Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 30
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE?
Now if you will turn with me to II Corinthians Chapter 4 we will begin our study for this lesson. I think though before we begin with verse 1 that we should have just a little review. We review because we have so many people that thank us for reviewing. For so many of our people this is the first time that they have really heard The Bible taught on a verse by verse basis, and especially the letters like I and II Corinthians. Even in my own Bible study I suppose these were two of the most neglected letters of Paul’s writing, and even as I study for the television programs, I am seeing things that I have never seen before. Never lose sight of the fact that as soon as he began his ministry to the Gentiles, Paul came under satanic opposition from every possible direction. I think as we’re going to see in Chapter 4, Paul grew weary and almost despaired of life itself. Because it just seemed as though he was just getting the Gospel off the ground, when everything fell in on him. Remember Paul was just as human as we are.
Also never lose sight of the fact that all the way through these Corinthian letters he is, especially more than in the others, defending his apostleship. Everywhere Paul went the Judaisers would say, :“Well you’re not Peter. After all Peter spent 3 years with The Lord and Peter is our spokesman and Peter is the one we’re going to listen to.” Then there were other factions that said, “Well we go by what Jesus said in His earthly ministry.” Does that sound familiar? It does to me. And then there were others that said, “Well Apollos is the man that we follow.” And then on top of that controversy Paul had that tremendous opposition from Satan throughout the pagan background where they to were trying to stamp out this new idea.
I’ve often wondered why the Roman government came down so hard on Christianity when they didn’t bother Judaism? In fact I’ve read and I’m sure that some of you have, that the Roman authorities guaranteed that the offerings to the Temple would arrive safely. So the Romans had no problem with the Jews religion, in fact they protected it. But Christianity – the Romans tried to stamp it out and I think I finally found the answer to all of that and it was that the Romans had due respect for any ancient religion. It didn’t matter whether it was pagan or whatever and, consequently, since the Jews religions went back into antiquity, the Romans had a high regard for it, but Christianity was something new. This was something that coming from the up-start of this one man Paul, and so they, too, had no compunction about putting it to death, and martyring those who were adhering to it.
So as we come through even the first couple of chapters of the second letter to the Corinthians I want you to understand that the first letter was written from Ephesus over there in what is today the land of Turkey on the western coast. So he wrote I Corinthians from Ephesus, and it was a letter that came down real hard on many of their problems, division, immorality, and some of the other problems that they had. And then this second letter was written sometime after he had been forced out of Ephesus because of the tremendous hatred for the Gospel from the pagan followers of the goddess Diana. So after he had left Ephesus he went up north into the northwest corner of what is now Turkey to the ancient city of Troas, which was the city of Troy. Remember it was at Troy where you had the Trojan horse so that will give you a little historical background. So, evidently he began a little congregation there at Troas, but he was supposed to have met Titus there in Chapter 2 verse 13. We might look at that again for a moment, because I’m giving this background to show you why this man was under such constant satanic attack. Now, that’s nothing new. I’ve always taught that just as soon as God made that classic statement in Genesis 3:15, and God was speaking to Satan, that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Now Satan knew what God was talking about. It was the coming of the Redeemer. And so Satan kicks into gear everything to prohibit the coming of a Redeemer for the human race. And then when the Abrahamic Covenant was given to Abraham, again Satan understood that this was the vehicle that God would use to bring about the seed of the woman. So what does Satan do? He turns on the Nation of Israel. So all the way up through Israel’s history there is that satanic attack and the apparent desire to destroy the nation Israel, because if Satan could destroy that nation then God’s whole program would fall apart. Well it’s the same way now as you come into the advent of Christianity. Satan is going to do everything in his power to disrupt it, to destroy it in order to thwart the very program of God. Paul has been under such pressure from the persecutors of Ephesus and now he’s up at Troas, hoping to meet Titus. Now let’s look at verse 13:
II Corinthians 2:13
“I had no rest in my spirit, (that is, in his innermost being) because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”
Now imagine – there was no communication. He couldn’t just go to the telegraph office, as those of you who are older would probably think of as being antiquities. But there was no way of communicating. There was no way that Titus could tell Paul that he would eventually make it. And so after, no doubt, waiting a few days and ministering to the people at Troas, he finally had to go on his way, not knowing what had happened to Titus. Well from there he went to Phillipi, which is way up in Northern Greece and it was probably at Phillipi that he became so deathly sick that he despaired of life itself and thought his ministry had come to an end. And all of that was heaped on the man, I think, by Satanic forces. But God, on the other hand, said, “It’s in weakness that you become strong.” And so Paul had to rely on that. Now as we come into Chapter 4, once again he’s going to defend his apostleship because of all the innuendos that were leveled against him, because of all the attacks of the Judaisers and the other forces that were in the man’s life and so let’s look at verse 1 of Chapter 4:
II Corinthians 4:1
“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;” Paul didn’t, but he was oh so close. Now verse 2.
