Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 39
Now this lesson will conclude book 39, so let’s get back to where we left off in the last lesson, but before we do we trust that you are learning how to study, and comprehend God’s Word. I guess the one thing we’ve been able to do more than anything else in our teaching others is to separate Israel from the Church. When you can do that then the Bible just becomes so much easier to understand. And of course when you separate Israel and the Church, you also separate Peter and Paul. (Galatians 2:7-9) Paul’s salvation message to the Gentile Body of Christ is found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. and Romans 10:9-10, and looks nothing like the salvation message preached by Peter.
Now they both served the same Christ, but always remember that Peter held forth before the cross and shortly after in the early Book of Acts, but his message was pretty much the Gospel of the Kingdom. Where everything that Paul writes concerns the resurrected Lord. And after our Lord ascended to His place in glory He revealed all the mysteries to this apostle for the Body of Christ in this Age of Grace. So consequently his message is pretty much to the Gentile world, and especially to the Gentile believers of the Body of Christ.
Now that doesn’t mean that we cast aside anything of the rest of Scripture. We use everything in our study, because everything just dove tails together so beautifully if you will just separate the Scripture as I have showed you. You just can’t mix it all up or it won’t fit. Don’t try to force part of Peter’s message into Paul’s message or vice-a-versa. Don’t try to force something in Scripture that the Lord Himself didn’t force. Just let everything set where it is in Scripture.
A good example of separating the Scriptures is found in Mark 16:14-18, where the message Jesus gave the Jewish believers was that as signs they could pick up serpents and drink poison and it wouldn’t hurt them, but don’t try that in this Age of Grace or you’ll be in trouble. So to make things simple, just keep Paul’s writings to the Church Age believers separate from the rest of Scripture for your Christian walk and doctrine. And when you do that you will see how all the pieces fit, then this Book becomes so exciting to study.
Now coming back to our study in Philippians chapter 2, and let’s start with verse 16. In verse 15 we finished with Paul telling us that we are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. And remember things are no different today than they were in the Roman empire. In fact if you know anything of history at all, you know that history repeats itself. All the things that brought down the Roman empire are going to bring down our Western civilization if not America by itself. So always be assured that historically these things are happening over and over and over. This isn’t just unique to the Roman Empire, but even today we are in a crooked and perverse nation and remember we are to shine as light in the world. Now verse 16.
” Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
Now of course we covered this several programs back, “The day of Christ is the end of the Church Age when Christ will come for His bride, the Body of Christ and meet us in the air.” After that the anti-Christ will appear and the seven years of Tribulation will unfold and God will finish doing what has been programmed and prophesied for the nation of Israel. Now there’s getting to be more and more opposition to a pre-Tribulation Rapture. More and more are teaching that the Church will go into or through it, but always remember our best argument is, “That you cannot mix Law and Grace, You can not mix Israel and the Body of Christ, the Church,”
We are in the Age of Grace and the Church didn’t fit in the Old Testament economy, and it won’t fit in the Tribulation economy, because both of those ends are Israel under the Law whether in the Old or New Testament, and we have no part or parcel with that. So remember before God can pick up and finish His last seven years with the nation of Israel, the Gentile Church, the Body of Christ has to be removed, and consequently then that’s what we call the day of Christ, when we’re called up to Him and go back into glory.
Now the day of the Lord is a different story. The day of the Lord is the beginning of wrath and vexation, and judgment. That of course is what will follow the day of Christ. But Paul doesn’t refer so much to the day of the Lord as he does to the day of Christ. So it just makes common sense that if all of the origins concerning the Body of Christ, the terminology, the doctrine, the organization, in other words the term of pastors and bishops, and deacons, all come from Paul and no where else. The indwelling Holy Spirit which is the down payment of a believer, and that also can be found only in Paul’s writing, and all these other glorious mysteries concerning the Body of Christ that were given to Paul only, then it follows that all the aspects of the Church Age having come from the writings of Paul then the end of the Church would also be in Paul’s writings, and indeed it does in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. No where else is the Rapture of the Church foretold. That’s why Paul starts the passage in I Corinthians with, “Behold I show you a mystery, (secret) we shall not all die but we’ll all be changed.” Which of course is referring to the day of Christ when He will descend to the atmosphere and call us out.
