Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 76
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 30
Genesis – Revelation (The Mysteries)
For those of you joining us on television again, we just thank you for everything. We appreciate the fact that many of you are learning how to study on your own. Nothing thrills us more than when you tell us that you’re sharing it with others.
I’ve always said, you know why most believers do not share their faith? They’re unsure of their wisdom. So rather than get caught and embarrassed, they say nothing. But once we get people grounded in the Word—hey, when these cults come to your door, are they ever lacking for words? Never! Boy, they’ve got their verses down pat. Well, once you get an understanding of the Word, and—like I said in the last half hour—you get an opportunity to share it, then you’re ready. That’s basically why we keep teaching. It is to prepare people to share their faith with those that they have opportunity.
Okay, back to Ephesians chapter 3. We’re still going to deal with the mysteries all afternoon as we’ve got them here on the board. Now we’re going to hit number 2—the Mystery of Christ. Christ a secret? Well, you’d be surprised. We’ll just take a good in-depth look at it. Ephesians chapter 3, now of course the verses we really want are verses 3 and 4. But let’s start at verse 1.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (Whom?) you Gentiles,…” Gentiles! See, now didn’t I rehearse that again the last few programs? We’ve got to constantly remember—how did Paul end up being the Apostle of the Gentiles? Well, you remember back in Matthew chapter 10, the Lord had just chosen the Twelve, and He gave them marching orders. And what were they?
“Go not into the way of a Gentile, and into the city of Samaritans, enter ye not.” Why? “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
So, the Twelve were later on called the Apostles of Israel. Now, when Israel kept rejecting and rejecting and rejecting, and they epitomized it when they killed Stephen, who are we introduced to? The next player – Saul of Tarsus! Remember, he held the clothes of those that stoned Stephen. Now when you get into Chapter 9 remember, God is dealing with Ananias who’s going to be the go-between. And what does he tell Ananias?
“I’m going to send this man (Saul of Tarsus) far hence unto the Gentiles.”
Now, did you see the difference in the language? Jesus told the Twelve go NOT to the Gentiles, go to Israel. To this Apostle He says you’re going TO the Gentiles, and of course Israel as well. See the big difference. I mean a big difference.
And again, most of Christendom can’t get it. That’s one of the number one arguments, if I get any, in the mail, “Where do you get this business of a Gospel for the Jew and a Gospel for Gentiles?” Well, right there. How in the world, if Jesus sent the Twelve out into the Tribes of Israel, could they preach faith in His death, burial, and resurrection? It hadn’t happened yet. Nobody had any idea He was going to die. So they certainly had a different message.
But now to the Gentile world, this man becomes the one and only true Apostle of the Gentiles. Now, of course, we know that following him came Barnabas and Silas, Timothy, Titus, and some of those who were naturally called apostles as well, but are never called The Apostle of the Gentiles as this one is. Now verse 2:
“If (What kind of a word is that? Well, there’s a possibility you may not have. But–) If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me to you-ward:” Now those of you who have been with me for years and years, you know what that means.
Just like God gave Moses the Dispensation of Law, and Moses took it down from the mountain to Israel; to this Apostle, and I think on the same mountain, He now gives the Dispensation of the Grace of God—and He doesn’t qualify just one group over the another, but He says to take it to the Gentile world and Israel as well.
Two totally different programs. The Twelve Apostles were to Israel. This Apostle is to the Gentiles. Now verse 3, here comes our word.
“How that by revelation he (God) made known unto me the mystery; (The secret. That’s why I’ve got it up here with all the others.) (as I wrote before in few words, 4. Whereby, when ye read, (That is his epistles.) ye may understand my knowledge (And knowledge brings what? Wisdom. So you can just about put it all together. Those words all fit—that you can have knowledge and wisdom and understanding–) in the mystery of Christ.)”
The secret things of Christ that were never understood until revealed to this Apostle—in plain language. Now of course, a lot of things were in veiled language back here in the Old Testament and the four gospels, but did they understand it? No, they didn’t know what it was all about. In fact, I guess this is a good time to do it. Let’s go to I Peter before we go any further. I Peter chapter 1 starting at verse 1, so that you’ll know who Peter is addressing. You know that’s our first rule of thumb. Always determine who’s writing and who is he writing to? Well, Peter an Apostle of Israel was one of the Twelve. And he’s writing to Jews.
I Peter 1:1
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, (And put in the word writing without doing any violence to the Scripture, because that’s what he’s doing. He’s writing–) to the strangers scattered throughoutPontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” Well, who are the strangers scattered? They were Jews who had been chased out of Israel and out of Jerusalem by Saul’s persecution and other things as well. They were scattered throughout that end of the Roman Empire. Now, just to see who he’s addressing. He’s writing to Jews. Now look down at verse 9, these Jews were:
I Peter 1:9-10a
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10. Of which salvation the prophets (Who? The Old Testament writers–) have inquired and searched diligently,…” What’s the other word for inquired? They were asking, if not others, then for themselves. They were searching the Scriptures diligently. And these same prophets–
I Peter 1:10b-11a
“…who prophesied (or foretold—things in the future) of the grace that should come unto you: (out in the future sometime) 11. Searching what, (the Scriptures, the Old Testament as much as they had) or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify,…”
Now remember, the Holy Spirit has always been the same Spirit. God the Son has always been the same person of the Godhead, only now in the New Testament we refer to Him as Jesus and Jesus Christ. But He was the same person of the Godhead that the prophets were dealing with.
I Peter 1:11
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them (That is that Holy Spirit.) did signify, when it testified beforehand (before it ever happened) the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
Now you see what that said? What were the prophets talking about? The suffering. There had to be a sacrifice for sin beyond the animal sacrifices. But it was in such veiled language that God didn’t expect them to figure it out, and they didn’t. But for our benefit, now we can go back to Isaiah 53. Let’s go back there. I haven’t done it in a long time. I’ve got a lot of Jewish listeners, so maybe this is just for their benefit. I didn’t intend to do this. This was not in my thinking at all when I left home this morning. But this is what we have to do.
These Old Testament prophets looked at these verses. They knew there was something here, but they couldn’t figure it out. So, they just kept searching and searching. But it wasn’t time for them to understand. So God didn’t reveal it. All right, look at it now, verse 1.
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2. For he (Now here we come. We’re talking about the Messiah now, the Son of God, the Christ.) shall grow up before him as a tender planet, as a root out of a dry ground:…”
Now, what’s that a reference to? Bethlehem. Who would ever expect a coming King to be born in a stable situation down in the little, lowly town of Bethlehem? So it’s just like a little piece of grass coming up out on the desert, insignificant and almost unknown.
“…as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; (In other words, He wasn’t born there with a great halo over His head and all the aspects of a King. No. He was in a lowly manger.) and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” He wasn’t a great, fantastic, handsome individual that they were drawn to because of His physical attributes. No. Now verse 3, here comes the cross.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; for he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” What does that mean? They didn’t know who He was. Well, they should have. He gave them three years of proof, but they couldn’t believe it. Now verse 4.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: (What does that mean? He was the sacrifice—not only for the whole Nation of Israel, but for the whole human race.) yet we did esteem him stricken, (beaten and misused by the Romans) smitten of God, and afflicted.” Of course, that was the work of the cross—where all the sin of the world was laid on that sinless One.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, (Sin. He became the Supreme Sacrifice.) he was bruised for our iniquities: (He went through it all for the sins first of Israel, of course, but then for the whole human race.) the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes (That is the stripes of the Roman whips.) we are healed.”
Now that’s not talking about physical healing. That’s talking about the spiritual. We’re dealing with the salvation aspect of that work of the cross. Now verse 6—this is Israel.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;…” In other words, they just couldn’t come together and recognize who this Messiah, born in Bethlehem, growing up in Nazareth, and now performing miracles for the last three years. They just couldn’t figure out who He was. So, now reading verse 6 to the end.
“…and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7. He was oppressed, (This is all a reference to that work of the cross.) and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb (or quiet), so he openeth not his mouth.” Now as we read this, of course we can understand. It’s after the fact.
But can you see how much the Jews of antiquity could get out of this? There was no putting two and two together here. But yet after the fact they should be able to see it. And that’s usually the vehicle that does bring a Jew to faith. They can then see that, yes, this all took place. Absolutely it did! But for those back there at that time, no, they could not figure it out.
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off (He was put to death.) out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” Now remember, in Old Testament economy who were God’s ‘My people’? Israel. Who is Isaiah writing to? Israel.
But on the other hand, God didn’t expect them to understand who this was before the fact. And that’s why even the followers of Jesus, as it was nearing the time for the cross, didn’t understand that He was going to be going the way of the cross.
All right, now then, back to I Peter. I’m not through there yet and verse 11 again.
I Peter 1:11a
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ,…” Back there in Isaiah 53 the Holy Spirit was already laying the seeds of this coming work of the cross. But God didn’t expect the Jews of that time to understand it, even though they tried. Now verse 12 and then we’ll move on.
I Peter 1:12
“Unto whom it was revealed, (That is unto these writers of the Old Testament prophecies.) that not unto themselves, but unto us (Peter is now writing from his point in time. Now, after the cross had been accomplished and everyone should understand who He was and why He died the death that He did.) but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them who have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
Well, now that was a reference, of course, to Pentecost. All right, now while we’re back here at Peter, anyway; we’re going to jump over to chapter 3. I always use this when my accusers say I’m making too much of Paul. And all I say is, “Well, haven’t you ever read II Peter 3:15 and 16?” Well, then that shuts them up, because here is the very answer to that accusation. II Peter chapter 3:15 and 16 come to my defense.
If someone says, “I won’t listen to that guy, he makes too much of Paul.” Well, you be ready. If you think he makes too much of Paul, then Peter did worse. They will never take anything like that and blame Peter, if that’s the one they think they’re following. But look what Peter says, now, at the end of his life, just shortly before he is martyred.
