Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 35
INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Let’s pick up where we left off in the last lesson which was in verse 4. Now we never claim to have all the answers but rather all we try to do is to get folks to search the Scriptures and the Scripture says that you will find eternal life. All I can hope to do as I teach is to whet people’s appetite to begin to study and read their own Bible, and enjoy it. And according to our mail I guess we’re succeeding to a greater degree than we ever dreamed of. In fact, when we first started up here at channel 47 in Tulsa, Iris and I had kind of determined that it would last about six months and then would die a natural death, but here we are seven years later and it’s just keeps on growing, and the Lord just keeps on blessing. Now for our study.
In our last lesson we ended with the concept in verse 4 that we are chosen in Christ, in that position that we now enjoy in the heavenlies. It was not a surprise to God when we were saved, because He said, “Well I knew that from eternity past.” And in the next verse or two, when we come to predestination, it isn’t that we were predestined to salvation or Hell but rather to this position that we enjoy in Christ. Now look at verse 4 again.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy…”
Now `holy’ doesn’t mean that we stick our nose in the air, and that we’re better than everybody else, and that we are simultaneously, physically perfect, but rather it just simply means that God has set us apart for His own purposes. You want to remember even back in the Temple worship, the utensils that were used like the shovels to take out the ashes, were holy. Well what did it mean? They couldn’t be used for any other purpose. In other words, the priest couldn’t say, “Well I’m going to take the shovel home tonight fellows, because my fireplace needs cleaning.” That would never work because those utensils were holy and set apart only for God’s purposes. That’s exactly where we are. We, so far as God is concerned, have been set aside and we are intrinsically in His program to be used as He sees fit, because after all, we are His. Verse 4 again:
“…that we should be holy and without blame before him…”
Wow! Without blame? Everyone of us are sinners saved by Grace, but we still have the old sin nature, and we all still sin. Then Paul has the audacity to say that we are “blameless.”Yes. Let me take you back to I Corinthians for a moment to chapter 1. And remember the Corinthians were carnal, they were not a spiritual congregation. They were nowhere near understanding Ephesians. They just simply hadn’t come that far yet. They had been saved out of abject paganism, and all of it’s immorality, but to understand this position in the heavenlies? No, the Corinthians hadn’t gotten that far. So what can Paul write and tell them?
I Corinthians 1:6-7
“Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: (by virtue of their salvation ) 7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
Paul was already like us today, waiting for the Rapture. He honestly thought it was going to take place in his life time. He had no idea that God would wait now almost 2000 years filling up the Body of Christ with believers. Now verse 8.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, (even these carnal Christians. Remember that’s not license to sin, but it just shows you how far the Grace of God will reach down) that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now there are just lots of people who don’t like to read that, but that’s what the Word says. Many try to make it a lot harder to get to Heaven than God does. So even these Christians at Corinth who were failing miserably, if the Lord would have come they wouldn’t stand at the judgment seat of Christ shaking in their boots, and shameful for all their unconfessed sins, they were already under the Blood. They were already forgiven, and that’s the Grace of God. But we can’t make license of that because then a person’s salvation experience is doubted. I personally cannot believe that a true born-again child of God will test God’s Grace. But if we do slip and fall, and the Lord should come and we come into His presence, then we’re blameless because that’s what the Book says. Remember you see throughout Paul’s writings that we have been cleansed, and forgiven, we’re justified from all things by virtue of our faith in that finished work of the Cross. Now back to Ephesians chapter 1.
“…that we should be holy and without blame before him…”
And how can that be? Because of what Christ has done on our behalf. Not because we merit or deserve it, but because of His matchless Grace. Now in verse 4 I stopped in front of “…in love.” purposely because I think it reads better.
“…we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (what did He do?) 5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
Remember when we were back in Galatians we dealt with the word `adoption.’ Remember the word adoption in the Greek did not mean to take a child from a union and legally make him ours. The word adoption in the Greek and Roman society was to train that young son of the father so that when he became of age that child who was now tutored and prepared, he could come right up along side the father and have full responsibility. Now you put that into our position as believers, the moment we’re saved we don’t have to go through a long period of training and preparation but immediately where does God position us? Equal with Christ the Son. A joint-heir! And that is all by virtue of the Grace of God that he has predestined us to that glorious position of being right with Christ in the Body, in the heavenlies. Now looking at verse 5 again.
