Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 21
REDEMPTION AND JUSTIFICATION
We love to hear from you and it seems like you’re almost right here with us in class as we teach. I’ve always said I’m not a preacher, but rather a teacher, and there’s a big difference. Once in a while I may get close to preaching but I try not to. I want to just teach and keep it on a low level without getting emotional. But we certainly hope and pray the Holy Spirit will continue to open hearts to understand what The Word really says and what it doesn’t say. Now let’s come right back to the Book of Romans and I believe I could very easily spend five years right here in this Book alone. I heard recently that there was a preacher on the east coast who spent 20 years and never preached a Sunday morning sermon out of anything but the Book of Romans. And I say, “Praise the Lord!” because he must have been a good preacher. So we’re going to stay in the Book of Romans and pick right up where we left off and that was at verse 25 of Chapter 3, but first let’s read verse 24 again.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
Now I’m going to reflect back about three or four lessons ago where we went over the two absolutes in Scripture. No one can ever detour them or put a bridge over them, or tunnel under them, but must rather face them head on.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God):….”
“…and without shedding of blood is no remission (of sin),”
All right, I want you to see then that here we are satisfying both of those imperatives. We are dealing with the shed Blood because that was the price of redemption. And all of this is appropriated when we believe. And what is believing? Faith! So both of these are in the next verse. The Christ Jesus in verse 24:
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood (not only faith, but faith in His Blood. There you have both attributes in half a verse, there is no way you can escape it. So God has made Christ then a propitiation when we place our faith in His Blood), to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Let’s look at that word “Propitiation.” We looked at it a long time ago when we were in the Book of Exodus. Now turn to I John 2.
I John 2:1
“MY little children (I love that. I call that the term of endearment), these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if (in other words, we will) any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Now another thought comes to mind. Why do we scripturally need an advocate with the Father? Turn to the Book of Revelation Chapter 12, and I’ll show you. And we know that from the chronology of the Book of Revelation this great event will take place at the mid-point of the seven years of Tribulation. At the end of the first 3 1/2 years as I have taught for many years, a whole series of events will take place almost simultaneously. One of those events is what we will read about now. Now remember why we have turned to this passage. “Why do we need an advocate?”
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon (Satan); and the dragon fought and his angels (in other words Satan and his angels are in a warfare in heaven), And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon (Satan) was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth (take that literally, he has had access to the very throne room of heaven and he will have according to this until the mid-point of the Tribulation, but then for the last time he), and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ (why?): for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
So Satan accuses you and I right there in the presence of God, if I understand Scripture, every time we sin. But what have we got going for us? An advocate. And what’s the other word for an advocate? An attorney. We have a legal mouthpiece is the way the world would put it. Just as soon as Satan points the finger at us and says to God the Father, “Look what that believer just did.” What does Jesus say? “Wait a minute, he’s under the Blood, I’ve purchased him, he’s mine.” Do you see that? All right, now that’s exactly what John is referring to in Chapter 2 verse 1.
I John 2:1b,2
“…we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (that wasn’t what I wanted to teach here, I want the next verse): And he (Jesus Christ the righteous) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
In Scripture the word `propitiation’ is used only here and in Romans as far as I can tell. And He is the propitiation for our sins. Not for our sin only, but the sins of the whole world. There are those who teach that Christ’s atonement was only for those who become believers, it was a limited atonement. Well, that’s not what my Bible says. My Bible says Christ died and paid the sin debt for every human being. But it doesn’t automatically apply to everyone until they believe. And that’s where we must be careful.
