Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 19
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:
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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:
“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:
“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:
“…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:
“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.
“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.