Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 65
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ -The Mysteries) – PART 3
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
For those of you joining us on television, we’re just an informal Bible study. We appreciate the fact that so many of you are responding; that you’re learning to study. Buy a good study Bible, call us if you need help, and we’ll direct you to one. We really encourage people to use a study Bible for cross reference and so forth. Again, we’d like to thank our television audience for your prayers. My goodness, we couldn’t survive a week without all of your prayers, especially for our daughter, and then for your financial help, we’re just amazed that even through the summer months the Lord has continued to provide all we need. We haven’t had to worry for a moment that we couldn’t pay our bills this summer. So, we just thank every one of you.
We’ve just come back from a glorious time up in Minnesota. They love us and we love them. I mean, it’s just a tremendous experience whenever we go up there.
Okay, we’re going to continue right on in our study of the various aspects of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ. Of course, the Body of Christ is the most important, because that’s where we are. You know, Laura has found out listening to all my tapes, and she’s been doing that, and she said, “Daddy, you’re right, it is harder to stay interested in that which pertains to today than it does in Genesis or Revelation.” You know I’ve always said that. It’s not hard to keep people interested when you teach Genesis, because it is just so exciting how everything fell together. Nor is it hard to hold people’s attention when you talk about the Tribulation and the Second Coming and all those things that are future. But to get right into the here and the now, it’s not all that easy, because this is where the practical end of our experience comes in.
All right, I’m going to take you first, for a moment in this lesson, to Ephesians chapter 1. We established in the last lesson that Paul was the first into the Body of Christ, he is the leader, he is the first sinner saved by God’s grace, and he becomes, then, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and it’s his writings that we must go by. I also want to point out that he uses that term – “the Body of Christ” over and over. In fact, he’s the only one that uses that term.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, (Plus nothing.) according to the working of his mighty power, 20. Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,…” Now you remember, I’m always stressing the power that was released at resurrection. I firmly believe that more of God’s power was exercised at His resurrection than it was at Creation, because He had to overcome all of the powers of the satanic forces. He had to overcome the powers of sin and death and being victorious over it. So, that’s what the Apostle Paul is bringing out, again.
“…power, 20. Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” Which, of course, was at His ascension, and now as He’s seated in the heavenlies.
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” He’s above every name that is named. That’s not what you hear lately, is it? But He is! (But now coming back to the here and the now.)
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head (not the King, but rather the Head) over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body,…” See how that’s always qualified? The Church, which is His Body. Not the church that was back there in Jerusalem. That was a Jewish assembly. But this called-out group of believers is referred to over and over, only in Paul’s epistles, remember, as the Body of Christ. You’ll never find it anywhere else. All right, so He, Christ, has been all things to the church.
“Which is his body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all.” All right, now while we’re in Ephesians, turn the page and we’ll go to chapter 3. Again, we almost have to take a whole series of verses here in order to get the full picture of what the Apostle Paul is being revealed through the work of the Holy Spirit. Verse 1:
“For this cause…” Because of all he’s written in these first two chapters, which includes: For by grace are you saved through faith, not of yourselves lest anyone should boast. But we become, then, His workmanship, after salvation, created unto works that are pleasing in God’s sight. But here in Ephesians chapter 3 verse 1:
“For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (Whom?) you Gentiles.” That’s the whole primary purpose of his ministry, even though he certainly does his best to still minister to his own people after the flesh, the Jew. But they reject him out of hand. And even today, it’s rare indeed that Jews become believers of this Gospel of Grace. But it’s possible, never forget that. Now verse 2, the verse we started out with this afternoon.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” Now, I guess I can stop here again. How did God give the Law to Israel? Through Moses. When Christ was on earth and they were pummeling Him with questions, what was His answer, at least in one place? You’ve got Moses. Go back and see what Moses said about it.
Well, just as God gave the Law to Moses and Moses gave it to Israel, so this whole body of truth we call the revelation of the mysteries, was given to this one man, only instead of being sent to Israel, He was sent to the whole human race. The same picture, so don’t ever think that we’re making too much of the Apostle Paul. Not one whit more than the Old Testament made of Moses. They were God’s instruments to reveal these truths to Israel, and Paul is to reveal it to the Gentile world. That’s why he makes no apology for taking credit for it. Now verse 3:
“How by revelation (an unveiling of things that have been kept secret) to…” Us? No. He’s particular. The Holy Spirit is particular. To him. To him alone. Not to the Twelve. Not to three or four others. But to him alone.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (This whole volume of truth) (as I wrote before in few words, 4. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Now, this is what we are unfolding. What were all these various mysteries that comprised “the mystery?” What are all these fundamental truths that comprise the body of truth that we call the dispensation of grace? It all comes together. All right, now verse 5, watch this carefully. Oh, I love these nine or ten verses! Just for this very reason.
