Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 56
Comparing Kingdom and Grace Doctrines – Part 2
I John 1:1 – 1:9
All right we’ll be comparing the difference between the salvation message of the Gospel of the Kingdom that we have in these little Jewish epistles, and the Gospel of Grace we have in Paul’s epistles.
All through these little Jewish epistles, we’re still dealing with Jewish Kingdom believers. And when I speak of Kingdom believers, I’m talking about Jews who had simply realized Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah and King. They’re still under the Law. They’re still practicing Temple worship. There’s nothing that indicates they stopped that. But, along with it they have now recognized Who Jesus really is.
All right, so to pick up the terminology (and for that reason only), I’m going to back up for a moment to Matthew chapter 9, where we see it put so plainly. Matthew 9, dropping down to verse 35. This, of course, is at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He’s going to pick the Twelve disciples in chapter 10. But let’s start here in chapter 9, just for the sake of getting the terminology that I’m using:
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, (that’s all Jewish) and preaching (or proclaiming) the gospel of the kingdom,.…” The Good News of the Kingdom. And remember, everything is in fulfillment of all these Old Testament promises.
Now maybe we’d better back up a few pages to Zechariah chapter 14. Back into the Old Testament, and this is just one. My goodness, I could spend the rest of the day pointing out these verses talking about this future Kingdom on earth, with the capital in Jerusalem and with Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of Israel as the King of a glorious Kingdom. All right, now just for sake of simple language, Zechariah chapter 14 verse 9 and this is so simple a third-grader can understand it. It’s plain English.
“And the LORD (now remember the LORD in the Old Testament is Jehovah and Jehovah is God the Son, the Messiah of Israel) shall be (future, that’s prophecy) king over all the earth:.…” Now that’s not gobbledy-gook. That’s not something that takes a theologian’s education. It says what it means and it means what it says, that the day is coming when God the Son will actually be the King of kings and Lord of lords over the whole earth.
Now then, as we closed our last half-hour program, we were in Matthew 16 and Jesus had asked the Twelve Who people thought He was. And they had all their crazy notions and finally Peter nailed it down and he said, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.” All right, let’s just pick that up so someone won’t say, “Well that’s just one instance.” Come on over to John’s Gospel chapter 11. Now for some of you, You may sit there right now and say, “Les, you’ve covered this before.” But, if tomorrow, over a cup of coffee, the subject comes up, can you turn to Matthew 16? Can you turn to John chapter 11? Can you turn to Acts chapter 8? Can you turn to Acts chapter 9? If I can, anybody can!
All right, it takes practice. I remember back when I was a kid. We had a pastor who would just literally take someone up on the stage with him and sit him in a chair opposite him. And he would show us, the congregation, how to practice sharing the Scriptures with somebody. Now I suppose some people out there thought he had just sort of lost his marbles, but that’s what people should be doing more of. I tell husbands and wives all the time, just sit across the table from each other and practice. Just pretend that your wife is a seeking lost person, and practice using the Scriptures – it takes practice. My goodness, I’ve been doing this almost every night, five nights, six nights a week for thirty years. And then people wonder why I can do it. Well, this didn’t come overnight. But if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to practice. You’ve got to get out there and do it.
All right, so now then, here in John is the next instance where we have this declaration of the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom. John 11:23. Jesus has come back to Bethany and Lazarus is dead. And of course Martha’s all upset knowing that, had He been there a few hours earlier, He could have healed him.
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” In other words, faith would be the source of eternal life. But see and understand – He doesn’t say a word about death, burial and resurrection. These people weren’t expected to believe that He was going to die for them. And I have totally rebelled now in recent years; that the teaching that I used years and years ago, I won’t any more – that everybody saved before the cross was saved by faith in His coming death, burial and resurrection. Nobody knew that He was going to die. The Old Testament writers that wrote it in such veiled language; and Peter said it so plain that they “searched diligently” and they couldn’t find it. But, how many times throughout the past hasn’t most of Christendom (if they have any theology at all) will try to tell us that everybody before the cross was saved by their faith in this coming death, burial and resurrection. No they weren’t! They didn’t know He was going to die. And the same way here. Jesus doesn’t mention anything about the cross. All they’re expected to do is to believe for salvation Who He was. That’s all God expected. Whereas, today, we must believe that finished work of the cross for salvation..
