Given Versus Came #5

Sunday, February 26, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Notice Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” When Jesus Christ came to Earth, specifically to Israel, He was their greatest sign. The JEHOVAH God who had dealt so frighteningly with Moses on Sinai when delivering the Law, had now revealed Himself by taking on a human body! Jesus, living among other Jews, was indeed “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” JEHOVAH God came to His own people, Israel, but they rejected Him. Moreover, they conspired with the Gentiles to kill Him (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-28). Still, it was in God’s design to use man’s free will to accomplish His end. With man crucifying Christ, there would be shed blood, allowing the implementation of a new covenant for Israel. Please see Hebrews 8:8-13: “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah….” “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins(Romans 11:27—verse 26 identifies this as Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from our day).

Israel accumulated much wrath under the Old Covenant, but grace would cover it. Jeremiah 31:2 speaks of Israel’s redemption and restoration: “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Zechariah 12:10 describes this Second Coming: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications….” As does Acts 3:19,20: “[Israel] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ….”

With Jesus Christ coming once to Israel to shed His blood, He will return to ratify the covenant that typifies for them “grace and truth….”

Given Versus Came #4

Saturday, February 25, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Today’s Scripture highlights how the Law was dispensed from a distance. God did not speak directly to Israel on Mount Sinai when He issued and defined the Law. No, He instructed Moses to come up and meet with Him. Moses then descended and delivered the Law to the Israelites. The Jews were kept at a distance. We have neither time nor space to detail that with quotations, but you can refer to Exodus chapters 19-32.

In opening his Gospel Record of Christ’s earthly ministry, John the Apostle moved from the Law—a distant, cold, strict system—to something called “grace and truth.” Notice the contrasting conjunction “but:” “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit is actually highlighting the advantageous and new system that God will institute in Israel one day. To wit, today’s Scripture is really demarcating two covenants—the “Old Covenant” (Law of Moses) and the “New Covenant” (Law of Messiah).

We remind ourselves of the Mosaic Law’s true purpose, Romans 3:19,20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Jews and Gentiles] may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Old Covenant was never meant to be permanent: it was to serve one purpose. It was to show the whole world—every Jew, every Gentile—that they were sinners. There would be no argument or doubt, as God made it very clear. Religion and man’s efforts are not the answer! Grace and God’s efforts are the answer!

The Law was “given” by Moses, yes. But, grace and truth “came” by Jesus Christ. Unlike with the Old Covenant, God did not send something to Israel from afar. No, with the New Covenant, God came to Israel literally, physically, visibly, and personally….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Jesus ‘empty’ Himself?

Given Versus Came #3

Friday, February 24, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Hebrews chapter 12 summarizes the drastic change in how God dealt the Israelites when they rejected His grace and preferred a performance-based acceptance system: “[18] … the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, … blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: )….”

With the institution of the Mosaic Law (delineated in Exodus chapter 20), JEHOVAH God became distant and severe. If there was so much as an animal that touched Mount Sinai, God demanded it be killed! A man was to be put to death if he touched Sinai! Israel, up to this point, had not been fearful of God. They had seen God deal harshly with Egypt, but not with them. Now, they literally tremble as the Old Covenant is ratified!

Friend, the Law is not the sinner’s friend. No, the Law is not flawed: God’s Law is “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12). However, it is “weak through [our] flesh” (Romans 8:3). The Law “worketh wrath” (Romans 4:15). We cannot measure up to God’s righteous standards. Not only are our deeds evil; we, by nature, in heart, are evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 7:11). The Law exposes our sinful nature and deeds: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56b). The Law only highlights our failures. It was intended to teach Israel they could not be God’s people based on their efforts!

As long as they had a performance-based acceptance system, their religious works being the issue, God would always be distant, displeased, offended, and angry. They would need JEHOVAH God to institute a more advantageous, and personal, system….

Given Versus Came #2

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

In Exodus 19:1-8, Israel accepted God’s Covenant of Law. They will be His people only if they obey His Law. How does God react? How is His relationship with Israel changed? Their wish is granted via an extremely frightening encounter with Him!

“[9] And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. [10] And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, [11] And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. [12] And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: [13] There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.”

“[16] And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. [17] And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. [18] And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. [19] And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.”

The dreadful Law of God will be implemented….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Hell forever if life on Earth is but decades?

