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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 37
Ephesians 4:1-11 – Part 2
It’s so thrilling to hear people tell us that they have a love for the Word that they’ve never had before. That’s the reason we teach. If we can just get people back into the Book, and realize that it’s the greatest Book on earth. I mean, there’s nothing that can compare with it. I trust that most of you realize that I’m always trying to bring out how intrinsically the Word is put together. When Paul comes up with seven distinct things like these seven unities of the Church we are studying about this afternoon, that’s not just an accident. He didn’t sit there beating his head against the wall trying to figure out how he could do that. But that’s just the way the Holy Spirit keeps the Scripture flowing.
This afternoon we have been studying here in Ephesians chapter 4, and we’ve got one of these seven unities left yet. So let’s finished that one before we go on into the following verses in this chapter.
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Now remember we’ve been talking about one all the way through this afternoon. One Body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and now one God and Father of all. Now the Jewish folks, bless their hearts, they kind of accuse us Christians of being polytheists in that we believe in a Trinity. But for the Jewish person coming out of the Old Testament, that is almost an anathema to him. So if you would go back to Deuteronomy chapter 6 for a moment, we’ll see what their reasoning is. This of course is the Jewish view of God being like Paul just said in Ephesians, “One God.” Absolutely He’s One! And as we read, remember this is part and parcel of Jewish worship.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” And here you have all the letters capitalized. Read it again.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Which of course was the bedrock of the Law. Now as you come on up through the Scriptures, even staying in the Old Testament, which was written primarily to the Jewish people, stop at Isaiah chapter 9 for a moment. Again we’ll look at a verse that we’ve looked at many times over the years, and that would be in verse 6.
“For unto us (Israel) a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be (it’s still further, but it’s coming) upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Now you see in that one verse we have all the names, not only of God the Father, but also whom? God the Son! He’s the Prince of Peace! Isn’t it amazing? And yet our Jewish friends don’t like to admit that this is a reference to Christ. But as far as Christianity is, it is. It’s a prophecy concerning the coming of the Christ child in Bethlehem, who would be their Messiah. Now come on over to Matthew chapter 3, because this was a question on my answering machine the other morning. The question was, “Where in Scripture are all 3 persons of the Godhead mentioned in the same place?” Well here in Matthew chapter 3 it’s the most obvious, and never lose sight of the fact that we have One God, One Lord, but our view of it is in 3 Persons. The setting here is at Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan.
“And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: (so there in the Person of Jesus we have One of them in God the Son) and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God (there’s number 2, the Holy Spirit) descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (and here in verse 17 you have the third One in the voice from heaven, the Father is implied) 17. . And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
There is also one more reference that is just as tantamount, and that would be in II Corinthians chapter 13, and let’s look at the last verse.
II Corinthians 13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, (Son) and the love of God, (Father) and the communion of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) be with you all, Amen.”
So you have all three persons of the Godhead mentioned here as One God. So we’re not polytheists, as we believe in the One God, the One Father of all as Paul mentions in Ephesians. So let’s come back to our text in that Book to chapter 4, and read verse 6 again.
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
But He is also identified with the One Lord of verse 5, and the One Spirit back there in verse 4. This all has to be taken by faith, because I can’t comprehend it, and I don’t think anybody can. Three Persons as One? And yet this is the way the Bible teaches what Paul calls then in Colossians the Godhead. Now we’re going to go into another few verses before we wrap up this book, and I think these verses present a very interesting concept, which had to have taken place when Christ was crucified, and was in the grave those 3 days and 3 nights. Now verse 7.
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
In other words, every member of the Body of Christ has a different level of responsibility of grace. I think even, yes of faith, and that’s God prerogative, as we’re all different, but we’re all members of the Body. Now verse 8.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
Here, you’ve got to flash back to Acts chapter 1, when they were on the Mount of Olives and what happened? The Lord went up from their midst.
“…why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Now that’s when He ascended as we normally think of it. Now back to Ephesians and let’s read verse 8 again.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9. (Now that he ascended, (up to glory) what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10. He that descended (into the lower parts of the earth) is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens that he might fill all things.)”
