Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 66
BUT GOD! (Faith Plus Nothing!) – Part 1
Acts 13:30, Rom. 3:21, Rom. 4:5, Rom. 5:8
It’s good to see everybody in again this afternoon. For those of you joining us on television, you’ll have to bear with me. I’m coming off of a bad case of laryngitis, but we trust we can get the programs on the air.
For those of you in the audience, again we thank you for coming in. We’re going to start on the ‘But God’ again, but we’re going to move on up to Acts chapter 13. Paul is up in the middle of Asia Minor, Antioch Pisidia, and he’s in a synagogue of the Jews. I think I probably learned this from the Apostle. I’ve heard it from quite a few since, but I think I’m one of the few Bible teachers that are constantly using the “big picture.” This is what Peter did in our last taping, and now this is what Paul does here in Acts. They start clear back at the beginning and give an overview and then that’s why we have what we have.
Now, we can do the same thing. I asked the question in our last taping, as we used it on our cruise in the Aegean, ‘Why Paul?’ I mean after all, God had twelve apostles. They had the Lord’s ministry. Why yet another one? Well, if you don’t have an understanding of the big picture, it’s hard to answer. Why should we have another apostle when you’ve got twelve of them? But when you see the big picture, as Paul paints it here, then it all makes sense.
You know I was so tickled. I had a letter from a Catholic individual the other day, and they said, “Les, for the first time the Bible is logical and makes sense.” Well, nothing could thrill me more than that’s how people understand it, because it IS logical. It DOES make good sense IF you get the big picture. So, Paul is now addressing a group of Jews up in Asia Minor at the very beginning of his ministry. Let’s drop to verse 16. When we get to the ‘But God,’ then of course we’re going to hit the subject of the hour.
“Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm he brought them out of it.”
All right now let’s stop right there and compare Scripture with Scripture. Come back all the way to Genesis chapter 46. You remember that all the way up through time, from the call of Abraham up until this point in Jacob’s life, God laid it down clearly that they were to have nothing to do with Egypt. He always said, “Go not down into Egypt.” It was a total ‘no-no’ for the Nation of Israel. But now, all of a sudden, you’ve got a direct opposite.
“And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, (Which, if you know your Middle East geography, is straight east of Egypt.) and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father, Isaac. 2. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. (Now watch this.) 3. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt;…” Now isn’t that something, when all the previous years God had been saying, “Do not go to Egypt.” Because Egypt, scripturally speaking, is a picture of the world, so the admonition is – don’t go to Egypt. Trust Me. But now it’s a flip-flop. Now He says:
“…do not fear to go down into Egypt; (Here’s the reason.) for (God says) I will there (in Egypt) make of thee a (What?) great nation:” So, when we were studying Genesis years back, I emphasized that whenever someone asked where did the Nation of Israel come from? Yes, it came from the promise to Abraham. But, where did they really become a Nation of people? In Egypt.
Okay, now back to what Paul is saying in Acts 13. Down in Egypt the Nation appears, and now God brings them out.
“And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot. (according to the twelve tribes) 20. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21. And afterward they desired a king:…” See how this is just an unfolding, again, of the Big Picture? In…what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s…brought down into smaller language than looking all the way through the Old Testament, but here it is anyway, the picture of the Nation of Israel coming on up to the time of Christ.
“And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of 40 years. 22. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfill all my will. 23. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus:” Now, every Jew, of course, held David in high esteem, so he’s softening them up here. He’s getting them ready to realize that this is all connected to the promises made to not only Abraham but also to King David.
“When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance (Now, that’s a reference to John the Baptist.) to all the people of Israel. 25. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. (In other words, John says, I am not that promised Messiah.) But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26. Men and brethren, (Now this is Paul addressing these Jews.) children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Now, do you see what that verse says?
All of the Old Testament prophets were foretelling the coming of this Messiah, who would be rejected, killed, buried, and risen from the dead. But it is in such veiled language, that they never caught it. You know, I was reviewing some of our old tapes the other day, dubbing them I guess. You remember how so often I would put two lines across the board like railroad tracks showing the two visions that the prophets had of the coming Messiah, a ruling King and a suffering Savior? Oh, they all wanted the King, but they didn’t want to deal with the sin problem. All of this is back in our Old Testament in veiled language. Now verse 28.
