Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 65
BUT GOD! – (The Body of Christ – How do we get in?) – Part 3
MATTHEW 6:33 and Various Other Scriptures
Okay, good to see everybody back. We’ll go into program number three this afternoon. For those of you joining us on television, again, if you’re new, we want you to know we’re just an informal Bible study. We’re not associated with any particular group. We do appreciate your letters, your prayers, your financial help, everything, because we are getting a lot of folk to understand that this is not a closed Book. It’s readily read and understood if you just know how to rightly divide it.
That’s where most of Christendom has missed the boat. They mix it all up and then wonder why people are confused. Our whole premise is that we want to separate these things out – what’s for Israel is Israel’s. What’s Law is Law. What’s grace is grace. The difference between Paul’s Apostleship and the Body of Christ and the Twelve, with them dealing only with the nation of Israel. Then, everything just falls into place.
We’re going to continue on where we’ve been, in the Kingdom of God. We’ve shown that in the Kingdom of God we have the earthly Kingdom promised to Israel since day one. It is yet future. When Christ returns at His Second Coming, He’s going to set up that glorious Kingdom here on earth.
But, while the Nation of Israel has been set aside, God is calling out a people for His Name from amongst, predominately, the Gentile world. Called the Body of Christ, which you and I as believers are part and parcel of. Now, Jews can be saved, of course they can, but they’ve been judicially blinded nationally. So, it’s kind of hard to get our Jewish people to understand that their Messiah has come, and He has gone the way of the cross. It becomes, then, salvation for the Jew as well as for the Gentile.
But now we’re talking about the Body of Christ. I’m always emphasizing that you will never find the Body of Christ mentioned in any other portion of Scripture. You can’t find it in the Old Testament. You can’t find it in the four gospels. You won’t find it in the little epistles of Peter, James, John, Jude, or the book of Revelation, because it is something unique to Paul’s apostleship. So consequently, only Paul gives any directions for those of us in this Age of Grace.
Now, that doesn’t mean you throw the rest of your Bible away. Not by any stretch! I’m always making the point that if you read something in the Old Testament and it’s in accord with what Paul teaches, it’s the Word of God for us today. Absolutely. But if you’re reading in Leviticus that if you touch a dead animal you will go and get a lamb from the flock and take it to the priest…hey…you can’t do that! But that’s what people try to say. You know, “I go by what the Bible says.” Well, now wait a minute, you can’t always go by what the Bible says, because some things are inappropriate for us today, although they were appropriate for ancient Israel. We have to learn to separate these things out.
It is the same way with Christ’s earthly ministry. Jesus said some things that are absolutely contrary to our doctrines of grace, because He was under Law. He was dealing with Israel. On the other hand, He makes statements that we can certainly use. That’s the way we have to approach Scripture. But always use the Apostle Paul’s letters as the benchmark of our doctrine, and all the rest of Scripture, then, becomes background, or as Paul puts it in Romans 15:4 “all these things were written for our learning.” In other words, they are for foundation. But when it comes to basic doctrine, how to be saved, how to live the Christian life, the hope for the end, it’s – Romans through Philemon.
Now, one of the basic understandings of the Body of Christ is the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It’s totally different in His modus operandi compared to the Old Testament, because now Paul, through the revelation of the mysteries, can teach that the Holy Spirit will indwell the individual believer. As Colossians puts it, it’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
All right, so we’re going to start this half-hour with I Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13. I imagine this is why the Holy Spirit has chosen the term the Body of Christ. It is such a perfect parallel with our physical body. That’s what Paul does here in this chapter. He draws a parallel between the Body of Christ composed of the believers from, I think, the Apostle Paul himself up until the Church Age ends, which will be at the Rapture, the great resurrection day. On the other hand, we have the working of the Holy Spirit in times gone by, the Old Testament and so forth. But here the Body of Christ and the human body form a parallel.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (our human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” So, what have you got? A comparison. Now, what does he mean by the body having members? Well, fingers, eyes, ears, legs, toes, and all the functions of this physical body. You can take some of them off and you can still continue on living, but you’re not going to function 100%. All these members of our human body are kept in context and are operated through the brain and our nervous system and all these things.
All right, so is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ has Christ as the Head and all the functions of the members of the Body are likened unto the members of a physical body. In other words, you do things with thumb and forefinger that you don’t do with knees or elbows, because they have their own particular function. Well, so also in the Body of Christ. Some believers are almost unseen. Does that mean they’re no good? Far from it. Probably some of our greatest prayer warriors are people who are never seen in the public eye. Probably some of our best callers on people in the nursing homes are people who are never acclaimed by the public, but look what they’re accomplishing for the Head, which is Christ. So, every one of you in this room today, every one of you out in television, that are members of this Body of Christ, are just like every cell as a member of this physical body.
