This is a word that I have written in the past, but I feel it is an essential word for such a time as today. I want to challenge all of you as leaders to be leaders of grace. I want to challenge all of you as believers to be people of grace!
Both Jesus and the apostle Paul advocated the acknowledgment of the completion of an era of law and a time to embrace the power of grace. The old Adam was bound to law because of an administration of the knowledge of good and evil. That form of government was an administration of death. When Jesus died, old Adam died. When Jesus rose from the dead there was a testimony of an eternal Adam of life who is a life-giving Spirit with an administration of life through the power of grace. In Christ we died and thus the administration of law died. In Christ we also live by the power of an administration of grace (Eph. 1:7-10).
Jesus told the Pharisees that the death of the law had come and it was time to marry grace. We cannot be married to both law and grace. It is time to enter into God’s covenant of grace. The kingdom of God has come through Christ and it was time to press into it.
Luke 16:16-18 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
The Pharisees could not understand the ways of Jesus as a man of grace. Their paradigms of law could not comprehend the boundaries of grace. The boundaries of grace fall within the expanding liberty of God’s care for people, His value of them, His desire to include them in His purpose and celebration of life, and His desire to be in a relationship of friendship with men and women in life. As long as the Pharisees held on to the standards of law they could not embrace the paradigms of grace. Jesus made a way for the administration of the law to die so that all men can marry the administration of grace. Our old man must die in Christ so that we can embrace the inner life of God’s grace and His expanding paradigms of life.
Jesus was telling the Pharisees that the death of the law had come and it was time to marry grace. It was time to let the old heaven (an administration of law) and the old earth (a system of law) to pass away. They could not be married to both law and grace. It was time to enter into God’s covenant of grace. The kingdom of God had come through Christ and it was time to press into it. In order to receive the kingdom one must die in Christ and come alive again through a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus gave a further illustration of this reality in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. I believe that the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen represented the Pharisees and the system of the law. It was the testimony of the nation of Israel that had now become bound to a Pharisaic system of law. Lazarus represented the peoples and nations of the world that had not known the covenant of God. They had only known temporary comforts of things outside of God’s covenant life (the dogs that licked his sores in life represent un-covenanted pleasures). The name Lazarus means, God has helped – without me knowing it. God had always helped the nations, but they did not know whom He was or that it was Him who could care for them (Acts 17:23-30). The time had come for both Lazarus and the rich man to die. The time had come for all men to die in Christ so that all men could live in Christ!
Lazarus died and found himself in Abraham’s bosom, while the rich man died and found there was a great divide between him and Abraham. Jesus had told the Pharisees that their father was not Abraham, but that their father was the devil (Jn. 8:33-44). The law had not empowered them to change; only grace could change the heart. In the story of seven brothers who had died Jesus told the Sadducees that they were already dead and were not of the living (Mt. 22:23-32). If you die in Christ you will forever live, but if you die in the law you are forever dead. Lazarus’ death found him to be a child of faith, a child of God. The death of the rich man found him to be dead. The rich man died in a covenant of law, but Lazarus had found the covenant of grace.
I believe that Lazarus represents the hungry that are now able to get the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Like the Canaanite woman who begged Jesus for the deliverance of her demon possessed daughter, the crumbs were spilling off of the table of Israel as an invitation to all the nations that deliverance had come through the power of God’s grace (Mt. 22:15-28).
Luke 16:19-23 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Jesus was revealing that one couldn’t have both law and grace. If we hold on to the system of law we cannot understand the covenant of grace. The rich man begged that Lazarus bring comfort to those bound to the law. Jesus revealed that there was a great divide between them and that law has no access to grace and grace cannot live where law remains. The rich man pleaded that Lazarus be permitted to warn his five brothers. Jesus testified that to have access to grace (the number five) you have to realize that grace is the true substance testified of in and through the law and the prophets. Those who try to come by the way of the law do not pass the test of being the true substance of life and that of living humanity. They are bound to a place of “torment”, the Greek word “basanos”, meaning a “touchstone” or a “basis” of testing. The “touchstone” is a rock used to test precious metals to see their true purity or not. If they do not make the correct mark, they are not the true substance of the precious metal. Those who do not see that grace is the true fulfillment of the law do not pass the test of being the true substance of life
Luke 16:27-31 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”
Following the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus addresses the fact that those who hold on to the law will prove to be an offense to those who embrace grace. They would be the ones who would resist and prevent children from entering into the kingdom of God. It would be better that those in the law be called no different than those who were in the world (the sea). The law was no longer the place of grinding. It was no longer the place of purpose and it could not produce children of the kingdom. It must be cast into the sea. If it is cast into the sea (the systems of the world) then it can be grafted in by grace. Grace would now prove to be the power of forgiveness and the entrance of the kingdom for all men.
Luke 17:1-4 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, “I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Following these words Jesus continued to give details in regard to the removal of the Old Covenant system of the Law and the prophetic declarations fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D.
Jesus had instructed His disciples to pray for the old system of the law depicted in the religious mountain of Jerusalem to be cast into the sea (Mt. 21:21). They had caused the “little ones” to be hindered in entering the kingdom (Lk. 17:2; Mt. 18:6; Mk. 9:42; Jer. 51:61-64). The millstones destruction signified the end of the age, a symbol of the foundation of the world in grinding out peace, prosperity and the inheritance of God in the earth. The age that was to end was the age of law, for the eternal reality of grace had now come to all men.
We cannot have grace and law. Law is a tutor that testifies of our need for grace, but it is God’s grace that changes the hearts and minds of men. You cannot take a piece of grace and try to stitch it unto the garment of law. You cannot take the life of grace and try to contain it in a wineskin of law. The mercy, forgiveness, power, redemption, and life found in grace cannot be contained in an understanding of law (Lk. 5:33-39).
We have to choose. Do we want grace or do we want law? Grace cannot work where law abides and law cannot remain where grace reigns (1Cor. 10:23,24). Grace empowers us to live in a righteousness that empowers us to live for the Father and for the wellbeing of others in this world. Let’s be leaders of grace that empower God’s people to be people of grace!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson