Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Grace vs Law: The Good Samaritan

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV   

 We've begun a new series on Grace. Specifically, we are contrasting Law and Grace. We are finding nuggets of truth throughout the Gospels that further prove how the Law is finished in Christ. 

 So far we've seen how Law minded thinking pushes us to strive more and more. It causes believers to try and earn their place in the Family of God. We learned that the enemy's temptation is to get the Church to find its sustenance and nourishment from the Law. 

 Today, we are going to examine a portion of Scripture that has been widely misunderstood and merely glossed over by many in the Church and those in the world. When anyone mentions the phrase good Samaritan often the meaning connotes the idea of simply being a nice person. Of being neighborly. 

 This parable of the Good Samaritan is where many secular phrases such as "like a good neighbor..." comes from. What is this parable really about? Is it about merely being nice to your fellow man in their time of need? Is the purpose of this parable simply to illustrate how we should treat others?

 The parable of the good Samaritan is found in Luke's Gospel chapter ten. After reading this passage, it seems with a surface reading, taking a glance at this passage it appears Jesus is showing the people how to be good neighbors. To go and do likewise, like that of the Samaritan. While it's true and right to lend a hand to others in need, to be there for others as the Lord enables us, this isn't the main point of this parable.

 That may sound too astounding for you. This may challenge or upset your theology. However, when we study this passage in its setting and context we can see a deeper message Jesus is presenting. 

 Look at the preceding passages right before this parable in Luke 10.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25 NKJV

 Jesus taught this parable in direct relation to this question. A self-righteous follower of the Law sought to justify himself before Jesus. Jesus in His wisdom taught a parable revealing to this man his true condition before God and the answer, the solution, he and all mankind so desperately need.

 A certain man came from Jerusalem going toward Jericho. Jerusalem is a type of Heaven. A place of innocence and perfection. Jericho is a type of the world's way of wickedness. The man left Jerusalem and headed toward Jericho. Who is this man?

 This man is Adam, this is also a representation of all mankind. Adam through deception walked away from God's ways. The man fell among thieves. 

 They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road. Luke 10:30b TLB

 This is what happened to mankind. He fell among thieves, the enemy, and his ways. He was stripped of his right standing before God. He was left half dead, or spiritually dead, that is cut off from God. He was helpless in saving himself. There was nothing he could do to change his condition. 

 Diving deeper, this portion of the parable also reveals a picture of the curse of the Law. This man was stripped of his possessions and left wounded and half dead. This perfectly illustrates the threefold curse of the Law, poverty sickness, and spiritual death. 

 This is the state of mankind apart from Christ. Stripped of right standing before God. No hope within themselves for salvation or deliverance. Left abiding under the curse of poverty, sickness, and spiritual death.

 What Jesus said next reveals more truth about how the Law is done away in Christ. 

 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side Luke 10:31-32 NKJV 

 The man can in no way help himself. We see the priest and Levite pass by and render no aid, render no help, render no life-giving assistance. Why? Because Jesus in His wisdom is revealing to the self-righteous that the Law and blood sacrifices of bulls and goats are powerless to save, to heal, to make alive and give new life.

 Jesus is the once for all sacrifice for all mankind. The Law and sacrifices were powerless to bring life. They only demanded righteousness from the spiritually dead but couldn't provide it. The Law demands but only Grace supplies. Jesus' Finished Work is our only hope and trust. It was only His work that brings life and wholeness and abundance, never our works, performance, or obedience. 

  Jesus in this parable proves once again the Law is not what saves. The Law is powerless to make you right with God. Therefore self-righteousness is a dead-end path. It only leads to destruction and falling to thieves, the enemy, and religious traditions, and leaves you in defeat. It's powerless to save you.

 In the remainder of the parable, Jesus speaks of the good Samaritan. Take note of the introduction of the Samaritan;

 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. Luke 10:33 NKJV

 The good Samaritan was on a journey. He had a mission, he had a purpose. Note the phrase he came where he was, he didn't avoid him. He saw him and had compassion.