Now what in the world was he talking about? Well come back with me first to Matthew chapter 12. We did this several years ago when we were back in Revelation when we were dealing with the Lake of Fire, but that’s been so long ago that most of our listeners won’t even know what we were talking about. Let’s look at verse 40. Here Jesus is speaking in His earthly ministry and is responding to the Jewish people of that day.
“For as Jonas (Jonah) was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Now that’s plain English isn’t it? The analogy is, that just as sure as Jonah went to the depth in the whale’s belly, went through a semblance of death of three days and three nights before the whale spit him out upon the shore, and in type that also was a picture of a resurrection. Jonah went on then to finish his ministry in Nineveh. Here, Jesus not only prophesied His own experience that is going to come, but He also adds His stamp of approval to the story of Jonah, which much of Christendom ridicules. Have you ever thought of that? The Lord Himself puts the stamp of approval on the story and Book of Jonah. It was an actual happening or He wouldn’t have said it. So what happened?
As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly and went into the deep, and came out alive, so also must the Jesus also must be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. So our question is, what was it like in the heart of the earth? To find out this we must go to Luke chapter 16. Our time is going so fast already in this lesson that I don’t have time to cover all these verses, but nevertheless let’s hit the highlights. This is not called a parable, but rather I have to feel that Jesus was talking about an actual happening. Today we call these things “little windows” of opportunities. and the opportunity here is we get a little a glimpse of the state of those who have died.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” In other words, poor old Lazarus had a miserable life didn’t he? Now continuing on in verse 22.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom:…”
Remember Abraham died 2,000 years BC. Before Jesus’ resurrection all believers went down into Paradise. In Scripture it’s always signified as going down into the center of the earth. A good example of this is the thief on the Cross, what did the Lord say to him? “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Now Jesus didn’t take him to heaven like some teach, but rather He took him down with Him into paradise, in the heart of the earth. Now reading on.
“…the rich man also died, and was buried:”
Several weeks ago I put on the board that the soul never sleeps. The body sleeps when life passes out of it, but it will be awakened on resurrection day, but the soul never sleeps. Now it was the same way here. The rich man had died and his body was buried, and his soul had gone down into the ether part. Hell is what the Scripture calls that place.
“And in hell he (the rich man) lifted up his eyes, (he’s very conscious of what’s going on around him) being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24. And he cried and said, (one Jew to another) Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.”
You know the story of how Abraham couldn’t do what the rich man asked. Look at verse 26 what Abraham tells the rich man.
“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence (paradise side) to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. (hell side) 27. Then he (the rich man) said, I pray thee therefore, father, (Abraham) that thou wouldest send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house: 28. For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
Now verse 29 I always like to use when I emphasize Paul’s writing for us today in the Church Age. When Abraham was being begged by the rich man to do something for his brothers, what did Abraham say?
“Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Notice Abraham didn’t tell them, “Well they can pray to God.” Abraham said, “They’ve got the written Word.” And I maintain today if we could talk to the Lord and asked him a question or two, do you know what He would say? “You’ve got the letters of Paul, and in them is everything you need to know, just read them!” And that’s what Abraham said here, “They have Moses, and the prophets, they have the printed Word, and that’s all they need.
We know that Abraham and Lazarus were on the Paradise side. We also know that the rich man who was lost was over on the torment side, and there was a great fixed gulf between them, where they couldn’t go to each other. What Jesus implied then in that analogy with Jonah, was that He also went down to hell on the Paradise side during His three days and three nights after His crucifixion. And so from Paradise, as we see Paul explicitly puts it, He ascended upon high. Now coming back to that reference in the Book of Ephesians chapter 4.
“(Now that he (Christ) ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?“
This was where Abraham, Lazarus, and all the Old Testament saints were waiting for the atoning blood of the Cross so they could then enter into what we now know as heaven. Remember the blood of animals couldn’t take away sin, and so they could not go into heaven in the presence of God until the atoning blood had been shed. Thank goodness the atoning blood has been shed now, and so now with the work of the Cross finished, Christ could take Paradise out of its place in the center part of the earth, and He takes it up into glory. Hell is then enlarged to accommodate all that would go there. Now let’s read on in Ephesians chapter 4. Let’s read verse 9 in it’s entirety.
