Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 57
1 John 4:1-10
Okay, I think we’ll just go right back in where we left off. We were in I John chapter 4 and we’re going to go right into the whole concept that John is still writing to the Jewish believers. There is nothing of Paul’s Gospel of salvation in here per se. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things here that we can use by application. But you cannot go back in these Jewish epistles and say, “Well here’s where we are today.” No, all you can do is just compare notes and if it’s in parallel with what Paul writes – fine. If not, you leave it alone because it was for the Jew. All right, now I think we’re going to see a good explanation of that here in just a little bit.
I John 4:4a
“Ye are of God, little children,.…” Now remember that’s the term John has been using for these Jewish believers, but we also know Paul refers to us as the children of God.
I John 4:4b
“…and have overcome them: (that is the false teachers, the ones who were trying to mislead people) because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Well now that’s certainly true of us, isn’t it? We know that the Spirit of Christ dwells within us and He is certainly greater than the powers of Satan, providing we give Him opportunity to function. All right, but now I’m going to go on to verse 5.
I John 4:5
“They (that is the false prophets, the false teachers) are of the world: (that is the whole world system) therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” In other words, the things of the world are interesting to them and vice versa. But not to us. All right, now verse 6. Why? Because like these Jewish believers, the same way with us,
I John 4:6
“We are of God: (we’ve had a change of thinking. We’ve got a change of appetites. We’re of God) he that knoweth God heareth us; (in other words, we can have conversation with fellow believers even as they could) he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and (what other spirit?) the spirit of error.”
All right, now let’s go back and see how Paul deals with it, as he writes to us Gentiles. And I’m always going to emphasize that because Paul does, because this Book says he’s the apostle of the Gentiles, as we see in Romans 11:13. Until we realize that, we’ll never fully comprehend Scripture, or rightly divide the Word of God. Alright, now this apostle of the Gentiles is writing to a Gentile congregation in the Greek city of Corinth. So we’re going to go to I Corinthians chapter 2. Oh, I could just use the whole chapter, but I guess for sake of time, I’d better jump in at verse 7. Now remember who he’s writing to. He’s writing to Corinthians, Gentiles, believers of Paul’s Gospel of Grace. They are now understanding and believing for salvation, that not only was Christ the Son of God, but He died for their sins and rose from the dead.
I Corinthians 2:7a
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery,.…” In other words, Paul is going to reveal things that no other portion of Scripture could reveal because God had kept it secret. Now I didn’t intend to do this, but I’ve got to! You know when I come to something like this, I’ve got to Romans chapter 16 before finishing it. Come back with me to Romans chapter 16 where Paul uses the same word. Why does Paul use this word? Because the Holy Spirit inspired him, but more than that for the scenario of the whole thing. These things revealed to the Apostle Paul had been kept totally secret in all the rest of Scripture and to the whole world in general until it was revealed to this man. That’s why he claims that unique apostleship. He had things revealed to him that Peter, James and John never did understand. And Peter says it in his second epistle, chapter 3 verse 16 – he says, “In Paul’s epistles are things hard to be understood.” Why? It was beyond Peter, he never had the privilege to receive them from God.
All right, but here’s what he says in Romans 16 and verse 25. And I’ve said it over the years, until I finally got in a seminar where there were some people who had been under my teaching now quite a while, and I finally got a raise of hands. But I can ask seminar after seminar all over this country, “Have you ever heard a Sunday morning sermon preached on Romans 16:25?” Almost never. Now I can say almost never. Why? Because they don’t like what it says. It takes away their thunder from preaching in the Four Gospels. And here it is.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel,.…” And I showed you in the last program, ‘Paul’s Gospel.’ in I Corinthians 15:1-4, “How that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead;” Now that’s Paul’s Gospel, and what we must believe in our hearts for salvation during this Age of Grace! All right, reading verse 25 again.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the (there’s that word again. What?) mystery, which was kept secret since (when?) the world (or ages) began,” That’s why nobody, all the way up through human history until we get to this man, Paul, had an understanding – or had been told to believe for salvation that the Son of God became flesh and went to that Roman cross as man and as God and there took upon Himself (as we pointed out in the last program) all of the wrath of God, and all of the sins of this world were laid on him. Now, in latent language, Isaiah 53. We know what it says. “By His stripes we are healed. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” But that didn’t really tell the whole story. But when God revealed this whole thing to this apostle, now it becomes then, a revelation of the mystery. Things kept secret since the ages began.
Well now the companion passage with that concept is Ephesians chapter 3. Now this is what we call laying line upon line and precept upon precept – comparing Scripture with Scripture. And here again the Apostle Paul makes it so plain that these are things that the rest of the Bible knows nothing of. You can only find them in Paul’s epistles. All right, Ephesians 3 verse 1, and watch the language. It’s so plain.
