Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 68
BUT NOW – YOU ARE MADE NIGH – PART 2
Eph. 2:13; Eph. 4:20; Phil. 2:27
We’re just an informal Bible study. We don’t try to push the thoughts of men or denominations. We try to show what the Book says. We find that if people will simply search it out – don’t have to listen to what I say – if they’ll just simply search it in the Scriptures, they call back. I’ll never forget one fellow who called from Columbus, Ohio, and all he could say was, “It’s awesome!” I said, “Well, what’s awesome?” He said, “The way God opened my eyes!” He said, “I’ve never seen this before.” So, that’s my whole argument. You don’t have to go by what I say, but take a look at the Book with an open mind. Get off of those denominational traditions, and maybe you’ll be just as amazed as he was.
Okay, let’s go right back to where we left off in our last program. We’re on the “But Now” in Ephesians chapter 2 verse 13. But let’s go back and review verse 12, because that’s basically what we covered in the first half-hour – Why were the Gentiles left in such spiritual darkness? Well, for 2,000 years the whole race of Adam walked everything underfoot in rebellion and wickedness. Finally God says I’m going to do something totally different. I’m going to call out one little nation of people. I’m going to bless them. I’m going to put them above all the other nations of the world, and I’ll work through them to bring salvation to the human race.
That’s what we showed, hopefully, in that last program, how that everything was Jew, Jew, Jew until, finally, on the road to Damascus God struck down Saul of Tarsus. Then as we closed our program, He went in and told Ananias, “I’m going to send this man, Saul of Tarsus, far hence to the Gentiles.” Of course, to a Jew this was anathema to have to deal with those morally pagan and physically filthy Gentiles. All right, back to Ephesians chapter 2 verse 12.
“That at that time (The time we talked about in those last thirty minutes, while God was dealing only with the Jew and the Nation of Israel.) ye (Gentiles, I’ve got to put that in coming out of verse 11.) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, (In other words, they had no right.) and strangers from the covenants of promise, (They had nothing to do with them.) having no hope, and without God in the world:”
Someone just shared with me at break time over our coffee, that he remembers a fellow years back who has now gone on into eternity, that when somebody read this verse in a Sunday School class he just blatantly said, “I don’t believe that.” Well, we hear it all the time from our listening audience. They show some of these things to pastors or Sunday School teachers and the response is, “I can’t believe that.” But beloved, it’s the Word of God. If you can’t believe one verse, you might as well throw the whole thing away, because then it all falls apart.
But this is what it says, that the Gentiles were left destitute of anything spiritual until their day would come. All right, so they were “without God in the world.” Now verse 13, that’s one of our key phrases, “But now!” But what does it mean? This side of the cross! On this side of the death, burial, and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah it’s a whole new ballgame. All right, read the verse.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye (you Gentiles) who sometimes (at one time) were far off (spiritually) are (What?) made nigh by (What?) the blood of Christ.” Now, let’s stop and analyze a minute. What was the message that God laid upon this next apostle to take, not to Israel so much, but to the Gentile world?
All right, go ahead a chapter. Ephesians chapter 3 and you’ll see Paul is always emphasizing that he is the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). The Twelve were apostles of Israel. And isn’t it amazing that’s what Christendom hangs on today, for the most part? The Four Gospels, the ministry of Peter and James and John, and I call it a satanic deception, because that’s not where our Gospel of salvation lies. Our Gospel lies in Paul’s epistles.
“For this cause (In other words, what he has just been saying in chapter 2.) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you (Whom?) Gentiles.” Now, your Bible says that just as well as mine. His apostleship was directed primarily, not exclusively, but primarily to the Gentile world. All right, now verse 2.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me to you-ward:” Now, there’s not a word in there about the Kingdom. You remember the verse I read in the last program where Jesus went into the synagogue and He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom? Paul never does. Why? It’s a whole new program. Paul is being given the authority and the opportunity to open up the dispensation of the Grace of God!
