Grace & Peace


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Examining the Parable of the Good Samaritan

In Luke's gospel, we find "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (vs. 26) to which Jesus replied, "What is written in the law?" "How do you read it?" (See vs. 27) He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

(vs. 28) "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." (vs. 29) But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus told the well known parable of the Good Samaritan. (See Luke 10:30-35)  Jesus followed the parable with His own question to the expert in the law, asking him (vs. 36) "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" To which the expert in the law replied, (see vs. 37) "The one who had mercy on him." At which Jesus said, "Go and do likewise."

Of the three in the parable who had opportunity to help the wounded man who had fallen into the hands of robbers; one was a priest, one a Levite and of course, the third was the Samaritan. In this parable spoken by Jesus, we're never told why the priest and the Levite side-stepped the man, avoiding him altogether, as they both chose to pass by on the other side of the road.

A parable is usually just a short simple tale, based on familiar things, meant to convey a moral or religious lesson, and it's even possible Jesus was recalling something that actually happened. But, I believe Jesus was trying to make the point that most of the religious priests and Levites of that time would have side-stepped this wounded man to avoid becoming defiled, as they were worried about their sin problem. They prided themselves in their effort to keep the law. Yet, they could never really keep it, and their hearts were often cold.

We don't have to be worried about our sin problem, because Jesus took our punishment at the cross, so we are truly free to help someone in need. And if you are born-again, then you've received His sacrificial gift.  He took your sin and gave you His righteousness. Righteousness means right-standing with God. So now, because of, or by the righteousness of One, Jesus Christ, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (See Rom. 5:18)

So, it was fitting that when the so called 'expert in the law' asked Jesus "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" that Jesus answered him as He did by asking a question in return, "What is written in the law?" "How do you read it?" (See vs. 10:26)

Rom. 10:4 says, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth."

Rom. 6:17-18; "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (vs. 18) You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."

Rom. 5:5 goes on to say, "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

Rom. 13:8-10 tells us, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. (vs. 9) The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (vs. 10) Love does no harm to it's neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Rom. 5:18; "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Nature of God

As we approach summer, there will be many weddings taking place. Oftentimes during the wedding ceremony, you'll hear sections of 1 Cor. chapter 13 quoted; chapter 13 often being referred to as the 'love' chapter.

"Let's take a look at what the Bible reveals as the nature of God. There are many texts and verses in the Bible that could be drawn upon, but none to my knowledge so candidly conveys His nature as the Apostle John does in his epistle.

In 1 John 4:8, he states, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." NIV And again, in 1 John 4:16, we read, "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." KJV

Lastly, I'll use the text found in 1 Cor. 13:4-8, NKJV, penned by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (vs. 4) "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up; (vs. 5) does not behave rudely; does not seek its own; is not provoked; thinks no evil; (vs .6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (vs. 7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (vs. 8a) Love never fails."

Often I've taken these verses out of 1 Cor. with the viewpoint that this is how God wants me to act, and I believe it is, but one day it really settled on my spirit that this too is also a descriptive of God's nature. I've found it very comforting to realize that this is how God feels toward me. We must understand and realize that who God is and how He acts are one in the same. God's name and His actions go together; God's name and His nature go together.
[Excerpt from 'The Union' from pages 35-36]

Now let's look at 1 Cor. 13:4-8 this way; Love (God) suffers long and is kind; love (God) does not envy; love (God) does not parade itself; (God) is not puffed up; (vs. 5) (God) does not behave rudely; (God) does not seek it's own; (God) is not provoked; (God) thinks no evil; (vs. 6) (God) does not rejoice in iniquity, but (God) rejoices in the truth; (vs. 7) (God) bears all things, (God) believes all things, (God) hopes all things, (God) endures all things. (vs. 8a) Love (God) never fails. And this is the way God looks at you. God bless.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Believing Faith

"The Old Covenant people were not born again. The nation of Israel was at that time [and remains] a physical kingdom with physical borders and with towns and cities.

We are born-again children of God and the kingdom of God is within us (see Luke 17:21.) Hearing the truth of the gospel is how we gained invitation and access into this kingdom. We received the Holy Spirit by the hearing of faith (see Gal. 3:2b). The book of Romans says it this way, "Consequently faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17 NIV) Some Bible translations say the message is heard through the Word of "God." Now we know that Jesus is God, but if you use the word "God" in this passage of scripture, that would encompass the entire Bible, including the Old Testament law, with it's curses. And we know the law is not of faith, but the message of the gospel, the hearing of Christ, brings faith (see Gal. 3:12)."
[Except from 'Gates:Thanksgiving Papers' page 77.]

If you study the original Greek word for "God" used in Romans 10:17, it is not 'Theos' for "God," but 'Christos' for "Christ." The word 'gospel' in the Greek simply means 'good news.' The good news of Christ is explained in Rom. 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

What does the good news of Christ speak of?

Well, "Remember, before you were born-again, you were on a fast track heading down the highway of life. You were trying to earn your way to heaven by your effort and performance. Then you heard the truth of the gospel, the message that said it wasn't your performance, but what Christ did on the cross that offered you His unconditional pardon, and you accepted His offer. He took your sin and gave you His righteousness. You accepted His sacrificial atonement." [Excerpt from 'Gates' pages 46-47]

This is the righteousness spoken of in Romans 3:21-22; "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:"

Remember that 'righteousness' means 'right-standing with God.' You came into this right-standing with God the moment you believed the gospel and became born-again. That's when you accepted His unconditional love. Now, as Christians, we daily remain in right-standing with God apart from our performance. (see Rom. 8:1) That's the good news. God bless.