Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 32
Let’s pick up here in Chapter 13, and I’m not going to take this last chapter verse by verse, as you can read it at your leisure. However, I do want to close the Book with the final verse which is verse 14. This verse is probably the clearest statement concerning the Trinity that you can find anywhere in Scripture, next to Christ’s baptism. I know when someone writes wanting to know where we get the idea of the Trinity (and if we can give them Scriptures for it), that the two we use the most are this one and where Christ was baptized:
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, `This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”
At His baptism you have all three persons of the Trinity there at one time. Now here in this verse we have the apostle Paul making reference also to the three Persons of the Godhead in a pure unadulterated statement. Now verse 14:
II Corinthians 13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, (The Father is implied) and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Now it’s interesting that, normally when we speak of the Trinity, out of habit we put them in the order of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But when you look at this verse, there is something different. Paul changes the order of the three. Paul puts Christ first rather than the Father. Not that there is any change in the way the Trinity operates. Never. You’ve all heard me teach that there is no such thing as God the Father having power over God the Son, and over the Spirit or vice versa. They are all three co-equal. They are all three members of the Godhead. Let me take you, for a moment, to the Book of Colossians where Paul makes that same statement.
Here is where the Jewish people in their Old Testament background refer to Christianity as a polytheism. They call us a religion of three Gods. But we’re not three Gods, it’s three Persons in one God. And of course the Old Testament does not clarify that like it does in the New Testament.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9. For in him (that is in Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
Now backing up a little bit to Colossians Chapter 1. And I think all of this gives us a clear picture that the Godhead is that invisible Spirit out of which God the Son stepped and became visible.
“Who (speaking of God the Son and the redeeming Blood in verses 13 and 14) is the image of the invisible God, (the Godhead) the first born of every creature: (in other words Christ was pre-eternal in His existence just like God the Father, and God the Spirit.) 16. For by him (God the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (or held together. Remember now this is speaking of God the Son) 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;(referring to His resurrection) that in all things he might have the preminence. 19. For it pleased the Father that in him (Christ) should all fulness dwell;”
So the members of the Godhead are not One above the other, but rather they are all co-equal. Now returning to our text in II Corinthians. This is why, now, that Paul in complete liberty, and again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can sort of reverse the order that we normally use. Looking at verse 14 again:
II Corinthians 13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Well, that will more or less wrap up our study of the Corinthian letters, and so we’ll just turn the page and go right into the next one in the New Testament order which is the Book of Galatians. Now I’ve put a caricature map on the board and although it’s not according to scale, I think most of you will recognize what part of the world we’re speaking of here. Some of you might wonder. “Why don’t you use a professional map?” Well the reason I stick to my mundane simplistic way of doing things is that my whole thrust of teaching is to get you to teach people like I do. I don’t know the number of times I’ve had people sit with us over the years at the kitchen table, and I get out a plain piece of typewriter paper, and simply draw. I would hope that you folks would be able also to just freehand some of these things – even if it’s a caricature, it’s not perfect, it’s something that you can recognize, then use. Always be ready when people ask questions. Have your answers ready, and if you get a chance to witness to someone in your home, get a piece of paper and just simply as you know how, draw these things out.
Now that’s what I’ve drawn up here on the board leading up to the Book of Galatians. As you see, we have the Mediterranean Sea coast, and down here, of course, would be the city of Jerusalem, the Jordan valley, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. Now as you turn the corner of the Mediterranean Sea, and go under the underbelly of what is today Turkey, right down through the middle of Turkey was what we called Galatia. The city to whom this letter of Galatians was written. Now, at the western end of Turkey you had the ancient city of Ephesus, to whom the letter of the Ephesians was written, and the churches in that area. Then across the Aegean Sea up here was Philippi, and Thessalonica, and Berea, and all the way down to Athens. And then across to Corinth, and across the Adrian Sea was Italy and Rome.
Now as we study the Book of Galatians we’re going to be dealing with Paul’s letter to these people in this very area where we covered his first missionary journey. Antioch of Pisida, Lystra and Derbe. Remember Paul was stoned at Lystra, and after they had spent some time over here at the eastern end of Galatia, they retraced their steps and went back to Antioch. We will cover his second missionary journey at a later time.
Now to this letter of Galatians which is only six chapters. I pointed out a few programs ago that Paul was under such duress to get this letter written as quickly as possible that he didn’t even wait for some kind of secretary to take dictation – but rather he laboriously printed it in large block letters because of his poor eye sight. There was such an intense need to get this letter up to those Galatian assemblies who were being bombarded by the Judaisers to come under the Law of Moses. And the thought of this just exercised the apostle to the point that he had to sit down and get this letter up to those congregations before it would be too late.
You see this little letter is so appropriate today because we’re under the same kind of a bombardment. I had a letter today from someone who said, “Les I’m finding that most people hate Paul’s doctrines of Grace.” Well I’ve never put it quite that strongly, but I do know most people don’t like them. Because you see most people want to do something. They want to feel that somehow they have merited favor with God. But you just remember that God will have none of that. He says, “Either you believe that I’ve finished it or it will profit you nothing!” But this runs contrary to human thought. So what we’re going to see now in these little six chapters of Galatians is this constant warning by the apostle that you’re not under Law, but rather Grace. Don’t let these people pervert the Gospel by adding something to it.
