Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 31
OUR SINS HAVE ALREADY BEEN FORGIVEN – PART 2
Now let’s pick up where we left off in the last lesson and that will be in verse 14.
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love Christ constraineth us;…”(or drives us on)
Remember during the past several lessons I’ve been stressing how the apostle Paul suffered so much for the sake of the Gospel? And how long, with all of his physical sufferings, he had to constantly defend his apostleship. He had to constantly stand up against the Jewish people from Jerusalem who thought that he was a false teacher, and impostor. So in spite of all the opposition there was only one thing that kept driving the man on and I think he says it all right here, and that was “the love of Christ.”
Now you want to remember the man’s background kind of sets him up for this because he was such a religious zealot under Judaism. I mean his whole life was wrapped up in Judaism as his work as a Pharisee. Now knowing that even though God totally transformed the man and saved him by grace, yet that personality kept going and now the man is turning all that energy not to defeat the name of Christ, but now out of love for Him.
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; (or drives us on) because we thus judge, (or conclude) that if one died for all, (Christ died for the whole human race. He didn’t just die for the believers, but rather He died for all.) then were all dead.”
Now that’s another concept that a lot of people don’t like to stare in the face, and that is what? We have all fallen short of the glory of God, we are all sinners by virtue of our having been born from Adam, and we are separated from God. There is that vast gulf between man and God, and all because of Adam. Remember, we’re not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we’re sinners. And we’re sinners because we’re born of the lineage of Adam. So all of this is right here in this verse. The love of Christ constrains this man because Christ died for the whole human race. And so because the whole human race needed His sacrificial death, it follows that the whole human race was dead in sin.
When people try to make eternal life by their works then they are flatly denying that. They are not admitting that they have been totally separated from God. They are not admitting that they are dead spiritually. They are still thinking that somehow whatever they do will merit favor with God and they’re going to get into Heaven. But they’re not going to be able to. I’ve stressed so often; when you go all the way back to our study in Genesis we find that man was created in a physical body. We can see, and touch, and we function. But in this body are two other areas of our make-up that are invisible, and that’s the soul and the spirit, the mind, will, and emotion, and the spirit part of it. No human being can touch, or get into that.
And so how in the world can someone in a “works religion” hope to make it when they can’t even see and touch their own invisible personality? It has to be a miraculous work of God who alone can work in the area of the invisible. Oh don’t lose this. In fact let’s see how often Paul brings that out. Come over to Ephesians Chapter 2. Because this isn’t just a quirk of Corinthians, but rather this is Paul’s theme throughout all of his letters. In fact, while you’re finding Ephesians I’ll just put up the timeline that we like to use so often, especially beginning with Genesis Chapter 12, and the call of Abraham. That was when God pulled the Nation of Israel out of the river of humanity, and made all those Covenant promises to them. It was a time that God was dealing almost exclusively with that nation, but we also know that there were exceptions when He dealt with Gentiles.
But He pulls off this little Nation of Israel, and gives them the promises and the Law, and the priesthood, also the civil law. In other words, the nation had the very mind of God expressed in their national behavior, and their understanding of the spirit. And then one day God sent the Messiah with the idea that now Israel could take the knowledge of her Jehovah God to these pagan Gentiles. But before they got that far they rejected everything and they crucified their Messiah. Now beginning with the three years of Christ’s earthly ministry we find that Jesus again ministered only to the Jew and under the Law.
“But he (Jesus) answered and said, `I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'”
Just the other night in our Tulsa class a lady came up and said, “Les, last week when you made the statement that Jesus ministers to the Jews under the Law it was the first time I had ever caught that.” Well that’s so true. A lot of people still, as often as I’ve said it, do not understand that Jesus’ whole ministry for three years was under the Law. He never told anybody to stop Temple worship, He never told a Jew, “Now you no longer have to give sacrifices.” They were still under the Law, and even when you go past His death, burial, and resurrection, and you come into the early chapters of Acts you will find that all the language in those first few chapters is still the Jews only under the Law. No one has told them that they are no longer under the Law. Everything is still legal. Even in Chapter 3 we find Peter and John going to the Temple for prayer.
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
Well what does that imply? There was certainly nothing in Christianity that demanded you go to the Temple three or four times a day to pray. Remember a Gentile couldn’t even go to the Temple, because that was Judaism. So they were still under the Law although they had recognized Christ as their Messiah, and were believers of that. But they weren’t released from the Law. Even in Chapter 10 when the Holy Spirit made Peter go to Cornelius’ house, what was the first thing Peter said to Cornelius?
