228 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 3 - Part 4 - Book 19 - Paul's Journeys to the Gentiles

228: Paul’s Journeys to the Gentiles – Lesson 3 Part 4 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 19

PAUL’S JOURNEYS TO THE GENTILES

I never lift a verse out of the text and just comment on one verse. If I can’t leave everything together then I’ll leave it alone. And there are some places where I don’t have all the answers but I’m not going to twist them and try to figure out what I think they should mean. When I teach I leave everything exactly where it is. I had a letter the other day that asked the question, “Why are there so many contradictions?” There are none! There are no contradictions in Scripture. Now there is a change in operations, or programs. What God told Israel under the Law is a contradiction of what He tells us under Grace. That is why it is so important to understand where the Church is in the Scripture. Also remember that Law and Grace can never mix. Let’s go to Chapter 16. In the last lesson Paul and Silas have been called from Asia to Europe. It is the turning point of God going to the Gentile world. By virtue of this vision that Paul was not to go back to Bithynia, but to go to Macedonia. And they immediately did. So here they are at Troas, and they are going to go across and stop at Philippi, then over to Thessalonica, down to Berea, down to Athens and over to Corinth.

Acts 16:11-13

“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city, abiding certain days. And on the sabbath (here is one of the occasions where Paul goes back to his Jewish background) we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.”

No doubt Philippi did not have a full blown synagogue. The Roman authority probably had given them permission to meet in a park along the river where they could have their devotions. Evidently there weren’t any men. It was just a small group of women, and so Paul and Silas approach them.

Acts 16:14a

“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God (like many people today who worship God, here is another person who worshipped God, was devoted, and sincere, but she was lost), heard us; whose heart the Lord opened,….”

As you pray for me and the ministry, I hope you will pray that as I teach, the Lord will open hearts as directed by the Holy Spirit. What I say means nothing. But if the Spirit opens hearts of people who need to see the light, then that is what it is all about. In the last week we have seen two people out of cult background that the Lord opened their hearts and now they can see they were totally wrong. I showed from the Scriptures the real truth of Salvation. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit, and that’s where your prayers come in. The Lord opens hearts.

Acts 16:14b

“…that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

A few lessons ago I said God didn’t leave The Word in the hands of Angels, but in the hands of mankind. He has almost always used one human instrument to lead another human to a knowledge of Salvation. That’s the way God works. That is why I want you to learn to be skilled in the Scriptures so when opportunity arises to share this with someone, you won’t stumble, but simply say this is what The Word says. Get a few verses and be able to show someone what The Word really says. In verse 15 she became a believer:

Acts 16:15

“And when she was baptized, and her household (in that transition period, baptism in the early days of Paul is still part and parcel each time he has a convert. We’ll see this again with the Philippian jailer, but I maintain as Paul goes into deeper and fuller revelations, the importance of water baptism drops away. Many won’t agree with me but that’s their prerogative. Here, he was still practicing water baptism the moment she believed), she besought us, saying, `If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there.’ And she constrained us.'”

Now again we have the opposition of a demonically inspired young girl. Later, Paul will demand that the demon come out of her. But let’s be careful. This is still in the Book of Acts and none of Paul’s letters have been written yet. I think Paul’s earliest letter was written about 58 A.D. So all these things are taking place before he writes his epistles. Always keep that in mind when you are studying Acts. But as he has revelations and is instructed to write his epistles which become The Word of God, then you no longer see so much of this, as you do here in his early ministry. Just check it out. So now they are in Philippi, and have cast the demon out of this young girl. Paul never gives us instructions to cast out demons in any of his epistles. So aside from leading someone to Salvation, I personally think that we are to leave exorcism alone. I’ve seen people who got too involved with this and it totally destroyed their ministry. So just take that for what it is worth. Now verse 19:

Acts 16:19-22

“And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place unto the rulers (now remember this is a Gentile city under Roman authority). And brought them to the magistrates, saying, `These men being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans:’ And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.”

Acts 16:23,24

“And when they had laid many stripes upon them (this is just one of several that Paul suffered throughout his ministry. And each stripe probably had eight or nine leather tongs with bits of metal on the ends, so when they got through with Paul and Silas they were like hamburger), they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely:” Now the jailer being what he is, if he is going to keep them safely, he doesn’t leave them up on ground floor, but rather down in the dungeon.

“Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

I’m sure it was wet, and cold; their backs like hamburger; no antibiotics and no soothing salve. Yet in the next verse we find Paul and Silas, in spite of their circumstances, are able to sing. That’s hard to comprehend, but that’s the Grace of God. I remember years ago, I asked a pastor, “What if real persecution should come, can I take it?” He said, “Don’t worry about it, today you probably can’t, but when the time comes the Grace of God will be sufficient.” I have never forgotten that. That must be the case, because how else did millions of Christians suffer the rack, burning at the stake, and they didn’t scream and carry on. I think God’s Grace so flooded these two men that they didn’t feel their wounds, or pain, and were able to sing praises to God. Now verse 25:

Acts 16:25,26

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”

God can even control the effect of an earthquake, doing nothing more than opening the doors of the prison and loosening everyone’s bands. Now that’s the God that we serve. And He hasn’t changed. Now God isn’t doing this kind of miracle today, I grant you, but He could if He wanted to. Here the prisoners didn’t lose their lives; they could have fled, but they didn’t. Amazing isn’t it. They all stayed right there in prison with the doors open.

Acts 16:27-29

“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.” Under Roman law, if you lose a prisoner, then you are also a dead duck anyway, so you might as well hasten the operation. Now verse 28:

“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, `Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,”

Now reflect a moment. This jailer was a citizen of Philippi. Where do you suppose he was that afternoon before he came on duty as the jailer? I personally think he witnessed the scourging of Paul and Silas. I think he heard them preach up there in the street. And so I don’t think it was totally new to the jailer when Paul and Silas approached him with what’s going on. Now read on:

Acts 16:30

“And brought them out, and said, `Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'”

I’m always emphasizing the pronoun `I’ here. For now let’s turn to Acts Chapter 2. This is what I call comparing Scripture with Scripture. I know a lot of the theologians like to take the Greek and twist it all out of shape to make it mean what they want it to mean. They can do it, but I refuse to do so. I’m just going to stay with what the translators did. I feel the King James translators were over two hundred years closer to the Greek than our scholars of today are. Granted, they didn’t have computers, but nevertheless I still trust the King James translators. Here in Acts 2:37 it says (Peter has been addressing only Jews through out the whole chapter):

Acts 2:37

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, `Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Notice the pronoun `we.’ That’s the Nation of Israel on trial asking, “What must we do?” Chapter 16 is Gentile ground, and we are dealing with an individual, so he says, “What must I do?” Do you see the difference? Now we are dealing with individual Gentiles. God does not save people in lumps. He saves us one at a time. That’s why we stress the personal aspect of Salvation. I made a statement that I think some people had a hard time swallowing. “When we believers get into eternity, I think we will have our own personal time with the Lord.” I don’t know how, but I think every believer is going to be an individual in God’s sight. Remember, eternity is a set of circumstances beyond our comprehension. We are victims of time. But in eternity there is no such thing as time. So things are possible in eternity that we can’t begin to understand, so I think that, just as sure as we were saved individually, we will be able to converse with Him individually. In Acts Chapter 16, the Philippian jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved.”

