Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 42
The Body of Christ Removed from the Earth – Part 2
Oh how it thrills our heart to hear from those of you who have gotten a new enthusiasm for the Word of God, and how you are now able to study it by yourself, or with your family. Remember the only reason I teach is to help people get interested in this Book. As you know we are not building an organization, nor are we after numbers, but oh, to get people into the Word.
Now let’s get right back into the Word, and we’ll be in I Thessalonians chapter 3:6. Remember from our last program we were showing that Paul had such a heart rendering concern for these new believers fresh out of paganism. He was wondering how they were fairing, and if they were still holding true to their faith under the intense persecution which he even warned them of as they made their profession of faith. Now verse 6, and we see Paul has gotten some news and the flavor changes.
I Thessalonians 3:6
“But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:”
My, can’t you just feel the exuberance of the apostle’s reaction, how probably almost depressed with concern about these believers that he had to leave behind, and knowing that they were under a lot of pressure and then to get the good word from Timothy that they were holding fast. Now verse 7.
I Thessalonians 3:7
“Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress (that was his mental attitude) by your faith:”
Now they probably hadn’t gotten to the place yet where they were just exploding with a lot of good works and missionary efforts, and all the good things that certainly follow. But the number one purpose in bringing someone fresh out of a lost environment is to see their faith. To realize that they are taking to heart the things that God had spoken either through the Old Testament or through the letters of Paul. And again I always have to remind folks that at the time that Paul wrote these letters there was no New Testament. Now maybe the Book of James had been written, but even that certainly didn’t have a lot of doctrinal truth in it for Paul’s converts. See, these people had no New Testament to draw on, and I imagine the pagan world had no access to the Old Testament either. The Jewish believers naturally would have, but not these pagan Gentiles. So to start with the fundamentals of their faith was all that Paul really counted necessary at this point in time.
And so even with us today, as you see new believers come into the Body of Christ, the first thing we have to establish is, are they taking God at His Word. Are they resting on the Word of God and not just some feeling or emotional thing. “Remember Faith is taking God at His Word. God has said only through the apostle Paul that He would save a person if they simply believed in their heart that Jesus died for their sins, was buried and rose again.” And don’t go adding anything to that for your salvation, because God didn’t add anything to it or He would have had Paul include it in his epistles. Now moving on into the next verse.
I Thessalonians 3:8-10
“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 9. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, (oh how he longed to get back and once again see these new converts face to face.) and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?”
Paul wanted to bring maturity to their faith. Naturally a new believer doesn’t have the whole in understanding Scripture, and you don’t expect them to. Many of you have been believers for years, and many of the letters to us tells that you have been in Church for 30 or 40, or 50 years, and are just now seeing some of these deeper things that are not ordinarily taught in Sunday School or in a Sunday morning sermon. But it’s all here for every believer to feast on, so this is what Paul is referring to concerning these new believers. Now verse 11.
I Thessalonians 3:11
“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.”
In other words Paul was hoping that providently God would lead him back up to Thessalonica.
I Thessalonians 3:12a
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another,…”
See that’s one of the first steps of our faith. It’s not so much we go out and become evangelists and missionaries right away, but oh, that we can manifest our saving faith by love to those who are in proximity. My, again just in the last week, we have had several who have called or written how that the Word has transformed their home life, and some of them were in a horrible situation. You know that just thrills us when we hear that, it just makes you want to carry on. Paul saw people come out of those same kinds of backgrounds, the paganism, and the drunkenness. Don’t think for a minute that drunkenness is something unique to the 21st Century. It’s been a plague to the human race from day one. So these people certainly had the same kinds of temptations, but as they came out of that background, and into the love of Christ, then Paul says, “that they would increase in their love one toward another”. Now finishing the verse.
I Thessalonians 3:12b-13a
“…and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13. To the end…”
Now everything has an end. There’s that old clique that the means justify the end or the end justifies the means. Well Paul is using that same concept, that at the end of all this there has to an end. And that is that–
I Thessalonians 3:13b
“… he may stablish your hearts unblameable…”
Oh, a lot of people don’t like that. They don’t like the idea that a believer, if the Lord should come this afternoon, and this believer had unconfessed sin in his life would go to heaven unblameable. Maybe as a believer we’ve had some bad thoughts even since we got up this morning, and the Lord comes, are we suddenly going to be shaking in our boots, and say, “Oh I’ve got unconfessed sin?” Not according to my Bible, but rather Paul says, “we’re unblameable!” Now remember that’s not license. That doesn’t tell us that we’re free to sin, and have evil thoughts, and just glibly go on our way. No, that’s not the idea at all. But it’s that comforting aspect that even if we have failed the Lord in the last 24 hours, and He should come today, we’re not going to stand before Him with all that sin on our back., because Paul tells us, “we’re unblameable!” Look at the verse again.
I Thessalonians 3:13
“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
Now let’s go back and use a comparative Scripture because after all this is Bible study. I’m not up here to see how much ground we can cover in a lesson. So come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 1 and Paul makes this so plain. I’ve even seen people get mad in my own class when I teach that a believer is unblameable. My, some almost burst a blood vessel because it makes them so mad, but I can’t help that, because I go by what the Book says, and not by what some denomination may be preaching or teaching, but what does the Word of God say.
Now let’s begin with verse 6, but before we do let me remind you what kind of congregation the Corinthians group was. They were carnal. Oh they had all kinds of problems, they had morality problems, they had attitude problems, just to name a couple. So always remember when you read these things, it helps so much to know the background of the letter. So these were carnal believers Paul was writing to, they’re still hung up on the things of the flesh. Now verse 6.
I Corinthians 1:6
” Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:”
They too had come out of paganism. They too had come out of the horrors of the lifestyle of Corinth, with all of it’s excesses. And they were still slipping occasionally because they were just human. But Paul says, “Christ was confirmed in you.” Now verse 7.
I Corinthians 1:7
“So that ye come behind in no gift; (God had given them all there was to give, and they too were) waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
I think you all realize that the apostle Paul honestly thought that the Rapture would take place in his life time. At least he certainly wrote with that in mind. And then of course it wasn’t until he was about to face martyrdom that he realized that he was not going to see the coming of the Lord. But if Paul thought the Lord was going to come in the 1st Century then we’d better be ready in the 21st.
Now the verse we came for. I want you to highlight verse 8, underline it, but also write in the margins that to be found blameless is not license, but rather this is comfort. Even though we may fail, and we do, and we will continue to fail, but if the Lord suddenly blows the trumpet, and we’re translated out of here, this will be our position.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now that’s comforting isn’t it? We don’t have to go to sleep at night shaking in our boots, and wondering, “Oh if the Lord should come before morning, have I got something that the Lord will hold against me? No!!!!! Remember it’s all under the blood of our Lord. And beloved rest assured in that! This is the very fundamental of our faith, that as a believer even though we’re still in the flesh, and we’re going to fail, our sins are still under the blood.
Now, yes, we want to keep a short account, I certainly believe in confessing as soon as I realize that I’ve sinned. But I’ve also said over and over that you don’t have to be begging God to forgive you, because that’s already a done deal. “Our forgiveness is complete, it’s done!” But we also have the comfort that even if we do fail, and then fail to confess it and the Lord should come, we’re not going to stand before Him and have to answer for unconfessed sin, because we’ll be declared “unblameable” in His sight. Now that, beloved, is so comforting isn’t it?
Now back to I Thessalonians. You know for years I have felt that the Lord has more or less given me a ministry of teaching believers. I have never felt that I was a great soul winner, but my goodness the way things are turning now, we find we’re both. But I’m still primarily inclined to teach believers, because when a believer is well taught he’s going to be a good witness, but you can’t be unless you’re taught, and are comfortable in sharing this good news of Paul’s Gospel, and the basic doctrines that go along with it. Now that’s the key to be a witness and a testimony as a believer. Know your subject, and this is the subject. Now then let’s go on into chapter 4.
I Thessalonians 4:1
“Futhermore (in other words Paul is telling us that he’s not through) then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
Who is he setting up as our example? Himself. Paul is the example of the believer. My, I had a phone conversation with someone just last night who said, “Well I thought we are supposed to follow Jesus.” No we follow Paul who follows Christ. Let me show you how the Lord inspired Paul to tell us that. We’re short on time so I’ll just use one today, but there are many of them that we normally use when we teach this. It’s because the Lord Jesus was God. He was Deity. He could walk a walk that we humans couldn’t begin to follow. But this apostle is just as human as we are. He had the same reactions, he had the same emotions, so he becomes then the perfect example of one who was willing to suffer, and die for his faith. One who was always ready to leave a witness and testimony wherever he went. I taught back in Philippians where he had the Roman guards at his side constantly, and when they would rotate their tour of duty, by the time they had spent a few days with the apostle Paul, they didn’t leave him just another Roman pagan soldier, but rather they left him a believer. And these soldiers would go to the end of the empire sharing their faith, and that’s why the Scripture could tell us with all honesty that, the doctrines of Grace had covered the then known world, the whole Roman Empire, and I’m sure that’s how it happened. Here it is then in I Corinthians chapter 4, and verse 16. It’s just a simple little verse that I suppose most people miss entirely.
I Corinthians 4:16
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” And then in another verse he qualifies that.
I Corinthians 11:1
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Now he’s telling the Thessalonians the same thing here in chapter 4.
I Thessalonians 4:1a
“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God,…”
Now again I read a commentary a while back what I have taught over and over, and that is when Paul uses the plural pronoun it wasn’t that there was several others involved. Sometime Barnabas, or Silas, or Timothy was, but he uses the plural pronoun only as a mark of humility. He didn’t just like to use the big I. So always remember that when he uses the plural pronoun, he’s speaking of himself.
I Thessalonians 4:1b
“…that as ye have received of us (me) how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
See, God never intended the believer to just be a little wallflower that He could say, “Oh boy look what I’ve bought with my blood.” No, God wants people who are willing to grow in Grace and knowledge and be witnesses and testimonies of His Grace. Now verse 2.
I Thessalonians 4:2
“For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.”
Now remember when Paul speaks of himself as he does, it isn’t that he is the one that they were to worship. He isn’t the one that died for them, he is merely the one that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned back there in Acts chapter 9 to take all of this to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish world, to you and I in this Grace Age. So here again he tells these Thessalonians how that in that 3 or 4 weeks he was with them, he gave them all these commandments that came by way of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now in order to qualify that, we have to go back to Galatians chapter 1 for a moment. I’m afraid that there are so many people out there that think that Paul simply wrote from an egotistical attitude, he was the one that had dreamed all of this up. In fact a lot of times the Judaisers would accuse him of. being an imposter, and dreaming up all these things. And I think that’s why a lot of Christendom today will not pay attention to the letters of Paul. I had a comment again just last week that they doubted that the apostle Paul should even be in our Bible. My, we would be destitute of everything except Law if we didn’t have Romans through Philemon. But see Paul qualifies it now in Galatians chapter 1 starting with verse 11. It’s been a long time since we looked at these, and this just says it all. When Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I follow Christ.” here is the basis of his authority as an apostle.
“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 (by men) it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Now do you know what that says? That means he didn’t learn all of this that he’s writing now in his epistles from the feet of Gamaliel. Now he learned the Old Testament, but he didn’t pick up these doctrines of Grace from Peter, James or John, because the Spirit of God purposely directed him in another direction, so that he wouldn’t be polluted by any of the things that Peter, James or John or the others my say. If he had been taught by them, his salvation message would have been the same as the one they shared, and that was believing that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, repentance and baptism in water. But rather the Lord revealed to him that our salvation message in this Age of Grace is, believing in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again.
So Paul was insulated from them, and he received all these basic truths for Christianity from the ascended Lord. And again I can’t emphasize that enough. Everything that Jesus and the twelve taught were primarily before the cross, and everything that this man teaches is after the cross, and so it had to come by revelation from the ascended Lord of glory. Now verse 13.
“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past I n the Jews religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God, and wasted it: 14. And profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in mine own nation,: being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me,…” (Paul)
See, through Paul’s teaching is how we have the further revelation of who Jesus Christ really is. You know so many folks in Christendom today don’t know who Jesus Christ really is. They just don’t know it, and the reason for that is they haven’t studied Paul’s epistles. We do not get a concept of who He really was until we get to Paul. We don’t get a concept of what we really are, until we get to Paul. Yes, Jesus referred to sinners, and the problems that the Pharisee and the Sadducees had with their pride, but never, never are we explained in Scripture that our basic problem is, “we’re sons of Adam.” Only Paul shares “for as by one man sin entered and death by sin.” Who was the one man? Adam. See, you don’t get any of that until you get to Paul’s letters, so these were all things that were revealed to this man from the ascended Lord. Now verse 16 again.
“To reveal his Son in me, (Paul) that I might preach him among the heathen; (Gentiles)
Consequently, since Paul is going to be a designated apostle to whom God is going to reveal things that have never been revealed before, the Lord isn’t going to muddle Paul’s brain by sending him back to Jerusalem and checking in with Peter, but instead God sent him in another direction. Isn’t that amazing? And most of Christendom misses this, He sent him for three years to Arabia instead of down to Jerusalem. And this is what Paul is making so plain in verse 17.
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,…”
Now direction wise, what is that? The opposite direction. Instead of sending him to Jerusalem God sends him into the desert so that his mind wouldn’t be cluttered with everything that Peter, James and John would want to put on him. But rather that he could get alone with the Lord in heaven, and have these doctrines of Grace poured out on him, and that’s why he’s constantly then taken credit for being the one to whom were revealed the mysteries or the secrets of God. And this is what you have to constantly keep in your mind. Until you get into the depths of this apostle’s letters, you’re going to miss most of the basic doctrines of Christianity.
Oh there’s nothing wrong with studying Christ’s earthly ministry, to be able to see His miracles, and all the things that He accomplished, but listen, you don’t find our basic doctrines back there in the four gospels. You have to get into this section of the Book that a lot of people would like to throw away, which is Romans through Philemon. Now in the minute we have left let’s look again at verse 1 on I Thessalonians chapter 4, so we’ll have a place to kick off from in our next lesson.
I Thessalonians 4:1b
“…”that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk…”
I hear the statement all the time “walk the walk and talk the talk” or something like that. Well, this is what Paul is talking about, that as a believer we are to walk and to please God so that you would abound and grow in Grace and knowledge more and more. Now we all know how heart breaking it is to have a child maybe 4 or 5 years old who never matures. They can be 30-35 years old and they still have the physical and mental attributes of a 4 or 5 year old, and it is heart breaking. Iris is a nurse that has come across people like that. But listen, how many believers are in that same state in their Christian experience? They are still infants in their faith.