Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 40
Paul – Our Example – Part 2
Now we’re going to begin this lesson in Philippians verse 20, and my, what a verse. You know too many times we read these things casually and say, “There’s nothing in there.” Oh no? It’s a loaded verse if you start really picking it apart. Remember in verse 19 the last thing Paul said was that these false teachers who have adulterated and perverted the truth are only concerned about earthly things. But for the believer it’s a different story.
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven;…”
Well where your citizenship is, what also should be there? Well, your heart. And so all of Paul’s teachings then are centered in our position in the heavenlies. In fact it just comes to mind, I hadn’t planned on using this, but in Ephesians chapter 1 and drop down to verse 3, and this just says everything that I said last program.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
Now the King James says, “heavenly places” but I prefer the heavenlies. Now that’s where we’re positioned, that’s where our citizenship is, that’s where all of our blessings rest and come from. I ended that with a preposition didn’t I. You’re not supposed to do that are you? But anyway that’s where everything is centered for us as believers. So now coming back to Philippians for a second.
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven;…”
Let’s establish that first by turning to Colossians chapter 1 – so we realize, “How did I become a citizen of heaven? How did I end up in that position?” Well here it is in verse 12. This is the closing part of the apostle’s prayer on behalf of the Colossi believers.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”
What light? Well the Light of Christ Himself. Who John’s gospel says, “That Light that has lighted every man that cometh into the world.” So we are an inheritance of that Light. Now in verse 13 Paul is referring again to the Father.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and (at the same moment) hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
Well where is the Son’s kingdom? It’s in heaven. Now one day, and we think soon, it’s going to be on the earth, but tonight He is in heaven, so everything concerning His kingdom is heavenly, and so that’s where we are, that’s where our citizenship is. So we have been translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. You know I’m always using the word that Christianity is so practical. So come back with for a moment to II Corinthians chapter 5, and don’t lose sight now of where our citizenship is. Well if our citizenship is in heaven, then what are we so far as the world is concerned? Aliens. Not from outer space, but from the earth itself, because our citizenship is in heaven. Well, now Paul uses a terminology in II Corinthians chapter 5 that fits so perfectly even in our present day political system.
II Corinthians 5:20a
“Now then we (as believers whose citizenship is in heaven) are ambassadors for Christ,…” See that’s a perfect terminology, because we still use ambassadors today. When our government sends an ambassador to Tokyo, he’s not a citizen of Japan, but rather he’s an alien, because his citizenship is back here in America, but he’s living in Japan. So what’s he doing over there? Well he’s being a representative of his home government. Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
That’s where we are. We’re on this earth as aliens, but we’re not just here being parasites. We’re not here just living off everybody else, We are here as direct associates of the glorious kingdom of heaven itself, and we’re here to show forth, to reflect our place of abode. That’s what we’re here for, and we are to literally reflect our heavenly position day in and day out. And that’s why I personally feel that is our great commission. This really fits, this is what you and I can do everyday of our lives. Everyday we can reflect the place of our citizenship, reflect the One who is the head of the Body, and we are ambassadors, we are constantly representing the Lord Jesus Christ and in verse 18 he tells us “we then are ministers of reconciliation.” In other words, all we have to do is let lost people know that God has already reconciled them, it’s all been done, but God can’t appropriate it until they believe it.
We make it so hard for unbelievers. I can look back in my own experience – I’ve made it hard for people. I know better now, it’s so simple. Just recognize your lostness, recognize that you’re without hope, but everything has been done for you, it’s a free gift, and all we have to do to appropriate it is to believe it in our heart. (Romans 10:9-10) The moment we believe it, God translates us into the kingdom of His dear Son, He makes us a citizen of heaven, but at the very same moment he designates us an ambassadors for Him.
