Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 65
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – The Mysteries) – Part 1
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
It is so good to have everyone back for the taping today. I might remind you that we’re just an informal Bible study. We’re not associated with any group. We depend totally upon the prayers of the saints and the gifts of God’s people to keep us on the air.
Okay, now for those of you out in television, I’ve already got the studio audience turning to Romans chapter 16. We’re going to look at verse 25 to begin. Now, we’ve left all this on the board, purposely, from the last taping, because for the last several programs we’ve been talking about the difference between the terminologies of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ.
Now, those are all entities that are mentioned over and over in Scripture. The Body of Christ, which we began a study on in the last taping, you won’t find anywhere except in Paul’s epistles. But, it is part of the Kingdom of God, as is the Kingdom of Heaven. We have put both of these in the large circle, which we have designated as the Kingdom of God, the all-inclusive control of God over things that pertain to His righteousness.
Now, the Kingdom of God won’t include the lost. It won’t include the hellfire, but everything that pertains to the righteous side of God is in the Kingdom of God. In other words, the angelic hosts and believers of every age, we’re all part and parcel of the Kingdom of God, and it will be that Kingdom that carries on into all eternity. That’s why, in Revelation, it speaks so specifically of the wicked who are outside. They will never become part of the Kingdom of God.
All right, then as the weeks went by, we’ve been looking at the Kingdom of Heaven, which was specifically promised to the Nation of Israel. So, you really don’t have anything pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven until after the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis chapter 12. Then it becomes specific when He starts dealing with King David. In II Samuel chapter 7 God promises David that through him would result a genetic line of kings, leading all the way up to the King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth. The whole purpose of His first coming was not only to present Himself as the Creator God of the universe, but also as the Promised Messiah, Redeemer, and King of Israel.
That’s why it was kept only for the Nation of Israel, because He had nothing to do with the Gentiles who were outside of the Covenant Promises. Now, when Israel rejected all the things pertaining to the King and the Kingdom, and we’re going to look at that in just a minute, then God does something totally, totally different. The difference, of course, is delineated in what we call “dispensations.” We’re going to also look at that this afternoon, because you cannot get a comprehension of these various entities unless you understand the dispensational approach to Scripture. If people throw out the dispensations, then all they can pick up in its place is mass confusion.
All right, now here in Romans chapter 16, we see a statement that pertains to this particular dispensation of which you and I are present. Romans 16 verse 25, where the Apostle Paul writes:
“Now to him (speaking of Christ) that is of power (resurrection power) to stablish you…” Now, that word isn’t in there for nothing. What does that mean? That you know where you are spiritually. You’re not driven about with every wind of doctrine. Everything that comes across television isn’t something to just make you confused. You’re set. You’re established.
“…to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel,…” And what is Paul’s gospel? It’s faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. So, it’s nothing concerning what Paul has done, but rather on all that Christ has done.
“…and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world (ages) began.” Now, that’s plain English. Why people can’t understand it, I’ll never know. But all of these revelations, these mysteries that Paul speaks about throughout his epistles, were totally unknown, all the way from eternity past until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul.
Now, God knew; it was all in His Divine purposes. But He saw fit never to give any indication of this period of time that is concerning the Body of Christ. Now, all of the Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, but it is totally silent when it comes to the Body of Christ, until we get here. That’s why Paul makes it so plain that it was kept secret since the ages began.
Now, maybe we need to define a dispensation before we go any further. I want you to move up to Ephesians chapter 1, because whenever I talk about these things that some people just almost get bent out of shape over, I have to show that it’s a Biblical term. The first one is Ephesians chapter 1, because we’re not just pulling words out of the woodwork, these are things that are part and parcel of the Word of God. It’s a scriptural term. Ephesians chapter 1 dropping down to verse 10:
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times…” In other words, the last of the seven dispensations of human history, which will be the thousand years reign of Christ, which will again be the period of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. That’s going to be the final dispensation. All right, now go on over to chapter 3 and drop down to verse 2, and we have the same word used again.
“If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given to me to you-ward:” Now, we have another reference like that in Colossians chapter 1. It’s much the same thing, but we might as well use it.
Now, a lot of this is repetition, but fortunately I had a letter in the mail yesterday which always encourages me. The lady wrote, she said, “Les, when I was a young college student my teachers would always tell me the only way you can learn something is to have it repeated seven times.” But she said, “I’m not even average, so I need more than seven times!” Well, that helps me, because I sometimes feel a little guilty about spending too much time in repetition. But it is the only way that these things will all finally settle in where you can understand it. All right, Colossians chapter 1, and these are the verses we were using in our last program coming all the way down to verse 24.
“Who now (speaking of himself up in verse 23, Paul a minister) rejoice in my suffering for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for the body’s sake, which is the church:” In other words, he’s speaking of the trials and tribulations that he went through to get the Gospel out to the then known world.
