RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2013

ACCIDENTAL CROSS: ~ LUKE 23:26 ~

“As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26).
We don’t know much about him.
He was just a bit player in the great drama surrounding the death of Christ. For a brief moment, he steps on the stage, plays his part, and then leaves, never to be mentioned again in the Bible.
We know his name: Simon.
We know where he lived: Cyrene, a city in northern Libya, not far from the Mediterranean Sea, about 115 miles east of Benghazi.
We also know that he had two sons: Alexander and Rufus.
Evidently he was a Jew who had come a long distance to be in Jerusalem for the Passover. On this particular Friday morning, he was part of the great throng of people milling around the narrow streets going to and from the Temple. It shouldn’t surprise us that a Jew from Cyrene was thereActs 2:10 says that on the Day of Pentecost there were Jews in Jerusalem from “the part of Libya belonging to Cyrene,” and Acts 6:9 mentions the synagogue of the Cyrenians. Evidently a small colony of people from Cyrene made their permanent residence in Jerusalem. Others (perhaps Simon is among them) would have journeyed from Cyrene to observe Passover. All of this suggests that it wasn’t unusual for a man like Simon to be in Jerusalem at a time like this.

We don’t know how much he knew about Jesus. 

We don’t know how much he knew about Jesus. There would be no reason a man from Cyrene would have heard of this upstart rabbi from Nazareth before coming to Jerusalem. Perhaps he had heard about him and knew something of the controversy surrounding him. It’s entirely possible that he had heard that Jesus had come riding into the city on a donkey the previous Sunday and that great crowds of people had welcomed him.

Why Would Anyone Kill Jesus?

Rumors swirled like wildfire in the crowded confines of the ancient walled city. So it is not impossible that he had heard people talk about Jesus in the days leading up to this particular Friday. Perhaps he had heard about certain miracles Jesus had performed and how some of his followers believed him to be the long-awaited Messiah. But if he had heard that, he would also have heard other rumors, dark things about Jesus and his background, his questionable pedigree, and his run-ins with the scribes and Pharisees. That too was common knowledge in Jerusalem.
One can easily imagine that Simon from Cyrene knew something about Jesus. We can also suppose that he had no fixed or firm opinions about this man. It would be clear enough to an outsider that some loved him, some hated him, and many were perplexed by the controversy swirling around him.
But one question hung in the air.
Why would anyone kill a man like Jesus?

Why would anyone kill Jesus? 

That would have seemed like a great surprise to Simon.
Crucifixion was a hideous way to day. Only the worst criminals were crucified. There were other, more humane means of putting people to death.
What crime had Jesus committed?
Either he was a very bad man or the authorities had made a terrible mistake. Surely the friends of Jesus (and he had many admirers) would have seen this as a shocking miscarriage of justice.
But Simon could not be sure.
He was just a face in the crowd that day.

Dying Already

It happened something like this. Sometime after midnight Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and then arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. From there he was taken by the soldiers to be tried by Annas. Then he went to Caiaphas  the high priest for another hearing. Then the Sanhedrin questioned him. Evidently he spent a few hours in an underground cell. Very early in the morning he was questioned by Pilate who sent him to Herod who sent him back to Pilate who offered the crowd a choice between Barabbas and Jesus.
The crowd chose Barabbas.
Jesus was sent away to be crucified.
Along the way he had been beaten, mocked and scourged. The whole grueling process had left him weakened from exhaustion, hunger, brutal torture, almost unbearable pain and the continual loss of blood. Some older versions of these events show us a Christ who looks like maybe he’s had a bad night but overall is in good shape. This is one place where Mel Gibson is probably closer to the truth. Scourging was a brutal form of torture that left the back torn to ribbons. Often the rib cage was exposed. Victims sometimes died as a result. It was a sort of “death before dying” designed so that a man would die within a few hours or a day or two at most.

Jesus is dying already and he is not yet crucified. 

Jesus is dying already and he is not yet crucified.
Having been sentenced to death, Jesus begins to carry his own cross to the place of execution. The crossbeam alone would weigh around 100 pounds with the entire cross being around 300 pounds. To carry even the crossbeam would be a staggering load for someone in Jesus’ condition.
Step by step he carries the instrument of his own death toward Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.
Every step is agony.
The crown of thorns presses upon his brow.
He has been beaten so badly that his face is covered with bruises, welts and cuts. Human spit mixes with dirt, sweat and blood.
Seeing Christ stumble and fall, the soldiers realize that he will never make it to his own execution. So they grab a man from the crowd.
That man is Simon of Cyrene.

I. A Chance Encounter

Mark 15:21 says that Simon was “passing by on his way in from the country.” Simon came from Cyrene where there was a cosmopolitan mix of Jewish heritage, Roman rule, Greek culture and African influence. He evidently was just coming into the city from the country to observe Passover. The last thing on his mind is meeting Jesus. And he certainly had no idea of carrying his cross. He was merely part of the large crowd of Jews who had come to Jerusalem on that particular day for the slaying of the Passover lamb. It was a high moment in the Jewish religion so Simon wanted to be sure he didn’t miss it. That morning when he woke up somewhere outside of Jerusalem, he couldn’t have imagined what was about to happen. No Jew ever wanted to be anywhere near a crucifixion.

No Jew ever wanted to be anywhere near a crucifixion. 

If he had arrived five minutes earlier or five minutes later, he would have missed the death march of Jesus and someone else would have been forced to carry the cross. Simon never intended to have anything to do with the execution of our Lord.
But God had other plans. What seemed like a chance encounter turns out to be a divine appointment.

II. A Forced Encounter

When Matthew says that they “forced” Simon to carry the cross, he used the same verb he used in Matthew 5:41,

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

It was well known that Roman soldiers could commandeer civilians and force them to carry their bags for a mile. Obviously such a demand would infuriate any Jew forced to obey. The word “forced” in that context really means “grabbed, conscripted, and compelled against your will.” It implies the use of brute force to accomplish a goal. So when the text says that they “forced” Simon to carry the cross, it means he didn’t volunteer. They grabbed him out of the crowd.

Did they know he was from Cyrene? No, probably not. 