Acts 16:31

“And they said, `Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.'”

What was at the heart of Paul’s message? The Gospel, that Christ died for your sins and He arose from the dead. So when Paul merely says to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was he implying? That He died for you and rose again. (Ref. I Corinthians 1:23) Let’s make another comparison with Acts Chapter 2. The question is, “What must we do?” The answer is, “Repent and be baptized every one of you.” Do you see that? But Paul doesn’t say a word about repentance and baptism. He says, “Believe.” That’s not a contradiction, that’s a change in programs. We are on Gentile ground and under Grace. In Acts 2 they are still under the Law and Kingdom program. Nobody has said a word about stopping Temple worship, or that you are no longer under Law. But now this is all Paul knows. “You’re not under Law, but rather Grace.” So to the Philippian jailer who is a Gentile, Paul can say“Believe.” Believe everything has been accomplished that needs to be done.

Acts 16:33,34

“And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway, And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

He wasn’t just believing that God existed. He was not just believing everything that Paul had stated concerning God dealing with mankind. And that He was the eternal Creator God (we have to believe that He is, and we have to believe that He’s the one we have to deal with). There is only one way of approach and that’s through the work of the Cross. So this Philippian jailer had a full understanding of that. That’s why I’m sure he must have heard Paul and Silas the afternoon before they were thrown into prison. Now they want to get rid of Paul and send him out of town and what does Paul say? No way. You can’t do that, if you beat me openly as a Roman then you have to deal with me as a Roman. And that shook them up as they didn’t know that Paul was a Roman citizen.

Acts 16:38-40

“And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans (they had gone contrary to Roman law by punishing these men without due process), And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

In Chapter 17, Paul goes down the coast line of present day Greece. Then through Thessalonica, and from there to Berea. After being driven out of Thessalonica by the Jews who wouldn’t let them preach in the synagogue or elsewhere, they come to Berea.

Acts 17:10-14

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews (as they always did in these early days). These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures. I love for people to check me out. I don’t want someone to say, “Well, that’s what Les said.” I want them to search the scriptures because that’s what they did here.

“Therefore many of them believed (they had searched the scriptures); also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

We’ve got to stop at Athens at verse 15, which was the very seat of culture in those days. Iris and I were at Mars Hill one evening and I could just see the little old Apostle Paul as he stood there, and looked out over that pagan city. On that path up to the Acropolis were all of their idols of gods and goddesses. I can just imagine that Paul’s heart sank, that the whole city was steeped in idolatry. To have this seat of learning, of intellectual people following false religions. How can people who are intelligent, people who can read, follow some of this stuff? How can they believe such things.

Acts 17:15-18

“And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him, And some said, `What will this babbler say?’ other some, `He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods:’ because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” Paul never preached anything else. He never separated them.

Acts 17:19-21

“And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, `May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears; we would know therefore what these things mean.’ (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.). The world is the same today, ready for anything that tickles their ears or sounds good. It was the same way here. They were philosophers, they were intellectual, but they were pagan.

Acts 17:22-24

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, `Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions (systems of worship), I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD (they had an inkling that there was somebody out there they didn’t know about. Paul tells them He’s the One that he’s revealing to them). Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;'”

Acts 17:27

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”

227 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 3 - Part 3 - Book 19 - Acts 17

227: Acts 17 – Lesson 3 Part 3 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 19

ACTS 17

It thrills us to see folks studying the Word of God, like the Berean Christians in Acts who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul and Barnabas said was so. Now the final verses in Acts 13:

Acts 13:50-52

“But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coast (or their borders). But they (Paul and Barnabas) shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples (these Gentile disciples) were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”

Now in Chapter 14 they are going to stop at the little city of Iconium which is in the central part of Asia Minor. Verse 2:

Acts 14:2-6

“But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city, was divided: and part held with the Jews (that Paul and Barnabas were false teachers), and part with the apostles (and became followers of Paul and Barnabas). And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were aware of it, and fled into Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:” Well they go on up to the next little town which is Lystra and much the same thing happened. And now come down to verse 19:

Acts 14:19

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.” Turn to II Corinthians Chapter 12. Because the timing is identical, I like to think that while Paul was unconscious, after being stoned and dragged out for dead, that God gave him an even greater experience: Paul got a glimpse of glory. I envy him, but God never let him share it.

II Corinthians 12:1,2

“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord [and of course he shares them in various ways in his epistles]. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago [that’s identical to the time when he was in Derbe and Lystra in Acts Chapter 14], (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.”

Scripture has three areas called heaven. One is the atmosphere of the birds of the heavens. Another is the area of the stars and planets, and the third Heaven is the abode of God. That’s the three heavens of Scripture. So Paul now is caught up into the very abode of God. The Heaven of the heavens. Now verse 3:

II Corinthians 12:3-6

“And I knew such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth), How that he [Paul is speaking of himself] was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter [he heard the language of Heaven]. Of such an one will I glory [Paul would have liked to share it, but God wouldn’t permit it]: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory [or brag], I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth; but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.”

Paul often put himself down. Because of his appearance, he had nothing to brag about physically, and he knew that. Contemptible and the least, was the way Paul wanted to be remembered.

II Corinthians 12:7,8

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh (in other words, God allowed a human suffering on the body of Paul to keep him humble, lest he get proud and feel exalted), the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice (three times), that it might depart from me.”

But did it? No. God didn’t heal him of whatever it was. I’ve got an idea what it was (a repulsive disease; a painful disease) and yet he took it with him all the days of his life. Because God said in verse 9:

II Corinthians 12:9

“And he said unto me, `My grace is sufficient for thee (and we know it was. It carried Paul all the way through his ministry. Shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, cold and nakedness. God’s Grace was always sufficient. And that’s what you and I as believers must rest on. Regardless of what God sees fit to take us through, we know He’s going to take us through it, and He’ll be with us when we reach the other side); for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When Paul said, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” this is why God chose never to use the great men of the world. He didn’t use wealth, and kings, but He always used the common man. He used the people who had nothing in their flesh to offer. In Genesis, Moses, the second man in Egypt, bless his heart, thought he was going to be God’s man. He had all the power and pomp and circumstance of Pharaoh behind him. He thought he could lead the children of Israel out of bondage. But God couldn’t use him in that position. So God sent him to the back side of the desert to herd sheep for forty years. Then as a lowly shepherd (probably kind of smelly), now God could say, “Moses I’m going to send you back to Egypt.” That’s the way God works. He can’t use the pomp and circumstance of this world.

