Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 65
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?) – Part 1
It’s good to see everybody in again today. We see folks who have come in from quite a distance, and we appreciate that. For those of you out in television, we want to invite you to a simple Bible study. We try to keep things simple. In fact, that reminds me, a lady out in the East Coast was sharing everything that she thought they believed, and I said, “Good heavens, lady, why do you complicate everything? Keep it simple!” Because that’s what God intended, so that even the “plowboys of England” could read the Bible and understand it.
That’s my whole purpose. To teach, yes, the deeper things, but on the other hand, keep it so simple that even a young person can understand it. We know by your letters that the Lord is touching a lot of hearts and getting them excited about Bible study on their own.
We’re going to keep right on where we’ve been for the last several programs, on the circles up here. We’re going to be looking at the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Body of Christ. Three entities and yet they are all under the Headship of the Almighty God, the Creator of everything. Yet, in order to understand Scripture, you have to keep them separate.
A gentleman wrote a position paper, and he mailed it to me a while back. I’ve referred to him before on the program. He’s a tremendous Bible teacher in his own right. He was pointing out how that even some of our great seminaries have departed from keeping all these things separate, and they’re running them all together again. It is so true. And all it does is confuse the issue. But if you can learn to keep them separate, and realize they’re all under God – of course they are – the Kingdom of God is everything that is under God’s righteous control. It doesn’t concern the lost. It doesn’t concern the doom, the Hell, and the Hades, but everything that’s under God’s righteous control – the angelic hosts, Heaven, and everything that’s in the sphere of God’s work here on earth is all part of the Kingdom of God.
But, in the Kingdom of God we have two other separate entities, the one that’s directed primarily to the Nation of Israel, which is the Kingdom of Heaven, which is Heaven on earth. It will become a reality, physical and literal, when Christ returns as King and gives Israel the glorious Kingdom that’s been promised all the way up through the Old Testament. We showed that several programs back.
Then, when Israel rejected the King and the Kingdom at Christ’s first advent, God does something totally different. Instead of using the Twelve, He gets another apostle, not part of the Twelve, totally segregated from them, the Apostle of the Gentiles, Saul of Tarsus. We know him as the Apostle Paul. He uses Paul to call out the Body of Christ in this Age of Grace. When we get on our Aegean cruise, following the footsteps of Paul, that’s going to be the subject of my teaching on that trip, “Why Paul?”
Why another Apostle when the Lord already had twelve? Well, it’s two separate entities. The Twelve were part and parcel of God dealing with Israel in preparation of the Kingdom on earth. When Israel rejected all of that, God turns to this one Apostle, to go to the Gentile world in particular. We don’t leave the Jew out of it, but it’s primarily to the Gentile world. With it’s glorious revelation of all these things that were kept secret, all the way from the beginning of time, as we know it, up until the Apostle Paul was given what we call “the mysteries,” which we studied in our last taping. So, since you and I are directly, intrinsically, involved with the Body of Christ, I think this is where we have to spend the most time as we study the Word of God.
Now, prophecy is interesting. The Old Testament stories and everything like that are interesting. But when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, so far as you and I are concerned, we study the Body of Christ. So, our last four programs dealt with that, and we’re going to hopefully make four more today, all dealing with where we are as members of the Body of Christ. The number one thing I always have to remember, a fellow in Indiana mentioned it one time, he said, “Les, we always hear a lot about the Body of Christ, but we never hear how we get into it.” Well, it’s a good question. How do we become members of this Body of Christ? It isn’t automatic. It’s something that requires an act of faith on our part.
All right, I’m going to take us, for a beginning, to Ephesians chapter 1. This is what we’re going to be looking at for at least the first couple of programs, “What do we have to do to become a member of this Body of Christ?” Now remember, not all church members are members of the Body of Christ. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Very few. In fact, a lot of congregations are not members of the Body of Christ, and it’s getting worse by the day. In fact, there was an editorial, I think in World Magazine, again, just a couple of weeks ago, where a poll was taken of our young people across America. It was frightening, the humongous percentage of our church-related young people have become nothing more than deists. D-E-I-S-T-S – Now, what does that mean? Oh, they recognize that there’s a greater power. They recognize that there’s a God in control of creation, but a personal relationship with Him? They know nothing of that. A sin problem? They know nothing of that. So, it is frightening. I feel that’s where we come in, and as we teach people, they’re going out and teaching others that it’s more than just recognizing God as Deity. It’s getting into a place of a spiritual relationship with Him by becoming members of the Body of Christ.
All right, Ephesians chapter 1 and we are going to start at verse 12. Remember what I’m trying to drive at. How do we become a member of this Body of Christ, which is an entity within the Kingdom of God? All right, Ephesians chapter 1 verse 12. Paul always writes to believers. Ephesus was a Gentile city, and it’s a Gentile congregation. So, to those Gentiles he writes:
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, (I’m going to put the pronoun back in there.) [we] who first trusted in Christ.” So, who’s he talking to? Believers. All right, now he’s going to rehearse how they each became a believer, or a member of the Body of Christ. Next verse.