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,…”
Now to the average believer this probably puts you to sleep. I got a kick out of my own pastor last Sunday morning as he was in the Book of Romans and what he said was so apropos. He said, “In my sermon this morning it’s going to put some of you right straight to sleep. Some of you it’s going to make mad, and some of you are really going to enjoy it and grow from it.” Well I’m sure that’s almost always the case. And it’s the same way here in this passage. The average believer, oh he’s saved, but he doesn’t have a hunger for these deeper things and so he just nods his head and off he drops to sleep. But if you are really interested in all that God has done on your behalf when Christ died for you and arose from the dead, then these things are exciting. To think that we are positioned with Christ in the heavenlies, and that one day it’s going to come to fruition.
Now back to my display of the seven churches on the board. Here on the left side we come now through this lower level of the elementary things of our sinful estate and how the Gospel has saved and justified it. How we need that reproof, and correction constantly, as we saw in the Books of Romans, I and II Corinthians, and Galatians. But now we jump up a notch into this area of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians – we’re going to go into deeper doctrines, and into deeper areas of reproof, but oh listen what’s it all coming to? When we can make this final step up and we get into that which is the glory, and we’ll no longer be tied to the things of this world, but we’ll be in His presence as presented in I Thessalonians when He removes the Church by way of the Rapture. (Reference I Thessalonians 4:13-18) We’re going to enjoy all the blessings of glory. How does Paul put it? Turn back with me for a moment to Romans chapter 8. This says it better than I ever could.
“And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (now you all know what it means to be a joint-heir. That means what’s His is also ours) if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.(that’s still future – that’s what we’re waiting for.) 18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time (and you know how that man suffered as he rehearsed back in II Corinthians chapter 11:23-28) are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in(angels? No but rather in) us.”
Oh we sometimes think God’s forgotten about these things, but He hasn’t for it’s coming. I was reminded at break time by someone who said they had been watching the program that was taped back in 1994 or 1995, and I thought the Lord was coming then. That reminds me of a cartoon that I saw recently showing an old fellow sitting in front of his cave’s door. And across the top of the door he had written the end is near, but then he added “er.” So here today in 1998 the end is a lot nearer than it was back when I taught those lessons. So don’t give up, God is on the throne, it is still going to happen, and we just keep getting closer and closer with each passing day. Now Ephesians verse 5 continuing – we have been adopted-
“…according to the good pleasure of (who’s will?) his will.”
Remember what Paul said about his apostleship? Turn back with me to the very first verse. How did Paul become an apostle? Not by his will, but by God’s will.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,…”
How did we become a child of God? Not by our will, but rather by God’s will. Now that doesn’t take away our free choice, because again we have to constantly remember –
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:…”
Let me show you another one of my favorites. Come back to Acts chapter 16 and let’s look at Lydia, because it says it all. We have come into this glorious position in the heavenlies by His will. It wasn’t my idea, but rather He made the first move, and I responded. Maybe not as quickly as I should have, but I think that can apply to most of us. We didn’t respond when God began to woo us, but thank God at least we finally did. Now here in Acts chapter 16 they’re up there in Philippi in Northern Greece.
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatiria, which worshipped God, (see she was religious. She was probably a Jewish lady) heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, (now when the Lord opened her heart what did she do?) that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Now do you see the format? Here she is a religious lady to be sure, but LOST. And along comes the apostle Paul and begins to explain to her the works of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. God opened her heart, but what did she do? She listened and responded. Do you see that? I think that’s the perfect Scriptural explanation of how salvation works. God opens the heart, but He doesn’t force His way in. He opens our understanding, but he doesn’t force us. And He leaves it with us, so we can choose or reject.