I read one time how many billion cells are made up in this body, billions of them! Are they all important? Absolutely! They all have a function, and as soon as some of them get sick, the whole body is sick. Well, it is the same way with the Body of Christ. I’ve made this comment over and over: you can meet a total stranger and if they are a fellow member of the Body, you’re not strangers for more than five minutes. Many of you have experienced it. You’ve gone with us to some of our retreats and seminars, total strangers for just a few moments and then it’s like you’ve known them all your life. Why? Because we’re members of the same Body. They may be Methodists or Baptists or Lutherans or whatever, but we’re members of the Body. All right, now then, here’s the parallel, verse 13:
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit (That’s capitalized, the Holy Spirit, that same One we saw in Ephesians chapter 1, that when we believe the Spirit branded us. He became the down payment of our inheritance. All right, now here’s another role of the Holy Spirit.) are we all baptized into (Not into a church, not into a denomination, but into what?) one body (of Christ),…” Absolutely no water! All right, so there’s the answer to my question. How do we come into the Body of Christ? By believing Paul’s Gospel for our salvation – Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. Then, the Holy Spirit immediately places us into the Body.
Instantly! Now, I’ve made this comment in days gone by, salvation is an event. The Christian life is a what? It’s a process. You don’t suddenly become a full-grown, mature believer. Now, let me see how Peter put it. Keep your hand in I Corinthians. Come back again to I Peter and here’s a good example. Peter isn’t writing to the Church, like Paul does, but can I use what Peter writes? Sure, if it’s in accord with everything that Paul writes. Here is one that certainly is, it fits, so we use it. All right, I Peter chapter 2 verse 2, and this gives you the exact setting.
I Peter 2:2a
“As (What?) newborn babes,…” See, just like a newborn infant. What’s the first thing that little creature cries out for? Food! Milk! They cry for nourishment. That’s what Peter says we are. As a newborn believer, the first thing we should want is the Word of God.
I Peter 2:2
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” Now, do you see what I’m saying? You’re saved. It’s an event. When that baby is born, what is it? It’s an event! You send out the announcements. Glorious day! The first one is always the most exciting, aren’t they? But now what happens, the process. Feeding it, nourishing it, tender loving care. Well, the believer is the same way. We come into the family of God by a birth from above. The Holy Spirit immediately places us into the Body of Christ, and now we become a growth process.
All right, now let’s pick that up a little further, as to where so many Christians fail. Go back to I Corinthians, chapter 3, and what a heartache but so true. Now Peter, of course, was on the right track. As a newborn babe we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word so that we can grow. But look what happens to most believers.
I Corinthians 3:1-2
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto (What?) babes in Christ. (He started out like Peter said.) 2. I have fed you with (What?) milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Why? They couldn’t get off the milk bottle. It’s just like the child that’s six or seven years old. I always have to think of one of my best friends in school. He always liked to tell the story that when he was already a first grader, he still carried his milk bottle around at home. Some company came and he threw it under the kitchen stove! I can still hear him tell about it. Why? He was ashamed of the fact that here he was five or six years old and still toting his little old baby bottle.
But see, that’s most believers. They’re still on the baby bottle. They can’t handle the meat of the Word. Now, that’s a theme of Scripture. Turn with me now to Hebrews. All the way up to Hebrews, because even though it’s a sad estate, yet it’s so true – Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 11. You’ve got the same kind of a setting, just like in Corinth. They’d been believers long enough, they should have been ready for the deeper things of Scripture, but Paul couldn’t do it, because they couldn’t handle it. They were still babes. All right, now you’ve got the same problem with these Jewish people. That’s whom the Hebrews was written to, you know.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. (Why? Verse 12.) For when for the time ye ought to teachers, (You’ve been a believer long enough, you should be out there telling people what the Word of God says, but Paul says, you can’t do it. Why?) ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” They hadn’t matured enough to partake of the deep things of Scripture. They were still on the baby bottle.
That’s most people. They are so ignorant. And you know what that ignorance breeds? The gullibleness to take anything that comes their way. Gullible. Because they don’t know any better. I know a lot of preachers don’t like me, because their people are coming to them and showing them what the Book says, and they don’t like that. But listen, that’s what we have to do. We’ve got to become skilled with the Scriptures and in love and gentleness show these people, whether it’s a Sunday School teacher or whether it’s a Pastor, show them, now look – you’re not staying with the Word. This is what the Book says. This is what we’re supposed to be doing. That’s our responsibility.
All right, come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 12 where we took off on all this. Back to I Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13 again.
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit (There is only one Holy Spirit.) we are all baptized into one body,…” Now, I always emphasize that word “all.” Not just the cream of the crop. Not just the elite. Not just those who have spoken in tongues. Not just those who can give a million dollars now and then. No. Every believer has been “baptized” and the word baptized here simply means “placed.” Every believer has been placed, not into a denomination, not into a particular congregation, but “into the Body of Christ.” Now, think about that. You don’t hear that do you? But that’s the baptism that counts for eternity.
Because unless this has happened to you, you’re lost, because this is God’s mark of ownership, that you have been placed into the Body of Christ. How do you get placed into the Body of Christ? By believing Paul Gospel of Salvation! What’s the Gospel? “That Christ died, shed His blood and was buried, and rose from the dead.” That’s it. And when you add something to it, you cancel it. All right, now when we’ve been placed into the Body of Christ, well, read on in verse 13 to finish the verse.