 This Good Samaritan is the Lord Jesus Christ. He had a mission, to bring mankind back to the Father. To make a New and Living way so that whosoever believes and freely receives will have eternal life. He came where we were. He stooped down to our level. He found us just as we were and had compassion. This is the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Grace is greater than Law, temple sacrifices, and self-righteousness.

 The Good Samaritan stops for the one. The Good Samaritan renders life-giving aid. He binds up the wounds. He pours in oil and wine. This speaks of the new birth, the infilling of the Spirit, and life under Grace and not the Law. 

 Note He took the man to the inn, a place of rest. He paid the man an overpayment of all the man's needs. This is the picture of rest in Christ, and life under Grace and not Law. 

 This parable is powerful as it reveals the condition of mankind, the plan of salvation, and Jesus' victorious work of Redemption. It reveals the end of the Law and temple sacrifices and points us to the once for all sacrifice of Christ. It points us to Grace, the way of the new.

 In the end, Jesus asked the self-righteous who was neighbor to the man. Note, He didn't ask who was neighborly. Jesus was answering the self-righteous that believed they were in right standing because of their doing. Jesus was pointing out Himself to those leaning on self. 

 In summation, this parable reveals such great truth about Grace and Law. It reveals just how much God loves us and cares for us.  It reveals Grace is the answer for lost and dying humanity. Jesus came to bring us the Good News. Jesus is our Good Samaritan who seeks us out, who finds us, and who has compassion on us. He is such a Good God! 

Image by debradeka from Pixabay

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Grace vs Law: Jesus' temptation

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 We've begun a study contrasting Law and Grace. Grace became a much-studied topic over the last few years. Yet with all the emphasis on Grace, many believers and various ministries still cling to Law in some form or fashion. 

 What is the Law? What is Grace? The Law refers to either the Ten Commandments or the whole of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. Some mistakenly claim the Law was only the Ten but tradition made it into the 613 commands Jesus lived under. Not so, the Law has 613 commands given by God, not tradition.

 So what is the Law? The Law is the 613 commands given by God to the Hebrews. The Law is God's perfect standard. It is rigid and unbending. It demands and never supplies. Being under Law is living the Christian life legalistically. This speaks of one who follows, keeps, and abides in outward rules and regulations that produce no inward change. The Law is also any action, performance, or behavior engaged in, with the intent to gain God's love, goodness, favor, acceptance, mercy, and blessing.   

 What is Grace? Grace is the unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor of God. When this unearned favor is received, it produces empowerment, releasing His divine influence upon the heart. Jesus is the person of Grace. Jesus is the center of it all. Grace reminds us that the work is already done, finished, and has nothing to do with us, our part is to trust in, believe, and just freely receive.

 With this understanding, we can further examine the contrast between Law and Grace. With this rooted in our hearts and minds, we can readily see the dangers of mixing Law and Grace. 

 As we study the Scriptures, we can see illustrations of Jesus (Grace), and the Law. How Jesus is greater than the Law. How Jesus came to fulfill and finish the Law bringing a new and living way to our Father. 

 Look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel chapter 4. Jesus was in the wilderness and the enemy came to tempt Him. Note the first thing the enemy said to Jesus. 

 And the tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be turned into bread.” Matthew 4:3 MEV

 The enemy is crafty and clever. Note how the enemy addressed the Lord Jesus. The enemy said, "if you are the Son of God..." This is the first clue the enemy gave away about his works of temptation. The enemy didn't call Jesus what the Father called Him. 

 This is what the Father Said to Jesus;

And a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 MEV

 The enemy didn't want to remind Jesus of what God said about Him. His temptation wasn't to break the fast. It's not a sin to eat or break a fast. Where was the command the Father had given Jesus to not eat for more than 40 days? So often tradition has read it into this passage that the temptation was to eat and break the fast. 

 Still others claim the temptation was to perform a miracle at the whim of the enemy. To prove His Sonship by doing a miracle. This is not plausible because of the response Jesus gave to the enemy satan. 

 What exactly was this temptation then? The enemy, refused to refer to Jesus the way God, the Father did. The enemy told Him to turn stones into bread. The temptation was for Jesus, the person of Grace, to find sustenance and life through the stones, that is the Law. 