Let’s briefly go through Chapter 15. It is in this chapter that Paul and Barnabas are called to Jerusalem, after their missionary endeavors throughout Asia Minor, and they are back at Antioch. More Gentiles are coming into that congregation and the news of it reaches Jerusalem. Peter, James, and John and the rest of them, just can’t comprehend that God is doing this with Gentiles. So in Chapter 15 we have what we call “The counsel at Jerusalem.” This took place in 51 A.D. twenty-some years after Pentecost. And these Jewish believers are still not ready to accept Gentiles being saved by Paul’s Gospel aside from keeping the Law of Moses. But Peter came to Paul’s defense, as he remembered that at the house of Cornelius, God indeed saved Gentiles. The multitude of Jews quieted down and gave Paul and Barnabas audience.

Acts 15:13,14

“And after they had held their peace (the Jewish believers), James (the moderator, the half brother of Jesus) answered, saying, `Men and brethren, hearken unto me:'”

“Simeon (or Peter) hath declared how God at the first (now when was that? Well just the chapter after Saul’s conversion. They were the first Gentiles that were approached) did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”

The Church, the Body of Christ is now going to be called out of that mass of Gentiles. When Peter preached to the Nation of Israel, how many had to respond? Everyone. But when Paul goes to the Gentiles the Scripture says to save “some.” A calling out of a sampling of the masses of the Gentile people. He is going to call out a people for His Name. Now verse 15, you see the order?

Acts 15:15,16

“And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,” This comes from the Book of Amos.

“After this (well after what? The calling out of the Church, the calling out a people for His Name in verse 14. After that has been accomplished, and as Paul teaches, it has to be lifted off the earth. Then God can start working with the Nation of Israel once again. Do you see how plain that is?) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David (the Temple), which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.”

This is all in Israel’s future. God’s going to finish what He started with Israel. The Jew in Palestine is the beginning of all this. They are coming from every nation under Heaven and God is getting the little favored nation ready for the appearance of first, the Anti-Christ, and then, seven years later, the true Christ.

Acts 15:17,18

“That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Know unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”

When the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem gave an agreement that they would recognize Gentiles could be saved by Paul’s Gospel, aside from Judaism in adhering to the Law of Moses, they agreed to it provided that these Gentile believers were taught as in verse 20.:

Acts 15:20

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, (that doesn’t mean all that much to us today, because we don’t have rank idolatry around us, and people making sacrifices to pagan gods. But in Paul’s day everywhere they went that’s all it was. All these great temples to the pagan gods, were blatant idolatry. And these sheep and goats that these pagan offered would end up in the marketplace. So the Gentile believers were not to partake of those that had been offered) and from fornication (immorality in all of its form),and from things strangled, and from blood.” And that goes back to Genesis Chapter 9, when Noah and his three sons came off the ark. Up until that time nothing was ever killed to be eaten, they ate only that which grew naturally. But after the flood, God said they could eat the flesh of animals provided that it was bled. And God’s Law still holds. I’ve read in hunting and fishing magazines over and over, that if you want your game to be good eating the first requirement is to bleed them. It’s Biblical. God has mandated that man not partake of the blood of anything.

Acts 15:21

“For Moses of old time hath in every city (throughout the Roman Empire) them that preach him (the Law of Moses), being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. “

These Gentile believers could not just fly in the face of all that, because it would be destroying their testimony. It’s no different today. You know what the biggest detriment to true Christianity is today? Careless Christians. No wonder the world says they are a bunch of hypocrites. You can’t hide behind hypocrites, like my wife always says: “You’ve got to be smaller than they are.” And that’s so true. But nevertheless the world is watching us. Now verse 28:

Acts 15:28

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:” Then Paul repeats it in verse 29. Now verse 30:

Acts 15:30,31

“So when they were dismissed (with permission to go and preach that Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles), they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.” That they didn’t have to keep the Jewish Law. They were free from all of that.

Acts 15:32-35

“And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still (God knew that Paul and Barnabas were going to have a falling out, so He caused Silas not to go back to Jerusalem with the rest of them). Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” Now from verse 36 to 41 we have the falling out between Paul and Barnabas, because of John Mark. Barnabas slips off the scene and Silas takes his place with Paul, and in Chapter 16 we are going to come all the way over to verse 6.

Acts 16:6

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia (they have covered the whole central part of Asia Minor, now they are in Troas. Paul has plans to go back through Bithynia and I imagine back through Asia and then to Antioch where they had started from. But look what happens here at Troas. This is on the shore of the Aegean Sea), and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,” Now isn’t that something? God had something else in mind.

Acts 16:7-11

“After they were come to Mysia, they assayed (or had planned) to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia (that’s northern Greece), and prayed him, saying, `Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’ And after he had seen the vision, immediately we (Luke is with them) endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;”

Now what’s happened? God had long before ordained that this Gospel of Grace should not go east of the Orient, but to the west and Europe. And I’ve told my classes for twenty-five years now, that in your prayer time, you thank God that He sent Paul over to Europe rather than back to Asia. Because when the Gospel went to Europe, it went to our forefathers. And it was the Gospel that set everything moving in Europe. All the reformations and the industrial revolutions, all the technology that came out of Europe and later America, here’s where it all began. Christianity is what set everything free. Christianity is what gave mankind the freedom to pursue his own ideas. Christianity is what set the female gender free. That was the beginning of true feminism when Christianity put women on the same level in God’s eyes as man. And so over and over thank the Lord for this vision that said, “Go to Macedonia.”

226 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 3 - Part 2 - Book 19 - Acts 15

226: Acts 15 – Lesson 3 Part 2 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 19

ACTS 15

Now back to our study in the Book of Acts. We always enjoy teaching The Book, and trust you will get interested in the Word of God and study it, and as I have said so often before, you don’t have to agree with me on everything. There’s room for disagreement, except when it comes to the plan of Salvation. That is set in concrete, and no one can change that. I’ll never comprise it, not one bit. We are saved by the finished work of Cross plus nothing. And that of course is appropriated by faith. That’s by believing in Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection for Salvation, and nothing else. Ref: I Corinthians 15: 1-4.