Now, Jim and I were just talking the other day, since he’s been out here visiting, about various definitions of this word “dispensation.” Well, I gave him one that he hadn’t heard before, and he said, “Les, I like that one the best of all.” I’ve shared it at one time or another that it’s tied to the word meaning “dispensing a prescription.” Same root word. A dispensation is a dispensing. All right, now what does a dispensation dispense?
Certain directions or instructions for a particular period of time. Now, when God gave Moses the Law, it was a dispensation. God dispensed all the ramifications for that time that Israel would be under the Law, from 1500 BC until we get to the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 9. They had their simple set of directions.
All right, now Paul comes along with a whole new set of directions, and that is what you believe for your salvation, “That Christ died for you. He shed His blood. And that He was buried and He rose from the dead the third day and you’ll be saved.” That’s the directions for this dispensation of Grace.
I made the point with Jim. How would you react if you had a bottle of medicine for, we’ll say, some heart disease five years ago. Now you have some other malady, whatever it might be, maybe a muscle or something, and you get a new prescription. Well, what good would it do you for today’s trouble if you go back and take the pill out of your heart bottle and follow those directions? Well, you’re in trouble. You have to follow the directions of the prescription that was given to you for today. See that?
All right, now that’s exactly what most of Christendom is doing. They’re taking the medications from a past dispensation and they’re trying to shove it into this one. And I stand adamantly against that. We are going to follow the instructions that God dispensed to the Gentile world, not what He gave to Israel. We’re going to follow the prescription that God gave to the Apostle Paul. All right, that’s what he’s talking about here. Now verse 3:
“How that by revelation… (A spontaneous revealing of things totally different – you’re not under Law, you’re under Grace.) How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;…” Now, that’s a word that Paul uses throughout his epistles. What’s the other word for mystery? The secret! And it’s God’s prerogative! He’s Sovereign! You know I’m always referring to Deuteronomy 29:29. We don’t have to look at it, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us…” So, when do they belong to us? When God reveals it and not before.
All right, now all these things that are revealed to the Apostle Paul were kept secret. Never can you find it in the Old Testament. You can’t find one iota of it in the four Gospels and the first nine chapters, or eight chapters, of Acts. It’s not in there. But these instructions now come from the pen of this apostle. All right, let’s go on, verse 4.
“Whereby, when ye read, (That is these instructions for this dispensation.) ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery (or the secrets) of Christ.” The things that God kept secret until He revealed it to this apostle.
All right, another verse comes to mind. Keep your hand in Ephesians and come back to Romans chapter 16 verse 25. I made comment of this one time at one of my large seminars. I think we had, I don’t know, hundreds of people. I asked the question, “Have you ever heard this verse in a Sunday morning sermon text?” As we read it, I want you to ask the same thing. Have I ever heard this used in a Sunday morning sermon? And you know what, out of those 700-800 people, not one had. Not one! That’s typical. All right, look what it says.
“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, (That’s another one of Paul’s favorite terms – my Gospel.) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, (The secret! Not according to His earthly ministry. Not according to His miracles, but according to the revelation of things that had been kept secret. And how long had they been kept secret?) which was kept secret since the world began.” Now, that’s plain English. But people don’t want to buy it. No, they’d rather stay back in His earthly ministry.
Now, I’ll show you what Paul says about that. II Corinthians chapter 5 and here’s another instance. A young man was visiting at taping here one day, not too long ago, and he came up and shared with me voluntarily that he showed this verse to his pastor. He got the same result I just mentioned a moment ago. The guy just said, “I’ll never believe that.” Isn’t that amazing? And you know why they don’t want to believe it? Because it flies in the face of what they’ve been preaching. But all right, you got II Corinthians chapter 5? Oh, we almost have to start at verse 14. Now, Jim knows that none of this was in my preparation. I’m sorry, but when I get led aside, I just can’t stop.
