Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 72
THE BIG PICTURE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE (CONTINUED …) – 1
I Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25
It’s good to see everybody in this afternoon. For those of you joining us on television, we’re just a simple Bible Study. We don’t hold to any denominational line. We’re just going to teach the Book the way we feel the Spirit leads us to teach it, and evidently it is working. We’re getting response from every imaginable background you can think of, and they all tell me pretty much the same thing. “Les, it isn’t you. It’s the Word.” Especially as we put it on the screen. So, we do thank every one of you out there for your prayers and your letters and for everything that makes this ministry work.
All right, for those of you here in the studio, we’ve already turned to Ephesians chapter 3. We’re going to pick up where we left off in our last four programs. For a quick review now, remember that we’re going to be moving to the place where we can hopefully show beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can rest on a pre-tribulation out-calling of the church, which we call the Rapture.
Now, one of the big arguments that they throw at me is – “Well, the word Rapture isn’t even in the Bible.” And you know what I say? Neither is the word Trinity. Neither is the word Sovereign. But do we use them? All the time, and same way with the word Rapture. It is in the Roman Catholic Vulgate, not that that makes it any more secure, but nevertheless they translated the caught up in I Thessalonians chapter 4 as raptura from which, I guess, the English got the word Rapture. But anyhow, we’re not showing it just from one or two verses. We’re going to use however many programs it takes to show the big picture. And that’s what I’m always referring to, that we have to look at the big picture. How did all these things come about that bring us to a necessity of an out-calling of the Body of Christ before God picks up again His dealing with the Nation of Israel?
As I pointed out then in our last taping, in those first four programs, you cannot recognize this unless you look at the Scriptures dispensationally. Which, of course, a lot of these covenant people despise. They almost hate it. But that’s their problem not mine, because the only viable way to study is to “rightly divide the Scriptures,” not just between Malachi and Matthew, but we divide the Scriptures between the various dispensations when God dealt differently with the human race over different periods of time. That’s the whole idea of dispensational teaching: how did God deal with humanity? I always start out with Adam and Eve in the Garden. It’s the simplest and the easiest dispensation to describe.
He placed them in the Garden, and He gave them a set of directions. Just like a pharmacist puts it on the bottle when you get your prescription, you’ve got a parallel there. A dispensation is like a dispensing of a prescription. Well, what good is a prescription if it doesn’t have directions? And the same way with a dispensation, when God established a dispensation, He gave a set of directions.
Now, coming back to Adam and Eve, again, their set of directions was simple, of that one tree you shall not eat. The rest are yours to enjoy. But of that one tree you shall not eat. That was it. But they couldn’t even follow that! It wasn’t long until Satan hoodwinked them, and they ate of the tree. Well, that ended that dispensation with a judgment, which was the expulsion out of the Garden. And you start up with another dispensational program. It was that way up through human history. God has dealt at different times, under different circumstances with different sets of directions.
All right, now Moses and the Children of Israel came to Mount Sinai, and God put them under the Law. Basically from the Ten Commandments and everything that was associated with it. For 1,500 years, a much longer time than Adam and Eve in the Garden, but for 1,500 years Israel lived and practiced under the Law. And again it was a set of directions.
Well, when they rejected everything that God had promised under that dispensation, which was really the coming of their Messiah to be their King. Instead of recognizing and taking Him and trusting Him as their King, they did what? They crucified Him. They killed Him, and of course that precipitated a judgment which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D 70, and Israel was sent out into a dispersion that took them to every nation under heaven. None excepted.
But that was exactly what prophecy said would happen. But prophecy also said that after they’d been scattered to every nation under heaven, what would God do? He would bring them back, and of course we’ve seen that happen in our lifetime. That’s all a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. But God cannot really enter into a dispensational relationship with Israel again with the church here on earth, because that would be a mix that just wouldn’t fly. So, we’re showing now that after Israel rejected everything, God did something totally different by taking one man, the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus, and told him “I will send you to the Gentiles,” which was exactly opposite of what He told the Twelve.
See, now that’s when people think Scripture contradicts itself. Well, if you don’t understand the change of operations – yes, you could think that’s the case. But when there is a distinct contradiction, it’s not a contradiction; it’s a change in dispensations. It’s a change in program.