“For this cause….” That is because of the Grace that he’s been espousing in the first two chapters, where Paul says, “for by Grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves,” And on and on he’s been bringing it out. Now look what he says in chapter 3 verse 1.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner (now remember he’s in prison in Rome) of Jesus Christ for (what people’s purposes?) you Gentiles.” And everything he’s been out there preaching has been to the Gentiles, which of course infuriated his kinsmen, the Jew according to the flesh. And so they prompted his arrest. All right, now then verse 2.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me to you-ward.” Now I’ve pointed this verse out to people, and say read it. They read and they don’t know what I’m talking about. I say read it again. And then finally you have to prevail upon them, just read it like a kid is reading his first grade primer – one word at a time. And maybe you’ll get it. “If you have heard of the dispensation (or the outpouring or the revealing of the administering) of the grace of God, (now here’s where I want them to go slow) which is given to me to you.”
Now that’s not gobbledy-gook. That’s plain English. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, that from this man was given to the Gentile world these revelations of things that had been kept secret for all of human history, which includes our Gospel of salvation.
And they refuse to believe it. Well, I can’t help that. I’m going to make it plain and then the monkey’s on their back, not mine. And here it is, that you’d better understand this whole revelation of things (that had been kept secret because it really was moot so far as Israel was concerned, they were looking for the coming King and the Kingdom). But, unknown to them, God’s going to interrupt that Kingdom plan and He’s going to drop into the Gentile world (that’s us today) with His tremendous Gospel of the Grace of God, which Israel knew nothing of.
Israel was steeped in works and sacrifices and Temple worship. The Prophets and the Old Testament, you name it. But here comes this man with a whole new revelation that God will save the vilest Gentile or Jew by him or her simply believing Paul’s Gospel. And that throws a curve at people. But here it is, plain as day. Now read on. Verse 3.
“How that by revelation (that’s another one of Paul’s favorite words, a revealing, an unveiling) he (the Ascended Christ) made known unto me (not to us, but rather me) the mystery;(as I wrote afore in few words, 4. Whereby, when ye read, (that is Paul’s epistles) ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)”
Paul is not an egotist – this is Holy Spirit inspired – but most never catch what he’s saying. Now, that the Son of God was to come to Israel and be the King and Messiah, that was no secret. The Old Testament was full of it. But that He would come and offer salvation to the whole human race by faith plus Nothing? No – nobody had a concept of that, until this man. And that’s what he’s preaching. Salvation by faith + nothing because of God’s Grace. All right, now verse 5, and remember again this is Holy Spirit inspired. This isn’t the Apostle’s dream work. The Spirit is prompting him to write.
“Which in other ages (or generations, or all the way back to Adam) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” Now listen, Paul refers to his co-workers in the ministry as apostles and prophets, such as Barnabas and Silas and Timothy and Titus and so forth. But he’s not referring to the Twelve, he’s referring to those who were in ministry with him.
“That the Gentiles.…” Now I think over the years, I’ve certainly made it clear that Jesus and the Twelve had no ministry to the Gentiles. None. Except for that one instance when Peter went up to Cornelius and that was for Paul’s benefit twelve years later. But other than that, they had no ministry to the Gentile world. They agreed to confine it to the Israel.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, (come right into a relationship with the Creator God Himself!) and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”That’s why Paul, alone, refers to the Body of Christ. Only Paul uses that term “the Body, and be partakers of his promise in Christ (how?) by the gospel.” Not by works. Not by baptism. Not by something someone can do. It’s by believing The Gospel of salvation that was given only to Paul for us. Now verse 7.
“Whereof (that is the Gospel) I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” Now verse 8, here comes the man’s humility. Don’t ever accuse the Apostle Paul of pride and arrogance, he was just the opposite.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish world) the unsearchable riches of Christ;”
Now I’ve been saying it over and over, especially in my Oklahoma classes for the last year or so. I cannot (and I don’t believe there’s a person in this room, or in my whole television audience, or on this planet that can) comprehend all that God did in that work of the cross. It is so beyond human comprehension what the God of Creation proclaimed and worked through that death, burial and resurrection – through that shed blood.
And I’ve been emphasizing all afternoon how that Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world. Hey, I can’t comprehend that. Nobody can. What all was involved in the fact that that shed blood, that divine blood of the Son of God would satisfy the righteous demands of a Holy God – it’s beyond me. What little bit I take, I take by faith and I’m waiting for Glory to get a full understanding. And I think you’ll have to too. There is just no way we can understand it. They’re unsearchable. And unsearchable means just exactly what it says, it has no bottom.
“And to make all men.…” Now the word ‘men’ has been italicized but nevertheless it means the whole human race now, Jew and Gentile, black and white, rich and poor, makes no difference.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (all these things which had been revealed to Paul, the things that had been kept secret. This whole concept of what is called the Gospel of Grace of God) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” The same God who delegated Christ to create all things that are in the world. I’m amazed at the people who do not know that Christ was the Creator!
