We've been in a series studying the amazing, radical Grace of Almighty God. In this series, we've seen that we have a good, good Father. That He purchased our complete redemption in the Finished Work. Currently, we have been dispelling the myths associated with Radical Grace.
Up to now we have quelled the myths that Radical Grace advocates sinful living and licentiousness. That Radical Grace makes believers lazy and purposeless. In our last study, we allayed the fallacious concept that God's amazing Grace espouses a belief in or substantiation of the concepts of Universalism/Inclusionism.
Today I sense impressed to continue to dispel yet another myth critics cast upon Radical Grace. The idea that Radical Grace denies the teachings and words of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an astounding claim of our detractors. Jesus is the person of Grace. Why would we deny Him or His words?
The stumbling block for those who oppose Radical Grace is an improper understanding of the New Covenant. Far too many believers have the misinformed idea that the New Covenant begins with Matthew Chapter one. How did this concept take hold in people's mind?
It starts when believers open their Bible and after the book of Malachi they see a title page dividing Malachi from Matthew. This page contains the words the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Folk make the assumption, as even I did, that Matthew chapter one begins the New Covenant. Therefore, some believe all the words that Jesus is speaking are New Covenant based teachings. Is this true?
First we must rightly divide the Word of God between the Old and the New Covenant. The New Covenant according to Hebrews Chapter ten pinpoints precisely when the New Covenant began.
9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. Hebrews 10:9 NLT
This is proof enough that when the New is in effect the Old is obsolete, so when did the New begin? Was it when Jesus was born? Was it when Jesus taught the Scribes in the Temple when He was merely 12 years old? No, Hebrews ten is clear, it is when He took away our sin, purchased our redemption, was resurrected and seated at God's right hand. Therefore, Matthew and the other gospels aren't in the New Covenant timeline until the latter portions of those books where the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were recorded.
With this important foundation laid we can now dispel the myth that Radical Grace denies the teachings of Jesus. When one reads the gospels we must rightly divide the Word, (as Paul taught in 2 Timothy 2:15), according to the Covenants. To better understand Jesus' Words, we must consider His audience and the context.
With the religious leaders, He spoke strong words and frequently rebuked them. Why is this? It is a two-fold motivation. What had the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees and "doctors" of the Law done? First, they had diluted the Law to make it a "doable" by human effort and achievement system. Secondly, in some instances they disregarded the Law and Commands of God, bypassing them altogether by the exalting of their man-made traditions.
A word of caution here, understanding the truth that the religious leaders had, in fact, exalted traditions over the Law don't buy into a concept that the Law was merely the "big ten". The Mosaic Law recorded in the Old Covenant consisted of some 613 commands given to Israel by God. Some have made the erroneous statement "that when God gave the Law it was merely ten Commandments and when Jesus got on the scene it was now 613 commandments." This is a false notion by the religious minded who still believe the Church should abide under the Ten Commandments.
Many times when Jesus taught He was bringing the Law back into focus for all of Israel. He was showing to the self-righteous and those trusting in their efforts just how impossible it is to meet God's standard.
48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48 NLT
Jesus words were clear. In summation, He was basically showing Israel "the end of the rope". He was using the Law for what it was intended. To bring you to an end of yourself and your striving and efforts to meet God's standards. To reveal to all their need for a Savior.
Here are a couple examples of Jesus preaching the perfect standard and contrasted with the New Covenant standard.
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:17-22 NLT
When asked what must one do to inherit eternal life or receive salvation what was Jesus answer? Do this and that, and oh think you got this? Then do this too! Jesus standard under the Old was strive and achieve.
Now let's see this same question asked and answered after the Cross.
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household. Acts 16:29-31 NLT
A major difference in response here. What must we do to be saved under the New Covenant? Just believe. It is that simple. No striving, no actions or doings upon the part of those looking to receive. Simply respond by simply believing. Here is another example.
25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25 NLTJesus taught forgive in order to be forgiven before the Cross. What is the message after the Cross under the New Covenant?
13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT
Did Jesus and Paul contradict each other? No, because they were teaching the precepts of two separate and distinct Covenants. We have been forgiven of all of our sins. All our past and present and future sins have been cleansed by the Blood of Christ. The same grace that has been extended to us in forgiveness we now extend to others.
Jesus taught a standard of perfection that was over the top, impossible to achieve. He also taught a beautiful message of a loving and compassionate Father who longed for a relationship with humanity. If you were striving and attempting to prove your worth to God then, Jesus words cut you to the heart. He said all your efforts aren't enough. If you were at the end of yourself and came to Jesus His words offered hope, compassion, grace and restoration.
In summation, Radical Grace doesn't discount Jesus words. Radical Grace rightly divides Jesus words based upon a right understanding of the Covenants. Jesus words revealed the demands of the Law. The New Covenant reveals how Grace and the Finished Work supplies. When we study the teachings and words of Jesus in light of the New Covenant we find the message He has to us His Church, His Bride, His Children. It's a message of His acceptance, of peace, of compassion, of comfort, of victory and abundant life in Him.