Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 5
Parenthesis and Dashes: The Interruption of
Old Testament Progress: Introducing Paul
Let’s pick again in Galatians. We’ll eventually get back to Genesis 24, but this is just an extension of that chapter, where Abraham sends the servant up in to a far country to get a bride for his son Isaac. Remember, we made the correlation that this is a beautiful picture of God sending the Holy Spirit out among the Gentiles to gather a Bride for His Son, which of course is the Church. So what I’ve been doing for the last couple of lessons, is showing how this Old Testament program that we found in Psalms 2 and various other places of the Old Testament, would be interrupted, and it would be actually brought about through the conversion of the Apostle Paul. And then, would follow his revelations of these great doctrines of Grace that you’ll find no where else in Scripture. And this is why there is so much confusion.
I had a young man tell me recently that I was the first one that hadn’t taken all The Bible, put it in a blender, turned it on high, and then dished it out and given everybody indigestion! I said, “Now, that’s hitting the nail on the head, because that’s what most of them do, you know.” They mix it all up, and then they wonder why people can’t keep from throwing up. But all you have to do is just keep it in it’s progressive revelation as all these things unfolded in God’s own time and under His sovereign Grace. Then The Bible will just become so exciting. It is so much easier to study and understand. I think of all the hundreds of people I’ve had in my classes over the last twenty years, not one would disagree with me on that. It’s when you begin to keep all these things in their rightful place instead of mixing them, that there isn’t any confusion.
We’ll eventually get back to Genesis, but for right now we’ve got to get to where the Bride of Christ is actually brought on the scene. Several have asked if we wouldn’t delineate a little bit more about end-time things. So, since we’re back in the New Testament, and we’re dealing with the Church Age, we’ll probably take one lesson to go into the Tribulation and the Rapture, and the actual return of Christ. We won’t do it in depth or detail, but we’ll lay it out enough that hopefully, you’ll be able to understand it.
Come back to Galatians Chapter 1, where Paul has defended his apostleship. We explained in the last lesson what Paul’s Gospel is. That it’s all centered on the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God, Israel’s Messiah. And then in verse 12:
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
For I never received it of man. In other words, as I pointed out, he never went back to Jerusalem, and checked in with the disciples. “…neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We can see that everything Paul teaches and writes, came directly from the ascended Lord in glory. I’ve had people kindly say, “Wait a minute Les. You say that we go by what Paul says, I always thought we go by what Jesus said.” That, of course, would be in the Gospels. Well, wait a minute. Everything that Paul writes, is what Jesus said ( By revelation). But it’s what Jesus said after his death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension. And it’s just as if you made a will 5 years ago, and today you make a new one, and tomorrow you die. And now they bring both wills before the court. Which one is valid? The last one, because it’s what you spoke last!
This is the way we must look at Paul. Paul’s revelations are from the ascended Lord, whereas the Gospels are talking about Christ during His earthly ministry. And as I always remind people, please remember that during His earthly ministry He was living under the Law. He was ministering to a people under the Law. And so, everything that he taught was in that flavor. Now granted, we can go back and study the Gospels, and we can get a lot of moral applications. It’s certainly nice to know the things that Christ did (his compassion for example), and I have no problem with that. But you won’t find the Gospel back there, because He hadn’t died yet; He hadn’t shed His blood; He hadn’t risen from the dead.
“For ye have heard of my conversation in times past (or my manner of living) in the Jews religion….”
I’ve made it evident over the past few years that I detest the word religion. I hope nobody ever calls me religious, because Christianity is not a religion. But, now, you see, Paul uses the word in a bad light. What does Paul think of the Jews religion? Just exactly as he implies – it’s what made him like he was. It made Paul a hater of The Messiah, The Christ.
“And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
What’s the key word? Tradition. Oh listen, that’s one of the most dangerous words in the Christian community. Tradition is sending millions to a lost eternity. Let’s be on guard that we don’t just subscribe to something because that’s what Dad believed. How do we know that what they believed was right? We’ve got to come back to The Book. I always tell people that what I say doesn’t count. But you can say, “Les says to look at such and such a verse.” I don’t mind that. But don’t ever ascribe anything to what I say, or what any other human being says. We have to rest on the Word of God.