Did they know he was from Cyrene? No, probably not.
Did they ask him nicely? No, probably not.
Did they threaten him? We don’t know, but very possibly they did.
Did he have a choice? No, he didn’t. The soldiers weren’t in a bargaining mood that day.
In the space of a moment Simon went from being in the one place he most wanted to be to wanting to be anywhere than where he was. Suddenly in the midst of the commotion, the shouts, with some cheering, others jeering, some weeping, amid the soldiers trying to do their job, and the dying Jesus barely able to walk, here is Simon, the man from Cyrene, compelled to join the greatest drama in human history.

III. A Transforming Encounter

Mark and Luke add two fascinating details to the story. Mark 15:21 tells us that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Why add that detail? Surely Mark knew these two sons, or else why mention them? Could it be that Alexander and Rufus became followers of Jesus and were known to the Christians in Rome who were the first readers of Mark’s gospel? Could the Rufus of Romans 16:13 be the son of Simon of Cyrene? If so, then Simon’s wife (the mother of Rufus) became a personal friend of the Apostle Paul. If this is the right construction of the facts, then it means that Simon first followed Jesus himself and then sometime later led his own family to Christ.
But how did Simon become a believer? We find an enticing hint in one fact that only Luke mentions. He says that Simon was compelled to carry the cross behind Jesus (Luke 23:26). Surely this fact was meant to linger in our minds. I picture Simon being grabbed by the soldiers who made him drag the heavy wooden cross along the hard surface of the narrow streets. It all happened so fast that he had no time to think. The soldiers cared nothing for Jews anyway. If he tried to talk back, they would strike him. If he tried to run away, they would arrest him. No, it was better to obey. But who is this man in front of him? He is so badly beaten that Simon wonders what he could have done to deserve this. Many people seem glad to see him suffer, but here and there others are weeping.

Simon shows us what Christ meant when he said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” 

Who is this man?
What has he done?
Why am I following him?
Simon stands as a symbol for every believer. He shows us what Christ meant when he said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
This is what a Christian is. He is a Christ-follower.
This is what a Christian does. He takes up his cross and follows him.
Here, then, is the story of a man who picked up an “accidental cross” and became the model for everyone who has ever followed Christ. A story like this, repeated in three of the four gospels, brief as it is, has enormous meaning. The Bible never wastes words.
Sometimes we find the cross.
Sometimes the cross finds us.

Sometimes the cross finds us. 

This was Simon’s story. What began as an “accidental cross” for Simon became a “saving cross” for him and his family. That leads me to ask two simple questions with eternal implications:
Have you ever found the cross of Christ?
Has the cross of Christ ever found you?
Simon has a message for you and me. If he could speak across the centuries, I think he would say,

“I found my cross. Have you found yours?”

While preparing this message, I ran across this poem that brings the message home to each heart:
Simon of Cyrene bore
The Cross of Jesus-nothing more
His name is never heard again
Nor honored by historic pen
Nor on the pedestal of fame
His image courts the loud acclaim
Simon of Cyrene bore
The Cross Of Jesus, nothing more,

The Cross of Jesus, nothing more 

And yet, when all our work is done
And golden beams the western sun
Upon a life of wealth and fame
A thousand echoes ring our name
Perhaps our hearts will humbly pray
“Good Master, let my record say
Upon the page Divine, he bore
The cross of Jesus, nothing more.”
We all have choices to make. Are you ready to take up the cross of Jesus and follow him? May God help us to be like Simon and take up the cross and with joyful hearts say, “Lord Jesus, I am ready to follow wherever you lead.”

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 31, 2013 in #FAITH, #GOD, #GRACE, #JESUS, #SALVATION, #STUDY

 

AFFIRMING SOLA SCRIPTURA

The authority of God’s Word has been under attack since the beginning of time (Gen. 3:1). While it is devastating to see the world, in its hatred and distaste for Christ and His Word, denigrate the Scriptures, it is perhaps more infuriating when such attacks come from those who profess some sort of faith in Christ.

Such attacks may come from seeker-driven pastors who elevate themselves and cultural relevance above God’s truth, from liberal pastors who insist that the Bible does not actually mean what it says, or from a massive institution such as the Roman Catholic Church teaching that the words and traditions of men must also hold authority on par with or above that of Scripture. Whatever the assault, God’s Word, which contains all truth necessary for spiritual life and matters, must be defended and upheld by those who claim the name of Christ. 

The Bible Speaks to Its Own Authority and Sufficiency

The Bible contains all that one must know about salvation, repentance, forgiveness of sins, God’s grace and mercy and His wrath and righteous judgment. It offers all that one needs to know in order to live a life of godliness and obedience to Him. It speaks of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and proclaims Him to be Lord over all things (Eph. 1:21–22). Nothing is greater in authority than the Word of God, and thus all things must be judged and tested for truthfulness in light of the Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Christians believe the Bible because of its own claims. What does Scripture say about its own origin, authority and completeness? 

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7–11)

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. (Ps. 119:89)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:105)

Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts. (Ps. 119:97–100)

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:19–21)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:14–17)

Considering especially this last passage, which states beyond doubt that all Scripture literally is God-breathed (θεόπνευστος), and knowing that this Word is sufficient and complete for all spiritual matters, how must one approach the prospect of altering or adding to this Word in any way?

And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. (Deut. 4:1–2)

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. (Prov. 30:5–6)

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. (Rev. 22:18–19)

Trusted Men of Faith Affirm sola Scriptura

The historical, orthodox Christian faith has always affirmed the authority of Scripture alone. One of the battle cries of the Reformation was, of course, sola Scriptura. God’s Word is the Christian’s sole treasury for all things that pertain to life and godliness. And what a treasure it is! To know that the living, active Word of God may be held, read and proclaimed by those who are His own is indeed a great gift.

How many Christians across the globe cling to just a few pages of this precious Word, while others may have several copies simply gathering dust on the bookshelf? Yet God has given this Word to His children so that it may teach them all that they must know about Him. He has graciously given to His own this great weapon, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), that may be wielded as the greatest weapon in this spiritual Truth War which has been ongoing for all ages.