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, (or come to conclusion) that if one died for all, then were all dead:” In other words, when Christ died for every human being, it was because every human being needed His saving grace.
II Corinthians 5:15-16
“And that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. (What’s that? Paul’s Gospel! Now verse 16, this is the verse they don’t like.) 16. Wherefore henceforth (In other words, from the time of the revelation of these secrets until the end of the Age of Grace.) we know no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth (from this time forward) we know him no more.”
Now goodness sakes, what’s he talking about? Christ’s earthly ministry! His earthly ministry, because you’ve got to remember, Paul is about the same age as Christ. At the time that Jesus was ministering to Israel with all of His signs and wonders and miracles, Paul saw the crowds. I can just see this little Pharisaical Jew almost angry to the point of exploding, standing on the perimeter of all this, and being irritated by what he heard. Because this was all flying in the face of his religion.
So, that’s what he was referring to, yeah, I knew Christ in His earthly ministry. Of course he did. But now? No. We don’t base our salvation on Christ’s earthly ministry. Most of Christendom does. But we don’t. Paul didn’t. That’s why I keep hammering away on Paul’s Gospel of salvation, and men and women don’t like it. We’ve had it evidenced over and over.
All right, let’s come back to Romans, again, if you will. Now that I’m on this track, I might as well carry on. Romans chapter 2 verse 16 and this is Scripture, Beloved. This is the Word of God. And if any verse fails to be the Word of God, then it all falls apart. But look what the Holy Spirit inspired this apostle to write in chapter 2 verse 16 of Romans.
“In the day (We’re talking about the Great White Throne Judgment day.) when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Who will be the judge on the Great White Throne, and with what are they going to be judged?) according to my gospel.” Paul’s Gospel. Read it again. “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” And then they’re going to ignore it and let millions of people go to that Great White Throne Judgment lost for all eternity? That’s what’s coming, because they refuse to recognize what we call Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4.
All right, I think that’s sufficient in Romans. Let’s come back a moment to Ephesians chapter 3 where we just took off, that we settle it forever. That when God turned from Israel and delegated this man to be the apostle of the Gentiles, that now everything is not going to be based on Temple Worship and the Mosaic Law and baptism and you name it. It’s going to be according to Paul’s Gospel, which is the work of the cross: how that Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of everything, went to that Roman cross, died, shed His blood, was buried three days and three nights, and arose from the dead. That’s the Gospel, plus nothing. But, oh, people don’t want to buy that. They want to work for it. No, you don’t. God won’t have it. All right, come back to Ephesians chapter 3 verse 5.
“Which in other ages (or in other generations) was not made known…” See how plain this makes it? It was never mooted (debatable) that God would one day go to the cross and bring in salvation for the whole human race.
“…was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” Now you’ve got to remember, Paul had other men that became prophets and so forth. You had Timothy and Titus and Barnabas and Silas. He’s not talking about the Old Testament prophets here. He was talking about those who were in consort with him in this revelation of these things kept secret. All right, verse 6, here it comes again.
“That the (Who?) Gentiles…” See the difference? For 2,000 years it was “Behold the Lord saith to Israel.” But now, it’s all flipped over, but now – it’s Gentiles, verse 6 again.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body, (the Body of Christ) and partakers of his promise in Christ (Not by works, not by a baptism, not by a tongues, but–) by (What?) the gospel.” Well, I guess that’s the place to stop, isn’t it, Sharon?
Go to The Gospel of Salvation in I Corinthians chapter 15. I’ve said it over and over. I am just amazed. I can’t understand it, why you hardly ever hear or see people use this definition of the Gospel. It’s the plainest in all of Scripture. I can read tract after tract after tract and they don’t use it. I can read church bulletins and on the back page they’ll say “How to be saved.” They never use it. Why? I can’t comprehend it, but here it is. I share it every chance I get.
