Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 6
CALLING OUT A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME
Turn to Romans Chapter 6. God’s calling out a people for His name, the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is also referred to as the Bride of Christ, and is predominately Gentile in its makeup because Israel has been blinded: sent into a dispersion that has lasted over 1900 years. I think that’s just about to end. We don’t know, but it would seem we’re coming close to the end of this Age of Grace. God will pick up where He left off with the Nation of Israel. We’ll spend this lesson on the doctrines for this Age of Grace. How do we become a member of this Bride of Christ? I think, even though we’re in the so-called Bible Belt, I find there is so much confusion on the simple plan of Salvation; and indeed, it is simple. A six-year-old can comprehend it, and yet it is so complex that I can’t comprehend it, and I don’t think anyone else can. It is beyond human understanding. It is an act of God. Let’s turn over to Chapter 6 of Romans and look at a verse that we made reference to several weeks ago. But in Chapter 6, Paul makes a tremendous statement. And again, it’s simplicity in its entirety. Verse 14:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Whenever I teach the Book of Romans verse by verse, I always point out that the word ‘sin’ (singular) is not the act of sin, such as theft or adultery, for example. The word ‘sin’ in Romans, unless the text clearly says otherwise, speaks of the old Adamic nature. That old sin nature that we’re born with. A question came up recently which asked, “How soon does a child show that sin nature?” You know what my answer always is? — “Just as soon as they can!” Even in their innocence. But now, Paul says, sin doesn’t always have to control us. In verse 14: “For sin (that old Adamic nature) shall not have dominion (control or reigning rule) over you: for ye are not under the law,…” (you’re under what?… Grace!).
Few comprehend the Grace of God. Most people understand the definition to be unmerited favor. But Grace is that attribute of God that can take the person who realizes he’s nothing more than a fallen creature; he’s under sin; he’s under condemnation; and there’s nothing he can do… then the Grace of God reaches down and saves him on the basis of his believing the Gospel (plus nothing). Now, that’s simple, isn’t it? Recently, we were explaining the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. I describe him as a raging bull. He could hardly wait to get to Damascus and arrest more people (Jews of course) who had become followers of Christ, and bring them back to Jerusalem, and either have them put to death or have them put in prison. That was his attitude. And yet, despite Saul’s destructive mind-set, what did God do? He saved him! By Grace! He didn’t deserve it, work for it or do anything for it. He just said, “Lord, what would you have me to do.” Now, that’s Grace, and that’s exactly where every one of us have to find ourselves. We’re a totally undone creature. There is nothing we can do except call out for the mercy and the Grace of God, believing everything that needed to be done on our behalf was accomplished at the Cross. That’s faith, and you can’t add anything to it.
Alright, read it again: “…ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Now, go back to Romans Chapter 3. Remember that, beginning with the call of Abram (or Abraham), back in 2000 B.C. — with the calling aside of that favored nation, the Nation of Israel, God dealt only with the Jew (with exceptions, but they were few and far between). It was Jew only, His Covenant people. In other words, what did God do with the Jew? He called them out, set them aside, and made them different. He made them different to the point where they were never to have anything to do with the tribes and nations living around them. They were not to intermarry nor have any kind of social intercourse with them. They were to be a separated, holy people. But, in the final analysis, when we come to the Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 3, verse 9; look at what it says:
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;…”
“What then…?” Now Paul is speaking of the Jew. Are we Jews better than they (Gentiles)? “…No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles,….” as what? As all under sin. Now, when God set Israel apart and made them different; in the final analysis, what did it prove? There is no difference. He also says in Romans 3:
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision (practicing their Jewish religion)? Much every way: chiefly (or primarily), because that unto them (the Jewish people; the Nation of Israel) were committed the oracles (Word)of God.”
They had everything going for them. God gave them the priesthood, the worship, the civil law, the whole system of law. What did it accomplish? Practically nothing. So, finally, in Romans 3, Paul, by inspiration, brings us to the conclusion that, though they were different, it proved that that old Adamic nature is just as evident in the son of Abraham as it is in a Gentile. There’s no difference. We’re all under the control of the old Adam (there’s that word ‘sin’ again).