“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Now He says to Martha “Do you believe this?” Now watch her confession of faith, and compare it with what Peter just said:
“She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Now Jesus doesn’t upbraid her. He doesn’t criticize her. He accepts that statement of faith. That’s all they were supposed to believe during that era. All right, let’s go on a little further. Acts chapter 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch. Remember this is all before Saul’s conversion. There’s not a word now that salvation is going to be based on believing in His death, burial and resurrection. It’s all still based on believing Who He was.
Before going to Acts chapter 8:35, remember I like to quote the verse over in Romans chapter 15, to back these things up.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, (for what purpose?) to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” That’s why He came – to fulfill the promises found in the Old Testament concerning this glorious Kingdom that was being offered to Israel.
All right so now turn to Acts chapter 8, and Philip has gone down on the way to Gaza, the way to Ethiopia where the Spirit has led him and he comes across this Ethiopian eunuch who is reading the book of Isaiah. You all know the account, I trust. And so verse 35, Philip joins with this eunuch up on his chariot.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, (that is Isaiah 53) and preached unto him Jesus. 36. And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”
Now remember what also was implied in the Gospel of the Kingdom? What did John the Baptist require? Repent and be baptized. What did Peter require in Acts chapter 2? Repent and be baptized. And so, evidently, and I say evidently because you’ve got to read between the lines a lot of times – evidently Philip has preached that same message to this Ethiopian eunuch that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah and for those who were going to put their faith in that, they had to repent and be baptized. That was all part of the Gospel of the Kingdom. So here comes Philip’s response.
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he (the eunuch) answered and said, (now watch his confession of faith) I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” Remember this is several years after the cross, but did the eunuch also add, “…who died for me and rose from the dead?” No, it doesn’t say that. And we can’t put that in there. All the eunuch understood was Who Jesus was. He was the promised Christ – period!
All right, next one across the page – Saul of Tarsus has now been converted on the road to Damascus. Now goodness sakes, Saul’s a good Jew, he’s still under the Jewish economy. The Gospel of Grace hasn’t been revealed yet. He hasn’t gotten any mysteries and revelations from God yet. So, if God is going to save him, on what basis is He going to have to save him? The Gospel of the Kingdom. That’s the only Gospel that is being used at that time.
Let’s look at Saul’s profession of faith. We’re still calling him Saul (he’s going to later be called Paul) – Acts chapter 9 verse 20. This is after his meeting Christ on the road to Damascus, when Saul asked the question, “Who art thou Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus.” And that’s all old Saul needed to know. Who He was. And he was instantly saved by believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ.
“And straightway he preached Christ (Messiah, the Anointed) in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” He has gone right straight into the synagogues in Damascus, proclaiming that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God.”
Now put that all together and what have you got? Paul is saying the same thing the others said – that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. That’s the Gospel of the Kingdom message. Now he won’t be preaching that message long, as he will be going to the desert and receive those three years of instructions from the risen Lord for us Gentiles, as we see over in the Book of Galatians.
All right, now then, let’s go back again to our little Jewish epistles, James and Peter and John, and that’s all they’re going to bring out – that these Jewish believers are trusting Who Jesus of Nazareth was. All right, I John chapter 1 and I guess, we’re about at verse 5.
I John 1:5a
“This then is the message which we have heard of him,…” Stop and ask yourself constantly, heard of who? Jesus. The Word. The Son of God, who had ministered with them for three years, see?
I John 1:5
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Now we’ll take the next couple of verses and then we’re going to come back and look at the Light.
I John 1:6-7
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7. But if we walk in the light, as he (The Word, the Son, the Christ) is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Now there is certainly a reference to the work of the cross, the shed blood, but that’s all. That’s as far as it goes. It doesn’t say a word about His resurrection. It doesn’t say a word about becoming a part of the Body of Christ. It’s only that that shed blood – now I think that is a fitting time to go way back to when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming: how did he announce Him? “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”
So they knew that there was that part and parcel of it – but you see, as you analyze these things and compare them with what Paul is going to proclaim, there is nothing of the Grace Gospel message; it’s all associated with the Gospel of the Kingdom, which was given to the Nation of Israel.
Now back to verse 5 and we’ll pick these three verses apart. This is the message, “that God is light and if He is light then there can be no darkness.” All right, let’s go back to John’s Gospel. The same John who wrote this little epistle also wrote the Gospel account. And in John’s Gospel chapter 3, he makes a big deal over the “Light” part. In fact, let’s go back to chapter 1, and begin with verse 6. What I’m always trying to show is that when you’re in the prophetic program, which began primarily when God made the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all these prophecies flow up through human history all dealing with the Nation of Israel, and we come to Christ’s earthly ministry still dealing with Israel.
