LAW-LIVING vs GRACE-LIVING

We rejoice in the fact that we live “under grace” rather than “under the law.” We feel that law-living, with all the “thou shalls” and “thou shall nots,” would be a demanding, dreary existence. By contrast we see grace-living as warm, comfortable and full of joy.

We thank God for the fact that we live in a post-resurrection period rather than the era characterized by the Mosaic law and the interpretations it spawned. But grace-living is as difficult as law-living.

While law-living had  hundreds of specific requirements, at least each person knew exactly what was expected.  His religious duties were outlined in detail. Everyone was expected to meet the same requirements. By contrast, grace-living requires each of us to constantly seek and find, within the framework of scripture, God’s will. Grace-living for me may not be exactly the same as grace-living for you. And we celebrate this flexibility.

The Mosaic law was first given to a group of people who had no training or experience in developing their own society and culture.  They had been slaves for many generations. The law-living required of them had societal and sanitation aspects, as well as spiritual considerations. The commands of the Torah were only the ABCs of Gods revelation of himself. Jehovah 101 if you will.

By the time Jesus was born, God expected the Hebrew people to be ready for a more personal, detailed expression of His character and nature. Jesus was the advanced course given by a Father that longed to be known and understood by those He loved. This explains Jesus’ statement in John 14:9 “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

Jesus did not cancel the ABCs of earlier times. He expanded them and built on them. He expects us to follow the “Thou shalt love” commands of Matthew 22:37-40 just as rigorously as the rabbis of his day followed the Mosaic law.

Don’t Look Back

The disciples literally and figuratively ran for cover Thursday night after Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. But by Sunday they were back together, perhaps in the same room where they had eaten the Passover meal with Jesus less than seventy-two hours earlier.

When Jesus came to them He did not speak even one word of condemnation or blame. He returned to them, not in a spirit of disappointment or criticism, but in a spirit of love. He did not remind them of the past with words of “Why didn’t you…?” Instead, He directed them toward the future with thoughts of “From now on you must…”

Jesus knew only a little time would pass between the resurrection and the ascension. There was too much teaching that needed to be done for him to spend time rehashing their mistakes. He wanted to concentrate his time on preparations for spreading the gospel.

Gethsemane was a defeat in the past. They had to move beyond it.

The resurrection was a victory in the present. They could celebrate it, but not linger there.

Pentecost was a gift in the future. They needed to be prepared for it.

We are Christ’s disciples, and the Holy Spirit comes to us with much the same message. Our mistakes and sins of the past have been forgiven and forgotten by a merciful God. Yes, Satan defeated us in some of the old spiritual battles, but we must forget them.

God has accepted us into his family and established a permanent, personal love relationship with each of us. That is a glorious victory. We can celebrate it every morning and remember it every evening with amazement and gratitude. But we must not remain immobile and inactive in the warm comfort zone of his love.

We are called to leave the victory celebration and tell people  in the alleys and streets that God loves them. Each of us is to have our own personal Pentecost where the Holy Spirit fills us and activates us to tell the Good News.

When Jesus returned to heaven the angel said to the disciples “Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky?” (Acts 1:11 CEV) They were being told to move on in their walk of loyalty and devotion to Jesus.

We are called to do the same. We cannot look back in guilt and doubt to the mistakes of the past. Nor must we spend too much time looking in joy and gratitude to the mountain-top experiences of days gone by.

We are to look forward to the Holy Spirit’s leadership as we “go, and teach all nations.” (Matthew 18:19)

The guilt of our sins is in the past. It is forgiven.

Our salvation is in the present. We can celebrate it.

Our service is in the future. What will we do for Jesus?

Has God Ever?

Has God ever cried?  He did at Bethany (John 11:35)

Has God ever cooked breakfast? He did on the sea shore. (John 21:9)

Has God ever gone to a party?  He did at Cana. (John 2:2)

Has God ever washed feet? He did in the upper room. (John 13:5)

Has God ever scolded slow learners? He did on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:25)

Has God ever defended sinners? He did at the temple. (John 8:10)

Has God ever had dinner with sinners? He did with Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:7)

Has God ever physically attacked sin? He did in the temple.(John 2:15)

Has God ever been tired? He was in Samaria. (John 4:6)

Has God ever gone hiking? He did in Galilee. (Mark 1:35)

Has God ever been hungry? He was in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:2)

Has God ever told anyone to mind their own business? He did Peter. (John 21:22)

Has God ever led a parade? He did in Jerusalem. (Mark 11:7-11)

Has God ever been thirsty? He was on the cross (John 19:28)

Has God ever gone sailing? He did on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 9:11)

Jesus is fully God and fully man. He understands our humanity because He experienced it.

What Did God Do When…

His son was born?

Rearranged the stars                                      Matthew 2:9

Inspired wise men                                          Matthew 2:2

Sent angels                                                        Luke 2:13

Dazzled shepherds                                           Luke 2:20

 

His son began his life’s work?

Inspired John the Baptist                                John 1:36

Appeared as a dove                                          Matthew 3:16

Spoke from heaven                                           Matthew 3:17

Gave approval                                                   Matthew 3:17

 

His son needed encouragement?

Revealed His glory                                             Matthew 17:2

Sent angels                                                          Matthew 4:11

Sent old friends                                                  Matthew 17:3

Spoke from heaven                                            Matthew 17: 5

 

His son died?

Nothing                                                                Matthew 27:46

 

Cruel? Callous? Uncaring?  NO! It was a loving Father allowing his only son to die so that all people could become his adopted children.  It was allowing Jesus to take the guilt of all the sins of all people of all time so those people could live in victory  on  a temporary earth and surrounded with glory in an eternal heaven.

Sins, Adam’s and mine, were a barrier between God and I. Only His “forsaking” of Jesus completed the plan to remove such barriers.  All the combined past and future blessings to me from God can never equal the value of turning away from Jesus and allowing Him to die. Thank you. Thank you, Father.