Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 18
Transcriber’s note: As I transcribed this lesson, I noticed this is also where we started in Book 17, Lesson 3, Part 3. But after reviewing the study, I found that although the Scriptures are the same, Les has used a different approach and his commentary is completely different. I think you will find it to be very enjoyable as I did.
We just got back from Indiana and Ohio where we got to meet and share with so many of you, our viewers. It just thrilled our hearts. It was so nice to put a face on a name that before we had just known by letter or telephone. In Ohio we had a chance to speak to a Christian High School, and for about three hours those kids just ate it up. We had hands in the air by the dozens constantly. And it was hard to stop even after three hours. It was exhausting. I was totally beat when I got out of there, but what a thrilling experience to see those kids come alive and search the Scriptures. The headmaster was in my class that night and he said, “You know Les, they didn’t stop all day long.” He said, “They were still looking up Scriptures all afternoon.” The third and fourth grade were taken out after the first hour and they complained all day long because they couldn’t stay and participate. When people begin to see what the Scriptures say it inspires them.
I hope as you study with us that a spark will ignite and you’ll have that desire to study the Word. If you can prove me wrong from Scripture, that I’m not teaching correctly, then I’ll have an open ear. Because everything I teach, I teach from God’s Word, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. But I’m so confident that after all these years of teaching, and seeing so many people literally turned around, either by Salvation, or seeing their Christian life become exhilarating, then I know what I teach is the Truth. Now open your Bibles to Acts Chapter 3.
In our last program we were in Acts Chapter 2, and I closed the program with the definition of the word `Church.’ Whenever you see the word `Church’ in the New Testament it is not always applicable for the Church which is the Body of Christ. Remember the word Church came from the Greek word “ecclesia” which is translated “a called out assembly.” Moses with Israel in the desert was a called out assembly. Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 refers to them as a Church in the wilderness. And we know that wasn’t the New Testament Church by any stretch of the imagination. And I feel the same way with these Jews in Jerusalem. They have not heard the Gospel of Grace as we know it. They have not comprehended that the death, burial, and Resurrection of their Messiah was now intended to go out to the Gentile world. And so they are still correctly confining it only to the Jew and I’m going to show you in a little bit why they are and why God is having them do just that.
So as we go out of Chapter 2 into Chapter 3 nothing has changed. It’s still an extension of the Old Testament program, only The Messiah that they should have and could have accepted as their King in His earthly ministry, they have crucified. God has raised Him from the dead; called Him back to glory to sit at the Father’s right hand; but He’s still dealing with the Nation of Israel under that same set of circumstances that began with John the Baptist. So Peter admonishes in Chapter 2, ye men of Israel over and over. I’ve told my classes for over twenty-four years, how can you push Gentiles into those verses when Gentiles are not even mentioned. I maintain that is all still very Jewish. Now let’s read:
“NOW Peter and John went up together into (the church on the corner of First and Grand? Did they? No. But where did they go? To the Temple. The Temple hasn’t been closed down, they are still practicing the Law; no one has told them they didn’t have to. And not only did they go to the Temple but on the required hour. See how that is stipulated? These men are still under that Jewish habit and ritual of going to the Temple at the ninth hour to pray.) the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
Now there is nothing that stipulates in this Church Age that at such and such an hour you and I must go to prayer. The Muslims do, they have their hour of prayer throughout the day. Now as Peter and John go to the Temple there lay a lame man. Verse 2:
“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms (beg) of them that entered into the Temple.”
We know that The Lord Himself must have passed that lame man during the three years of His earthly ministry. And the reason He never healed him was the Sovereign God does everything with a purpose. In John’s Gospel, when Lazarus was sick, and Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that he was sick, what did Jesus do? He purposely delayed responding to them so that Lazarus would die. Then Jesus could go back and raise Him from the dead. Had He gone immediately, as Mary and Martha had wanted Him to, then Lazarus wouldn’t have died and we wouldn’t have had that account. But you see everything is done for a purpose, even today. This lame man had been lame from his mother’s womb and he was over forty years old. And so Jesus had purposely bypassed him so Peter and John could precipitate these series of events that are now going to take place. Now verse 3:
“Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, `Look on us.’ And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.”