 Take note of Jesus' response;

But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 MEV

 Jesus knew what the Father spoke over Him. He rebuked satan. He showed him that He was sustained by the Words spoken by God and not by performance, not by following the ministry of death and condemnation written on stones.

 Jesus showed us a powerful point that will help us walk in victory during times of temptation or seasons of accusations by the enemy and religion. We must come out of agreement with the lying words of condemnation and death. We must come into agreement with what God declared over our life. He said we are His children. He said we are the Righteousness of God in Christ. He said we are accepted and approved. He said we are forever forgiven and made new in Him. He declared He is Faithful, even when we are faithless. We are secure in Him for all eternity.

 The enemy wants to tempt the Church into finding its sustenance and nourishment from the Law. Some teach that we need the Law to grow. That we are saved by Grace but sanctified by Law. 

 The enemy tries to convince believers that sure we begin by Grace, but our nourishment spiritually is to follow and abide under the Law. This is why so much preaching and teaching isn't centered around Jesus' Finished Work, but rather on our works, and performance. Jesus is removed from the focal point and our actions, achievements and accomplishments are exalted to center stage. 

 Grace counters this by reminding us of who we are, and what He said about us. Grace compels us to place Jesus back to the central focal point of our Faith. Grace reminds us we can't live up to the demands of the Law, but Jesus did and fulfilled it. We are no longer under Law but Grace. 

 In summation, let's not continue looking for our sustenance and nourishment and growth by living under Law. Let's live by the Words spoken by our Father. he declared it is Finished. Let's agree with that. Let's live life loved by our Savior, not by trying to become our own savior through, our doing more, performance, or good works. Jesus is our Savior not our behavior. Grace!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Grace versus Law

 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 MEV

 Grace is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a theological topic. It is not simply another Bible subject that we study like many others but has no actual application in our lives. It is not a new fad or trend. 

 In many quarters of the Body of Christ, especially those in Spirit-filled circles, often spiritual topics become trendy or faddish for a season. For instance, spiritual warfare was a flashy trend in the early to mid-1990s. Don't misunderstand, there is a spiritual truth concerning spiritual warfare, but during this phase, it was emphasized in such a way that it was turned into a fad or trend, and Christians after a time lost interest.

 Grace is not a fad or a trend. Although I will be the first to admit around 2010 to nearly 2018 Grace seemed to be a trend and fad in many church circles. In truth part of this was religious tradition's response to God actually bringing the truth of Grace back to the forefront of Christianity. Many Christian circles got excited about Grace. However, now that the trend is waning can we say we still keep Grace at the forefront?

 Understand, Grace is not waning. Grace is the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus is the person of Grace manifested here on earth. Grace is our life in the Spirit, without Grace we will default back to works. Don't allow Grace to be a mere trend or fad. 

 With this understanding, it seemed good to begin a new series of studies concerning Grace and Law. God has opened my eyes to even more illustrations of His Grace versus the Old Covenant Law. God has revealed in His Word that when Jesus came the Law was becoming obsolete and ready to be fulfilled once for all time.

 The challenge of fully embracing Grace is the default setting of man to return to toil and labor in order to gain God's approval. We see it all around us. We see some believers as more special, or more accepted than others. When a fellow Christian is sick, many seem to conclude because of the person's works they "deserve" to be healed. We are flowing in a mixture of Grace and Law when we embrace such thinking.

 Grace is the way of the New Covenant. The entire New Covenant is rooted in Grace. This New Covenant is cut between the Father and the Son. Those who receive it by simple Faith believing are the beneficiaries. This New Covenant then is based on Jesus' performance and works never, not at any time, is it based on our own. It's Grace from beginning to end. Those proclaiming God's provisions under the New are conditional, are blinded by tradition and are still preaching Old Covenant Law.

 Some may say, that's absurd, that the covenant is between the Father and the Son. Let the Word reveal an illustration for you. In 2 Samuel we see the perfect illustration of this.  David had made a covenant between himself and Jonathon. David, wanting to honor that covenant sought out those of the house of Saul. He found out about Mephibosheth and brought him to his abode. He provided freely all things for him and put him at the king's table to feast. What covenant did Mephibosheth personally make with David? 