“Which in other ages (What’s another word for ages? Dispensations. In other generations. You can put a whole bunch of words on that word. It takes you all the way back to Adam, that in other ages, all the way back to Adam, this mystery–) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” Now, don’t try to bring the Twelve in there, because the Twelve don’t belong here.
They had no association with Paul whatsoever. But Paul did have other men that came into his ministry. He had Barnabas and Silas. He had Timothy and Titus. Then, of course, various other men that came into the leadership of various churches. That’s who he’s referring to. All right, now verse 6.
“That the Gentiles (What a complete departure from everything, especially from Genesis 12 up to Acts chapter 9, which is all Jewish. All Jewish. With some exceptions. But now it’s all Gentile, with some exceptions.) should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, (See, there’s that Body of Christ, again.) and partakers of his promise in Christ (How?) by the gospel:” And you don’t hear the Gospel of Salvation much anymore.
I know they don’t. I can tell by our letters, by our phone calls, they’re not hearing it. And what’s the Gospel? That Jesus Christ, God the Son, the Creator of everything, went to that Roman cross, shed His blood and died, was buried, and rose from the dead! That’s the Gospel! That transforms people the moment they believe it. But they can’t believe it if they don’t hear it, and they’re not. They’re hearing anything and everything but. All right, read on, verse 7.
“Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” It wasn’t delegated to him by the Twelve. It wasn’t given unto him by anybody associated with Israel, which all in the past of course was. But it was God alone who delegated to this one man the revelation of these things kept secret. All right, now he was always humble. He never got puffed up and proud over what authority God had given him.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,…” Why? Because of the persecution and the suffering he had brought on his fellow Jews before he was converted. He could never forget that. Don’t ever yourself forget that. Now, just for example, I wasn’t planning to do some of these things, but I think this is what makes our teaching what it is.
Come back with me to Acts, verse 26, if I’m not mistaken, and this says it all. Now of course he’s before King Agrippa. He’s been under arrest now for, well, it’ll be a total of almost 18 months before he gets to Rome. Now, he’s making his appeal to King Agrippa, and again he’s going through much of Israel’s past. Then he comes in at verse 9.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Remember, at that time Paul detested Him.) 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (That is, Jewish people who had embraced Jesus as their Messiah, or what we call Jewish believers.) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; (The whole religious leadership of Israel was behind Saul’s persecution of these Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth.) and when they were put to death,…” What? The Jewish leadership was putting these Jewish believers to death? That’s what it says. A persecuting death. They were trying to ethnic cleanse the nation.
A lot of these theologians come up with all their various arguments, for example, on why did Christ have to be crucified? Well, you know what they try to claim? Oh, because the Jews had no authority to put someone to death. Phooey! They were doing it all the time. We just read about the stoning of Stephen. Was there any Roman intervention? Well, of course not. So, they didn’t put Jesus to death because they weren’t capable, it was a simple matter of prophecy. He had to be “lifted up as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness.” And the Jews couldn’t accomplish that, so they had to bring in the Romans. So, all these things teach us something that otherwise we may miss. No, they put their own people to death all the time.
“…and when they were put to death, I gave my voice (or vote) against them.” He was only too glad to see them convicted. Take them out and kill them. To follow some renegade carpenter from Nazareth, they don’t deserve to stay alive. Put them to death. You got the mentality of the man?
“And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme;…” How do you compel people to do something against their will? Torture. And the Middle East is the best in the world. Nobody knows how to torture like Middle Easterners. This isn’t a present day phenomenon. So, Paul is as much as saying here that he was guilty of torturing these Jews to the place where they would turn against and recant their faith in the Messiah. That’s awful! And that’s why he never got over it, even though he knew that God forgave him. Saul is as justified as anybody could be, but he could never forget that past.
“I compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, (these Jewish followers of Jesus) I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus…” All right, now that’s what he’s talking about when you come back over here to where we were at in Ephesians.
“Unto me, who am less then the least of all saints,…” Why? Because of that past, even though he knew he was forgiven. Even though he knew he was now God’s spokesman for the whole world, he could not forget the horrible past of how he had persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
“…is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles…” Now, I can’t emphasize this enough, that all the way from Genesis 12 to Acts chapter 9, it’s Israel, Israel, Israel!