“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee (note carefully: I’m going to read it differently from what your Bible says only for the sake of making an impression. “In the name of Jesus Christ Who has died for your sins, and has been raised from the dead get up and walk.” Is that what Peter says? No. He says): In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
Peter doesn’t even mention His death, burial, and Resurrection. For us today this is the epitome of everything that God began to do when He created Adam and Eve. And that was to bring the world to a knowledge of the crucified, buried, and risen Christ. But Peter has never been told that. And why do I say that he doesn’t know it yet? Because God has not revealed that. It is still a secret, and will be revealed to the Apostle Paul a little later.
Let’s stop and look at some of the references about God’s ability to hide things. First to the Book of Deuteronomy. God never told everything all at once, but revealed a little bit at a time all the way through the Bible. And the only way we can study Scripture correctly is with the idea that only periodically does God reveal something that those Old Testament people didn’t understand. The same with Peter and John in these early chapters of Acts. They still haven’t had an understanding of what God was going to reveal in the death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ. As of yet all they understood was that He was The Messiah; He was The Son of God; He had proved it with His miracles; but it was only for the Nation of Israel. It wasn’t that God had overlooked the Gentiles. Not at all. But He was going to use that favored nation to reach out to these pagan, idolatrous Gentiles at the appropriate time.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God (I make the point that the term of Deity, “The everlasting God,” is capable of hiding things. Even the Psalmist asked the question, “Lord why do you hide these things?” Well, He’s Sovereign, and has the right to do as He pleases); but those things which are revealed (keep that word `revealed’ in your mind. Another word that comes from the same root is `revelation.’ Paul is constantly referring to the revelations that he got from the risen Lord) belong unto us and to our children…”
Not that much had even been revealed to Moses. But as much as had been revealed they were to believe. Now let’s go to Luke 18, verse 31. This shocks people the first time they see it. John tells us the same thing. This passage occurs in Northern Israel just shortly before the Passover and the Crucifixion. It’s the end of Jesus’ three years of earthly ministry.
“Then he (The Lord Jesus) took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, `Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles (the Romans), and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.'” Is that plain language? It’s as plain as you can get it. But look at the next verse:
“And they (the Twelve, who had been with Him for three years) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
Who hid this from the disciples? God did. It wasn’t time for them to know. This immediately substantiates that they had no idea when He was hanging on that Cross, that three days later He would be alive. I’m always making the point, had they had any understanding that He was going to die, and yes, He would be buried, and yes, on the third day he would be raised from the dead, where would they have been that early Sunday morning? Outside the tomb! But they weren’t; they had all given up, and thought it was all over. When Mary Magdalene went to dress the Body with the spices, she was bewildered because the Body was gone. She had no idea that He was alive. God had purposely hidden these things from them, because He is going to reveal them in His own time, and use faith in Jesus’ death, burial and Resurrection as the Gospel for the Gentile Church. It would be revealed to the Apostle Paul. Always remember Peter and the eleven preached only what was revealed to them. Paul preached what was revealed to him. This will open the Scriptures to you. Let’s look at another occasion in the Gospel of John Chapter 13.
“Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto him, `Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said unto him, `What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.'”
