Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 56
Love Not The World
I John 3:1-24
Every day somebody calls and says, “I just caught your program for the first time.” Well, if you’re one of those, just remember we’re just a simple Bible study. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we just pray that we can stay centered on the truth of Scripture, and rightly divide the Word of God – because that’s the secret of real Bible study, being able to see what actually applies to the Church Age we are living in even as I speak. We’re finding out many don’t have a clue that God chose the Apostle Paul to write the instructions and doctrine for this age we are living in today.
I prefer to keep our study non-denominational because people will get so hung up on denominationalism that they get a closed mind to anything else. Well, what if their denomination is wrong? Ever think of that? What if your denomination isn’t exactly on the truth? Hey, you’re out of luck because I think God is absolute. I really do.
I know we can’t judge hearts, but God’s Word is absolute and as we’ve stressed so often, you’re either on it or your missing it. And so we just try to help people see what the Book says. It’s not what I think nor what some denomination thinks, but what does the Word of God really say about it. And again, when I get to this place, I always have to thank our listeners for their letters, prayers, and financial help. My, the letters the last few days have just been so encouraging, and we find it hard to believe that the Lord is using us the way He is. Because (I think I’ve said it before on the program) for the longest time, I felt that if I had any ministry at all, it was to teach believers. But I never considered myself evangelical or a soul-winner per se, but oh my goodness, the numbers of people that are coming out of just total lostness! And what a testimony over and over, how their lives have been changed.
Okay, that’s enough for introductions, and now let’s get right into our Bible study here in I John. chapter 3 and we’ll start right at verse 1.
I John 3:1a
“Behold,.…” Well the very first word, what does that word “behold” really tell you? Hey, wake up! Pay attention. We’ve got something important to say.
I John 3:1a
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,.…” (as believers) Now again I always have to keep reminding people, these little epistles of James and Peter and John and Jude and on into Revelation are written primarily to what people? The Jews! The Nation of Israel. Now that doesn’t mean that we just close it up and say, “Well this isn’t for us,” because all Scripture is profitable.
Paul’s epistles of course are written to us. And that’s where we have to find our basic doctrines. But all the rest of Scripture still is applicable in one way or another. So even though John is addressing Jews here, you and I can revel in this just as much, that God has loved us so much:
I John 3:1b
“…that we should be called the sons (or the children) of God:.…” Now you see Paul uses that same language. Paul says that “we’re the children of God.” That doesn’t make it all in the same kettle, not by any means, they are still on two different platforms – but, nevertheless, under the same God, and the Word of God is profitable.
I John 3:1c
“…therefore the world (around us) knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” Now I’m sure that every one of you, if you really live and walk and practice your Christian life, once in a while will run up against somebody that thinks you’re a little bit odd. They think you’re out of it. There’s something wrong with you! Well, don’t be disheartened; it’s always been that way from day one. In fact I’ll probably go back to it sometime along in here, but just as soon as Abel was accepted of the Lord, how did Cain immediately begin to feel about him? Well, he hated him. Why? Because he was a righteous man and Cain wasn’t. That’s basically what it was. Well, it’s the same way here. And you ought to see the letters we get about how when people in the Sunday School class realize that folks like you now have an understanding of Scripture that the quarterly hasn’t even come close to – they look down the row at them as though they’ve lost it, like they’re out of their cage. But that’s the way it’s always been, and I’m sure many of you have experienced that.
And the Lord Himself was detested by the religious leaders of the Nation, because it just rankled them. All right, so the world doesn’t know who we really are, they don’t understand us, but they didn’t understand the Lord either. And they “knew him not.” Now verse 2.
“Beloved, now (right here in this life, not what we hope to be, but we know that we) are we the sons (or the children) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:.…” Now stop a minute. Do you realize that this Book tells us very, very little about our eternal state? You just can’t find much about what we’re going to be doing, or what we’re going to be active in, in eternity. Now we know it’s going to be glorious! It’s going to be beyond human comprehension. That’s as far as I can go. And see, even John says the same thing by the inspiration of the Spirit – we don’t know yet what it’s going to be like. But this much we can know. And this applies just as much to our looking for the Rapture of the Church as these Jews were to be looking for the Second Coming.
Now remember, whenever you’re dealing with Israel, as John is; whenever you’re dealing with the Four Gospels, the early Acts, or in these Jewish epistles; whenever it refers to the next coming of Christ, it’s the Second Coming, not the Rapture. Because Israel has nothing to do with the Rapture of the Church. But they have everything to do with the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation. All right, so John now is talking about the Second Coming.
I John 3:2b
“…but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Let’s come back to Acts chapter 1 where the Lord has just been with the Eleven – Judas is gone, Matthias isn’t in yet. So that’s why I use the number eleven. Back in Acts chapter 1, the Lord has been with the Eleven now for forty days. And it’s going to be ten days before the Holy Spirit comes down on Pentecost, so we’re on the Mount of Olives, at the end of the forty days.
