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“This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”[1] What did Jesus fulfil regarding the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms when He came full of grace and truth, from the Father?[2] The two key ingredients that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms highlight for men is the need, the promise and the desire by God for men to have grace and truth.

The Law of Moses is impossible for any man to fulfil in its entirety and to keep fulfilled. Therefore as such, the Law of Moses sets a standard that no man can hope to meet and maintain, even after they have fulfilled it. It also sets out the truth of every man that we are liars, murderers, adulterers, coveters of our neighbour’s goods, and forsakers of God at the first chance we have. Even as the Law was still being given, Israel was only too keen to demonstrate how willing they were to worship an idol rather than God, with even Aaron lying to Moses, saying, “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”[3] This was no more than a couple of weeks, in fact only seven days, after the Lord had spoken to them and gave them the first of the commands.[4] Within seven days of receiving the Ten Commandments as we call them, Israel broke the second and third, and Aaron broke the ninth. Since it is impossible for men to fulfil the commands and to keep them fulfilled, Grace from God is needed. Thus, the Law points out our need for God’s Grace and the truth about us.

As Israel sank ever deeper into their quagmire of disobedience, rebellion and idolatry, the Lord began to send the prophets who warned them of the dire consequences that they were reaping for themselves. But beyond the prophesies of doom, God also spoke through them – Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel – of Israel’s restoration and even the restoration of Israel’s enemies, the Ammonites, the Cushites and the Egyptians. When you read as a person who does not know the word or the way of God, all the prophecies of doom in the Old Testament appear to portray an angry, mean, and hurtful God. It is only when you know and understand Him and His ways, that you can see that every time God threatened or promised to destroy nations, He always said, “then they (and you) will know that I am the Lord.”[5]

Those who are ignorant of the way of God’s Grace and Truth will only see a boast from a vengeful God when He says, “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” for that is what we mean when we humans say it. However, now that we have the full counsel of the word of God through Jesus Christ, we know that anyone who comes to know that He is the Lord, has eternal life, for Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life, that they may come to know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”[6] That is why God would and can later say of these nations, “I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites,[7] of Moab,”[8] and even of Sodom, for He says, “I will restore the fortunes of Sodom.”[9]

As such, the manifestation of the destruction was to ensure that the pre-existent Grace of God would come into its full purpose. For Grace that is manifested without the proper correction and rebuke, even discipline and a strike, is wasted like pouring fresh milk into a jug of sour milk. But Grace manifested after the correction, the rebuke and even the strike is like pouring fresh milk into a jar that is cleansed and made fit to receive it.

How will God restore the fortunes of Sodom? Notice, He says, “the fortunes of Sodom,” the very prosperity that made Sodom proud together with her sister Gomorrah so that they were wiped out to a blade of grass.[10] It is not as if God is going to just restore the people, but He says its fortunes as well. If God’s Grace was one that allowed for a temporary restoration and then would be spoiled by sin, then the Grace has come as an afterthought of sin. But because God’s Grace is pre-existent, it existed before the world was created, that means before sin came into the world through Satan’s temptation of Eve, God’s Grace is not in anyway affected by the world’s sin so it can remove the sin of the world. No wonder that John the Baptist testified, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[11] Because it is pre-existent, it can bring the sinner back to a state before there was sin and keep the sinner from sinning and from the effects of sin.

As such, God’s Grace is not given to allow a person to keep on sinning, but to provide a means by which a person can stop sinning. It does so through Jesus Christ because through Jesus Christ, the old Law has been fulfilled, and for all who listen to Him enough to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have themselves cut off from the Law that pointed out to us we need Grace and Truth, have come to the place where Grace alone is all they have to receive mercy from God. Thus, those who are listening to Jesus have stopped sinning according to the standards of the old Law, and if they sin, it is the sin living in their flesh that does it, for their minds are now captive to God’s Law: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”[12]

So, for those who no longer place their confidence in the righteousness afforded by observance of the Mosaic Law, but acknowledge that God’s testimony of Jesus Christ is the truth and are captive in their minds to this command: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” are like Abel. They have come into a covenant, an agreement, with God. They have agreed with God that Jesus is His Son, and if they are well pleased with Jesus also, then they are standing with God. They have identified themselves with God as Abel did when he shed blood to make his sacrifice in memory of the blood shed by God to cover up the nakedness of Abel’s parents after they sinned.

When you stand in agreement with God concerning Jesus Christ, and you listen to Jesus, you are cut off from God according to the Law, then all your confidence and the confidence of your faith must rest on Jesus. That is what truly pleases God. Jesus Christ is able to take away the sin of the world because God’s Grace existed before the creation of the world, a Grace that the world had never seen, for the word of Grace dwelt in the Father and was not seen by men until He became flesh. But for Satan, no such grace is available, for he lived before the world was created and his sin co-existed with the Grace of God, not after the Grace of God. As such, Jesus is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, but He does not take away the sin of Satan. For when Satan said, “If You are the Son of God…”[13] he insulted and blasphemed the Holy Spirit, for it was clearly announced through the angel to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called (holy,) the Son of God.”[14]

