Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 32
Genesis – Revelation (The Mysteries)
Okay, now we’re all back for program number four this afternoon. Again, for those of you on television, we want to thank you and praise you for your letters. We couldn’t do it without your financial help and your prayers.
Okay, we’d better get right back into the Book where we left off in the last program. We were in Colossians chapter 1 and verse 24. We had to digress and remind people of what Paul was talking about when he spoke of being afflicted for the Body’s sake, which is the Church.
Again I’m going to repeat it, repeat it, and repeat it. Only Paul uses the term “The Body of Christ.” You’ll never find it anywhere else in Scripture. And consequently, the Body of Christ is a result of these mysteries that were revealed to this Apostle after the Lord commissioned him on the Damascus Road experience.
Always be aware of this when people start arguing about things that are in the four Gospels compared to what Paul says. That only Paul deals with things that pertain to us. Now, I’ll just give you an example. You cannot find anywhere else in Scripture that we’re saved by faith and faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Only Paul shares that with us!
You cannot find it until you get to Paul. And a lot of other things like we’ve just been talking about, how that Christ was the very Creator of everything. Well, you won’t find that anywhere else in Scripture, as we saw here in Colossians in our last program. All right, so let’s come back, if you will, to Paul’s revelation of this mystery concerning the Body of Christ. Verse 24 again:
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, (Now remember who he’s talking to. Gentile believers in Western Turkey in the little city of Colossi just to the northeast of Ephesus.) and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh (That’s why we went back to II Corinthians in our last program, to show how he suffered throughout his whole 20-some years of ministry over and over and over.) for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister,…”
Now again, I like to qualify and define words. What does he mean by a minister? Well, he was the sent one. That’s basically what an apostle meant. He was a divinely sent individual that God was going to use for His own distinct purposes and in this case amongst the Gentiles.
Now let me by sake of comparison, Scripture with Scripture, come back with me to Romans chapter 15. We find the same word used in relation with Christ Himself, but a totally different ministry. Romans chapter 15 verse 8—here’s another verse that most of Christendom doesn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole because of what it says.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was (past tense) a minister (See, there’s the word, a sent one.) of the circumcision…” Who’s the Circumcision? Israel. So Jesus Christ was a sent one. A minister not for the whole human race, per se; but He came unto His own and His own received Him not. Now Paul is just rehearsing the very same fact that Jesus Christ was a minister of the Circumcision and the Circumcision plus no one else.
“…Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God,…” It wasn’t something that Paul dreamed up. This is the way God ordained it. That coming out of the Old Testament promises and prophecies concerning Israel, they were to have a Messiah, a Redeemer, a King, and a Kingdom. He was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Now continuing on:
“…for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” Well basically, what where those promises? I’ve already mentioned them—a coming Messiah, a Redeemer, a King, and a Kingdom. But Israel rejected it. They crucified Him. And, of course, as Romans 11 teaches so explicitly, through their rejection they brought the plan of salvation to us of the Gentile world.
All right, but now come back to Colossians. We see that Paul is a minister of a whole different sort and with different criteria. He is not a minister of Israel. He is a minister of the Gentiles in particular. Of course we’re not going to leave the Jewish people out of this. Now verse 25.
“Wherefore I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God (Which in other places is called the Dispensation of Grace, remember, so it’s the same dispensation.) which is given to me for you,…”
All right, now I know we just did this a couple of programs back. But keep your hand in Colossians, and turn back to Ephesians 3. We’ve got to keep comparing Scripture with Scripture so that we know what he’s talking about. Now back to Ephesians 3 verse 2 and compare that with what he just says in Colossians. In Colossians he calls it “the dispensation of God, which is given to me for you Gentiles.” Here he says:
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God (The same thing, but two different terminologies.) which is given to me to you-ward.” And then Christendom keeps turning their back on this man when he alone was given the marching orders for this Age of Grace. They can’t get it. They just can’t get it.
That’s why I put the statement from Louis Sperry Chafer on the program a while back. He said the same thing. That what a difference between what Christ and the Twelve and John the Baptist preached for Israel compared to what Paul preaches to the Gentile world. The Twelve knew nothing of Paul’s Gospel of the Grace of God. All they understood was who He was and that He had come to fulfill the Old Testament promises. Paul doesn’t refer to the Old Testament promises. He’s talking about a whole new ballgame for us. We’re not looking for an earthly kingdom. We’re looking for what? Heavenly! What a difference.
But you see, God is still going to have to pick up again with Israel after He’s finished with this Body of Christ and takes it out of the way. We’ll look at that in the next taping session. But today in the Body of Christ we’re not looking for an earthly kingdom and a king like Israel was and still is. We’re looking for that which pertains to the heavenlies—something totally different.
Now let’s get back to Colossians chapter 1 verse 25, finishing the verse. This “dispensation of God which is given to me for you.” That is for you Gentiles. Remember now, he’s writing to Colossian believers, but it was for the whole Gentile Body of Christ. And what’s the end result?