When we were in Greece, I was just looking at the travel log last night, and I shared with Jim, I had a chance to share the Gospel with two of the female guides we had. They were secular. They had no religious background. The one girl actually started crying. She said, “Why are you sharing this with me?” I said, “Because I don’t want you to go to a lost eternity.” That’s all. It isn’t any notches in my gun that I’ve won a Turkish girl, but I said I want to keep you from an eternal doom. I shared this Gospel. All right, here it is, I Corinthians 15 starting at verse 1.
I Corinthians 15:1
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, (Now this is Paul speaking.) which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;” That’s why he could call them brethren. Now, these were pagan Gentiles not too far back, but he’s calling them brethren. Why? Because they’re believers of this Gospel, verse 2. Now, you can’t get it any plainer than this.
I Corinthians 15:2
“By which also you are (What?) saved, (Is that a biblical word? It is all the way through – salvation, being saved. All right, this Gospel saves.) By which also you are saved if you keep in memory (or understand) what I have preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.” You have to know what you believe. You have to take it by faith. Now, here comes the Gospel. This is the heart of the matter.
I Corinthians 15:3& 4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (In other words, on the road to Damascus and then later on in his three years in the desert–) how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:” That’s what we must believe for our salvation. That’s Paul’s Gospel.
And then some write once in a while, “Well, you make too much of Paul.” Why? Because I lift up Paul’s Gospel? Like Paul said in one place, “I didn’t die for you.” Of course not! But he lifts up that crucified, buried, and risen Savior, over and over. You can’t read much of Paul without seeing a reference to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
All right, back to Ephesians once again. Our hour is just about gone, isn’t it? Back to Ephesians where we just were, chapter 3. I’m still on the concept that on this side of the cross, but especially after the revelation of the mysteries to the Apostle Paul, the Gentile comes full flower into the opportunity for eternal salvation with no strings attached. And again, when the vast majority of Gentile-dom comes before the Great White Throne, will they have an excuse? No. God hasn’t withheld salvation from the Gentile world ever since the Apostle Paul. But are they rejecting it just as much? Sure they are! It’s no different.
My, I made a point of it I think in my seminar in Minnesota last week. Do you realize that all through Scripture it’s only a small percentage that God keeps for Himself? In Isaiah chapter 1, in the midst of Israel, the Covenant People, Isaiah says, “It’s only a very small remnant of righteous.” And poor old Elijah thought he was the only one. But God said, “No, Elijah, I’ve got 7,000.” You’ve heard me say it a hundred times. 7,000 on the surface sounds like a good bunch of people, but what was it out of seven million? One tenth of one percent. One out of a thousand, that’s all.
Then I put the frosting on the cake, if I can use that expression, when Jesus came along and He said, “Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leadeth to (What?) destruction. And narrow is the way and straight is the gate that leadeth to life, but few go in thereat.”
Listen, that’s a fact of Scripture. The multitudes are missing it. And it’s not God’s fault, because this Gospel is so simple. It’s so free. It’s so available. But they’ll do everything but preach it. Unbelievable! All right, now back to Ephesians verse 8 again.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,…” Now, when they say Paul is arrogant and puffed up, that’s not what this verse shows. He didn’t claim to be the greatest, although he was. He claimed to be the least.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9. And to make all men see (including the Jew) what is the fellowship of the mystery, (Or the secret. And here it is again. How long has it been kept secret?) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
God never reveled this back in Genesis or through any of the rest of the Old Testament. It was absolutely kept secret. That’s why Peter, James, and John didn’t understand it, and if they did, then John 20 is a lie. Because in John 20 it says that John as yet understood not that Christ should be buried. Well, if it was all the way back in the Old Testament, why didn’t he know it? Well, it wasn’t. The whole thing was kept secret until it was revealed to this apostle.
All right, so again, I guess we’ve only got a few seconds left, verse 10, “To the intent (or to the final purpose) that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places (not Satan’s principalities and powers) might be known by the church (Which of course is the Body of Christ according to Paul. That all these things might be known by the Body of Christ.) the manifold wisdom of God,”