Now, again, you always have to understand that the word “church” doesn’t always mean the same thing. It always means a called-out assembly, but it doesn’t always refer to the same assembly. We’ve got Israel in the wilderness – a church, and we’ve got the Jerusalem church of the Jewish believers that believed Jesus was the Christ. It was a church, it was a called-out assembly, but it wasn’t the Body of Christ. Then, when we come to Paul’s epistles, like here, he speaks of the body, which is the church. We are, again, a called-out assembly. We pointed out in our last taping program how God is calling out of the Gentile world a people for His name. All right, now verse 25.
“Whereof (Paul says) I am made a minister, (or a designated individual in God’s service) according to (What?) the dispensation of God which is given to me for you,…” Remember he’s writing to what kind of people? Gentiles! So, this dispensation of the Grace of God was the real outpouring of God’s Grace to the Gentile world. Now, it can also include some Jews, but for the most part, it’s Gentiles.
Now, my pet definition of a dispensation is, as I’ve used it over and over, even on the program. I used it up in Minnesota several times, it is when you have a prescription from your doctor and you take that piece of paper to the pharmacist and the pharmacist fills that prescription. That particular medication is put in a bottle, or whatever, and on the outside he puts directions. Directions. For what? How to handle what’s been dispensed. Now, isn’t that simple enough? So, you take that medicine home, and you set it in your medicine cabinet. The next day you grab one of your other bottles and you take the directions off of that and apply it to what you’ve just been given yesterday, will that work? Most generally – no, because you have to follow the distinct directions for that dispensation. Now, it’s the same way scripturally. For us today, we have to use what was dispensed to us from the pen of the Apostle Paul.
Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in a dispensation. They were under a set of directions. What were those directions? “Everything in the Garden is yours, but don’t eat of that tree.” That was the direction. That was their dispensation. Now, as soon as mankind goes against God’s directions for that dispensation, just like you and I would probably get in trouble using the wrong directions on a medication, Adam and Eve got in trouble. What happened? God expelled them. That ended that perfect dispensation.
After that, God gives them a whole new set of directions, which will carry on for hundreds of years, until we get to still another one, not always in this order, but the next one you’re most aware of is the call of Abraham.
Now, after 2000 years of various dispensations, and mankind failing every one of them, God finally comes to the place and says, “I’m going to do something totally different. Instead of dealing with the whole Adamic race, I’m going to bring one man to the fore, and out of that one man I’m going to bring one little nation. Through that little nation I am going to bring about the Word of God and the plan of salvation – a Savior for mankind.” That dispensation, of course, worked into the giving of the Law, which was another one, another set of directions. That set of dispensing and directions lasted until the Apostle Paul. So, Israel was under all of the directions of Law, and it was difficult because they were such complex directions. But, when Israel rejected all of that, God now opens up a new dispensation, a new set of directions, or a new set of responsibilities. We call that the dispensation of the Grace of God, which we are currently under today.
All right, now that’s what we’re going to be looking at for at least the next few programs. What does it entail to be part and parcel of this dispensation of the Grace of God? All these various mysteries that are going to be revealed through this Apostle become part of our directions for behavior in this dispensation. To me, that’s so simple. It’s so easy to understand and see, yet if you mix them all up, then you’ve got mass confusion.
I think I used this example, maybe previously on the program. I think I used it a couple of weeks ago in Minnesota. I remember several years ago, I think it was at Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the professors was explaining dispensations, and he used a little different tack. He said, “The seminary has a catalog of courses offered for every school year. They are designated as the catalog for 1990, 91, 92, 93, 94…every school year has a particular catalog of the various courses being offered.” “Now,” he said, “What would happen to a student if he would come up and try to enroll and he’s doing it on the basis of a year 2000 catalog and it’s now 2005? Well, he’s five years behind the eight-ball.” So, if you’re going to be in agreement with your dispensational directions, you’re going to use the catalog that is appropriate for the year that you’re going to school.
Now, all those are simple illustrations of how a Biblical dispensation works. You have to obey the rules.
All right, now let’s go on, for just a moment, in Paul’s revelation of the mysteries. Let’s go to one of the more obvious. Again in Romans chapter 11 verse 25, and it’s a verse that I use fairly often. It’s designated as one of these mysteries, or one of these secrets, that make up the dispensation of the Grace of God.
“For (he says) I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this (What?) mystery,…” Paul is pleading with his readers, whether it was then or whether it’s now, don’t be ignorant of this, which has been kept secret all the way from Adam until revealed to Paul. That’s what every mystery is – that which has been hid in the mind of God until revealed to this Apostle. All right, what’s this mystery?
“…that blindness (a spiritual blindness) in part has happened to Israel, (In other words, it’s not forever, but for a period of time.) until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Now, why that kind of language?