Let’s just jump right in where we left off in our last lesson, and that would be in Acts Chapter 13. Paul and Barnabas have left Antioch of Syria for their first missionary journey, they have touched the island of Cyprus, and have come to what I call the underbelly of Asia Minor (what today we call Turkey). In Paul’s day Ephesus was out on the west coast, as was Sardis, and then inland was Antioch of Pisidia where they have gone first. And then Derbe, and Lystra. Up on the coast is Troas, and along the Black Sea we will see the land of Bithynia where Paul had intended to go, and then go on back down through Asia. But instead, the Holy Spirit led him across to Greece. These will be some of the cities that will be coming up in the Book of Acts. They will go across to Troas, to Philippi, to Thessalonica, down to Berea, down to Athens, over to Corinth, and then he will be going back to Antioch where they started from.

On another trip Paul will come back and retrace all of this. In his prison experience he’s going to be leaving Caesarea in Israel, and again touch Cyprus. They will have the storm at sea, and are tossed to and fro and finally end up on the little island of Malta. Then he goes up the coast and finally will end up at Rome in the closing part of the Book of Acts. So this is the area of the world where Paul spent most of his time, and these are the Churches that are addressed in his letters. This is where most of them are in the Book of Revelation, those seven Churches in Chapters 1-3. So that will give you a little glimpse of how the geography lays in that Mediterranean area.

So now we find them at Antioch of Pisidia in the center of Asia Minor. Paul, like Stephen in Chapter 7, is going to rehearse the whole history of the Jewish nation beginning with Abraham. I’m not going to take it verse by verse, but there is a little gem of basic doctrine in this chapter that I want you to see that should solve a lot of confusion. What does the Scripture mean by the “Only Begotten Son of God?” We use the term so often, but I think most Church members and most Christians think of the Only Begotten Son of God as His birth at Bethlehem. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is not where Christ became the Only Begotten Son of God. Not at all. But here we have the explanation of what it really referred to. In Acts 13 Paul has come all the way through Christ’s earthly ministry, His Crucifixion and then in verse 30:

Acts 13:30-32

“But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers.”

That takes us back to Abraham in Genesis 12. Those promises were repeated to Isaac, and Jacob and the Twelve sons of Jacob. And then the prophets beginning with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, all spoke of His first coming.

Acts 13:33

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that (now watch this) he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, `Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee.'”

Now let’s go back and look at Psalm Chapter 2, because a lot of people just don’t comprehend that God the Son was so vividly portrayed back here in the Old Testament. This is the little Psalm that we use as the benchmark of prophecy, or, as I always refer to it, as the outline of the Old Testament program. This chapter foretold His rejection, and his death by Jew and Gentile together.

Psalms 2:1-7

“WHY do the heathen (Gentiles) rage, and the people (Jews) imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers (of Israel) take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying `Let us break their bands (the Godhead) asunder and cast their cords from us (we won’t have You rule over us).’ He (God) that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them (the Jew and Gentile Nations) in derision. Then (notice these are all time words) shall he speak unto them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure (tribulation). Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion (thousand-year Kingdom rule still future). Now here is what Paul is quoting. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, `Thou art my Son (Christ): this day have I begotten thee.'”

Now lock that in. “This day have I begotten thee.” That’s what God the Father says. Now let’s come back to Acts and get the definition. What’s He talking about? Well He’s not talking about Bethlehem, He’s talking about something far different.

Acts 13:34

“And as concerning that (now you have to read carefully or you will miss it. Concerning what? That thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee) he raised him up from the dead(do you see that?), now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.” To put the cap on that turn to Romans Chapter 1. There’s no doubt the Scriptural account of the only begotten Son of God is the Resurrection! When He arose from the dead He became the only begotten Son of God in power, as Paul says here in Romans.

Romans 1:1-4

“PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures), Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Mary was of the seed of David, as was Joseph); And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

That is as plain as I can make it. It was the power of God that raised Him from the dead, that declares Him to be the only begotten Son of God. This is why the Resurrection stands at the heart of the Gospel. I don’t know how many people have approached me over the last twenty-five years who have a pastor, or Sunday School teacher, that believes that Christ died on the Cross and is the Saviour of the world, but have trouble believing in His Resurrection. I always say I have a problem understanding that they are even saved. Because if you haven’t got the power of the Resurrection as the basis of your Salvation, then you have none. Because it all rests on that! That God raised Him from the dead!

When we were in the Gospels, I pointed out when Peter was confronted at the time of Christ’s arrest, what did he do? He cursed and turned away, and denied that he ever knew Christ. He ran scared and so did the others. But after the Resurrection he wasn’t afraid of Rome, the Jews or anybody. Why? Because he had now witnessed the power of the Resurrection. And that is the bedrock of our Gospel. It’s not enough to believe that Jesus was a good man. It’s not enough to believe that He died by Crucifixion. We must take it to the whole fruition of the Gospel and that is: “He was raised from the dead.” Victorious over sin, hell, death, and everything. As we get into the Book of Romans in the next few weeks, we will see that this is what Paul trumpets to the world. That we are what we are because not only did Christ die, but He arose victorious over our enemy, and was able to break the bonds and shackles of sin and death. Let’s continue with our study in Acts.

Acts 13:43,44

“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the (what)grace of God (not in the Law of Moses which had been the custom). And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”

Now remember we are still in that transitional phase, so Paul will do things we just can’t comprehend. He is still bending to the Jew, but realizing that he is the apostle to the Gentile. So when you see these things that seem more Jewish, just recognize that Paul is going to the Jew first, during the first part of his ministry. Then when Israel continues to reject, he’ll finally just turn almost completely to the Gentiles. So when you run into these things that seem still part of Peter’s preaching and teaching, and Paul seems in line with it, it is just because he’s still dealing transitionally with Judaism. But it’s coming out of that into what we would call the Age of Grace.

Acts 13:45

“But when the Jews saw the multitudes (of Gentiles), they were filled with (what?) envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.”

Now let’s go back to the Book of Romans and this time in Chapter 11. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after Christianity began to spread throughout the Roman Empire, that instead of causing the Jew to envy, it caused the Jew to hate them. Why? Because Christianity began to hate the Jew. Because they were accusing them of being The Christ killer. And to get rid of the Jew would be doing God a favor. If you were a Jew, how would you feel? The same way. They began to hate anything connected with Christianity. But in the early days, as Paul and Barnabas are witnessing to these Gentiles and they are being saved, they still have a love for the Jews and the Jews are filled with envy. And that’s what God wanted. Now look at Romans 11:

Romans 11:7-11

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [those that did believe] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day [see it hasn’t changed; even today they are that way]. And David saith, `Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always[now this is speaking of the Nation of Israel, not the individual Jew].’ I say then, `Have they stumbled that they should fall [that God would kick them out of His sight]? God forbid: but rather through their fall [Israel had every opportunity to have The King and the Kingdom and their Messiah but they rejected it, and through that fall as a result of rejection] salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.'”