“And when he had spoken these things, (that is to the Eleven, up there on the Mount of Olives, no press of the crowds, just Jesus and the Eleven) while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel. (these two were angels) 11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
This same Jesus, just exactly as you have known Him now for the last forty days, after His resurrection, where He could be from one place to the next in a split second, where He could enter into a room without benefit of doors or windows, where He had fish and bread on the shore and He ate with them. He walked with them. He talked with them. He communicated with them. Now that same Jesus that they had been communicating with for these last forty days, this same Jesus which is “taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.” Now that’s the Second Coming, that’s not the Rapture. And so at the Second Coming He will return in that same physical resurrected body with which He walked forty days with the Eleven.
All right now, I always like to tie the New with the Old. So now you come back to the Old Testament and you’ve got the same picture. Zechariah chapter 14. Zechariah, the next to the last book in your Old Testament. If you can’t find it, just find Matthew and go back to the left through Malachi and the next one is Zechariah. Chapter 14, and of course the first three verses are the closing days of the Tribulation, the horrors of the wrath and the vexation, which will end up with verse 3. This will be when the Tribulation is drawing to a close.
“Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” Those nations have all gathered in the valley of Megiddo and every place else. In other words, He’s utterly going to destroy those armies gathered from around the world. Now verse 4, to culminate that reappearance from Heaven.
“And his feet (see, physical. His physical feet) shall stand in that day (the day of His Second Coming) upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east. And the mount of Olives shall cleave (or separate) in the midst thereof.…” And then you come on over to verse 9, and as he has now returned and is ready to set up that thousand-year reign.
“And the LORD shall be king over (what?) all the earth:.…” Not just Israel. He’s going to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the earth. See, now that’s the Second Coming. I guess I might as well stop at I Thessalonians, chapter 4, on our way back to I John. I always do this just for sake of comparison because much of Christendom has got it all mixed up. They do not know the difference between the Second Coming and the Rapture of the Church.
I remember several years ago, Iris and I were attending a service and the speaker was starting out, we thought, with the Rapture. And then it wasn’t long and it was the Second Coming and then pretty soon you couldn’t tell the difference. Well, I wasn’t going to be critical and I wasn’t going to say a word. So we were a long ways down the road and as a rule we don’t chatter too much when I’m driving, but I had been silent for quite a while, and finally Iris looked up at me and she said, “He had it all mixed up, didn’t he?” Yeah, he did. The speaker couldn’t discern the Rapture (when the Church will silently be removed before the Tribulation begins) from the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.
All right, but now here is where you can discern it. Anybody that can read can see the difference in language. I Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 16, and watch the difference in language. Now this is Paul with regard to the Body of Christ, the end of the Age of Grace, and he says.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17
“For the Lord himself (same Lord as Zechariah spoke of, but in a different time element) shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (that’s the resurrection of the Church Age believers remember) 17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
See, at the Rapture, we’re not going to meet Him on the Mount of Olives, we’re going to be “caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
Not on the Mount of Olives. Not in Jerusalem. Not on the earth. We’re going to be caught up to meet Him in the air. Now you know, that always reminds me of the story of the servant that went to find a bride (Rebekah) for Isaac. I can never separate that from our picture of the Rapture. I don’t know if it was intended to be typical that way but it certainly is for me. You remember the servant went to find the bride. And I always like to picture that as the Holy Spirit pulling out the believers today. And we’re forming the Body of Christ, day by day. All right, when finally the servant had determined who the bride was to be, he was bringing her back to the home tent of Abraham and Isaac, but before the caravan reaches Isaac’s tent, what has Isaac done? Well, he’s gone out to meet it. And so some place from the place where they consummated their marriage, some place between the home of the bride and the home of Isaac, they met. And then you know the last verse of that chapter says that Isaac took Rebekah back to his tent and “he loved her.”
Now if that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what can. But see, same way here. The Lord is going to come but we’re going to go up to meet Him! Just like Isaac left to meet his bride, we’re going to leave to meet the Lord in the air. And then, “So shall we ever be with the Lord.” Now it could just as well say, like it does back in Genesis, “and so will we ever (what?) love Him.” Love Him! Because, after all, He’s the God of love and we’re going to be part and parcel of that agape love.
Okay, now let’s come back to I John again, chapter 3 and verse 2; that “When he shall appear” at His Second Coming – not the Rapture, but the Second Coming. That even for those Jews who I think, and again I don’t get dogmatic on some of my approaches to prophecy and so forth, but I think these Jews that are going to see Him at His Second Coming, will be that remnant of Israel out there in the wilderness that we see in Matthew 24:16.
Now we’ve always taught that at the middle of the Tribulation there’s going to be that escaping remnant of Israel out into the mountains, and God’s going to protect them for three and a half years. Well, those are the Jews that I think are going to see Him coming in all the clouds of Glory and in a moment – that’s what I think the Scripture means when the it says, that “a nation will be born in a day.” When those Jews out in the wilderness will see Him coming in the clouds of Glory, and they shall see Him as He is. Then every one of them will suddenly believe. But, John here is not talking about that group of Jews. He’s talking about these who are living and to whom he’s writing. Now you remember we’ve been stressing over the last many months of programs that in these little Jewish epistles of James, and Peter, and John, they were all expecting everything to happen in their lifetime.