What do some faithful soldiers of the past and present say about this Word and about sola Scriptura?

Charles Spurgeon:

I had sooner have the Word of God at my back than all the armies and navies of all the great powers, aye, than all the forces of nature; for the Word of the Lord is the source of all the power in the universe, and within it there is an infinite supply in reserve. 

(Charles Spurgeon, ‘God’s Word‘)

 The Westminster Confession of Faith:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. 

(Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I,  Section I, IV–VI)

Martin Luther:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience…. May God help me. Amen. 

(Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, 1521)

Dr. John MacArthur:

Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved, and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That — no more, no less — is what sola Scriptura means.

Is the sum of Scriptural truth a sufficient rule of faith for the Christian? We have the Bible’s own assurance that it is. Scripture alone is sufficient to lead us to salvation and fully equip us for life and eternity (2 Tim. 3:15–17). Therefore we may know with certainty that every essential aspect of the apostolic message is included in Scripture.

So the written words of Scripture are binding. Apostolic preaching was equally binding for those who heard it from the apostles’ own mouths. Beyond that, Scripture lays no burden on anyone’s shoulders. But, thank God, His own Word assures us that Scripture is fully sufficient to bring us to salvation and to equip us spiritually for all that God demands of us. 

No man, no church, no religious authority has any warrant from God to augment the inspired Word of Scripture with additional traditions, or to alter the plain sense of it by subjecting it to the rigors of a “traditional” meaning not found in the Word itself. To do so is clearly to invalidate the Word of God — and we know what our Lord thinks of that (Matt. 15:6–9).

(John MacArthur, The Sufficiency of Scripture)

The Teachings of Rome Seek to Undermine Scripture’s Authority

Yet, in spite of Scripture’s clear and plain teaching about itself, there are those who seek to undermine its authority in various ways. There is perhaps no deception greater in scope than that perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church as it pertains to the authority of Scripture in the life of the believer. Roman Catholicism unashamedly denigrates the authority of the Word by elevating the erroneous doctrines of men to be equal to the precious and holy Word of God. 

Below are just a few examples of Rome’s teaching on the doctrine of Scripture, as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age.” 

As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

(CCC, Part One, Section One, Chapter Two, Article 2, II, Paragraph 80, 82) 

It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. (CCC, Part One, Section One, Chapter Two, Article 2, III, Paragraph 95)

The Roman Catholic Church would have one to believe that Scripture can share its authority with the traditions of men. Yet, what should be done when those traditions stand in direct contradiction with Scripture, as do the teachings of Rome? God’s Word demonstrates His attitude toward such an elevation of dangerous and false tradition:

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! (Mark 7:5–9)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col. 2:8)

Thus, the Christian must turn to the Bible to judge tradition. When such action is taken against the teachings of Rome, those teachings must necessarily be rejected.

In affirming the doctrine of sola Scriptura, the Christian must spurn and even denounce any teaching to the contrary. If God’s Word does not possess the sole and final authority in matters of spiritual life, then it cannot be trusted in any capacity. May it never be! May those who love and profess Christ cling to His Word, feast on it daily, and proclaim it without shame.

*Many of the thoughts expressed in this article were gleaned from the following sermon by Pastor Don Green of Truth Community Fellowship: 


Further ReadingDoctrine MattersTo Those Who Would Undermine the Headship of Christ: Fall on Your FacesReformation Must Begin in the Pulpit

 

THE PROPHETIC WHIRLWIND

The study of Bible Prophecy has taken me through every single book of the Bible, and from cover to cover, I see the unfolding of God’s plan for the human race.
The Old Testament prophetically points forward to a coming Redeemer, and this being only one of MANY places in the Old Testament. How do I know this? On the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus chastised the disciples for not understanding the scriptures:
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Today, the disturbing trend amongst Christian churches is to ignore and discredit the study of prophecy and those that teach it. Thirty percent of the Bible is prophetic in nature. So when a teacher or denomination collectively ignore that much scripture, or treat it as if it were unimportant, then they are sorely going to be missing things that tie the past and the present together with events to come.
Two of the harshest condemnations by Christ on anyone in Scriptures, were to the Pharisees (or religious leaders), and to the Laodicean Church (Revelation 3:14-22). One, was for their overt and utter disregard for who the Bible said the Messiah would be (and when), and the other is to a religious group who were lukewarm in their beliefs, neither committing too, nor rejecting Jesus. These two groups are dominating Christendom today both with rejecting prophecy and with the promotion of ecumenicalism.
The study of prophecy is not meant to make one fatalistic about the concerns of this world, but rather, to bring hope and encouragement. It shouldn’t replace evangelism, but deepen it.
CS Lewis once said; “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB)
Rightly dividing the Word will lead you straight to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. It focuses the believer on the world to come, not the trivial things in this life that will pass away as a vapor.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
The proper study of prophecy has the potential to light a fire in the believer that can never be extinguished. It is a powerful tool that God equips the believer with the knowledge and assurance to battle the false, heretical, and damnable doctrines of demons currently spreading around the globe.
Historically, you can go back and see where amillennialism, preterism, replacement theology, and open theism have been inserted into the church. They claim they don’t teach the Rapture for instance, because of the so-called divisiveness that man has come to see in it.
Battle Tactics 101 says to ‘divide and conquer’! So, like that dead Sardis church, the modern church has quit watching and come to abandon watching altogether. Jesus tells them:
“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3:3)
Think about all those who have currently fallen under the sway of cults and heretical belief systems.
They have to openly discard proven history, so how much easier is it for false prophets and teachers to come and speak of things yet to happen?
Currently, we live in the ‘age of information’, so much so that it should be renamed, the ‘age of confusion’. So many competing doctrines, philosophies, religions, political persuasions have bombarded mankind with every sort of belief system you can imagine. They are all intent on telling you that they have cornered the market on ideas and truth, and if you only buy into what they are selling, your life will be all the better. That is why it is so important for a believer to know the whole bible, not just parts of it.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ ” (Titus 2:11-13)
 

