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812: But When – The Fullness of Time – Part 4 – Lesson 2 Part 4 Book 68

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 68

BUT WHEN – THE FULLNESS OF THE TIME – BOOK 68

Galatians 4:4; Galatians 4:9; Ephesians 2:4

Again, we would like to welcome our television audience. For those of you who may be catching us for the first time, we’re an informal Bible study.  I do not pastor a church, so please don’t write and address me as pastor or reverend.  I’m a layman.  I prefer to just call this a, probably a little different kind of a Sunday School class.  But anyway, that’s what we are. We appreciate your prayers, your financial help, and the response of all your good letters.  My, it’s rare that we get a letter that is less than exhilarating.  So, we praise the Lord for all that.

Okay, we’re on another one of our “But God’s.”  We’re going to move now to Ephesians chapter 2 verse 4.  Now again, you’ve got to realize that the Ephesian church was a far cry from the Corinthian or the Galatian.  Ephesians was – what should I say – probably up a few steps in their understanding. It is one of the prison epistles toward the end of Paul’s ministry, so he deals with things in Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians that are not so much indicated in Romans and Corinthians and so forth.  He certainly does not have the problem with the Ephesians that he did with the Galatians.

There’s not a single mention of them following false teachers.  So, take all those things into play when you study the Word.  But now Paul is dealing with some of these deeper elements of Scripture, or on a higher plain, however you prefer to put it.  In Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1, right off the bat, if I may use that expression, you have a word that indicates something that Paul doesn’t refer to all the time.  It’s the word “quickened.”

Ephesians 2:1a

“And you hath he quickened,…” Or made alive, spiritually.  Now, what does that mean?  Well, it’s really the same act of God that Jesus spoke of in John’s Gospel chapter 3 as “born again.”  Paul never uses the term, and I don’t know why.  But it’s the same act of God that brings the lost person into spiritual life.  Here he uses it as being quickened or made alive – spiritually.

Now, back up with me to Romans 8 so that we get a little better understanding of how he uses it in the Romans epistle.  Chapter 8 verse 15 and this is what he’s talking about when he tells the Ephesians, “And you hath he quickened.”

Romans 8:15a

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;…”  Now, what was that word from?  Our last program.  We’re not under bondage.  We’re not under any of the effects of the Law. We’ve been set free from all that.   All right, but instead of being under bondage, we have now received:

Romans 8:15b

“…but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, (That placing as a son, as we saw it in the first program this afternoon.) whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  That’s how we can now approach God.  We can call Him our father.  All right, verse 16 and now the Spirit comes into play.  The third person of the Trinity as we many times refer to Him.

Romans 8:16

“The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (or the born ones) of God: 17. And if children (born ones of God), then heirs; (Just like a child is an heir of the father and the mother.) heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (The same terminology that we associate with husband and wife. We’re joint-heirs.) if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (That is with Him.)” All right, back to Ephesians then. We have the concept throughout all of Paul’s writings of the necessity to be born from above or to receive spiritual life.

We looked at it, I think, in our last taping.  When you have the resurrection of the just as against the resurrection of the unjust, what’s the basic difference?  Well the just have been made spiritually alive for all eternity, never to have that spiritual life brought to an end.  So, all through Paul’s teachings we have this concept that the moment we’re saved we have imputed to us eternal life.  We’re going to live for eternity in God’s presence.  But the unbeliever has never been spiritually reborn, so he’s going to spend his eternity separated from God.

All right, back to Ephesians chapter 2.  He’s writing to these believing Gentiles, now, way at the western end of Turkey, at Ephesus.  Galatia was up in the central high land. Ephesus is clear out on the Aegean Sea.  He says to these Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:1

“And you hath he quickened, (made alive) who were (past tense.  What?) dead (How dead?  Spiritually) in trespasses and sin:” Just like the world all around us.  It was no different then.  All right, now here he explains it in verse 2.