So now what’s propitiation? We’ve got to go back to the Book of Exodus at least in our mind. Imagine a floor plan of the tent in the wilderness that we call the Tabernacle. And remember the tent was divided into two rooms and in the back room, in the Holy of Holies, was the Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat. Out in the other room was thetable of shewbread, altar of incense and the candlestick. Outside the door was the laver of cleansing, and out farther was the brazen altar and out farther was the outer fence.Then on the Day of Atonement, Aaron the High Priest would have to bring three sacrificial animals. He would kill one, and make his way back to the mercy seat and sprinkle the blood on it for his own sins. And then he would take the blood of the second animal, and sprinkle it for the sins of the Nation of Israel. And then he would go back to the third animal and symbolically lay his hands on the head of that goat and that was called the scapegoat, and then this goat was taken out into the wilderness and set free. If you remember when we studied this back when we were in Exodus, all the materials that made up the Tabernacle, the outer fence of the altar, of the laver of cleansing, of the table of shewbread, the altar of incense, the candlestick, the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat covered with gold, made of wood, everything that was in that Tabernacle was a picture of whom? Of Christ the Lord Jesus.
Now then, this is the way I explain propitiation. Christ was the High Priest, He was the sacrificial Animal. He is the Place of Sacrifice. He’s the Laver of Cleansing. He’s the Table of Shewbread. He’s the Altar of Incense. He’s the Candlestick. He’s the Ark of the Covenant. He’s the Mercy Seat. He is everything that you can possibly think of in that Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement. The very word `propitiation’ indicates not only is He the Sacrifice, but also the Place of applying the Sacrifice. That’s why I like to use this whole system of the Tabernacle as a picture of Christ’s finished work of the Cross. That’s what we talk about when we say the work of the Cross finished it because He was everything that possibly demanded a Holy God of us. And He did it all on our behalf, and when you put it all together then that’s propitiation. What Christ accomplished on the Cross, His shed Blood, with His death, burial, and Resurrection it’s all been done on our behalf. Now back to Romans 3:25, and let’s read that verse once more.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (when we can place our faith in His what? His Blood. We are living in a sophisticated day when people don’t like to talk about sacrificial blood, and we’re just not programmed to that, but nevertheless we cannot ignore the demands of Scripture. That God in His own reasoning and line of thought has demanded shed blood for the remission of sin and we can’t go against that. So now let’s read on) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness (why do we place faith in His Blood?) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
The last part of this verse says to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Now what’s he talking about? The Old Testament believers. Remember when I taught the difference between hell and the Lake of Fire a long time ago? I pointed out that all through the Old Testament economy even the believers, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah, when they died they didn’t go to heaven, but rather down into paradise. Remember that? They went down into paradise and we get just a little window of information on that in Luke Chapter 16 with the story of Abraham and Lazarus and the rich man in torment. Remember there was a great gulf fixed that they couldn’t cross over to each other. Abraham and Lazarus of course were down in that area called hades, or hell, and that explains the creed where it says that Jesus descended into hell, but He went into the paradise side. And then at His resurrection morning He took paradise up to heaven, and so now Paul tells us:
I1 Corinthians 5:8
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord:”
But in the Old testament it wasn’t that way. They couldn’t go into Heaven. We know God made two exceptions, but on the whole the believer could not go into Heaven and the question is why? There had been no atoning blood shed. We know the blood of animals and goats couldn’t take away sin, it was a stop gap. I’ve always called it sweeping it under the rug, but once the true atonement had been accomplished there was no reason to send people down into paradise because paradise was taken directly to Heaven. And that is exactly what the Apostle Paul is reminding us. He’s not only talking about the New Testament believer, but he’s also bringing in the Old Testament saints, because their sins were totally atoned for by virtue of the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, and that brings us right up to date doesn’t it. Now verse 26:
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness:…”
Paul is constantly hammering home one way or other that there is nothing that we’ve got going for us. Do you see that? We have nothing good, we have no righteousness, we have nothing to barter, and all we can do is, again like Israel at the Red Sea, to say, “I’m helpless and hopeless.” But, oh, that’s when God steps in.