“And though they (the rulers at Jerusalem) found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. (put to death.) 29. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. (Now verse 30, what are the first two words?) 30. But God…” (See, that’s why I love these. I love these “buts.” It simply gives you the big picture and then the flip-side that is the fulfillment of it all. Now here, everything has been coming down the pike in Israel’s history, getting ready for the coming of their Messiah. In ignorance they rejected Him. They killed Him.) But God raised him from the dead:”
Now, I’ve got a thought here. Have you ever thought about what would have happened, at the point of His death at the cross, had we not had a Triune God? Think for a minute. What if God had not been Three Persons? If God was now dead, who would raise Him? I bet most people never even think of that. But there had to be the Triune God, so that when one person of the Godhead suffered what had to be done, there were still two persons to raise Him from the dead, the Spirit and the Father. All right, now let’s go back and show this from another portion of Scripture. Turn with me to Romans chapter 8, I don’t know what a lot of people think. Maybe they just think that Jesus raised Himself, even as He gave up the ghost Himself. But He did not. He was raised by the other persons of the Godhead – God the Father and God the Spirit.
“But if the Spirit (Capitalized, that’s the Holy Spirit.) of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, (Do you see that?) he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (or make alive) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” So, who raised Christ from the dead? The Spirit! In consort with the Father of course. But what if there had not been the Father and the Spirit?
Oh, I know that with God nothing is impossible, but logically speaking, He would have remained in the tomb. But since we still had two persons of the Godhead in control of everything, we can literally believe that Christ was dead. He was not just unconscious. He was not just in what they say, a swoon. He was dead. It could happen because the other two persons of the Godhead would still have the power to raise Him at the appropriate time.
“But God raised him from the dead:” All right, turn with me to I Corinthians 15, because as I read so much of the writers of Christendom lately, I see so little of the resurrection. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. You see and hear so little of the resurrection. Oh, they’ll talk about Christ dying. They’ll talk about Him having paid your sin debt, but they almost never, anymore, refer to the resurrection. Yet that’s where the power of the Gospel rests.
I Corinthians 15:12
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Now, stop a minute. Does that sound like an odd statement? Well, it shouldn’t. If you remember, when Paul first confronted the intellectuals up there at Athens on Mars Hill, what was the subject that shocked those Greek intellectuals? Resurrection from the dead! They had never heard of such a thing. That’s why they scorned the Apostle. They scorned and said, “Resurrection from the dead? Who ever heard of such a thing?”
Well this thinking was just as common in the area of Israel and Jerusalem, ignorance of resurrection from the dead. Now, the Old Testament certainly taught it. I used it in the last taping, where Job spoke of resurrection. Yet the Sadducees, one of the large groups of Israel’s rulership, didn’t believe in resurrection. They just thought you lived, and the only way you kept your life going was through your progeny. That’s how you lived eternally, down through your progeny. But to be resurrected from the dead? No, they couldn’t comprehend that. So, don’t think that this is an odd statement, because it was very common. All right, back to I Corinthians 15 verse 13.
I Corinthians 15:13-14
“But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, (It’s useless.) and your faith is (What?) also vain.” It’s worth nothing. If you don’t have a handle on the resurrection, not only of Christ, but even of your dead spirit to come out of the chains of Satan’s slave market, and then to have a future resurrection into eternity, hey, you’re miserable. You of all people are the most miserable. But this is our hope, that Christ was raised from the dead.
I Corinthians 15:15
“Yea, and we (speaking of himself as an Apostle) are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” In other words, Christ’s resurrection alone was not sufficient proof. The proof of all of it was that when Christ arose from the dead he released the power of the resurrection of the whole human race. Now, that also includes the lost of all the ages, remember.
Now, I think we can come back to John’s Gospel a moment, chapter 5. Because I like to shake people up with things they have never heard before, and I imagine that for a lot of our listeners this is one of them. Even most church people have no concept of the fact that all the lost of the ages are going to be resurrected. Yes, they are. Oh, they’re not going to be resurrected to an eternal bliss. They’re going to be resurrected to an eternal doom, but they are going to be resurrected. How do I know? Because the Lord Jesus Himself said so in John’s Gospel chapter 5 verse 28, this is plain English.
“Marvel not at this: (Jesus said) for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,” (Now underline that word all) 29. And shall come forth; they that have done good,…” People of faith from all the way back through the Old Testament. I like to point it out – Adam and Abel and Seth and Noah and Abraham and Moses and David – those were all people of faith. On the other hand, you see those that were destitute of faith – Cain, Ishmael, Esau, King Saul, and on up through. You always have those two categories. We have them here.
