Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 57
1 John 4:11 – 5:1
Okay, it’s good to see everybody once again and for those of you joining us on television, we’re just going to pick right up where we left off in our last program, which was I John 4:14. And for all of you who come in for these tapings, we appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. And when you see the reruns start in a little while, you’re going to see how small a group we started with over 13 years ago. If we had twelve or fourteen we were thrilled to death! So we’ve come a long ways. Now back to I John chapter 4; we just left off with verse 14, but let’s look at it again.
I John 4:14-15
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son (and that’s with the emphasis I want that He was) to be the Saviour of the world. 15. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Now, if you were to ask a friend or a loved one, “If you were to die tonight, why do you think God would let you into His Heaven?” And if that loved one would say “Well I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Would you be satisfied? No. I wouldn’t be. I’d have to say “Now, is that all you believe? Because that’s not enough!”
You know I’m reminded – a gentleman was talking to a friend of his who was an old-line deacon. I won’t say what denomination, there’s more than one denomination that uses the term ‘deacon.’ But anyhow, he was speaking with an old friend of his who had been a deacon for years and years and the subject came up and he said, “If you were to die tonight, why do you think you’d go to Heaven?” And the old man said, “Because when I was a kid I confessed my sins, I got baptized, and I joined the church.” And my friend said to his friend, “And that’s all?” He said, “Is there more?” Well, he said, “What are you going to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?” And you know what the old man’s response to that was? “What’s that got to do with it?”
Now this is an old man who had been a deacon for years and years and years. And that doesn’t surprise me. Not a bit. Because I imagine we’ve got millions of people out there who would probably answer just about the same way. And the same way here. This is why I say that John knows nothing and the Holy Spirit is inspiring him – don’t ever take that away from it. This is just as much inspired of the Holy Spirit as anything Paul or anybody else writes. But, it was not for them yet to reveal that which would be revealed to the Apostle Paul at a different time for us in this age of Grace.
And consequently you cannot find then a Gospel of salvation based on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord in these Jewish epistles. It’s not in here. And this is what I want people to see. John makes it just as plain as language can make it that, “whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Thus he’s a believer.
Now am I making my point? Not a word about the cross. Not a word about His death, shed blood, resurrection, only Who Jesus of Nazareth really is or was. Israel’s Messiah, the Son of God. That was the Gospel of the Kingdom salvation message.
All right, now let’s just chase this down as we’ve done umpteen times before, but we have to realize we have new listeners coming in every day and a lot of these things we haven’t covered for a long period of time. So I’m going to bring you back to Christ’s earthly ministry. I’m going to bring you all the way back to Matthew chapter 16, and I want you to see how clearly John’s Gospel and these little Jewish epistles of James and Peter and John all are on this same playing field. And it’s all based on Who Jesus of Nazareth really is.
All right, Matthew chapter 16, and we’re going to drop in at verse 13. Now this just bears repeating. Here we are at the end, again, of Christ’s earthly ministry, much like the verses we read in Luke a program or two back. And they’re up in northern Israel at the headwaters of the Jordan River, Caesarea Philippi. And He has the Twelve with Him.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Now that’s simple enough isn’t it? Put it in today’s language, I would just say, “Who do people say I am?” That’s all He asked them. “Who do the rank and file of Israel, (remember now He confined His ministry to the Jews – Romans 15:8) think I am?” Now look at their answer, after three years of miracles and signs and wonders.
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist:….”
Now I always like to feed in a little imagination here without adding or taking away from Scripture. Here’s twelve men. And twelve men are twelve men of any time. And I imagine they almost interrupted each other sharing what they’d heard. And so one of them said, “Well I heard somebody thinks you were John the Baptist.” And about that time, somebody said, ‘Oh I’ve heard them say that you’re this, or someone else.” Can’t you just hear them? These twelve men are just almost interrupting each other sharing what they had heard concerning this Jesus of Nazareth.
“…some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Isn’t that amazing? After three years of signs and wonders and miracles, amongst the Nation Israel who had had the Old Testament for almost a thousand years. And they still don’t know. All right, now verse 15, Jesus came back:
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Have I proved anything to you? And now Simon Peter speaks up. And I think Peter was the spokesman usually.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, (the Anointed One, the Messiah) the Son of the Living God.’” Just exactly what John said back here in I John, “that if you believe that Jesus was the Son, then you have eternal life.”
