Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 35
Now we’ll be turning back again to Ephesians chapter 1. I’m going to touch on verse 10 just for a few moments.
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both in heaven, (heavenly) and which are on earth; (earthly) even in him:
Everything is going to be brought together under His headship. Now if I could just, for a moment, recap the earthly and heavenly aspect of that verse. From the call of Abraham especially now, everything concerning the Nation of Israel, including the prophets and psalms, were all written for the benefit of Israel. In fact let me show you a verse to prove that so you don’t think I’m just making this up. In Romans chapter 3 is the Scripture we want to look at.
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?…”
Do you see what those two questions say? Why was Israel in such a preeminent position, and why were they feasting at Jehovah’s table? Why did Paul write in Romans chapter 11, did they dwell on the root and fatness of Abraham? Because they were so privileged, and this is what Paul is alluding to. Just look at all the privileges that Israel had. They had the beautiful Temple, and early on, the presence of the Shekinah glory. They had the miracle working power of God. They had the priesthood, but what was the preeminence that they had going for them? The next verse tells us this:
“Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
They had the Word of God, and that’s what put Israel in such an invincible position. All during this time when God was dealing with primarily Jew only, they had the Word of God from 1500 BC on. And the Gentiles were out there destitute of any of that. Now when you come on this side of the Cross, we find Paul becomes the apostle of the Gentiles. His Church letters are directed primarily to you and I as Gentiles in the Body of Christ, our heavenly position. And oh what a difference in the language we have when we get to Paul. Once in a while people from our television viewing audience will call me with a question, and they’re hung up in the Old Testament. I always tell them that it would be so simple to understand if they would just realize to whom is it being spoken? It was written to the Jew under the Law, and that makes all the difference in the world. But most fret and fuss with it, and can’t figure out why they can’t understand it. Well we’re not under the Law, we’re not Jews. Now on the other hand the Jew today has a hard time comprehending Paul. They avoid his writings like a plague, because it’s not written to the Jew, but rather to the Gentiles. So always keep that in your mind as you are reading these things.
Now let me finish recapping the earthly and heavenly if I may. So here’s the earthly, the earthly Kingdom that was promised to Israel and they rejected it, and then God funnels them back into the masses of Gentile humanity. They almost lost their identity, but God kept His finger on them, and so the Jew is still out there, he’s still a viable fact to be dealt with.
In the meantime the Body of Christ has been lifted out of that mass of humanity, and made separate, they are a unique group of people, and who’s end is going to be when we’re Raptured out, and we’re getting close to that time. Maybe we should have looked at the Rapture more in detail, but for now we’ll let it go because I’d like to move on to the next verse. Because now you see when the Church is out of the way God has to again pick up with the Nation of Israel where He left off back in the Book of Acts.
Remember the Nation of Israel has just been floating along, you might say, through human history out there in the nations of the world. But now as we’ve seen in 1948 they became a independent nation, and now God can deal with the Nation of Israel again. The Church has to be out of the way before that can happen however. Then God will finish His dealing in that seven years of Tribulation that are still future, that are still part and parcel of the Old Testament prophecies. Then when the earthly people, Israel, are ready for the coming of their King (and that is what He will be to them), the King will establish His rule and reign for 1000 years, and as Revelation says so clearly, “He shall be King of kings, and Lord of lords.” In this 1000 year reign, Ephesians 1:10 becomes a fulfilled reality, where the heavenly and earthly are brought together in Christ even in Him. Now let’s move on to verse 11, and that verse starts right off with a prepositional phrase.
“In whom (Christ) also we (as members of this Body of Christ) have (already) obtained an inheritance,…”
Now in order to have an inheritance, what do you have to have? Well you have to have somebody who is going share their wealth with you. Otherwise you’ve nothing to inherit. For that let’s look at portion a Scripture in Romans chapter 8. Now where does our inheritance originate? Ephesians has already told us that it’s “in Christ,” but let’s also see what this says.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (or the born ones) of God. (so a believer has to have the leading of the Holy Spirit) 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; (now Paul is talking about Law and legalism. Anytime somebody puts the Law on people, it puts those people in a place of superstition and fear, and they’re scared to death that they’re not doing things right, and they’re not doing enough) but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, (when we’re placed in Christ) whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (we can call God our Father, we have every right to do that. Now here it comes.) 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
Now what do most children wait for if they have a wealthy set of parents? Their inheritance. That’s normal, there’s nothing wrong with that. I get a kick out of these people that go south every winter. The bumper sticker says, “I’m spending my kids’ inheritance.” But when parents have wealth, the kids have an inheritance. Well that’s exactly what we have with God.