“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
Now, what did Jesus say back in John’s Gospel, Chapter 3, verse 19? They “…loved darkness rather than light (why?), because their deeds were evil.” It hasn’t changed a bit! People still would rather stay in their spiritual darkness than step into the light of the Gospel, because the first thing the Gospel shows is what? Our sinfulness! And we don’t want to see that. I remember a lady, several years ago, said to me, “Les, ever since I’ve been coming to your class, all I see every day is my own sin. I never used to.” I replied, “Don’t blame me for that.” But nevertheless, when you get into The Book and start studying, what do we begin to see?… that we are fallen creatures. We’re sinful. And yet, even though God has saved us, given us the Holy Spirit, and many other blessings, we still find ourselves constantly giving in to that old ‘sin’ nature. Let’s go a little further in this chapter. Remember, all I’m trying to point out is how we become members of this Body of Christ that is being completed (and we’re getting very close, I think, to the full mark). And, when it’s full, God will take it out, and He can pick up where He left off with Israel. Now verses 19 and 20 – here are some choice verses:
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law (in other words, to the Jew): that every mouth may be stopped,…“ Jew and who?… Jewand Gentile; even though the Law was given to Israel, yet in its sovereignty and its perfectness, who did it also apply to?… the whole human race! It wasn’t just the Jew who was condemned because he stole. It wasn’t just the Jew who was condemned because he used God’s name in vain, or gossiped or anything that the Law forbade. But who else?… all!Gentiles as well as Jews — that “…all the world might become (saved?…righteous?…ready for Heaven?…what?) guilty….“ How many people do you run into that say, “Well, I think I’ll make it;” or “I’m doing the best I can;” or “I’m keeping the Commandments?” That isn’t what the Commandments were for. If I could just get more people to understand! The Law can do nothing but condemn. That’s all the Law can do. It can’t save anybody!
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
“Therefore by the deeds (or the keeping) of the law (or the Ten Commandments, however you want to put it) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is (not the knowledge of Salvation, but rather) the knowledge of sin.” But the first step in Salvation is to recognize that we need something. And so, the very first part of our Salvation experience is to recognize what God says about us — that we’re sons of Adam, we’re sinners, and we’re a fallen race.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;….”
“But….“ What does that word tell you? The flip side! The flip side is now the righteousness of God without the Law. We have to put the Law aside. And this righteousness of God without the Law is manifested; and again my definition for manifesting in Scripture is, ‘put in the spotlight’ – put under a microscope. This is what the word of God is going to do for us when we step into the truth of it. It is like being put in the spotlight, and it is being witnessed by the Law and the prophets. I want people to understand; yes, I am a great proponent of Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles. And, that all our doctrine for Salvation and Christian living comes from Paul’s letters. But, I don’t isolate Paul’s letters and teach only from them. I use the whole Scripture, from Genesis through Revelation!
Paul, himself, says that all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable. So, I don’t want anyone to ever think that I’m only a proponent of Paul. Unique to Paul’s writings, however, are these doctrines of Grace. In fact, I often shock people to get them into The Book. I’ll say something shocking, and they’ll say, “Well, I’ve got to look that up.” One way I’ll do this is by saying, “You can’t find the Gospel in John 3:16.” That shocks people! They think, “But that’s what I’ve heard since I was a kid!” Just analyze the Scripture. Go back through John’s Gospel, Chapter 3; beginning with Nicodemus and Jesus dealing with him. You can’t find one word of what we would call the Gospel. We can use John 3:16, but what must we use to make John 3:16 come into full flower? Paul’s Gospel!
You take Paul’s Gospel – that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again – and bring that into John 3:16. Then, bring out the fact that, when God gave His only begotten Son, He went to the Cross, died and rose from the dead. That’s well and good. But, just to simply use John 3:16 alone, the Gospel is not in it. This is where we must recognize that these basic truths come from Paul, and then we can go back in other scriptures and make application. Another one is Isaiah 53, the favorite chapter used to win Jews. How much would anybody get of the Gospel out of Isaiah 53 if we didn’t have the knowledge of Paul’s Gospel? Nothing! What can you put together of Isaiah 53:7, “…he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter(and) …openeth not his mouth,” if you didn’t understand how Paul lays it out, that this was God’s plan of Salvation. So, here you must be careful that you don’t malign me for being too narrow when, actually, what I’m saying is that we use all of the Scripture.
