Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 41
Paul Warns the Church
As we begin this series of the next four lessons, I must let our television audience know that we’re finally in our new studio here at channel 47 in Tulsa. When Lesea sold the old building and bought this new one we had to put up with that makeshift studio, which was more cramped, with no room for tables, while they built this whole new addition. Anyhow I certainly want to thank the Lesea people and their president Pete Summerall for this state of the art studio.
Now we’re ready to start our study for today, and we’ll begin with Colossians chapter 2, and verse 1. I was going to put the timeline on the board again, but I think I’ll refrain until we finish Colossians. It’s been a while since we’ve had it up there, and it helps so many people to understand their Bible better. But before we go into the Thessalonian letters I will again review some of those things. I hope you do realize that we have new listeners everyday, and we have to keep reviewing these things so that they also know where we’re coming from and what we’re talking about.
But for now we’re in Paul’s little epistle of Colossians, which was written to a little congregation east and south of Ephesus. Then, almost due north of Colossi was the other little city in Asia Minor or western Turkey called Laodicea. So when Paul makes mention that the Colossians should pass this letter on to the Laodicean people, it was just that they were a neighborhood congregation. And as I mentioned in one of the earlier programs, Paul himself had nothing to do with starting that Laodicean church. They were probably begun by some of his converts in the Ephesus Church. He makes mention that he’s never met them face to face, but he has such concern for them because false teachings followed the apostle everywhere he went, and consequently it disturbed him. Now he writes beginning with verse 1.
“For I would that ye knew what great conflict (struggle) I have for you,…”
He was struggling with the fact that these people were left with no written Word. Never forget they didn’t have any New Testament until Paul’s letters started coming, which was in about the early 60’s or late 50’s and he’s already been out establishing churches for 15 or 20 years, so you can see his concern. So he says I just want you to know what a great struggle I have for you.
“…and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh:”
They had never seen the apostle Paul personally. So he didn’t have a direct part of establishing these two little congregations. Now for the time being let’s just go on into verse 2.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding…”
Now this is why I teach. So many Christians have made a profession of faith, they joined the Church, they get active in the social aspect, but they know nothing of the Scriptures, and I’m sure you’re all aware of that. But you see Paul’s hearts desire was that even these people in his day, who had come out of idolatry and paganism and knew nothing of even the Old Testament, could maintain their Christian experience with no more background than they had. So his concern was that they had a full understanding.
“…of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ.”
Now those of you who have been with me for ever so many years, you know I’m always stressing the mysteries that were revealed to the apostle Paul. In fact just in the last week I don’t know how many people have called and said, “I’ve never even heard the word mystery before.” Well that doesn’t shock me too much, because I think as I look back that I probably didn’t either. Remember Paul was the only one given the mysteries, and since most preachers and teachers don’t bother with his writings then most people don’t know about the mysteries either. But the heart of Paul’s gospel is this revelation of these mysteries. Now let’s look at some of them, so come back to Romans chapter 16:25.
“Now to him that is of power (that’s another one of Paul’s favorite words. The power of God, The power of His resurrection, The power of His Spirit) to stablish (or root) you according to my gospel, (not Jesus’ gospel that He and the twelve preached, but rather Paul’s gospel that had been given to him only) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery,…”
Not the preaching of Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, these secrets. If I remember correctly in our last program, I went all the way back to Deuteronomy 29:29 and found that “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God.” What does that tell you? In His Sovereignty, He doesn’t tell us everything all at once, and He doesn’t have to. But He says, “Those things which are revealed belong to us and our children.”
So you always have to look at this whole concept of the revelation that Paul talks about are these secret things that God did not reveal to the Old Testament writers, or to Peter and the eleven, but rather He waited until Saul of Tarsus was converted, and He sent him down to, I think, Mount Sinai and poured out at least a good portion of the revelation of the mysteries.
“…which was kept secret since the world began.”
God kept this whole package of truths secret, and never gave anybody an inclination of what was coming until it was revealed to this apostle. The other night I woke up in the middle of the night, and the thought hit me of this verse that we’ve looked at many times in Peter. And let’s look at it again, because Peter didn’t have any concept of what Paul was going to have revealed to him, these things that are called the mysteries.
As I was lying there, two things struck me in particular. First, Peter is recognizing that the Gospel for this period of time came from the epistles of Paul. The second point was Peter puts Paul’s writings as Scripture, which meant that Paul letters have just as much authority as Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, John or Peter, or any one else, because His words are Scripture. Before we read I want to remind people of when these things were written. Peter is writing this shortly before he’s martyred, at the end of his life. He’s not writing this way back there 20-30 years ago. This is at the end of his life, and probably in the middle 60’s shortly before the temple is destroyed.
II Peter 3:15
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering (the patience) of our Lord is salvation; (that’s the whole purpose of this Book. Whether it’s Old or New Testament, it’s to bring mankind into a knowledge of salvation, whether it was under Law or the Kingdom economy, or now under Grace. God’s heart is for the salvation of lost mankind.) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;”
Now you’ve got to remember, what group of people is Peter addressing? Jews of the dispersion, and he tells us that in I Peter 1:1. So even to his own Jewish people he is admonishing them to go to the letters of Paul. Now Paul’s earliest epistles had only been out there 7 or 8 years, and his later epistles had only been out there probably a year or two. But Peter is admonishing his fellow Jews to go those letters of Paul for instructions. Now verse 16.
