Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 72
THE BIG PICTURE SALVATION & GOOD WORKS – 2
My, it’s good to see everybody. We’ll go right into program number two. You can turn with me to Romans chapter 5 verse 1, and we’re going to continue for a few moments yet on this glorious Gospel of the Grace of God, and how that it’s by faith plus nothing in what Christ has done on our behalf.
Those of you joining us on television, we’re just an informal Bible study. I don’t try to grind an ax with anyone. We just want folk to see what the Book says. Look at it with an open eye. You know, I always have to be a little bit aware of clichés, like—don’t empty your brain and then not be aware of what replaces it. I don’t want you to do that, but on the other hand open your mind to carefully search the Scriptures. We’ve had I don’t know how many people write that they prayed, definitively, “Lord, just open this Book so that I can understand it.” And then along comes my teaching and there it is. It’s plain as day. I mean it’s really not that difficult.
So, those of you out in television, if you will join us, we will read a few verses here in Romans chapter 5 which will carry on that same theme.
“Therefore being justified by faith, (plus nothing) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:…” In other words, as soon as, especially in Paul’s ministry, those pagans believed the Gospel and came out of that paganism, what did they face? Immediately it was persecution!
And I’m always so amazed that they stayed with it. Because not only were they persecuted by their fellow pagan Gentiles, they were persecuted by the Roman government, and they were persecuted by the Orthodox Jews—who, of course, hated the name of Jesus Christ. And yet they stayed with it. That’s where Paul was commending them.
All right, I want to get down to at least verse 8, and then we’ll continue our thoughts for just a moment on how this glorious work of the cross is all we need for salvation. All right then verse 4:
“…knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4. And patience, experience; and experience, (works) hope: 5. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God (There’s that term again. It’s the love of God.) is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given unto us. 6. For when we were yet without strength, (While we were yet, as we saw at the end of the last program, while we were sinners. We had fallen short of the glory of God. So–) in due time Christ died for (What kind of people?) the ungodly.” He didn’t die for the good people. He died for the worst of sinners. And then verse 7:
“For scarcely for a righteous man would one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” All right, now that’s the kind of language that you do not find anywhere but in the writings of the Apostle Paul.
All right, let’s go to I Corinthians. And that’s going to be our subject matter for at least the first half of this program – a continuation of the Gospel of the Grace of God and that when a sinner believes it, immediately the Holy Spirit places him into the Body of Christ. And that’s the only membership that counts for eternity. Are you a member of the Body of Christ? You can be a member of umpteen other denominations and that won’t cut it unless you’re a member of the Body of Christ. That’s the only thing that counts for eternity.
All right, I Corinthians chapter 1, oh, my goodness, I guess verse 17 is a good place to start in this particular chapter, because again, we want to emphasize that work of the cross. Verse 17—now remember who Paul is writing to. He is writing to Gentile believers down there in the wicked city of Corinth. And he says:
I Corinthians 1:17-18a
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;…” The lost world around us, they think we’re nuts. You might as well be honest. They think we’re weird to believe that that horrible work of the cross is all we need for eternity? But you see – that’s what the Book says.
I Corinthians 1:18
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” The same power that he referred to in Romans chapter 1 and that is given to those who believe. All right, then for the sake of time, I’ll skip a verse or two here. Come down to verse 22.
I Corinthians 1:22a
“For the Jews require a sign,..” Now, unless you’re a Bible student that just doesn’t mean much. But if you go all the way back to Israel’s early days, God is going to bring them out of Egypt, and He’s going to do it through one man, like He does so often. But how was He going to prove to the Nation of Israel that Moses was God’s man? How? Signs and miracles. So that’s the beginning that we have in Scripture that Israel was always presented with signs and miracles to prove that this was the real thing. That it wasn’t just some slight of hand. It wasn’t something done in a corner. It was the real thing.
