Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 44
Tithing was Nailed to the Cross
II Thessalonians 2:14 – 3:18
For those of you who are joining us on television, we just love hearing from you. We appreciate your letters and comments. I guess I can say that mail time is our best time of the day. I would also say, never refrain from writing to us because you can’t include an offering. Naturally we need money to operate. But that’s not just what we look for in our mail. You know, more and more people are writing, “I’m getting addicted to this Book.” Well, my, what better thing to get addicted to.
One old gentlemen who was 72 years old said he had not darkened a church door nor read a word from the Bible since he was 9 years old! He said, “Les, that is 61 years. But I caught your program a few weeks ago, and the Lord has just opened my heart, and now I am addicted to this Book.” Now that’s what you look for. Once you get a taste for the Word and understand how thrilling it is to compare Scripture with Scripture, the Book just comes alive. That’s what we like to hear—that they’re getting into the Book and seeing what the Word of God really says.
All right, we’re just about to finish II Thessalonians. Maybe we’ll make it this half hour. If you will come back with us to II Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 16 where Paul writes:
II Thessalonians 2:16
“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,” Now there again is a good indication that God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—even though He’s not specifically mentioned—that is the triune Godhead as Paul calls it. And it is part and parcel of everything pertaining to our spiritual life and our hope for eternity.
He “hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope (not through works, but rather–) through grace.” Again, I hope that no one will ever misunderstand the Grace of God, the unmerited favor. God didn’t have to do anything for us, but He did because of His Grace.
I always take it all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were hiding among the trees of the garden and scared to death to meet with God. Do you know what God could have done? He could have zapped them and put them out of His memory. Why didn’t He? His Grace! He pursued and found them and said, “Adam, where art thou?” Now that was Grace. It wasn’t Grace as Paul lays it out. But, nevertheless, as an attribute of God, it was His Grace that didn’t give up on fallen man.
And all the way through human history—the Nation of Israel is the perfect example. My goodness! Didn’t God have every reason in the world to give up on the Nation? Can you imagine Israel offering their little children to the fire god Moloch and casting them alive into that white-hot idol’s arms? Israel! Not some pagan nation. Now God chastised them and got angry with them, but He didn’t annihilate them. He didn’t wipe them out of His memory. And He told David in II Samuel chapter 7 that if he sinned, His mercy shall never depart from him. Well, what’s the other word for mercy? Grace!
And as they succumbed to the golden calf at the foot of Mt. Sinai, after just coming out of Egypt—my, if you and I—and I know this is probably an absurd way of putting it—had been in God’s position, what would we have done? We’d have just destroyed them and started over. But why didn’t He? Grace! Even though they had fallen, again, to such depths of worshipping an idol such as a golden calf—when He had just brought them out of Egypt and had just brought them through the Red Sea experience—the fire and the smoke and the thundering that was up there on the mountaintop. In spite of all that, they still go into the worship of a golden calf. That’s the Mercy and the Grace of God.
Well, again, the Apostle himself, as I alluded to several programs back, what did it take to save a man who hated Jesus of Nazareth with a passion and with a religious fervor, and who did everything he could to stamp out every mention of the name of Jesus of Nazareth? Instead of putting the man out of commission, what does He do? He saves him! Now that’s the Grace of God. And I guess every one of us is the same way. We have nothing going for us, so why of all people did God see fit to save you and me? His Grace! And I have to say, even with the ministry that the Lord has given us. Why give this old lump of clay what He’s given? Not because of anything I’ve done. Not because of anything Iris has done. But it’s all of Grace. That unmerited favor of God. Do you see that? So verse 17 then, with this understanding of the Grace of God.
II Thessalonians 2:17a
“Comfort your hearts,…” Do you realize, going back again to legalism, what a miserable life it is to live under legalistic demands? Knowing that you can’t satisfy it? Knowing that you can never measure up? That’s a life of misery. But I don’t have to worry if I measure up. You don’t have to worry about if you measure up or not. The Grace of God has totally taken care of your complete spiritual need by your faith in that finished work of the cross. Verse 17:
II Thessalonians 2:17
“Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every (What?) good word and work.” Again, as we saw a program or two back, after salvation what does God expect? A life of service. A life of good works. Absolutely! Now let’s go into chapter 3.