II Peter 3:15a
“Account that the longsuffering (the patience) of our Lord is salvation; (God is not willing that any should perish. Now look at it.) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given him…” What wisdom is he talking about? These secrets that have been revealed. This whole body of truth that was never understood before, that comes from the pen of this hated Apostle. So Peter has to even tell his Jewish people that, look, you go to Paul’s epistles, because our program is falling away.
And indeed it was. The Jewish program was falling through the cracks. And by the time Peter meets his martyr’s death, nothing is left. The Temple would be gone in a couple of years. The priesthood would be gone. No more sacrifices. No more Temple worship. So, what have they got left? Paul’s Gospel. So you go to Paul.
II Peter 3:15b-16a
“…according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16. As also in all his epistles, (Romans through Philemon) speaking in them of these things; (pertaining to Salvation) in which (that is Paul’s epistles) are some things hard to be understood,…”
Now most of you have heard this a hundred times. But for some of you out there this is the first time. Paul’s epistles, in Peter’s thinking at the end of his life, were still hard for Peter to understand. Now you’ve got to remember, what was Peter? A religious Jew under the Law.
And I always point that out when I teach Acts chapter 10. My, when that sheet came down with all those unclean animals and God said, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” Even into the face of God, what did Peter say? “No way! I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Well, why did he say that? He was a law-keeping Jew.
And against all good Jewish sense he goes. There were heel prints in the sand from Joppa to Caesarea. And when he gets to the door, what does he tell Cornelius? “Cornelius, even you as a pagan Gentile know this much; it’s an unlawful thing for me a Jew to keep company with a person of another nation.”
You see that? That was contrary to the Jewish makeup. They didn’t have any marching orders to go the Gentile world. That was Paul’s prerogative. But yet Peter says here that all of Paul’s epistles are for even the Jewish people, not just the Gentiles now—such as a pagan Gentile can be saved without becoming a proselyte of Judaism. That was unheard of and hard for a Jew to comprehend.
Even when God saved those Gentiles in the house of Cornelius before Peter even finished preaching and the evidence of it was made known? Those six Jews who went up to Cornelius’ house with Peter—what was their reaction? What’s the word? Astonished! They were astonished. Gentiles saved without becoming a proselyte? You get that? And that just shows the vast distinction from the time of Christ’s earthly ministry until the Apostle Paul starts going to the Gentile world.
II Peter 3:16b
“…in all of his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they who are unlearned (I’m afraid that’s most of Christendom.) and unstable wrest (Or twist, and they twist and they twist.) as they do also the other scriptures, ( Now that statement right there maintains that if all the rest of the Bible is Scripture, so are Paul’s epistles. And then they ridicule it, and they hate it?) unto their own (What?) destruction.” The Book says it, I didn’t.
All right, now let’s go back to Ephesians chapter 3 verse 4.
“Whereby, when ye read, (That is these Pauline Epistles.) ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery (or the secret things) of Christ.” Oh, wait a minute, Paul. After all the Old Testament and after His three years of earthly ministry, there are things that were kept secret? How could it? Well, let me just give you one example that I think is the most graphic.
Turn over to Colossians chapter 1, another portion many of you have heard me teach more than once. But, oh, if this isn’t a revelation of this Jesus of Nazareth like no other portion in Scripture, I don’t know what is. Colossians chapter 1 and we have to start at verse 12 so that we establish who we are talking about. And as we read this and as I comment on it, just keep asking yourself—is this revealed anyplace else in Scripture? Does Genesis 1:1 say anything like this? Now you all know what Genesis 1:1 says. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Period. But now look how the details are laid out in front of us.
“Giving thanks (the end of His prayer) unto the Father, who hath made us meet (and prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (See, we’ve covered that in the last half hour.) 13. Who (speaking of God the Father) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” Now that goes back to what we taught a year or two ago—that the Body of Christ is in the Kingdom of God.
“In whom (The Son in the verse ahead. So, in the Son–) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Past, present and future. Now here it comes. Here is what I call a revelation of a mystery that only comes from the pen of this Apostle.) 15. Who (God the Son) is the image (or the visible appearance) of (What God?) the invisible God,…”
Now you’ve got to remember that when you go back into the Old Testament, God was the invisible three-person God. Even though Israel only recognized one God, yet we know that the three were already mentioned and so forth. For example, the Spirit moved upon the face of the deep in Genesis 1. But to understand that one person of that Godhead did what Paul now gives Christ credit for doing? Huh uh, you can’t find it anywhere.
Jesus Himself never made any descriptive account of how He created everything. He certainly let it be known that He was in control of the elements. He could get up on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a raging storm and how much did He have to do? Spoke the Words “peace be still.” The wind died down, the sea got calm, and the Twelve said what? “What manner of man is this that even the wind obeys His voice?” Well, why did the wind obey Him? We’ll come back to this in the next half hour. Because He’s the God of creation, that’s why.