I got a kick out of a letter from someone in our television audience and it was almost identical with an illustration that I have used in years gone by. Remember when we were kids? I for one just lived for recess, because during that 15 or 20 minutes of recess I loved to play ball. That’s all I went to school for. And so as soon as we got on the play yard somebody would always have the bat and ball and we would literally put out a call across the yard that we were going to have a ball game. Well some of the kids would go to the merry-go-round. Some would go to the swings, but for those who came over to the ball diamond we would hurry and choose up sides and we could have a short ball game. Now I’ve always made this analogy – when we went out to the ball diamond and literally yelled at all the kids, “Come on, we’re going to have a ball game.” What were we doing? We were putting out the call. And those who came down to the ball diamond were chosen. The call went out to the whole playground but only they that responded ended up chosen to play ball.
And I think it’s still an appropriate illustration of this very concept here of Lydia. The Lord opened her heart. In other words the Lord said, “Come on Lydia.” She could have said, “No I’m not interested.” But she attended or listened to and acted on the things that were spoken by Paul. And it hasn’t changed one iota. It’s just like I said in the last lesson, over here on this side we still have that option of responding to or rejecting the offer of salvation, but over here God knew from eternity past what we would do. So when we responded it was just like it was with Lydia – I think the Lord shouted all across Heaven, “I knew she would!” That didn’t catch God by surprise. Now let’s come back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 1. So God has placed us in this position as joint-heirs with Christ according to the good pleasure of his will. Now verse 6.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace….”
Now I guess if I have trumpeted any one word in the years that we’ve been doing this program it’s that word `Grace.’ Hey, we deserve none of this or nothing in this world. But what we have and what we enjoy whether it’s spiritual or material or physical it’s all by the Grace of God. I don’t deserve it and I don’t think you do either, but it’s all by His Grace. Now continued on in verse 6.
“… wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
There’s that prepositional phrase again. What does it mean to be in the beloved? In Christ! Why am I in Christ? Why are you in Christ? Simply by His Grace. He could have let us slip out into an eternity lost and without hope, but by His Grace He presented us with the plan of salvation and we’ve responded. Here we are now positionally accepted in the beloved. Now another verse comes to mind in the Book of Colossians chapter 3. Now this is another one of these seven Church prison epistles and is on a higher plane of understanding than the first four Books were. So Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians are in that next step up in the area of doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The Colossians also had some problems. They were trying to enter into the realms of angelic beings and so forth, and so Colossians had to correct them and bring them back on line. Now chapter 3 starting with verse 1.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, (in other words you have experienced His death, burial, and resurrection by faith. If you have gone through that then) seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (they become now far more important) 2. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Remember back in the gospels, Jesus said something similar to that-
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with things provided our priorities are right. Now if things are more important than spiritual then it’s wrong. But if you have your spiritual priorities where they belong, and all these things have been added, so be it. God isn’t tight, but on the other hand we can’t demand them of Him. But if He has seen fit in Grace to bless us with things there’s nothing wrong as long as they are in the right order of priorities. All right now Colossians 3:3 And here’s the reason we are to set our affections on things above.
“For ye are dead, (Wow! I thought I was living. Old Adam is dead. God reckons that old sin nature of you and I as believers as dead,) and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Now again there is that two-fold position of the believer. We are in Christ, and in God, and nothing can touch us in that glorious safe, secure position. Now when I talk about something safe and secure like this I’ve always used the analogy in past lessons of the black walnut. You peel off that outer shell, and then you crack the next shell, and way down in the middle you find that delicious meat. All right you can find this so often that we are positioned in that place of safety. And there are two analogies in the Old Testament. When the Jews, on the night of the Passover, were standing at that kitchen table ready to eat the Passover lamb, what was going on around them? The death angel. And the wailing was already sounding across Egypt, but the Jews were safe and secure for only one reason. The blood was on the door. Then the next one I always like to use is Noah and his family in the ark. The horrors and the ravages of the flood were just totally demolishing everything on the planet, but Noah and his family were safe and secure because that wood ark had been lined with pitch, andpitch in the Hebrew meant atonement. So there they were in the midst of the horrors of the flood and they were safe. So you and I, in the midst of all of the wickedness that’s taking place on the earth tonight, we’re in Christ and we’re safe. We have nothing to worry about. Paul says, “Don’t worry about he who can destroy the body, when he can’t destroy the soul.”