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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 38
Ephesians 4:12-24 – Part 2
Now as we teach we hope we don’t preach at you, but rather just give you an appetite to search the Scriptures and to study them. We know, according to our mail, that there are many that are doing just that. Let’s come back to where we left off in the last lesson, and I didn’t quite finish with verse 22 so let’s pick that verse up again.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation (manner of living) the old man, (old Adam) which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts;”
We looked at that word corrupt in the last lesson, and found that it is that which is in complete opposition to God, and includes, violence, immorality, and dishonesty, and all the stuff that makes up the world of wickedness all around us. I think once in a while since the media and world around us is constantly ridiculing the fact that, God doesn’t always put up with men’s foolishness forever, and there is a day of judgment coming, I’m going to take you back, before we go any further, to Genesis 15. God has always promised that people would be judged all the way up through Scripture.
It goes without saying that when Israel, God’s covenant people, would go down the tube as we put it today, God would judge. Foreign nations come in and overrun them, or give them a king that would tax them to death. Sometimes they would be enslaved, and their young sons would be put into the armies and so forth. But when Israel would finally cry and cry, then of course God would bring them back out of it, bring them up to a high plain. They would be on the correct path for awhile and then down they would go again when they became disobedient. So God would not hesitate to judge that little nation when they needed to be judged.
In fact we find in the Book of Judges, a 400 year period of Israel’s history is nothing but a roller coaster ride. Up they’d go and down they’d go. They would no sooner get into a period of prosperity, and obedience to the Law and God, when they would become sensuous, and materialistic, and then down they’d go again. So you can see that God doesn’t always wink at man’s wickedness and put up with it. The first evidence of this is found in Genesis 15, where God is promising Abraham that his offspring, the nation of Israel, would one day be going down into Egypt into slavery and captivity.
“And he (God) said unto Abram, know of a surety (when God says it, you can bet on it) that thy seed (or offspring) shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs,…” Here God doesn’t name Egypt, but we know now from our side of the coin, that’s who he’s talking about.
“…and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14. And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: (and we know God did judge Egypt) and afterward shall they (the children of Israel) come out with great substance. 15. And thou (Abraham) shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.(Abraham lived to be 175) 16. But in the fourth generation they (the children of Israel who had been down in Egypt all these years) shall come hither again: (back to their promised land in Canaan. And why did God wait all those years to bring them back to Canaan) for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
In other words, God’s going to give those Canaanite tribes, at least a couple of hundred years to clean up their act, which was possible even for a pagan if he wanted to. But did they clean up their act? No, they kept going deeper and deeper into the gross immoralities, and the things that had plagued the human race. They had gone so far down that when Joshua was ready to bring the children of Israel into the Promise Land, from the east side of the Jordan, what did God instruct them to do? Kill every Canaanite in the land. Makes no difference whether it’s a new born infant or a person of many, many years, put them to death. Why would God say that? Because they were corrupt.
And if you put something good in with something corrupt, the corrupt doesn’t become good, but rather the good becomes corrupt! So God says to Caleb, “You’ve got to cleanse the land of them.” Well it was God’s judgment on their wickedness. So all the way up through their history there comes points of time periodically when God says, “I’ve had enough.”
The great next event before God judged the Canaanites was God’s judgment on mankind with Noah’s flood, and after the flood we find God judged Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 19. So God’s judgment fell on those people also. And God’s going to judge the world again, because the Bible is just screaming, “There is a judgment coming.” Now I’m not saying when, but we know according to Daniel, Luke, Matthew 24, and Revelation and other Books, that day is coming. In fact on our way back to our study in Ephesians let’s stop for a moment in the Book of Luke, chapter 21. You know once as we make these little detours, I think, I’ve got to hurry up and get through this chapter or that chapter, and then I stop and think, no, this is a Bible study, and as you know by now we’re not on a fast track, so we’ll just study as we go. But there is something here in Luke chapter 21 that I want to point out to you. Here Jesus is speaking during His earthly ministry.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compressed (or encircled) with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter therein to. 22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”
Now a lot of people get misled here in Luke, and think that this is the Battle of Armageddon, when Jerusalem will be compassed, but it is not. This is the prophecy that Titus and the Roman Army in 70 AD will destroy Jerusalem, and it was awful. My, Josephus gives an account of it that is just unbelievable. Over a million Jews were slaughtered, unmercifully, when Titus finally overran the city of Jerusalem. Also you want to remember the pagans had no mercy, and the Romans of course became more infuriated than ever because of the Jews stiff resistance. One of the things that raised the ire of the Roman soldiers so much was when they were trying to scale the walls, the Jews would pour hot boiling water over them. Well that was enough to infuriate anybody. But this passage here all happened in 70 AD. What confuses readers so much, is the language here is much the same as in Matthew 24 which is all Tribulation and end time events. Now verse 23.