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (that is salvation as we now understand by faith alone through the Grace of God) in which are some things hard to be understood,…”
Now most people read right over that, and don’t even realize what the man is saying. But here Peter is admitting that this revelation to the apostle Paul was hard for good Jews to comprehend. Why? Because it was totally, totally different. It was completely removed from temple worship, it was completely removed from the covenant promises of Israel, and here was the offer of salvation to these pagan idolatrous Gentiles that if they would just simply realize their lost estate, and believe the Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4, God will bring them into Himself. Hey, that’s hard for a good Jew to comprehend. Now finishing the verse.
II Peter 3:16b
“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, (twist) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
So what’s Peter doing with Paul’s epistles? He’s lumping them in with the rest of the Bible. They are Scripture! They’re the inspired Word of God! Now isn’t it amazing that men just ignore this, and almost refuse to go into Paul’s writings? I don’t know why, but I can see it over and over that they just almost ignore them purposely. “Willingly ignorant,” as Peter says concerning the flood in his little epistle. Well anyway, this is all part and parcel of this revelation of what Paul calls his Gospel, and that is God in Grace. Now of course as we’re going to see a little further on in Colossians the mysteries are in several different categories. We’ve got, for example, the mystery of what I call the Rapture or the catching away of the Church. It’s a mystery we find in I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 15:51
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Another mystery was that the Gentiles would come into the Body of Christ on equal basis with the Jew.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”
Hey, that had never been revealed before, so it was a mystery. Now here in Colossians we’re going to see that this particular mystery is a revelation of the Godhead in a way that the Old Testament never explained it. This is an explanation of the Godhead the likes of which Peter and the apostles couldn’t even preach or comprehend.
But now it’s revealed to this apostle, that this Godhead, and that’s the term Paul will use a little later in this chapter. It’s that composition of the Three Person and yet One. See, this throws a curve at so many people. I had a phone call early this morning, and the person was hung up on this very same thing. They could not believe that Jesus was God! And the term that throws so many people is the “Son of God.” Which means that God procreated Him. It’s absolutely unreal what people are being taught. But you see they can’t conceive of the fact that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all three co-equal. There is no One of them that is above the other, and yet they operate as One. I can’t understand it, I can’t describe it, but I sure believe it, because it’s in the Book. Now here it comes in verse 2 of Colossians chapter 2.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, (and what is God? Well at least in most of the translations, the mystery of God is this composite of all the persons of the Godhead,) and of the Father, and of Christ; 3. (that in this Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Spirit) in whom are hid all the treasurers of wisdom and knowledge.”
Now we’re in a technology explosion today aren’t we? I was just reading to Iris a little article last night that in the next 5 years we’re going to see more technology exploding around us then we’ve seen in the last 50 years. Now goodness sake we’ve had a lot of technology in the last 50 years. Then the author of the article went on to explain that the fiber optics, for example, had just sort of been laying dormant. But the Lucent Company has just suddenly brought in such technology for the fiber optic system that it just blows your mind. But you know what? Every time they discover or invent a new technology God smiles and says, “Hey I created it.” Well if He created it, then He knows the deepest secrets of every electrical formula, and all the steps of physics, He created it, so He has the knowledge of these things before they’re ever discovered.
When God speaks of His wisdom and knowledge, I always have to think of poor Job. And when I say, poor Job, I’m not referring to him that way because he lost all of his daughters, and livestock, but rather Job lost his pride. Oh, the Lord must have made Job feel, as we would say today, not worth two cents. Let’s go to Job 38, and everyone won’t agree with me, but I think Job’s basic problem was pretty much like today. He was proud. Proud of his what? His humility. He was proud of the fact that he was blessed of God, that He was a righteous man, he loved God, and I don’t take any of that away from him. But when you come through the whole Book of Job and then come to chapter 38, and I feel sorry for the poor old fellow. My, when the Lord got through speaking to him, he must have felt like crawling into a rat hole. Just look at what God says.
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, (now I wish I had time to read all of chapter 38 and 39, but I’m not going to so don’t worry. But you do that in your spare time, and then you’ll get the drift of what I’m talking about. Now look what the Lord says) 2. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” Well the casual reader is going to say, “Well God is referring to Job’s three friends. No. God is talking to Job, and He says –
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3. Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” Now Job is on the spot isn’t he? Oh he’s on the spot. Now look at what the Lord says in verse 4.
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare; if thou hast understanding.” What did Job say? Nothing. I mean, he’s helpless, he’s wordless, he doesn’t get a word in edgewise.
“Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?”
Do you get what I’m driving at? What is God imparting here? That Job thought he knew it all. In so many words God says, “Ok Job if you are so smart – and this is exactly what God could do with our scientists today. Oh, He could take the greatest brain from Silicon Valley and put him in front of Him and say, “Ok where were you- If you’re so smart tell me.” God could bring things into their thinking that they have not even yet considered as He’s doing here with Job.
“Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof: 7. When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8. Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth,”
And one of the verses that I was really thinking of when I saw this in Colossians was verse 22. Which of course now in our technology even our little grade school kids know this from fourth and fifth grade science I guess. But back in the ancients they didn’t have the microscopes and so forth. But look what God says here to Job.
“Hast thou entered into the treasurers of the snow?…”
Well what’s He talking about? That even in a tremendous blizzard there’s no two snow flakes alike. Did Job know that? No. Then come all the way up to verse 31.
“Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, (or what we call the seven sisters I think) or loose the bands of Orion? Job can you control the stars in their orbit? Can you control the constellations?
“Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”
Do you get what I’m talking about? And with every question He just puts Job lower and lower, lower, and finally Job has to realize that he doesn’t know anything. Now as time has expired I guess we’d better come right back to Colossians and looking at verse 3 again. It’s this same God that confronted Job and reveals all the knowledge of those two chapters of Job 38 and 39. He is the One –
:In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”