Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 66
BUT GOD! (Rightly Dividing the Word of God) – Part 3
Matthew 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
It is good to see everyone back for our third half-hour this afternoon. Again, we like to welcome our television audience, and we just thank you for all your encouragement, your financial help, your prayers, and your constant reference to praying for Laura, our daughter. We just can’t thank you enough. I think nine out of ten letters are still making mention of their praying for her, and we appreciate that so much, as she does.
We’re going to keep right on with where we’ve been. I’m going to take you, for our jump off verse, back to where we started in our last program, Matthew 10 verses 5 and 6. Now, this is at the beginning of the Lord’s earthly ministry to the Nation of Israel in fulfillment of the covenant promises. Consequently, it has to be confined to the Nation of Israel, because the covenant promises of Abraham, Isaac, David, and Moses had nothing to do with the Gentile world. It was all Jewish. Okay, here we go, we’re going to continue on.
“These twelve (The twelve disciples that everybody knows the names forwards and backwards.) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, (Now, that means what it says.) saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6. But (There is another of the important ‘Buts’ in Scripture.) go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
All right, now just to show how the Twelve – especially Peter, James, and John who were the pillars of the Jerusalem church and of the Twelve – adhere to that, let’s jump all the way up to the book of Acts. Now, I’m going to show that they never betrayed that commandment. They did not go to the Gentile world, because they were commanded not to. I don’t care how much theologians think otherwise, I’ll stick with what the Book says. Here we have it so obvious in Acts chapter 2, the Pentecostal sermon by the Apostle Peter; this is to show you that he’s not including Gentiles in his speaking.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words;” Any Gentiles in “ye men of Israel”? No. Couldn’t be. All right, you come on down a little further in the same chapter, verse 36.
“Therefore (after referring to all the references in the Psalms) let all the house of Israel…” Now, that flies in the face of “world-widers” and Herbert W. Armstrong who maintain that the Ten Tribes of the North were supposedly lost and ended up in Western Europe and Scandinavia and became the seed stock of the Caucasian peoples. What a lie! Because they’re all twelve here. Now, if they were lost, Peter couldn’t call it “the whole house of Israel,” but he does.
But Peter isn’t the first, Ezra and Nehemiah used the same language. So, even at the time of captivity none of the Ten Tribes were lost. Now, some of them went into captivity in Assyria. But they didn’t disappear as tribal units. They were all still evident when they went out to Babylon. The same way here.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” All right, turn over to chapter 3. We’re just going to chase down these references that show there’s nothing of the Gentile world in here. This is still keeping true to the commandment “Go not into the way of the Gentile.”
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple…” How many Gentiles got into the Temple? Well, none. They had a little area on the outside, but they couldn’t go into the Temple like a Jew could. All right, then come on over to chapter 4 verse 10, and I don’t have to change one word. It’s all so obvious.
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” Now where was that reference? I think it’s Psalms 118 which refers to Christ as the stone rejected by the builders. It had nothing to do with Gentiles whatsoever. This is all tied to the Jewish promises.
You can come all the way through the early chapters of Acts and it’s still all Peter and the eleven dealing with the Nation of Israel.
Now of course, in chapter 9 we have what I call that great division again. Here is where we mark a straight cutting, or rightly dividing of Scripture. Now, instead of the Lord telling this man to go the Nation of Israel, or to go to anyone else, He designates the Gentiles. Acts chapter 9 verse 15, now of course, it’s going to come to Paul second hand, or Saul, because the Lord is directing it to a Jewish believer in Damascus named Ananias.
“But the Lord said unto him, (to this Jew, Ananias) Go thy way: (Don’t argue with me. Because Ananias was scared to death of Saul of Tarsus. He thought he was going to take him back and kill him. So the Lord says…) Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…” Now that’s clear language isn’t it? There’s no gobbledy-gook there. It’s just a plain statement that this man is now going to go the opposite direction that the Twelve went.
We’re going to come back to Galatians in a little bit and pick up where we were in the last program. All right, now in chapter 10, and I think this is so interesting the way these things unfold. Chapter 10 is while Saul of Tarsus is out in his three year hiatus in the desert. Back here in Jerusalem God is going to deal again with Peter, but in a unique situation. Peter is in the house of one Simon a tanner. He’s going to reveal to him that He’s going to open the door as it was to the Gentile world, for the benefit of the Apostle Paul. Not for Peter’s benefit, for Paul’s benefit.