And never lose sight of that, Why did God open the windows of Grace to us Gentiles? Because Israel rejected it. And they fell from that place of pre-eminence of being the Covenant favored nation. So Salvation is come to us Gentiles to provoke the Jew to jealousy or envy. So it was working. Now come back to Acts Chapter 13. So as the Gentiles are now hungry for The Word, and Paul and Barnabas are laying out The Word that Christ died for them and rose from the dead for them. The Jews are seeing all this happen among the Gentiles and they become envious. Now verse 46:

Acts 13:46

“Then (after the Jews showed their envy, and are blaspheming) Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, `It was necessary (had to be) that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you,…'”

You know what scares me about our beloved America? In a lot of ways you can make the comparison between Israel (when she was still under God’s leadership; when they were still the Covenant people) and America today. I can’t help but draw that analogy. America has had so much opportunity to have the truth of the Word of God, but what are they doing with it? They are throwing it out, they are rejecting it. People have sent me material from their own denominational headquarters, from some of these very liberal people, and it’s enough to make you vomit. Some of what these people are putting out contains more pornographic language than I’ve ever had in my house. Language that is filthy, and they are promoting it throughout their huge denomination. God’s not going to stand for it. Unless we have a tremendous turning back to the truth of this Book, then we are doomed. I hate to say it but we are doomed. I don’t care how much the planner can work. I don’t care how much the politicians can labor, we are doomed if America does not wake up, because God is not going stand for it. Here again, Paul speaking in verse 46:

Acts 13:46,47

“…but seeing ye put it from you (in unbelief), and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life (now Paul says), lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Just that simple “…we turn to the Gentiles.” Verse 47:

“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, `I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.'”

We looked at all these verses when we came up through the Old Testament, how Israel was to have been a light to the Gentiles. Israel’s Messiah was to have been a Light to Israel, but in turn a Light to the whole world. But they couldn’t have that situation unless they believed, and we know they rejected it. And so now Paul is rehearsing all of this. Now verse 48:

Acts 13:48

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” And people can’t swallow that today!

I was just talking to someone recently where they had heard a sermon just last Lord’s day, that they had to do this and do that and then hope they’re saved. Listen, that’s not what this Book teaches. This Book teaches believe that Christ has done it all. I told a couple over the phone recently to just simply believe that when Christ finished the work of the Cross, and rose victorious over the grave and death, there is nothing more we can do.

We had an interesting question come up and I’m always so thankful for these questions. It ended up in a super evening of discussion. And the question was this: “Is it still necessary to beg the Lord for forgiveness?” No! I had another call from Tennessee, “Do I have to pray the sinner’s prayer to be saved?” “God be merciful to me a sinner.” No! And I know some people won’t like this, but if you still have to beg for mercy and forgiveness, then this Book is a lie. Because this Book says, “That all the mercy of God was poured out on that Cross.” God has already forgiven all human beings of all sin. It was paid for in full, and He doesn’t expect someone to beg to be forgiven. He says you are forgiven – Believe It! The other word He uses in II Corinthians 5 is what? Reconciled. The world has already been reconciled to God. Now after we become believers and when we recognize that we have sin, we need to confess it to Him. I never want anyone to think I am promoting license to sin just because you are forgiven, Never! I don’t think anyone teaches more plainly the separated walk of the believer that God demands.

Turn to the Book of Hebrews Chapter 2. We have to understand that the work of the Cross was enough for every human being from Adam to the end of time. Every sin has been already paid for, and now the only thing that God asks is to believe it.

Hebrews 2:9

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

Now let me tell you something. Do you know what is going to make the eternal doom of the wicked so awful? It’s not the heat of the flames. It’s not the appetites unsatisfied. It’s going to be an eternity of regret. “I didn’t have to be here. This was all paid for and I rejected it. To spend an eternity in torment and constant regret that there was no need to be here, it was all paid for and I walked it underfoot.” There’s nothing worse than regret. This is what the world is doing today, they are walking it underfoot. They are rejecting a pardon. That’s what lost mankind is doing when they reject Salvation. They are rejecting a pardon. Do you know what a pardon is? A pardon is a decree that sets you right back as if you had never broken the Law in the first place. It’s completely wiping the slate clean. And that is what God has done for us.

225 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 3 - Part 1 - Book 19 - Acts 12

225: Acts 12 – Lesson 3 Part 1 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 19

ACTS 12

We get lots of mail, and once in a while I like to share a letter with you from our television audience. This letter comes from Indiana, and part of it says, “We appreciate your teaching and how you can show everything in The Bible fits together. Questions I have had for years have been answered when separating Peter and Paul’s teachings. Oh. how I wish everyone could see this.” And so do I. Because that’s when the Scriptures open up, when you can see how all these things are progressively unfolded. You can’t jumble them all together, but you must keep them completely separated.

This past week we had a couple of phone calls from people who have been in cults for years. One young lady from the Minneapolis area said that she had been raised in a cult. She told me that she had watched the program for three weeks, and the way I used the Scriptures just totally opened her eyes to where she could now see where she has been misled. She went on to say how she appreciated all the references. I’m not here to show you how much I know, but to prove that what I teach is not based on just a verse here and there. I like to use lots of references from Genesis Chapter 1 to Revelation Chapter 22. Everything fits, and if it doesn’t fit then you’re on shaky ground. This Book was written by the Almighty God for the purpose of fitting everything together. It all dovetails so beautifully. If you have questions where something doesn’t fit then something is wrong. Go back and search the Scriptures.

In our last lesson we finished Acts Chapter 11. For a bit of recap, we saw the stoning of Stephen and were introduced to Saul of Tarsus (Acts Chapter 8). In Chapter 9 we had the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. Almost immediately God sent him out into the desert in Arabia, where He revealed to him the doctrines of Grace, over what we think was a three-year period of time. During that time God commissions Peter to go up to the house of Cornelius. I always say I thank God that Acts Chapter 10 follows Acts Chapter 9. Not numerically, but in content. Because this again makes everything fit so beautifully. Had the content in Chapter 10 taken place before Saul’s conversion, then I couldn’t teach the way I do. But it didn’t. Saul was converted in Chapter 9, as the head of that long line of sinners that will be saved by Grace (Ref. I Timothy 1:15,16). In the next chapter, God sends Peter to Cornelius’ Gentile house. Though Peter couldn’t comprehend it, he had to admit that God did save Gentiles without bringing them into contact with Judaism. So the transition out of Judaism proceeds, with God dealing with Israel. Now He’s going to the Gentiles.

