Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 23
ROMAN ROAD TO SALVATION
Studying The Bible is what this program is all about. I’ve always said that I’m not a preacher or evangelist, but I feel The Lord has given me the ability to teach the Word in a way that ordinary people can understand it. In fact, a lady in our class was just expressing to me that a relative she had heard from out on the west coast was enjoying this teaching in Romans, and how it had totally opened her eyes to a lot of things she had never heard before. So I realize that we are teaching things not normally taught. We’re getting a little deeper in The Book, and we just feel that the Christian community needs this today. We have to get into the doctrines of what God has revealed, and what He’s revealed the Scripture says, “He expects us to hang on to it, to believe it, and to trust in it.”
At the end of our last lesson we were in the area of Romans 1:10, but to pick up the flow, let’s start reading in verse 5:
“For they that are after the flesh…”
Paul always writes to the believer, and the reason all these things are being written is so that we have a real reason for living as believers. Paul writes to the believer to enhance our belief, or faith, and give us roots, so we will not be tossed about with every wind of doctrine, and oh, they’re coming at us from every direction. When the disciples asked The Lord what were the signs of His coming at the end of the age, the first thing He said was:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, `Take heed that no man deceive you.'”
And so we know that the deception, the false teaching that is flooding our country is part and parcel of the end time scenario. So these things are written to us who believe, but it is also going to have an impact on those who do not as yet believe. I’m getting more and more a burden for lost people than I have ever had before, because I’m realizing how many, even church people, have never had a real Salvation experience. Now, verse 5 continuing:
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh (the word here for `flesh’ is another word for the old Adamic nature); but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” A person that is a child of God is going to mind the things of the Spirit.
“For to be carnally (another word for fleshly) minded is death (spiritual death, eternal doom); but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” And of course that life is eternal life.
“Because the carnal mind (the mind we’re born with, that mind that we’ve inherited from Adam) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
I’ve pointed out that most people don’t realize they’re an enemy of God. Recently, I was reading a footnote in some Bible teacher’s old book. He referred to a great revival that had taken place on the campus of Yale University. This goes back quite a ways. A lot of the students were experiencing Salvation but there was one young lady who was so benevolent that she would help anybody under any circumstance. She was everybody’s friend, but as yet she had shown no interest in this revival. So some of the girls that had found Salvation in the revival were talking to her one day, and inviting her to come to the meeting, but she just wouldn’t respond. Finally in desperation, one of the girls said, “Please come because God loves you, and wants to save you.” The girl’s temper flared, and she stamped her foot, and said, “I hate God!”
Well, you see that’s just exactly what I’ve been talking about. People can keep old Adam under control, but when he’s prodded, out it comes, and I thought that was the perfect example of what we’re up against. People can put on a good veneer, but when they’re really confronted with the demands of a loving God then they show their true colors. And they do hate God, because the Scripture says they’re enemies of God. This is exactly what verse 7 is talking about. The lost person is an enemy of God. Now, verse 8:
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (you’re a whole new person who has been born into the very family of God, as we’ll see when we get to verse 14 and 15. And here’s the criteria, here’s the proof), if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you (if He doesn’t, then you’re on thin ice). Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
I think sometimes people have to be scared a little bit. They have to be shook up, and realize that you can’t just take these things in one ear and out the other, and dress it up a little bit on Sunday morning for an hour, and then hope to spend eternity in the presence of our Creator. It’s just not going to happen. Paul makes several warnings that have scared me over the years, not for myself, but for the sake of people who are living an illusion. In fact, a verse just comes to mind that’s found in the Book of Galatians. So turn to Galatians Chapter 5 and this verse will shake people up, or at least should. First, Paul tells us in Romans 2:
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
Everybody is going to either stand as lost or saved by what they have done with Paul’s Gospel, and that Gospel is believing for Salvation that Christ died, was buried. and rose again. The admonition to the Galatian believers is not to fall victim to the legalizers who were making in-roads into the congregations that Paul had established in Asia Minor. So now Paul writes again to believers:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Law, legalism, Judaism.