All right, so Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.” Who’s going to die for me and be raised from the dead? No. He doesn’t say that. Does Jesus come right back and say, “But now Peter, is that all?” No. Jesus is perfectly content with that answer. So content that He goes on to say:
“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jo-na: (you have got it down so right that it’s obvious) for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” All right, so that’s all they were to know and believe for salvation, was the message known as the Kingdom Gospel – Who Jesus was.
All right, let’s skip on ahead, we’ve done this before, I know we have. So stop in at John’s gospel chapter 11, and we’re going to drop in at verse 23. This, of course, is leading up to where Jesus has left Bethany and in the meantime Lazarus has not only gotten sick but he’s what? He’s died. So when Jesus comes back Lazarus is dead and the girls, Martha and Mary are rather upset with Him. You know to the point, “If you’d have just been here, he wouldn’t have died. You could have healed him.” And of course we know that it was intentional so that He would have this opportunity to raise Him from the dead, which was another one of His signs and wonders and miracles.
“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.”
Now you want to remember that most Jews believed in and were aware of resurrection. The Sadducees didn’t, but the rest of the Jewish people did. So she said, “Oh I know he’ll rise in the resurrection at the last day.”
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (now watch her confession of faith) 27. She saith unto him, Yeah, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Again, any reference to the cross? No. Any reference to a death and resurrection? No. And so, Martha just like Peter, had that same profession of faith. “Thou art the Christ. That’s Who You are! You are the Son of God Who will be the Messiah the King of Israel.” And that’s all they were to believe. That’s all that had been revealed for them to believe for their salvation.
Now you see, I’m always coming back to my definition of faith. What is faith? “TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD.” But you can’t take God at a word that He hasn’t spoken. And if He hasn’t revealed something, He doesn’t expect anybody to believe it. But what He had revealed to these people was that “He was the Christ.” And so He expected them to believe it. And everything was based on that.
All right, now we can go even a little further. Let’s go on into the book of Acts. I’m going to stop at chapter 3. And this is the sermon after Pentecost. I don’t know how much later but it’s not Pentecost anymore; it’s beyond that. And Peter and John have just raised the lame man, a miracle. And the Jews are wondering how in the world they did it, even though it is only a few weeks after Christ’s earthly ministry of miracles. But nevertheless, they have raised the lame man and the people are astounded. And now drop in at verse 12, because I want you to see the whole scenario.
“And when Peter saw it, (that is the consternation of the Jewish people) he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man to walk? 13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers,.…” See that’s why I adamantly maintain that Peter is still preaching to Jews only. He’s not including Gentiles; Gentiles don’t have Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their father. That was a Jewish phenomenon.
“…the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilot, when he was determined to let him go. 14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15. And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”
God has raised Him from the dead so that He can still fulfill the promises that were made to Israel in the Old Testament. And what were the promises? The King and the Kingdom. All right, so now He’s not dead, He’s alive; He can still fulfill those Old Testament prophecies. Now verse 16, and here I want you to watch this carefully, as Peter now tells this Jewish crowd, full of questions, what power Peter and John used to raise this man (who we know later had sat at the gate of the Temple for 40 years). All right, now here comes the answer, verse 16.
“And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong,.…” Now what was Peter driving at when he said it was through faith in His name? This man understood that Jesus of Nazareth, Whom these people had followed, was the Christ! That’s what it meant. The name of Jesus of Nazareth was the same as Messiah, Son of God; but notice, not one word about His work of the cross for salvation. But it was through faith in His name that made this man whole. So what’d this lame man understand? Who Jesus was. That’s it.
All right, now move on a little further in Acts to chapter 8 and we come to the Ethiopian eunuch on his way back from Temple worship. Heading back down south to Ethiopia. And you all know the account. And again Philip – who was the one that took the message to Samaria, not a word yet about Gentiles, it’s all still dealing with Israel – and so now the Spirit has lead Philip to go up to this chariot and I feel the eunuch was a Jew. But that’s beside the point, because he was reading from Isaiah 53; he’d been to the Temple to worship. All right, so now verse 35 of Acts 8.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, (Isaiah 53) and preached unto him Jesus. 36. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”
Now just stop and think a minute. Beginning with John the Baptist’s ministry and all the way through Christ’s ministry; and for Peter in Acts chapter 2:38, what belongs with repentance – what was the other object? Water baptism. So it follows that Philip is sharing with this eunuch the very same Gospel of the Kingdom message that John the Baptist did with Israel. Repent and be baptized. All right, so the eunuch says, well now “Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Now look at Philip’s answer.