“…to fulfill (or bring to fruition, or bring to completion, to bring to a finish) the Word of God.” In other words, the New Testament would finally be complete.
Now that brings up another thought, and people don’t stop to think about it. For how many years did these early believers of the Apostle Paul go with no Pauline instructions in the printed page? A long time. He probably began his ministry about 40. I say about because I can’t be real dogmatic. But he began his ministry up in Tarsus and then down to Antioch about A.D. 40. Well, my heavens, when did he write his first epistle? In the 50’s. So you’ve got at least 15 or more years that those early believers did not have these kinds of instructions. So, how do you suppose they got it? Verbally!
All right, come back to I Corinthians chapter 14. Most people, I don’t think, even get an inkling of what he’s talking about. I Corinthians 14 verse 1:
I Corinthians 14:1
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, (plural) but rather that ye may prophesy.” Now think a minute. Out of all the spiritual gifts that the Corinthians were concerned about, which one was to be paramount above everything else? Well, the gift of prophesying.
But now here’s the kicker. When you think of prophesying, what does the normal individual think of? Telling the future like Isaiah and Old Testament Prophets. No, this word prophesying means speaking forth. Just simply speaking forth the Word of God. So, what’s Paul implying here? The most important gift that a believer could have in those days before they had the written Scripture was the God-given gift to preach the Word. That’s all they had, gifted men, until the Scripture came in.
I guess I should have stayed and gone back to I Corinthians 13. It’s been a long time since we taught Corinthians, except I guess the daily programs will be getting it pretty soon. But in chapter 13 (between 12 and 14, the chapters on gifts) verse 8—now maybe this will give you a little free information to go home with today, and for those of you on television to share with your neighbors. Now maybe this verse will make sense.
I Corinthians 13:8
“Charity (or love) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, (Speaking forth. Not telling the future. But where there be men gifted in speaking forth the Word–) they shall fail; (They’re going to disappear.) and whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” Why? Because it would be coming in the written page. Now they’ll no longer need gifted men coming in from time to time, they’ll have the Scriptures in their hands. And that’s what we’re talking about.
That’s what Paul means back here in Colossians 1:25. Come back with me to where he said this dispensation of God was given to him to fulfill, or finish, the Word of God. After Paul’s epistles, that completed everything. Now we still haven’t gotten to the crux of the mystery, have we? Now verse 26:
“Even the mystery…” That is all wrapped up in this dispensation of the Grace of God. This whole series of things that had never been revealed before, all these mysteries now compose the doctrines of the Grace Age believer.
Now, all the rest of Scripture is certainly the Word of God. Don’t ever take that away. Don’t ever accuse me of saying that only Paul is the Word of God. No. But you do not get doctrine for Christian living back in the Old Testament. You do not get the plan of salvation in the Old Testament and really not in the four gospels. All of it is background. It’s all showing us how God has unfolded the plan of the ages and showing us His sovereignty. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty of our everyday belief system, you stay between Romans and Philemon and you won’t go astray. Now, that’s all as clear as I can make it. Now verse 26:
“Even the mystery which hath been (What’s the next word?) hid from ages and from generations,…” Now think a minute. How did we start this afternoon?
“The secret things (the hidden things) belong to the Lord our God…” And they stay there until He is ready to reveal them. And then here it comes.
Now let me show you a good example. We haven’t done this one for a long time. Go back to Luke chapter 18. A beautiful illustration of how God can keep things to Himself even though He spoke it. Luke 18:31 and we’re at the very end of His three years of ministry. They’re up in northern Israel, and they’re going to be heading down south, up to Jerusalem for the Passover and the Crucifixion.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” All the prophecies concerning His death, burial, and resurrection that we looked at earlier in Isaiah 53. We could have looked at Psalms 22 and some others. They’re all going to be fulfilled. Now verse 32 and don’t forget—who’s He speaking to? The Twelve. They’re right out there in front of Him.
“For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33. And they (the Romans) shall scourge him, and put him to death (the crucifixion): and the third day he shall rise again.”
Did it happen? Every last bit of it! How did He know all that? He was God! But now look at the next verse. Here are these twelve, ordinary, healthy men, with no hearing problems that we know of.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying (What I just read from the lips of the Lord Jesus. Was what?) was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” In other words, they didn’t head down to Jerusalem talking between themselves, “Now look, the Lord is going to be arrested by the Romans. The Lord is going to be put to death by the Romans, but on the third day He’s going to rise.” Did that happen? No. They didn’t have a clue that anything was going to happen to Him. Why? God blinded them from it. He stopped their ears. He kept it hidden.
Now, if you don’t believe me, just stop and think. If they would have known what He said, and if they would have heard it, where would they have been early that Sunday morning? Outside the tomb waiting for things to happen. Were they? Oh, they were long gone. It was all over. They’d forgotten all about a promise of a King and a Kingdom already. He’s dead. He’s gone. But see what the Scripture says? That’s what it means when God hides things from mankind. And that’s His prerogative.