All right, so here we have it in Acts chapter 10 after Paul has been converted on the road to Damascus. He’s out in the desert receiving all the revelation of the mysteries that he’s going to come back and start preaching to the Gentile world in a little while. But in the mean time, Peter is going to use the keys that the Lord promised to him. He used them for Israel at Pentecost, and I think here is where He used them for the Gentile world. Had it not been for this event, Peter would have never come to Paul’s defense at the Jerusalem counsel. Had Peter not come to Paul’s defense, I doubt that they would have even let him leave Jerusalem. But he did, because of this.
All right, here we have the account with Cornelius, the Roman Centurion. But to show you that Peter is still a law-keeping Jew; he knows nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace, we come down to verse 11 of chapter 10:
“And he saw (that is Peter) heaven opened (in his vision) and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12. Wherein (this great sheet) were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.” In other words, he had a mix of everything. Now, compare that to the kosher diet of a Jew. It was totally unbelievable. Here he has all these unclean things mixed in probably with the clean ones.
“And there came a voice to him, (The Lord says…) Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.” Well, it’s a picture, of course, of the whole scope of humanity. Now, look at Peter’s answer.
“But Peter said, Not so, Lord; (Why?) for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’” And why hadn’t he? He was a law-keeping Jew. Nobody had told Peter he was no longer under the Law. He’s a law-keeping Jew. This was horrific for him – to eat unclean animals! Well, it wasn’t any worse than to go to those unclean Romans, which is where God’s going to have him go.
All right, so miraculously He gets Peter and six other Jews to go up the coast of the Mediterranean to Caesarea on the Sea. He goes to the house of Cornelius where God had miraculously brought the two entities together. Now you want to remember, you know the account, how miraculously God dealt with Cornelius to send messengers down to Peter. Peter is now seeing the vision of the sheet. So, these things worked together to get Peter to the house of this Roman Centurion, Cornelius.
All right, now again, for sake of time, we’re going to bring you down to verse 28 to show that this was contrary to Peter’s thinking. You’ve heard me say it a hundred times over the years, I think there were heel prints in the sand all the way from Joppa to Caesarea – “But Lord, I don’t want to go!” The Lord says, “You will, Peter.” He gets there and he’s still adamant. Look what his argument is in verse 28.
“And he said unto them, (The Gentiles in the house of Cornelius – all Romans.) Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto (or into the house) one of one of another nation; but God (See there’s another one! Oh, I love these. They’re all through Scripture! “But God.” I could come back in a few weeks and use this one, but I’ll try not to.) but God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” How? By all the things that were in that sheet vision. Peter, you don’t call anything common or unclean anymore, because now the work of the cross is completed, and we’re going to take the Gospel to the entire world. Did Peter understand it? No. I don’t think he ever did. But nevertheless, he was obedient, somewhat, to what God wanted him to do.
Now, what I’m trying to show here is that Peter and the eleven and all the other Jewish leadership are still aware that they’re to have nothing to do with the Gentile world. Nothing. But here he is by special dispensation, or whatever you want to call it, and look what he says: “It’s an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation, but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
All right, now come on over to chapter 11 and now we’ll see the reaction of the Jewish leadership down there in Jerusalem, the other eleven apostles, and the Jewish believers in the Jerusalem church. My, you would think they would have shouted “Hallelujah! God is going out to the whole world!” Are you kidding? Anything but.
“And the apostles (all twelve of them) and brethren (the leadership of the Jerusalem church) that were in Judea (that’s Jerusalem) heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.” Were they exalting? No, it doesn’t say that, but look at the next verse.
“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, (from Caesarea) they that were of the circumcision (That is of the Jerusalem church — praised him?) contended with him.” They met him at the door. “Peter, what’s the matter with you? How could you?” They knew nothing of the special vision that poor old Peter had to suffer through. So, they of the circumcision contended with him.
“Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” You see the horror of all that? Peter, how could you, a good Jew, go into the house of these Romans? And that’s not the half of it, the word came back to us, I suppose from the other six Jews that went with him. You know there’s always some means of getting the gossip back before you get there. “You even ate with them!” I can prove from Homer’s writing that the favorite meat diet of the Romans was what? Pork. And Peter, a good Jew, eating pork? Well, that was the mentality, and it was as it should be. Okay, so everything concerning these Jewish leaderships was tying them to the nation of Israel, until God raised up the Apostle Paul with the admonition, “I’m going to send you to the Gentiles.”
All right, let’s come back to that chapter in Galatians where we left off in our last program and pick it up where it is so plainly stressed that Paul could have nothing to do with the Twelve, theologically speaking. Now of course, physically, there could still be a Jewish friendship, but theologically Paul makes it so plain that God is keeping him totally separated from the Twelve. And this is what I want people to understand. This is rightly dividing the Scripture. Galatians 1 and we were probably down to about verse 15 in our other program, so we’ll move to 16.
“…and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (or the Gentiles) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me;…” Now stop there a minute. I always like to look at Scripture logically, because even though it’s supernatural, it is still logical. It’s not clear out of sync.
Now, if God is going to keep this apostle of the Gentiles separated from the Twelve, He’s going to have to make it as clear as clear can be that Paul is going to have nothing to do with the Twelve. And again, logically, if you were under this set of circumstances as Saul of Tarsus finds himself at the Damascus Road experience, where would be the first place to go to find out more about the Jesus of Nazareth that he had hated? Well, the Twelve! That’d be the logical place to go – back to Jerusalem and sit down at the feet of Peter, James, and John, and let them unload on him all the things they’d learned in those three years. But see, God is adamantly saying “No, Paul, you’re not going to have anything to do with the Twelve. I’m going to keep you separate from them.” All right, now read on.
“…but I went into Arabia,…” You’ve heard me say it many, many times. Jerusalem was to the southwest from Damascus. Arabia is to the southeast. So, for all practical purposes, opposite directions, so that he stays further and further away from Jerusalem and the Twelve.
“Then after three years…” That’s why we feel that he spent most of those three years out in the desert. I think Mount Sinai, and then he went back to Damascus. Now, some people like to say he must have spent the three years in Damascus; at least it was civilized territory. But now wait a minute. Had he spent three years in Damascus, what would have been the evidence? What would he have had? Well, he’d have had a huge church. He would have had a huge church in Damascus, just like he did in Ephesus after eighteen months. But is there any sign of a Gentile church in Damascus? Not that I’ve ever been aware of. Not historically. Not archaeologically, nor scripturally. There was nothing that would indicate Paul spent any time at all in Damascus.
That’s why I take the approach that he spent most of those three years out in the desert. And as you’ve heard me say it, even on the program, it probably took two and a half years to get Judaism out of his system so that God could fill him with the Gospel of Grace. Some of you know what that’s like. You’ve come out of a cultic background and you know how hard it is to walk away from it. Well, Judaism was no different. They were steeped in it. That’s why the whole Book of Hebrews is written, to show these Jews that yes, that was appropriate at that time, but now you’ve got to separate from it.
“But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21. Afterwards I came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia;” That’s where his hometown of Tarsus was located, up there in southeast Turkey. All right, now then, we’re going to jump into chapter 2, because I’m showing the ‘But God’ here. Yes, the Twelve were sent to Israel. But God is sending this man to the Gentile world.
All right, now to show you again how clearly the Holy Spirit led Paul to write of these things, we might as well start at verse 1. Now this is all repetition. I know this is back in past programs, but they are probably several years ago. He says:
“Then fourteen years after,…” That is after that conversion on the road to Damascus. Now, if that was in about 37 or 38 AD, that jumps us up to 51 or 52 AD. There has been proof positive that this Jerusalem counsel was in that very timeframe, somewhere between 51 and 52 AD. The Twelve and Paul and Barnabas have this knock-down, drag-out meeting in Jerusalem. It’s to solve a problem that had stemmed from the Jerusalem church coming in behind Paul’s little Gentile congregations and telling them that they had to also practice circumcision and keep the Mosaic Law. In other words, they were trying to get Paul’s new converts to mix Law and Grace. No different than a lot of preachers today. They just cannot get off that kick of mixing Law and Grace.