Another thing I always like to point out is that with the Rapture, and us being called out, there is not a word about pending cataclysmic judgments. There is nothing to indicate that just before the Rapture the sun will be turned into blood, and the moon darkened, but for the Second Coming of Christ all you see is the horrors of the wrath of God that will attend the Second Coming, but never the Rapture. We are just going to be silently taken out and the world will probably think it’s good riddance if they miss us at all. Now so much for that, let’s come back to verse 16.
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, (Paul really thought that he would live to see the day when Christ would return and take the Church out) that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
Now that’s obvious isn’t it? Here he had suffered all the privation of scourging and whippings, shipwrecks, and imprisonments, and he lists them all back there in II Corinthians chapter 11. Oh how this man suffered for the sake of the Gospel. Well how would the man have felt after all that sacrifice in the human era, and then to see it all just disappear and fall apart? It would have been heart breaking wouldn’t it? But this is what he’s saying. These Philippians were not letting him down, and he could readily see that he had not run in vain, he had not laboured in vain, but indeed it was all coming to fruition. Now verse 17.
“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”
He could joy and rejoice because of all that God had done throughout the Roman Empire, but especially when he was seeing the Roman guards and people in the palace coming to a knowledge of salvation through his Gospel and Christ. Now verse 18.
“For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”
Now that shows it’s a two way street. Now I know most of you don’t have as much opportunity as Iris and I do. Almost everyday we get a letter where someone has come to know the Lord or has led someone to the Lord. We had a lady sometime ago that had written a letter and said, “Oh I wish I could have the joy of leading someone to a saving knowledge.” Well it was only a couple of months later and here comes this thrilling letter. I mean you could almost tell from her opening words that she had been able to win a co-worker to the Lord. Now that’s what it’s all about! And it is a thrilling experience, and so we have this opportunity that when folk share their joy, it thrills us, and even as we share our joys and our victories we know it causes you to rejoice. So this is what Paul is talking about in verse 18. That they were maintaining their faith, they were seeing the Gospel going out, and even though he was confined to a Roman prison yet the news was getting back to him and how it thrilled him. Now we come down to verse 19, and here we have a reference to his son in the faith, Timothy.
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.”
Now you’ve got to remember, that here in probably 64 or 65 AD the Roman Empire was lustrous as you can tell when you go over and look at some of the cities and roads, you can tell they certainly weren’t cavemen by any stretch of the imagination, but their communications were slow, travel was also slow. A ship was probably the fastest way to go from one place to another, so you’ve got to take all this into consideration. So Paul has to send Timothy from Rome to go around the Southern end of Greece, and back up into the Aegean Sea in order to get to Philippi. And he sends him with the idea of bringing back to Rome a report as to how those Philippian believers were doing. Now verse 24.
“But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.”
As we said in an earlier lesson, I think Paul thought he would win his court case and be released, and some theologians think he did, and then arrested a second time when at that time he was martyred. But I put all these things in the balance, and still feel that he only had the one imprisonment and did not secure his release, but if he did, so be it.. Now verse 25.
“Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, (who was a citizen of Philippi) my brother, (in the faith) and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”
Epaphroditus had ministered to Paul’s needs in Rome, and the poor fellow must have just about died of some kind of an illness or something.
“For he longed after you all and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.”
In other words when the Philippians heard that one of their co-believers was nearly sick unto death, they were really upset about it. Now verse 27.
“For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him: (by sparing his life) and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
In other words, Paul would have shared the sorrow of losing this good friend and fellow soldier, Epaphroditus. Now verse 28 So now he not only sends Timothy, but also Epaphroditus.
“I sent him therefore the more carefully, (Paul is saying, ‘I made sure that he was strong enough physically to make the trip’) that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30. Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, (I’ve never been able to read anything to what his problem was) to supply your lack of service toward me.”
Now then coming into chapter 3, and we won’t be able to finish Philippians today, but we’ll get as far as we can.
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord….”
