is under Grace. Paul got into trouble more than once by proclaiming that message, because he had Jewish converts that still wanted to be under the Law. Now reading on as we were about to finish the Gospel that God had given him for us in the Church Age.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (and here is what Paul received. This was the revelation) how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Now folks that the Gospel! And when we believe that then God does everything else. He has already forgiven us, and so He imputes it on our behalf, He sanctifies us, He justifies us, He glorifies us, He baptizes us into the Body, He does all those good things when we believe this Gospel. And this Gospel was all part of the mysteries that had been given to Paul. These mysteries had never been revealed before, and I’ve begged people constantly to just go back anywhere else in Scripture, “Are you going to find this message for salvation?” Why of course not. You won’t find this message any place else. This simply is the message of the Gospel of the Grace of God, or as Paul says in another place “we preached Christ crucified, and risen again.” I don’t want to belabor the point, but oh if we can just get folks to understand that these mysteries, these secrets that God never revealed until He revealed them to this chosen vessel to take it to the Gentile world. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 3.
“Which in other ages (or generations) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”
Well I’ve already alluded to them as being Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Titus, and Timothy, and then there were other great men that followed after that. But it all begin with this man and his commitment to take the Gospel to the Gentile world. I had such a touching letter the other day from a person who was describing all the sufferings they had been through, and it was awful. It was almost more than what one person should have. But he said, “You know Les, until I started hearing you teach Paul, I would get so bitter, and I would blame God for all my troubles and sufferings, but now whenever pain comes, I just say, “Thank you Lord, because if Paul can do it, if he was sold out to serve You then I can be also.” This is what Paul tried to get across, that his suffering for the sake of the Gospel was to encourage us. Because otherwise all I have to do is be a true servant like Paul was and then everything will go smooth. But you see it doesn’t always work like that. So no matter how loyal Paul was to his Lord, yet he suffered, and suffered and finally he died the martyr’s death. So this is a lesson for us, that this is why he says, “Be ye followers of me, as I follow Christ.” Remember Paul was just as human as you and I.