Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 67
BUT NOW! (Christ is Risen!) – Part 2
I Corinthians 15:20
Again, we’d like to welcome you to an informal – I call it a simple – Bible study. Again, we like to show our appreciation for everything that you do to help the ministry.
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Okay, now we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so we’re going to get right back in where we left off in I Corinthians chapter 15. This is the verse we were heading for. We’re going to read it, and then we’re going to go on and go according to our rules of instruction. We’re not only going to look what went before, we’re going to look at what comes after. Okay, I Corinthians chapter 15 verse 20
I Corinthians 15:20
“But now (after all of this substantiation of the resurrection) Christ is risen from the dead, (Now, I’m moving the verb from the King James for emphasis. We’re not taking away. We’re not adding. I’m merely moving it. Instead of “now is Christ,” I like it for emphasis) but now Christ IS risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Now, I’m going to move on and then we’ll come back.
I Corinthians 15:21
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” Now, I’m going to comment on that one in a minute, because we may not get back to it right away. But you see, when Adam fell, sin and death entered, and Paul makes that so plain in Romans 5 “that by one man sin entered and death by sin.” But what might throw a curve at people that are untaught is the next statement that “by man came also the resurrection.” Well, what man are we talking about? The man Christ Jesus.
All right, so as Adam plunged the human race into sin and death, the man Christ Jesus raises us up out of sin and death. All right verse 22:
I Corinthians 15:22
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Now again, that needs some comment. “All” are going to be made alive? Well, we’ve got to look at it in two different perspectives. Believers, on the one hand, are going to be made alive for an eternity in God’s presence. But the lost of all the ages are also going to be resurrected for a life of separation from God.
Now, maybe I’d better back that up with Scripture, because again, I’m quite sure that there are multitudes of people out there, even good church people, who do not know that this is in their Bible. Turn to John’s Gospel chapter 5, dropping down to verse 28. If you’ve got a red-letter edition, it’s in red, so it’s the Lord Himself speaking. And He says:
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, (And don’t you doubt for a minute that it’s coming.) in the which (That is in that final hour.) all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” How many? All! Lost and saved – there will be no one escaping this resurrection. All right, but let’s be careful now.
“And shall come forth; they who have done good, (Now, I’ve always stopped and analyzed this. How do you do “good” so far as God is concerned? One word. Faith! So, people of faith will come forth.) unto the resurrection of life; (To eternal life) and they who have done evil,…” Now, those, of course, are the other side of the coin. And they’re what? No Faith!
You know, I always like to show the examples, all the way up through the Old Testament, of men who had no faith. Who was the first one? Cain. What was his problem? He was probably a nicer guy than Abel. But, he was destitute of faith, and as such he could not do what God told him to do. So, he was rejected. All right, the next one is Esau. You know old Isaac loved Esau. So, he wasn’t all that bad a guy. But yet, he was rejected. Why? He had no faith! What God said didn’t mean a thing to him. So, all the way up through Scripture you see these examples of people who were rejected by God because they had no faith. God’s Word didn’t mean a thing to them!
Well, it’s the same way today. What’s happening to the fabric of our society? It’s rotting right in front of our eyes. Why? Because our American people have lost faith in the Word of God. All right, so here we have the two categories of people – the lost of all the ages who were destitute of faith. But we also have the saved of all the ages who had faith. All right, those who are lost will go…
“…unto the resurrection of condemnation.” Okay, now I guess I have to go back to Revelation to explain that. Let’s go back to Revelation chapter 20. Now, John the Revelator, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us something that Jesus didn’t. And that is that between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the lost will be a thousand years. A thousand years. The resurrection of the believers will all take place before the Kingdom is set up, because, after all, everybody’s going to have to be part and parcel of the eternalness of the Kingdom. But, the lost will not come on the scene again until after the Kingdom has run its course at the Great White Throne. So, there’s a thousand year interval between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the lost.
All right, here we’ve got it in Revelation chapter 20, and we have to start at verse 4, where John writes:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,…” Which, I think, speaks of the Tribulation period. And that should ring a bell, I think, as we see more and more of the Muslim world and their penchant for beheading. It tells us that we’re getting close to this Tribulation time.
“…and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, (So, these are Tribulation people.) neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5. But, the rest of the dead (See, even these Tribulation saints will be brought back to a resurrection experience in time for the Kingdom, but the rest of the dead – the lost of all the ages–) lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” See that? There will be no resurrection of lost people out of Hell to the Great White Throne until after the thousand year Kingdom reign. So, that’s a thousand year period of time between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the lost. All right, now, it’s kind of confusing – the last part of verse 5.
“This is the first resurrection.” This speaking of that which is in verse 4 and before that. So, for clarification, again, the resurrection of the just takes place before the millennium. The resurrection of the lost, headed for their eternal doom, will take place after the thousand year reign.
