Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 32
THE GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION
Now this is Bible study so let’s begin. You know I would like to get every person from whatever station in society or whatever age group interested in the Word of God. The Bible is still the greatest Book on earth, and it’s not as difficult as most people have been led to believe. The secret to understanding the Bible is to separate some of these things that you cannot mix. And so this where we come in, especially with the apostle Paul and his writings. All of his writings are of Grace and Grace alone. So if there seems to be a contradiction in Scripture, see if it’s under Grace or Law as the two won’t mix.
Now let’s jump right into today’s lesson in Galatians Chapter 1 and verse 15. Also remember that this little Book of Galatians is primarily dealing with Churches that were being bombarded with a perversion of the Gospel which Paul says:
“Which is not another; (Gospel) but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
It’s not a completely different Gospel, But what they were doing to Paul’s Gospel of Grace was adding law and legalism, and works. Now nothing thrills us more than to get letter after letter that exclaims, “My what a joy. It’s like someone took a load off my shoulders when I came out of all that legalism, and realized that it’s in Grace and Grace alone that we have to find our salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-4)” So this is the whole theme now that the apostle Paul is still defending his apostleship as he did all through the Corinthian letters.
I can see now why the Holy Spirit put the Corinthian letters where they are, and why Romans is where it is, even though they were written later. Paul declares in Romans the basic doctrine of his Gospel, and then in the Corinthian letters he had to correct and reprove them for having so many other problems. Not so much like the Galatians with legalism, but they had divisions and other problems so he had to correct those problems and in correcting them he had to defend his apostleship.
Now I know you’re probably sick and tired of hearing me say this, but I have to get this across.
As Paul’s writings and his letters are so often totally ignored, we have to remember what an Ivy League president in the late 1800’s once said. He said, “We must realize that it’s either back, back, back, to the doctrines of Paul or it’s on, on, on to an apostasy.” I believe that more than ever. If we can’t get folks back to an understanding of Paul’s doctrines, then Christianity is in dire straits. Now verse 15. So, in this verse, Paul is pretty much still declaring his apostleship and declaring his authority and so he says:
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.”
Now that’s a Pauline expression. Called me by his Grace. All you have to do is stop and reflect for a moment. What else but Grace could have done what God did with that man on the road to Damascus. Here he was trying to stamp out anyone in Israel that had proclaimed Christ as the Messiah, and had become separated from the mainstream of Judaism, although they were still keeping Temple worship and the Law. Evidently Saul had pretty much cleansed the homeland and now he had gone to the chief rulers to get permission to go to Syria and bring back the Jewish believers to Jerusalem for trial, punishment and death. So on the road to Damascus with that heart of absolute hatred with anything contrary to Judaism, the Lord called Him by His Grace. If there was ever a man that didn’t deserve what God did for him it was Saul. But, contrary to what most people think, we have to do to get right with God. Saul, like Israel of old when they stood on the shores of the Red Sea, did absolutely nothing. Nothing but helplessly call out, “What would you have me do?”
Remember in Genesis when Noah and his family were in the ark? Do you remember what the picture of the sealant of those wood boards were? It was the word “pitch” but in the Hebrew it meant “atonement” So it was the atonement that sealed out the flood waters of Noah’s ark. Now with the atonement in place and the ark secure, Noah and his family were totally safe. Well, it’s the same when you come to Israel standing at their kitchen table in their little huts in Egypt. And the death angel is flying over, and wailing and weeping is carrying on in Egypt, and yet, there, those Jewish families could stand safe and secure because the blood was on the door. Then sometime later they stood on the shores of the Red Sea with no hope. And when God spoke, He didn’t tell them to do anything except to stand still and see the power of God. And, of course, that was the opening of the Red Sea. Now this is exactly where Paul had to find himself. Just exactly like Israel, there was only going to be one place of safety for the man, and that is the Blood of Christ, and how is he going to appropriate it? Not by doing something, but rather, once the Lord spoke to him, all he could say was, “Lord what would you have me do?” And it hasn’t changed a bit. So this is what he is referring to when he says in verse 15:
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, (Now verse 16.) To reveal his Son (Christ) in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (anybody that is not a Jew)
Now let’s go back to the Book of Acts and look at that account, for after all, with Bible study we have to use references as much as possible to see that all of scripture agrees. We never pick up a verse here and there in order to build some ideas, but all of scripture will substantiate hopefully what we are teaching. In Acts Chapter 9, after that experience on the road to Damascus, we find God working both ends to the middle. He’s working on Saul outside the city, He’s also working on Ananias inside the city of Damascus. So now we’re going to pick it up where God is speaking to Ananias, this believing Jew, somewhere in the city of Damascus.
“And the Lord said unto him, `Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.’ 13. Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: (Saul’s persecutions) 14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.’ (and here it is in verse 15. Oh we want people from one end of this country to the other to understand this. 15. But the Lord said unto him, (Ananias) `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…'”
Now a lot of people don’t realize this, but when Christ came in His earthly ministry to the Nation of Israel and He chose the Twelve, He had instructions for them.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, `Go not into the way of the Gentiles, (the non Jew) and into any city of the Samaritans (Samaritans were half breeds)enter ye not: 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'”
Now that was a commandment. They were to go to no one but Jews. And the Twelve understood that better than most preachers and teachers today. The Twelve never lost sight of that as we see in Acts Chapter 11. And this is many years after the Cross and Pentecost. I just want you to see how those early Jewish believers adhered to that commandment that Jesus gave to the Twelve. Now there are a lot of people that think that as soon as Jesus began His ministry, the Church began, and God’s Grace and the Gospel went out to the whole world. That’s not according to the Bible. According to this Book He ministered only to the Nation of Israel for the whole three years. That’s why most preachers and teachers think the Church today is Israel. That way they can try to make it all fit, but listen, Law and Grace won’t mix.