Ephesians 2:2a

“Wherein (That is, in those trespasses and sins.) in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, (You did everything that comes naturally, just like everybody around you.) according to the prince of the power of the air,…”  Goodness sakes, who’s that?  That’s Satan.  He is the god of this world.  Satan is the one who can glamorize sin.  Satan glamorizes the evil in this world.  He’s the one that makes it look like the bright lights of the entertainment world.  But it’s a false facade.  And it leads to nothing but darkness and doom.  All right, reading on.

Ephesians 2:2b-3a

“…the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (the lost world) 3. Among whom…” The lost of the world, even in Paul’s day.

Like I explained in the last program, what had most of his converts been before he came along?  Idolaters.  Pagans.  They knew nothing of the God of Israel.  They knew nothing of Israel’s laws of cleanliness.  I hope you all realize that back in antiquity, Israel was the only people that knew personal hygiene.  You know, I’m always reminded, I just about did it the last taping and I didn’t.  But I’m going to this time.

I remember reading several years ago that one of the first breakthroughs in defeating bacterial infection happened not all that long ago, probably in the 1700’s, in Vienna, Austria.  It was a Jewish doctor. That’s what made it so unique.  A Jewish doctor suddenly realized that all the women on the maternity ward would get an infection from one end of the ward to the other.  In other words, as the doctors and nurses would examine a lady up here on this end, the next one and the next one and the next one and the next one would all procedurally get the same infection.

He finally determined that they were passing it from one to the other with their unclean hands.  They knew nothing of antiseptics. (Is that the right word, Iris?) They knew nothing of antiseptic technology.  They knew nothing of using rubber gloves.  They knew nothing of bacterial infection.  So, when this Jewish doctor began to promote his theory that infection was being brought from one person to the other with their dirty hands, what do you suppose they did with him?  They just about ran him out of Vienna with tar and feathers.  But see, the non-Jewish world knew nothing of hygiene.  They knew nothing of cleanliness.  That’s what we have to understand.

So, not only were they unclean physically, they were even more unclean morally, or what we call spiritually.  It was into that world that Paul comes with the Gospel. That is one reason, you see, that the Christianized world, the Western world, was centuries ahead of the rest of the world in science and technology.  It was because of this Book.  That’s where it really all began, with the advent of Christianity. All right, so now then, verse 3 again.

Ephesians 2:3a

“Among whom also (Paul includes himself with these Gentiles.) we all had our conversation (or our manner of living) in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;…”  Well, now you know he was a good psychologist, wasn’t he?  Before you can begin to entice lust, what do you have to do about it?  You’ve got to think.  It’s in the brain, in the mind, that all these lustful thoughts are fomented.  Then the mind controls the flesh.  Well again, that wasn’t realized until not too awful long ago.  But Scripture anticipated it.  All right, so the lost person fulfills the desires of the flesh and the desires of the mind, which brings them right in parallel with each other.  Now, reading on.

Ephesians 2:3b

“…and were by nature (the nature that you’re born with) the children of wrath, even as others.” Well, what’s the wrath he’s speaking of?  The eternal doom when God will consign the lost to the Lake of Fire.  That’s where they’re headed.

All right, now let’s go back to Galatians where Paul probably identifies these lusts of the flesh better than almost any other place in Scripture. That’d be in Galatians chapter 5.  I think a lot of times, since we’re in such a permissive society today, that we somehow think this is all new.  We think that the world has always been “Victorian.”  No, they weren’t.  The world was quite the opposite.  They’ve always been steeped in gross immorality, and they had none of the biblical influence, so there was nothing to hold them back. Some of those cities in ancient antiquity were wicked beyond our comprehension.

All right, so Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will give us a good picture of what he’s talking about – those who lived according to the prince of the power of the air.  Galatians 5 verse 19.  We’ve looked at these before, they’re fundamental, they’re basic.  But here it is.  They are as plain as day.