All right, now you remember that in Moses’ case, what did God tell him to do? “Throw your rod on the ground.” And what happened? It became a serpent. Then God had Moses pick it up. And it became a rod. Then a little later, to make further proof, he put his hand inside his tunic and pulled it out and what was it? Covered in leprosy. He put his hand back in and takes it out and it became just as clear as it could be. Well, those were signs to prove to Israel that Moses was His man.
All right, now you jump all the way up to Christ’s earthly ministry. Why all the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of signs and wonders and miracles? To prove to Israel who He was. Israel always required a sign. What did the Pharisees tell Jesus face to face? Show us a sign. What was Jesus’ answer? “No sign will be given but the sign of Jonah, for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so must the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” What was that? A sign. All right, so now Paul reminds us as he’s writing to Gentiles that the Jews were always requiring a sign.
I Corinthians 1:22b
“…and the Greeks (the Gentile world) seek after (What?) wisdom:” How many degrees do you have? How many books have you written? How much wisdom have you gained from the university? That’s all the Gentile world could think about. All right, so Paul is using these two as a comparison. Israel always said, show us a sign. The Greeks, especially the intellectuals said, show us your education. Remember Mars Hill? That’s where that took place. All right, so this is what Paul is referring to – the Jews require a sign, but to the Greeks it’s foolishness, because they required wisdom. All right, now in verse 23 Paul said we’re not going to hang on either one of them. We’re not going to claim miracles and signs and wonders. We’re not going to claim to have four or five degrees behind my name. What does the next verse say?
I Corinthians 1:23
“But we preach Christ (What?) crucified, (That’s where it’s at.) unto the Jews (who were looking for signs and wonders, He was–) a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24. But unto them who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, it’s Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
He fulfills both sides of the coin. And that’s where we’re way ahead of the game. We don’t have to look for signs and wonders. We don’t have to look for a multitude of degrees and education. We’ve got them both at salvation. God has poured out His power in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He’s also given us that peace that passeth all understanding, and it’s not foolishness because it is so, so real.
All right now let’s come on up a little bit further to the little book of Galatians chapter 5. And again we’re just stressing how that during this dispensation of the Grace of God it’s without works. You can’t do anything to merit God’s favor. The little Book of Galatians was written because some of the Jewish people from Jerusalem were coming into Paul’s little Gentile congregations and telling them that they couldn’t be saved if they didn’t practice circumcision and keep the commandments. In other words, you had to add works to their saving faith in the cross. So, Paul had to write this little letter of Galatians to refute all of that and to remind his Gentile believers up there in Galatia that it wasn’t by works; it’s by faith and faith alone.
All right, now I’m going to bring you in at chapter 4 verse 30. He had just finished using Ishmael and Isaac as the two opposites in the Old Testament. Ishmael was of the flesh. Isaac was of the promise of the Spirit. Two totally different scenarios. All right, now using those as comparisons, if you remember the story, when Ishmael started taunting little Isaac, what did Sarah demand? Kick them out! Get them out of here. I won’t have that seventeen year old taunting my little five year old. Get rid of them. So, what did God tell them to do? Take them out into the wilderness. Cast them out. All right, now that’s where we pick it up then in chapter 4 verse 29.
“But as then (just like between Ishmael and Isaac) he that was born after the flesh (Ishmael, who was now 17 or 18) persecuted him who was born after the Spirit, (that’s Isaac, now about 5) even so (Paul says) it’s now.” We’ll never get away from the persecution of the unbelieving world. It’s impossible. All right, verse 30:
“Nevertheless what saith the scripture?…” And that’s one of my favorite statements. Don’t go by what I say. Don’t go by what your preacher says. Don’t go by what your denomination says. What does the Scripture say? Look at the multitudes out there that are following gimmicks. They’re following false teachers. They’re falling for it. That would never happen if they would stay in the Book. You’ve got to stay in the Book.
“What saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: (Who represented legalism. Do this, do that, you’ve got to this and then God will do that. No. You cast that out. You kick it out the backdoor as far as you can kick it.) for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. (Now verse 31, here’s the answer to the allegory.) 31. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, (We’re not associated with a works religion.) but of the free.” Now then, verse 1 of chapter 5 and, oh, I love some of these verses!