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace….”
Remember I emphasized last week, when Saul was on the road to Damascus, he was a total enemy of Christ. Instead of zapping him off the scene, Christ saved him! Now, that was Grace. And Paul recognized that all through his writings.
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:…”
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen (Who?…The Gentiles and Heathen, not amongst the Jews so much, but among the Gentiles.); immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:…“ When we were in Acts Chapter 9 last lesson I told you there had to be about a three year gap between those two verses:
“Neither went up I to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
Where did he go? Into Arabia. Now, the reason I put Sinai along with Arabia is because in Chapter 4 – you might want to turn there with me for a minute – in verse 25, he uses the term Mount Sinai in Arabia. Putting two and two together, you’ll come up with the fact that here in Chapter 1, when God sovereignly drove him out of Damascus, He sent him down into the desert of Arabia to Mount Sinai. And I like to make the analogy, as I’ve done in programs of the past, that just as surely as God gave the Law to Moses, and Moses took the Law down the mountain to Israel, so God gave to the Apostle Paul at Sinai the doctrines of Grace. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we Gentiles have what we have, because he (Paul) gave it to us.
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and
abode with him fifteen days.” After three years: that’s where I get that Paul must have spent about three years at Mount Sinai, where God revealed the tremendous truths of this Age of Grace.
“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.”
Now, fourteen years after, see how time is unrolling. Just get this idea: from Pentecost to the sermon of Stephen was about seven years. Then, within a year or two of that, you have Saul’s conversion. Then within the next year probably, Peter goes to the house of Cornelius. We are then about twelve years after Pentecost. Then Paul goes down for three years to Sinai. And then he comes back up into the area of Cilicia. And so fourteen years after all of this has taken place, he comes back to Jerusalem in Acts Chapter 15, and we call it thecouncil in Jerusalem. That’s where they called Paul on the carpet for preaching Salvation to the Gentiles. Please turn to Acts Chapter 11, where you want to remember that the Jews have been under intense persecution, which was brought about by the old Saul of Tarsus. They were forced to flee. You might want to go back and look at Chapter 8. I don’t like to say things without letting you see it in Scripture:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Saul was consenting unto Stephen’s death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the assembly at Jerusalem: and they were all, every Jewish believer. I’m a stickler for words in Scripture, because I don’t think the Holy Spirit would permit a word to come in that is used loosely. And so I think, when it says that they were all, it meant all. So they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except who?… the apostles …do you see that? We pointed that out recently. But we are prone to forget, everyone does. They all scattered except the apostles; and here it is eight years after Pentecost, and they are still in Jerusalem. Alright, come on over to Chapter 11, where we were. Come down to verse 19. This the verse that virtually blew my mind several years ago. I’ve mentioned more than once, that I wasn’t raised in the teaching that I now teach. And this is one of the verses that opened my eyes. I was of the same mindset that Christianity began back there with John the Baptist. I don’t know what we thought. But, I had always had it all mixed up, too, you know (I already see some heads nodding). I never differentiated, but this verse hit me one time and I thought, this tells me something. And what does it say?
“Now they that were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but the Jews only.”
Now, when he speaks of “preaching the Word,” which Word did they have? The Old Testament, that’s all. And so they preached that Christ was The Messiah from the Old Testament; and they preached the Word to (and look at the next word) “…none but unto the Jews only.” Now isn’t that plain. Many people get the idea that as soon as Christ left the scene, the twelve went all over the world preaching the Gospel. No, they didn’t. They stayed in Jerusalem and even the believing Jews that were scattered, because of the persecution, preached to nobody but Jews. They had no idea that God was going to go to a Gentile. That was anathema to them. Now read on:
“And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.”
Now, they’ve come to Antioch and they’ve scattered away from Jerusalem and all through parts of the Mediterranean. Some have come to Antioch, where they spoke unto the Grecians, or Greeks. It wasn’t unusual to speak to Grecians because they were Jews who were living in Greece, or at least speaking the Greek language. But Greeks speaks of Gentiles. That’s what I want you to see. So, you see now what God is sovereignly doing? Even these Jews who had been forced out of Jerusalem, have now come up as far as Antioch and without their even realizing what’s going on, God is beginning to cause Gentiles to be interested enough to listen to what these Jews have to say. Now read on: “…preaching the Lord Jesus.” There’s still no reference to the death, burial and Resurrection, because they didn’t understand that either yet, but at least they are approaching these Gentiles.