“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. (be baptized) And he (the eunuch) answered and said, (now watch his confession of faith) I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Period. Not a word about the cross. Not a word about the resurrection. Only to know Who Jesus really was. Just exactly like the verse we just saw in I John, “that He is the Son of God.”
Now in the next chapter we come to Saul of Tarsus. Well, naturally, Saul of Tarsus is going to later on preach the Gospel of the Grace of God, which is “we preach Christ crucified!”But, he hasn’t had that revelation here yet. He’s just a Jewish zealot, zealous for the Law and trying to stamp out anything of this outside, which he thought was a complete imposition. Now here comes Saul and the Lord appears to him from Glory and you go back up there to chapter 9 verse 4.
Here he is coming up toward the gates to Damascus just raging in his hatred for this sect who were following Jesus of Nazareth. And God stops him with the bright light from Heaven. Now verse 4,
“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And looking up, I’m sure knowing that this was the God from Heaven he was dealing with, He said:
“…Who art thou, Lord?.…” You get the question? He didn’t ask what have you done for me Lord? You got that? What does he ask? Who are you? Who are you!
“…And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Any word about the cross? Does Jesus say, I’m the One Who died for you Saul? Does Jesus say, I’m the One Who rose from the dead? No.
All He says is – “I am Jesus.” And what does that name Jesus imply? The Messiah. And what did the Messiah have to be? “The Son of God!” That’s all. Now then, you move on through the rest of the chapter and he gets his sight back. He’s baptized according to the Jewish program, and now he’s ready to go out and begin to proclaim along with Peter and the Eleven, Who Jesus of Nazareth is. Now look at it down in verse 20.
“And straightway he preached Christ (where?) in the synagogues, (like any good Jew that had become one of these early believers) that he is the Son of God.” So Paul also does not preach a word about the cross. Not a word about the shed blood or the resurrection. It hasn’t been revealed yet. That becomes part of the mysteries that Paul gets later, when the dispensation of Grace is revealed.
And so the whole crux of the matter is they were to believe Who Jesus of Nazareth really was. And Who was He? “The Son of God. The Messiah. The Promised King of Israel.” And that’s as far as you can take it. And that was sufficient. Because God is Sovereign. This is what people can’t understand. God can save someone on His own terms, whatever they are.In other words, when He saved Adam and Eve back there in Genesis chapter 3, it was the most simplistic Plan of Salvation that you could hope for. He provided the shed blood of the animals. Adam’s faith was epitomized by calling the woman Eve, (the mother of all living) and when the blood and the faith came together, what can God impart? Salvation.
And then you come all the way up to Abraham, and God just simply told Abraham, “leave Ur.” And by faith what did Abraham do? He left! He did what God said. He believed God! And so all the way up through human history, God has put responsibility upon the human race to believe and when they believed it, He counted it as faith. And when He sees their faith, he calls them righteous. Now then, all the way through the Jewish economy here, the name of the game was “believe Who Jesus of Nazareth is. He’s God the Son.”
Now as soon as we get into Paul’s Gospel of Grace, we have a further revelation, we have an unveiling of now greater truth and so Paul’s Gospel becomes what? “That Christ died for your sins. Yes, He is the Son of God, but He died for your sins. He was buried. He was risen from the dead.” Believe it for your salvation!
Now that’s our Gospel of salvation! And you can’t mix the two! Even though they’re connected and we’ll look at Paul’s Gospel more in detail in our next half-hour. But listen, God never expects any human being to believe something that He has not clearly defined. He will never consign somebody to a lake of fire based on something that He never said. Then He would be unfair. But He always makes it plain what He expects them to believe. And when they put faith in what He has said to them then, yes, they have salvation.
All right, so all through from the beginning of His earthly ministry, to when He asked the Twelve, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Right on up until He finally shuts the gate on Israel’s Gospel of the Kingdom and puts everything under the Gospel of Grace; until that time, salvation was to believe Who Jesus really was.
All right, we’ve got one minute left. Let’s come back to I John chapter 4. Let me just finish the chapter and then when we come into chapter 5 in the next program, we’re going to go and compare Paul’s Gospel of Grace with this still Gospel of the Kingdom.
I John 4:17-18a
“Herein is our love made perfect, (or complete) that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is so are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love;.…” See now, this was all language just like in John’s Gospel. And then come on down to verse 19:
I John 4:19-20a
“We love him, because he first loved us. 20. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:.…” See almost identical with what Jesus spoke in His earthly ministry.
All right, so now then verse 21, and we’ll have to close the program.
I John 4:21
“And this commandment have we from him, (that is from Christ) That he who loveth God love his brother also.”