II Thessalonians 3:1
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:”
Now, I’m always bringing up the fact that all of Paul’s ministry was to pagan, idolatrous Gentiles. There were some Jews. But for the most part, his converts were coming out of abject, immoral, idol-worshipping Gentiles. And can’t you see, that even to see a half dozen of those people come to a knowledge of the truth and come out of that darkness of paganism must have thrilled the man to death. He was just as human as we are. And to see the results of God’s saving Grace—I know it just put him on a mountain high. Well, this is what he is saying. Now verse 2:
II Thessalonians 3:2a
“And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:…” Was he delivered? No! Come back to II Corinthians. We’ve got to be reminded of this from time-to-time. Oh, he wasn’t delivered, at least not in the flesh. Of course, whenever I teach II Corinthians especially, I’m always emphasizing how Paul had to defend his apostleship, because those Corinthians were something else.
Always remember, that whatever you take out of the Corinthian letters, they were written to a Church with a ton of problems. They were not an exemplary congregation of believers. They had divisions, they had arguments, they took one another to the Roman courts, and they even had divisions concerning their spiritual mentors. So here Paul is defending his apostleship. Because they even tried to insinuate that he was coming out of nowhere, and why should they listen to someone who had never walked with Jesus as Peter, James, and John had. So as he defends his apostleship, he comes to verse 22 and says—speaking of the Twelve back there in Jerusalem.
II Corinthians 11:22
“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.” Now, all three of those were things that the average Jew was proud of. They were proud of the fact that they were sons of Abraham. They were proud of the fact that they were Israelites indeed and of the Hebrew nation. Now verse 23:
II Corinthians 11:23a
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;…”
Underline that word more. He says earlier that he’s not one wit behind them. Here he says he’s even more the minister of Christ. And, of course, he was. He had these revelations of this Gospel of Grace that they knew nothing of. You can see in the next part of this verse that his prayer in II Thessalonians was not answered. He was not spared the suffering of the flesh. Look what he records.
II Corinthians 11:23b-24
“…in labours more abundant, in stripes (with the whip) above measure, in prisons more frequent, in (near) deaths oft. 24. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.”
I think the Book of Acts only records three, so there must have been two other instances where he was whipped that the Book of Acts doesn’t record. Do you realize that most healthy, strong men could not live through the thirty-nine stripes? I mean it simply tore up their torsos back and front. On top of that, there were no antibiotics, and those wounds would fester and get infected. But this man went through five of those whippings.
My, by the time they beheaded him in Acts 28, his body must have been just one mass of scar tissue on top of another. But the Lord brought him through it. Now that’s how much he suffered. But, of course, he points out that he didn’t suffer nearly as much as Christ did. That’s not the idea. What he’s showing is that this is what he was willing to do to compensate for those years when he hated the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
II Corinthians 11:25-27
“Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, (Which brought about his death for a short time up there at Lystra, which he tells about in chapter 12.) thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26. In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
What would the average man have done? Why, the average man would have said, “Nuts to all this, because it’s not worth it.” But the Apostle never said those things. Rather, he continued on because I think his memory was always so sharp on how he had persecuted those followers of Jesus and that Damascus road experience when he heard the Lord Jesus say,“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me.” So he couldn’t give up. He had to carry on.
Now we’ve got to quickly go back to II Thessalonians again. So even though he prayed and asked the believers to pray with him that he could be spared these things at the hand of wicked men, he wasn’t. But, you see, it wasn’t that God was callous. It wasn’t that God didn’t hear his plea. What did God tell Paul back there in II Corinthians chapter 12 when he asked that the thorn in the flesh be removed? Our Lord said, “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” And evidently it was. Now the next part of the verse:
II Thessalonians 3:2b
“…for all men have not faith.” What’s Paul saying? He’s not always going to be dealing with believers. In fact, the percentage has always been relatively small. So most of the people that Paul dealt with were unbelievers. They were men who had no faith and had no concern about what God said. In fact, they could care less. So he said to remember that not all men have faith. But on the other hand, there’s One that is faithful, and that’s our Lord. He never gives up, and he never abandons us.