“But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.”
What is the controversy with the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel at that time? They had rejected their Messiah, and crucified Him! And after all the pleading, and after all the miracles, that Christ performed in the midst of these Jewish people who were so blind to whom He was, what was their cry? Let His blood be upon our children, and our children’s children. They didn’t know what they were saying did they?
But, oh listen, the wrath of God finally came in 70 AD, and the final push to get rid of the Jews that were left in Jerusalem and that region was at Messoda, when the Romans found out there were still some 900 Jews left that were holding out against Rome, those soldiers spared nothing as they tried to scale the walls at Messoda. And, you know the story of Messoda When the Romans finally got up there most the Jews had all committed suicide. But nevertheless the Jews of 70 AD came under the wrath of God, again because of their national sins of unbelief concerning their Messiah. Now here in verse 24 Jesus is still speaking.
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations:…” (as a result of this invasion by the Roman army.)
Now I hadn’t intended to teach Luke chapter 21, but right here is the clue that this is not the final battle of Armageddon, which will trigger the Lord’s return, as we find in Matthew chapter 24. Here in Luke, Israel is going to be led away into a dispersion into all nations, and they were in 70 AD, and we know that they were scattered into every nation under heaven.
I think in the opening remarks of his book, “The Source”, James Michener said he had found Jews in every sovereign nation on the face of the earth. So when God said He would scatter them into every nation, He was literal. That dispersion has lasted now for almost 2000 years, but that’s not the part of the verse that we’re really looking for, as it’s in the last part of the verse.
“…and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until (we don’t know the date, but there’s coming a day, month and year when) the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Now what’s that speaking about? The Gentiles cup of iniquity. Just like God said back in Genesis chapter 15 that the cup of iniquity for the Canaanites, was not yet full, and would need another 200 years to fill it, so also the times of the Gentiles at the end time. By the time the Tribulation has run it’s course, their cup will also come to the full. Again we’re getting closer and closer as we see the wickedness circumventing the globe. You know I love America, and I still maintain as awful as our country is getting, we are still head and shoulders above the rest of the world when it comes to our morality, and our knowledge of God. But the time is coming when the cup of iniquity for the Gentiles world will be full.
Of course I always tie that statement in with Romans 11:25. I usually like to picture this as a simultaneous filling. Over on one side you have the filling of this cup of iniquity on behalf of the Gentiles, but over on the other side you have the filling up of the Body of Christ, the True Church (that’s us). These two sides are almost filling up together, the finished line for both is only seven years apart. Now let’s look at Romans 11:25, and don’t forget what our Lord said in Luke chapter 21 that we just looked at.
“…and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” In other words God will have to bring his wrath upon the Gentile world – now the other side of the coin we find here in Romans.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (or this secret) lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; (and here it is) that (spiritual) blindness in part(just for a time) is happened to Israel, until (there will be a day, month, and year) the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (the Body of Christ completed)
Those are two totally different concepts. In Luke it’s the cup of iniquity of the Gentile world. The deeper they go into sin, the fuller they’re getting their cup of iniquity. Over here in Romans we have the filling of the Body of Christ. Now for the last 1900 + years, people have been coming into the Body of Christ, and it’s getting closer and closer to it’s completion.These two concepts will almost work in union. Of course the cup of iniquity of the Gentiles will go 7 years beyond the filling of the Body of Christ. But over the big picture, time wise that’s not much difference, so what we’re seeing today is that the Body of Christ is nearly complete, the cup of iniquity of the Gentile world is also nearly complete.Now go to Ephesians 4 verse 24.
