Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 76
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 27
Genesis – Revelation (Dispensational View)
Okay, it is good to see everybody back again. We’re going to keep right on going. We’ve got so much to cover, and of course it’d be great if the Lord came before we finished today. I’m ready, so I wouldn’t mind a bit.
We’ll pick up where we left off on Paul’s revelation of what we call the Dispensation of the Grace of God. It is something totally different from what God was doing with Israel. That is that He would now offer salvation to the whole human race without a Temple, without a set of rules and regulations. Grace is simply a matter of believing the work of the cross as the basis of our salvation—placing your faith in His death, burial, and resurrection.
And it’s working, because the girls in the office hear it everyday. How many people are finally seeing it for the first time, and it just thrills us beyond your imagination. All right, chapter 3 of Ephesians, we’ll pick up where we left off, but we’ll go back to verse 1 as a refresher.
“For this cause (because of the first two chapters) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Paul is in prison in Rome, remember, and he’s there because of the gospel of Jesus Christ that he’s been taking out to the Gentiles.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” Well, we covered that in the last half hour. It’s obvious that we pick up all of these doctrines of Paul in his epistles. You can find them nowhere else, and we’re going be looking at them this half hour. One of our brothers has been kind enough to put them on the board for me.
“How that by revelation (from the ascended Lord in Heaven) he made known unto me the mystery;…” Now there the word is singular, so it envelopes all the mysteries that become part of this Dispensation of the Grace of God. All right, we’ll just run over them quickly.
Here we start with eight distinct mysteries that Paul reveals in various places throughout his letters. We’re going to look at them one by one, but let’s just go over them quickly. Number one, right back there in Ephesians chapter 1, we have the Mystery of His will. In other words, the will of God concerning mankind.
We’re going see the Mystery of Christ in our next verse in Ephesians 3. We’re going to see the Mystery of the Body of Christ in Colossians 1. We’re going to see the Mystery of God in Colossians 2 and the Mystery of Godliness in I Timothy. The Mystery of Israel’s Blinding, which we talked about in the first half hour this afternoon—it was a mystery, a secret. We’re going to talk about the Mystery of the Rapture.
And that’s exactly what Paul calls it in the very first verse that he begins in I Corinthians 15 verse 51, where he says: “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all die, but we all shall be changed.” Well, it’s a mystery.
And then the final one, the eighth one is the Mystery of Iniquity that he speaks of in II Thessalonians—when he makes the only reference in all his epistles to Old Testament prophecy and that concerns the Mystery of Iniquity.
So, we’re going be looking at all these mysteries. If you put them all together in a circle, then you could call them singularly The Mystery—how all of this composite work of God was poured out to this apostle, and by whom we have received it. They become, then, our dispensational directions or instructions or however you want call it. All right, verse 4:
“Whereby, when ye read, (In other words, we read his letters of Romans through Philemon.) ye may understand my knowledge in (What?) the mystery of Christ.” Now, I hope I can do this right. What word triggers knowledge? Wisdom!! If you’ve got wisdom, you’re going to practice what? Knowledge!
Now go with me to a verse that we look at so often. I use it when people accuse me of making too much of the Apostle Paul. Keep your hand in Ephesians. Now remember what words I’m talking about—wisdom and knowledge—how that it is all part of this revelation of these truths that were totally kept secret until it was given to this apostle. All right II Peter chapter 3 verses 15 and 16.
II Peter 3:15-16
“And account (or know) that the longsuffering (patience) of our Lord is salvation;…”
God is not willing that any should be lost, you know that. Now reading on.
II Peter 3:15
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even (Now watch this carefully.) as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom (and knowledge) given unto him hath written unto you;” Well, where did he get it? From the ascended Lord. And who is recognizing the fact? Peter.
