Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 67
BUT NOW! (Christ is Risen!) – Part 3
I Corinthians 15:20
Okay, once again it’s good to have you all back from your coffee break. We’re going to go right back in where we left off and continue our “But Now” up there in I Corinthians 15 verse 20. Then we’ll pick up where we left off on the resurrections. You remember, we showed in the last half-hour how Jesus spoke of the resurrection of everybody that’s ever become a human being, but we’re going to divide them into two sections – the lost and the saved. The saved are going to be resurrected first, and then a thousand years afterwards the lost will be resurrected to come up before the Great White Throne Judgment.
All right, we were in I Corinthians chapter 15 verse 23. This is a crucial verse, and as we’re already showing, it’s a verse that you can just pick apart and pick apart. Remember, we’re talking about the resurrection.
I Corinthians 15:23a
“But every man (Now, we’re talking about believers when Paul writes. He hardly ever makes mention of the unbelieving world. But every believer–) in his own order: (A military term speaking of organization. So, every man in his own company, or in his own battalion, whatever the case you want to use.) Christ the firstfruits;…” We’ve already covered that, that when He was resurrected back there in Jerusalem, shortly after, many of the believing saints who had died were also resurrected and went into the city and were seen of many, and then, evidently, they went on up into Glory. But they fulfilled the Old Testament type of “firstfruits,” which was a sampling of the harvest that’s just about ready.
Then we pointed out in our last half-hour that if they had a field of wheat, and they harvested the main field, under Law they were instructed to purposely leave the four corners and the gleanings for the poor, so they could come in and, without paying anything, pick up what they could. But don’t forget, we’ve got the main harvest that has been taken out. All right, now the question came up at break: in the resurrections then, where am I putting the corners and the gleanings? Well, like I ended the half-hour, when you base it on numbers, all the Old Testament believers put together, as well as the Tribulation believers, I put in the corners and the gleanings, because they’re not part of the Body of Christ. They cannot be.
Then the question came up: who’s in the Body of Christ? It is only those who have been saved by believing for their salvation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ plus nothing. And I’m emphasizing the plus nothing. Because, if I understand Scripture, if people think that they have gained salvation by believing that Christ died, but they also have to do something else to complete it, then I’m afraid they’re missing it. Now, I don’t want to seem too narrow, but this is a narrow Book. And that’s the way it puts it.
All right, now then, I’m going to specifically show you where I think the Body of Christ began, and consequently, from that point up until the Rapture, which we’ll probably look at either this half-hour or the next, that is the Body of Christ. Whether we’re Asian, or African, or American, or Russian, it makes no difference. Whether we’re Protestant or this or that it, makes no difference. If we are genuinely saved by Paul’s Gospel, we are a member of the Body of Christ.
All right, let me show you why I feel that way. Turn ahead with me to Timothy. First Timothy and to me the language is so plain and so simple. I guess that’s why a lot of theologians can’t see it. It’s too simple. You know, I was reading an interesting article, maybe I referred to it in my last taping. I don’t like to repeat things too much, but this just hit the nail on the head.
I was reading an article by a very highly educated scholarly seminary professor. He was being critical of a book written by one of his peers, who was also a highly educated scholarly professor. But the guy I’m reading said, “The problem with my dear brother is he can only write in high scholarly language that nobody but a scholar like himself can understand.” And I said, “Hallelujah! There’s a guy who knows what he’s talking about.” Because that’s exactly what they do, they get so high up in their language and their words that I can’t understand them. And most people can’t. You’ve got to be a scholar to understand them.
Well, I’m going to keep this simple and here it is, I Timothy chapter 1 starting at verses 15 and 16. Now, you’ve got to remember, and we’ve stressed this so much over the years, that coming out of the Old Testament everything was Jewish. There was an occasional Gentile, but I always call that the exceptions. Christ began His earthly ministry by telling the Twelve “Go NOT to the Gentiles, or the Samaritans, go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now, that’s plain English, isn’t it?
All right, so they maintained that all the way through Christ’s earthly ministry. All the way through the early Acts Peter never addresses Gentiles. It’s all the Nation of Israel. And Israel is rejecting and rejecting and rejecting, and I always call the stoning of Stephen the crescendo, just like a symphony. It’s the crescendo of their unbelief. Then we’re introduced to the next player on the stage of biblical history. Who was it? Saul of Tarsus. The Apostle Paul.
All right, then in chapter 9 God tells Ananias up there in Damascus, I’m going to send this man far hence to what people? The Gentiles. Now, that was a stark, stark turn in the road. Everything has been Jew, Jew, Jew! And now all of a sudden God says, I’m going to take this man to the Gentiles. All right, now based on that Damascus road experience, when the Apostle Paul then became the Apostle of the Gentiles, now we want you to see how he explains it here in his letter to Timothy.