And even after His ascension, and Peter begins at Pentecost, then for several years it was that same format. They could not go to the non-Jew.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word (Old Testament)to none but unto the Jews only.”
Do you see how plain that is? Now this is about seven years after Pentecost. They are still adhering to the commandments that Jesus gave to the Twelve in Matthew 10:5,6. The Lord Jesus didn’t want the Gentiles to have anything to do with the Jews’ religion, and we can look at that now and see that the Lord wanted the apostle Paul to go to the Gentiles and give them pure Grace. Now coming back to Acts Chapter 9. Maybe this will be more enlightening as to why the Lord Jesus had to make such an emphasis to this man Ananias, as to what was the purpose of saving this Jewish zealot who had been putting Jews to death for having embraced Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. And yet he has to understand that now there’s going to be a change of direction in God’s plan.
People must understand that, from Genesis Chapter 12 to Acts Chapter 9, it’s God dealing with the Nation of Israel. Don’t try to draw the Body of Christ into those areas. But here in Acts Chapter 9 there is going to be a change, there’s going to be a fork in the road, and we’re going to see it explicitly as we go on in Galatians. Now looking at verse 15 again:
“But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16. For I will shew him(Saul) how great things he must suffer for my name sake.'”
Did he suffer? Oh, did he ever. In the Corinthian letters we saw how he was beaten, stoned, and scourged, and cold and naked, and many times sick, and living in fear for his life, and all because of what the Lord Jesus had promised him here. Well, now if you will come back with me to Galatians Chapter 1. God is going to reveal Himself to this apostle, Saul of Tarsus, who is now Paul and reading on in verse 16:
“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”
Now we know a lot of people think this verse should read that immediately he went up to Jerusalem to check it out with the Twelve. That would have been the logical thing wouldn’t it? To go back to Jerusalem, and say, “Hey, Peter, you guys were with Him for three years. I want to know everything that He taught you. But you see the Holy Spirit here is making it so positive that He’s not going to let this man be tainted whatsoever by what the Twelve had learned at the feet of Jesus. The Lord Jesus now has something totally different to show this man, and he doesn’t want it mixed up. But you see, men are adept at mixing things up. Men have been mixing it ever since the apostle Paul left the scene. And I’m trying my very best to unmix it, and to bring it back again to this clear division between what God did with Israel, and what He’s doing with the Gentile, and the Body of Christ.
“…I conferred not with flesh and blood:”
In other words, with other human beings, why? Because he’s dealing with the flesh and bone, the Lord Jesus up in glory. Now verse 17. And for emphasis, to make sure that we get it straight. he repeats that.
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; (Paul never takes away the authority of Peter and the other eleven apostles, so far as their position as apostles of Israel. But on the other hand he’s also not going to let them usurp his authority as the apostle of the Gentiles.) but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus,
Now the first thing I like to do when you see that word `Arabia’ in verse 17 is take you to Chapter 4 here in Galatians.
“For this Agar (Paul is making an allegory here but we won’t cover it now) is mount Sinai in Arabia,…”
Now, from that little statement of Paul, I have to feel that, since this man is going to be delegated to receive a whole new Body of Truth from the ascended Lord, and he is going to be given the responsibly to take it out to the whole Gentile world, God did much the same thing with Moses at that same Mount Sinai. You have seen me put that on the board before, and we’ll do it again now. When the Lord spoke to Moses there at Mount Sinai and gave him the Law, Moses took the Law down to Israel. And only Israel received the ramifications of the Law, although the Law certainly affected the whole human race.
But here we are at the time of Paul some 1500 years later, and God hasn’t changed. God is still the same, as He never changes. But now He’s dealing with a different individual. He now gives to Paul these doctrines of Grace, which is imbedded in what Paul is always referring to as the mysteries. And then this apostle is instructed to take these doctrines of Grace to the Gentiles, and for the ones who will listen to him in the Nation of Israel. That, I think, just answers all of our questions as to what part of the Scriptures are we to depend on. Now it’s all God’s Word, don’t ever take that away from me. Every word in this Book is the inspired Word of God, but He has made it so plain that this man is the apostle of the Gentiles. In fact, seeing Jerry Poole here today, I’ve got to use this verse. There are several verses that Jerry, when he first was bombarded by them 16 years ago would come up and would say, “Now Les I never saw that before, so repeat it, repeat it and repeat it.” So that’s why I do it. Go back to the Book of Romans Chapter 11:13. And this says it so plainly. There’s no arguing over it.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
In other words Paul is not going to back down for anything as that role of the apostle of the Gentiles. Why can’t people adhere to that? That’s Paul’s authority. That’s why, as we saw in the Corinthian letters, he was always defending that authority. Now come back to Galatians. So evidently he went down to Arabia, Mount Sinai, and, of course, there’s a difference of opinion among Bible scholars and theologians whether he spent the whole three years at Sinai as I believe he did. Or, did he spend a portion of time at Sinai and then go back to Damascus, and then at the end of the three years begin his ministry. I have to feel that the Lord took that whole three years of dealing with this man all by himself down there in the desert at Mount Sinai.
Now the reason I take that approach is that, when you understand all the trials and tribulations that this man went through, most men would have given up long, long ago. But the apostle Paul always kept pressing on. Why? Because I think this three-year experience was so imbedded in the man’s makeup that he could do nothing less. Then, on top of that, there were several times that the Lord Jesus referred to him face to face. Paul says that He appeared unto me. So all of these things contributed to his constant pushing forward against all opposition. So, after a three-year stint, which I think was down at Arabia, he finally gets up to Jerusalem to meet Peter face-to-face for the first time. Now I imagine that was quite a meeting, because, after all, they’re coming from two totally different backgrounds.
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”