Peter is telling his Jewish readers of that epistle that since Judaism is now going through the cracks—God knows, as he inspired Peter to write, that the Temple will be gone in just another 2, 3, or 4 years. The priests will be gone. So, what’s left for the Jew? Paul’s Gospel and that’s why he’s telling them this—in view of what’s out in front now. It isn’t going to be the Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom that was just out in front of these Jewish believers. But now it’s going to be a period of time called the Dispensation of the Grace of God. And if you’re going to cash in on that, Peter says, you’ll go back to Paul’s writings; because that’s the only place you’ll find it.
When I talk to people on the phone, you know what I always ask them? Why didn’t Peter say go back to John’s gospel? That’s what most people tell you today. Well, if you’re looking for salvation, go read John’s gospel. Huh uh, Peter didn’t do it. And I won’t either. I never tell anybody go read John. I tell everybody, you go read Romans through Philemon, because that’s where it’s at. I want you to see that that’s what the Scripture says. That’s not just my idea. Peter says, you go to Paul because of the wisdom that’s been given unto him and he has written it unto you. And then verse 16:
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles,…” I think he’s referring to Hebrews. Lot of people won’t agree with that and that’s fine. I don’t mind.
But I think when he says up here that he has already written unto you, he was referring to the Book of Hebrews. Because that’s where Paul is appealing to the Jew who is contemplating his message, but they still have one foot over the fence in Judaism. And the word that Paul uses all through Hebrews is better. Yes, Judaism was good in its day and time, but this is so much better. Yes, the Law was good, but Grace is better. And all the way through the Book of Hebrews—just look for it. You got that word better, better, better. All right, so Peter understands that, and he says, you go to Paul but not just Hebrews. Verse 16:
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (pertaining to salvation) in which are some things hard to (in his epistles) be understood,…” You’ve all heard this one before, and it’s hard to comprehend. But I can get an idea why Peter said this, because he was so steeped in legalism himself, and God didn’t really expect him to embrace all this.
I think Peter was kept separate providentially. But then Peter includes all these other false teachers that are unlearned and unstable down in this verse, and what do they do with Paul’s epistles? They twist them all out of shape, so that they lose all their meaning. And they do it with the other Scriptures, and what’s their end result? Their destruction! Now that’s tough language.
Okay, back to Ephesians we continue on with what Paul calls the Dispensation of the Grace of God—which is really the revelation of all these mysteries. And when you put them in a composite, it’s The Mystery, something that has never been revealed. Now again, just look at them. They are all from Paul’s epistles, and not one of these premises can you find anywhere else in Scripture. Try it. You won’t find it. And that’s why it’s called a mystery. It was kept secret since the age began and revealed only to this apostle.
In fact, if I remember right, the last moment of our last taping, come back with me. I’m pretty sure we were in Romans chapter 16. Jerry, maybe you remember. Was it? Yeah. Romans 16, lets go back there a minute. Now I’ve got to keep hammering away and hammering away and hammering away, because little-by-little you’re going see it. Some of you may see it a lot faster than others. But I’ve got to remember that I’ve got that TV audience out there, and fortunately I forget about them. Do you know that?
“Now to him (Remember, this is all Holy Spirit inspired. Paul didn’t sit there in some conclave all by himself debating, how can I put this? What words should I use? No, it just flowed like a river. And he says,) now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, (And what’s Paul’s gospel? Faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.) and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,…”
The Mystery—Paul’s Gospel is going to fit hand-in-glove with every one of these. All except the very last one, which is the mystery of iniquity. Which, of course, is the other side of the coin. But all of this is part of Paul’s revelations.
“…which was kept secret (How long?) since the ages began.” Where does that begin? With Adam? See, it has never been revealed before. Oh, maybe in a latent form. Yes, all the ground work was being laid all the way up through the Old Testament for the work of the cross. But to reveal it to mankind as a means of justification and redemption and forgiveness and all these good things—no, it is not it back there. The only places you’ll find it are in Paul’s epistles.