Let’s go all the way to Ephesians Chapter 3, to the writings of Paul. He writes from a different perspective. He writes now as one who has had these revelations revealed to him. And that’s the word he calls it – `revelation.’ And in Chapter 2 Paul has just written about Salvation. For example, in Ephesians 2:8 he says:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” And now Ephesians Chapter 3, verse 1:
“FOR this cause (in other words everything he had just written in Chapter 2 concerning our Salvation). I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,” That’s us as believers today.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:”
“How that by [here it is] revelation he made known unto me the mystery [a secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge [as a result of revelations] in the mystery of Christ)”
“Which in other ages (or generations, or administrations, or dispensations, they all come from the same root word) was not made known (do you see how plain that is in light of Deuteronomy 29:29, and the other references we looked at. It all fits so beautifully. These things were not made known because God was keeping them secret) unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”
“That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world (Age) hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
Now you can’t get it any plainer than that. These things have never been revealed before, because they have been hidden. God has kept it secret and that is His prerogative. I’m doing this to show that when Peter and John go up to the Temple to pray, they had no concept of what we call the Church Age. They were still under the legal system of Judaism. They were still an extension of Christ’s earthy ministry, and when we get back to Acts and see the miracles they perform, it’s nothing different than that which Christ had been doing for three years. But let’s continue with keeping things secret until God is ready to reveal them. Turn to the Book of Colossians Chapter 1, verse 24. Remember Paul is writing to Gentile believers. Colossi is up in Asia Minor.
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” Do you see the difference in language? Here it is the Church which is the Body of Christ. This is the one you and I are acquainted with.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you to fulfil the word of God;”
Just as surely as God gave the Law to Israel through Moses, He also gave the Age of Grace to Paul for us the Gentile Body of Christ. The Scripture is so clear on that. God didn’t give Israel the Law directly, He gave it through Moses. Moses took it down Mount Sinai and then shared it with the Nation of Israel. Consequently in His earthly ministry when they came and asked Jesus doctrinal questions He didn’t answer them, but rather said, “You have Moses.” In other words, go back and read it yourself. You have all you need to know because Moses has written it. He has done the same thing for us today in the Church Age with the Apostle Paul. I know once in a while someone will complain that I make more of Paul than I should. No, I don’t. I don’t make any more of Paul than the Scriptures do, nor any more than they made of Moses. In fact, I maintain that Moses and Paul are the two greatest men other than Christ Himself in all of Scripture.
One Sunday morning, Iris and I heard a guest speaker in our church. He was a denominational leader with quite a few degrees behind his name. It just thrilled me as he opened his message by saying, “I’m going to be taking my message from the Apostle Paul, whom I feel is the greatest man that ever lived other than Christ Himself.” I’m even going to temper that. I don’t called Paul the greatest, but rather I put him on the same level with Moses. But I’m not alone when I say we have to listen to what this Apostle says because he is writing to us. To Gentiles. Now look what he says in verse 26. Look at verse 25 again first:
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery (secret) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”
Let’s go back to Acts Chapter 3. And in that light, as I understand the Scriptures, I say that Peter and John did not have any knowledge of the Church which is the Body of Christ. They are still associated with the Judaism that Christ dealt with, and that John the Baptist preached; that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent and be baptized by believing Who Jesus was. This is all that Peter and the eleven men here in these early chapters of Acts know.
Throughout these whole early chapters of Acts, many study Bibles will even head a chapter the “First Church,” or “The beginning of the Church,” or “The First Christians.” But there is not a word of church language in here. There’s not a word about deacons, bishops, and pastors. There’s not a word in here about how to behave in the House of God. So I don’t care what denomination people may be from, where do most local Churches get their idea of church government? From Paul. He describes the office of the deacon and elder. He describes the requirements to be a pastor. But here in Acts you don’t find anything like that. This is an extension of Judaism. Temple worship; prayer at the ninth hour; unlawful to go into a Gentile home; keeping the Jewish feast days; and now they are healing a lame man. Not on the power of the Resurrection, but on the power of The Messiah, The Christ, The Lord Jesus of Nazareth, The Son of God. And now read on:
“Then Peter said, `Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.'”
Appropriate? Absolutely. Because Peter and John are just continuing on with what Christ has been doing for three years. And that was the whole idea in Acts 1:8 when the Holy Spirit came, they were to have power. What kind of power? To do what Jesus had been doing. Remember Jesus told the Twelve that the Holy Spirit would not come until He left. And so the transition of power went from The Lord Jesus to the Holy Spirit. Now in the moment we have left let’s look at Acts Chapter 5.
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel,…” Do you see that?