Then we saw that many of these Jewish believers who had been chased out of Jerusalem, as a result of Saul’s horrible persecution, got as far as Antioch, close to the Mediterranean Sea in Syria. There God began to generate interest among Gentiles for the first time. You don’t catch that back in the earlier chapters of Acts, that Gentiles were coming and asking about things concerning the God of Israel. But up in Antioch Gentiles had become interested. When the Jewish believers at Jerusalem heard about that, they got shook up, and sent Barnabas to check it out. Then when Barnabas, God’s man at the right time, saw indeed that God was beginning to deal with Gentiles, he went looking for Saul. He didn’t just accidentally run into him, but rather went looking for him, and when he found him he brought him back to Antioch. And then Paul and Barnabas ministered to that Gentile congregation for eighteen months.

In Chapter 12, still in transition, we leave Paul and Barnabas for a while, and come back to Jerusalem and Peter. Most of you are familiar with this chapter. Peter is in prison, and all those Jewish believers are praying for him. If it wasn’t so pitiful, it would almost be funny. Here they are having a prayer meeting in the home of one of the believers for the release of Peter in prison. The angel does open the prison doors and escorts Peter to the street. Peter goes down and stands at the gate where the prayer meeting is being held. When a young lady goes out to see who is knocking, she doesn’t even let him in, but runs back into the house to tell them, “Peter’s at the door!” Did they believe her? No! They had been praying fervently for his release, and when it happens, they couldn’t believe it. We’re no different today. We pray and pray, and most of the time we really don’t believe it’s going to happen. But you had better believe it, because God is a prayer-answering God.

So throughout Chapter 12, God has been dealing with Peter and the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Now to Chapter 13, where again we go back to Paul up in Antioch. With the exception of that little interlude in Acts Chapter 15, we found it to be a parallel to Galatians Chapter 2. From this point on, you won’t see another word concerning Peter. Not a word. Isn’t that amazing! In the first eight chapters, it was all Peter, and nothing of Saul of Tarsus. In Chapter 9 Saul is converted on the road to Damascus, but in Chapter 13 Peter fades off the scene, never to be heard from again, except for that one instance in Chapter 15, which is in 51 A.D. So everything concerns Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. In his early ministry he’s going to go first to the synagogues of the Jews, because Romans 1:16 says by inspiration:

Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” So throughout his early years of ministry, Paul goes to the Jews first. He always starts at the synagogue. When they reject it, he goes to the Gentiles. Now verse 1 of Chapter 13.

Acts 13:1

“NOW there were in the church that was at Antioch (a Gentile Church under Paul’s teaching. Finally, we’re dealing with the Church we are acquainted with. The real New Testament Church, which is the Body of Christ. That consortium of every born-again believer, whether we are Jew or Gentile, we are all placed into the Body of Christ the moment we are saved) certain prophets and teachers (Paul never claims to be the only one, he merely claimed to be the first, the leader [Ref. 1 Timothy 1:15-16] and there were others that followed in his foot steps); as Barnabas, and Simeon that was call Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

Acts 13:2-4

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, `Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them (God is providential here. He is in complete control).’ And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away (that is out into the Gentile world). So they (Paul and Barnabas), being sent forth by the Holy Ghost (this is the work of God), departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”

Always remember that the Church which is His Body has no earthly headquarters. Oh, remember that. Denominations may have their headquarters, but the Body of Christ, the true Church, has no earthly headquarters. It’s in Heaven. Now Judaism, and Israel under the Law had Jerusalem as the headquarters. Everything funneled into and out of Jerusalem concerning the Jew. Never get hung up that there is an earthly headquarters for the Church. Remember way back when I started in Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Do you remember how I tied that together? That all the way through Scripture, we have these two areas in which God works. God’s earthly people, Israel, and God’s heavenly people, the Body of Christ. You can’t mix them. God’s earthly people were predominately under Law. God’s heavenly people are under Grace. And there’s that chasm that keeps them separated. And so, consequently, as Jerusalem was the head of everything concerning the Jew, Heaven is the headquarters of the Church. Not Antioch or Rome or Jerusalem nor any other city that you can name. So they left with the Holy Spirit being the Sender. And they departed unto Seleucia and they sailed to Cyprus, the island. Now verse 5:

Acts 13:5-7

“And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews (He always goes first to the synagogues): and they had also John to their minister (John Mark, the young man who wrote the Gospel of Mark). And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos (at the other end of Cyprus), they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet(and a what?), a Jew, whose name was Barjesus (watch this closely because it’s very prophetic to a certain degree): Which was with the deputy (governor, the political leader, a Roman)of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.”

We see this constantly where Gentiles, by the urging of the Holy Spirit, show an interest in God’s Word. Even this Roman deputy indicates to Paul and Barnabas he wants to converse with them.

Acts 13:8-11a

“But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.” Elymas was probably his right hand man. And he tried to keep Paul and Barnabas from sharing the Gospel with this Sergius Paulus.” Verse 9:

“Then Saul (who also is called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him (that is this Jewish sorcerer), And said, `O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord (now here is the prophetic part)? And now, behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun (not forever but) for a season….'”

This Elymas is a perfect picture of the Nation of Israel as a whole. Because everywhere that Paul went, who were his strongest opposition? The Jews! Some Jews became believers, but for the most part they opposed Paul with their legalism. Let’s compare this with the Book of Romans Chapter 11. Now remember, Elymas wasn’t stricken blind for the rest of his life but only for a season. And the same way for the Nation of Israel. They have been blinded, but it’s not a permanent blindness; it’s temporary, although it’s been 1900 + years. One day the spiritual eyes of Israel are going to be opened.

Romans 11:7

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it (what did every Jew want deep inside? The King, The Messiah, The Redeemer. A few of them recognized Him. That’s what it means here. A few became the election. But the majority rejected Him), and the rest were blinded.” I’m not accusing Israel of anything, but The Book is.

I was listening to a tape by a Rabbi who was pointing out the differences between Christian doctrine and Judaism. Naturally he was under Judaism. He said Christianity teaches this and that, but Jews just can’t agree with that. But, he said, “Maybe it’s like the Book of Romans says, maybe we have been blinded.” There is no maybe about it; they have been. Most of them reject the basic truth even in the Old Testament. They refuse to believe that Jesus was The Christ, The Messiah. They simply can’t see it. But a Jew can be saved today just like a Gentile if he will open his eyes and his spiritual heart and believe it. For the most part, the nation has been blinded because of their rejection of The Messiah. So, this Elymas is a perfect picture of the Nation of Israel as a whole. But one day Israel’s eyes will be opened and they will see the truth of their Messiah. Isaiah says the Nation of Israel will be born in a day.