PASSOVER AND PALM SUNDAY

– This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley – http://gracethrufaith.com/selah/holidays-and-holy-days/passover-and-palm-sunday/
The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29,34).
John the Baptist had been preaching about the coming Messiah, identifying himself as the forerunner Isaiah had promised over 700 years earlier. Quoting from Isaiah 40:3 John said, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord ‘ ” (John 1:23).
Introducing Jesus to Israel as the Lamb of God was no doubt meant to prompt a comparison between Jesus and the Passover lamb in their minds. Reading about the first Passover (Exodus 12:1-20) from a Christian perspective makes the similarity so clear we wonder how they could have missed it. In fact several hundred Old Testament Prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus and many of these came in the last week of His earthly life during the two events we’ll be celebrating in the next few days, Passover for Israel and Palm Sunday for the Church.
For Christ, Our Passover Lamb, Has Been Sacrificed … 1 Cor. 5:7
By now the Passover story should be familiar to us. The final showdown between God and Pharaoh was coming. Through 9 plagues God sent to demonstrate His power over the pagan gods of Egypt, Pharoah had remained just as obstinate as God had predicted. The 10th plague, the death of all the firstborn, would break Pharoah’s will and free the Israelites from their bondage, but first they had to be protected from the plague.
On the 10th day of the 1st month God had them select a male lamb for each household and inspect it for 3 days to be sure it had no blemish or defect. Then it was slaughtered, and its blood was applied to the door posts of their homes. That night, behind closed doors in their own house, each family ate the lamb quickly with some bitter herbs and unleavened bread, not venturing outside. At midnight the destroying angel came through Egypt and took the life of the first born of every family, except for those who had covered their door posts with lamb’s blood (Exodus 12:1-13, 21-23, 28-30).
The next morning the Israelites were released from their bondage and given the wealth of Egypt, beginning their journey to the Promised Land with God in their midst. They weren’t spared because they were Jewish, or because they had lamb for dinner, but because they applied the lamb’s blood to their door posts believing that it would protect them. They were saved through faith by the blood of the lamb.
Just as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, we are slaves in this world, held in bondage to sin. On that first Palm Sunday, the 10th of the 1st month, our Passover Lamb was selected by allowing Himself to be proclaimed as Israel’s King for the first and only time in His life. When the Pharisees told him to rebuke His disciples for doing so, He said if they kept silent the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:39-40). This was the day ordained in history for His official appearance as their Messiah.
For the next 3 days He was subjected to the most intense questioning of His entire ministry lest there be any defects found in His words or deeds. Then on the 14th He was crucified, releasing us from our bondage to sin, and qualifying us to receive the wealth of His Kingdom. We are saved through faith by the blood of the Lamb. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The Son of Man Wept, The Son of God Warned
As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in from every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone upon another because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41-44).
The prophet Daniel had laid out the schedule for them over 500 years earlier. From the time the Jews were given permission to rebuild Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by the Babylonians, to the coming of the Messiah, there would be 69 periods of 7 years each, or 483 years (Daniel 9:25). History tells us that this permission was given to Nehemiah by the Persian ruler Artaxerxes Longimonus in March of 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-9). The Sunday when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem to the shouts of Psalm 118:25-26 was exactly 483 years later, but by then most of the Jewish leadership no longer took the Bible literally and the validity of predictive prophecy was being denied.
Regardless of their opinion, the Lord held them accountable for knowing when He would visit. Given that hundreds of additional prophecies of His coming had already been fulfilled in their midst, we can see His point. Remember, they were all fulfilled in the span of one lifetime, the one in which He came. There are hundreds more prophecies relating to His Second Coming, and again all will be fulfilled within the span of one lifetime, the one in which He comes (Matt 24:34). And just as it was then, our leaders no longer take the Bible literally and the validity of predictive prophecy is again being denied. But regardless of their opinion, the Lord will hold the people of our day accountable to “recognize the time of God’s coming” just like He did back then.
Who Was That Man?
A few days ago I got an email from someone I assume to be Jewish claiming that Jesus didn’t meet a single requirement to be Israel’s Messiah. I’ve received a number of these over the years and have come to realize they think this way because Israel was looking for a Messiah to fulfill what we know as second coming prophecies. They wanted the Lion of Judah, a powerful warrior king like David, who could throw off the Roman yoke and restore Israel’s kingdom, because that’s what they thought they needed.   They didn’t think they needed a Savior, so when they got the Lamb of God who came to take away their sins they didn’t recognize Him.
Today, because of a similar denial of the validity of prophecy, much of the world is looking for some version of the Lamb of God. They want a gentle teacher who will accept us all and promise to show us the way to peace and plenty. They won’t think they need a conqueror, so when the Lion of Judah comes to utterly destroy His enemies and restore God’s Kingdom, they won’t recognize Him (Matt. 24:30). Like the man said, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
 

THE TWO NATURES

From the book “Rightly Dividing the Word”, by Clarence Larkin, 1920

It is very important that every Christian Believer should understand what the Scriptures teach as to the “Two Natures.” Because of a lack of knowledge of the “Dual Nature” of the “New Born” Soul many a new convert, after rejoicing for a while in his new found hope and then suddenly awakening to the fact that his old fleshly inclinations are not dead, is led to believe that he was never converted, and disheartened and discouraged he begins to drift and finally backslides.

When Nicodemus made his night visit to Jesus, Jesus said unto him, “Except a man be born of water (the Word of God, 1Pe 1:23; Jas 1:18), and of the SPIRIT (Holy Spirit), he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” Joh 3:5. And He gave the reason why. For “that which is born of FLESH is FLESH; and that which is born of SPIRIT is SPIRIT.” Joh 3:6. Here we see two lines of HEREDITY. The “Flesh” line, and the “Spirit” line. The Scriptures speak of the first as the “Natural Man,” and the second as the “Spiritual Man.”

I. THE NATURAL MAN
Of the “Natural Man” the Scriptures say, “That his understanding is darkened.” Eph 4:18. That he cannot receive (perceive) the things of the Spirit of God, for they only can be spiritually discerned. 1Co 2:14. That he is the child of wrath. Eph 2:3. That he is at enmity with God, and cannot please Him. Ro 8:7-8. That his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9), and out of it proceedeth “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness.” Mr 7:21-22. That he is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Eph 2:1. That there is no good thing in him. Ro 7:18. That as the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, or the Leopard his spots, so the “Natural Man” without supernatural help cannot change his character. Jer 13:23.