Now come back again to Colossians. This whole concept of this Body of Christ called out of the predominately Gentile world—people saved by nothing more than believing that Christ died for them, shed His blood, was buried, and rose from the dead was kept secret. And they have become members of the Body and Christ. He’s the Head! And the Body of Christ is a living organism. We are in a union with Christ. We are part of a living organism.
But this whole concept had been totally hidden until it was revealed to this person and no one else. That’s why Peter, back there that we read early this afternoon, told his readers to go to Paul because of the wisdom given unto him. Peter didn’t understand all this. He couldn’t. God didn’t expect him to. Don’t ever lose sight of this. I almost get tired of repeating it, but I have to, because people can’t get it. They just can’t get it that this Body of Christ is something so insulated from all the prophecies and promises given to Israel that nothing can penetrate it out of the Old Testament promises.
Now the reason I get so exercised is because people can’t see the difference. I don’t get any hate mail, per say. I haven’t had over two or three letters in fifteen years that I would call a hateful letter. But I do get letters questioning my “whatever,” mostly because they cannot see the difference between Christ’s earthly ministry and Paul. It’s all one jumbled-up mess for most people. And then I get exercised. Why can’t you see it when the Scripture so clearly separates it all? Why do you want to keep mixing it?
I told Iris that I thought of a good illustration. She’ll probably think I’m nuts for sharing it with the whole crowd. But I was thinking about a good illustration. Now I know I’m dated. Some of you probably don’t even know what I’m going to talk about. But do you remember when the old quart milk bottle was delivered to the door? Before they dreamed up pasteurizing and homogenizing, we bought raw milk. After twelve hours in that bottle, what happened to that milk? The cream came to the top. And I told Iris that must have been why they formed the bottle the way they did, because the neck would be cream and down below was that pale blue skimmed milk. All right, the only reason I’m using that for an illustration is you have a dividing line between the skim milk below and the cream on top. Now, what do you have to do to mix it? Just tip it upside down.
Now, am I making my point? This is what they’re doing between the Gospel of the Kingdom for Israel—which was mainly faith in His name, and the Gospel of Grace for us today—which is faith in that finished work of the cross! Here it is so clearly separated. For us today our direction is UP!! Heavenly!! Which direction is the rest of it? Israel’s promises and the Gospel of the Kingdom promises have always been Earthly.
I thought it was a good illustration. I don’t think Iris thought so. But all you have to do to mix it is just turn it upside down a time or two and it loses its identity and once again it’s back. And that’s where Christendom is. They just constantly keep it all amalgamated, when God has so perfectly separated it. Have I made my point? I hope so. All right, come back to Colossians.
“Even the mystery (this secret) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (Or put into the spotlight where there is no doubt about what we are talking about.) 27. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the (What people?) Gentiles; (And what is the secret?) which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” That’s something that is never alluded to anywhere else in Scripture. The Creator Himself indwelling you and me? Are you getting the point? What a revelation!
And again, most of Christendom just ignores it. They don’t bring this out. You don’t see this in Sunday school. You don’t hear this on Sunday morning. But what a revelation that here we have the Creator God, not only purchasing our salvation, not only doing everything that needed to be done on our behalf, then He comes in and above everything else He becomes part of us and we’re part of Him. Oh, what a glorious Salvation! “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!”
It’s not just for this world, as down here we’re just passing through. The Glory is awaiting us! And we can’t even begin to describe it. That’s why I think the Scripture is silent. There is not one word in here telling us what Heaven’s going to be like. All the descriptions of Heaven are the earthly Kingdom to Israel. They’re not ours. That’s why Paul was not permitted to share what he had seen in II Corinthians 12:1-9. We couldn’t handle it. But the Glory that’s awaiting us, beloved, is beyond human understanding. So don’t ever feel that you’re selling yourself short by coming apart from the world and living a life that is pleasing in God’s sight, because our Glory is ahead of us. It’s still coming!
“Whom we (Paul) preach, (See, Paul doesn’t preach Paul. Paul only knows one Gospel, and that is Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead!) warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom;…” Now, like we talked early this afternoon, not the wisdom of the intellectual community, but the wisdom of God, the knowledge of God.
“…that we may present every man perfect (mature) in Christ Jesus. 29. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
All of this had been kept secret all the way up through the Old Testament, the four Gospels, and Christ’s earthly ministry. Not a word about going to the Gentile world. Remember, Jesus only dealt with two Gentiles, and they were special dispensations of His compassion. One was the Roman Centurion and the other was the Canaanite woman. Otherwise, it was all Jewish, because all of the Old Testament promises were to Israel, not to us. But, oh, after His death, burial, and resurrection, out comes this Body of Truth we call the Dispensation of the Grace of God—our hope of Glory!