In fact, let me just make a point. Keep your hand in Ephesians, because that’s the whole idea of learning Scripture with Scripture. Acts chapter 11 verse 19, when I say that everything was Jewish, I want Scripture to back me up. This is probably a good many years after Pentecost. I’m trying to figure real fast when this would be. This is probably around 41 or 42 AD and 29 is the crucifixion, so we’re about 12-13 years after Pentecost. Saul has just finished his three years in the desert with the risen Lord, and he’s now up in Tarsus. But this is what’s still going on until we get to the Antioch environment.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen (But you want to remember, just because Saul was off the picture, that didn’t stop the persecution. The Jewish leadership kept that hot as all get out, so even though Paul, or Saul, has been gone now several years, that doesn’t mean the persecution stopped.) traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word (Now, how much Word did these Jews have? Old Testament. Paul’s letters haven’t been written yet. So, all they’ve got are the Old Testament Scriptures, and are preaching–) to none but unto the Jews only.” That’s plain English.
Somebody was telling me about a program on television the other night, how the Twelve went all over the then known world. Garbage! The Twelve stayed in Jerusalem. They weren’t out over the then known world. They never did, so far as Scripture is concerned. Because they could not take that which belonged to Israel to the Gentile world. They were never given permission to do that. Only Saul of Tarsus was. So, these Jews were strictly abiding by what the Lord had told the Twelve back in Matthew, which we read earlier this afternoon, “Go not into a Gentile, and even a Samaritan city enter you not.” All right, back to Ephesians chapter 3.
“…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” See the big difference? The Jewish believers wouldn’t speak to anybody but Jews. But Saul, or Paul, was sent to the Gentile world with these revelations of the mysteries. What did he preach? “The unsearchable riches of Christ” What does that mean? You can’t plumb the bottom of the riches of Christ. It is utterly impossible.
We’ll never understand, and you’ve heard me say it over and over, we’ll never understand all that Christ accomplished at the cross of Calvary. We will never comprehend the power of His shed blood to cleanse men from sin. We will never comprehend the power of His resurrection. It’s unsearchable! It’s beyond human comprehension. Now verse 9.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the (What, again?) mystery, (This whole volume of truth that is all wrapped up in the Body of Christ. It’s not given to Israel. It’s given to the non-Jewish world, to you and I.) which (Now watch this.) from the beginning of the world (That takes you all the way back to Adam or earlier.) hath been hid in God,…”Hid! Now you know I always like Deuteronomy 29:29. Most of you know that now. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God. But those things which are revealed belong to us.”
Well, that’s exactly what Paul is saying. All this has been kept in the mind of God, totally locked up and secret, and I’ll keep repeating it until the day I die or am raptured out. You cannot find any of this back in the rest of your Bible. It’s not in there. You can twist it and you can make all kinds of imaginary ideas, but it’s not in there. Because you have to wait until you get to Romans 1:1 where these things start unfolding.
“…Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, (The same God) who created all things by Jesus Christ:” Isn’t it amazing? And most of Christendom doesn’t realize that. This is just one of several times in the New Testament, now you don’t find it in the Old, of course, because we don’t know Him as Jesus Christ back there. But, when God made the move to create the universe, He delegated it to God the Son, as we know Him in the Old Testament. The New Testament makes it so plain. For example, John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God. The same was with God in the beginning and by him were all things made that were made.”
Then when you drop down to verse 14 of John 1, you find out who the Word was. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” So, we know it’s talking about Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Creator of everything.
I think the program was on the last week, in most areas of the country, in Colossians chapter 1 that, “By him were all things created that were ever created.” And I have to repeat; most of Christendom doesn’t know that.
We just saw in Ephesians 3:9 that, “God created all things by Jesus Christ.” Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 is another one, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” That’s the Christ that we serve! That’s the One who died for you and I and rose from the dead. He’s the Creator of everything! Then people just think they can live a life for 70 years and have a good time and spurn eternity in the presence of the Creator? It’s beyond me. I can’t comprehend it. But that’s the real world. All right, we’ve got one minute left, verse 10.
“To the intent (all of this was in God’s Divine purpose) that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, (Or, I prefer the word heavenlies.) might be known by the church (That is, the Body of Christ.) the manifold wisdom of God,” Those are the only ones that can understand this. You have to be a member of the Body of Christ before you can comprehend these spiritual things.
I’d like to take you back to I Corinthians, but we won’t have time, because what does I Corinthians tell us? “The natural or unsaved man cannot comprehend these things.” It’s beyond him. It goes over his head. “But the spiritual man can comprehend it.” Because, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives us the ability. And people are experiencing it. Yes, when the Holy Spirit is in control of your life, this Book opens up and isn’t all that hard to understand.