Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 48
My, we have a tremendous amount of our prison inmates that are just literally eating up our little books, and so you pray for those fellows as there’s almost a revival of sorts amongst prison inmates across the country. They are indeed a real rewarding ministry and we just consider that a mission of the ministry because ordinarily, as small as we are, we have to charge for our material but anything that goes into the prisons or into foreign mission fields we send that out free of charge. That, I feel, is a mission work of our ministry. So you pray for these fellows that are behind bars and are really growing in the Lord. You ought to read their letters. It’s just unbelievable.
Alright, so for the rest of you out in television, we thank you for your prayers and your financial help. What a joy it is when we go out on these seminars to meet you folks face to face, and to be able to put a name with you. Okay, I guess we’re ready to go back to our study in Hebrews chapter 4 and we’re going to spend a few moments in verse 2 where it says:
“For unto us (that is now in the Age of Grace under Paul’s Gospel) the gospel was preached, as well as unto them:”
In other words, all the way up through human history, God has been offering salvation. Now of course in the early days of the human experience it wasn’t a faith + nothing like we are today. But as Abel so explicitly demonstrated, that when he recognized he had sinned, he brought the prescribed animal sacrifice and God accepted it. Now of course, today we don’t have to do that. A little later on when Israel got the Temple worship and the Law, the sacrifices became instrumental, mixed with faith of course. It’s always by faith. And then now we come up to where we are today where I can stand here and adamantly proclaim that we are saved by Faith + nothing. We don’t have to bring a sacrifice, we don’t have to do this or do that. Today the only requirement for salvation is to believe in our hearts Paul’s beautiful Gospel that he proclaimed, and that was given only to him for this Age of Grace. You can see that Gospel in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
Oh, again, I wish you could see the letters we get from our listeners, some as old as 90 years. They tell us things like, “Oh, I’ve been a Sunday School teacher for 50 years, memorized my Sunday School lesson, and now all of a sudden late in my life, I heard your program and stepped into the Grace of God.” And listen folks, for those who have been under the heavy hand of legalism, to step into the Grace of God is something that you cannot comprehend. It is total freedom from all the weight of a works religion. So this is why we constantly proclaim that God is only looking for those who are willing to believe, and to exercise their faith in what God has done. We’ll be looking at that a little later in this half hour. So now the problem then has been from day one, that:
“…the word preached was not mixed (or united with what?) faith in them that heard it.”
Faith! Again, lets go back to Kadesh, because that’s what the Scripture is always doing. And here we have Israel at the gates of the Promised Land at Kadesh, and God has told them in plain language, “Go in and take it, there’ll be no opposition, you don’t have to fear the Canaanites, because they’ll be gone. You don’t have to worry about starving to death, because you’re going to take over their farms and their vineyards. You don’t have to worry about the elements, because you’re going to be able to take over their dwelling places, it’s all ready for you. I’ve let them work for four hundred years to get it all ready for you.” And now because of the Canaanites’ abject wickedness, God in all fairness says “I will drive them out and let you come in.”
That’s what God told them. But they didn’t mix all of that with what? Faith. All they would have had to do is believe what God said, but they couldn’t. And you see it’s the same way when we proclaim the Gospel of the Grace of God. We can show from the Scriptures how it’s so simple that you just simply say, “Yes God I believe it with all my heart,” and expect God to respond and he will.
But, you know I’m just reminded as I go, of a little anecdote I read before we left on our last trip, and I may have shared it with some from our seminars around the country. I think this probably goes back quite a few years, but this pastor in a huge church in Chicago had the placed packed, even the balcony. And he read II Corinthians. Let’s turn to it so that we don’t just let it go in one ear and out the other. What you see, you’ll remember a lot longer than what you hear. II Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17. And he read this verse to that huge congregation at his Sunday morning service. I don’t know what kind of a church it was, it doesn’t matter. All right, listen to what he read.
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if any man (now of course, that is a generic term, means women, boys, girls, etc.) be in Christ, he is a new creature: (or creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
And he read that verse and he stopped and he said “Now I’m going to ask all of you a question. How many of you profess to be a Christian this morning? Please stand.” How many do you think stood? Every last one of them. None excepted. He said all right, “Please be seated.” He read the verse again, and we’re going to read it again.
II Corinthians 5:17
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; (or creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Now he said, “How many of you know that you are in Christ and that you have been made a new creation? Please stand.” How many stood that time? One here, one there. Just a sprinkling throughout that huge congregation. What does that tell you? What I’ve said from this program more than once. Our churches are full of unsaved church members. Oh, they’re “Christian,” quote unquote, but they’re not in Christ. And you see only a true believer ever becomes in Christ, because the simplest believer is in Christ. But you see the vast majority of Christendom has no concept of what it means to be in Christ and to become a new creation. We’re talking about one who is not resting on self, one who is not resting on his denomination, one who is not resting on his local church. He’s not resting on his good works, he’s not resting on how much money he gives, he’s not resting on anything that he can do in the flesh, but rather he’s resting only on that finished work of the Cross. Then when we believe that, we become a member of Christ. We are then in Him!