Given Versus Came #1

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

The Jews were cruelly enslaved—in bondage to Egypt, sin, and Satan. God heard their cries for help, and He brought to mind the covenant He had made with their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After destroying Egypt with 10 plagues, defeating Pharaoh and his idols, the God of the Hebrews brought His people across the Red Sea with a mighty hand. Those miracles should have caused Israel to see they would have to rely on God rather than their religious works. It would be His works, not theirs.

In His grace, JEHOVAH God gave Israel everything she needed. They desired deliverance from Egypt; He gave it (Exodus 14:1–15:22). They wanted potable water; He provided it (15:23-26). They wanted food; He furnished them with manna and quail (16:1-36). They desired drinkable water; He offered it to them (17:1-7). He gave them military victory over their enemies, the Amalekites (17:8-16). After seeing God’s faithfulness to them, amazingly, the Jews overlooked it and pompously declared they could now be faithful to God. After all of their complaining and doubt in the previous chapters, they claimed they would now obey God!

We read the LORD’S words to Moses in Exodus 19:4-6: “[4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” After emphasizing what He did for them (verse 4), highlighting their weaknesses and deficiencies, He tested them (verses 5,6). “Do you want to be My people based on what you do?” Verse 8 says: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.”

How will the LORD respond? How will this affect His relationship with Israel?

They Love Fake News!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:30,31 KJV).

Israel in today’s Scripture, like many today, loves fake news!

There has been much discussion here in the United States in recent weeks about “fake news.” This has nothing to do with unintentional errors in reporting. It has everything to do with journalists deliberately fabricating news items to assassinate characters, spread propaganda, promote particular views, and (thereby) mislead audiences. These correspondents are not interested in reporting news; rather, they want to distort and interpret it for us. It is therefore no secret that a good portion of the American public currently has a very low opinion of its media.

Oddly enough, millions upon millions of Americans are still so heavily dependent on journalists and media to think for them and make their own decisions. They cannot think for themselves! For example, we have all seen people protesting for one reason or another. Yet, when they are interviewed, many of them have no clear idea of what they are against. While listening to their convoluted and flimsy comments, one can discern they are mindlessly parroting “fake news” headlines. It is so amazing that they really have a very poor sense of what is true and what is false. Oh, but, it should be added—they do not appear to want the truth anyway!

My fellow Americans, our nation has simply reaped what it has sown. For decades, the professing “Christian Church” has wasted its time and energy pursuing useless, worthless ideas and programs. They had no substantive answers to the critics. They did not raise their children in the Word of God, a meaningful Bible education. Error has now filled the massive void left by the “evicted” Holy Bible. Even today, there is no strong, truly Christian presence in our nation. Instead, we parrot our own nonsense—religious tradition masquerading as truth (or “fake news” in religion). Oh, but, it should be added—the average professing “Christian” does not want to know the truth anyway!

Subject Unto Higher Powers

Monday, February 20, 2017

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1,2 KJV).

Here in the United States of America, today is Presidents’ Day, when we remember all presidents, past and present!

Donald John Trump has been in office exactly one month today. Tensions, however, are still high and widespread in every echelon of our society—politics, communications, economics, educational, religious, familial, entertainment, and so on. In recent months, and especially recent weeks, people here and around the world have witnessed the “protesters.” Some are peaceful, which is allowed and encouraged by the First Amendment of our Constitution. However, others are anarchists and insurrectionists, people who have vowed to continue violently resisting our new president. These lawless individuals want to overthrow the government simply because they disagree with it. What do we expect from sinners who vehemently refuse to let God and His Word rule their lives?

My friend, contrary to popular belief, God did not ordain our president, or any other leader in power today. Rather, He instituted human government in Genesis chapters 9-11. Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, God is not choosing earthly leaders (He did in Israel’s program, but we are not in Israel’s program!) Nevertheless, the powers they wield, the offices they hold, are of divine origin (today’s Scripture). For people, especially we Christians, to rebel against government is to go contrary to God’s will for creation. Government is to maintain order and justice in society—even if it means the death penalty (Romans 13:4)! Ungoverned, human civilization would collapse, as disarray would be rampant and crime would remain unpunished. Provided it does not encourage us to disobey God’s Word, we should submit to human government.

We may not agree with our governmental leaders, friend, but the Bible does command us to pray for them in 1 Timothy 2:1,2. More than anything, we need to adapt God’s view of them: they too are unworthy sinners as we, also in desperate need of His Son as we. Be at peace with your government!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable?’