We come to the Acts of the Apostles, still primarily dealing with Israel. We skip over Paul’s epistles and we jump down into these little Jewish epistles; it is still all basically God’s dealing with the Nation of Israel. Everything is on that plane if you will take it in that light. In fact if all of Paul’s epistles were removed from the Bible, there would not be a Gospel of Grace message.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (I’m thinking that this is John the Baptist. It has to be.) 7. The same came for a witness, (he’s the one who proclaimed‘Behold the Lamb of God’) to bear witness of the (what?) Light,.…” Now what’s the purpose of light? Now you think I’m tricking you, don’t you? Why do we have the lights on? To remove darkness. It’s just that simple. When you bring in light, darkness flees. You take away the light, darkness comes in.
Now to follow up on this light concept, let’s go to Isaiah chapter 42. This light concept is nothing new, and let’s just drop in at verse 6. Now look, this was written 700 years before Christ. It’s a long time, but it’s written as if it was only twenty-four hours ahead of Him.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a (what?) light of the Gentiles; 7. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” In other words, the whole idea was to bring even the Gentile world out of their spiritual blackness and darkness and bring them into the light of Israel’s Messiah, or the God of Creation. All right, go to chapter 60 and you’ve got this “light” concept all the way through. Isaiah 60 verse 1, and again this is plain English.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come,.…” Now stop a minute. To whom is Isaiah writing? Israel – in view of their falling headlong into rebellion and idolatry. And the whole idea of Isaiah and the prophets is to warn them that God is going to bring judgment in short order. He’s going to bring in foreign nations. And he makes the language so plain, they’re going to have sharpened arrows and they’re going to have horses’ hooves of flint. All to bring in chastisement on the people of Israel. But before it comes, he’s giving them this opportunity to turn around. All right, so now in chapter 60 of Isaiah, written now, like I said, 700 years before Christ, the prophet writes:
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (even though it’s 700 years out in the future) 2. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Well Who is the Light? The Messiah. See, the Christ would be the Light of the world and “even the Gentiles shall come to thy light.”
Acts chapter 9; we were talking about Saul and I guess I could even carry that light a little bit further. What happened to Saul on the road to Damascus? What hit him? That bright light. It just knocked him to the ground. The Light from Heaven. Well goodness sakes, Who was the Light? Jesus, the Christ. And old Saul of Tarsus immediately knew that it was God dealing with him and that’s why his response was, “who are you Jehovah?” And Jehovah says, “I’m Jesus.” One and the same.
So, you have that dramatic conversion of the Apostle Paul. But, before he receives his revelations out there on the back side of the desert (verse 20 again, shortly after his conversion), he gets his strength back; he gets his sight back. “Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues.” And I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s still all Jewish. Nobody has told him to go up to the marketplace and preach to Gentiles.
But all that heard him were amazed,.…” Why? Because this Jew who had so hated these followers of Jesus of Nazareth was now proclaiming that, yes, He was the Anointed. He was the Light. Okay, now then let’s come back to I John again, and verse 6. Remember, John is writing to Jews under that Kingdom economy.
I John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, (just recognizing Who was the cleansing power of) and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Now jump back up to verse 6.
I John 1:6
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” If they would say they had fellowship and were walking in darkness, then they had no salvation. They were just simply mouthing something that had never affected their lives. Well, that’s the way church people are even today. Nothing has changed. You know how they say “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well that’s just about the way it is, even scripturally.
So when these Jewish believers walked in the Light, they had fellowship one with another, in spite of all the pressure. Now don’t forget that these three men are writing to fellow Jews under the horrors of persecution, but that’s going to get worse. The Tribulation is just out in front of them and things are going to get worse.
I John 1:8
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Well, now, how does the Apostle Paul put it? Let’s go back to Romans 3:23 because a lot of these scriptures overlap and one means just as much to one group of people as it does to another – not always – but here’s one that does. This has always been the case, ever since Adam and Eve fell. And the Old Testament says that the heart is desperately wicked; who can know it?
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” What does that mean? Every human being who is ever born comes into the human race a born sinner. And that’s what so many people cannot comprehend. They think, well I’m good enough. I’ve never done anything that bad. I’m not a sinner. Yes we are – by virtue of the fact that we’re children of Adam.