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“But I tell you…” Jesus said six times in Matthew 5 as He each time quoted a Levitical or Mosaic Law, or a verbal tradition to His disciples.  “But I tell you,” and then Jesus took each of these teachings, laws or traditions to a new place.

1.      “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder…  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”[1]

2.      “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”[2]

3.      “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”[3]

4.      “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’  But I tell you, Do not swear at all:  either by Heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the Earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”[4]

5.      “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If some strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”[5]

6.      “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is Perfect.”[6]

He, in fact, made each of those laws easier to break and harder to avoid breaking and eliminated the tradition of taking oaths.  That is the manner and the authority of Jesus Christ in the matter of the law and traditions of the Jews that came through the Levitical and Mosaic writings and sayings.  The change that Jesus made to them is not just in their practice, but their application and the spirit of that application.

Likewise when He said these same words:  But I tell you, Elijah has already come…”[7] with regards to His explanations of the fulfilment of Malachi 4:5-6.  You can see with these seven statements: “But I tell you”, Jesus placed His own stamp of authority over the law and traditions as well as the interpretation and fulfilment of the prophets.

In Matthew 11:21-22, Jesus then takes events from the past that have already happened, and tells us how they would have changed if certain things had happened instead, saying, “Woe to you, Korazin!  Woe to you Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgement than for you.”  And again in verse 24 He said, But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgement than for you.”

Not only does His authority change the way the Law and the Prophets are applied, but even concerning future judgement, it is by His say so that certain things will happen.  Thus, the “But I tell you…” authority and power of Jesus overshadows what we understand, perceive, believe and hold to be the traditional truth about the law, the prophets and the judgement to come.

Thus, there can never be an accurate and proper application of the Law and the Prophets until you understand and acknowledge the far superior authority of Jesus Christ in these matters and in the matters of the coming judgement until you see these four words for what they are, the unquestionable, undeniable authority and power of Jesus Christ.  The application of prophecy in these end times must be in accordance then of what Jesus tells us, and not what theologians tell us.  And since it is Jesus who has asked for the Holy Spirit to be sent to us, to live with us, to teach us, to remind us of all that He has said, to guide us into all truth, to correct us, to tell us what He has heard, to tell us what is to come, to make known what belongs to Him to bring glory to the Father, to testify for Him, to give us power and to shorten the days for the sake of His elect —then the final authority in these days lies with what the Holy Spirit will tell the church.  For Jesus has commanded all churches, “He who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[8] 

Concerning prophecies, the Holy Spirit will only tell us what Jesus said about them and teach us to fulfil them in a way that prepares for Jesus’ arrival over Jerusalem, and not to prepare us for our arrival in Heaven.  The true application then of all prophecies of Jesus Christ and those of the Old Testament is to see and apply them in the context of ushering in the arrival of Christ and the shortening of those days before His arrival.

Again, as an example:  When Jesus prophetically prophesied that “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…”[9] that prophetic promise of the one hundredfold reward in fields and houses, if properly applied, is to ensure the destruction of Mammon’s kingdom and it was never in the context of ensuring Mammon’s prosperity.  Thus, the one hundredfold is not so that you may leave a large inheritance for your children after you die, but rather, through that hundredfold, you will hasten the return of Jesus, using it to win friends until it is all gone. 

Thus, a spirit that prophesies using the words of Jesus, that you will receive a hundredfold of houses and fields to give to your children as an inheritance, is in fact an antichrist spirit.  For, as Jesus is the Life and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life, the hundredfold would be given to anyone in order to assist them to live and never die until Jesus arrives, unless they are to be martyred.  The Holy Spirit will never bring about a prophetic application of the words of Jesus that involves your early retirement through death by old age.  After all, He is still at work.  So then, why should you, His servants, rest?

Now, you might see that when Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven,”[10] He might have been speaking of those who lived during their days here on Earth as a Christian with a morale life, no, even a miraculous life, in eager expectation of a quick death in bed of old age, so that they could enjoy retirement in Heaven, whilst they leave the Holy Spirit to continue working.  Does this offend you?  Yes, many generations of Christians have lived a ‘good’ Christian life hoping to die peacefully in bed and awake in Heaven.  That is only because of the millenniums of ignorance of the command to listen to Jesus[11] and to practise His words.  Jesus commanded the eleven at Galilee:  “Go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”[12]

Does the book of Acts bear witness to this command that they taught the early church to “obey everything I have commanded you”?  It is recorded in Acts 2:42:  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship…  Yes, but does the book of Acts bear witness that the early church was taught everything I have commanded you”?  Acts 2:43 records:  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  Wonderful!  But would it not have been better if Luke could have written that “many wonders and miraculous signs were done by all who had faith in Jesus, just as He had said they would”?

