Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 33
SALVATION BY GRACE + FAITH + NOTHING
As we begin book 33 let’s just pause for a moment and praise the Lord for extending this ministry nationwide. When we first started this television ministry seven years ago we figured it would probably be just to the Tulsa area, but the Lord has seen fit to extend it nationwide. It takes a lot of work and most of it is volunteer for all of this to come together, so we just thank the Lord for everything.
Now we’re in Galatians, chapter 2, and in our last lesson we had gotten up to about verse 8 or 9. But as you know I always like to make constant review and a little bit of reminder why this little letter was written. Remember the whole theme of this little letter to the Galatian Church is “We’re not under Law, but rather Grace.” That of course is a statement that came straight from the lips of the apostle Paul. Up until that time that was an unknown tenet, and as we’re going to see here, even Peter, for the most part and the eleven, had no comprehension of this great move of God to come away from Israel and the Covenant promises and all that was attached to the Jewish economy, and go out to the whole wide world, to the black and white, rich and poor, East and West, Jew or Gentile with this tremendous Gospel of the Grace of God that had been revealed to the apostle Paul from the ascended Lord in glory.
We don’t know this Glorious Gospel of Salvation for us today until we get to the writings of the apostle Paul. I know this is hard for a lot of people to swallow. In fact I was just reading something written by a gentlemen the other day for whom I have had a lot of respect, but I couldn’t agree with him when he said, “There is no difference between Peter’s message and Paul’s message.” For goodness sake, there’s so much difference it’s like daylight and dark. Maybe it just takes common lay people to see that. Now, as we’re going to see later on in this chapter there was that difference of opinion between Peter and Paul and that Peter had a hard time with Paul’s writings and especially salvation as he tells us in II Peter.
II Peter 3:15-16a
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16. As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things; (salvation in verse 15) hard to be understood,…”
Why was it hard for him to understand? Well, Peter came out of that Jewish background under the Covenant promises, under the Law. Nothing had changed except the Jew’s Messiah had made His appearance, and had presented Himself to Israel as their King, and their Redeemer, and for the most part the Nation of Israel had rejected it. Sure, several thousands came around to it, but on the whole the Nation of Israel rejected Christ at His First Advent, they crucified Him. In the Book of Acts Peter appeals to the Nation of Israel over and over to still repent of the fact that they had crucified their Messiah.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37. Now when they (the Jews) heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38. Then Peter said unto them, `Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'”
Peter also told these Jews that God had raised Him from the dead, and that He was alive and still in a position to come back and be their King. But Israel rejected that offer. Israel went on in unbelief until finally in Acts chapter 9 God did something again that was supernatural when he saved that arch religionist, that zealot, Saul of Tarsus. God then immediately made the announcement:
“And he said unto me, `Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.'” And that’s when everything began to change and he had to make that graphic statement in Romans chapter 6:15:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
But the moment Paul started having Gentile converts under his Gospel as outlined in I Corinthians 15:1-4, the believing Judaisers from Jerusalem began to undermine it and were still trying to convince these Gentiles when they told them that they also had to keep the Law of Moses, you have to be circumcised. So the Galatians were falling for that line of thinking, and Paul even makes the stringent statement in Galatians, in fact let’s look at that statement. And this statement is just as applicable today as it was the day he wrote it. Because even though it may not be circumcision that we’re dealing with, we still have all these other aspects of legalism that Paul had to confront here, especially to the Galatians.
I’m so thankful that we did teach I and II Corinthians before we came to Galatians. Now I know that’s the way it sits in the format, and that’s the way the Holy Spirit intended it, but I can see why it’s that way. Because all the things that he wrote in the Corinthian Church letters were not so much a failure in their doctrine as it was a failure in their practice. But when you get to Galatians its not the practice, but rather the doctrine, and look what he says in verse 6.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” It was a perversion of the Gospel that was afflicting these Galatian Churches. These Judaisers would pervert the Gospel, and now look at this tremendous statement in verse 8 and 9.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (in Scripture that means an eternal separation) 9. As we said before, so say I now again, `If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, (that is from this man Paul) let him be accursed.'”
So Paul goes on to show how God’s supernaturally reached down and saved him by Grace. He taught him for 3 years down in the desert, at Mount Sinai. After that God didn’t send him back to the Twelve to pick up everything that they knew, which most people imagine happened. Most think that Paul was just an extension of Peter and the eleven’s ministry. Heavens No! My, the Holy Spirit through the pen of the apostle Paul makes it so plain that there had to be a total break between the Twelve and this man’s ministry. Now we pick it up in verse 11 and 12. Remember this is all review, I know, but we always have new people coming in every week, and even for those of you who have heard it ten times they still call and say, “Don’t ever stop reviewing.”