And now verse 2. My when I first saw this about 20 years ago it just shook me up, because I could understand that there are millions of people that this verse is talking to. And what does Paul say?
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.”
Paul is talking about circumcision for Salvation. If they’re going to depend on something that they can do themselves in the flesh for their Salvation then Christ shall profit them nothing. The first time I saw that it just scared me to death. How many millions of good people, church members who wouldn’t dream of missing a Sunday morning service, and yet they’re depending on something of the flesh that they have done rather than just relying totally on the finished work of the Cross. And if you add any one thing plus the Cross, then you cancel the work of the Cross. We’ve got to warn people about this. I’m not a preacher and I’m not here to scare people, but on the other hand I think we have to realize what the Word says. And it says, “If you do anything in the energy of the flesh, Christ shall profit you nothing.” Paul goes on in verse 3:
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”
Now, remember circumcision was the big deal back then, because it was the Jewish people who were bringing this in among the Gentile churches. But I’ve always pointed out that this can be anything that you can do in the energy of the flesh. Joining the church, being baptized, taking The Lord’s Supper, good works. As long as you tie it to Salvation you’re canceling the work of the Cross because God is adamant that He finished it! He did everything that needed to be done, and if we’re not satisfied, then He’s not accepting us. And that is why Paul is repeating it in verse 3. Now, there has only been one Person Who has walked this planet that was able to keep the whole law and that was Christ Himself. So it’s an utter impossibility to keep the whole law. Then Paul puts the cap on it in verse 4.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you (Christ can’t touch us as long as we try to do something in the energy of the flesh), whosoever of you are justified by the law (or doing something in the energy of the flesh. Then Paul says); ye are fallen from grace.”
Now, that doesn’t mean they have been saved and then fell out, but rather they have turned their back on that which God has provided. Now, let’s come back Romans Chapter 8, and verse 10:
“And if Christ be in you,…”
I make a lot of Paul, and I make no apology for it because Paul claims to be the apostle of the Gentiles. It’s within Paul’s writings that most of Christendom gets its basic doctrine. Yet it seems that Christendom never gives him the credit. I’ve had people come up to me who had a Sunday School teacher or preacher who just detested Paul’s writing, and they can’t even see why his writings are in our Bible. Recently, a lady told me that she could never quite believe me when I would tell that there are people who didn’t think Paul should be in our Bible. But she said, “Today I heard it with my own ears.” She had used Paul as a reference to a lady, and the lady told her that she couldn’t see how anyone could believe anything Paul writes, and that Paul shouldn’t even be in our Bible. That’s probably putting it a little stronger than most, but that is the sub-conscience feeling of a lot of people. They think Paul is so far out that they don’t pay any attention to him. But it is foundational to our Salvation, and to our Christian experience that we realize what this apostle is saying. This whole idea of Christ indwelling Gentile believers is a Pauline doctrine. In fact let’s look at another one that speaks of Christ being in you. In the Book of Colossians, Chapter 1, and drop down to verse 27. And like I said, you won’t find statements like this in the Four Gospels, or in the Old Testament, or any of the rest of The Bible except in Paul’s writings. Look what he says:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery (secret) among the Gentiles (now the fact that God has been dealing with Israel for over 2000 years before Christ came on the scene was one thing, but now that He’s dealing with Gentiles? This had never been heard of before. This particular mystery is); which is Christ in you (and then that gives us), the hope of glory:” Now, back to Romans 8. Reading on in verse 10.
“And if Christ be in you, the body (the old Adam again) is dead because of sin (in other words Adam and the flesh was all under the curse, and this body is going to die if The Lord doesn’t come to translate it. That’s all part of the fall of man that death came in, and so all men has to die); but the (Holy) Spirit is life because of righteousness.” I think Paul is referring to eternal life, that life which will never end because of righteousness.
