Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 38
Maturing in God’s Word
As we begin this new book, let me remind each true believer that we’re all laborers together for our Lord. We are part of what Paul calls in I Corinthians 3:9 “…God’s building…” As we study I know there are countless millions who are so hung up on tradition, and they based their very eternal destination on some of these traditions Tradition is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, and many never bother to check the Scripture to see if these traditions are really true for the Body of Christ believer. I just thank the Lord that over half of the New Testament was written by Paul for the Body of Christ, who gives us can’t miss instruction for eternal life.
Last lesson we left off in Ephesians chapter 4. Today we’ll pick up with verse 12. Remember that in verse 11, Paul leaves the Church with evangelists, pastors and teachers as we discussed in the last lesson. These are specially gifted men that God is going to provide for the Christian community. I think it also ties in with I Corinthians chapter 13, the love chapter. It’s almost the same kind of scenario, only we shake out off the superfluous things and we end up with the three things that in the end will abide. And what are they?
I Corinthians 13:13
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, (or love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Those are the things that remain with us even today. These three words in Paul’s epistles just keep popping up. Now all three may not be together all the time, but watch for those words. Now coming back to where we were in Ephesians chapter 4, and we have much the same thing. So forth of the various gifts and so forth, that people make so much ado over even today, they’ve more or less just fallen by the way side, but three of them remain. These three are as absolute as anything can be even today, and what are they? Evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Those are the three main criteria for any local group of believers. Now verse 12, and what’s the purpose of these three?
“For the perfecting of the saints, (notice Paul said to perfect the saints, not the lost. and what’s the purpose again?) for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
You know I’m always stressing that I think too much of Church activity is geared in the wrong direction, not that it’s all that bad, but so much Church activity is supposedly directed to lost people. Oh we’ve got to save the lost, most Churches will say, and I’m also concerned about the lost, but the best way to reach lost people is not wait for that poor preacher, or Sunday school teacher to do it all, but every ordinary believer should be in the position to open the Scriptures to lost people, and that’s what I think Paul is referring to here. Now look at it again in that light. All evangelists, pastors, and teachers are given for what purpose?
“For the perfecting (or maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” This is where all Paul’s effort is being directed to the to edifying the believer. Now verse 13.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,…”
Now those of you who hear me teach over a period of time, know that I’m always stressing that there’s no use trying to go out and witness to people if you don’t know what you’re witnessing about. You have to know the subject, and you need to be able to show the lost the correct Scripture so they can see with their own eyes. If you ask an auto mechanic, or some other person in a specialized field about their profession, they show how professional they are real quick with their knowledge of the subject. But if you asked them something that’s out of their field, they would clam up, because they don’t know. Well it’s almost that ridiculous when we try to send people out to witness to the lost, when they know nothing about the Word of God. So the whole purpose in Paul’s writings is to edify the believer, and now let’s look and see what the believer is supposed to do.
II Corinthians 5:18
“And all things are of God, who hath (past tense) reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us (the believer) the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, (that is to say) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses (sins) unto them; (they’re forgiven) and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.:”
In other words, we’re to tell a lost world that because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, He has already reconciled them, but they have to believe that beautiful Gospel. And how are they to believe it?
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (or proclaimer?) Paul tells us someone must present this Gospel to them. Now finishing our thought with verse 20 of II Corinthians chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:20a
“Now then we (as ordinary everyday believers) are ambassadors for Christ,…”
Now what’s an ambassador? He’s a representative of his home country, but he’s living in foreign territory, and everything that he does is being viewed by the foreigners. Everything that he says is being analyzed by the people in the country which he is serving. Now folks that’s exactly where you and I are. We are in foreign territory whether we know it or not. Everyday that we live we see it more and more, I mean the opposition is rising against Christianity. We’re in foreign territory! Paul tells us as believers our homeland, and citizenship is in heaven, and we’re to be ambassadors.