“And he (Peter) said unto them, `Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation;…'”
So this is what I try to point out that in those early chapters of Acts we find God still dealing with the Nation of Israel, and the language is so plain. Some verses that recognize this include:
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, `Ye men of Judaea,…'”
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words;…”
“Now when they heard this, they (the men of Israel in verse 22) were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to rest of the apostles, `Men and brethren, what shall we (the men of Israel) do?'”
“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, `Ye men of Israel, …'”
And then finally when it was evident that Israel was not going to accept their Messiah we find in Acts Chapter 9 something totally different takes place again in God’s operation, and what is it? He saves the very man Saul of Tarsus (that was trying to destroy Him) from Judaism. And as old Saul of Tarsus was laboring under his blindness and the results of that experience on the road to Damascus, God speaks to Ananias in Damascus and tells him:
“…Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles…” 16. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
So in our timeline then we can see that after Israel had rejected the Messiah, and after Israel had rejected Peter and the eleven’s preaching in those first few years after the crucifixion, we find God sending Israel back into a dispersion especially after 70 AD. It was at the time God also destroyed the Temple, and in the mean time He is now going to do just the opposite. Now, rather than dealing with Israel primarily, He is dealing primarily with the Gentiles. Howbeit there can be Jews that can come into this Body of Christ individually, but not as a nation, as God was dealing with them back there.
So here is where the apostle Paul now comes into play as the apostle. In fact as I’m writing this, be looking up Romans Chapter 11:13. Now this apostle is not like the Twelve apostles of Israel, but rather we find in Romans 11:13, where Paul is speaking, and there is no way we can argue with it. This is where we are today:
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,…”
Now you can’t get around that. That’s just plain English. Another verse that says almost the same thing is in Ephesians Chapter 3. The reason I’m spending so much time on Paul’s Epistles is because this is where we, as Gentiles, have to spend our greatest amount of time. Now that doesn’t cancel the rest of Scripture. I know some have accused me of telling people to just throw away the Four Gospels, but you people know better than that. But nevertheless, never do we take away any portion of Scripture, but we have to set priorities, it’s like in everything else. And the priority for the Grace Age Gentile Believer, and the Jew as he has come into Christianity as a born again person, is that these Pauline Epistles are where we find the very meat of our faith and practice. Because the Four Gospels were Christ’s under the Law given to the Jews only.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles,…” Remember we’re not under Law, but rather Grace. Now look what Paul says in Ephesians Chapter 3.
“For this cause (because of everything he has written in Ephesians 2 such as `For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: ` So he says, for this cause) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, (see how plain that is?) 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation (or administration) of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”
So bear with me as I spend this much time on Paul’s Epistles because of the concept that God has now called this man as the apostle of the Gentiles. He has inspired this man to write the biggest part of our New Testament. And as I said when we began our study of Paul’s Epistles way back when we started in Romans, that out of all the existing manuscripts of the New Testament we find some have the Four Gospels in various orders. Some have the little Epistle such as James, Peter, John and Jude in different order, but always you find Paul’s Epistles are in the same identical order. Now that just tells me the Holy Spirit has just hovered over that part of our New Testament so that no one has been able to fool with it. It’s exactly where it belongs from Romans through Hebrews. So keep all that in mind as I keep spending week after week on these letters to the various Churches from this apostle. Now if you will come back to II Corinthians Chapter 5. So as the apostle of the Gentiles has now written to this period of time and we think we’re coming close to the end. But nevertheless what he has written is still just as appropriate as the day he wrote it. So he says again in verse 14:
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, (conclude) that if one died for all, then were all dead:”
Let’s look at that in the Book of Ephesians Chapter 2:1 And again remember that Ephesus was a Gentile congregation. Now I’m sure there was a scattering of Jewish believers in all these Churches but they were predominantly Gentiles.
“And you hath he quickened, (or made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
Now that’s the lot of every human being. Not because they were pagan, not because of their religion, not because of their immorality, but rather they were dead in trespasses and sins because they were sons and daughters of Adam. And oh I hope people don’t get tired of my drumming it in, but we have to understand that everyone of us was dead in sin because we are the offspring of Adam. Now verse 2.
“Wherein (while we were dead in trespasses and sins) in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”
So for the lost world they are still dead in their trespasses and sins. Now let’s come back to II Corinthians Chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:15
“And that he died for all, (do you see how the scriptures constantly brings this in? He died for all) that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
What is that? The Gospel! Do you see how the Gospel keeps popping up throughout all of Paul’s writing? And remember how he delineates it as the Gospel that we must believe for salvation in I Corinthians 15:11-4? How that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again. Listen if you believe anything other than that, then you are believing in a false gospel. You must believe this Gospel for salvation! This is why the Holy Spirit has prompted the man to bring it up over and over and over. A verse just comes to mind in the Book of Hebrews. You know in our last seminar I told the group that they may wear out their Bible as we study from 8:30 to 5:00 PM. by comparing Scriptures with Scriptures. I think God expects us to use this Book till it becomes totally worn out, and then go get another one. I think this is my 7th Bible since I started teaching, so wear them out, and please God. Here in the Book of Hebrews Paul makes it so plain in verse 9.