Now before we go back to I John, I’m going to stop first at Galatians chapter 2. I know we’ve shown this over and over but you can’t do it enough. And if, for no other reason, I may have a new listener today that has never heard it before. Galatians chapter 2 verse 9, and this is after a day long argument between Peter’s and James’ and John’s concept of what the Gentiles should be doing to get full salvation, and what Paul and Barnabas say – NO!
James and Peter and John were saying they had to practice circumcision. They had to conform to the Law of Moses or they couldn’t be saved, as we’ve seen all that in Acts chapter 15. But Paul just dug in his heels and he says, “I’ll never agree to that.” And then Peter finally came to his defense, remembering what had happened at the house of Cornelius. That’s why I say that the whole reason Peter was sent to Cornelius was to help Paul off the hook back here in Galatians twelve years later. Remember Peter got in trouble with the Jews for going to Cornelius’ house, as we see in Acts chapter 11.
Now then, after almost a day of arguing and discussing, we come to verse 9 and if you don’t get it this afternoon, read it again before you go to bed tonight. Read it when you get up in the morning until this starts soaking in.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John, (the very same unfolding as you’ve got in the little epistles, not Peter, James and John. It’s James and Peter and John) who seemed to be pillars,.…” Their whole Jewish economy at the Temple was falling apart and in a few years the Temple will be destroyed. So everything that was concerned with the apostle’s ministry is falling through the cracks.
“… who seemed to be pillars, perceived (or got an understanding) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;.…” And those of you who hear me every week, you know what I’m talking about. It was a gentleman’s agreement. They shook hands. And Peter and James and John said, all right Paul, we see it. And we’re going to make a gentleman’s agreement that you go to the Gentiles and we will stay with Israel. Now read it with your own eyes. And here’s the agreement.
“…that we should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision.” (Jews) That’s plain English. Man, you don’t have to be a PhD to understand this. It was a gentleman’s agreement, and they never went back on that agreement. Okay, “Paul, you and Barnabas continue on your ministry to the Gentiles; we’re going to stay with Israel.” That’s exactly what it says.
Now then, look what Peter says when you get back to his last little epistle, shortly before he’s martyred. He’s at the end of his life and he’s written this little epistle here in I and II Peter addressing it to the Twelve Tribes scattered. II Peter 3:15 and 16. Verses I’ve used over and over and I make no apology for it, because this is what people have to wake up and realize. Even Peter admonished his Jewish adherents that now the end of the Jewish program is about to fall, and it will with the demise of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Jews scattered. So now even Peter has to realize where these Jewish people have to go for their spiritual instruction.
II Peter 3:15
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even (now watch this) as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given unto him (this was wisdom that Peter, James and John knew nothing of) hath written unto you;” And so Peter says, you go to Paul. Now verse 16.
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles,.…” I think the one he’s talking about first is Hebrews. But that’s speculation. I can’t prove that but it would almost seem that he’s referring to Hebrews. But the rest of his epistles are Romans through Philemon, those are Paul’s epistles. And Peter says.
II Peter 3:16b
“…speaking in them (Romans through Philemon) of these things; (these epistles) in which are some things hard to be understood,.…” Peter says that! By inspiration. He couldn’t comprehend it all. Peter was the legalist. Peter was still under the whole Jewish program of the Law and the Prophets and the coming of the King and the Kingdom – and it was difficult to understand that all that now had been set aside for a time, and God is going out to that pagan Gentile world. Now listen – do you realize what the Gentile world was in that time? They were the pits compared to Israel.
Israel had the sanitation laws. Israel had the food laws. Israel had the moral laws. The Gentiles had none of that. They didn’t know what sanitation was. Do you realize that hospitals in Europe as late as 1600 or 1700 still knew nothing of antiseptics? And it was a Jewish doctor who finally prevailed upon them that when they ministered to sick people they should wash their hands from one to the next, because as they were going down that hospital ward they were just simply passing the bacteria from one to the other. The Gentiles had no common sense on those things; the Jews did because they’d had it from antiquity. But now, even Peter says, these mysteries revealed to the Apostle Paul for us in the Church Age were beyond him. He couldn’t comprehend it. All right, now let’s read on and then the time is up.
II Peter 3:16c
“…are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” And, oh, they can twist the Scripture like you can’t believe. My they can twist Paul’s epistles. But what is the admonition? “They do it also to the other scriptures.” Now you know what people have to realize? When Peter says “the other Scriptures,” what is he confirming that Paul is? Scripture! When Peter says “the other scriptures” and he compares it with Paul, then he puts everything into the same basket. Everything throughout the whole Old Testament, the Gospel’s, the Acts, Paul’s epistles, these little epistles. It’s all Scripture! Now what more proof do you need? All right and so now then he says, that as they “twist Paul’s scriptures and they twist the rest of Scripture,” what’s their end? “Destruction.” Doom. Not a pretty word is it? But that’s the truth of the Book.