Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 56
I John 3:1-24
As we teach the truth and open the Book, you’d be surprised how the Lord uses our teachings. One fellow called from Florida, and I happened to pick up the phone myself and he said, “Well, I’m glad you picked up the phone, you’re the one I want to talk to.” He said, “I had never heard the gospel of salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-4) before but a few minutes into your program the Lord opened my heart and He saved me!” And then he said, “Don’t you get the big-head, you didn’t have anything to do with it!” He said, “It was the Scripture. Don’t ever stop putting the Scripture on the screen because that was the first time in my life I had ever read anything from the Word of God, and it just blew me away.” I’ll never forget that. It’s the Word of God that’s powerful, not Les Feldick.
And so what we try to do is just simply present what it says, comparing Scripture with Scripture and hopefully keep as many of my own ideas as possible out of it. So for those of you who are new to the program, that’s all we do is just open the Word. And we let the Holy Spirit open hearts. Okay, now I think we’re ready to go back to I John chapter 3 and we’ve finished verse 9, let’s jump in at verse 10.
I John 3:10
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” John is emphasizing the ‘doing’ part. Now that reminds me. Come back to Exodus chapter 19. This is what makes Bible study so interesting, when you see how everything fits. Now, everything pertaining to Israel once they get the Law here in Exodus, is legalism. It’s works. Of course, it’s always based on faith. Never leave faith out of the mix, but for Israel it was faith and works. And in order to get the full picture I have to go all the way up to verse 3. Israel has just come out of Egypt. They’ve crossed the Red Sea. And they’re gathered around Mount Sinai. And we pick it up in verse 3:
“So Moses went up unto God, (that is up on Mount Sinai) and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; (how many Gentiles in that? Not a one) 4. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” In other words, miraculously brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and all the way over to Mount Sinai.
“Now therefore, (since the nation is separated from Egypt) if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6. And ye shall be (in the future) unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak to the children of Israel.” Now look at the next verse, verse 7.
“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will (what?) do….” Well what is that? That’s works. Whatever you want us to do to satisfy you, we’ll do it. Foolish words, of course, but nevertheless, that was the whole idea. And so, under Law, it was faith plus doing the works, it wasn’t just faith plus nothing, like we have today. All right, now, if you’ll come back with me to I John again for a moment, and let’s look at verse 10 again – and for these Jews that John is writing to, this is right on.
I John 3:10b
“…whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God,….”
Now again, these little Jewish epistles were written by James and Peter and John to Jews, which was in accord with what they agreed to at the Jerusalem counsel in Galatians chapter 2. Now I haven’t looked at that in a while since we’ve been in these little epistles, so let’s just come back and look at it.
Remember the setting of this counsel – Paul and Barnabas, his helper, were taking the Gospel of salvation now to the Gentile world and they were establishing these little congregations. Because you see this Jerusalem counsel isn’t until about 51 or 52 AD, which is about eleven or twelve years after Paul begins his ministry. And so he’s establishing these little Gentile congregations based on his Gospel of Grace. But the Judaisers (and evidently with the tacit approval of the Twelve) are coming in behind the Apostle and telling these Gentile believers they can’t be saved by Paul’s Gospel alone, they also must keep the Law and practice circumcision.
Well it finally got to the point that it was driving the Apostle Paul up the wall, and the Lord instructs him to go up to Jerusalem and settle it with the Twelve. And so he and Barnabas go up to Jerusalem and they’re confronting the Twelve about these people who are coming in behind him, telling his Gentile converts that they can’t be saved unless they keep the commandments and practice circumcision. Now you’ve got to go back to Acts 15:1-5 to pick that up. But here’s what I want you to see. After the day’s confrontation finally cools down and Peter, James and John finally recognize that they have no business interfering with Paul’s ministry, they have a gentleman’s agreement. And that’s what I call it; it’s a gentlemen’s agreement.
And here it is, Galatians 2 and let’s start at verse 7. Now this is a counsel in Jerusalem, 51 AD, between Paul and Barnabas and the leadership of the Jerusalem church which, of course, was Jewish. And they were still using Temple worship. The Temple hasn’t been destroyed yet and they’re still under the Law – and then Paul and Barnabas and the Gentiles are out here under Grace. And so it was two different economies and they were having problems.
“But contrariwise, (on the other hand) when they (Peter, James and John and maybe the rest of the leadership) saw (understood) that the gospel of the uncircumcision (that’s Gentiles, non-Jews) was committed unto me, (Paul, who’s writing) as the gospel of the circumcision (Israel) was unto Peter;” Now for twenty years I’ve been trying to get people to see that’s two different economies. Peter and the Twelve are ministering to the circumcision – Israel. Paul and Barnabas have now been commissioned to go to the Gentiles. And they have a separate message for each.