See, my whole prerogative of teaching is to bring people out of their lethargy of thinking they’re a Christian because of something they have done or some act that they have precipitated, but they have never trusted Paul’s Gospel. There are legions of people in the church like that. That’s why it behooves me to just simply teach the truth. You see in this ministry I’m not trying to get church members, I’m not trying to twist people’s arms, and I’m not trying to build an organization. All I’m trying to do is to get people ready for eternity. And the best way to get ready for eternity is to study this Book.
Again, I guess I’m supposed to do it because it’s been ringing in my mind all afternoon. Several years ago I had a gentleman in one of my classes here in Oklahoma who had been saved out of a rather wild background and just became a testimony of God’s Grace. One class night, this gentleman, after the class (when almost everybody was gone), was over there cleaning up the coffee cups and stuff, which he just sort of took as his way of responding to his salvation. He was standing over there minding his own business, washing up the coffee cups and another gentleman, who was a total unbeliever, almost an atheist I would say, came up and was arguing with me and just trying to refute everything I would try to say from Scripture. Finally this first gentleman couldn’t take it anymore and he walked up from behind him and he tapped him on the shoulder and he said, “Look mister, let me tell you something. If you ever get saved, then you will realize that you are so wrong and Les is so right, because I’ve been there.” And isn’t that exactly it? My, they can argue out of their ignorance, and out of their tradition, but once the Lord saves them, then this Book becomes the Living Word of God, then they can see, yes, they’ve been wrong.
You don’t know how many letters I get, that say, “Les, I’ve been active, I’ve been this, I’ve been that for twenty years and it’s hard for me to recognize that I was so wrong for so long. But you’ve shown me from the Scriptures.” And that’s all I try to do is just simply make it as plain as God’s Word does. All right, so all of these opportunities for salvation, whether it was back there in the Garden of Eden, whether it was Abel, whether it was Abraham, whether it was Moses, whether it was Peter, or whether it was now someone in this Age of Grace, it always had to be mixed with faith. Always.
Let me show you. Come back to Hebrews chapter 11. I think most of you, if you’ve had any church background at all, know that this is called the what? The great faith chapter. The whole chapter epitomizes the word Faith. Starting with verse 1 of Hebrews 11.
“Now faith (taking God at his Word) is the substance (what is substance? It’s the meat. It’s the very crux of the matter. It’s the core. Alright, Faith is the substance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things (what?) not seen.”
In the invisible. The only way you can comprehend it is by faith and don’t ever lose sight of my definition of faith. What? Taking God at his Word! Don’t believe what I say, believe what God says. Next verse.
“For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.” Now when Paul speaks of the elders, of course he’s talking about the patriarchs. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets. Now verse 3.
“Through faith we understand (as believers) that the worlds (or the universe) was framed by (not the big bang, not by evolution, but by what?) the word of God,…”
A spoken word. God spoke and the universe came into being. God spoke and the dust came up out of the earth and formed Adam. God didn’t have to go and get putty and clay and glue. Oh, He spoke and Adam appeared out of the dust. He spoke and things happened. Alright and how do we know that? By faith. I can’t prove that that’s what God did. I don’t have to. Because that’s what God’s Word said He did. And we believe it without question. So it was by faith then that we understand the universe was framed.
“…by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
Now that’s not double talk. That means exactly what it says. Everything you see out there on a starry night came out of what? Nothing. What does that mean? Well, God spoke and out of nothing and here it came. How many religious leaders of the world can do that? Well I’ll bet Buddha couldn’t, and I’ll bet none of the other big religious gurus could, but our God did, because we serve the Living God. And so it’s by faith. Now let’s just go on for a few. Now verse 4.
“By faith (by taking God at his word) Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,…”
Now here we have the epitome of two concepts. Abel simply did what God said to do, but Cain rationalized and said, “Now wait a minute, God didn’t really mean that. Surely God will accept me if he sees that I’ve done this by the sweat of my brow and I’ve gotten dirt under my nails,” but what did Cain not understand? That’s not what God said to do. God told him to bring an animal sacrifice and shed blood and so he was rejected because he didn’t do that. But on the other hand, Abel by his faith did what God said to do, as he brought the lamb, he brought the sacrifice, he shed its blood and God accepted it. So how did Abel know what to do? God had told him, and he believed Him, and that’s faith. Alright, now moving on down to verse 5.