Now let me ask you something, would any president in his right mind send somebody to Japan to be an ambassador from my background, for example. Would he just send an ordinary dirt farmer over there to represent this country? Why I wouldn’t know how to even begin a conversation. So before we send an ambassador to a foreign nation by an appointment, usually of the president, and the congress has to OK it, what do you expect that person to have in his background? Everything that prepared him to be an ambassador. You wouldn’t send anyone over there with no education or background, but isn’t that exactly what we do with most Christians? We send them out into that world of wolves with no background, they have no knowledge of the Scripture, and as soon as the scoffer hits them with something, they absolutely melt, they don’t know what to say or where to find it.
This is why we have to teach the Word, this is why God has left evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The believing community has to be prepared to go out into the world and win the lost. We’re to have a heart for lost people, of course we are. God has a heart for lost people, but you see too often we put the cart up in front of the horse, and we wonder why it doesn’t work. Now come back to Ephesians, and look at verse 14, again. Now remember what the theme here is. These evangelists, pastors, and teachers have been given to the local Christian community, whether it’s a local Church, or a Bible study group.
In about 1937 a great Bible teacher saw then already the apostasy that was coming into some of the more liberal denominations, and even at that time he could see the day if the Lord tarries where the only true Biblical study and teaching would be in small Bible studies. And here as we close out this century, we’re seeing it. I know there are still some good Churches, I know there’s still some good pastors, but if you could hear my phone calls, and read our letters, you would be aghast at what’s coming out some of the pulpits of America. It’s absolutely unbelievable, and people are just up against it. They always ask, what can we do, where can we go and hear the Word, because we can’t find it. Well this is to be expected here in this day and age as we near the end time.
We may get to the place where the organized Church has to go through something like the Church that was in China had to go through before the communists took over. Watchman Nee was one of the great Bible study teachers in China, and not that I agree with him 100% on theology, but he had a tremendous ministry establishing small Bible study groups in the great apartment complexes of China’s huge cities. Well when the communists took over China, the first thing they did was lock the door on the organized Church. The only thing left for the believer then, and kept the Christian community alive, was those little cells of home Bible study. So I never want anyone to say, “You’re putting down the local Church!” No I never put down the local Church if they are true to the Word. But oh my goodness, when I hear some of the stuff coming in I can see a lot of these Churches are not true to the Word. Now finally let’s look at verse 14 again.
“That we henceforth (from the time that God has given us these gifted men who have now been teaching us, that from henceforth we) be no more children, tossed to and fro,…”
Now you know when I see a particular word in Scripture. I always think of 4 or 5 verses that will fit. Let’s look at one of them. Go back to I Peter chapter 2 for a moment… Here in I Peter, this is almost the same kind of language we’re going to see in Ephesians in a moment or two.
I Peter 2:1-2
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
Now you see that’s exactly how every new believer has to begin. It makes no difference whether we’re 90 or 9 that’s beside the point, because the moment we’re saved we’re a babe in Christ, and we have to start with the milk of the Word. But looking at that verse again, Peter doesn’t say that’s where a new believer is supposed to stay. They are to desire the sincere milk of the Word with the idea of growing and getting beyond it.
The other verse that comes to mind is in I Corinthians chapter 3, and again we’re going to see babes mentioned but in a different light. Paul is telling these Corinthians that they have been believers long enough that they should be off the milk bottle, and should be partaking of the deeper things of Scripture, but they weren’t.