I Timothy 1:15
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Now, you’ve all heard sermons on this verse. I know you have. And you’ve all heard it preached that since He could save the worst man that ever lived, God could save anybody. But that’s not what it means. They have twisted it all out of shape. Just like Peter says they do (II Peter 3:16) – that these people, when they read Paul’s epistles, “they twist them, to their own destruction.” The word chief has never meant worst. It is always the first or the headman.
Now, I’ll give you a couple of references to prove my point. Go all the way up to Luke 22 verse 26. Now, if you want to check me out, you get home this evening and you go grab your Strong’s concordance, and you look up the word chief in Timothy and find out the Greek word out of which it’s translated. All right, now you do the same thing with each one of these references. You go find the word chief as it’s used in Luke and you’ll find it’s the very same identical Greek word that is used in Timothy. So, these all mean the same thing. All right, now I’m going to put you to the test.
“But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” Now, Jesus is speaking, and He’s drawing a picture that let him who is the older actually behave as if he were the younger. And let the person who is actually the chief person, let him act like he’s the one who is serving. You got the picture? And he that is “chief” be like the one who is serving.
Now, goodness sake, is Jesus using the word here as someone who is wicked and a sinner above all sinners? No! It’s a status symbol. Let the person who is chief be humble enough to act as though he is just the opposite. But he is the headman in this particular setting. All right, let’s move on up to the next one in Acts chapter 14 verse 12. Now, this is Bible study! This is comparing Scripture with Scripture. I hope you realize that. This isn’t just what I think; this is what the Book says.
Now, here Paul and Barnabas are up in Asia Minor ministering amongst these Gentile pagan cities. Now remember, they’re pagan. They’re all wrapped up in gods and goddesses. All right, so let’s look at verse 11 as well.
“And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, (in other words, in their particular language) The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. (See, that’s pagan mentality.) 12. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and they called Paul, Mercury, because he (Paul) was the chief speaker.” Because he was the worst? Because he was a drunken murderer? Because he was all these other bad things that preachers like to put on that word chief? No. He was what? The most authoritative. They could tell that Paul had more authority than Barnabas. Simple enough.
All right, next one, go to Acts chapter 28 verse 7. In every one of these it is the same Greek word. All got it? Acts 28 verse 7, this is when they were shipwrecked on the little island of Melita.
“In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.” A wicked murderer? A drunk? Or any horrible sinner that you could think of? No! He was a good man, but he was the what? The governor of the island. He was the chief man.
Am I making my point? All right, I’ve got one more, Romans chapter 3 verses 1 and 2. Because this is imperative that you understand the true meaning of the word chief in I Timothy, otherwise what I’m saying next won’t mean a thing.
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2. Much every way: (Oh, they had all these good things going for them. They had the blessings of God. They were His covenant people. They had the Temple, and they just had all these.) chiefly, because unto them (the Nation of Israel) were committed the (What?) the oracles (word) of God.” Now, does that mean they were the worst people on earth? No, they were the most favored! And the chief reason that they were favored is that they were given the Word of God. So, what does the word chief mean? The best! The highest. The first. The most authority. Whatever you want to put on it, never does it mean the worst. All right, now come back to I Timothy.
I Timothy 1:15
“This is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save (What?) sinners; of whom I am chief.” The worst? No! He’s the head of the line! He’s the first one in! Now, look at the next verse.
I Timothy 1:16a
“Howbeit for this cause…” Now, you’ve got to do this carefully, or you lose it – for what cause? Because he’s the first! He’s the headman. He’s the leader. He’s the captain. No, I don’t want to put captain, because Hebrews calls Jesus the captain. Jesus is the captain of our salvation, and here comes the Apostle Paul following Jesus, and we follow Paul. That’s the way it is in Scripture.
I Timothy 1:16b
“…for this cause I obtained mercy, (Where? On the road to Damascus when he was breathing out threats and murderers to those believing Jews, and the Lord intervened and saved him right there on the road.) that in me (What’s the next word?) first. (Got it? That in me first!) Jesus Christ might show forth (through this man – Apostle Paul) all longsuffering, for a pattern…” Now again, analyze the word. What’s a pattern? Well, it’s that which comes first.
You don’t make a dress without the pattern. You don’t build a building without the blueprint. That’s the pattern. All right, so Paul now becomes the pattern, the likes of which, every other believer is going to be. A sinner saved by grace! Okay?
I Timothy 1:16c
“…for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Now again, analyze it. A pattern, or the first prototype, or whatever you want to call it, to “them which should hereafter believe.” What does the hereafter mean? From the time of Paul’s conversion on, every believer falls into that same Body of Christ of which this Apostle is now announcing.