II Corinthians 4:2a
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully;…”
Now does that ring a bell? Come back with me again to Chapter 2. Remember there was a word we used in verse 17. It’s not the same Greek word but it’s awfully close. So here again the Apostle is showing us that he is not in this for personal gain, nor wealth, or fame, but rather for only one purpose and that is to see lost humanity given the Gospel of Salvation as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4. Now for a quick review let’s look at verse 17.
II Corinthians 2:17a
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God:…”
The word `corrupt’ is translated in the Septuagint back in Isaiah 1:21-22 as water mixed with wine. Well when you throw water in with good wine, what do you do to it? You adulterate it, you corrupt it. So that’s exactly what the word means here in verse 17. Paul wasn’t corrupting the Word of God. He was not watering down his message with something that would tickle people’s ears. He was not giving them a message that would just make people feel good. That kind of message would have been an adulteration, that would have been a corruption. Then the other part of the Greek word for corruption in verse 17 was like a street salesman, like a huckster, who is out simply hocking his goods, but those kind of fellows are usually a little bit suspect, because they do not have the best quality products because they too are adulterated. So all of this fits together when Paul says, “I’m not like those kind of people, and I’m not coming with something that is corrupted, adulterated, or cheap, but rather I’m coming with the real thing.” Now back to Chapter 4 then if you will, and continuing on in verse 2 we find Paul saying:
II Corinthians 4:2b
“…nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Now you know the meaning of truth is an elusive thing isn’t it? A lot of our universities use to put across their main gates, “Seeking After Truth.” in one way or another. But truth can be so elusive many times, and yet if we just get in and search the Scriptures then the truth will come out. We had three phone calls just yesterday from people of the same denomination, and they were from different parts of the country who said, “Les you’ve opened my eyes. I never realized that I was under such false teaching. Well it was not that I opened their eyes, but rather the fact was they’re doing something that I tell people to do and that is asking, “What does The Book say?” And that’s when they found out that they were under a lot of false doctrine, because they couldn’t find it in The Book. It was coming from their pulpit, but it wasn’t in The Bible. And seeing it wasn’t in The Bible made them come away from it. And that’s all I’m saying because I’m not here to knock any group, and if you can line up with what they’re preaching in The Book then fine, I have no opposition with that. But so much of what we’re hearing is not in The Book, it’s men’s ideas, and people are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker and then suddenly realizing that they have been led down some back alley. Now verse 3:
II Corinthians 4:3
“But (Now here’s the flip side. Paul’s not coming with an adulterated product, but he says) if our gospel be hid, (or veiled) it is hid to them that are lost:” Now just mull that statement over. A better word for hid is veiled like we saw in Chapter 3. Let’s turn back there a moment and look at it.
II Corinthians 3:15,16
“But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” What has been happening? Something has been hidden from them. Now you bring that same concept up into verse 3.
II Corinthians 4:3a
“If our gospel be hid…” (or veiled)
Something is over it so that hearts cannot comprehend it. What has to happen? Well someone has to remove the veil, and in this case who is holding the veil in place? Satan is, as we’ll see in the next verse.
II Corinthians 4:4a
“In whom the god of this world…” (Satan)
A lot of people don’t like to talk about Satan. They think of him as a cartoon character in a red underwear suit, and a pitchfork with some horns on his head, but listen, that’s not the Satan in The Bible. The Satan of The Bible is a powerful being. Paul says in another place that he can transform himself into an angel of light. So this is what Satan is doing so expeditiously today. Satan is constantly confusing the issue with his seeming light, but remember it’s Satan who –
II Corinthians 4:4b
“…hath blinded the minds of them which (will not repent and be baptized? Notice it doesn’t say that. So what is God’s controversy? They won’t believe. They) believe not,…”
It’s not that we have to repent, it’s not that we have run down some aisle in repentance. But rather what does God demand for salvation in this day of Grace? That we believe the Gospel. Now is a mighty good time to look at the Gospel of salvation that saves us and places us into the Body of Christ. Jerry Pool isn’t here with us today, but if he was here he’d be winking at me, and I know what he’d be saying. So turn back with me to I Corinthians Chapter 15. And bless his heart, Jerry started coming to my classes about 16 years ago and I guess one of the first Thursday nights he attended I must have struck a cord with these first 4 verses in I Corinthians, “The Gospel!” There is no clearer place in the whole Bible where the Gospel is laid out in full. This beats John 3:16 a hundred miles. Now I have nothing against John 3:16, but John 3:16 can’t even come close to what Paul writes here. Remember any time that Paul makes a reference to the Gospel in any of his epistles it’s always this one. All right verse 1:
I Corinthians 15:1,2
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (absolutely. Today there is only one Gospel of Grace.) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (that was all it took. When they believed the Gospel then God literally moved heaven and earth to bring that person to place of enlightenment. And as soon as we believe the Gospel this Book begins to open up to understanding. And it begins to make sense) By which also ye are saved, (it’s by this Gospel and this Gospel only that we’re saved. I don’t care if it was in Corinth or any other area of the world, whether it was back in 50 AD or in the present year it makes no difference because this is the Gospel that saves lost people.) if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”
Paul is saying, “Don’t believe the wrong thing for salvation.” Listen God is meticulous. Again this same Jerry had been to a funeral of a dear friend, a good person, and I’ll never forget the look on Jerry’s face when he said, “Les is there any chance that God might compromise this a little bit and let this person in?” No way! Because God is not a compromiser.God has made the plan of salvation so simple, and plain that He is not going to let someone slip in a side door, and say, “Well I thought…” You see that’s what Cain did. I always have to go back to Cain and Abel because they were so typical. Abel did just exactly what God said to do. Abel believed what God said and he acted on it. But old Cain rationalized, and said, “Yeah but I think that if I do this and if I come on with all of this effort then God will accept me.” But did He? No! I’ve often said that Cain was probably a better person than Abel. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Because Cain tried, but what was his problem? Cain didn’t believe what God said.