“… that he (The Lord Jesus) might be just (or fair),…”
I remember sometime ago that someone presented the same question in a book or some material I was reading, and I’ve always had that question in my mind for as long as I can remember, just like everyone else. How will God justify sending someone to the eternal Lake of Fire when so far as we know they have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel (Ref I Corinthians 15:1-4). The human response is this, “But God, that’s not fair, because they never had a chance.” Whoever presented that question said this, “You know the only way we can answer that dilemma is that God is never unjust, or unfair. So in His own higher way of thinking, God knows how He will take care of it. We can’t comprehend it. But remember that God can never be unfair. He is totally just in all of his dealings.
“…and the justifier of him which (so remember for all this to be consummated, the work of propitiation, the work of His shed Blood, the work of redemption as we saw in the last lesson, He’s going to end up being just and He’s also going to be just in justifying, declaring just as if they had never sinned, any sinner who is a child of Adam, any sinner who just simply) believeth in Jesus.”
Now, of course when Paul talks about believing in Jesus, he’s not talking about The Jesus of the Four Gospels, but rather the Jesus after His Resurrection. The Christ of Resurrection and what He did for you and me. Faith in that finished work of the Cross. All that is required is believing. Is anything left out of that verse? Most of the rank and file in the Christian community think something else should also be included be in this verse. They think believing is not enough. They think you have to do this and that (traditions) to become a member of the Body of Christ, but that’s not what The Book says. All the Bible declares is that these things are imputed to us when we believe (Faith + Nothing). But when we believe, things are going to start happening, we’re going to see some life changes. We’re going to see a whole new personality make-up, and some of the things people say must be done to become a Christian will come naturally as a result then of our faith.
“Where is boasting then (wouldn’t Heaven be an awful boring place if everyone had a story to tell of everything they did to get there? It would be awful, and the next chapter starts out that way by explaining that if Abraham had been saved by works he could have boasted)? It is excluded (you can’t argue with that), By what law (what Law says we can’t work for our Salvation? the law) of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.” Isn’t that beautiful, the law of faith without works. I know what the Book of James says; Also remember who the Book of James was written for and to – James 1:1.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Paul on the other hand says, “It’s Faith + Nothing!” Until we’re saved, and then what follows? Works, of course. We can never come back to God and say, but I did this or that for my Salvation. We have to totally rest on that which has been done on our behalf. Now verse 28: See how often Paul repeats things? And that’s by Holy Spirit inspiration, and for a reason. We have to constantly repeat some of these things in order for them soak in.
“Therefore we conclude (hey, there’s no more room for argument) that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Isn’t that fantastic? We are justified by faith. You know years and years ago I had a lady in one of my classes who said she was a good artist, and one day she came up with a little painting of an odd looking little character with the most quizzical look on his face. And her caption was, “Faith + Nothing?” Isn’t that perfect? And isn’t that exactly the general rule of people when they hear me teach that it’s faith + nothing, they just quizzically look at me as if to say, “Now wait a minute Les, what are you talking about?” Don’t I have to do this and that? No, not for salvation. It is Faith + Nothing, and I know that it may be hard to swallow. But listen, that’s what The Book teaches. Now verse 29:
“Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:” Now that wasn’t the concept back in the Old Testament was it? Oh the Gentiles were in God’s mind, but remember in Ephesians 2 what Paul says?
“That at that time ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”
That was the Gentiles lot back there before the Gospel of Grace came on along. But now it’s on a level playing field. The Jew no longer has an advantage over a Gentile nor do we have an advantage over the Jew. Now to finish the chapter.
“Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision (Jews) by faith, and (justify) uncircumcision (Gentiles) through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
In other words, when I stand here and say that you’re not under Law, but strictly by faith + nothing, does that mean you throw the Law out to the wind? No! When we get to Romans Chapter 13 Paul is going to say just as plain as English can make it. “That when we love our neighbor, as a believer, of course, then we fulfill the Law.” We don’t cast it out. And I’ve always put it this way: can you love someone and break any of those commandments against him? It’s impossible. And so love is the fulfilling of the Law.