Well, this was the whole problem that’s going to be settled now in Galatians 2, and the parallel, of course, is Acts chapter 15. All right, verse 2, Paul writes by inspiration. Never forget this is God’s Word. This isn’t Paul and his own thinking. This is the Word of God coming through the pen of the Apostle. He says:
“And I went up (That is to Jerusalem.) by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,…” And what is THAT Gospel? Well, let’s look at it again for sake of new listeners. We have them every day. So bear with me when I repeat and repeat and repeat. I Corinthians 15:1 – 4. This is what we’re talking about. This is Paul’s Gospel of salvation that we must believe in this Age of Grace! I know most of you know it. I know that. But for benefit of others, we’re going to repeat it.
I Corinthians 15:1-2a
“Moreover, brethren, (He’s writing to Gentile Believers.) I declare unto you the gospel (Not ‘a’ Gospel, ‘the’ Gospel.) which I preached unto you, and which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (As believers. Not blown about with every wind of doctrine, even though the Corinthians were his most troublesome.) 2. By which also ye are saved,…” Now, how can you make it any plainer than that? Impossible. It’s by THIS Gospel that people are saved. No other.
And then they tell us that there’s never been anything but one Gospel. I’ve shared this with the program more than once. I’ve confronted preachers who confront me and say, “There’s never been more than one.” I said, “Oh, really? Adam and Eve were saved by believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, 4000 years before it happened?” And you know what their answer is? “Well, they must have.” Isn’t that ridiculous? You mean Abraham was saved by believing in a death, burial, and resurrection? “Well, he must have.” No, he wasn’t. It hadn’t even been dreamed of. They’d never heard of such a thing. Crucifixion, if I’m not mistaken, was an early Roman invention about 200-300 BC at the earliest. How could they believe in something that hadn’t even been invented, if you want to call it that. But anyway, here’s Paul’s Gospel of salvation.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (It was God’s Divine purpose that Christ should go to the cross. It wasn’t an accident of history. It was all preplanned long before Creation.) 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” That’s Paul’s Gospel, simple and yet profound. That’s what you must believe in your heart for your salvation!
You’ve heard me say it over and over, no human being who has ever lived or who ever will, can comprehend all that Christ accomplished at that cross of Calvary. It’s just beyond us. We take what little bit we can comprehend by faith. We know that when we believe it God has promised eternal salvation.
All right, back to Galatians, this is what Paul always refers to when he says, “My Gospel” or as he says in this verse 2:
“…that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, (That must mean the Twelve in a separate room by themselves.) lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Now, I can readily understand that. I think most of you can if you’ve ever tried to deal with corporate people. If you really want to get something done, how far up the corporate ladder do you have to go? As far as possible. If you want to get something done, get as far up that corporate ladder as you can possibly get. If you can get the head man, that’s the place to go. That’s where Paul had gone.
We found it out getting a man’s passport. He called only about a week before we were ready to leave. Now, you know it normally takes six weeks to get a passport. Well, the dear old gentleman was 85 years old. He had been in service for many years, and he had also had a top secret job with the federal government for many years, so he had everything going for him, but he didn’t have a passport and we only had a week to go.
So, I told him to go ahead and plan on it, and I’d jump on it as much as I could. Well, the fellow who was helping us in Minnesota jumped on the senator that he knew, and I approached our senator from Oklahoma. And they jumped right on it, both those senators, and you know what they did? They delivered that guy’s passport to his front door the day before we had to leave. Well, where do you go? Just as high as you possibly can, if you want to get something done! All right, now what’s Paul doing? He’s going to the top. Who’s at the top of the Jerusalem church? The Twelve. That’s obvious. The Twelve were the kingpins of the Jerusalem church. So, Paul makes sure that those are the ones he’s going to deal with to stop this infiltrating of his Gentile churches. It’s obvious. All right, read on.
“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, (or secretly brought in) who came in privately (or secretly) to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:” Now we’ve got to be careful. They weren’t trying to get Paul arrested and thrown into a Roman prison. They were trying to get Paul to a place where he would agree to come back under the Law. Now, that’s how subtle religionists can be!