Acts 13:12

“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”

Turn to I Corinthians. Remember that everyplace Paul went he preached the finished work of the Cross. And though every instance may not be real graphic, I want you to rest assured that every place that Paul went, this was the main theme of his message. Most of the time he will say if you believe that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again thou shalt be saved. And that’s what he preached to this deputy. Let’s look at I Corinthians 1 :17:

I Corinthians 1:17,18

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:… For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it (the preaching of the Cross, the Gospel) is the power of God.”

I Corinthians 1:22,23

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom (they’re philosophers): But we preach Christ crucified,…” That’s Paul’s theme throughout his letters. So, like it says in Acts 13:12, when the writer talks about the doctrine of the Lord having come from the lips of Paul you know what it was: how Christ died for the sins of the world. Now Acts 13:13:

Acts 13:13

“Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John (Mark) departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”

This will be a point of contention a little later in Paul’s ministry, because evidently John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, wavered when he got to the underbelly of Asia Minor. Going into those semi-civilized areas of barbaric-type people, Mark chickened out. That just plain English. Mark was fearful of what was out there. So he turned around and went back to Jerusalem. So later on when John Mark, a nephew of Barnabas, had matured and Barnabas insisted that they take John Mark with them again, Paul says, “No way! He chickened out on us once and that’s enough.” Maybe Paul might have been a little unforgiving, I don’t know. But anyway, this is why Paul and Barnabas had their falling out, and again we have to recognize that God must have been on Paul’s side, because it isn’t Paul who disappears from the scene, but Barnabas. And who takes Barnabas’ place? Silas. After that event, it’s Paul and Silas.

As they go up into Asia Minor they go up into that area where all of the basic early churches were located. All the churches that are listed in Paul’s letters and here in the Book of Acts were all in that western half of Turkey. Back in Biblical times that was called Asia Minor. And that went all the way to the western coast of Turkey where Ephesus was located. But in that area of Asia Minor was where Paul had his greatest work. All the cities that you are acquainted with, Colosse, Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, they were all in that same graphical area. In our next lesson we will take a look at the tremendous message that Paul preached in the synagogue up there in Antioch of Pisidia. This is not the same as the Antioch of Syria which he and Barnabas left from.

224 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 2 - Part 4 - Book 19 - Saul Changes to Paul - Part 2

224: Saul Changes to Paul – Part 2 – Lesson 2 Part 4 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 19

SAUL CHANGES TO PAUL

It just thrills our heart to have people write and tell us they are following our references and are studying The Word. If you will get serious with God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you. As so many have written, “I’ve read The Bible all my life but have never been able to understand it before now.” And we just give the Lord the praise for that.

Now let’s begin our study again and pick up in Acts Chapter 11. Peter has come back to Jerusalem from the home of Cornelius. Peter is still not going out to the Gentiles; and he knew that he was not supposed to. Peter was correct in every way that had to do with the Jewish system. He only did what God told him to do. He was to confine his ministry to the Jew as we saw in the last lesson in Galatians 2:9. And it had been agreed that Paul would go to the Gentiles. Now remember that Acts is a transitional Book and here we are going to see the transition kick into a little higher gear. So far it’s been all Jewish. We saw the conversion of Saul on Gentile ground outside of Damascus. And we saw Peter in Chapter 10 go up to the house of Gentiles at Caesarea. Here in Chapter 11, we are going to see a little more of the transition to the Gentiles and a little more of the slipping away of the Jewish program. Verse 19:

Acts 11:19

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

Now that is the one verse that opened my eyes some twenty years ago. Because I had always been of the mindset that as soon as you got into the New Testament then you were into Christianity. And that the whole world was now being given the Gospel. Not so, as you can see. It had been confined to Israel, and even these Jewish believers have no concept of going to Gentiles. Let’s look at the persecution that arose about Stephen in Chapter 7 for a few moments. Here Stephen has given that long lesson on Jewish history leading up to the coming of their Messiah and he, like Peter, accused them of having killed Him. They finally turn on Stephen and stone him to death. We call it Stephen’s martyrdom. That happened in 36 A.D. and in verse 59 we see:

Acts 7:59,60

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, `Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, `Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Now then verse 1 of Chapter 8:

Acts 8:1a

“AND Saul was consenting unto his death…”

That is Stephen’s death. Now when Paul writes in his letters that it just plagued him throughout the remaining portion of his life, that he had persecuted the Church of God, it was this Church at Jerusalem. You see he was the leader of this terrible persecution to stamp out any Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. We will come back here in a moment but for now let’s go over to Chapter 26. Paul’s conversion experience is rehearsed three times in the Book of Acts and this is one of them. He is recording in the first person, how on the road to Damascus the Lord brought him to the realization that Jesus was The Christ and converted him. Let’s begin at verse 9:

Acts 26:9,10

“I verily thought with myself (Paul is talking in the first person), that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which things I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”

Paul takes full responsibility for his actions. Remember, there is no one so vicious as a religious person. That’s religion. I’m not talking about Christianity, but rather religion. Look at the wars raging around the world today and it’s all in the name of religion. And the same way here, these Judaisers were so wrapped up in their Old Testament religion, they were ready to kill anyone who opposed them. Paul at that time was so glad to see these Jewish believers condemned to death that he thought he was doing God a service. Just get them off the scene, because they were impostors and blasphemers. Now back to Chapter 8. This is the persecution that arose about Stephen.

Acts 8:1

“AND Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (or I prefer to call it assembly) which was at Jerusalem: and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

Now think, if they were embracing the great commission, where should they have been six or seven years ago?” Throughout the whole Roman empire. And where are they? Still in Jerusalem. Not only are they there, but they won’t leave even under intense persecution. Now that should tell us something. Why won’t they leave? They knew they had no God-given right to leave. They were to stay and present this Gospel of the Kingdom to the Nation of Israel. With the hope that Israel would still accept their King and then Christ could have come and set up His Kingdom. They understood that once they had The King and the Kingdom then they could bring Gentiles to The King, their Messiah. They knew what the Old Testament taught about that. They knew a lot more than many people do today. Remember what it says in Zechariah Chapter 8?

Zechariah 8:23

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; `In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you (why?): for we have heard that God is with you.'” In the person of The King of course.

But these twelve disciples are not going to leave Jerusalem, but all the rest of the believers did. Now back to Acts Chapter 11. We did all that so you could get the timing. Here we have a flashback to the seven years after Pentecost, at the time of Stephen’s death. But in chronology we are already up about 41 or 42 A.D. This is twelve or thirteen years after Pentecost. Some of these believing Jews are migrating up to Antioch, up north of Palestine in the area we would call Lebanon today. Now verse 20:

Acts 11:20

“And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.”