“In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, (or placed your faith. Now we’re going to take it slowly.) after that ye heard the word of truth,…” Now, did you get that? You cannot become a believer; you cannot become a member of this Body of Christ until you have heard the Word of Truth. Now, this may seem like a superfluous question, “What’s truth?” Well, universities like to have it across the Administration Building that “The truth shall make you free.” Well, what’s truth? Well, here we identify it. Reading on:
“…the gospel of your salvation:…” That is the only basic truth in the universe today! That’s truth! Not how you philosophize. Not how you live morally. But truth is the Gospel. See that? Let’s read it again.
In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: (We’ll come back and look at that in a moment, but just finish the verse.) in whom also (In Christ, now don’t forget our prepositional phrases here.) after that ye believed,” Not repented. Not being baptized. Not after you spoke in tongues. Not after you joined the church. Not after you tithed. Not after you do all these things. That’s not in here. But after you what? “Believed!” And what’s believing? Faith!
Wow, now that makes me stop. What are the two absolutes I’m always throwing out at my classes? Two absolutes in Scripture, remember what they are? Faith and shed blood. Maybe we’d better look at them. Keep your hand in Ephesians, because this is Bible study, this isn’t a lecture hall – this is a Bible study. Okay, come back with me to Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22, especially the last half of the verse. Now, a lot of what we’re going to be teaching today will, of course, be repetition – things that I’ve said over and over and over. But they are basic to your understanding of the Scriptures and wherein you have the wherewithal to share it with others.
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; (Because, after all, Paul is addressing Jews, so he’s dealing with the Law. But the last half of the verse becomes universal.) and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Plain as day, isn’t it? There’s no room for argument. If there is no shed blood in your faith mix, you’re doomed, because you cannot experience redemption without the price paid at the cross, which was the shed blood. We’ll be looking at verses, hopefully, in a little bit. All right, so “without the shedding of blood there’s no remission.” Now, flip over to chapter 11 verse 6, and it’s plain English.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God…” Now you see, way back in the Genesis example of faith versus rationalizing was Cain and Abel. And that’s what most people do today. They rationalize. They rationalize just exactly the same way Cain did. And how did he do it? “Well, God knows that I earned all this by the sweat of my brow. God knows how much work I did to raise my best crop,” or whatever it was he brought. But it was bloodless. God rejected it, and it made Cain angry.
Well, people are the same way today. You point out their error in ignoring the Scriptural approach to salvation and they get angry. They almost now are getting to call us “hate mongers.” It’s amazing. But, listen, that’s what the Book says, that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Of course Abel was accepted because he did bring a blood sacrifice. He came by faith. Cain came rationalizing. And that’s exactly what people do yet today.
All right, now if you’ll come back to Ephesians chapter 1, these two absolutes are paramount right here in this first real explanation of how to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Now, I get to something like this and I’ve got fifteen different places I’d like to go. It’s hard to pick and choose which one, but I think we’ll go back first to I Corinthians 15:1-4 and define what is the Gospel of Salvation, that is the epitome of Truth. Most of you have heard it so often now it rings like a bell. I think I mentioned in the last taping that I am aghast at how seldom you see these verses used when somebody writes a tract or tries to show people how to be saved. They never use it.
I can’t understand why, unless it’s just a satanic way of keeping people from the truth. Now, when I say satanic I’m not talking about skid row type of wickedness. Satan is an angel of light, don’t ever forget that. As an angel of light, he is a tremendous manipulator. If he can come in and manipulate the minds and thoughts and words of men that keep people from the truth, and he’s a master at that, then he’s the winner. All right, but here is the Gospel. This is truth.
I Corinthians 15:1
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (of salvation) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;” In other words, they weren’t blown about with every wind of doctrine like people are today. All right, now look at verse 2.
I Corinthians 15:2a
“By which also ye are (What?) saved,…” That’s the biblical term. People don’t like it. They’d rather use anything else but the word saved. But that’s what the Bible says. It’s by this Gospel that men and women are saved.
I Corinthians 15:2b
“…if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” In other words, you’ve got to know what you believe. You don’t just take a carte blanche statement and say, “Yes, that’s what I believe.” No, you know what you’re understanding and what you believe. Otherwise, it’s all in vain. Now, look at verse 3, here is the heart, or the meat, of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:3a
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,…” What does that mean? Saul of Tarsus had to have salvation himself before he could parcel it out to us. So, he’s the first one in. If I get time this afternoon, I’ll come back and show that. He’s the first one in to this Body of Christ, I’m convinced. He was that renegade opposer of everything that Jesus was trying to do in Israel. Paul detested Him because He was wreaking havoc with his religion. Sound familiar? Yeah it does. You wreak havoc with people’s religion and, my, they get upset. That’s what Saul of Tarsus was doing in Israel. Then the Lord saved him. So, this is what he’s saying, that he is now passing on to the Gentile world that which he himself had received – God’s saving grace.