All right so now come back to Ephesians chapter 3, again, to this mystery. Paul’s knowledge of the mystery of Christ, which—like he says here in verse 5, just like in Romans 16:
“Which in other ages (Or dispensations, or periods of time, however you want to put it.) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” Now be careful, it wasn’t revealed to the Twelve. So he’s not talking about the prophets and the apostles of Israel. He’s talking about the men who became apostles with him—Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, and some of these other men who had the gifted ability to proclaim the message.
You’ve got to remember, how many years has this Gospel of Grace been going to the Gentile world without benefit of one page of Paul’s epistles? How long? Well, about 15 years. He began his ministry about A.D. 40. I don’t think he wrote Thessalonians until about A.D. 54. That’s 14 years. So for about 14 years these early little congregations had no benefit of anything written. So, what did they depend on? Gifted men. And that was the gift of prophecy.
Now, let me show you that—I Corinthians chapter 14 verse 1. Paul is writing to the Corinthian church and he says:
I Corinthians 14:1
“Follow after charity, (love) and desire spiritual gifts, but rather (or the most important) that ye may prophesy.” Now the word prophesy here in the Greek does not mean to tell the future like Isaiah did, but it meant to speak forth.
Well, if it hadn’t been for gifted men, Christianity would have died almost immediately, because Paul couldn’t do it all alone. After he established a little congregation of believers up there, somebody had to carry it on. Well, who did it? Gifted men. Now once the Scriptures became a completed thing, and Paul’s epistles are now available for all, then that gift died away. It was no longer necessary to that extent. Always understand that. That’s why I love history. I mean, you’ve got to understand how these things came about before it makes sense. Now back to Ephesians chapter 3, again. That it was revealed to not only Paul, but his fellow apostles and prophets by, again, the Holy Spirit. Now verse 6:
“That the Gentiles (See, a totally different approach than when He was dealing with Israel.) should be fellowheirs,…” WOW! Did you see that? Was Israel ever promised anything like that? No.
Back up with me to Romans. I don’t know how many of you folks in here watch the daily program, but I think we’ve been in Romans lately. Romans chapter 8, because you see, too many times we read these words and it doesn’t mean anything. Gentiles coming in as fellow heirs with the God of Israel? Unbelievable! But that’s where they are, and that’s where we are. This is what made the Jews so envious. And, of course, that’s what God intended it to do. He said in Romans 11 “that He might make them jealous.” Here we were as Gentiles reaping blessings that they could have had, but they rejected.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, (the Holy Spirit) they are the sons (I think a better word is children.) of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage (That’s a small “s,” so it’s that spirit of our nature.) again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) of adoption,…” Of placing us, like the Father with a business would bring his 14 year old son. Remember, I’ve explained that over and over. That’s adoption. It’s to be brought in beside the Father with full responsibility.
And the Middle East is good at that. They know how to train those kids. I’ve given the illustration more than once how Iris found that out first-hand. She would deal with this little 14 year old and the old man was sitting over there in the corner just letting him have at it. Then I asked him “You can let that kid do that?” And he says, “He’s never lost a dime yet.” Why? Because he had him well-tutored before he came into that position.
Well, that’s where we are in the Body of Christ. You see, it’s not heaven or hell, it’s a position. All right, read on.
“…but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Respect to our position.) 16. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Not gods, but we are children of God. Now verse 17, here it comes.) 17. And if children, then (What?) heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;…” That one verse, I don’t think many people believe that. I just don’t think that most Christians believe that.
A joint-heir with Jesus Christ the Creator of the universe. Well, what’s a joint-heir? Come on, tell me. What’s a joint-heir? What’s His is mine! What’s mine is His! That’s it. What a position. No wonder the Jews were jealous. All they’re going to get is an earthly kingdom. We’re gonna be joint-heirs with Christ Himself. Not gods. Don’t ever get that idea. We never become gods. But my goodness, we’ve become joint-heirs with Christ. All right? Read on.