Now I trust you’ve all been keeping track of the constant reference to joy and rejoicing, in spite of their circumstances. In spite of the persecution, and the constant pressure that was on all the Gentile believers, as well as Paul in prison. Now when I say Gentile believers, you always have to remember that the Judaisers hated Christianity. And this is no put down on the Jewish people. I mean after all, they could see that Christianity was making in road into their religion which they had enjoyed for 2000 years going back to Abraham. Now nobody wants somebody to make in roads into their religion, and you know that. Religion is an integral part of most people, and when you start fooling around with their religion they get up tight real fast. Well it was the same way here. The Jewish people were fighting Paul’s little Churches tooth and nail, because it was a complete change of direction from Judaism, and that’s what Grace and Law are. So these little Churches were under so much pressure from every direction. So Paul says, “in spite of all these circumstances rejoice!
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. to write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (now comes the warning) 2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”
Has anything changed since that’s been written? Nothings changed. This is just as appropriate for you and I today as it was for the Philippians in 65 AD or whenever he wrote this. Let me take you ahead to II Peter chapter 2. Now granted Peter writes primarily and I say that specifically and not exclusive, but he writes to the Jews who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, and I think they were little congregations of Jews. These were the Jews who had come away from Judaism, had believed that Jesus was the Son of God, had repented and been baptized in water as was Peter’s message. These were, I think, Kingdom Age Jews who had not really come under Paul’s Gospel message per say, but the warning is the same regardless.
II Peter 2:1-2a
“But there were false prophets (past tense. So what’s he talking about? The Old Testament era, back in the years before the New Testament even began.) also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, (the Devil has used every device to confuse the issue. Way back in Israel’s past, and on up into Israel’s future.) who privily (or secretly)shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways,…”
In the medical field (when associated with pernicious anemia), what does pernicious do? It just eats up the red blood cells, it destroys them, so that a person will just gradually get anemia and become white as snow because this disease is eating the red blood cells. Alright, the word pernicious is appropriate here, because that’s exactly what false teachers are going to do with the teachings that these believers are resting on. They’re just going to keep chewing them up until finally there is no spiritual life left in them.
II Peter 2:2
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”
Oh does that ring a bell? Of course it does. The truth is not well spoken of today, because people don’t want the truth. They want something that will tickle their ears. Now verse 3.
II Peter 2:3
“And through covetousness (they want anything they can grab) shall they with feigned words (oh it sounds good on the surface) make merchandise of you: (in other words, there are con men who try to take advantage of you, even spiritual things. Oh the con men come along, and make all these things sound so good with their feigned words) whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
God knows what they’re doing and one day they’re going to come before him at the Great White Throne and then they’ll bow the knee, and recognize who He really is. Well let’s drop on down to verse 12. This is one of my favorite Scriptural descriptions of false teachers. These people who are conning the masses.
II Peter 2:12-13a
“But these, (false teachers) as natural (they have no spiritual life) brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; (these false teachers for the most part hate the message of Grace) and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13. And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. (rather than wait at night. That puts them in a category by themselves, doesn’t it?)
Now back to Philippians chapter 3, verse 2 again.
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”
I’m sure that’s a word making reference to the Judaisers who wanted to put the Gentiles under the Law. That reminds me of a Scripture or two in the Book of Acts chapter 15. We spoke to a Sunday School class several weeks ago and I used these verses, and you would be surprised how many of those people came up after the class and said they never knew this was in their Bible, and I’m sure they’re not alone. There are multitudes that don’t have a clue that a lot of these things are in their Bible. Let’s just look at verse 1, and we’ll have to do it quickly. And remember what Paul’s warning was. Look out for those of the concision, and here it is. This passage is dealing with the Gentile congregation up at Antioch.
“And certain men which came down from Judaea (the believing Jerusalem assembly) taught the brethren, (these Gentile believers) and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
Now your Bible says that also doesn’t it? And now come on up to verse 5 for another shocker.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, (they were members of the Jerusalem Church) saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, (Paul’s Gentile converts up in Antioch) and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
Now you see why you’ve got to separate Peter and Paul? That tells us what the early Gentile Churches were up against. And as soon as Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas left town and left these little congregations to themselves in would come these kind of people and say, “Now wait a minute, you can’t just go by what Paul says alone. You have to be circumcised, you have to keep the Law of Moses.” Well what were they really trying to do? Make Jewish proselytes of them. And when Paul writes this letter while in prison he’s says, “That hasn’t stopped. It’s still a constant threat.” Well for you and I today we don’t have to deal with circumcision, we know that, but all the other things that are required for salvation by a lot of congregations in addition to faith in the Gospel (legalism) just keep bombarding the New Testament Grace Age believers every day.