Okay, now let’s come back to I Corinthians chapter 15 and finish reading before we go back to the “but now.”
I Corinthians 15:23
“But every man in his own order:…” Now, I’m taking this slowly on purpose. “Every man in his own order.” Now, every commentary I’ve ever read, that word order is a military term in the Greek. And, if you know anything of military, you have your organizational chain of command. You start from the very smallest, which is the platoon and the company, and then you’ll have a battalion and a regiment and a division and an army. Those are all segments of military organization. Now, if any of you have been writing to young men in service, that’s exactly how their address reads. They will be such and such a person, in such and such a battalion, in such and such an area. It’s all by military organization.
All right, now the resurrections are going to be likened to that. Every segment of these people to be resurrected: first, the saved, the believers; and then the lost, they’re going to come in their own organizational area. They’re not going to be all mixed up. It’s going to be precisely according to God’s program. Okay, now I think I’m set to go back up to verse 20 where it says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Or have died.
All right, now one of the rules of thumb for Bible study is to always go back to the place of first mention. Now, where do you first see the word firstfruits? Well, back when Israel came out of Egypt. They’re going to go into the Promised Land, and God is beginning to give them instructions. So, let’s go all the way back to Leviticus chapter 23. This is probably the first place that it’s mentioned time-wise. Now, it’s also used in Exodus, but it’s more plainly used here in Leviticus chapter 23 verse 10. Got it? Leviticus 23 verse 10 and this is part of the seven feasts of Jehovah that Israel still celebrates, for the most part, even today. Let’s start with verse 9.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10. Speak to the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give unto you, (the Promised Land, the Land of Canaan) and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the (What?) firstfruits (Plural) of your harvest unto the priest:” All right, now what were they to do?
Well, I’m going to draw a little 40 acre patch on the board. As I was mulling this over last night or this morning, you know we just came back from over there in Greece and Turkey last fall. We happened to be in an area with tremendous amounts of cotton. But, as we were going through that area, and I pointed it out to Iris, I said, “Look, cotton, cotton, cotton, but it’s all little 15-20 acre patches. A big, old, American machine wouldn’t even be able to turn around from one end to the other.” So, I’m very aware that when I talk about ancient Israel, they probably didn’t have big 40-acre plots of ground. But we in America know what I’m talking about. When you get out into our wheat country, you can probably see sections without a ditch or anything going through it. We’re going to talk in terms of language that most of us understand. We’ll just say, for example, that we’ve got a 40-acre field of wheat in ancient Israel. And we’ll keep it square just for sake of clarity, because I know that most of theirs were all kinds of shapes.
All right, now, as the crop was ripening, and, you know, I mentioned, I think it was in the last taping, that at the time our Bible was put together, probably 99 percent of the people were what? Farmers! Sheepherders. Goat herders. Cattle herders. It was farming of one sort or another; and so, so much of Scripture is written in a farmer’s language, because that’s something that everybody understood.
Now, I always come back to old Tyndale, when he was trying to get the Bible into England. I’ve said it over and over on this program. What was his final prayer? Oh, that every plowboy in England could get a copy of the Word of God. What’s a plowboy? Well, he’s a farmer. How much education did he have? Not much. Just enough to read. But that’s all you need, because this Book is written in plain language.
All right, so then, in language that anybody can understand, the Scripture says that Israel was to go into that field of ripening wheat and, again, like I said, if you know anything of farming at all, when a field of small grain begins to ripen, whether it’s wheat or rye or some of these other small grains, what happens? Here and there you get a stem that ripens first. You’ve all seen it. You go up through Kansas early in the spring, and it’s beautiful. Most of it is still kind golden yellow, but in the middle there are bright yellow stems of ripened grain. All right, Israel would go in and pluck those until they had a sheaf, and they would take it to the priest for a wave offering. It was called, then, the offering of firstfruits. So, what was it really describing? The crop that’s coming! You got the picture? That was a sample of the crop that is soon coming for harvest!
All right, now we have the example of that since Christ is the first of the firstfruits. No one…now, I can’t emphasize this enough, no one was ever resurrected from the dead before Jesus. He had to be the first!
Matthew 27 and, you know, every time I teach this I have to think of a dear old saint who’s gone on to be with the Lord. I hadn’t been in Oklahoma but, I guess, a few weeks, and I was already teaching someplace, and a dear old guy came up and said, “Les, who are these people that came out of the grave while Christ was on the cross?” I said, “What?” “Oh,” he says, “A bunch of them did.” I said, “Impossible!” “Well,” he said, “That’s what it says.” I said, “Now, wait a minute, that can’t be. Let’s go find it.” So, we went and got my Bible and opened up to Matthew 27 and I said, “Hey, Brother, you’re just like everybody else, you read, but you don’t read!” And this is what we read. Have you all got it? Now, this is exactly what I’m talking about. People read and they don’t read. This is at the crucifixion.