“(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first (after His death on the Cross) into the lower parts of the earth? 10. he that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
Now there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. What are some of the “all things” in verse 10? Well these Old Testament believers were saved by their faith, but they couldn’t be saved by the work of the Cross, because it hadn’t happened yet. That was still clear out into the future. So once Christ finished the work of the Cross and went down into Paradise and preached to those spirits in prison as Peter says, “Now what could Christ tell the Old Testament believers? ‘I died for you, my blood has been shed, the atoning blood is done.’” And so He takes them now out of the Paradise side of hell, out of the lower part of the earth up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, because that’s what the work of the Cross did. Today in the Church Age as believers die their soul goes right into the presence of Christ in what the Bible calls the third heaven, the very abode of God.
So remember, the work of the Cross finished the whole plan of redemption for the Old Testament saints as well as for us today in the Church Age. If Christ has done everything that needed to be done, then who are we to say, “But I’ve got to do this or that to complete salvation?” In so many words we’re telling God, “You didn’t really finish it, and I’ve got to put the frosting on the cake, regardless what it might be,” and God will have no part of that. We have to rest on that finished work + NOTHING!” After that move on into a life that is a testimony to the world round about us. Now in the few moments we have left, look what God has now left for the Church today. Remember Corinthians was back there in Paul’s earlier revelations, now we’ve jumped up into higher ground, and we don’t have all the things they had back in Corinthians. God has removed some of them, but look what we have left in verse 11.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;…”
Now at the time Paul wrote this there were still apostles. He claimed to be an apostle in Romans chapter 11. Let’s look at it because I don’t want any doubt in your mind concerning Paul being an apostle.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”
So here we know that as Paul writes this letter to the Ephesians, he is an authoritative apostle sent to Gentiles in particular, and the whole world in general. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 4, verse 11. So when Paul writes Ephesians this term, “apostles” is still valid, and there may have been more than Paul, but the Scripture doesn’t reveal that. But today we know we do not have apostles any longer. This is something that has now dropped off and again I think it’s because the Word is complete as we have it, and there is no longer a need for apostles.
Now the same thing goes for prophets. If you will go back to our lessons in Corinthians, when prophecy was the gift to be desired, it was because there was no printed New Testament. Even Paul’s doctrines were not yet in print. And so until Paul’s letter and the rest of the New Testament came about, God had to have gifted men to keep the thing going from the time that the Church began until these Church letters appeared. So it was a necessity that they had prophets who were capable of the gift of prophecy. But you see, that too is no longer necessary because we have the printed Word, and we have the Holy Spirit to interpret or to understand the Word.
But the last three are still valid. Every local church that is true to the Word of God should have these kind of men functioning and active in that local Body of believers, and what are they?
“…evangelist, and some, pastors and teachers;”
And that literally fills the need of the local church. If you can, find a church that has an evangelist, and they have a pastor. Now you know there’s a big difference between a pastor and evangelist. Some people have the gift of just literally orating the Gospel. They just simply have that gift. Others have a gift of just simply being a friend in need, and that’s the role of a good pastor. He can call on the sick, and he can comfort, and just fulfill a multitude of the needs of believers. Then there’s that third gifted person in a local church, and that is a teacher. Not all pastors are good teachers, and God doesn’t expect them to be. All evangelists aren’t teachers, so they are three distinct gifted kinds of men that God has placed in the local Body of believers. You show me a church that has these three things going for them, and I’ll show you a church that’s alive and well. These are the three that God has left for us today. And then in verse 12 says the whole reason for it. What’s the purpose for pastors and teachers, and evangelist?
“For the perfecting (or maturing) of the saints…”
It doesn’t say a word here that it’s for lost people. It’s so that saints can become mature. And what have I taught from this little old music stand for years? The purpose for teaching the saints is that you and I can go out and win the lost. That’s God program for today.