“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.
Christ died the death that every human being should have had, but He did substitute on their behalf. As I’ve said so often, “What a waste that God has done everything that every human being ever needed for salvation and yet the vast majority is walking it under foot.” I hope the latest poll I read is true about Christians. I have a hard time believing that it is, however this particular pollster declared that 50% of Americans are born again Christians. My if that is true I would think that we would have a different nation. But let’s hope that statement is true because I hate to think of anybody going out to a lost eternity seeing that Christ has already paid the price. Now back to II Corinthians Chapter 5, and let’s look at verse 15 again.
II Corinthians 5:15
“And that he died for all, that they which live (for those who have believed the Gospel and have become spiritually alive they) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
Now I’m confident that God doesn’t expect every believer to suffer like the apostle Paul did. But on the other hand I don’t think that we have to take the idea that since we’re Christians then everything is going to have a rose petal pathway to it. No way is that true. We’re going to have trials and tribulations, we’re going to have pain and suffering, and sickness just like anybody else. But we have this blessed assurance that whatever we go through the Lord is with us, we’re not alone. But on the other hand, He does expect us to live for Him as much as is within us and as He gives us guidance and direction to do so. But you see too many people are just totally unconcerned. They say, “Oh yeah, I’m a Christian, I’m not going to go to Hell when I die, I’m going to Heaven.” And that’s where they leave it. But you see that’s not what God wants.
I’ve used this on the program before, but I’ll share it with you again. I remember back when communist Russia was seemingly going to overrun the world. I think many of us thought that there wasn’t anything that anyone could do that could stop the juggernaut of communism. That was probably back in the early 80’s and there was nothing of any signs of it’s finally crumbling away. I remember reading (I think in Time Magazine) a little box on the bottom of the page where the reporter had interviewed an ordinary Communist worker. He was a factory worker of some sort. As I read that article I became alarmed to find that when he got off work in the evening, he would go down to communist headquarters in whatever city he was living in and he would work for the party until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. His family and everything else was 2nd to his love and pushing of communism. And as I read that article years and years ago I often thought, “My if Christians would even come close to that what a different world we would be living in.” Now coming back to our text. So the very core of all of our activity is the fact that we know He has died for us, and He has risen from the dead. Now verse 16. We must take this next verse slowly.
II Corinthians 5:16a
Now what does the word henceforth mean? You know I’m a stickler for words. Henceforth means, “From that point on.” Paul is not going back to John the Baptist, he’s not going back to Christ’s earthly ministry, but rather he’s going back to His death, burial, and resurrection. That’s where things really kick into gear for us Gentiles. Let’s use some Scripture for this. Let’s go to John’s Gospel Chapter 12, and I know this is a big pill for some people to swallow. But listen we have to understand that all the way up through the Old Testament that God was dealing with His Covenant people under the Law. Remember all the prophets wrote under the Law, and they practiced the Law to the hilt. But once the death, burial, and resurrection has been revealed to us Gentiles as God’s plan of salvation, then that’s where we have to start.
“And there were certain Greeks (Gentiles) among them that came up to worship at the feast:…”
Now it doesn’t say that they came to worship, so don’t try to put the handle proselyte on these Greeks. I think they were just curious bystanders, and these Gentiles saw these masses of Jews coming in from all over the world for these various feast days. This feast day of course is for the day of Passover.
“And there were certain Greeks (Gentiles) among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21. The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, `Sir, we would see Jesus.’ 22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. (there are some Gentiles here and they want to see you. Does Jesus except them? No way.) 23. And Jesus answered them, saying, `The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn(kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: (now watch this because this is a tremendous lesson in theology.) but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.'”
Well what’s Jesus saying? Unless that kernel germinates and brings forth the stem of grain and brings out the number of heads that are on that stem then that kernel stays alone. But if it dies, if it germinates, and brings forth new life, then what’s the result? That whole head then becomes maybe a hundred or a hundred and twenty kernels of grain. What was Jesus alluding to? His own death, and burial when He would die. And then when He would be resurrected from the dead then these Gentiles could come into the picture, He could then be the object to their faith as a result now of His death, burial, and resurrection and really not until. So this is what Paul is referring to in II Corinthians Chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:16
“Wherefore henceforth (from His death, burial, and resurrection) know we no man after the flesh:…”
Now I don’t have time to expound on that so we’ll do that in the next lesson.