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
And then Paul goes on to show how the Lord had to supernaturally save him and took him down into Arabia for 3 years. Then in chapter 2 where we left off last lesson, Paul is being confronted by the `wheels’ in Jerusalem. Now I don’t do that to make any snide remarks because that’s what they were. In our language of today, they were the wheels. They were the head men of the Jerusalem Church. It was all Jewish, and I maintain that those Jewish believers at Jerusalem were still basically Law-keepers. They had not comprehended Paul’s Gospel of Grace, and I’ve shown my reasons for saying that. Peter in the vision of the sheet said:
“…Not so, Lord: for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Why? “Because I’ve never gone contrary to the Law, I eat kosher, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Well what is that? That’s Law! Then we got to the very threshold of Cornelius and the moment he walked in what did he say to Cornelius?
“And he said unto them, Ye know how that is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation:…”
Well if Peter understood Paul’s Gospel of Grace that wouldn’t even have crossed his mind. He should have been thrilled to death to go into the house of a military officer, but you see it was bugging him. Here he was a good Jew and according to the Law he couldn’t go into Cornelius’ home, but of course God had made it plain that this is what He wanted. So this was the controversy as we saw in our last few lessons. How that these Jewish emissaries from Jerusalem were undermining Paul’s little congregations wherever he went.
Even in Corinth he had to defend his apostleship because the Jerusalem people were saying that Paul was just someone who had gone out on his own. You haven’t got any official recognition from Peter and the eleven.. But Paul didn’t need any official recognition from Peter, because he got his from the ONE Who’s in charge. He got his from the Lord who’s in heaven, but these Jews just couldn’t understand that. So now let’s go to chapter 2, verse 5 and this hits us directly. If it were not for this verse you and I as Gentiles would still be out there in paganism. But this man Paul stuck to his guns.
“To whom (that is the leaders in Jerusalem) we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; (for what purpose?) that the truth of the gospel (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace)might continue with you.” (Gentiles) 6. But of these who seemed to be somewhat,…”
Why did they seem to be somewhat? Well at one time they were somewhat. They were the leaders and remember I went back and showed you in the Book of Acts that all of those Jewish believers in that Jerusalem congregation had land and houses and CD’s and stocks and whatever else they may have had and they turned it in to cash, and what did they do with that cash? Laid it at the apostles feet. Why would they do that? Because they were in charge. But now you see some 22 years after Pentecost Paul is writing by inspiration, and says,“But of these who seemed to be somewhat,” But they weren’t because their power base was slipping away. God was turning away from the Jews and He was now going out into the Gentile world and so this is why he says what he says.
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me; God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference(when they sat down and laid line upon line, and precept upon precept) added nothing to me:”
Now who was above and who was beneath? Paul took the ascendancy and the Twelve in Jerusalem had to finally admit, “OK Paul you’re right, evidently the Lord is doing something different.” Now I’m not taking anything away from the Twelve’s spiritual relationship with God. It was just that God had not yet revealed to those Jewish believers at Jerusalem that He was doing something different. You know I’m always going back to Deuteronomy 29:29
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: (now what does that mean? God can keep in His mind whatever He wants to keep, and He will reveal it whenever He’s good and ready and not until. So He kept all these things secret and they are still secret to most people because they can’t see that even to this day. But then that verse goes on to say that once it’s revealed then we are to believe it.) but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Now Peter and the eleven were in the position that God had not revealed it to them. God hadn’t told them that, through Paul, He was doing something that had never been done. So I’m not blaming them for being out of step with God or less spiritual. It was just that God had not yet revealed to those Jewish believers that now He’s doing something totally different. In fact let me show you in the Book of Philippians chapter 1. This is an interesting little verse, and I suppose most people miss it completely. And again remember that the letter to the Philippians was to a Gentile congregation.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (or discernment) 10. That ye may approve things that are excellent; (in the Greek that is translated different. So read it in that light.) that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;”
How different? Well as different as night and day. Oh it’s the same God, but now a whole new body of truth is being revealed that had never been revealed before. Just think, was there anything in Christ’s earthly ministry that spoke of a Gentile Body of Christ? Not a word. Our salvation by believing Paul’s Gospel that you must believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again, this is found only in Paul’s writings. Was there ever a word that the Holy Spirit would indwell individual believers? Not a word. Was there anything in Scripture that the Blood of Christ had atoned for all the sins of the whole world? Not a word. Oh it was all back there in latent language, but to just come right out and say it, you can’t find it until you get to Paul.