Now God does not say in this description of the “Natural Man” that none are refined, or cultured, or sweet-tempered, or generous, or charitable, or honest, or truthful, or religious, but that none are RIGHTEOUS, for “ALL have sinned, and come short of the GLORY OF GOD.” Ro 3:23.

II. THE SPIRITUAL MAN
While the “Natural Man” has a human parentage, the “Spiritual Man” has a DIVINE parentage. All life must come from “pre-existing life.” There is no such thing as “Spontaneous Generation” of life. No life can come without parentage. There must be a father and a mother. In the “Spiritual World” the Holy Spirit is the FATHER, and the “Human Heart” is the WOMB (Mother) into which the “SEED” of the “Word of God” is dropped. 1Pe 1:23. If seed in the Natural World is lifeless no plant will spring from it, and if the “Seed of the Word” is not VITALIZED by the “Holy Spirit” when it falls into the human heart there will be no “New Life.” This explains how men and women can read and study the Scriptures and not be converted.

This “New Birth” imparts a “NEW NATURE.” This Nature is SPIRITUAL. “That which is born of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is SPIRIT.” Joh 3:6. This New Nature CANNOT SIN. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed (Life) remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is BORN OF GOD.” 1Jo 3:9. This new “Spiritual Nature” is called “CHRIST IN YOU ” (Col 1:27), and imparts ETERNAL LIFE. “He that hath the Son (Christ in you) hath LIFE.” 1Jo 5:11-12. This “Life” is HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD. Therefore we cannot lose it, and “when Christ who is OUR LIFE shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him IN GLORY.” Col 3:3-4. The “Fruit” of the “Spiritual Life” is-“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness faith, meekness and temperance.” Ga 5:22-23. The Spiritual Man is SPIRITUALLY ENLIGHTENED. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man (the natural man) the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us (the Spiritual Man) by His SPIRIT (Holy Spirit): for the SPIRIT searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1Co 2:9-10.

We see from this description of the “Spiritual Man” that he is not an Evolution or Development of the “Natural Man,” but a “New Creature” or “CREATION.” 2Co 5:17. When the profligate Augustine sat under a Numidian Fig-tree thinking over his past life, there flashed into his memory, vitalized by the Holy Spirit, the words of Ro 13:12-14, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But PUT YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND MAKE NOT PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, TO FULFIL THE LUSTS THEREOF,” and at once the “Seed of the Word” thus dropped into the “Womb of His Heart,” created a “new life,” and the profligate arose from the ground a “New Creature” known thereafter as Saint Augustine.

The Spiritual man then is a “New Creation,” and entirely different from the Natural man, and opposed to him in character, temperament and disposition. So far all is clear, but here we are brought face to face with the PARADOX, that while there are TWO SEPARATE MEN spoken of in the Scriptures, the “Natural Man” and the “Spiritual Man,” these two men make up in the Believer but one PERSONALITY, known as–

III. THE REGENERATED MAN
When the “New Man” is born in the heart of the Believer the “Old Man” does not die. He is still there and very much alive. There are now two natures, diametrically opposed, fighting for the possession of the same body, like two tenants fighting for the possession of the same dwelling house. Paul graphically describes it in Ga 5:17. “For the FLESH (the Old Man) lusteth against the SPIRIT, and the SPIRIT (the New Man) against the FLESH; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” See the Chart The Two Natures. This explains the “SPIRITUAL WARFARE” so vividly portrayed by the Apostle Paul in Ro 7:14-25. This was the Apostle’s own experience after his conversion and before he learned how THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (verses 24-25) to overcome the flesh, and let the Holy Spirit reign in his life. Read Ro 8:1-39.

It is not until we have been “Born Again” that we awake to a knowledge of the depravity of our heart and discover tendencies that we never knew we possessed, and realize the power of sin over us. It is this awakening that startles and dumbfounds us, and makes us doubt our conversion and salvation.

HOW IS THIS WARFARE BETWEEN THE TWO NATURES TO BE CONDUCTED?
1. We must remember that we cannot get rid of the “Old Nature” until the death of our body of “Flesh.” Therefore the warfare must continue until death.

2. We must not try to improve or make a fair showing of the “Flesh.” Ga 6:12. We are to have NO CONFIDENCE in it. Php 3:4.

3. We must STARVE the “Flesh,” and make no provision for it to fulfill the lusts thereof. Ro 13:14.

4. We must FEED the “New Nature.” The “New Nature” at first is but a “babe,” and must be fed with the “Sincere Milk of the Word.” 1Pe 2:2. It must also be fed regularly. The best human literature ever written will not feed and nourish the new nature of the Child of God. We must remember that while we may starve the Old Man, and he may become very feeble and cause little trouble, and we may reckon him dead, he is not dead, and if we begin to feed him again he will revive and recover his strength and give us trouble. This accounts for how some Christians who have lived for years a consecrated spiritual life suddenly fall, having yielded in an unguarded moment to some former habit of their old nature. We must not forget that we cannot feed both Natures at the same time. We cannot be studying the Scriptures and listening to music, or a conversation that gratifies the Flesh, at the same time. Neither must we forget that what feeds one nature will starve the other. The “Spiritual Nature” will starve on novels, and the “Flesh Nature” on the Scriptures.

5. We must “WALK IN THE SPIRIT.” “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the Flesh.” Ga 5:16.

The Scriptures mention three ways in which the Believer can overcome the “Flesh.”

1. BY AMPUTATION.

“If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off.” Mt 18:8-9. Not literally, but if thy hand causes thee to steal, stop at once, don’t taper off. If thy foot causeth thee to go to the haunts of sin, stop short as if you were footless. “If thine eye offend thee,” causeth thee to look upon a woman to lust after her, it were better if you were suddenly to lose the power of sight.