“…joint heirs with Christ; if so be we suffer with him, we may be also glorified together.” By virtue of that position. And we gain that position not with works, but by our faith in that finished work of the cross. My, I don’t see how you can get it any better than that. All right, come back to Ephesians chapter 3. Our time is going fast again. Start at verse 6, just to read into verse 7.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, (Of which, remember, Christ is the head.) and partakers of his promise in Christ by (faith in) the gospel. 7. Whereof (This gospel and what it can do for lost humanity. Paul said–) I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”
Now, to show you the impact of that word minister, come back again to Romans chapter 15. So you see what an important word it really is when Paul says, that I am a minister of this Gospel of the Grace of God. In Romans 15 verse 8—a verse that I used several months back every time I had a class. Haven’t used it lately.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a (What?) minister (same word) of the circumcision (the nation of Israel) for the truth of God, (But as a minister to Israel, what was His roll?) to confirm (fulfill) the promises made unto the fathers:” In other words, all the covenant promises were His to fulfill by Him, but Israel didn’t buy it.
All right, now the Apostle Paul has that same kind of authority. Not like Christ over Israel, but he is still given that place of preeminence as the Apostle of the Gentiles by virtue of being the minister of this Age of Grace. Now back to Ephesians 3 and verse 8.
“Unto me, (unto this one man) who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,…” That unmerited favor. Paul didn’t deserve it, and neither do we. Paul didn’t work for it. He didn’t go to school for eight years so he could get a sheepskin that would now make him available. Huh uh, it was all by God’s Grace.
“…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” What does that mean? My, what this man has been permitted to feed to us is beyond human understanding. We just take what little we grasp by faith. But it is so unsearchable, beloved. We’ll never understand it until we get there.
In fact, that’s getting to be one of my favorite answers anymore. You know, they call me with these questions, and for a lot of people it’s a point of controversy. You know what I say? Listen, if it doesn’t affect our eternal destiny, if it doesn’t affect our Christian walk, then forget it.
We’ll find out when we get there. I think that’s a good answer. A lot of these things we can’t answer. Why argue about them? They’re not going to affect your eternal destiny. They have nothing to do with the plan of salvation. If it doesn’t tell you to go out and live like the world or something like that, if it still maintains our Christian walk; hey, what difference does it make?
Now, I can give you one example. Genesis chapter 6 is a big chapter of controversy—where it says “there were giants in the earth in those days.” Now, you know, there are two lines of theological thought. I’ve got a chart at home with great men, famous men, on each side of the coin. Over here are men who say that these were fallen angels who had actually had relationships with female women and they had giant children.
Over on the other side are those that teach like I always have, and I’m beginning to rethink it. Maybe I’m wrong. That it was a breakdown between the godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain. That’s always been my take. But listen, what difference does it make? If I win the argument, so what? It’s not going to make any difference.
So with a lot of these things now, that’s the way I’m starting to answer people. I say, look, if it doesn’t affect your salvation, if it doesn’t affect your Christian testimony; hey, we’ll find out when we get there. Then we’ll get full knowledge, and if the Lord wants us to know. I think it’s a good way to look at a lot of these things. All right, let’s go on a little bit yet in Ephesians, and then the half hour is gone again. Now verse 9. After contemplating the unsearchable riches of Christ—unfathomable, we will never plum the depths. We will never reach the height of them, but now verse 9. This was Paul’s goal as a human being, as an instrument in God’s hands.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,…” What do these seven premises do for you and me as believers in our fellowship with one another? Why it just brings us together like family. We are one in Christ. All right, the fellowship of the mystery and, again, where did it come from?
“…which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,…” Now listen, that’s not there just to fill the page. That’s what it means. These truths were hid in the mind of God!
Remember, I always go back to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our children.” All right, that’s the concept all through Scripture. God can keep things secret as long as He wants to, and He’ll reveal it in His own good time.
All right, all the rest of Scripture never makes one mention of these mysteries, not one except the iniquity. So, they are all Pauline revelations, and you and I can just embrace them. And if you’re the only one in the whole family that believes it, hey, you are blessed. You are the blessed one, because you can see it, but most of Christendom does not buy it. They just can not believe it.