And it’s the same way today. If people are going to somehow or other connive around this simple Gospel, then I don’t believe that God is going to accept them. Now I don’t know hearts, and I never pretend to, but I have to go by what The Book says, and The Book says that this is the Gospel by which people are saved. Here it is in verse 3 and 4.
I Corinthians 15:3,4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (now here we come back to the revelation that Paul received from the ascended Lord, and not from Christ’s earthly ministry. Christ had the finished work of the Cross now behind Him. So this is what was revealed by the ascended Lord for us to believe for salvation) how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (This was in that whole preordained plan of the ages that Christ would go to the Cross) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;”
Now folks that’s the Gospel that you must believe in your heart for salvation. And isn’t it so simple. Oh there is no string attached, there is no prescribed ritual, there is no particular way that you have to do this. You can believe it at the kitchen sink, you can believe it driving down the road, you can believe it when you wake up in the middle of the night. You can say, “Yes I see it. For me there is only one remedy, and that is that Christ died for my sins, and He arose from the dead!” Then God does all the rest. God saves us. God sets our feet on a Rock, and He begins to open up the Scriptures, and then we begin to comprehend the truth of The Bible from cover to cover. Now this isn’t going to happen all at once, but salvation happens all at once. I told a class many years ago that salvation is not a process, but rather salvation is an event. Salvation is an instantaneous event. Christian growth is a process. Bible understanding is a process, but salvation is a one time event. And what an event to be translated from darkness to light! To know your sins have been forgiven, and to know that you’re justified! And all this happens instantaneously.
I noticed in my studies of this past week that in all of Paul’s letters that we never have to beg God to forgive us of our sins. Think about that. And yet for most people who are putting out the plan of salvation they say, “You have to ask God to forgive you of your sins, you have to repent.” Well I can’t find any of this in Paul’s letter to the Church Age believers. It’s not in here, but rather my Bible tells me that when Christ died the death of the Cross, He took on Himself not just the sins of those who are saved, but rather He took on the sins of every human being that has ever lived or will ever live. And when He took every human being’s sin then He could cry to the Father, “Those sins are forgiven,” All of those sins are buried in the deepest sea, never, never to be brought before us again. So even when lost people slip out of this life into eternity, their sins are already forgiven. But they had not believed unto Salvation. Now when we get into Chapter 5 of II Corinthians we’re going to find the word “Reconciliation” and the same thing applies. Every human being that has ever lived has now been reconciled to God by virtue of the work of the Cross.
But now I have to clarify that don’t I? I think this will be a good illustration. Those guys in Congress who hold the money bags, and can hand it out by the billions. For a particular program they can appropriate millions of dollars, but that money stays in that account until somebody out there starts drawing on that account. Am I right? Is that government process? You know it is. All right the money is already appropriated, but it won’t do a nickels worth of good until somebody draws on it and puts it to use. Now that is God! At the Cross God paid the payment for every person’s sins. He paid their eternal doom, He did everything that needed to be done. So now all that lost people have to do is draw on that account. And how do they do that? By simply believing the Gospel for their salvation. But the reason they will never enjoy all the ramifications of that finished work is that they are never going to draw on it by believing. They will never exercise the faith that God demands. Now isn’t that sad? You know I think when people go to the Lake of Fire for all eternity, they won’t be going there for all their sins. They’re not going there because of the drunkenness, and adultery and whatever you want to call sin. They’re going there because of their unbelief! And if I’m not remembered for anything else I want to be remembered for that. That lost humanity is going to their eternal doom for only one reason, and that is they refuse to believe that everything is already done. And isn’t that sad. And who is keeping them from seeing all of this? The powers of Satan as we see in II Corinthians 4:4:
II Corinthians 4:4a
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,…”
And how does Satan do it? I think his favorite choice today is to keep people so busy. Everybody is so busy. Our kids are all involved in sports from the time they get old enough to walk. And so it is a constant bombarding of our time with everything except the things that count. And so I believe this is Satan’s biggest instrument. And there is nothing wrong with a lot of those things. There’s nothing wrong with kids playing T-Ball, or basketball; but what’s it doing? It’s keeping their minds so occupied that they never have time to think in terms of the spiritual. Oh, the old Devil loves it when we’re preoccupied. The more he can keep people in programs, and the more he can keep people with their eyes on material things the more old Satan can say, “I’ve got them veiled, I’m keeping them blinded, and I’m the winner.