2. BY MORTIFICATION.

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,” etc. Col 3:5-10; Ro 8:13. To mortify is to cause some part of a living body to die. There are some things we cannot amputate, they must be removed in some other way. So there are things in our lives that take time to overcome, as weak nerves, impatience, pride, etc., these we must destroy by mortification. This treatment is more “medical” than “surgical,” and is INTERNAL rather than external. It is not by our own effort, but by letting GOD “work in us.” Php 2:12-13.

3. BY LIMITATION.

“Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Heb 12:1.

There is a difference between “Weights” and “Sins.” All “weights” are not “sins,” though all “sins” are “weights.” It is not a sin to be a slave to your business, nor to be so absorbed in social service as to neglect other important duties, but these things are “weights” and prevent the proper cultivation of the Spiritual life and should be limited. On the other hand every sin is a “weight” for it loads us down and interferes with our running the Christian race.

 

FAITH AND WORKS

From the book “Rightly Dividing the Word”, by Clarence Larkin, 1920

We hear a great deal about “Faith” and “Works.” Some say we are saved by “Faith” alone, others make a great deal of “Works.” Some say that both are necessary to salvation for the same reason that a bird cannot fly without two wings, or that you cannot make progress in a boat without two oars. One quotes Paul, who says– “That a man is justified by FAITH, WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW” (Ro 3:28), the other quotes James, who says– “Ye see then how that by WORKS a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Jas 2:24. But the Apostle James is not speaking of the “Doctrine of JUSTIFICATION,” but of a man justifying himself before men. The illustration he uses is that of Abraham offering up his son Isaac. Abraham was a man of faith, but the only way he could make it visible to the men of his generation was by his WORKS, so God commanded him to offer up his son Isaac. Ge 22:1-2. Abraham’s works had nothing to do with his salvation, but simply bore witness to his faith, for Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. Jas 2:21-26.

So great was Abraham’s faith in God’s promise as to Isaac being the one through whom the promised seed was to come, that he believed that if he offered him up as commanded, that God would raise him from the dead. Heb 11:17-19. In like manner Rabab’s faith was justified or made visible by her works when she tied the “Scarlet Cord” in her window. Jos 2:15-21. And to show the relation of “Works” to “Faith” the Apostle ends by saying– “For as the `body’ without the `spirit’ is dead, so faith without `works’ is dead also,” that is, is DEAD FAITH, for if a man does not make his faith visible by his works it is a question whether he has any faith at all.

Now it is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul uses this same incident of Abraham offering up his son Isaac to prove that Abraham was justified by “Faith” without “Works.”

“If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; BUT NOT BEFORE GOD. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham BELIEVED GOD, and it was COUNTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Ro 4:2-3; Ge 15:6. So we see that it was Abraham’s “Faith” that justified him before GOD, and his “Works” that justified him before MEN.

But I think I hear some one ask– “Does not the Bible say– That we are to `WORK OUT OUR OWN SALVATION?'” Yes, the Apostle Paul in writing to the Philippians says– “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is GOD WHO WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do His good pleasure.” Php 2:12-13. But a man cannot work out what he has not got. He must first have “Salvation” before he can work it out. Paul was writing to the “Saints” at Philippi, to those who were already saved. The doctrine the Apostle desired to express was that “Salvation” included more than the mere escape from the “Penalty of Sin,” it meant also escape from the “Power” and “Presence of Sin,” and this meant that they must work or strive with “fear and trembling” to overcome indwelling sin, for it was God who would work in them, if they would let Him, to make the fruits of Salvation complete in their lives. So we see that we are saved by “Faith” and not by “Works,” but “Works” have their place in the Believer’s life as we shall see.

I. FAITH
The Bible definition of “Faith” is– “Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen” (Heb 11:1), and in the remaining verses of the chapter the Apostle illustrates his definition by the conduct of the Old Testament worthies that he names. I hold in my hand a check, it is the substance (on paper) of the money I hope to get when I cash it, and the evidence (in black and white) of the money that I have not as yet seen.

One of the most remarkable illustrations of “Faith” in the Scriptures is that of the Prophet Jeremiah when he was told to purchase the “Field of Anathoth.” Jer 32:6-44. At first sight it seems to be the wildest real estate speculation on record. Jeremiah had just prophesied that the Children of Israel were to be carried away into captivity to Babylon for 70 years, then why should he purchase the “Field of Anathoth,” for he would not live to return and claim it, and probably none of his relatives would. But to show his faith in the Divine promise that at the end of the “Seventy Years” the Children of Israel would return and claim their possessions, he tells us that he paid the money for the “Field,” and took the “evidences of the purchase” or deeds, and put them in an earthen vessel. Why in an earthen vessel? Because an iron vessel would have rusted, or a wooden vessel decayed in the “Seventy Years.” Now we learn from this transaction that Faith is an INVESTMENT IN THE DIVINE PROMISES.

This is beautifully illustrated in the lives of the Old Testament patriarchs. Noah invested in the “Divine Promise” when he built the Ark. Abraham invested in the “Divine Promise” when he left his home at Ur and journeyed to Canaan, and when his beloved Sarah died, he bought the “Cave of Machpelah” to bury her in rather than take her remains back to Ur of the Chaldees, because he believed the promise that his seed should inherit the Land of Canaan forever. Jacob invested in the same “Divine Promise,” when on his deathbed in Egypt lie charged his sons to carry his body back to Canaan and entomb it in the “Cave of Machpelah.” Ge 49:29-31. And Joseph did the same when he took an oath of his brethren that they would carry his bones back with them when they returned to Canaan. Ge 50:24-26. Moses invested in the same “Promise” when by faith, when he was come to years, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to stiffer affliction with the people of God, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Heb 11:23-27.

As Christians we should invest in the “Divine Promises” as to our PRESENT SALVATION. There are three elements in “saving faith.” (1). KNOWLEDGE. A man cannot believe in something he knows nothing about. (2). BELIEF. A man may know about a thing but not believe in it. (3). DEPENDENCE. A man may know about a thing and believe in it, and yet put no dependence on it. To illustrate, you are on a sinking ship, a lifeboat puts out from the shore and approaches the ship unknown to you. Some one tells you of the lifeboat, that is knowledge. You watch the lifeboat as it carries load after load of passengers safely to the shore and you are convinced of its saving power, that is belief. But your knowledge of the existence of the lifeboat, and your belief in its ability to save you, will not save you unless you get in the boat and depend on it to save you, that is FAITH.