“Stand fast therefore in the (What?) the liberty…” You don’t have a whole bunch of rules and regulations hanging on you. You’re free of all that. You’ve been set free by the Grace of God. Now, that’s not license. I always have to follow that right up. That doesn’t mean we just go out and do as we please. No. Because as soon as we became a believer who came in? The Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit becomes our gyroscope. He keeps us on a level plane. He keeps us from going out into the things of the flesh. He keeps us from listening to the false teachers. He keeps us on course.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Well, in simple terms, what was the yoke of bondage? The Ten Commandments. The Law. And Peter even admitted it years later that, yes, it was a yoke of bondage that even our fathers couldn’t bear. The best of Israel couldn’t handle it because it was so severe. But, oh, under Grace, we’re set free from all of that. We have nothing but the Spirit of God to direct us and to keep us where God would have us. All right, then verse 2, here comes the meat of the problem.
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (to gain salvation like they were telling them. If you’re going to follow circumcision–) Christ shall profit you (How much?) nothing.” Nothing! Now listen, this is dangerous language. This affects most of Christendom because they’re adding something. It may not be circumcision. But they’re adding something. And when you add something, God says I never knew you, because I’ve done all that’s necessary.
You know, I’ve got a lot of illustrations. You can think of them. Lay awake some night and just think of a good illustration of how someone could say to you, “Have I done all that I’ve done, and that’s not enough?”
I’ve got one I dreamed up one time where I had the mother prepare a fabulous meal for all her family. She labored for two or three days to put this glorious meal on the table for the family. She bought the best of the vegetables and found the best meat, found the best of everything and was never so meticulous in all of her preparations. They sat down and they enjoyed the meal, and then after it was over, one or two of the guys says, “Well, I’ve got to go down to the hamburger joint and get a milkshake!” How do you suppose that mother would feel? After all I’ve done to prepare a meal that should have satisfied them to the end and then they’ve got to go to a greasy-spoon and get something else? Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing with the Gospel? Here God has done it all. It’s perfect! And then we go and do something just as ridiculous. But that’s Christendom tonight. All right, read on.
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, (As part of salvation, because that was the problem in Paul’s day.) that he is a debtor to do (How much?) the whole law.” If you’re going to keep the Law, you’ve got to keep it all! And what man can do that? Nobody. So if you do that–
“Christ has become of no effect unto you, (His work on the cross falls into nothingness if someone tells God it’s not enough.) whosoever of you are justified by the law; (or by any kind of a works religion) ye are fallen from grace.” That doesn’t mean you’re saved and lost. It means that you have never really appropriated the Grace of God.
I’ve only got one or two more and then I want to get on another theme, if at all possible, for the next couple of programs. Ephesians chapter 2, now this is, of course, one of Paul’s prison ministry letters. While he’s in the prison in Rome he writes these glorious letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and so forth, under the duress of the dungeon and of the Romans all around him.
As I pointed out in my class the other night, while he was in prison in Rome was he just sitting there crying his eyes out, why can’t I be reaching somebody? You know what he was doing? He was getting salvation to his Roman guards. I know he did. Because those Roman guards in rotation ended up serving in the palace of the emperor and in the Philippian letter what does Paul say? “Greet the fellow believers in the palace.” Well, how in the world do you suppose they ended up with believers in the palace? Ol’ Paul was always witnessing to the guards that were chained to him. And when they rotated into service in the palace, they did the same thing. So Paul’s ministry expanded even from the dungeon. Are we doing that?
I told my class the other night. I am as bad as any of you. You get up against somebody and we get what? Tongue-tied. Oh, and we should just be able to let it flow. But it’s so hard. But anyway, here we are in Ephesians chapter 2 in his prison letter.