Galatians 5:19

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; (Which comes because of the mind, and here they are.) Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, (That is moral uncleanness.  We’re not talking about hygienic cleanness here.) lasciviousness.”  Now whenever I teach this, I always stop.  All of these words are associated with what type of sins?  Sexual.  That’s what it is.  It’s the sexual sins that plague the human race.  All right, but now you move into another category.

Galatians 5:20a

“Idolatry,…” But what was at the peak of idolatry?  Sexuality.  Now, we’re approaching the Easter season.  The Passover.  Do you ever stop and think why the push for Easter bunnies and Easter eggs?  Where does it all come from?  Well, the fertility rites of the pagan religions.

The pagan religions centered on the winter equinox, the beginning of dormancy.  That’s why they worshipped the evergreen tree.  All right, but then you come to the next big pagan festival. What was it?  It was the first day of spring.  And that’s where the Passover was associated.  So, the pagan world, through satanic deception, puts all of their pagan rites of the spring equinox right next to what we call Easter or Passover.  It’s quite a satanic deception.

All right, but what was associated with all the pagan rites of the first day of spring? Fertility.  And how do you get fertility without sex?  I don’t care whether it’s in the flower or in the animal world or the human.  It all has to do with reproduction.  So the pagan world jumped on that. The fertility rites are beyond what you and I can even begin to imagine.  Wicked to the “nth” degree.  And that was what made up idolatry. That’s why the world loved it so.  It was so wicked. Okay, move on.

Galatians 5:20-21a

“Idolatry, witchcraft, (Well, that’s just a kissing-cousin to idolatry, isn’t it?) hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, (Rising up against the powers that be.) heresies, 21. Envyings, (This isn’t a pretty picture, but this is the world of Satan, the prince of the power of the air.) murders, drunkenness,…”  Now, I always have to stop there.  Drunkenness is right beside murder in the Scripture.  Boy, they wouldn’t put it in today’s society, would they?  But that’s what it is.

Galatians 5:21b

“…drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Now, somebody else brought up a good point a while back.  Does Paul ever refer to the Lake of Fire?  Does Paul ever teach anything about the Lake of Fire?  Come on, doesn’t anybody know?  No.  I can’t find it.  Paul never speaks of it as such, but this is the kind of language he uses.  That lost people are not going to be in God’s realm for eternity.

So, we have to use the rest of Scripture to figure it out.  Where are they going?  Well, if they’re not with God, they would be with the satanic forces which will be in the Lake of Fire.  But it’s interesting that Paul never directly refers to the Lake of Fire.  He’s always speaking in language like this, that they will not be in the Kingdom of God.    All right, here in verse 22 then, he flips to the other side of the coin, the people that are Spirit controlled and not under the forces of the god of this world.

All right, let’s come back to Ephesians chapter 2.  Now, all of mankind that is described in these works of the flesh, out of that will come some who have been given spiritual life through faith in the Gospel.  That’s what he means by being quickened or made alive.  But, he’s showing what we came from.  Now, I’ve got to make a point.

When we read all of these works of the flesh, it doesn’t mean that everybody is guilty of all of them.  Maybe a select few would be.  But you only have to be guilty of one or two and you’re guilty of all, so far as God is concerned.  But you don’t have to feel that unless you are guilty of all the things listed in Galatians 5 that, you know, you’re still okay.  No.  Any one of those is enough to indicate that we are not ready for the Kingdom of God.   All right, back to Ephesian 2.  He draws that picture in verse 3 that we are under the desires of the flesh.  We’re fulfilling those desires, we were –

Ephesians 2:3b

“…by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”  Now remember, who is Paul writing to?  Believers!  He’s writing to you and me.  So, then the next verse kicks in.  Yes, that was our past.  Maybe we didn’t all practice all those things, but we had the potential for it.  There was nothing to keep us from it, because we were under the old satanic nature.

Ephesians 2:4a

“But God,…”  That’s what makes the difference between you and me and the people of Galatians 5.  God made the difference.  God moved in.  He opened up the Scriptures to us and gave us the opportunity to say yes or no.  If we’re fortunate enough to have said yes then look what happens.  This is what has followed.