 He made none. Mephibosheth simply was the beneficiary of a covenant cut between David and Jonathon. That is a perfect illustration of Grace and this New Covenant. 

 Yet through religious traditions, many still think we have a part to play. Under performance-based faith, if we were Mephibosheth we'd say "gotta get busy earning my place at the king's table." If we made a mess, we'd say "I can't sit at the King's table." We would disqualify ourselves.

 In the 1980s musical Annie, a film adapted from the comic strip, we see the title character upon arriving at the mansion of Mr. Warbucks, where she has been offered a week of luxury, immediately grab a scrub brush and bucket. She tries to work and is promptly stopped. She is reminded she is there as a guest. She is there, not based on her merit but on Mr. Warbuck's. She responds by asking how will she earn her time there?

 Isn't this the picture of Christians? We have been given the provision of eternal life. The God kind of life. The life that is never ending and finds its fulfillment in Him. He is our Righteousness, we are no longer in rags of self-righteousness but clothed in robes of Righteousness. We are now accepted and approved based on Christ, not ourselves. What is our response? Grab the proverbial scrub brush and bucket and go to work earning this robe. 

 Think of this great Grace. What could you do to earn a place in God's Kingdom? You were an enemy of God, to begin with. What condition could be placed on you then? You weren't in any place to meet expectations or demands. What could you offer to God that would allow you to gain acceptance and approval? This is why Grace IS the Gospel. Jesus is our acceptance and approval. Jesus is the Grace of God manifest.

 In summation, Grace is the New Covenant. Works, performance, and conditional provision are all Old Covenant. Let's begin to reprogram our thinking and train ourselves to default to Grace and not to performance. Let's honor Jesus' once for all sacrifice and this New Covenant of Grace and Righteousness. 

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Faithful and True

Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle.  Revelation 19:11 CJB 

 Whenever we hear about God what comes to mind? That He is Love? That God is always Good? That He is our Father? All of these are wonderful and amazing attributes of God. Have you ever heard though that He is Faithful? 

 We may have heard of this attribute of our Father, through hymns or a Scripture reading. However, through traditional religious instruction, it is possible we as believers have not fully grasped just how amazing this attribute of God really is. Let's explore this attribute of God further.

 The Faithfulness of God is an astounding and astonishing expression of God's Love, mercy, and amazing Grace. As men, we look at the failures, the falling, and the foul-ups of others or ourselves and conclude God must be finished with us. We look upon our circumstances or situation and see impossibility. Yet in the midst of it all, He is there shining bright and drawing us close. He is there turning things around for good, working miracles, and restoring all that's been lost.   

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

 God's Love and Faithfulness are there for us no matter what. This is what makes God so Good! That He is always keeping His Word. He doesn't make a promise to us and then fail to keep that promise. He is Faithful and true.

 The enemy, the world system, the religious traditions of men, and contradictory circumstances work overtime it seems sometimes to convince us that God is unfaithful and will not keep His Word. That He will let us fall, He will walk away if we mess up one more time. The temptation is to get us to quit believing that God is Good and Faithful and true.

 Look at Sarah;

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 NKJV

 Sarah received strength by faith to trust God to conceive. Why? Because she counted God to be a Faithful Father! God's Word and promises are true. They are true not because we have experienced them. They are true because God, who is Faithful, declared them.

 We therefore can place our whole trust in God our Father no matter what we are facing. No matter the situation, we can trust Him. No matter what we are experiencing we can trust that He is there for us and there with us and will do what He said He will do.

 God's Faithfulness never ceases. His Love is steadfast and unending. No matter how far we've gone His Love is still there searching and finding us. God's Faithfulness and Love are what compels Him to leave the ninety-nine, and seek out the one. His Grace is inexhaustible. He is Faithful and true!

 In summation, no matter what you're going through, know God is there. He has not forgotten you or forsaken you. He is the One who holds you in His unfailing hands. He has engraved your name in the palm of His hands. There is nothing impossible with God and there is nothing you can do that could change or alter His Faithful Love for you. What a Loving Faithful Father He is. He is for you not against you, rejoice child of God! 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay