Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 44
Sabbath was Nailed to the Cross
II Thessalonians 2:14 – 3:18
Once again, we always want to welcome our television audience. We appreciate hearing from you—for your prayers and your financial help. We had a letter the other day that started, “Dear Les and Iris, If it weren’t for you, I’d still be lost,” and he signed his name. Well, that’s not much. But on the other hand, that’s a load. After all, what more could you hope for? It is just thrilling to get letters from our television audience.
You may notice that my voice is not as strong as usual. That is because we just got back from a stringent, but glorious, teaching trip back East in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. When you teach five, six, or seven hours in a row, then two hours every night, and then another all-day Saturday seminar, it begins to tell on the vocal cords. But it was a glorious trip. And we just praise the Lord for every opportunity.
But now we’re here to study. So come right back where we left off in the last program. That would be in II Thessalonians chapter 2, and we’ll read verse 14 again.
II Thessalonians 2:14
“Whereunto he called you by our gospel (We covered that rather in-depth in the last half hour. How that Paul over and over refers to this Gospel of Grace as his gospel of salvation, because it was revealed first and foremost to this apostle to take to the Gentile world.) to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Maybe that’s a good time to go back. I don’t like to run something into the ground. Yet when something is so appropriate, I can’t help but use it. So in that regard—that it was Paul’s Gospel because of the revelations given to him by the ascended Lord—let’s turn to II Peter chapter 3. I’ve used these verses a lot lately, because I suddenly realized that these verses say so much coming from the pen of the Apostle Peter—who also writes by the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit that Paul does. Yet it is so obvious that this is where so much of Christendom is missing the boat. Much of Christendom today doesn’t listen to what Peter says, much less Paul.
II Peter 3:15a
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; (the same salvation that we’ve been talking about up here in II Thessalonians) even as our belovedbrother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him…”
What’s Peter talking about? Those revelations that were given unto Paul! It was those same revelations that those other apostles never knew anything of. We know that Peter and Paul came to an agreement on that in Galatians 2:7-9 when they shook hands. The agreement was: Paul and Barnabas would continue on with their ministry to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace. Which, remember, is believing in your heart for salvation that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again! Plus NOTHING!
Whereas Peter and the Eleven would continue their ministry to the nation of Israel with the Gospel of the Kingdom—which was faith in believing Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Then they were commanded to repent and be baptized in water, as seen in Acts 2:38. We know that so many mix and match the two.
This is what Peter is no doubt alluding to. This revelation that had been given to the Apostle Paul that he and the other Eleven knew nothing of. So he says:
II Peter 3:15b
“…even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom (the revelations of the mystery) given unto him hath written unto you;” Now the next verse confirms what Paul had said all along—that he had given us the truth of the Word of God. Paul’s epistles are just as much Scripture as the five books of Moses or the Psalms or the prophets or the four gospels or anything else—because Peter by inspiration says in verse 16:
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (these things which pertain to salvation) in which are some things hard to be understood,…” The reason Peter couldn’t understand these things was because he was a legalist. And for Peter to fully understand the Gospel of Grace—I can see where he had problems. He says it.
II Peter 3:16b
“…in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, (Or twist—and we know that’s obvious even today. But now here it comes.)as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” So what does that make Paul’s epistles? Scripture! Even from the pen of the Apostle Peter who is telling us. We must always remember that.
I’ve said so often when I’ve used the previous verse: Why didn’t Peter say up there in verse 15, that for the plan of salvation you should listen to what I’ve told you. Or you should listen to what Jesus said in His earthly ministry, or what John tells us. But Peter doesn’t say that. But rather he keeps us only on one area, and that area is what Paul has said!
Back when we started Romans, I quoted one of the former presidents of Princeton University who served back in 1888-1892. I didn’t bring the quote with me today, but I’ll try to get it close. But what he said was essentially this, Christendom either has to go back, back, back to the epistles of Paul, or it is on and on to apostasy and despair. Now he spoke that many years ago, and what a loaded truth. It is either back to Paul and his epistles, or it’s on to apostasy and despair. Well, what has the Church for the most part done? They’ve gone on to apostasy and despair—and the apostasy that’s running rampant!
William R. Newell in one of his books, writing in 1937, in one of his footnotes wrote—and he wasn’t pinpointing any one denomination—but he said, “As fast as modernism is coming into the churches, I can foresee the day where the only place you will hear the truth of the Word of God will be in a home Bible study.” Well, we’re getting there fast, no doubt about it, because much of Christendom is apostatizing. They hear everything but the truth. Not all churches are like that – there are some good ones still out there. But there are not nearly as many as there were 50 to 100 years ago.
All right, so Peter admonishes them to go back to the epistles of Paul. That’s why I spend as much time emphasizing that as I do. Now back to II Thessalonians chapter 2, if you will, reading 14 again for review.
II Thessalonians 2:14-15a
“Whereunto he called you by our gospel, (Paul’s Gospel of Salvation, the one Peter just told you to go and look for.) to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15. Therefore, brethren, (Remember, he’s writing to believers.) stand fast,…”
What was Paul talking about there? Positionally! Doctrinally! Now, in another place he says, “Do not be driven to and fro with every wind of doctrine.” Because, you see, beginning with the very first little groups of believers that he established up there in Asia Minor and then a little later across the Aegean Sea to Greece and finally on over to Rome—all those little congregations of Paul’s converts were immediately subjected to false teachings of one sort or another. False teaching is nothing new. It’s been rampant from day one. It’s a wonder that the truth has survived. It really is. Because the truth of Paul’s Gospel of Salvation was under all kind of attacks.
First the Judaizers – and we’ve dealt with that over and over in the past. What were they trying to maintain? That Paul’s converts could not be saved unless they practiced circumcision and kept the Mosaic Law, as you find in Acts chapter 15. In other words, they had to be proselytes of Judaism. Then when we get into I Corinthians chapter 15, there were those who came in and basically said there was no such thing as resurrection. There’s no such thing as being raised from the dead. Well, Paul says, and I’m paraphrasing—if Christ be not raised from the dead, we of all people are most miserable. Because that is the basis of our faith!
Then you had those that came in and abused the Grace of God and said, look, you can use the Grace of God for the spiritual side, but let the human side live to the limit and satisfy the passions and appetites of the flesh. And that became a false teaching. And you’d be surprised at how many people fell for that. Then there were those who came to the other extreme and said you couldn’t be a Christian unless you were totally suppressed in your existence. You couldn’t enjoy anything, because that would destroy the spirit.
Well, all these false teachings have been pummeling the true Church from day one. And even today we’re seeing all these false teachings. People send me stuff off the internet. It’s unbelievable what’s up there. You can find anything you want to look for, and it is bringing confusion. Most had rather read the garbage that’s on the internet than to get into the Word. Now, I know there’s good stuff on the internet. Even my stuff is up there. But we have to be discerning. Always line it up with the Scriptures. And if we’re talking about salvation and Church doctrine, line it up with Paul’s writings. Now verse 15 again:
II Thessalonians 2:15a
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast,…” Don’t be blown over by every false teaching that comes along.
Come back for a moment with me to the Book of Galatians chapter 5, where he used that same terminology. We’ll begin with verse 1. The reason I like to use these various Scriptures—you know, as Paul sent these letters out, sometimes written a year or two apart, he did not purposely say, now I’ve got to repeat in this Galatians letter what I wrote to the Thessalonians. No, as the Holy Spirit led and gave him utterance, this is what he wrote.
“Stand fast (positionally and doctrinally) therefore in the liberty…” That almost seems like an oxymoron—to stand fast in liberty. Because what’s liberty? Freedom! Now if he had said, stand fast in this little narrow box that I have built around you. That would be understandable, wouldn’t it? That’s what legalists try to do. They try to box you in so that you don’t have any freedom to exercise liberty. You do this. You can’t do that and so forth. They want you to be boxed in. But that’s not what Paul is telling them. He’s telling us to stand fast in this liberty, this freedom.
There was a gentleman at our last taping who had come out of a tremendously legalistic cult type religion as a result of watching a couple of our tapes. He came out of it and, of course, still had a lot of questions. So he called Iris one day and wanted to know if he could come and spend some time with me. Iris said, “Well, they’re still bailing hay, but by next Monday he should have time for you.” Well, I had just finished and was changing my dirty clothes on Saturday evening and he was at the door. He introduced himself, and I said, “Good heavens, you weren’t supposed to be here until Monday.” He said, “I couldn’t wait.”
Now, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be under a legalistic system that gives you no liberty. But I’m sure some of you have also come out of that type of religion. So the gentleman rehearsed with us that for 40 years in this legalistic religion that wouldn’t allow him to lift a finger on the Saturday Sabbath, during the years when he needed income for his family and raising his children the most, he lost 14 jobs because he would not work on Saturday.
Now that is a tough religion. Then he said, “To come out of it and have the shackles just fall away is unbelievable.” Well, you see, that’s the liberty we have in true Christianity. We’re not under a set of rules and regulations that you can’t work on the seventh day or you can’t work on Sunday, or you can’t do this, and you must do that. Because Grace doesn’t demand that! Grace is Liberty! But I also follow that up with what? Grace is NOT license!