“…those who have done good, (people of faith) unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, (They were destitute of faith.) unto the resurrection of condemnation.” Now, you can’t make that any plainer. All the lost will someday, at the time of the Great White Throne, be resurrected out of where they are, presently in Torment in Hell. They’ll be brought before the Great White Throne to be judged out of the books, to determine the level of their punishment in the Lake of Fire. So, never, ever discard the necessity of believing in the resurrection of the dead. All right, back to I Corinthians for a moment or two, yet.
I Corinthians 15:17
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” So, what does it take to come out of sin? Faith in the resurrection. It has to be the whole package. He not only died for our sins and shed His blood, He not only was buried three days and three nights, but He arose from the dead in power and glory and majesty. That becomes our Gospel and the remedy for our sin.
I Corinthians 15:19
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Because what good would it do to have saving faith only for 70, 80, or 90 years of this life? But our faith is projecting us all the way into the eternal.
I lay awake the other night, and I suppose we all do. Do you ever try to think in terms of eternity? Have you ever done that? Sure you have. We all have. We’re not going to get bored! You know, a lot of time kids, as soon as you have something that keeps them from doing a lot of activity, what’s the first word they come up with? “I’m bored.”
Well, imagine that we’re going to be in eternity, without end, and we’re never going to get bored. Just think about it. What are we going to be doing? I don’t know. I wish I knew. I wish I could tell people. I do know this, we are heading for eternity, without end, without anything changing. We’re not going to grow old. We’re not going to, one by one, go down the valley. But, for all eternity, it’s going to be just as blissful as the first moment we get there. That’s what Paul means here. If all you’re thinking about is this lifetime that’s enough to make anybody miserable. All right, now verse 20. There’s another ‘but’. I don’t know whether I’ll be using it by itself or not, I haven’t decided.
I Corinthians 15:20
“But now (Because of Christ’s resurrection) is Christ risen from the dead,…” That’s what we have to keep emphasizing over and over and over. All right, let me come back with you again to Acts chapter 13 for just a little bit. Act 13 verse 30.
“But God raised him from the dead:” Now, let’s go on and look at the few verses that follow that statement. There’s no need to doubt it.
“And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers, 33. God has fulfilled the same unto us their children,…” Now, for those of you who have been hearing me teach, especially the last six months, a verse should be ringing in your ears. What is it? Romans 15 verse 8 and we’ll run into this every once in a while, where Paul speaks of the promises made to the fathers. You all got it? Now remember, this is Paul writing to the Gentiles at Rome.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (As we’ve been stressing over and over, He didn’t come to the Gentile world. He came to His own, until His own received Him not.) for the truth of God, (And here’s the purpose.) to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” See how plain that is? He came to fulfill those Old Testament promises. All right, back to Acts 13 verses 32 and 33.
“And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers, 33. God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; from the dead, as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my son, (This is exactly what it says back in Psalms.) this day, have I begotten thee.” And remember that back when we were studying the book of Acts we qualified this.
“And as concerning that (Concerning the fact that He was the only begotten Son of God. That’s not a reference to Bethlehem. It’s a reference to His resurrection.) he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Now remember, David was in the promises made to the fathers. So, that’s what we’re still dealing with.
“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shall not suffer (permit) thine Holy One to see corruption.” And to make sure that the Jews understood that when the Psalms spoke of all this, it wasn’t speaking of David, it was speaking of the Son of David, Jesus the Christ, he continues.
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, (David died.) and was laid unto his fathers, (He was buried.) and saw corruption:” In other words, his flesh and bones deteriorated to the dust of the earth. Christ’s never did. Then verse 37.
“But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” Now always remember that. The body of Christ, during those three days and three nights in the tomb, did not begin to deteriorate. It saw no corruption. That’s what set Him head and shoulders above any other human being that would be buried. All right, now verse 38 and with this we’ll be ready to close.
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (This man God, Christ Jesus) is preached unto you the (What?) forgiveness of sins: 39. And by him (Now watch this! Now this is in Acts, and I always say Acts isn’t a doctrinal book, but here’s a little tidbit of doctrine.) And by him all that believe (plus nothing) are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Now in our next program, we’re going to be jumping over into Paul’s letter to the Romans where he’s dealing in detail on this very same concept. That because of Christ’s death, burial, shed blood, and resurrection, we have the forgiveness of sin. We’re justified from everything that was ever held against us, and we are now born anew.
We are ready for that great resurrection day that will catapult us into eternity, never again to face any of these things of this earthly sojourn. And it all comes how? By faith plus nothing! I’ve had several letters in just the last week that said, “Les, show me these verses that say faith plus nothing.” Well, I can’t show verses that come right out and say that. I just show them verses like this one, where nothing is added with faith.