Now time-wise Galatians was written probably a couple of years before the Corinthian letters. Remember the Books that Paul wrote are not in the order in which he wrote them. But also remember they are in the exact order that the Holy Spirit wanted them. Paul’s letters have always been in this exact order as we have them today. They are not in the chronological order that they were written as Thessalonians was written first and then Galatians, Romans, Corinthians, then the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, then First and Second Timothy and Titus. The whole theme of this letter is to convince the Galatians and us that we are not under Law, we’re under Grace.
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”
Now, of what does Paul immediately remind his followers? The authority of his apostleship. He always comes at that first, that he had the absolute authority to proclaim the truth that he’s proclaiming, and it had nothing to do with men appointing him. It’s interesting, that back in Acts Chapter 13 (when Paul and Barnabas left to go on that 1st missionary journey), how careful the Scripture was to point out that it wasn’t the Church that sent them, but rather the Holy Spirit.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, `Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’ 3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia, and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”
So the Holy Spirit sent them, not the Church at Antioch. And it’s the same way here. Paul makes it plain that he did not come into this role of apostleship because maybe the Twelve ordained him, or some other group ordained him or taught him or set him down. No way did that happen. He comes on the scene by the miraculous laying of this apostleship on him by the Lord Jesus. Now verse 2:
“And all the brethren which are with me, (that was his traveling companions) unto the churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, in verse 4, right off the bat we find Paul bringing out the Gospel by which we are saved. I mean the guy can’t help it, as in his writing, it’s constantly going to come to the top.
“Who (our Lord Jesus Christ of verse 3) gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Now that’s the simplistic statement again of the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) How that Christ gave Himself. He wasn’t forced, it was of His own volition. In fact, turn ahead a few pages to the Book of Philippians.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (He was God!) 7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, (or a slave. He was nothing in the eyes of a Roman world) and was made in the likeness of men:…”
We’ve got to be careful here. In fact, the question came up recently regarding where II Corinthians Chapter 5 says, “He became sin for us.”
II Corinthians 5:21
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew not sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Well, Christ didn’t become a sinner per se, but what did He do? He took the sinners place. He became our substitute. After that conversation I had to start thinking of other examples in the Scripture. For example when Abraham was going to offer Isaac: just when he’s ready to fulfill the command from God to offer his son Isaac, what does God provide in the thicket? The ram. What did the ram become? The substitute. The ram didn’t become Isaac. Now the same way with Christ. When He went to the Cross, He did not, as I see Scripture, become a vile sinner, but rather He took on Himself all the sins of the human race without becoming a sinner, and says, “Yet without sin.” Now that’s beyond our human comprehension. But it was His substitutionary work, that where you and I should have died, He took our place. He didn’t become Les Feldick, He didn’t become Kenneth, David, Rosalee or anybody else, but merely became our substitute. And this is what Paul is referring to here. Now verse 8:
“And being found in fashion (form) as a man, (totally man, but also totally God) he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, (the most horrible death ever devised) even the death of the cross.”
Now that is what becomes, then, the very bedrock of our salvation. We believe that. That’s it, and yet it’s so simple that people stumble over it. But on the other hand, as I’ve said so often, it is so complex. I could live to be a thousand years old and never comprehend it. It’s impossible for us as humans to comprehend the power of the work of the Cross. It is beyond us, but on the other hand it’s so simple that all God asks us to do is “Believe it!” And the world refuses to do so. Now back to Galatians Chapter 1 and let’s look at verse 4 again.
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us (He’s the one that is delivering us from) this present evil world,…”
Remember in our last program I was making reference to the wickedness that was in place in the Roman Empire. Just beyond our comprehension. I think you’re all aware that historians have bemoaned the fact that America is going down the same road that Rome went. Just as sure as Rome rotted from within so we Americans are doing the same thing. The more I read of Roman history the more I know what they’re talking about. Do you know that Rome was almost totally given over to the welfare system. The only people who worked were the captive of their military excursions, and they just used them as slaves. The Roman citizens did nothing; and in order to satisfy all their leisure hours they had to concoct something to keep them satisfied, and that gave rise to the coliseum, and the lions, feeding of the Christians, the gladiators, and all the rest. It also then gave rise to their implacable immorality, it was beyond description. Now reading on into verse 6, and here we find Paul getting to the heart of the matter of why he is writing this letter. Remember he’s gotten word that these Galatian believers are being besieged by the Judaisers who want to bring them back under the Law of Moses. Practice circumcision, practice Temple worship or whatever was applicable. So Paul says:
“I marvel (I can’t comprehend) that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
Paul couldn’t comprehend how these people, as we saw in Thessalonians in the last program, turned from idols to the living God, and now they’re not satisfied with just Grace, now they’re being hoodwinked to go under legalism. Paul tells them that they are moving from the Grace of Christ into another gospel. But what does the next verse say?
“Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Oh it’s not really another gospel, it’s not something totally different, but it’s a perversion. Now what is a perversion? Something that has been fooled with. It is no longer pure, so this is what has happened here. They hadn’t just turned their back on Christianity as we call it, they hadn’t turned their back on Christ, but they had turned their back on Paul’s Gospel of pure Grace that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again and believing that plus nothing for salvation. They were now believing these Judaisers that, yes, maybe they did have to practice the Law. So they are now bending in that direction and this is the purpose of the letter. You’re not under Law, you’re under Grace, and even today this is the heart cry. “Why can’t people see that we’re not under anything legalistic, we’re under Grace!” And Grace is simply the fact that there is nothing that you and I can do to merit favor with God. The only thing that we can do is BELIEVE!