This is why Paul is admonishing these Ephesian believers to realize how blessed they are that God moved into their life.  You know, I still like to use Lydia. When we were in Greece last fall, I had a chance to speak at the very riverside they think she and her fellow worshippers were meeting.  Come back with me, because I still think it’s so apropos for every believer, even though this is clear back in the beginning of Paul’s ministry – Acts chapter 16.  I haven’t done this on the program in a long time, have I?  We’ve got to show Lydia.  Those of you who see our tapes, you’re going to see I’m speaking down there on the little riverside.  It was quite an experience.  Didn’t dream I’d ever get there.

Acts 16:14

“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, (a business lady) of the city of Thyatira, (Which was across the Aegean Sea in Western Turkey.  But she was up there evidently selling her goods in the city of Philippi.  But here is this Lydia.) who worshipped God, (Now that’s typical, a lot of times, of the people that Paul deals with.  She was religious, but lost.   Luke is writing and he says–) she heard us.  (Now, here’s the part I love.) whose heart the Lord opened, so that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”  Now be careful.  She was not forced to agree with Paul.  So, why did she?  Of her own volition.

Of her own volition she considered what Paul had been preaching. She decided, with God’s opening up of her understanding, that this is what she could believe.  I maintain that it’s not all that different today.  A person can be convicted of their sin, that the commandments had been broken, and then we have that opportunity to say yes to the invitation; to believe or we can say no.  God doesn’t force us, but He gives us that complete opportunity.    All right, come back to Ephesians chapter 2 in the minutes we have left.

Ephesians 2:4

“But God, (Just like in the life of Lydia.  God opened her heart so that she listened to what Paul had to say.  For you and me, it’s But God!) who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”  Now, where was that love exhibited?  Well, at the cross!  Love is the whole energizing force of the cross.  God loved the human race. He was willing to send His own Son to suffer and die, because He loved us, and He’s making a way back to Himself as easy as He can make it.

That’s why it’s so simple.  That’s why this Gospel of Grace is something that I can’t understand why the world doesn’t just flock after it.  But they won’t.  But here it is.  God in His mercy has shown His love toward us and then verse 5.

Ephesians 2:5

“Even when we were dead in sins, (Like we saw in Galatians 5. We were steeped in some, if not all, of those sins. But in that sinful state God opened our understanding.  It’s a God thing!  Absolutely it is!) he hath quickened (made us alive) us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)”  And how have I always put it?  When Christ died, we died.  When He was buried, we were buried.  When He arose in resurrection power, we arose to a new life!    It’s just that plain.

All right, I think I’ve got time. Come back again to Romans, because after all, Romans is probably the most doctrinal of all of Paul’s letters, so far as understanding this plan of salvation.  Romans 5 verse 8, because see a lot of people think, well, if I can just clean up my life.  If I can just get better, then I’ll become a believer.   No, that’s not where God wants you.  God wants you right where you are.

Romans 5:8

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were (What?) yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  That’s where He loved us.  Not after we’d cleaned up our act and sort of made ourselves approachable.  No.  Right where He found us, steeped in our sin, He showed His love for us.  He opened the Plan of Salvation where we could understand it.  Then by faith we entered in, and He did everything that He promised to do.  He gave us new life.  He brought in the Holy Spirit who controls our every act and thought and deed. We become, then, a new person in Christ.

All right, back to Ephesians.  We’ve got one minute left.  Verse 6 – when He saved us, He positioned us.  Now, this is a Pauline doctrine, won’t find it anywhere else in Scripture. Here it is.  That’s why you should love the Apostle Paul, because my, these are things you won’t find anywhere else.

Ephesians 2:6-8

“And He hath raised us up together, (in His resurrection power) and made us sit together in the heavenlies, (Now, that’s something that the world knows nothing of.) in Christ Jesus: 7. That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (It’s all based on what He has done.  Then verse 8, everybody should know this verse.) 8. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the (What?) gift of God:” And you never, never, never, work for a gift.