Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 26
FOR WE ARE LABOURERS TOGETHER WITH GOD
Now with Bible in hand let’s begin again where we left off in our last lesson, and that will be in I Corinthians Chapter 2, and verse 8. I would like to back up a couple of verses and remind you again that throughout this early part of I Corinthians, Paul is constantly bringing up the word “Wisdom.” And it’s usually in a comparison of man’s wisdom, and God’s wisdom. The Apostle Paul was probably more aware of the emphasis on man’s wisdom than we can have any idea about, because just shortly before he came down to the city of Corinth he was at the very seat of psychological thinking which was Athens. And you remember up there at Athens as he confronted all those Athenian Philosophers, they subscribed to him the term, “Babbler.”
Do you remember that when we were studying the Book of Acts? What would this babbler have to say? Well compared to the philosophers of his day it was really the other way around. Paul was the one who had the heavy stuff, and the philosophers were the ones who had the babble. And you know what? It isn’t much different today. The world’s heavy thinkers, and the think tanks, and all we read about, compared to the Word of God, they’re nothing but babble. They try to envision what’s going to happen, and how things are happening, and here the writers of Scripture knew it thousands of years ago. So as Paul now comes on the scene at Corinth, as we explained in the last several lessons, we find a city that was beset in idolatry, steeped in the mythological worship of the gods and goddesses, and along with that of course there was gross immorality. We think we’re in a bad state of affairs today, but we’re not yet as far as they were at Corinth.
Into the very midst of all that comes this apostle and he didn’t come to them with oratory, or smooth talk. He didn’t have a big advance team getting him ready for a big crusade, or anything like that. He just came into the synagogue first, and from there probably out into the busy market place, and he just simply began to approach people, as he says in this letter, “With the preaching of the Cross.” And I’ve maintained for as long as I’ve been teaching that if pastors would forget about the gimmicks, and programs, and just simply start preaching the Word again, then I think they would find that their church would once again have new life, and began to grow because this is the way that God has ordained it. We need to back up a little bit to Chapter 2, verse 6, and again this hits the nail on the head.
I Corinthians 2:6,7a
“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect (`perfect’ in the King James means mature. So these Corinthian believers, even though they were carnal, yet they had enough of the basic fundamentals of Paul’s Gospel that Paul could refer to them as mature); yet not the wisdom of this world (does he bring to Corinth or to us today?), nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:”
Here’s the flip side again. Paul says that he didn’t come to you with the wisdom of this world, but the simple Gospel of the Cross. And you know the simple Gospel of the Cross hasn’t lost it’s power one iota. We have heard in just the last few months of people who have just watched a portion of our program, not even a whole program, and the Lord has entered their lives, and transformed them and just totally changed the direction of their life. Now that’s not Les Feldick, but rather that’s the power of the Word of God, and work of the Holy Spirit. And anyone of you can experience the same thing as you share the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) with those you come into contact with. So Paul tells us that he didn’t come with the wisdom of this world:
I Corinthians 2:7a
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery (or Secret),…”
The word `mystery’ or `secret’ is a Pauline word, and I like to use as much Scripture as we can because this is a Bible study. So let’s turn to a verse that we’ve used over and over to follow up on this word “mystery or secret.” And we’ll find that in Deuteronomy 29:29, and it’s from this verse that I think Paul is constantly using that same word. It’s mystery in the Greek, but it’s also secret. So back here in Deuteronomy we see that very word `secret’ as being a part and parcel of God dealing with not only Israel, but the whole human race.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed (and are no longer a secret) belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Now of course that was Moses writing to Israel, but you see the same thing applies to us today. God has seen fit to keep things secret until such time in His Sovereign Grace He saw fit to release it, and reveal it. Which of course is this whole Pauline doctrine, it had been kept secret until revealed to Paul. The Old Testament knew nothing of what we call, “The Gospel of the Grace of God.” The Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John know nothing of Paul’s Gospel, “That Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised from the dead, and you must believe that for your Salvation.” So Paul uses the words over and over, “Behold I show you a secret or a mystery.” Now back to I Corinthians Chapter 2, and this is exactly what Paul is referring to. That the wisdom that God had now given to this apostle, the revelations that have now been given to this man had been kept secret. And now they are coming out into full view, and full understanding:
I Corinthians 2:7a
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery (Paul had the privilege of having all these secrets revealed to him by the risen Lord.), even the hidden wisdom…”
You see when Abraham first had his encounter with Jehovah, and if I’m not mistaken the Hebrew name that God ascribed to it was Jehovah Olam. And the word Olam as you come all the way up through the Old Testament can be used in various other settings. For example King David refers to the Psalms, “Why O LORD have you hidden these things.” Well what do you suppose is a Hebrew word for hidden? Olam. And so way back there in Genesis we already realize that God in His Sovereignty does keep things hidden from human understanding until it’s His time to reveal it. And remember Paul is constantly referring to this fact, that these things revealed to him were indeed hidden in the mind of God. And again I always have to take folks back to Acts Chapter 2 where Peter is preaching to the Nation of Israel concerning their having crucified their Messiah.