Well, I’ll reconstruct all the way up through the Old Testament. God is dealing with Israel only, with a few exceptions. Pleading with them to be ready for the Messiah, Redeemer, and King when He comes. Well, He came. Was Israel ready? No! No, they couldn’t believe that He was that promised Messiah. That was the whole crux of His ministry, to prove who He was. But Israel in their unbelief rejected Him. They called for His death, and we’ll be looking at that later this afternoon. But through it all, you see, God is going to open up a period of time that we’re now in. A period of time that nothing in the Old Testament revealed, and nothing in the four Gospels mentioned, including the early chapters of Acts, and nothing in the later books of Peter, James, John, Jude, and Revelation. They never, ever referred to this secret period of time that we call the dispensation of Grace.
All right. So, when God set Israel aside way back there in Acts chapter 8 and 9, not only did He set them aside, He put a spiritual blindness over their eyes, so that they couldn’t comprehend anything spiritual. At the same time He did that to Israel, He sends this new Apostle out into the Gentile world. That’s the BIG difference in Scripture.
All right, now let’s go back and pick that up in the few moments that we have left. We’ll just run through this real quickly, because we’ve done it over and over, but again I’m going to take the young lady’s advice and repeat and repeat and repeat. Come back to Matthew, because I have to use it in this order or it just doesn’t make sense. This is what I tell people when they call on the phone, “How,” they ask, “Can I show this to people?” Well, you can’t just jump into the middle of something, you’ve got to go back and build how all these things progress. Otherwise, they’ll never believe it.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, (See, it’s all Jewish, no church is mentioned here.) and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, (Whereas we call Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God. All right, so he’s preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and in association with that–) and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” That was part of it.
Now, go across the page, at least in my Bible, to chapter 10. Like I said, we’re going to do this quickly, Matthew chapter 10. He has chosen the Twelve, now drop down to verse 5.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans (Who were half Jews, they were not true Gentiles.) enter ye not: 6. But (Here are the instructions, now, in this dispensation of Law that Jesus and the Jews were in, and He’s appealing on His basis of a Messiah.) but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now, how many Gentiles are in the house of Israel? Well, none! So, He’s not going to the Gentile world. He’s going to Israel and appealing to them to accept the fact that He’s that promised Messiah and King over the Kingdom of Heaven, which will be on the earth. That’s all He’s pleading. To believe that He was that promised Messiah. But they would not.
All right, now I like to jump all the way over to Acts chapter 7, I think it is, where Stephen, not even one of the Twelve, but he was one of the chosen men to wait on tables, as we say, in Acts chapter 7. He goes through the whole Jewish history. We’re not going to take time for that today, but he winds up his message to the leaders of Israel, the High Priest is in their attendance. Let’s just bring it all the way down to verse 47, because now you can pick up what you recognize as Israel’s history, where Solomon builds the Temple. That’s where we’re going to jump in. Now, all this is back in Israel’s history, and this was stuff that they all knew. Stephen is just proving that he knows what he’s talking about.
“But Solomon built him an house. 48. Howbeit the most High (That is the God of Israel, the God of our world today.) dwelleth not in temples made with hands: as saith the prophet. 49. Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50. Hath not my hand made all these things?” Now, Stephen comes back and he points the accusing finger at his listeners, and he says:
“You stiffnecked, uncircumcised in heart and ears, (In other words, they had no faith.) ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did (back in Old Testament times) so do ye. 52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them who showed before the coming of the Just One;…” In other words, when the Old Testament prophets would go to Israel and condemn their wicked lifestyles and plead for them to get spiritually right with God because their Messiah was coming, what would they do? They would kill them. One of the last ones was Jeremiah. They didn’t kill him, but the Babylonians found him down in a dungeon someplace. That was how Israel treated the prophets. All right, Stephen is reminding them. Oh, he’s putting them on a guilt trip, isn’t he? Okay, now he says:
“… and they have slain (they’ve killed them) them who showed before the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murders: (The people are listening to him, including the High Priest remember.) 53. Who have received the law (That is the Mosaic Law of which they were so proud.) by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. (Boy, he’s laying it on them isn’t he?) 54. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, (They were convicted.)
“But he, (Stephen) being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. 56. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man (Jesus the Christ) standing on the right hand of God. 57. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: (They put him to death.) and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Now, we’re introduced to the next major player on the stage of Biblical history. Peter and the eleven are going to fade away in a few more years. This man is going to come to the ascendancy. All right, Saul of Tarsus. Now, verse 1 of chapter 8 and see how this is all unfolding now, day by day, month by month. Now verse 1 of chapter 8:
“And Saul (the next major player) was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (assembly) which is at Jerusalem;…”
“As for Saul, (of Tarsus) he made havoc of the (Jewish) church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”