“And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;…”
Now for goodness sake everybody knows what it means to be a joint heir. It means everything’s equal! In other words you’re not going to get just a little handout. Everything that’s Christ’s is ours. Now I know this is mind boggling, but it’s the promises we find here, and take it by faith. The last part of verse 17 has a price with it.
“…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
So there is a price to pay. Now we in America don’t really know what it is to suffer for our faith. We may come under a little opposition, and of course I think that opposition is growing, but nevertheless we’re still in a nation that protects our freedoms and liberties. But there are a lot of areas in the world tonight that are under intense persecution. Thousands of believers are losing their lives for their faith. But the promise is that if we do suffer we’re going to certainly one day enjoy all the glory of it, as he says in verse 18.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,”
So this is part and parcel then of our salvation experience; that yes, we are now children of God, and if we’re children of God then we’re heirs of God. If we’re heirs of God, then we’re joint-heirs with Christ! Now back to Ephesians chapter 1, and looking at verse 11 again.
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,…” (became joint-heirs)
That just reminds me of a gentleman up in Minnesota who started watching our program a few years ago; and he came to know the Lord, and what a testimony he’s been. Last summer we were getting ready to speak in a Church west of Minneapolis, and a young man by the name of Mark came up and he knew this same gentleman in St. Paul. Mark told me he used to work for this gentleman when he was working his way through the University of Minnesota. Mark went on to tell me that he asked this gentleman this question, “Sir are you going to go to Heaven when you die?” And he always answered, “Well I hope so!” Then Mark would come right back and say, “Then you’re not!” This gentleman then told me this himself.
Anyway the gentlemen told me that one day he heard our program, and the Lord just opened his eyes to the Gospel. And he’s just become a real testimony to God’s Grace, and he was the one telling me about this. He told me, “Mark sowed the seed when he kept asking me that question, and then you were able to reap the harvest.” Had Mark not approached him time after time while working for him, I’m sure he would have never listened to me, and I’m so thankful that the Lord opened his heart. So these things are exciting, but you see it’s not a hope so thing. It’s not a religion, but rather it’s a position that we enjoy in Christ. And like I told you in a previous lesson, how do we know that we’re in Christ? By Faith! The Bible says we are, and we believe it, we trust it. Now reading on in verse 11. We’ve found out in verse 11 we have an inheritance, being joint-heirs with Christ, now then we –
“…being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
Now on this verse I’ve got so many references that have come flying through my mind, I don’t know where to go first. I think I’m going to look up the word counsel first. So go back to Acts chapter 2, and let’s look at this counsel. What’s a good definition of counsel? Well a meeting of the minds. You can appoint a committee to accomplish something, and so they meet. Out of that meeting comes some real concrete results, so what do you say they did? They counseled. They had a meeting of the minds and agreed. Now looking at Acts chapter 2, let’s see what happened in the Godhead. And in this verse we find Peter saying this. Peter is preaching to these Jews, the Nation of Israel on the day of Pentecost, and he says-
“Him, (speaking of Christ) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
Do you know what that verse is saying? That’s telling me that sometime way back in eternity past, before anything was ever called into being out of nothing, when it was still nothing, the Triune God had a counsel, and since they were all members of the Godhead they didn’t have to deliberate for half and hour. But nevertheless the Trinity came together and in a counsel agreement set everything in motion. The three Persons of the Trinity agreed that they would create the universe, and that they would put one little planet down there called earth in the midst of it. And on that planet they would put the human race. They knew the human race would sin, it would fall out of fellowship with their Creator, and immediately after that happened He could promise a Redeemer. We get this all in Genesis chapter 3.