All right, so the Gospel of the uncircumcision – the Gospel of Grace or Paul’s Gospel, was committed unto Paul. But, the Gospel of the circumcision, which was called the Gospel of the Kingdom back in Matthew was committed unto Peter and the Eleven.
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter [of course] to the apostleship of the circumcision, [Israel] the same [God] was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) See those two totally different scenarios? Peter and Israel and Paul and the Gentile world. Now verse 9 – here it comes.
“And when James, Cephas, and John, (the same three who write these little epistles) who seemed to be pillars (that is of the Jerusalem church, but why does he say ‘seemed’ to be pillars? Because there wasn’t much left to ‘pillar!’ It’s falling apart.) perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” What’d they do? They shook hands. And the human race has been doing that for 2,000 years. A handshake is a gentlemen’s agreement. Up until the last few years, it was good as gold. Isn’t anymore, but it always used to be. A handshake was a done deal.
All right, and these men were no different. James, and Peter and John now, make a hand-shake gentlemen’s agreement that they would mind their business with Israel and Paul would keep going to the Gentiles. My, I don’t see how anybody could miss that. Verse 9 again, “When James and Peter and John who seemed to pillars perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.” They shook hands. And here was the agreement, “That we (Paul and Barnabas) should go to the heathen (the Gentiles) and they would go (where?) to the circumcision (to Israel.)”
Now that’s as plain as language can make it. A gentlemen’s agreement – Paul your ministry is to Gentiles. For us, it’s the Nation of Israel. And so, far as I can determine from Scripture, those three men never broke that agreement.
Consequently, these little Jewish epistles are according to that agreement; James writes to the Twelve Tribes; Peter writes to those scattered abroad – Jews; and John also is writing to the Nation of Israel. Okay, back to I John chapter 3, and I emphasize that these are Jewish epistles, written to Jews and with nothing really of Paul’s Gospel of Grace, because that was for the Gentiles at that time.
Now, granted, the day will come when Paul’s Gospel will go out to the Jew as well as the Gentile. The Gospel of salvation today is not limited to any one race, or nation of people. The Gospel is for everyone. Black and white. Rich and poor. Jew or Gentile. But at this point in time it was still keeping separated until such time as God drops the gate on the Jewish economy and everybody comes under the Gospel of Grace. But there were a few years in there where that was not the case.
All right, now, when you come back to I John chapter 3, this is why the language is almost identical with what he writes in his Gospel account. My, you can go back to the Gospel of John and read almost the same things that you read here in I John, because both of them are still dealing with the Nation of Israel. Verse 11:
I John 3:11
“For this is the message, that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” So far as John is concerned, what’s the beginning? Well, Christ’s earthly ministry – when He appeared to the Nation of Israel and presented Himself as their Messiah and King, the Son of God. And so, from the very beginning of His earthly ministry, what was the constant message? Love. Love one another. And you go back to John’s Gospel, it’s love and love and love. Not that Paul ignores it, but he does not emphasize the love like John does.
I John 3:12
“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” In other words, Cain is not an example of biblical love. Quite the opposite. Don’t be like “Cain who was of that wicked one.” Cain was under the movement of Satan. Cain was inspired of Satan to rise up and kill his righteous brother, Abel. You all know the account. That was no accident and so don’t be like “Cain who was of that wicked one and slew (or killed) his brother and wherefore (or why?) did Cain kill Abel? Well, because his own works were evil.” He was a man destitute of faith.
Now you may look at me a little bit wondering when I say that. Whenever a man was destitute of faith, he was evil in almost everything he could think and say and do. And who were they back in that time? Well, Cain is the first one. Ishmael is the next one. Esau is the next one. All those men were destitute of faith. They couldn’t believe a thing that God said. And as a result of their lack of faith, they became as the Scripture calls them – fornicators, idolaters, and all the rest of the bad things because they lacked faith. Oh, it’s a dangerous thing to have no faith.
See this is why our whole education system is in such a dilemma. We have had our kids bombarded now with evolution for how long? Forty, fifty, sixty years? And what’s the first thing evolution takes away from a child? Fear of God. Because if evolution is true, there’s no God. Well, if there’s no God, there are no absolutes. I can do whatever I want. No wonder we’re having a hard time controlling our kids because when you’re an evolutionist you have absolutely no time for the Word of God. God is moot. He had nothing to do with anything.
All right, and so those are examples of men who had no faith and, consequently, their wickedness followed. And it’s no different today. All right, back to I John chapter 3, so don’t be like “Cain who slew his brother because his own works were evil, but Abel was righteous.” Now again why was Abel righteous? He did what God said to do, whereas Cain did not.