“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
Now, what do you suppose the Jewish people of Jerusalem thought? “Hey, what in the world is going on here? They can’t be talking to Greeks. This is our business.” And then they sent Barnabas to check this whole thing out.
“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
When Barnabas saw the Grace of God, he was glad. Most Jews wouldn’t have been, but Barnabas was special, as you’ll now see:
“For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”
When he says much was added unto the Lord, that included Greeks too. Now, here’s where the Holy Spirit moves in a special detail. The Gentiles are being approached and showing interest; and many are even believing, which I would still call the Jewish message, that Jesus was indeed The Messiah of Israel. What does Barnabas understand has to be done?There’s only one man for the hour and who is that? Paul. So what does the next verse say?
“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Note how it says that Barnabas went to seek Saul and how he found him. See how this all fits. He went up into the area of Tarsus, which is not that far, and I can just see Barnabas going up and down the streets of these cities, along that river valley, asking if any had seen Paul. And then he finally finds Paul. And look at what he says in verse 26: “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.” And they stayed for a whole year, teaching this group of Jews and Gentiles. And these disciples, or believers, were called Christians, where? Not Jerusalem.
I’m so amazed that every writer that I read, even great men all over; they all refer to those Jewish believers at Jerusalem as Christians. The Bible never does. Just think about that. The Bible never calls those Jewish believers Christians, from the time of John the Baptist, all the way up until Paul. But all the theologians do. The Christians there at Jerusalem. I don’t know where we get it. Because you see, it wasn’t until Paul came on the scene and began to expound on the Age of Grace, based on the death, burial and Resurrection, that The Bible says those people were Christians. Those Jewish believers, I maintain, were not in that category. They were not like these Gentiles. They were called Christians first there in Antioch. If you’ll come down to Chapter 15, you’ll see Paul and Barnabas have now come back from their first missionary journey up in Asia Minor, and they’ve established churches. Gentiles have been saved. Now, before we go to Chapter 15, let’s jump over to Romans Chapter 11. Here in Romans Chapter 11, these three little chapters in the middle of the book are dealing with the Nation of Israel. And now look at what Paul says in verse 11:
“I say then, ‘have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.'”
When he says “…have they stumbled that they should fall?…“, he is speaking of the Nation of Israel. In other words, are they cancelled out of this Old Testament program. Is God all through with the Jew? What’s his next statement?…“GOD FORBID (or banish the thought): But rather through their fall…“ Through their rejecting their Messiah and crucifying him, through their fall, Salvation has come to whom?… The Gentiles! Now, do you see it. You can’t get it any plainer. Israel rejected it, crucified Him, and by so doing, they brought about God’s plan of Salvation by Grace.
Now, come back to Acts 15. The Jerusalem believers are all shook up that Gentiles are supposedly being saved up in Antioch. So they send men up there to check it out, and sure enough, they are! And so they decide they’d better bring them back to Jerusalem. Now, this is what Paul is referring to in Galatians 2, when he says fourteen years later he went up to Jerusalem.
“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”
Paul and Barnabas had this big argument with these Jews from Jerusalem, saying the Gentiles could not be saved unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, as stated in verse 1. And then you come over to verse 5 of the same chapter. Look what these Jews in Jerusalem (including the Twelve), are saying:
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them,(those Gentile believers up in Antioch) and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
Most people don’t know this chapter in The Bible! But see, this was still the setting of the Jerusalem church. It was still based on the Law and circumcision, and everything else. The Gentile was based on the Grace of God, and so the Jerusalem church had to reconcile it. So they called Paul down on the carpet. And I can just imagine how they thought they almost had him until, finally, Peter wakes up and realizes that by a previous experience, God had shown him that He would save Gentiles. Had it not been that God providentially took Peter up there (in Chapter 10), to the house of Cornelius, he would have never come to Paul’s defense here. It’s the only thing that kept it going.