“By faith (the man) Enoch (walked with God and he) was translated that he should not see death;…”
He was gone; he’s out of here. I think it’s a good picture of what’s going to happen to us one of these days. And I imagine the world will say, “Good riddance, I’m glad that guy’s gone.” But it’s coming! We’re getting closer every day. Alright, now the next one in verse 6. It’s one of the verses that I call one of the absolutes of Scripture. It’s one of two absolutes that I always come back to.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him;…” (God)
That’s an absolute! You cannot rationalize that away, you cannot compromise it, and you cannot mix it, because it’s an absolute. Now since I’ve mentioned there were two, you might as well look at the other one, and the other one is back in chapter 9 verse 22, so let’s put the two together, and they’re as absolute as anything in Scripture.
“…and without the shedding of blood is no remission.”
There is no remission, or forgiveness of sin. Do you believe it? You better. That’s an absolute. There is no salvation without the shedding of blood! See, that’s why Christ had to be lifted up on that Roman cross rather than any other means of death that Rome may have practiced. But he had to be lifted up so his blood could be shed, it was an absolute. And the corresponding one is the one we just looked at, Faith. And you put those two together and listen, isn’t that exactly what was practiced ever since back there when God shed the animals’ blood for Adam and Eve. And when Abel brought the blood sacrifice. When Noah brought the sacrificial animals into the ark. And when Judaism or the Mosaic system demanded blood sacrifice? And then when Christ was lifted up, Paul could now say that we are redeemed, we’ve been bought with that purchased price which is what? The blood of Christ. And without it there is no forgiveness. Alright, let’s read on in Hebrews. This is just a good exercise in Faith. Now verse 7.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not see as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark…”
“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
And all the way up through this chapter, he comes up through the whole hallmark of fame in the Old Testament. Do you see that? And they all operated under this one word we call faith. “Without Faith it’s impossible to please God.” Now lets go back to Hebrews 4, and now verse 3.
“For we which have (been baptized? Have repented? Have done this or that or any other thing? For we who have what?) believed (see how simple it is. For we who have believed) do enter into rest….”
Now remember the Canaan rest, the rest of the Promised Land is not a picture of heaven. I just rebel at that. That was never a picture of heaven. It was a picture of a repose that could have come about because of their obedience of faith. God had said it, they responded to it, they could have entered in and they could have a rest. No war, no famine, it would have just been the result of a living faith. It’s not a picture of heaven, but it is a picture for us of our salvation rest. That when we enter in by faith, when we enter in because of the shed blood, what can we do? Rest in it. Oh, don’t try to somehow enhance it. But we believe it and we rest. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t work. I’m not talking about that, but so far as salvation is concerned, we settle in and we rest in what God has done on our behalf. Now let’s read some more of verse 3.
“…as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, (going back again to Kadesh) if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation (or the very creation) of the world.” (now I’ve got to go into verse 4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.”
Now why in the world does the Holy Spirit prompt the apostle to bring in the creation account of Genesis? Well, let’s go back and look at it. Come back to Genesis chapter 1 the last verse. It’s an interesting verse, in light of what we’re going to see in chapter 2. Genesis 1 verse 31. All of creation is now finished. The animal kingdom, the birds, the fish, man. Everything is done.
“And God saw every thing that he had made, (or created) and, behold, it was (what?) very good.”
Now the Hebrew, I think, implies even more than what we can put on that very good. It was what? Perfect. I don’t think you and I can even begin to imagine the beauty of that newly created Garden of Eden and the planet over which Adam was given dominion. I don’t think we can begin to comprehend it. And he saw that it was very good. Now let’s jump up into chapter 2 verse 1.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were (what?) finished, (mark that word finished, and don’t run over it casually) and all the host of them. 2. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made;…” Or energizing the system, it was finished now remember. And so on the seventh day he what?)
“…and he rested…”
Why? There wasn’t anything more to do. He couldn’t improve on that particular aspect, He couldn’t make that any more beautiful, He couldn’t embellish this any better. Everything that needed to be done was done, and so what did He do? He rested. Now normally, when we have been real active and I guess the older we get the more I’m aware of it, but I’m not the only one as I advance in my years. After we’ve been working a few hours, what’s the first thing we really want to do? Sit down. My old hips start to get tired and I’m ready to sit down. Well, what’s the purpose? Rest. Are you with me? And so when God finished the glorious work of creation He literally sat down. He was all done.
Now let’s go to another one. All the way up to John’s gospel. In John chapter 19 and we find Christ on the cross; these are the accounts of His final hours of the crucifixion. And then it says in verse 30.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, (what?) It is finished:”
What does it mean? Just what it says. There wasn’t one more iota of anything that He could do to embellish that salvation that He had just accomplished. Just as surely as the universe and the Garden of Eden and everything in it was perfect and God rested, so also when He finished that work of the cross. We’ll carry it a little further next lesson.