Let us take a promise of Christ as to the PRESENT SALVATION of the Believer.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that HEARETH MY WORD (Knowledge), and BELIEVETH ON HIM that sent me (Faith), HATH (not will have some time) EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into condemnation (judgment); but IS PASSED from death to LIFE.” Joh 5:24.

Now can you invest in that promise of Christ as to your heavenly inheritance like Abraham, Jacob and Joseph did as to their earthly inheritance? If so you have saving faith.

But you say I do not feel saved. Well, I do not know that when a man receives the “Title Deed” to a property that he has any peculiar sensation or feeling about it. It is not feeling but the “Title Deed” that evidences his right to the property. You cannot expect interest (feeling) until you have invested the principal, and then you have to wait until the interest is due. Feeling does not come first. Feeling is not the root, faith is the root, feeling is the FRUIT. See the diagram, Feeling is the Fruit not the Root of Salvation.

We must not only invest in the “Divine Promises” as to our Salvation, but we must TRAFFIC in them, conduct our Christian work and service in dependence on them. If God has promised to supply all our need in Christian Service “according to HIS RICHES IN GLORY” (Php 4:19), then let us bank on that promise and we will never lack the means to carry on His work.

II. WORKS
While a Christian is not saved by “Works,” he is to be rewarded for his “works.” “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels; and then He shall reward every man ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS.” Mt 16:27. Believers will be rewarded at the “Judgment Seat of Christ.” “For we (Believers) must all appear before the `Judgment Seat of Christ;’ that every one may receive the things DONE IN HIS BODY (that is while he was alive), according to that he hath done, whether it be GOOD or BAD.” 2Co 5:10.

The character of these works must be Christian. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST. Now if any man build upon this foundation (with) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day (Judgment Day) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed BY FIRE; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a REWARD. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer LOSS; but he himself SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” 1Co 3:11-15.

We see from this that even the works of the Believer are not all good or worthy of reward. Some may have been done with the wrong motive, or the “Hireling Spirit,” and they shall be consumed as wood, hay and stubble, while the good works, likened unto gold, silver, and precious stones, will pass through the “fiery test” untarnished. The rewards that will be given are “crowns.” See the account of the “Judgment Seat of Christ” in the chapter on “The Judgments.”

Such “works” as “penance,” “crucifixion of the flesh,” “fastings,” etc., done for the purpose of winning merit, are not counted on the balance sheet of works. The sad feature of the “Judgment of Rewards” is, that while those whose works are burned up are SAVED, they must remain rewardless, and therefore crownless, for all eternity.

 

LAW AND GRACE

From the book “Rightly Dividing the Word”, by Clarence Larkin, 1920

The Scriptures make a clear distinction between “Law” and “Grace,” putting “Law” in one Dispensation and “Grace” in another. “The `Law’ was given by (through) Moses, but `Grace’ and `Truth’ came by (through) Jesus Christ.” Joh 1:17. By the “Law” we are to understand the “MOSAIC LAW,” the “Law” given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. It was threefold.

1. THE MORAL LAW. Ex 20:1-17. (The Ten Commandments.)

2. THE CIVIL LAW. Ex 21:1-24:18.

3. THE CEREMONIAL LAW. Ex 25:1-40:38.

We are not to understand that there was no “Law” before Moses, or no “Grace” before Jesus Christ, for “sin” is the “transgression of the law,” (1Jo 3:4), and Adam’s sin was the transgression of the law that God laid down as to the eating of the fruit of the Garden, and “Grace” was revealed and exercised when Adam and Eve were spared the penalty of their sin. In Ro 2:12 the Apostle Paul speaks of those who were “without law” from Eden until Moses. He does not mean that they were not accountable for their conduct, for by their actions they showed that there was an “unwritten law” in their hearts that their conscience bore witness to. Ro 2:14-15. What Paul meant was that there was no “Written Law,” that is, no “MOSAIC LAW,” before the days of Moses. Let it be understood then in this discussion that by “Law” is meant the “Mosaic Law,” and that there can be no mixing or blending of “Law” and “Grace” in this or any other Dispensation.

I. THE LAW

1. THE “LAW” WAS NOT GIVEN TO THE GENTILES.

“When the Gentiles, WHICH HAVE NOT THE LAW do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having NOT THE LAW, are a law unto themselves.” Ro 2:14.

The “Law” was given to Israel exclusively. For illustration take the “Law of the Sabbath.” It was not given to the Gentiles. It was given as the “SIGN” of the “Mosaic Covenant.” Ex 31:13; Eze 20:12,19-21. The “Sabbath Day” belongs to the Jews alone and is not binding on the Gentiles (the World), or on the Church (Christians), though Christians are expected to observe the “First Day of the Week” for rest and worship. Nowhere in the Bible do we find God finding fault with any nation or people, except the Jews, for not observing the Sabbath. As a Jewish ordinance it has never been abrogated, changed, or transferred to any other day of the week, or to any other people. It is now in abeyance as foretold in Ho 2:11; 3:4-5, it would be. It is to be resumed when the Jews are nationally restored to their own land. Isa 66:23; Eze 44:24; 46:1-3.

2. THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW.

The “Law” was not given to JUSTIFY men, for by the “deeds of the Law” shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight. Ro 3:20; Ga 2:16. The “Law” was given that men might know what sin is, “for by the `Law’ is the knowledge of sin,” (Ro 3:20), for men would have not known that “covetousness” was sin, if the “Law” had not said– “Thou shall not COVET.” Ro 7:7. The “Law” was given to “stop men’s mouths,” and keep men from boasting of their own righteousness, and see themselves guilty before God. Ro 3:19. The “Law” was given to be a “Schoolmaster” to lead men to Christ. Ga 3:24-25. All the rites and ceremonies of the “Ceremonial Law” pointed to Christ, such as the Feasts and Offerings. Now that Christ has come neither Jew nor Gentile is under the “Mosaic Law.” for He fulfilled the “Law,” that is, all the rites and ceremonies of the “Law” found their fulfilment in Him. Christ then “is the `END OF THE LAW’ for Righteousness to every one that BELIEVETH.” Ro 10:4. Therefore Believers are “DEAD TO THE LAW,” (Ro 7:4; Ga 2:19), that is, they are no longer under the bondage of “Legalism,” but under GRACE.