A Grecian was a Jew who was a native of Palestine. A Greek was a Gentile. So it wasn’t unusual for Grecians to be approached with this. We had Grecians back in Chapter 6. But here in verse 20, most Bible teachers, scholars and I believe Grecians should have been translated Greeks. Because this would have been something totally different for a Greek to hear and believe. But things are quickly changing in this Book of Acts.

Acts 11:21,22

“And the hand of the Lord was with them (indeed, because God was ready to move things out to the Gentile world): and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”

What was the problem again? Gentiles being saved! This is only for the Jews. It’s the same way today. If your denominational headquarters heard there was a heresy out there in one of their churches, what are they going to do? They would send some people down and check it out and ask, “Are you people really following this kind of false teaching?” And it was no different there. So when they at Jerusalem heard what was going on up at Antioch, they sent Barnabas to check out what they were doing up there because it was not right according to Jewish thinking. Now verse 23, and isn’t it amazing how God always chooses the right man for the right place at the right time.

Acts 11:23

“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”

As an attribute of God, Grace has always been there. When Adam and Eve were hiding behind their fig leaves in the bushes there in the Garden of Eden, Who went looking for them? God did. Why? Grace! He could have just forgotten about them. Zapped them and started over, but His Grace took Him to pursue them. So His Grace has always been evident, but if you want to search the Scriptures, just count the number of times Grace is used, and you’ll get something like thirty or forty times. That is until you get to Paul, and then count how many times the word Grace appears and you will get something like two hundred. And what’s the reason? Because beginning with Paul, “It’s the Grace of God that takes the pre-eminence” Before that it was just more or less mentioned as one of God’s attributes.

So now good old Barnabas saw the Grace of God in verse 23. Very few people today understand God’s Grace. If you are not accused of teaching people they are free to do as they please with the liberties God gives us, then you are probably not preaching and teaching the Gospel of Grace. And Paul said the same thing. He said that he was falsely accused of preaching that just because God’s Grace is great, then go ahead and sin as you wish. But that’s not what Grace means. I have said it a thousand times that Grace is not license. But on the other hand, very few people comprehend that the Grace of God is greater than any person’s sin. It’s always Grace, and so here again these Gentiles no doubt had come out of immoral idolatry, and yet God saved them by His Grace, and Barnabas is seeing it happen. Now verse 24:

Acts 11:24

“For he (Barnabas) was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”

That’s at Antioch. Now verse 25, I love these tidbits, that’s what makes studying the Scriptures so interesting. When Barnabas saw the sudden influx of Gentiles into the assembly at Antioch, the Holy Spirit moves him and who does he go looking for?

Acts 11:25

“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:” Why? Because he has the message for the Gentiles. Now Antioch was located a few miles inland, almost on the Mediterranean Sea up in Syria, and just around the corner of the Mediterranean in this river valley was the city of Tarsus in the country of Seleucia. So Barnabas, who had come from Jerusalem to Antioch, makes his way up the river valley on which Tarsus is located for the sole purpose of finding Saul. Saul is the one who has had three years of revelation from the risen Lord. He’s the one with all the answers. Now verse 26:

Acts 11:26

“And when he had found him (Barnabas left to look for Saul and he found him), he brought him unto Antioch (can’t you just see those two men as they met, and Barnabas says, “Saul, things are happening down there at Antioch, and I know, as God has revealed to me, that you are the man we have to have. You are the one who has the message now for these Gentiles. God has opened their hearts. God has opened the door, and evidently God is going to move out into the Gentile world. We can see it coming.” Now reading on). And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians (what’s the next word?) first in Antioch.”

Why not Jerusalem? The Jerusalem Church had been in operation for about twelve years already. The Bible never calls them Christians. Why? They were under the Judaistic umbrella. They had believed for their Salvation that Jesus was The Messiah of Israel. But these Christians at Antioch believed for their Salvation that Jesus had died for them, that His blood had been shed for their sins, and that He had been raised from the dead. In other words Antioch is being presented with Paul’s Gospel. And he differentiates it from anything that had ever gone before, because it was a secret hidden in the mind of God until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul while he was in Arabia. And now God is going to do something totally different. He’s going to save the whole human race, Jew and Gentile, by the Gospel that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4)

I’ve always said, and I’ve been guilty of it also, that too many times we have reduced the Gospel to cliches. Do you know what a cliche is ? A little frame of words we use that’s handy. For example, “Come and take Jesus into your heart,” “Just believe in Jesus,” or “Take Him as your personal Saviour.” Now those are all well and good as far as they go, but that’s not the Gospel. Multitudes have been invited to come down the aisle of a Church building to take Jesus as their Saviour. Just take Jesus into your heart. Folks that’s not the Gospel by which you are saved according to the Apostle Paul. I’m going to stand and proclaim that the Gospel is only one thing. And that is – that Christ died for me and He died for you. He paid my sin penalty. He suffered in my place. His divine pure blood was shed in total payment for your sin and mine. He was buried, he was really dead. And He arose from the dead, powerful, victorious, and because He lives, you and I know that we live and will live. And that my friends is the Gospel and you can’t shortcut it one bit.

Now once a person understands that and believes it, then, yes, you are taking Christ into your heart. Then He becomes your personal Saviour. But most people are never told that. I don’t hear the Gospel, I hear everything but the Gospel, so be aware of that. And no wonder the Church has become powerless. I’m afraid that too many people are reading too many books instead of The Book. Because how many books have I read, myself, where they neglect this part of the Gospel. They talk about how to cope with all my problems, and how to get along with my wife and kids. Hogwash! You get into The Book and all these problems will take care of themselves. But the old devil is using every ploy that he can, trying to steer you from The Book.

In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus what were the signs of His coming and the end of the age. Do you know what word He started out with? `Deception!’ Beware, be not deceived. The world is set up for the biggest deception that has ever hit the human race. They are gullible, they are falling for anything and everything that comes their way. But they refuse to get into this Book and search for the truth. And you and I have to warn people. Listen, we are living in an age where Satan is the master deceiver. And he is doing a tremendous job of it, even in the Church. He doesn’t mind if you go to church as long as you don’t hear Paul’s Gospel. And I’m not pointing my finger at any one group or congregation. I’m saying in general terms that Satan is infiltrating the Church with everything except what the Church needs. I’m so concerned because people are being given something less than the truth. And it’s up to you and I to let them know what the truth is. Let’s try to finish the chapter. They were called Christians first at Antioch, because these are Gentiles who are being saved by Paul’s beautiful message of God’s Grace.

Acts 11:27-30

“And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples (Gentile believers), every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

Why the believers in Judaea? Back in Acts Chapter 2, the believers sold what they had and brought it to the feet of the Twelve to be used as a common kitty. And it was glorious, everybody had enough, but when you start to live out of a common kitty, pretty soon it will run dry. And it did.