“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
So was God surprised when Israel rejected the Messiah? No. Was God surprised when Rome crucified Him? No, because it was all predetermined back in eternity past, and the same way with these truths. This wasn’t just God changing His mind all of a sudden, and saying, ” Well I guess I’ll do it a different way.” Oh no, this was all in a predetermined Sovereign plan of the ages that through this man Paul, God would reveal these hidden wisdoms. Now continuing on in verse 7.
I Corinthians 2:7b
“…even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our (my) glory:”
Now turn with me to Galatians Chapter 1 so that we know what Paul is talking about. And we’ve looked at these verses quite often, and I’m going to keep repeating, because that is how people learn. And here in Galatians is the Apostle Paul’s own account of how these revelations came to him. And let’s begin with verse 11. And remember Paul is writing here to a Gentile congregation.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” Do you see that? In other words he’s not just falling into someone else’s footsteps, and taking up their material, and passing it on. But rather Paul is starting with something totally new. Now verse 12:
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it (by man, so how did he get it?), but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Now stop and think, where was Jesus Christ when He revealed these things to the Apostle Paul? He was already in glory. This isn’t during His earthly ministry, but rather after our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection and ascension to glory. And now He is revealing all these truths to Paul from glory so he can take it out to Jew and Gentile alike.
“For ye have heard of my conversation (manner of living) in time past in the Jews’ religion,…”
And remember by the time Paul comes on the scene, the Jews’ religion had been watered down with man-made laws and rules. I hope everyone understands that when Israel was living under the Law even during Christ’s earthly ministry that was a far cry from the pure Law of Moses. By the time that Christ came to the Nation of Israel it wasn’t just the ten commandments that made up the Law but hundreds of rules and regulations that now comprised the Law of Judaism. Now when you do that to anything that God has left for the human race, it becomes nothing more than religion. And that is what Paul is alluding to here, that he had been steeped in the Jew’s religion. Now continuing on with verse 13:
“…how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God, and wasted it:” And that was of course referring to those Jewish believers of Christ’s earthly ministry, and also the ones that Peter and the eleven were ministering and preaching to over in the Book of Acts. Now verse 14:
“And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the (Word of God? No, but rather) traditions of my fathers.”
And you know what? People in Christendom are not one bit different. If people could come and say, “Les I’m steeped in the Word, I wouldn’t have any problem with that, but they don’t. They call, and come with their various ideas of the tradition in which they have lived for the last many, many years. Paul was no different, he was steeped in the traditions of the fathers.
“But (the flip side. Now as he comes out of the traditions of the fathers) when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb,…”
In other words, Saul of Tarsus was on God’s mind way back in eternity past, and at the appropriate time Saul’s mother conceived, and the baby in her womb was all part of God’s preordained plan, and that’s what he says. It was God who formed him in the womb, it was God Who brought him to birth.
“…and called me by his grace,”
Now you all know Paul’s background as the persecutor, as the one who hated Jesus of Nazareth with a passion, and yet God saw fit to save that man, not because he deserved it, or because he had earned it, but rather because of “Grace.” Now verse 16, and what was God’s purpose?
“To reveal his Son in me (now of course he’s speaking of the crucified, resurrected, and risen Christ), that I might preach him among the heathen (or the Gentiles);…”
Paul was commissioned back there in Acts Chapter 9 to preach to the Gentiles, and never forget this. I have a young man out in North Carolina who picked up our program several years ago off the satellite, and the first thing he did was order all the tapes and books, and he just became a rabid student. After he had gotten it down solid from Genesis to Revelation he wonders why with all this new knowledge why God doesn’t give him a chance to use it. And I told him to be patient, and he called the other night and was so excited, because he had became a HAM operator, and told me that he had a whole class of men on the shortwave studying the Word, and he is just thrilled that he can unload the Scriptures over the shortwave. Now finishing the verse. Paul had the Son revealed in him to preach to Gentiles, and :
“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.”