Now, I always remind people in my phone calls and if I answer in a letter, remember you will never see anything concerning the Body of Christ anywhere else in your Bible. Nowhere – except in Paul’s epistles. Now, what does that tell us? Just what these verses are telling us, that the only people who become members of the Body of Christ are those who have come in behind the salvation of the head of the line. The pattern – which would be the Apostle Paul.
All right, now you can underline that word “hereafter,” because who does that push out of the Body of Christ? All the Old Testament believers, Christ’s earthy ministry believers, those who became believers after Pentecost and before Saul’s conversion. They can’t be in the Body of Christ because they’re not “hereafter.” Now, I’m a stickler for language, and that’s where I get my ideas. This means what it says. That believers who come in after Saul’s conversion and are saved by trusting Paul’s Gospel, “that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose from the dead,” automatically become members then of the Body of Christ. There’s no other way.
And once you’re a member of the Body of Christ, you can never be taken out. That’s just as concrete. Let me take you back to Romans chapter 8 verse 35 to the end. As you’re looking at that, I think you’re all aware of how Jesus put it back there in John’s Gospel. That once the believer was His, no one could pluck them out of His hand. Isn’t that the way He put it? No one can pluck them out of my hand. Now, that’s how Jesus spoke of those believers under His economy. Paul puts it in a little different language, and it means the same thing.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Can any of that take a believer out? No. Next verse.
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37. Nay, in all these things (Paul says) we (as Grace Age believers now, as members of the Body of Christ) are more than conquerors (Not through our efforts, but how?) through him who loved us. 38. For I am persuaded, (he writes) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Almost identical with what Jesus said, “Nothing can take them out of my hand.” You see that comparison?
Once we are truly saved and are members of the Body of Christ, we can never be jerked out of it.
All right, now I’ve got five minutes left. I wasn’t going to use this one, but I’ve got time and I’m going to. Now, back up to I Corinthians chapter 3; and I have another portion of Scripture that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Apostle Paul was the first member of the Body of Christ. Every one of us have now come in behind him and taken our place in the Body. I Corinthians chapter 3 and we’re going to start at verse 9. I Corinthians chapter 3 verse 9 and for goodness sake don’t forget what you just read in I Timothy, because this is almost going to say the same thing, only a little different description, a little different setting.
I Corinthians 3:9
“For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” Now before, we were talking about Paul being the first and the chief and we fall in behind. Now, he’s talking about a building situation. And the first thing you’re going to do, if you’re going to have a building that’s going to last over a period of time, as Jesus spoke it in the Gospels, you don’t build on sand, you build on what? Foundation. That’s the key! All right, here we come.
I Corinthians 3:10
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, (Now, he’s not being called the chief here, he’s being called the master builder. And as a wise master builder–) I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereupon. (We’re all part of it, of building on that foundation.) But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Now, here’s where we have to be careful. Does Paul claim to be the foundation? No! He’s the contractor. He lays the foundation.
You know, and I always try to make the point, goodness sakes, everybody says that the church began back in Acts chapter 2 and Peter began the church. Then this is a lie! Because Peter is not the one who laid the foundation, Paul did. That’s what the Book says. See?
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” He’s the foundation. That finished work of the cross is the only message that Paul knows. All right, jump back up to verse 10, the key word is “master builder.” What does that mean? Just like chief. He was the one to whom God gave instructions on how to build the Body of Christ. And he didn’t wait until it was half finished and then come in and finish the job. He began it.
Now again, some people like to give Jesus credit for beginning the church. No, Jesus didn’t begin the church. He did everything that needed to be done, but He Himself didn’t organize or start the church, He left that for the Apostle Paul. So, he becomes the master builder, the chief contractor; following him comes every other believer of the Church Age.
All right, then he shows, in the next few verses that we’ve taught previously, that since we’re in a building picture here, once our salvation is based on the foundation of Christ Jesus which Paul laid, now we begin a work of what? Service. Good works, for reward. Not for salvation whatsoever. Our works must be for reward.
All right, now I’m going to have to fudge a little bit. I don’t want to go beyond the end of this program to go into the next part, but just get the picture now. The Apostle Paul is the Apostle of the main harvest – the Body of Christ. During which time you’ve got the great increase in population. The Gospel of Salvation has not been confined to one group of people. It has gone out to the whole world. So, we can be confident that the greatest number of believers of any of these groups has to be the Body of Christ, because there weren’t that many in Israel. There certainly weren’t that many in the Book of Acts. And there won’t be that many during the Tribulation, even though we know there will be a great harvest of souls in the seven years of Tribulation.