Now, I had a caller from Minneapolis the other night, and you can do this just as well as he could. He said, “I know you’re always talking about Paul and constantly using the word grace, and that kingdom is always associated with Israel. The other night I used my computer.” You don’t have to have a computer concordance. You can use any concordance. You can use a Strong’s or anything else. But take the time some evening and count up how many times the word grace is used in all of Scripture, except Romans through Philemon, and you will be shocked. Not many!
Now, on the other hand, see how many times you see the word Kingdom in all of the Scripture, except Paul, and it’s multitudes. Now, take the other approach. How many times do you find kingdom in Paul’s epistles? Five or six. How many times do you find the word grace? Oh! It’s unbelievable. What does that tell you? Two graphic changes in God’s operation. Until you get to Paul, grace is a very small denomination and kingdom is everything. But, when you get into Paul, it’s the other way around. Grace is everything and the kingdom becomes almost moot. Here’s the reason, because now this man has been saved by God’s grace. He had nothing going for him that God should save him. Quite the opposite. He was trying to destroy everything that Jesus had accomplished in His three years of ministry. Yet, God saved him. Why? His grace.
Every one of us is saved only by God’s grace. We don’t deserve it. We deserve nothing. But, oh, God’s grace is poured out on us and we take it all scot-free, without lifting a finger. That’s, again, where most of Christendom is missing the boat. You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to walk that aisle. You’ve got to go through this. You’ve got to go through that. That’s not what this Book teaches. Now, read on and here is the heart of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (From the ascended Lord in glory. Not from Jesus walking the streets of Palestine and Israel, Jerusalem, but from the ascended Lord he received this tremendous message of salvation. All right and what is it?) how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (Absolutely, the Old Testament had it back there.) 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:” That’s the Gospel of Salvation that you must believe to enjoy eternal life. It was so completely finished that God will not allow anybody to tack something on to it. That is what’s going to doom multitudes of people, because God says, “You believe it or you’re lost. And you believe it the way I’ve accomplished it.” If that’s not good enough, then it’s not good enough.
I mean, I’m getting kind of narrow. I’ll have to admit it, because it disturbs me when I see so much watering down of the Truth, and the multitudes are flocking to it. They’re going to be disappointed, because the Lord has said, plain as day, “I finished the work. I have done everything that needs to be done, and all I’m asking you to do is believe it.” And people won’t – for the most part. A few, yes, and remember, it’s always the few.
For this, I think maybe I can make the point. Come all the way back to Isaiah, and this is to encourage every one of us that, No, we’re not going to see multitudes running our door down for a Bible study. There are precious few that are interested. Isaiah – I think it starts right in chapter 1 and verse 9.
“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small (What?) remnant,…” Now listen beloved, a remnant is small to start with. Aren’t they? Aren’t remnants small? But now we’re taking it one step further, it’s a small remnant. Boy, now that takes it down pretty small.
All right, let’s go to the one in Matthew chapter 7, and drop down to verse 13. Now, this is in red. The Lord said it. The Creator of the universe said it. The Sovereign God. That’s who Jesus was. He knew the end from the beginning. You all know the verses, but nobody really stops to think of the impact these verses should have. Verse 13, Jesus said to His listeners:
“Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in there at; (That is the multitudes. But now look at the next verse.) 14. Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, (That is unto eternal life.) and (How many?) few there be that find it.” And that’s never changed. It has never changed. It has always been the small percentage that becomes true followers of God. In any dispensation, in any generation, it’s always the same, and it’s no different today.
You know, somebody sent me a little book a while back, and I took the time to read it, even though I knew it was totally wrong. He had written it before the big Tsunami out in Indonesia happened, so I’ll bet he really smiled, because he had the word tsunami in his title of the book. But he wasn’t talking about an ocean tsunami; he was talking about a spiritual one. He was concocting a premise that beginning with America, there would be a great tsunami-type spiritual revival that would sweep across Australia, Japan, China, and India, with all of their billions, all the way into the Middle East, leading up to the return of Christ. Can you find that in this Book? I can’t. What false teaching.
There’s not going to be a great ingathering of souls in these last days. It’s quite the opposite. We’re seeing it. The more disasters we have and the more catastrophes we have, the more hardened people get. And that’s exactly what Revelation speaks of, even during the Tribulation. When the horrors of the Tribulation are beyond human understanding, do they turn to God? No. What does the Scripture say? “And yet they repent not of their sins.” They become all the more rebellious and wicked. So you see, it’s just not going to happen. We always have to be content with the few. Don’t give up when they don’t come running to your door. Don’t give up when you testify to somebody or give a witness, and they spurn you. Don’t be surprised – that’s the typical response.