So, when Jesus told the Twelve “go not to the Gentiles, but go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and Israel rejected everything and crowned it with the stoning of Stephen, then we’re introduced to the next player on the stage of biblical history – Saul of Tarsus. And then in chapter 9, as we saw last time we were together, Saul was not only transformed and saved as we call it, but he was designated by God Himself from Glory, as the one who would go now to the Gentiles. Just opposite of what Jesus told the Twelve.
If you remember in the last couple of programs, we were following the transition through the Book of Acts where the Apostle Paul is now coming front and center and Peter and the Eleven are sort of slipping off the scene, because God is now changing His modus operandi from dealing with Israel under the Law, and He’s going to be dealing with the Gentile world, as well as some Jews of course, under Grace. It is a whole different set of directions.
All right, so to pick us up where we left off, we’re going to look at Ephesians chapter 3. We’ll start at verse 1, but I want us to zero in on verse 2. It’s one of the verses we’ve got here on the board. All four of these verses use the term “dispensation.” So, I can stand here without apology and tell the world it’s a biblical word. It’s not a coined word. It’s not an invented word. It’s right out of the original Greek. A dispensation is a period of time where God is dealing with the human race under a set of directions—all right, Ephesians 3 verse 1.
“For this cause (a reflection on the first two chapters) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (Whom?) you Gentiles,” Now, what a difference. Everything else, all the way up since Genesis chapter 12, whenever God spoke, who was He speaking primarily to? Israel.
Israel was under the promises. Israel was under the covenants. When Christ came in His earthly ministry, like we’ve already said, He told the Twelve “go not into the way of a Gentile, but go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Everything was directed to the Nation of Israel. Now this apostle directs everything the other direction. He’s always making reference to the Gentiles. And that’s what people have to realize.
You know, once in a while I’ll get a letter, usually from preachers who just totally disagree with me. I just come up with one short stock answer. The only reason you can’t see what I’m doing is you don’t want to. That’s the only reason, because if they wanted to, they could see it.
I’ve got pastors all around the country now that are beginning to see it. I’ve already made mention of that. And why? Because they suddenly realized – hey- if I’m wrong, I want to see it. But if they don’t want to, there is nothing I can do. There is nothing anybody else can do short of God Himself, because they’re not going to see it if they don’t want to. And you know the reason they usually don’t want to? Peer pressure. Just like with our kids.
What’s the worst thing that our teenagers have to face everyday? Peer pressure. The other kids. Well, what’s the worst pressure that preachers have to face? Other preachers. I was with a couple of them down in Florida. They know exactly what I’m talking about. All the rest of the preachers in their community just almost detest them, won’t have anything to do with them, because they don’t like this approach to Scripture. Well, you know, if they want to see it, they’ll see it.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2. If…” Again remember, by the time Paul has written Ephesians, he’s been out there amongst the Gentile world about 24 years, if I’ve got my chronology right.
I think he started about A.D. 40 and this is written about 64, so that’s 24 years that he has been ministering to the Gentile world. Now you want to remember, that was a rather small area compared to now. It was the area around the Mediterranean—Turkey predominately, and Greece and then some in Antioch in Syria. But that was about the extent of the then-known world, so far as the Christian message was concerned.
“If (after 24 years of his ministry – you happen to be among those who) ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God (Now watch these next few words. This dispensation of the grace of God–) which is given (I’m going to put the preposition in only for clarity.) to me to you.” Now, what’s the process? God unveiled this whole body of truth that we call the dispensation of Grace and He did not tell Paul to take it to Israel, He told Paul to take it where? To the Gentile world. And that’s exactly what he did.
Paul had to fight the Jewish element almost all the way, because they were never convinced that the God of Israel would have anything to do with those pagan Gentiles. We were looking at it before taping today. I can’t put my finger on the verse. I’ll have to find it. But you see, when God brought Israel out of Egypt and was preparing them for the Promised Land, what where they to do with all those pagan Gentiles into whose midst they would be going? Now, we don’t like to say it, because it is so much against our biblical culture, now under Christendom, at least. But what were the instructions? Don’t spare a one. Clean the country of them. Don’t intermarry with them. Don’t do business with them. Have nothing to do with the Gentile world around you.
Well you see, that stayed with Israel all the way up through until we get to the Apostle Paul, because even Peter, as we showed in our last taping when God forced the issue for him to go to that Gentile house of Cornelius. Did Peter want to go? Heavens, no! Why? Because he was a good, law-keeping Jew. And you remember the last thing he said when he went across the Cornelius’ threshold? Cornelius, you know having served the Roman army here in Israel all these years, you know it’s an unlawful thing for me, a Jew, to keep company with someone of another nation. Not just Rome. Any Gentile nation. The Jews were to have nothing to do with them.