I Corinthians 3:1-3
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, (sometimes carnal can mean the unbeliever, but here it’s referring to the believer who is just simply immature) even as unto babes in Christ. (they had never gone beyond their infancy in their Christian experience) 2. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3. For ye are carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
Paul doesn’t say they weren’t believers, because they were, but they didn’t grow. Paul of course, was the master teacher, but nevertheless the problem was that these Corinthians believers did not grow up, but rather they stayed on the carnal level, and could never get to the place of partaking of the meat of the Word, or the strong things just like many Christians do today. Now back to Ephesians chapter 4. Paul reminds us that we’re not to stay as baby Christians.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”
Now you’ve heard me stress this word “deceive” over the last many years, and I’m going to keep on stressing it, until it’s all over. Because we’re being besieged with deception like never before since Paul’s own day. And the Lord Himself warned about this.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (remember in I Corinthians 1:22, Paul tells us the Jews required a sign) 4. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”
That’s one of the greatest signs that we’re nearing the end times. There is a flood of deception out there. There is a flood of people deceiving other people. Oh my goodness, when I hear of what’s out there on the internet, and how it’s just full of this deception. People call and write, and say, “What am I suppose to believe, as it all sounds good?” Well, I ask them if it lines up with the Scripture? And every time they answer No. So if anything doesn’t line up with Scripture, then forget it, and cast it aside, because it’s a deception, and we’re to be looking for it, and so aware of what the truth is that we can recognize the deception the minute it comes our way.
We should be so ingrained in the Word and Truth of God, that when we hear this garbage coming in from the other direction, we can immediately say, “Hey that’s garbage!” And there’s a lot of it out there. Now I never used that term, until I was down in a Haiti a few years back, and the fellow I was ministering with, who had a tremendous ministry down there said that exactly. He said, “Preachers and teachers bring in pure garbage to try to share with these people.” But it’s no different here in our country. The air waves are full of it. So you just be aware, and anything you hear or read, just line it up with the Scriptures.
Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 4. So we’re not to remain as babes in Christ, because if we do remain that way, then the chances are good that babes in Christ, will be blown about with false doctrine. We are going to be subjected to deception, and so there’s only one remedy, and what is it? Grow up! Know what the Book says. This is the whole idea of the Book of Ephesians. We’re to get out of the simplistic areas of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which was written primarily to the nation of Israel, and get into the deeper things written to the Church by Paul.
Paul’s letters are written for the Church Age believer and are deep. However the Books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, and Thessalonians are about much deeper things than even what Paul’s other epistles are about. So we’re to get off the milk, and get into deep things so that when these deceptions come along, you won’t be blown away by them. Now verse 15. Instead of being blown away with every wind of doctrine and the deception of ungodly men, as Jude calls them, we are to do the following.
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
Now I hope I’ve taught you well. Whenever you see the word “Truth” what is another word that you can put in place of it? Christ Himself! He is the Truth. Another word for the Truth is the Gospel found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. You know I’m beginning to see more and more people use those verses when they want to express the Gospel. Have you noticed it? So Truth, Christ, and Gospel are all three absolute Truth! So look at it that way in the text.
“But speaking the truth in love,…”
Not with the idea of causing a controversy, or argument, but rather in the spirit of love we are supposed to be sharing the Gospel with a lost world. We are to get so skilled with the Gospel and supporting Scriptures that when we get out into the work day world we’ll be able to share in a moment if the occasion arises.
I got a call from a gentlemen from Mississippi just before we left to come up here this morning. And he had been to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and had seen a young mother with a super hyperactive child who was taking a prescription for being hyperactive. The mother had told him the medication works, but leaves the child in depression. This gentlemen said he felt so bad because he didn’t have any advice for her. He said I couldn’t tell her to just turn it over to God, because here he is a believer and had his prescription in hand.
I said, “Did you share with her your knowledge of the Word and the power of prayer, and tell her that you would be passing out the prayer needs of that little fellow? Because I know that prayer works?” Jerry you know it works don’t you? My we’ve made many many prayer request across our classes in Oklahoma. Now I don’t believe in “healers” you know that, but I believe in the power of prayer. So we just need to learn to share with people how that God can meet our needs by simply making it an item of prayer, and we know that God can do it. Now He may not always answer the way we think He should, but He’s still a prayer-answering God. Now these are all the things that Paul is referring to here.
“But speaking the truth in love,…”
Letting people know that Christ loves them, and that He died for them, and that He defeated all the powers of Satan and death when He arose from the dead.
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