Now I know even a lot of our Sunday School material totally misses the point of Cain’s failure to please God. I read one here not too long ago that said his only problem was that he had a bad attitude. Well, that may have been part of the problem, but his main problem was he had no faith and, consequently, did not bring the required blood sacrifice. He brought of that which grew naturally, which had no blood. But, when he saw that he was rejected, then that faithless personality of Cain took over and he rose up and killed his brother Abel. Well, the next verse says it all doesn’t it?
I John 3:13
“Marvel not my brethren, if the world (this world system does what? It) hates you.” Don’t ever think for a minute that they love us. We’re seeing it coming up more and more. My, some of our lead editorial writers are now saying that the greatest enemies of America are the evangelical Christians. They don’t know what they’re talking about but that’s what they’re claiming. And so expect it. It’s going to get worse. We ain’t seen nothing yet! It’s going to get constantly worse as they hate the true believer because, you see, we’re standing in the way of their wicked lifestyle and they don’t like that. And so, Cain is a good example of the unbelieving world around us.
All right, now verse 14, but for us who are believers, whether it was John writing to the Jews or whether it’s for us under the Age of Grace, this much is still true.
I John 3:14
“We know we have passed from death unto life, (that is from spiritual death to spiritual life, we know we have made that transition) because we love the brethren. (the fellow believers.) He that loveth not his brother abideth (where?) in (spiritual) death.” He is spiritually dead if he cannot love his fellow believer, or his brother the believer. All right, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” Verse 15.
I John 3:15
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Well now where does that take you? Right back to the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. Those are the kinds of illustrations that Jesus made to the children of Israel in various ways. You don’t actually have to commit an act to be guilty. You can think it and you’re guilty. And so he that hates his brother is like a murderer. “And a murderer has no eternal life abiding in him.”
Now I know I have a lot of prison inmates listening to my program. I’m going to have to qualify here. The murderer, until he comes to a saving faith in Christ, is headed for his eternal doom. Not just a prison sentence. But you see, a murderer can experience God’s forgiveness. A murderer can become a believer and inherit eternal life. But, that’s not what John is talking about. He’s talking about the unrepentant, unsaved individual who hates his brother; he hates believers and he’s a murderer in God’s eyes. Now verse 16; we come back again to the love concept.
I John 3:16
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Now don’t forget again the historical setting of these Jews. Where are they? Well they’re hated by their fellow non-believing Jews who are maintaining their orthodoxy or nothing. But they’re also coming under the condemnation of the Romans and so they were between a rock and a hard place as well. And this is what he’s trying to encourage them to do – be ready to do whatever it takes to come to the defense of your fellow believers.
Now remember that when we first started teaching this, we emphasized that for those Jews living at that time, the Tribulation is right out in front of them. They thought it was coming down the pike.
And during that horror of the upcoming Tribulation, there’s going to have to be a lot of that, where people are literally going to have to lay down their life for someone else. And so John was preparing them. Be ready to lay down your life for a fellow believer. Verse 17.
I John 3:17
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion (in other words, his whole personality of compassion) from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Now again, this is back under pretty much a legal setting, and so we know that, under our Age of Grace, this isn’t as apropos. But for these people under this Jewish economy where the Law had not yet been taught as “crucified with Christ” like Paul does with us – this whole concept of hating your brother and of not seeing the need of someone who is in need. It was just a reflection on your spiritual well-being.
All right, so he says, how can you be a true believer if you can see someone in need and have no way, or offer no means of helping him? How can the love of God dwell in that person? All right, now then verse 18.
I John 3:18
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but (how) in deed and in truth.” Now here again, that’s doing righteousness. And it was a part and parcel of their whole economy that they were to be doing these good works along with their love for God and recognizing Who Jesus the Christ really was.
I John 3:19-22
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Does that sound like Paul? Does it? No. No. We don’t manipulate God by trying to do something to please Him so that He in turn will do something for us. We don’t have that promise that, whatever we ask, God will do it. Paul never says anything like that, but this is a perfect parallel with John’s Gospel where Jesus said, “and if you ask anything in my name, (what?) I will do it.” Does that work today? No. That doesn’t work today. It’s not supposed to. That wasn’t written to us. But for these Jews in view of the Kingdom just coming, yes, it was appropriate.
I don’t think there is a person in this room that can tell me that everything they’ve ever asked for in prayer they got answered the way they wanted it answered. Doesn’t work that way. But for the Jewish economy, that’s what it said, “if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” That’s one of the first times I started questioning all this. Why doesn’t it work for me? Well it’s not supposed to because we’re not under that Jewish economy.