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead (here we have the implication again of the Trinity. God the Father used the power of the Holy Spirit to raise the Son. See how clear that is? So if He) dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Look at another Cross reference because that’s how we learn to study the Scriptures by using more than one verse at a time. In Ephesians Chapter 2, Paul has almost the same identical language.
“And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were (past tense) dead (something that’s dead is of no use, and that’s where the human race lies so far as God is concerned) in trespasses and sins.” We believers, too, were once dead in trespasses and sins.
“Wherein time past ye walked according to the course of this world (we were like everybody else, and now as a believer, hopefully now we’re different. Last Christmas, the city of McAlester was having a parade, and it was crowded downtown. We were on our way to Bible study and the gentlemen who was walking with me to our class room, said, `you know a few years ago I would have been with the crowd. I’d never dream of going to a Bible study. But now it’s exactly the opposite. I wouldn’t dream of being out there with them, I’d rather be here studying The Word.’ Well, we’ve heard that over and over, and this is exactly the way it has to work. But remember in time past we all walked) according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” And then verse 5:
“Even when we were dead in sins (`sins’ is plural. The word sin deals with that old Adamic nature. But when it’s plural it’s the results of that Adamic nature. I like to use the old whisky still as an example. The still is one thing, but what it produces is what bends peoples minds. The still itself doesn’t cause people to get drunk, but it’s what the still produces. And it’s the same way with old Adam. Adam is like that old still, producing sins, plural. So Paul says that when we were dead in the activity that was prompted by old Adam He), hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” And not by works. Now, Romans again.
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die (that’s what God told Adam and Eve in the Garden, and it hasn’t changed); but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (or put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
The Christian life does involve discipline, but you’re not going to give things up that you just love to do because the things you once loved you now hate and vice versa. So it’s not a matter of giving it up, it’s just a matter of having a change of appetites.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they (hope to be? No, they) are the sons of God.”
Most of Christendom today feels that if you do everything right, if you can hang on, if this, and if that, you might make it. But this Book never says that. This Book says that today you are in one of two categories. You are either lost, and hell bound, or you’re saved and heaven bound. It’s that simple, and I’m no more narrow than The Book is. This is what The Book declares There are only two classes of people in the world, you’re either in Christ or you’re not, there is no half way in-between. Now, verse 15.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, `Abba, Father.'”
The word `adoption’ as Paul uses it does not mean the same as in our culture, such as taking a child that was born to someone else and then legally adopting them into our family. But the word `adoption’ goes back to a Greek and Roman practice. They would take the eldest son and put him under the control of tutors until he reached the age where he was fully educated, and trained, and he could step right in side by side with the father in business. Now, when the son had reached that age and he was ready for that position then they went through the rites of what? Adoption.
What the word really means, as Paul uses it, is that we’re placed as a full son. Not just as one who has been taken legally from another family, but a son who has gone through the training years, and now he is placed as a full partner with the father. The glory of all this is, “The moment we’re saved, yes, we’re born into the family of God, but immediately God places us as the full heir with Jesus Christ.” You don’t have to work for 20 years like poor old Jacob had to for his wives. We don’t have to strive, hoping that we can obtain this position, but it all happens the moment we believe, and that’s why we can say, “Abba, Father” as it is here in verse 15. So get these basic doctrinal truths straight, that, yes, at Salvation we are born into the family of God by the work of the Holy Spirit, but there comes another act of God that places us then as full heir. Now, reading on.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs of God (and not just an heir down the line some place who’s going to hope for maybe a little bit of the inheritance, but we’re what?); and joint-heirs with Christ;…”
Even in our own culture a joint-heir implies equality. What’s his is hers and vice versa. So as we come in by being born in the family of God, placed as an equal full-grown son and placed in that position by adoption, we become joint-heirs, with Jesus Christ.