Well you see, that just carried over into all these elements of taking salvation to the Gentile world. Those Jewish people couldn’t handle the fact that God was going to share Himself with those pagan Gentiles. But, He says, this is what we’re going to do.
All right, now we have to go on into verse 3. With no association with the Twelve whatsoever, now he is being told what to take to the Gentile world so far as the salvation message was concerned. Where did he get it? Verse 3.
“How that by revelation he made known unto me (not the Twelve but to him alone) the mystery;…” Which, we told you last time we were together, is secret things that had never been revealed before.
And you see, this is what most of Christendom can’t get through their head. They just can’t get it through their head that all of these things that are pertinent for us in this Age of Grace were totally unknown. Totally! That’s why Paul refers to it over and over as “things that were kept secret.” They were mysteries. And whenever I get a letter of opposition, I don’t get many, so don’t worry; I’m not complaining a bit. It’s very rare that I get a letter of opposition, but all I have to do is just skim through it. Not one verse, not one reference from the Apostle Paul. Well, where does that letter go? Well, in the round file. If they don’t know enough of Scripture to use nothing out of Paul, then there’s no need for me to respond.
But that’s what they do. They just utterly ignore the Apostle Paul. I’ve made this cry from this pulpit, if you want to call it that, for as long as I’ve been on television. Why in the world are 90% of your Sunday morning sermons any place but Paul? And you all know that.
I shared it with a fellow who kept track in one of the major denominations several years ago in one of my classes. From January until the first of July he kept a log of every Sunday morning sermon text. Not one was from Paul. All but one was from Matthew or John. Some of them were from Mark and Luke, I guess, mostly from Matthew. One was from the Old Testament. Well, that’s typical. That didn’t surprise me one bit, because they will not recognize that to this Apostle were given things that were never even alluded to anywhere else in Scripture. And that’s what makes it so unique, and why it is so hard for people to swallow.
Well, I woke up in the middle of the night, I do that quite often the night before taping, and a verse just hit me. And I’m going to have you look at it, because I think the Lord did it for a reason. Turn back with me to II Timothy chapter 1. This is toward the end of Paul’s prison ministry. II Timothy is written at the end of his life. It won’t be long after this and they’ll be beheading him, but look what he writes. This just says it all when I tell you what I just told you in the last five minutes. Hey, it’s nothing new, and we have to be aware of that. Paul is at the end of his ministry. He’s been out there just simply sacrificing, suffering in the physical like I don’t think any other man ever suffered outside of Christ Himself. And look what he writes.
II Timothy 1:15a
“This thou knowest, that all they that are in Asia…” That would be Turkey. You want to remember that Asia in our New Testament is Asia Minor or the land of Turkey.
Now stop and think a minute. Where was Turkey in Paul’s ministry? Well, almost the very heart of it. If he went north from Antioch, he’d go up to the Seleucian Straights and he could go straight west across the highlands of Turkey. Then he would hit the little cities of Derbe and Lystra and Antioch of Pisidia and all the way on over to the western coast of Turkey on the Aegean Sea where he had the city of Ephesus primarily, and then across to Philippi. But a good portion of his ministry was in what we call the land of Turkey. Now, picture that a minute before we read on. The land of Turkey was where he spent a good portion of his time.
II Timothy 1:15
“This thou knowest, that all they who are in Asia (or Turkey) be turned away from me; (the worst of which was) of whom Phygellus and Hermogenes.” Now stop and think a minute. Were they turning against the man Paul or his message? The message! It wasn’t that they didn’t like Paul the man. But, oh, just like today they couldn’t stand his message.
Now, think a little deeper. That’s what I like to do if I can succeed in teaching; it is getting people to think. All the land of Turkey, after his 24 years of labor, ended up turning against him. Where did Turkey end up spiritually in the last 2,000 years? Nothing. Muslim, if anything and they’re even secular. Oh, that just tells me everything. They rejected Paul’s message. And they went back, probably, to Christ’s earthly ministry and the Twelve, which is not the message in this Age of Grace.
I was reading an article the other day by a Ph.D. Theologian, and all he was stressing was the teachings of Jesus. Now wait a minute. Who was Jesus teaching? Jews under the Law, so not much of His teaching is really that relevant for us today. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with them, but that’s not where heart of the matter is for us today. He was laboring under the Law with the Temple worship tied in with it, and it was all concerning His covenant people. But none of that really becomes pertinent for us today, because between that and now was the what? The cross. I love that old hymn. I’m sure many of you know it. The Cross Makes A Difference. It makes all the difference! And they don’t see that.