Would it not have been better that it was recorded that whenever they fed the poor and widows, food multiplied so much that there was no need for the money from the sale of the lands of the believers, and so they gave those monies away to the Romans in keeping with Jesus’ teachings:  “Use worldly wealth to gain friends,”[13] and “Do good to those who hate you”[14]?  Imagine Rome’s attitude to a cult that contributed high donations to its coffers and whose people were already so well cared for that they were not a drain on their social services.

The sad truth is that generations of ‘good’ Christians have been living waiting to die to go to Heaven because they have never been told the truth, and when they had the truth in their hands, they were too concerned with other things to really search out the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit on such matters as they searched for the silver and gold, rubies and precious stones of the heathens.  If the Spaniards had searched for the ‘gold’ of Jesus as they searched for Incan gold, what a difference we would have had even in the last few hundred years.  If the Europeans had sought to extend the Kingdom of God rather than their colonial empires throughout the world, what a change in history and what a change in judgement for them.

So, you can appreciate a person’s application of Jesus’ words, be it in His laws and His prophecies, by the Spirit behind that application.  For the Spirit who is from God always acknowledges Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh,[15] as well as, Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.[16]  And if Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh as He has come in the flesh, then why would anyone even consider dying to go to Heaven to be greeted by Him, but rather, would it not be right and proper to wait here to greet Him?  And since we do not know how long He will tarry, then it behoves us to make all preparations to encourage Him to shorten the days.  And if the days be long, then it is even more important to thank Jesus that He said, “Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”[17]

Then the confession and declaration of our faith should be:  “Yes, we do,” and plan to live as if we will never die.  And if you do die, then it will not be held against you, for just like king David, it can be said that it was in your heart not to die, just as it was in David’s heart to build the temple, but it was not God’s will.  Yet, if we choose to believe that “he who believes in Me will live, even though he dies,”[18] because it is the easier option, then by our faith, we die. 

How often has it been quoted, “the righteous will live by his faith,”[19] yet Jesus did “not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”[20]  Since all who believe and repent of their sins have confessed they are sinners, many die by that same faith unless they go the extra mile and make every effort to enter the Kingdom of God to receive the power to live and never die, unless it is God’s will that they be martyred just like Jesus.

Then, what dictates our application of Law and Prophecy rests on two things.  What Jesus said about it and what we are planning for ourselves.  In correct application, the Law and the Prophets happen amongst Christians whenever Jesus is not listened to as the Sole Authority on these matters, and these words, “But I tell you…” are ignored and the people seek the comfort of traditions and commoner, baser wisdom of the good, but not the extraordinary and the impossible of the perfect.  Many may say, “But we believe Jesus and resist all evil men while we do good.”  Just that in itself is a complete contradiction, for if you believe Jesus, you would not resist evil men, for Jesus said, But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person,”[21] and you would also realise you can never do good, for Jesus said, “No one is good —except God alone.”[22]  Only God can do good —no one else.

But this is too radical, too narrow, too extreme, and so the blind remain blind, the lame have their wheel chairs, the deaf have their hearing aids and cochlear implants, and churches are surrounded by graveyards.  And Jesus must have been lying when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these…”[23]  And if a person is lying when he says, “I tell you the truth,” then we should definitely ignore him when he says, “But I tell you…” 

The motive of their applications betray them for what they are —comfort seekers who seek glory for themselves at the expense of their King, rather than seeking glory for their King at their expense.  Those before us who were made of a better metal, though denied the knowledge we have now, loved enough to lay down their lives for the Gospel; they are our judges.  Denied of the whole written word and denied of apostolic teaching and freedom to practise as they were led, but were confined within the torturous walls of the institutional church.  They did what they could.  And it pleased God to permit them to die as martyrs to return with Christ to reign, so that all those princely bishops who authorised their torture and demise would grind their teeth in darkness as the Light leaves Heaven to return to Earth watched by the Father.  It was not permitted for them to testify to the truth of John 11:26, lest they become idolised as immortals before Christ’s return.  But for us, with the impending arrival of Christ, our immortality now will see us through these days of distress even as one third of mankind perishes.

It is not that we judge others, but rather, we judge ourselves.  We judge ourselves by our application of the Law and the Prophets with these words of Jesus singing in our hearts:  “But I tell you…”

[1] Matthew 5:21-24

[2] Matthew 5:27-30

[3] Matthew 5:31-32

[4] Matthew 5:33-37

[5] Matthew 5:38-42

[6] Matthew 5:43-48

[7] Matthew 17:12

[8] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22

[9] Mark 10:29-30

[10] Matthew 7:21

[11] Mathew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35

[12] Matthew 28:19-20

[13] Luke 16:9

[14] Luke 6:27

[15] 2 john 7

[16] 1 John 4:2

[17] John 11:26

[18] John 11:25

[19] Habakkuk 2:4

[20] Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32

[21] Matthew 5:39

[22] Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19

[23] John 14:12


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