II. GRACE
“By Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT OF GOD; not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9.

From this scripture we see that “Grace” is a GIFT. If a man receive salvation in exchange for his works, then salvation is but another word for “wages.” Or if Salvation is given in exchange for benefits bestowed, then it is simply a “reward.” Now if a man receive Salvation as wages, or as a reward, then Salvation is not a GIFT but something that he was entitled to, and therefore is not of GRACE. Grace is not something given us to help us keep the Law, Grace is UNDESERVED MERCY.

The “Source” of Grace is GOD’S LOVE. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Joh 3:16.

The “Channel” of Grace is CHRIST. “Grace and Truth came BY JESUS CHRIST.” Joh 1:17; Tit 2:11.

The “Instrument” of Grace is FAITH. “By Grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH.” Eph 2:8. Not faith in a thing, as some good deed we have done, but faith in a PERSON, and that person JESUS CHRIST.

That we may the better see the difference between “Law” and “Grace” let us contrast them.

1. “BLOOD” AND “WINE.”

The first miracle that Moses performed as the representative of the “Law” was to turn water into BLOOD, typical of DEATH. Ex 7:19-21. The first miracle that Jesus performed as the representative of “Grace” was to turn water into WINE, typical of LIFE. Joh 2:7-11.

2. “DARKNESS” AND “LIGHT.”

All the “Law” can do is to produce DARKNESS, as when Moses caused a “thick darkness” to cover the land of Egypt. Ex 10:22-23. But “Grace” gives LIGHT. Jesus said– “I am the LIGHT of the World.” Joh 9:5. Jesus came to give not only sight to the physically blind but to the spiritually blind as well.

3. “DEATH” AND “LIFE.”

The last scene in Egypt was DEATH. The death of the first-born. Ex 12:29-30. The “End of the Law” is DEATH. Ro 6:23. One of the last miracles of Christ was to give LIFE, the resurrection of Lazarus. Joh 11:41-44. Jesus came to bring LIFE and IMMORTALITY to light, through the “Gospel of Grace.” The first time the “Law” was proclaimed 3000 were KILLED. Ex 32:26-28. The first time that “Grace” was preached 3000 were SAVED. Ac 2:41.

4. “STRIPPED” AND “CLOTHED.”

We are by nature like the man in the Parable of the Good Samaritan robbed and stripped and left by the wayside to die. Lu 10:30-37. The “Law,” like the “Priest” and the “Levite,” passes by and gives no help, while “Grace” comes where we are, and like the “Good Samaritan” pours in oil and wine, and puts us in his place on his beast, and provides for our future.

5. “SEEK” AND “SAVE.”

The “Law” says– “SEEK the Lord while He may be found.” “Grace” says– “The Son of Man is come to `SEEK AND TO SAVE’ that which was lost.” Lu 19:10. What a vista the Parable of the “Lost Sheep” opens up. It was not so much the sheep that was lost, as that a man had LOST A SHEEP. When Adam sinned and wandered away, God said– “Adam, if you can do without me, I cannot do without you.” Then it was that “Grace” began its work.

6. “DO AND LIVE,” AND “LIVE AND DO.”

The “Law” says– “DO and thou shalt Live.” Le 18:5. “Grace” says– “IT IS FINISHED.” No man is justified by his works, but as a Believer he will be rewarded for his works. We are not to work to the Cross, but from the Cross.

7. “SERVANTS” AND “SONS.”

The “Law” said to Moses at the “Burning Bush”– “Put OFF thy shoes.” Ex 3:3-5. Why? Thou art a SERVANT. Heb 3:5. “Grace” said to the “Prodigal” when he returned home– “Put ON thy shoes.” Lu 15:22. Why? Because he was a SON. Lu 15:24.

THE LAW SAYS “Keep Off,” GRACE SAYS “Embrace Him.” THE LAW SAYS “Bow the Knee,” GRACE SAYS “Kiss Him.” THE LAW SAYS “Punish,” GRACE SAYS “Forgive.” THE LAW SAYS “Strip Him,” GRACE SAYS “Best Robe.” THE LAW “Kills,” GRACE “Makes Alive.”

Under the “Law” the “SHEEP” died for the “Shepherd.” Under “Grace” the “SHEPHERD” died for the “Sheep.” Joh 10:14-15.

THE LAW demands holiness.

GRACE gives holiness.

THE LAW says– Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

GRACE says– Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity.

THE LAW says– Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

GRACE says– Herein is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

THE LAW speaks of priestly sacrifices offered year by year continually, which could never make the comers thereunto perfect.

GRACE says– But this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever . . . by one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

THE LAW declares– That as many as have sinned in the Law, shall be judged by the Law.

GRACE declares– That there is no condemnation (Judgment for Sin) for those who are in Christ Jesus for they HAVE PASSED from Death unto Life. Joh 5:24.

THE PURPOSE OF GRACE
The “Purpose” of God’s Grace is revealed in Eph 2:7, as being– “That in the `Ages to Come’ He might show the EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE.” In the British Museum there are gathered from every nation and land under the sun specimens of all kinds of animal, vegetable, and mineral life. No expense has been spared to make the collection complete. So God is gathering from every tribe, people, and nation specimens of His “Grace,” so that in the “Ages to Come” He may exhibit these trophies of “Grace” as samples of what the Gospel can do, and the sweet thought of it is, that there are no duplicates. You may think that you are too bad, too vile, too cranky, too odd and peculiar to be saved, but that is why God wants you, for there will only be SPECIMEN SINNERS up there, and God wants to show the Universe that the Gospel is the “POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH.” Ro 1:16.