They were expecting the Tribulation to come and they were expecting to live through it until they would see the Second Coming of Christ and be able to go into the Kingdom. They had no idea that there would be a 2,000-year hiatus. And so John is writing in that same vein that they were to momentarily expect the horrors of the Tribulation and then the Second Coming. And they would “see him as he is.”
All right, now then verse 3, just as appropriate for us today as it was for the Jews to whom John is writing.
I John 3:3a
“And every man (now that’s a generic term. We’re including men and women, boys and girls) that hath this hope in him.…” The soon appearing of Christ. Now for the Jews, yes, it was going to be after the seven years of Tribulation but seven years isn’t long for a great event like this to happen and so they were to be looking for him and they were to:
I John 3:3b
“…purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
What does that mean? Well they were to be so expectant for His return that they would have their spiritual house in order. Now you know I’ve given the illustration down through the years. Some of you will say, well I’m not that good of a housekeeper. Some of you are almost the other extreme. But, I think most of you ladies, when you know that company is coming, what do you do? Well you get your house ready to one extent or another. You’re going to have your house in an appropriate order for company.
That’s why we appreciate people giving us five minutes! But, it’s just human nature that you want things in order when company comes. Well now, that’s how we’re to treat the Lord’s coming. He may come before we get out of here this afternoon. Is your spiritual house clean? Are you ready for Him? If not, you’d better be. Well, the Jews here were being told the same thing. His coming is not that far down the road. Get your spiritual house in order. Be ready for Him. And, as a consequence, it purifies our Christian walk.
Now to come back into the whole concept of the Rapture. A lot of people today have got the idea that it doesn’t really matter what they do because the Grace of God will cover it and God will be condescending enough. Will He? That’s no guarantee. And so it behooves every believer, every moment of every day to be ready. He may come before we’re out of here and you don’t want to be caught in a compromising situation. You don’t want to be caught in some place that’s dishonoring to the Lord. I’d hate to be. And so it’s a constant reminder to us as well as it was for these Jews and it had a purifying effect on their everyday life.
Now we come to the sin situation as John’s going to deal with it. Now sin has been sin ever since the Garden of Eden, hasn’t it? Verse 4.
I John 3:4
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: (now he’s talking about the Mosaic Law of course) for sin is the transgression of the law.”
All right, let’s go back and see how Paul approaches the very same thing. Come back to Romans chapter 3 where Paul deals with that aspect of the Law and here’s how he puts it. Let’s just come in at verse 19. Whether it’s Paul or whether it’s John, doesn’t make any difference. Not in this case because, you see, the Law is God’s standard for the human race and any transgression of it, God calls sin.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law:.…” In other words, Israel was the only people on earth who were under the system of Law. I just about said ‘religion’ which, of course, would have been appropriate, but nevertheless. Only Israel was under the religious system of Law. But, the holiness of the Law, the omnipotence of the Law, if I may call it that because it’s God-given, didn’t stop at the borders of Israel, it went to the whole world. Even though they were not under the religious system of Law. Go on in the verse:
“…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become (not ready for heaven but what?) guilty before God.” Because all the world is breaking God’s Law. And if they’re breaking it, they’re guilty and they’re what? They’re sinners. See how it all fits? All right, verse 20.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law (or by keeping the commandments) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
That’s all the Ten Commandments can do is show us our sin. Show us that we’re lawbreakers. See, that’s why I cannot see that the Ten Commandments have anything to do with the separation of church and state. I just can’t reconcile it. The Ten Commandments have actually nothing to do with “church.” The Ten Commandments are God’s moral law, not just for Christians but for the whole human race.
You take the Ten Commandments and they are just as valid to a Hindu as they are to a Moslem or anybody else. It’s the Law of the Sovereign God. It has nothing to do with church per se. The only place where the church comes in is that we can bring law-breaking sinners to a knowledge of salvation, but that’s not the Law’s role. The Law is just simply to show mankind God’s moral compass. That’s what it is.
All right, let’s come back again to I John. Chapter 3 verse 5.
I John 3:5
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
He was brought into the spotlight of history. “He was manifested to take away our sin.” Now let me stop here a minute again. I don’t spend a lot of time in the Four Gospels precisely because that’s where most of you spend your time in Sunday School and Church. But really, if you stop to think, what was Jesus constantly confronting the Pharisees and the religious leaders with? Their sin. Over and over He would tell them, “you are still in your sins.” That’s what they didn’t like. They didn’t like to be told that they were sinners, but they were. They were rotten sinners in spite of all their religion. And why? Because they were constantly breaking the Law. And when you break the Law you’re a sinner. It’s that simple.
All right, back to our text, “he was manifested to take away man’s sin.” That’s why He dealt with it constantly in His earthly ministry. And He could do that because “In him is no sin.”Now you see, the blasphemers of our day, and they’re getting more and more numerous, are trying to tell us what? That He sinned like anybody else. No He did not! He did not sin. Not even a thought. Had He committed as much as one single sinful thought He could not have been that Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world because the Lamb had to be without blemish.