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (Here’s the verse that he had misread, and he was an elderly gentleman.) 52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who slept arose, (Well, where did he connect that? While He was on the cross. Just like the veil rent while He was on the cross. I said, “Hey, you didn’t read the next verse!” Well, what does the next verse say?) 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection,…”
You see the difference? They couldn’t come out while He was on the cross. They had to come out after His resurrection, because Jesus had to be the first! Now then, I maintain that since Paul writes in Romans 15 that “all these things were written aforetime (In other words, before he came on the scene, which would include the Gospels, not for our doctrine, but–) for our (What?) learning.”
All right, now then, you start putting some of these things together. If Christ alone is the firstfruit, in order to make a sheaf there had to be what? Many. All right, so here they are. After Christ arose, many of these believing Jews–
“…and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Again, proof of the resurrection. But, they were really fulfilling the idea of firstfruits, which meant what? There’s a big harvest coming! You got the picture? Okay, as this field of grain is now ripening, they’ve gone in and they’ve taken out just the individual heads of ripening grain. They take it out, make a sheaf, and take it to the Temple as a wave offering. It’s the firstfruits.
All right, we’ve covered that part of the order of the resurrections. First the firstfruits. All right, I Corinthians 15 verse 23:
I Corinthians 15:23
“But every man in his own order: (Company or battalion or division – whatever military term you’d like to use.) Christ the firstfruits; (That’s the first company.) afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Well, now I’m glad I did the way I did. We went to John and saw the resurrection. Which resurrection comes first? The believers!
Okay, now that’s what Paul is referring to. After the firstfruits were taken out, even though now it’s been almost 2,000 years, yet in God’s mind how long is 2,000 years? Two days, yes, or a snap of the finger. So, it’s still a valid prophecy that all the believers are going to be called forth in resurrection. But, as we’re also going to see, there’s going to be believers who are still alive. Well, God’s not going to kill them and then resurrect them; He’s simply going to change them.
All right, now let’s look at the very concept. Afterward, they that are Christ’s, every true believer, will come forth at Christ’s beckoning call. Now, of course, we have to go back and look at one other concept from Leviticus. I think I want Leviticus 19 verse 9. All got it?
“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, (We’re coming right back to our 40 acres up here on the board.) thou shalt not wholly (or completely) reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.”
Now then, it tells us in another place, what was the purpose of that? For the poor. So that there would be something left for the poor. All right, let’s continue with our diagram, if I may. As they would harvest this field, they had to leave the corners and they had to have gleanings. You pick that up again in the Book of Ruth, as well. Ruth went to the field of Boaz to glean. For the sake of the poor.
All right, now in my analogy, we’re going to come back to I Corinthians 15, again. We’re going to look at the two aspects, or the two groups, of believers that are going to be called forth: first in resurrection from the dead and then those who go through a change to prepare them for eternity. But, let’s not lose our concept here that we’re dealing with a harvest of people. We’re going to center on the believers now. The unbelievers are going to have to wait a thousand years after all this. In this harvest of believers, there’s going to be one segment that is the main part of the field. I feel this is the Body of Christ, because it is by far the largest single group of believers.
Now, let’s look at all the various groups that we’re talking about. You’ve got the Old Testament first, from Adam until Abraham. Not many. But there were a few. All right, then you’ve got the rest of the Old Testament believers all the way from Abraham through Christ’s earthly ministry. I’m going to even bring them all the way on up to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and the beginning of the Body of Christ.
All right, numbers-wise…now, you’ve got to do some thinking here. Numbers-wise that will be nothing compared to the number in the Body of Christ. Now, you’ve got to do a little thinking. All through your Old Testament economy, you really had only one group of people that even had a possibility of salvation, and who was it? Israel. The Jew. And they were never more than ten million people. And most of them were not believers. So, how many have you got over a period of years? Not many! Even at the time of Christ, and I’ve read this more than once, there were probably not more than 500 million people on the whole planet. Half a billion
All right, but since the time of Christ, you see, we’ve been doubling every so often. The last time we doubled, I think, was someplace in the 1940’s or 50’s. We went from three to six billion people. Well, we’re already close to seven billion, and the numbers are just coming up tremendously. All right, now just based on numbers alone, can you see how many more people will be involved in the Body of Christ – called out during this Age of Grace from all the world and not just the little nation of Israel – compared to the Old Testament and so forth. So, just based on logic then, the Body of Christ, of which you and I are a part, will comprise the main harvest.