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Not a facade, not a counterfeit, but the real thing. Now back to Romans chapter 6, and let’s start with verse 5, and remember Paul always writes to the believer, He never writes to an unbeliever, he expects us to contact them.
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6. Knowing this, that our old man (the old Adam, that old sin nature that we’re born with) is crucified with him, that the body of sin (that influence of the old Adamic nature) might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
“Now if we be dead with Christ, (by our faith) we believe that we shall also live with him:”
If we identify with His death, burial, and resurrection, by faith, then God identifies us in that same set of circumstances. We have been crucified in the old Adam, we have now been given a new nature, and as He arose from the dead, we also arose from the dead. As He paid the sin penalty on our debt, God sees us literally on the cross, in the person of Christ. He saw us in the tomb in the person of Christ, He sees us in resurrection power in the person of Christ, and we appropriate all that by faith. We can’t put it in a box, we can’t lay it on a table and analyze it, but rather we take it by faith, and just simply believe it. I think we’re getting through to a lot of people that this is where it’s at. You just simply believe it, because we can’t always understand it. We can’t comprehend it, but we can believe it if we know that God has said it, and it’s true. On our way back to Ephesians let’s stop at II Corinthians 5 for a moment.
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:”
By virtue of Adam’s fall, every human is spiritually dead when he’s born into the human family. This is why we’re sinners, we’re born sinners, we’re the sons of Adam. So consequently Christ died for the whole human race, because the whole human race was spiritually dead, and needed salvation. Now verse 15.
II Corinthians 5:15
“And that he did for all, that they which live (the believers) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (There the Gospel again.)
Paul just pops our salvation Gospel in there all the time. We are what we are because we believe that Christ died for us and rose again. Now verse 16.
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
Now my own idea of this verse is, that Paul is referring to Christ and His earthly ministry. Paul knew all about Jesus of Nazareth, my goodness they were about the same age, and he walked contemporary with Jesus. We have nothing in Scripture that they ever confronted each other face to face, but old Saul of Tarsus knew who Jesus of Nazareth was, and Jesus knew who Saul was. So Paul says, “yet now henceforth on this side of the death, burial, and resurrection, we don’t know Him as still in the flesh.”
Now you see that’s where most of Christendom is tonight. They’re still over there in Jesus’s earthly ministry, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John on the other side of the cross. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with studying His earthly ministry, but there’s no salvation in that. You don’t get saved by believing that Jesus ministered to the Pharisees. Many preachers and teachers spend most of their time there, how Jesus dealt with the Pharisee, and of course it’s commendable, and it’s something that we can learn, but it’s not where our salvation is found.
Our salvation is found in Paul’s writings on this side of the cross. Our salvation was one of the mysteries that was given to the apostle Paul for the Body of Christ. And that’s what Paul is saying here in this verse. “Since we’re on this side, I’m not going to be hanging on to Jesus and His ministry on that side of the cross.” There are many preachers and teachers that don’t want to face up to His shed blood, don’t want to face up to His resurrection, but they’d much rather talk about Jesus walking on the water. I think most of them know nothing of the Jesus who died for their sins, was buried, and rose again, because if they did that would be their message.
But nevertheless this is what Paul is driving home, “Henceforth since His death, burial and resurrection we don’t spend all our time back there in His earthly ministry, and that’s exactly what he says in verse 16.
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore henceforth know we know man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” Is she kidding? We only have one minute left? Let’s read verse 17, that’s the verse I brought you here in the first place.
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Only God can create, and salvation is that miracle working power of the Creator Himself, and that’s why you can’t do it with good works, or Church membership. It has to be that creative work of the Creator Himself, who now declares us a member of the Body, a Child of God, one who has believed the Gospel.