Who did Satan really insult when he said, “If You are the Son of God…” but the Holy Spirit, and since Satan knew the Lord God and had come into His presence,[15] he blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Thus for him there is no salvation; no redemption; and no restoration; but only judgement and eternal damnation in the Lake of Burning Sulphur. At least the demons did not insult the Holy Spirit or slander the holy angel Gabriel, but loudly declared, “I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”[16] That is why although it is written that Satan and his angels are thrown to Earth,[17] it is not written that Satan and his angels are thrown into the Lake of Fire, but only Satan, Death, the false prophet, the beast and anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.[18]

So, the prophets reveal the Grace promised—and what a Grace—sufficient not only for the restoration and deliverance of Zion, but even for the restoration of the fortunes of Sodom. No wonder Jesus so confidently said to Paul, “My Grace is sufficient for you.”[19] Sufficient enough to allow all men who listen to Jesus to have themselves cut off from God according to the Law by eating His flesh and drinking His blood and to boldly approach the throne of God and still find mercy in their times of need. However, if we think that Jesus’ Grace is sufficient only for the forgiveness of sin, we are wrong and again have underestimated the Grace of God, for it is sufficient for the mastering of sin as well as for the forgiveness and the avoidance of sin. So sufficient that when Sodom has her fortunes restored to her, she will not sin again but will master the sin that was brought by her fortunes. That is the Grace that the prophets prophesied, which was promised through the word of God.

The psalmist David cried out in the depth of his sin, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”[20] He captivated the need for God’s Grace to one who had fallen after God had been gracious to him, Grace that is enduring and ever present, undamageable, and undestroyable by sin, a need for Grace that is not negated by sin, but overcomes sin. That is why, through faith in Jesus and the practice of His words to eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have that Grace that sin cannot negate. The eating of the flesh of Jesus and the drinking of His blood is the proof that defiance of Leviticus 17:10-12 cannot negate the Grace, but by the mysterious paradoxes of God opens for us the fullness of God’s Grace, which dwells only in Jesus Christ.

So, when the psalmist said, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false,”[21] he voices the desire of men for God’s Grace. For if not even David, who was so blessed of God, could keep his heart pure and his hands clean, who can? And when he again asked, “Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill?” although he defined it, saying, “He whose walk is blameless…”[22] what man’s walk is blameless, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory? So, but for the Grace of God, no man, no one, not even Abraham, could ascend the hill of the Lord, much less dwell in His sanctuary.

But yet, the desire of the psalmist was: “Turn to me and be gracious to me,”[23] “be gracious to me through Your Law… be gracious to me according to Your promise.”[24] Clearly, the desire of the psalmist’s heart is for God’s Grace. So desperate was he for God’s Grace that he even asked God to be gracious to him through the Law, which holds no promise of Grace but sure punishment for the breaking of it. So, in Jesus Christ, God fulfilled the psalmist’s desire through His promise to Satan, the originator of sin, when God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”[25]

Jesus Christ, full of Grace and Truth, in fulfilling the Law, allowed God to bring forth the new Law, “Listen to Him!” which brought all men who listened to Jesus become fully dependant on Grace alone for their righteousness before God, so that it would no longer be on the pureness of heart, nor cleanness of hands, nor blamelessness of a walk by which men could ascend the hill of God to live in His sanctuary, but through faith in Christ alone. That fullness of Grace in Jesus is evident for He commanded all from the beginning to “Repent” and in the end to “Repent.” The fact that we must be in continuous repentance states that our hearts, our hands and our walk are never continuously pure, clean or blameless. As such, through God’s Grace, it is no longer the pure hearted, or the clean handed, or those whose walk is blameless who ascend the hill, but those who are faithful and diligent in the believing of Jesus Christ and the practice of His words, even if it is to “Repent” unceasingly.

Thus, those who have listened to James are deceived, for by reintroducing the Law of Moses into the lives of those who are cut off by the Law through listening to Jesus, the teaching of James deceives those who are cut off from God that they may ascend the hill of the Lord through a pure heart, cleansed hands and a blameless walk, when God declared, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly,”[26] and the cleansing of hands is like cleaning the vessel on the outside only, and no man can walk blameless before God for all have sinned.

Such is the sufficiency of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ, that Jesus said confidently, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” And by that ‘everything’, He means even the need, the promise and the desire for Grace. Amen.


 

[1] Luke 24:44

[2] John 1:14

[3] Exodus 32:24

[4] Exodus 20:1-17, 22

[5] Ezekiel 25:7 for Ammon; 25:11 for Moab; 25:17 for Philistia

[6] John 17:3

[7] Jeremiah 49:6

[8] Jeremiah 48:47

[9] Ezekiel 16:53

[10] Genesis 19:25

[11] John 1:29

[12] Matthew 17:5; also Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35

[13] Matthew 4:6

[14] Luke 1:35

[15] Job 1-2

[16] Luke 4:34

[17] Revelation 12:9

[18] Revelation 20:15

[19] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[20] Psalm 51:10-12

[21] Psalm 24:3-4

[22] Psalm 15:1-2

[23] Psalm 25:16

[24] Psalm 119:29,58

[25] Genesis 3:15

[26] Mark 7:21-22

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