“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:”
This ‘righteousness’ that he makes reference to in verse 21; this “…righteousness of God which is by faith (not faith plus … not faith and…. But by the faith) of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all (that repent and are baptized, right? No! Upon all them who keep the commandments? No! Upon all them who join the church? No! See what I mean?… But upon all…them that believe….“ I think of a sermonette I read as a teenager titled, “Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and Thou Shalt be Saved – but, be sure you Believe!” In other words, I don’t adhere to ease of believeism — “Oh yes, I believe Christ died for me, and I’ve accepted Christ as my personal Savior” – I don’t go for that. I want a person to know that they, with all their being, have understood that they are a lost child of Adam and that when they believe that Christ died for them – shed His Blood, was buried, and rose from the dead, and they really believe it! – then, The Bible says, God moves in and makes that person a child of His and puts them into the Body of Christ. That’s how we get into the Body of Christ, by our Salvation. Continuing: “…upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:…“ No difference between what? Jew and Gentile.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:” I call this the very first step of faith in our Salvation process. “…all have sinned, and come short….“ No one can say, “But I’m good enough.” God says none of us can be, or will be. Then verse 24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
“Being justified….“ Justification is that judicial act of God. Now, when I use the word `judicial,’ I mean like a judge on the bench hands down a decree. Justification is when God, The Judge, judicially declares the sinner (that person who recognizes that they are undone and are under the control of old Adam) to be just as if he had never sinned. That’s beyond our comprehension. Even after we’ve been justified, we still are prone to fall and sin, yet what does God tell us? He says we are justified! He sees us as if we had never sinned! We’ll never have to come before the judgment seat of Christ, as believers, and have to answer for our sins. Never! Our sins are forgiven. They are under the Blood. Christ took care of it and we will never have to stand before Him with sin on our back. Our sins are buried in the deepest sea and God has put up a sign which says, “No Fishing!” He has completely removed them. They are not going to come back and plague us. That’s being justified.
Let’s continue in verse 24: “…freely (without a cause…and how did God do it?) by his grace (unmerited favor) through the redemption….“ I think you all know what the word `redemption’ refers to: losing something and buying it back. And it’s a Scriptural term. When did God lose the human race? When Adam sinned. We’re all in Adam, remember? It was there God lost us. So now, what does He have to do? Buy us back with a price. Satan is a hard task master; he won’t let go of us easily. And this is the whole idea of redemption — that God has to buy us back for Himself because He lost us in Adam. The word redemption here, especially in Romans, goes back to the Roman slave market in particular, for a beautiful illustration. The Greek word is Agorazo. We’re not going to be concerned with that word so much, but we’re talking about a slave market.
Just like in today’s stock market, there were certain terms back then that applied only to the slave market. And these were the three that were usually exercised by wealthy Romans who would go down to the slave market and just spend the day. It was a good past-time for them to go down and buy a slave and leave it in the market. And, when they left that slave in the market (much like a stock trader today can buy stocks in the morning on the board of trade or stock exchange and, if at one o’clock in the afternoon, the market has jumped a couple of points, he can resell that same stock), if the price went up, they could sell the same slave that same day.
Well, the Romans could actually do that with slaves. But, the one we’re most concerned with here in Scripture is the term Exagorazo. Now the term ‘ex’ always means out. So, in this case, they could buy a slave, take it out of the market and take it home, thereby becoming that slave’s owner. Then, they could exercise the third part with regard to slaves — they could ‘Lutroo’ him, or set him free. So, with that background, let’s look at this verse. Here, the Roman legions have just come down from barbarian Gaul in Northern Europe. And they’ve got this teenage lad who has probably been beaten and dragged several hundred miles – and here he is in the slave market. But this rich, benevolent Roman sees this young man and sees something in him of worth. So, what does he do? He buys him; and instead of leaving him in the market to trade again, he takes him home, cleans him up and gives him light duty.
This young man has never lived so sumptuously, although he is a slave. And then, one day, this Roman master calls this young man into his office and says, “You’ve been an ideal slave and I’m going to now give you your freedom. I have paid for your citizenship. You are free to go wherever you want to go. You are a Roman citizen.” What do you suppose that young man would say considering the fact that slaves who were not fortunate enough to be bought, were thrown to the lions in the coliseum? He would probably say, “Master, there’s no way that I could do that after all that you have done for me. You bought me out of that awful slave market. You’ve put me in new clothes, you’ve cleaned me up and you’ve given me the best of duty. Master, I love you, and I will never leave you. I’m going to serve you all the rest of my life.”
Now, doesn’t that say it all? That is what God rightfully expects from every child that He has saved. He has taken us out of the slave market of Satan; He has broken the bonds of sin. He has cleaned us up and given us a whole new outlook on life. He has given us the Holy Spirit and all the promises of eternity to come. So, what should be our logical reaction?“Lord, you’ve done so much for me. The least I can do is serve you and be your faithful bondslave.”