II Thessalonians 3:3
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Remember, Paul is writing to people just recently out of paganism. Do you realize that in those Roman cities such as Ephesus, Corinth, Athens, and Rome, evil was everywhere?
Those that were on our Mediterranean cruise a few years ago will remember Pompeii. I was ashamed that I was a part of taking our people into some of those places, but it was part of the tour guide’s agenda. When we got back to the ship, I apologized that my Bible study group had been exposed to that. But they all agreed that this was an enlightenment to see what the Apostle Paul had to put up with everywhere he went. You can’t imagine what it was like.
We think America is bad today. But when comparing, we’re still pretty good, after all. Everywhere Paul went; this gross, wicked, immorality was everywhere. The largest percentage of these people practiced it. And when these believers were brought out of it, it was so thrilling to this Apostle. He could write to them these words of encouragement.
II Thessalonians 3:4
“And we have confidence (never doubting) in the Lord touching you, (keeping hold of you) that ye both do and will do things which we command you.”
Now that may sound like Paul is going to be a little on the bossy side. But always remember, when Paul commanded, what did he command? Only the things that the Lord laid upon him to command these new believers to practice—which were, again, to abstain from evil and every appearance of evil, to separate yourselves from the world, and have no part in those things.
In fact, that’s a command we should be following today. Let’s go back for a moment to the book of Galatians, so you can see exactly what he’s talking about. Now this is a commandment, if you want to call it that. It’s not a set of ten like the Ten Commandments. But these are the admonitions that came from the pen of the Apostle Paul to these little groups of believers in these various places.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17. For the flesh lusteth (or makes war) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other:…”
So you have warfare between the Spirit side and the flesh. Since that is the case and we’re in a constant warfare, we cannot just flow with the stream. That just won’t work. I always use the analogy. I’ve never done much canoeing. But Iris and I tried it once, and now we think better of it. But I know one thing. If you try to paddle that canoe upstream, the moment you take the paddle out of the water, you go back downstream. The Christian life is the same way. Unless we’re constantly in that battle to go against the stream, the minute you relax, back we go into things that are not spiritual! The Christian life is a constant warfare against everything that’s flowing against us. And it’s not easy. So Paul tells us:
“…so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Because you lose. Oh, not your salvation, but you’ll lose the victory in your Christian life. Now verse 18 and here’s the flipside.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, (and are controlled by the Spirit) ye are not under the law.” That you have to do this and have to do that. Now verse 19 and these are the things that Paul warns his believers to be against.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (Do those sound familiar? It’s your daily paper, isn’t it?) 21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” But now we have another flipside in verse 22. The life of the believer is:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering , gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Why? There’s no need for a constitutional law against those things of verses 22 and 23, because those things are what make a perfect community. My, we wouldn’t need government codes or a whole library full of law if people could live the fruits of the Spirit, would we? And then over in Timothy, Paul tells us—in fact, let’s just look at it for a moment—I Timothy 1:8.
I Timothy 1:8
“But we know that the law (the Ten) is good, if a man use it lawfully;” In other words, don’t make someone say, “If I keep the Ten Commandments then I can be saved.” No, that’s not using them lawfully. But as a lifestyle it is still God’s program for a good human experience. Now verse 9:
I Timothy 1:9
“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,”
That’s what the law is for. Look at our own legal system. What are most laws in our state legislature drawn up for? To counteract the people that are breaking the laws that are already on the books. You just think about it. These laws are to keep somebody from taking advantage of, or breaking the law, that’s already on the books. But, you see, to break these laws is man’s nature.
Now coming back to what Paul says in II Thessalonians chapter 3—that when we have these things that Paul commands, it’s not a system that you do this or that if you want to be saved. But rather, here is what God expects of us as blood-bought believers after we’re saved. And I’ll remind you again; those commands are never like a yoke of bondage. Paul’s commands always begin with “I beseech you.” Such as Romans chapter 12 begins. He also gives us commands such as “yield not, or let not.” Those are words that Paul uses in what he calls his commandments to us as believers.