It’s the same way with the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church, and I know this throws a curve at people. You won’t find this happening anywhere but in Paul’s writings, because it is uniquely a Church phenomena, and Israel knew nothing of such a thing for you see it was revealed only to this apostle, because all these items within this body of truth are so totally different than anything that had ever been revealed before. For example, the word Justification just came to mind. Can you see a place in Scripture where it says, “and you can be justified from all things by just simple faith in the Gospel.” No it’s not in there. I know in Amos I think it is that the just shall live by faith, and it was on that premise that Martin Luther made his move. But to take Justification in the context that Paul teaches it was unheard of. It was a secret held in the mind of God. Now back to Galatians chapter 2.
“But contrariwise, (on the other hand) when they (the Twelve and the Jerusalem leaders) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jew) was (committed) unto Peter; “
This is when they suddenly realize that we have a fork in the road. Here we’ve been coming down through Scripture Jew only, Jew only, Jew only, with a few exceptions. But it had been Jew only since Abraham back in Genesis chapter 12. Now all of a sudden back in Acts chapter 9, God says, “I’m going to do something different.” It’s just like a fork in the road, and of course we usually teach the Book of Acts as transitional, not a complete break from Judaism and the Jewish believers, but nevertheless there’s that bridging over now then from God dealing with Israel to his dealing with the Gentiles.
So this is what these Jews are finally seeing. That the Gospel of the Gentiles was committed unto Paul, as the Gospel of the Jew was committed unto Peter. You can never tell me that it was the same Gospel. There is no way that you can show me the Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ’s earthly ministry or as Peter preaches in the Book of Acts. It’s just not in there.
You can’t find where you believe only for salvation the Gospel of Grace that Jesus died for you, was buried, and rose again except in Paul’s writings. That’s why so many denominations use works for salvation, they refuse to use Paul’s Gospel of faith + nothing. But anyway it’s just not in the Scriptures except in Paul’s teaching. So here they’re recognizing this great difference of operations.
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, (Jews only) the same (God) was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)”
See the difference? Now verse 9 (this is 20 years after Pentecost). I don’t like to put a lot of emphasis on the order of names, but there is a certain degree of it. In verse 9 who’s listed first? James is.
“And when James, Cephas, and John…”
Now the casual reader won’t catch that. So what’s happened? Peter has lost something. Do you remember I told you in our last lesson that back in Acts chapter 15 when the counsel was raging in Jerusalem with arguing over whether these Gentile converts of Paul had to keep the Jewish Law? Remember after there had been much disputing Peter rose up, and what did Peter tell them. “Hey wait a minute I remember a long time ago God used me to speak to a group of Gentiles.” Peter was referring to the house of Cornelius, but you know how long it had been since he witnessed to those Gentiles? 12 years.
You would have thought that when he saw the amazing conversion of those pagan Romans with the evidence that they had been saved without any of the attending ramifications of Judaism, you would have thought that Peter would have gone right back to Jerusalem and say, “Hey fellows let’s get out of this place, the Gentiles are beginning to wake up.” But does he? No. He goes back to Jerusalem and gets called on the carpet for having gone to a Gentiles in Acts 11:1-3, and there the disciples stay. Why? God had not yet permitted them to move any further in their ministry than what it says here, as apostles to the Nation of Israel. So, again we find Peter in second place in the order of the disciples.
“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision.” (Jews)
Do you see that? It’s in your Bible. They shook hands on the whole deal and said, “All right Paul, you and Barnabas go on back to your Gentile field and we will stay here among the Jews.” Now verse 10, but there’s going to be some strings attached which is all right. They’re going to say, “OK Paul we’ll agree that you can continue to preach to your Gentile converts, and they won’t have to keep the Law of Moses or practice circumcision, but we’re going to add some strings, and here’s one of them.
“Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.”
Remember, they had a bunch of poor Jews there in Jerusalem who had sold all their property. The kitty had run out after 20 years and now they’re destitute, they’re poor. But God isn’t going to abandon them. So God, by the guidance of the Holy Sprit inspired Paul and Barnabas that, as they circulated among the Gentile Churches, they would take collections and offerings for those poor Jews in Jerusalem. Now we always have to qualify that with Scripture so come back to Romans chapter 15 verse 25.
“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saint. 26, For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia (northern and southern Greece) to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” That was the whole idea that when they got the permission from the Twelve to go ahead and preach this Gospel, but remember these poor Jewish believers in Jerusalem. All right come on over to I Corinthians chapter 16 and we might as well start with verse 1.
I Corinthians 16:1-3
“Now concerning the collection (the offering) for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.”