Politicians have to connive and bribe to get an ambassadorial position, but we don’t have to do that because ours is given the moment we become a citizen of heaven. And oh what a responsibility we take on. You know I told my classes here in Oklahoma the other night if everyone of my class people, which is only a few hundred people, could win one every couple of weeks, and then they in turn could go out and win one every couple weeks, do you realize how fast we could make an impact on this nation? But that’s what God expects us to do, we’re ambassadors, and we are to be constantly reflecting the place of our citizenship where Christ is not so much the King of the Body as He is the Head of the Body.
Now along those lines of thinking let’s come back to Romans chapter 8. I just told some folks that I could go an hour on this verse. But some people are getting impatient that I’m taking too long to go through the Bible, and they want to know “How many more books there will be before you finally finish.” Well I can’t answer that question, I think the Lord’s going to come before we get through. Now here in Romans let’s just drop in at verse 14. See, these are all tied together. This is all because of our salvation experience, and the resulting position in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom, just however you want to picture it.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (or children) of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; (we’re not shaking in our boots in fear of an awesome God. No, we are one and part of Him) but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, (which is a positional term again) whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are (that’s our promise from God) the children of God: (now for some more promises, and notice it doesn’t promise me flocks and herds and material wealth, but these are all heavenly promises.) 17. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Then Paul goes on in verse 18, and if there’s any doubt, “Is it worth suffering for?” And suffering scares most of us, but verse 18 sets that to rest.
“For I reckon that the suffering of this present time (and all the times according to II Corinthians chapter 11 that this man suffered) are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
That’s our hope. Now the Lord may bless us, and He has according to other parts of the world, as they think we’re all millionaires. But nevertheless that’s not our primarily purpose for being here. Our primary purpose is to lift up our position as representatives of our heavenly abode, and that is as ambassadors. Now back to Philippians chapter 3. We’ve discussed the first half of verse 20, but there’s more. Not only is our citizenship in heaven, not only are we ambassadors as a result of that citizenship, but we live moment by moment looking for the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Another accompanying verse is found in the Book of Titus chapter 2. This is a verse that I have learned to confront people with who refuse to accept the Deity of Christ, and there are more than one group that do that. They do not believe that Jesus was God. I’ve tried all the other references and they’ve always got an answer for it. They’ll wiggle around it one way or the other every time, but this one shuts them up every time. This one they don’t have an answer for. In fact I just used this one again yesterday. The Scripture here ties in so beautifully with Philippians 3:20b “from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Look what Paul writes to Titus.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
Is there any doubt? They can’t wiggle around this verse, so learn to use it. When people come to your door and you asked them if they believe that Jesus Christ is God, and they say no, and give you all the reasons in their Bible that He isn’t, then you just show them this verse and it will stop them. They can’t get around it.
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar (something of intrinsic value) people, zealous of good works”
But all the while we’re doing our good works, what are we looking for? The appearing of the Great God, and blessed hope. I’ve asked people more than once, “What is your blessed hope?” And it’s amazing how many people will say, “When I die I’ll go to heaven.” Well that’s a good hope, but that’s not the blessed hope. The blessed hope is that maybe before we leave today the Lord will return, and we’ll meet Him in the air, and I think most of us are getting homesick for that event. We just can’t wait, but that’s as it should be, but you don’t sit down on some hillside and wait for it to happen. We’re to keep busy, working, and planting.
I’ve had more than one say, “Well Les I was ready to plant an apple tree, and thought well what’s the use.” But I always say, “Go ahead and plant your apple tree, because we don’t know when He’s coming back, but we think it’s very near.” I’ve got a fence that I know I should replace, and I haven’t done it yet, because I think the same thing, but one of these days I’ve got to get it done. But nevertheless we don’t sit down and say, “Well the Lord’s coming!” No, no, we work and we continue to plan and raise our families and take care of our business as if the Lord won’t come for another 100 years. But way down deep, what do we know? It’s getting close!