We still have guidelines that keep us within the behavior system of what God wants a Christian to be. I usually use the two concepts of love: love for the Lord Himself on one side and love for our fellow man on the other side. Those become two guidelines that fence in our liberty. But they’re not restrictive. They’re not boxing us in. It’s so easy to comprehend. How am I going to go out and get drunk on Saturday night when I know that is not going to be pleasing to the love of the Lord who bought me? Do you see what I mean? On the other hand, I’m not going to go cheating on my wife. Because if I love her, how can I? So those two guidelines become, yes, a restriction of sort, but it so free. And such liberty that we never have to feel like we’ve been pressed down and shackled. Now that’s what it means to be free and in liberty. Let’s read it again.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty (Don’t let somebody box you in with religious, legalistic demands.) wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Well, what’s the yoke of bondage? Legalism of whatever sort. Legalism like the gentleman we were talking about earlier went through—can’t work on the seventh day Sabbath. That’s legalism. Now, it can be a lot more than just the seventh day Sabbath. Some say, “My, you can’t eat pork.” Remember, eating pork was also under the Law, and we know it was forbidden under the law. But if you want to have sausage for breakfast, this Book says eat it. Just thank God for it and eat it. But nevertheless, legalism will always say, “No, you can’t!” So it becomes, then, a yoke of bondage. And even Peter recognized it as such.
Let’s come back to Acts 15, and you’ll see Peter himself agreed to that statement. I like folks to see that I’m not so narrow-minded that I can’t ever get out of Paul’s writings. All I’m saying is that when Paul says it, you’d better mark it down, because it applies to us as Gentile believers in the Age of Grace. Now the setting here in Acts 15 is the Jerusalem counsel—where Peter and the other believers have been trying to force Paul and Barnabas to bring their Gentile converts back under the law of Moses. As you read that chapter and Galatians chapter 2, you’ll see that Paul refuses to give into that. Peter finally has his spiritual eyes opened.
“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke (A burden. When they put the ox under the yoke, what was the purpose? To put that animal under the burden of pulling something. So the yoke is a picture of a burden.) upon the neck of the disciples, (Now the word disciples here is talking about Paul’s converts, Paul’s believing Gentiles.) which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
Could anybody keep the Law? No way! It was an impossible task. It was the yoke under which they labored and suffered. I’ve always said that when the Law was really operating as Moses first gave it, it was severe. But when Israel degenerated, then they could get by with almost anything. But when the Law was operating in its purity and fullness, it was severe. If they picked up sticks on the Saturday Sabbath, what was the result? Death! Well, if that isn’t severe, then I don’t know what is. That was the yoke of bondage.
All right, today we’re not under those kinds of things. We’ve been set free according to Paul. We are to constantly stand fast in this liberty of the Grace of God in which we now move and live and operate as Grace-Age believers. Now back to II Thessalonians 2:15:
II Thessalonians 2:15a
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, (Don’t be deceived. Don’t fall into the trap of a false teaching.) and hold the traditions…”
When I started getting ready for this verse, I thought, now Paul and I have been condemning traditions. It’s a bad word in the Scriptures. Because what is tradition? It is following in the footsteps of some man-made ideas. But in this case I chased it down. When Paul uses the word here, he’s really talking about the things that he had taught. The things that he had drummed into the men who were working with him—first, Barnabas, and then Silas, and later on Timothy and Titus. This is what he’s talking about. Hold on to those things that he (Paul) had taught.
Remember, from the time Paul began his ministry among the Gentiles (around A.D. 40), until he wrote the Thessalonian letters in about A.D. 58, is how long? About 18 years that there was no written New Testament. They had the Old Testament, but the Gentiles certainly didn’t know that much of it. So how in the world did these new Gentile believers, fresh out of paganism, survive in their walk of faith? By gifted men who had the gift of prophecy, as we find in I Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. I think chapter 14 will be sufficient.
I Corinthians 14:1
“Follow after charity, (love) and desire spiritual gifts, but rather (What is the most important gift for this early Church?) that ye may prophesy.”
Many people do not realize that the word “prophesy” as we see it here in the New Testament as it comes out of the Greek, was not to be a prophet—like Isaiah and Jeremiah—who could tell something in the future. To have the gift of prophecy as Paul is teaching it here was to have the gift to speak forth the Word of God. And it was a necessary gift, because they had no printed New Testament as yet. All these new little groups of believers would have to depend on after Paul left them were gifted men who could literally speak forth the Word of God without benefit of Paul’s written material. That’s why in chapter 13 he says prophecy would cease. Why? Once it got in print and they had Paul’s letters, they no longer needed those gifted men. So when you look at it in verse 15 of II Thessalonians 2, this is exactly why it says what it says.
II Thessalonians 2:15a
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions (things that Paul had taught them or through these gifted men) which ye have been taught, (Now look how Paul divides it.)whether by word, or our epistle.”
So what’s he talking about? Either what you have heard from these gifted men who have been speaking the Word of God these last 18 years in which there was no printed material or whether it was now from Paul’s own written epistles. Now, I do all this just to show you how miraculously the true Church survived. I don’t see how it did, except through the miracle-working power of God. I mean, the odds against it were so tremendous. But still these little groups of believers were able to survive by those two areas.
Gifted men who could speak forth the Word of God following in Paul’s teachings and footsteps, then with his writings as they began to come in about A.D. 58 with the Thessalonian letters. Then in about A.D. 60 come Galatians and Romans on up until he finally brings in the last of his epistles to Timothy and Titus shortly before he’s martyred, probably in about A.D. 66 or 67.