I Corinthians 12:13b
“…whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; (Today we’d probably use the term rich or poor.) and have all (every believer, whatever his station in life) been made to drink (or to partake) into one Spirit.” All right, now let’s take another little approach to this, and it’s the word predestination.
Now, some people teach predestination as heaven or hell. My Bible doesn’t teach that. Never can you find that some one is predestined to hell. Impossible. God wouldn’t be God if He’d do that. But He has left the doors of grace open to the whole human race. It’s an individual decision. But we are predestinated. Now, pick it up in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 5, we have two of them here in this one chapter. Again, Paul, of course, is writing to the believer.
“Having predestinated us unto (Eternal hell? Is that in your Bible? I haven’t seen any nodding yet! NO! That’s not what it says. It doesn’t even say to heaven. But what have we been predestinated to?) the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,…” A position. A position in the Body of Christ.
Every one of us has been predestinated to where we are functioning in the Body. Now granted, all of us aren’t always exactly where God wants us. I teach that God has a perfect will and a permissive will. Now, maybe a lot of people won’t agree with that. But I maintain that most of us end up with the permitted place rather than with the directed place. Because we’re just not that obedient. But whatever. We are “predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.”
Now, especially in other cultures and especially in the Jewish culture, as well as the Roman and the Greek in the time of Christ, what was the purpose of paid tutors? To prepare that child to come into the father’s business. Because you’ve got to remember, Middle Easterners are businessmen. I’ve given the story before. But the very first time we went to Israel, now this is clear back in, I think, 1975. Of course, at that time not many people went to Israel, so Iris had a whole list of things that people wanted for souvenirs. So, about the last day of our tour we stopped at a big souvenir store. There wasn’t anybody in there but just she and I. The rest of the tour people had gone to another shop. She’s in there picking out all these things that people ordered, you know, Olive, Joshua and Caleb’s, and all these things. She had a whole pile there on the counter.
Well, there was a 12-year-old kid waiting on her. Now, until you’ve met her, you don’t know how she can negotiate. She’s proven it on every tour we’ve ever gone on. People will brag about what a good deal they will have gotten, and they’ll say, well $35.00. And she smiles; I got mine for $25.00. Well anyway, she was doing the same thing with this 12-year-old kid and all these things. He’s adding them up. He’s coming down. He’s coming down. He’s coming down. Finally, I can still see it, he just laid his hand on the counter and he said, “That’s it.” So, she settled up with him.
Well, off to the side, in a side door, I can see the father who was able to see all this, but he hasn’t said a word. So, I walk back and I said, “Do you understand English?” “Oh, yeah.” I said, “Well, tell me, can you trust that little kid with that?” He said, “He has never lost a dime yet!” Why? He was taught. He knew how to deal with tourists. He knew how to handle money. He was well taught.
All right, that was the whole premise of the tutors in that day and time, to raise that child up and prepare them to come into the father’s business. Okay, that’s exactly what we’re having here in predestination. God has put a place for us in the Body of Christ and we are being tutored. We are being taught, to come into a full experience in that role in the Body. That’s what predestination is in this verse. All right, now we’ve got time to come on down to the second one, in verse 11 of this same chapter,
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, (Now, we’ve been seeing that word more than once, because that’s the work of the Holy Spirit to maintain our inheritance, that we’re God’s and He’s not going to lose control of us.) being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (And here is the real confirmation of that will of God.) 12. That we should be to the praise of his glory,…” Where? In the Body of Christ. Now, I hope I’m making sense. Whenever we are predestinated as a child of God, we are placed into a particular place prepared for us, reserved for us. I maintain that as soon as a person is saved and comes into the Body of Christ, God, in so many words says, “I knew you would. I’ve got my place ready for you.”
All right, then when you go a little further and you grow in grace and knowledge, then He expects us to fulfill His design that we should be to the praise of His glory. But again, how many believers do just the opposite? They’re an embarrassment to God. I don’t blame the person so much as I do the people who have failed to teach them. Who’s been failing the teaching? The churches and Sunday Schools. They’ve been failing, because they are not teaching the depth of Scripture. They’re giving our kids soft soap. They’re giving them stuff that amounts to nothing. I taught just exactly the way I teach now 30 years ago with high school kids. And most of them that we’ve run across through our travels are still in the Book. Why? Because I taught them how to rely on the Word of God, not just on the fact that they’re a church member, but that they are now a responsible believer who are expected to be a testimony in the world around them.
Now, you don’t have to be a kook. You don’t have to make a fool of yourself. You just simply live on Godly principles. Now, we’re going to start out with that, I think, in our next program. What are the Godly principles that God expects of you and I as members of the Body of Christ, in that place that He has put us, whether it is visible or whether it is more or less subdued? You know, I like to use the example: are you a little toe or are you an eye? Whatever, we’re in the Body of Christ!