Now what does that tell us? Well, logically from the human standpoint old Saul was up there in Damascus, and the Lord has just totally made him His own. And having brought him off his high horse of Judaism, what would have been the logical thing to do? To go back to Jerusalem and look up Peter, and the eleven, and say, “Hey fellows, you were with the Lord for three years now fill me in. You certainly know a lot of things that I don’t know.” But you see Paul makes the point by inspiration that he didn’t confer with anyone. Why? Because God wanted to keep him as far from the Twelve as he possibly could, because he doesn’t want the revelation that he’s going to give to Paul to get mixed up with what the Twelve were teaching and understood. And to make sure that we understand what Paul is saying the next verse qualifies it.
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
God took him to Arabia, and I think it was Mount Sinai. Just as surely as God took Moses up there to give him the Law for Israel, I believe He took Paul up there to reveal the doctrines of Grace. Well anyway, the Apostle makes it so plain that all of this that had been given to him, and which comes out in his letters, was by revelation. He didn’t go to some seminary in Jerusalem taught by Peter, James and John. He didn’t go back and pick up their notes and do some research. But instead God took him to the desert (and I think alone), and there, if I understand my scriptures correctly, for three years the Lord revealed to this man these tremendous doctrines of Grace which you will find no where else in your Bible. Now maybe that is sufficient to bring us back to I Corinthians Chapter 2. So this is the wisdom that Paul refers to as having been revealed to him as “The Apostle to the Gentiles.” Now then this wisdom had been revealed to this man, how that Christ was the Son of God, He was the Messiah, the King of Israel, but His own people rejected Him, and crucified Him. But it was all part of God’s eternal plan for the ages, that it had to be that way in order to purchase the salvation of every human being that would respond.
I Corinthians 2:8a
“Which (this wisdom) none of the princes of this world knew:…”
Now this word `knew’ is more than the casual word for, “Yes, there was a fellow that came out of Nazareth,” and so forth. No, they did not know Him as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. Had the leaders of Israel, had that High Priest, had those Pharisees known Who Jesus of Nazareth really was, would they have ever cried for His death? NO WAY! Pilot came close to recognizing Who Jesus was. He said, “I can find no fault in this man.” And on top of that his wife had had a dream not to touch this Man. Pilot came close to seeing it, but he didn’t, and so Pilot also put his stamp on the crucifixion. And so this is what Paul is now alluding to, that the princes and leaders of that then-known world did not know Who Jesus of Nazareth was. And consequently they went ahead and crucified Him:
I Corinthians 2:8b
“for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
These people had the wisdom of men, they had the wisdom of religion, but they did not have the wisdom of God. Now verse 9: So now after comparing the wisdom of men with the wisdom of God he says:
I Corinthians 2:9
“But as it is written (Old Testament reference), `Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'”
Now I know that in our present day Christendom we hear almost nothing of the lake of fire, the eternal doom, but you know it’s gotten to the place where we don’t hear much about heaven and if we do it’s in some real divinity terms. We just hear it as some place we’ll go when we die if we’re saved. But listen, this verse gives us again a whole train load if we will just think on it. There has never entered into the thoughts of man – he can’t even began to comprehend the things that God has already prepared for those who love Him. You know I’ve been emphasizing in my classes here in Oklahoma over the past many years, as a believer get excited about your eternity. Get excited about what’s ahead of us. This old world hasn’t anything to offer us! Even though we here in America have it so good, but it’s nothing compared to the glory Paul says that one day will be presented to us.
Those of you who have traveled know there are areas in our country that are beautiful almost beyond description. I love the mountains, and make no apology for it, and if I could live my life over and could make a living out of scenery I think I’d be living out in the Rocky Mountains. But those mountains just give us a little glimpse as they are so eternal, they are so much the work of the fingers of God, and I just can’t help but feeling a little closer to Him as we drive though those tremendous mountainous areas. But even that beauty is nothing, Paul says, compared to that which is still coming. And always keep that uppermost in your mind, because this old world is nothing but a pig pen compared to that which is coming.