We don’t know how soon, but as you see the world just falling apart, and again right here in Oklahoma, how we’ve been shaken to the toenails by another act of violence among our kids. I know it’s hard to comprehend, but the moment I hear of something like that the verse comes to mind of what Paul wrote to Timothy “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” We might as well look at that Scripture for a moment since we’re thinking on those lines. So come back to II Timothy chapter 3 verse 1. And we can expect this kind of thing. It’s not going to get better. The best we can hope for is that we can slow it down. And that we can get enough of the Word out to our people and our young people and our kids that maybe we can slow it. We’re not going to turn it around. We’re not going to see a 180 degree turn. We’re not going to see a great world revival. Forget it! It’s not in the Book. But II Timothy chapter 3 does give us the scenario. Let’s look at verse 1.
II Timothy 3:1-3a
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents,(What age level is that? Our kids, the teenagers. The Book is pointing straight at them.) unthankful, unholy. 3. Without natural affection…” What group of people does that address? Whether it’s a wife abuser, a husband abuser, or a child abuser. What’s their problem? They don’t have any natural affection. And we’re going to see more and more of it. It’s something that is disappearing from the human scenario. Nobody cares. Let’s continue on.
II Timothy 3:3b
They can make a deal and 30 minutes later they can break it. Now you know most of us are old enough, we lived in a day when you made a deal and shook hands on it and that was it. You didn’t have to have 4 copies. You didn’t have to have a whole great long page of legal stuff. You made a deal, you shook hands and that was it. You kept your word come what may. But not any more because we’ve become a society of trucebreakers.
II Timothy 3:3b-5
“…false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. 4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. 5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
You know what that tells me? Oh, they’re in church on Sunday morning. They’re filling their pew for that one hour or so on Sunday morning. And then that’s their obligation fulfilled. And then they’ll go right back out and perform all the rest of this and it doesn’t even bother then. Not all do that. Don’t get me wrong. But this is too often the case. And so all of these things are all part and parcel of our end time scenario. Now back to Philippians chapter 3.
“…from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Now I’ve got to jump from there again to another verse in I Thessalonians chapter 4 where we have the whole thing described in detail. And as you know I make no apology that I believe in the Rapture of the Body of Christ. I believe with all my heart that one day, and I think rather soon, that the trumpet is going to sound. No, not the angelic trumpets of Revelation, but the singular, trumpet of God that Paul speaks of and the voice of the archangel, and then as he says in I Corinthians, “we who are alive and remain shall be changed.”But now in I Thessalonians chapter 4 and let’s begin with verse beginning with verse 13. This is what we’re to coincide with Philippians 3:20. When this happens we’re going to have a body fashioned after His glorious body.
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (have died physically) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
In other words, if we’re believers and our loved ones are believers when they died, we’re going to see them again. We don’t have to weep and wale like we will never see them again. Now verse 14. I always call this the qualifying factor of being in the Rapture.
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (see, there’s Paul’s Gospel, and if we believe that with all our heart) even so them also which sleep (died) in Jesus will God bring with him.”
In other words, those who were believers who have died are in glory, they’re in Paradise, they’re in the Lord’s presence conscience, but I don’t feel they’re up there walking the golden street. They’re waiting for their resurrection just like we are. So when the trumpet sounds and Christ leaves heaven, these departed souls of the Church Age believers will come with Him to be reunited shortly with their resurrected body. Now verse 15.
I Thessalonians 4:15
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, (the crucified, resurrected, risen, ascended Lord was instructing Paul to write this) that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (died) 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”
See, when I teach these things I always like to teach comparisons. This is not the Second Coming. The Second Coming comes with calamities, and disasters, and probably nuclear warfare, earthquakes, and all the rest. That’s the Second Coming. At that time He will come to the Mount of Olives, which is on Jerusalem’s east side. None of that happens here. This Rapture of the Church is just a silent intervention except for the trumpet of God, and He doesn’t come to the Mount of Olives, but rather only to the air. Verse 17.
I Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Why? Because we’re citizens of that heaven from whence He has come to get us, and He’s going to take us back to that heaven. And so what a glorious blessed hope we are looking forward to. And we really think that one day soon that trumpet is going to sound and we’re going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.