“And you (writing to another congregation of Gentiles) hath he quickened, (or made alive) who were dead (spiritually) in trespasses and sins: 2. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;” We were no better than the rest of them.
“Among whom also we all had our conversation (or manner of living) in times past (before we came into this glorious salvation) in the lusts (the desires) of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4. But God,…” God moved in. And, oh, that’s what thrills us in our letters, over and over and over, day in and day out. How they’ve been in church all of their life, caught our program and in three or four programs, sometimes in one, God opens the Scriptures, and they enter into this life. And they just can’t…they can’t express themselves of what a joy to now have the assurance of salvation without having had to do anything for it but to trust it and believe it.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (He made us alive.) together with Christ, (Why?) (by grace ye are saved;)” We don’t deserve it. All right, now I’m going to jump down to verses 8, 9, and 10.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:…” Not something that you’ve thought, well, I’ve got to go and do this. You know, I think I put this on the program 15 years ago. Iris and I were reading library books when we were first married. Didn’t have television and we weren’t as steeped in the Word as we are now, so we would read a library book once in a while. We read about this one little lad, a 14-year old up here, and his experiences in the mountains of the Ozarks. But this is the one I wanted to tell you.
One day he told his little buddy, you know, Sunday morning I’m going to go up and get baptized because I know that that would make Mom and Daddy so happy. Well, isn’t that most people? Nothing of the work of the Spirit. Nothing of the power of the Gospel. As a kid, he just got the idea: I’m just going to go up and get baptized to make Mom and Daddy happy. Hey, that’s not it.
That’s not it, but it’s by Grace, the Grace of God – unmerited favor. We didn’t deserve it. But Christ suffered and died and shed His blood so that He could extend this kind of salvation.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the (What?) gift of God:” And you don’t work for a gift. You don’t lift a finger for a gift. It comes by the unmerited love of whoever is giving it. And that’s God’s salvation. “…not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
“Not of works, (Boy, that cancels a lot of people, doesn’t it?) lest any man should boast.” Well, you’ve heard me use that in an illustration, haven’t you? Wouldn’t Heaven be awful if everybody got there by working their way? How would you like to meet them on the streets of gold, and they had to stand there and tell you all they did to get there? Once I could handle or maybe twice. But what if I happened to meet him three times in a short period of time, and I had to stand there and listen to all he did to gain Heaven’s portals? It’d be awful. But see, not a one of us is going to be able to do that. Not a one of us is going to be able to say, you know what I did to get here? I did nothing. I just simply believed what God had done on my behalf.
All right, now this is going to get me ready for the next half-hour fortunately. So, “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” but it doesn’t stop there. That’s salvation. But we’re not saved to sit. We are saved to what? Serve! Next verse.
“For we are his workmanship, (As a result of salvation God has made us a new person. God has made us what we are. We’re His. We’re a child of God.) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” It has nothing to do with salvation, but as a result of salvation, now we do things that bring honor and glory to His name. Whatever it is. Just the main routine things of life and you do it for God’s glory, I’m sure God is going to put it to your account as good works.
All right, reading on to the end of the verse, “…which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” That is your daily life of good works. Now that doesn’t mean you’re constantly trying to do something for someone else. It’s just in your daily experience of life in the home, or at work, or whatever the case may be. You are constantly pumping out that which has been put within you to do things that bring honor and glory to the Lord’s name.
All right, now that’s going to introduce me to the next half hour. We’ll look at it just briefly. I Corinthians chapter 3 and we’re going to deal with the good works in the life of the believer. We’re not saved by them, but they’re going to be a result. I Corinthians chapter 3 and this is just an introduction for the next half hour—verse 9.
I Corinthians 3:9a
“For we are (What’s the word?) laborers (We’re not sitting in a recliner. We’re busy.) together with God:…” He’s our partner in this everyday walk of the Christian life. Never forget that. We’re not alone. The Holy Spirit is empowering us, and we have the Word of God to direct us; so that everything we say, think, or do is going to be in that direction. We’re going to bring honor and glory to His name.