All right, so just mull this over. What happened to the land of Turkey when all of the Pauline churches turned against him? They became nothing. I read something else the other night that confirmed what I’ve been telling my classes for 30 some years. You watch Turkey. Everybody is trying to pull them into the European Community, and they’ve been part of NATO, but what has been my stand? They’re going to go with the Muslim world by the time we get to the end. So, what did I read the other night? They’re that close now to fulfilling that prophetic part of it. That they are going to hook up with the Muslim world.
A few years ago they even made a treaty with Israel that made you wonder how in the world could Turkey make a treaty like that with the Jews when the rest of the Middle East is so against them? But now they’ve just about thrown that out, already, and they’re getting more belligerent toward the little Nation of Israel every day. All of these things are coming together now right in front of our very eyes.
But don’t forget this, that the Apostle Paul at the close of his life could write to Timothy that all they in Asia, all those little congregations that he had established, had turned, not against him, I don’t think the person, but against his message – the Gospel of the Grace of God—that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. The message we must believe in our heart for us in this Age of Grace today.
All right, now in the few minutes we have left, it’s almost gone already. Let’s go back to Ephesians chapter 3 for a little longer. Because I’m going to spend the next whatever it takes to review what we taught verse-by-verse ten years ago. That’s about when we were in Romans—about 1996-97. That’s ten years ago, already.
I don’t think it would hurt us a bit to go back and review some of these things that are pertinent to Paul’s message for the Gentile world. All right, you’re back in Ephesians chapter 3, how the dispensation of the grace of God was given to him to give it to the Gentile world. And in that process of handing out the directions for this dispensation, here’s how he got it—verse 3.
“How that by revelation (a revealing of things that had been kept under wraps) he (God) made known unto me the mystery; (the things kept secret) (as I wrote before in few words, (Now remember, who he’s writing to? Gentiles, not just the Ephesians, this is a circulated letter, so it’s just as relevant for us as it was for them in the day he wrote it.) 4. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery (or the secret things) of Christ)”
Now that immediately reminds me of a verse, go back with me to Galatians. Just a few pages back to Galatians chapter 2 when we’re at that Jerusalem counsel. I use these verses over and over. I’m always afraid I’m doing it too much. I don’t like to run anything into the ground, but there is so much here that the world of Christendom totally refuses to consider. Galatians chapter 2 and they’re at that big Jerusalem counsel in about A.D. 51, which actually took place about 6 or 7 years before he wrote the letter to the Galatians, if you want to go by chronology. But look what happened.
He’s meeting with the Twelve up there at the Jerusalem church. Jump in at verse 6. I’ll be coming back to this again, so bear with me, because these things are so pertinent to our understanding of our dispensational stand on Paul’s revelation of the mysteries. All right, verse 6 of Galatians 2.
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (He’s referring to the Twelve.) (whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) (Just because they can say, well, I’m one of the Twelve. Well, that didn’t cut any mustard with Paul.) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference (Now there’s a key statement. When they compared their theological notes in conference) they (the Twelve) added nothing to me:” In other words, they didn’t have anything new that they could share with this apostle. Nothing. But on the other hand, next verse, see?
“But contrariwise, when they (the Twelve) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (The Gentile world that we’re just looking at in Ephesians 3. When they recognized that this Gospel–) of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was committed unto Peter; 8. (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9. And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me,…”
So, Paul was given grace by the ascended Lord in Glory. I was looking for another word, when he said, oh, I know where it is. I’m sorry. I had another verse in mind, and we’ve still got time. Real quickly, turn to II Peter chapter 3. It still came from the same person, but it was in a different place. I was thinking it was back there in Galatians. But look at what Peter writes. We’ve looked at these verses hundreds of times. II Peter chapter 3 verse 15, and all this to make the point that these revelations, these revealing of mysteries from the Ascended Lord to Paul, were what made the difference.
II Peter 3:15a
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him…” What do you suppose Peter is referring to in that word wisdom? The revelation of these mysteries! An understanding of things of that had been kept totally secret. You couldn’t go back to the Old Testament and say here it is. You couldn’t go back to Christ’s earthly ministry and say here it is. No. Those were things that had been kept totally secret until revealed to this Apostle.