Then in the Old Testament the Redeemer is being prophesied all the way through. All according to this predeterminate counsel of God, and then one day here He came. He came at the exact right moment in time. And when you analyze history, nothing would have ever worked out right had He come a 100 years sooner or 100 years later. But rather this Redeemer came at just exactly the right time, according to that predeterminate counsel of the Godhead. See how beautifully everything fits. That verse also speaks of the foreknowledge of God. God knew everything that was ever going to happen. It was all in that predetermined plan of the ages, way back before anything was ever created, that Christ would go to the Cross. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 1. Everything that has been unfolding now for 6000 years of human history, not to mention however long it was before that, that the universe was already out there spinning around. But everything was –
“…predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
So everything has been right on schedule. We don’t know when the Lord’s coming, but He does, and it won’t be 1 hour too late or too early, but it will right on schedule. What is this purpose of God? Now let’s go to II Timothy, chapter 1, and look at that for a moment. These verses are all so good it’s hard for me to know where to start, I really don’t. But let’s just jump in at verse 7.
II Timothy 1:7a
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; (now isn’t that a comfort? We don’t have to sit here shaking in our boots scared to death of what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or down the road. We’re not living under a spirit of fear,) but of power,…”
Now you want to remember that our all-powerful God is the One that spoke the Word, and created the whole universe. I recently read an interesting thing in our Sunday magazine“Parade.” There’s an interesting writer in there that writes an article, “Ask Marilyn.” Personally I think she’s a brilliant woman. Someone wrote and said, “I told my child while on the sandy beach one day that for every grain of sand there was also a star out in space.” Then after he had told his 5-year-old this, he was wondering if he had told him right. What if the child backed him into the corner and told him to prove that? It is quite a statement, but do you know what her answer was? The old scientist Carl Sagan had determined scientifically that there are approximate 10,000 grains of sand in every handful of sand, I believe that is the correct figure. And from that he determined that there are more stars out in space than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of this world. Now you think about that for a while. Now I’m not saying that he was right, but I wouldn’t think that he was just spitting into the wind, as we say. I think that there is validity to that. For every grain of sand there’s a star out in space, and I think the Scripture also implies that. But whatever, this is a God that you and I belong to, and then some of us fear? My we have nothing to fear, but fear itself, as Roosevelt once said. But nevertheless our God is so powerful that we have absolutely nothing to fear. And here it is in this verse –
II Timothy 1:7-8
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”
Now whenever you see that word “power” from this point on, do you know what I want you to think of? The vastness of our outer space, and that God’s in total control. I’ve never yet read an account of an astronomer who sees a star crashing into another star. Have you? No! Now they see explosions out there and the beginnings of still another new star, but I have never read the account of someone seeing through the Hubbell or anything else an event such as one star colliding with another one. Why? Because my Bible tells me that the Creator not only created everything, but He also holds everything exactly where it belongs. Now listen if He can keep track of as many stars and celestial bodies as there are grains of sands on the beaches of this world, then I know He keeps track of me. And you can rest assured that He’s keeping track of you. I mean, that’s a God we’re talking about that goes beyond human understanding, but that’s the God of this Book. Now let’s read on in verse 9, and here comes the purpose of God. This God –
II Timothy 1:9
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose (and where was that purpose originally generated? Back there in Acts chapter 2 that we look at when the Godhead came together, and precipitated everything according to their counsel. According to His own purpose) and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
This was already in the mind of God in that counsel that predetermined everything because He’s an all-knowing God, and could do that. It all happened in that determinate counsel we read about in Acts 2:23. That’s where God had us on His mind. That’s why Paul could write this in Ephesians.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,…”
I mean that’s just mind boggling, and the only thing we can do is take it by faith. I can’t understand and comprehend that, but it’s what the Word declares. So we were called –
II Timothy 1:9b
“…not according to our works, but according to his purpose…”
Which is completely wrapped up in the Grace of God. Now let’s go back to Ephesians in the moments we have left. Now doesn’t that thrill you when you see how the whole Book fits together so beautifully? How that we were predestinated according to the purpose which is all under the control of the power of God. Every thing is working according to the counsel of His own will. Now verse 12. Now this is for one purpose, this is why we are, what we are, this is why, who we are.
“That we should be to the praise of his glory,…”
Oh if believers could just get a little excited about this fact, that the reason we’re left here, the reason that God gives us breath day after day is that we might bring praise to His glory. There’s a verse in Hebrews that speaks what we should offer unto God.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
And that is what God is looking for, and that’s the whole purpose of everything!