Andrew Murray was a South African pastor that wrote around (50) books, had (8) children, died in 1917. He was originally Dutch Reform but had a healing ministry and was instrumental in the early Pentecostal movement.
In his book “The Two Covenants”, he said,
“The transition from the Old Covenant to the New was not slow or gradual, but by a tremendous crisis. Nothing less than the death of Christ was the close of the Old. Nothing less than His resurrection from the dead, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant, the opening of the New. The path of preparation that led up to the crisis was long and slow; the rending of the veil, that symbolized the end of the old worship, was the work of a moment. By a death, once for all, Christ's work, as fulfiller of law and prophets, as the end of the law, was forever finished. By a resurrection in the power of an endless life, the Covenant of Life was ushered in”.
The two main covenants are the “If You” covenant and the “He Did” covenant,
one brings guilt, condemnation and death, the other peace, liberty and life.
one is dependent on your performance, the other on Jesus’ performance.
I titled this “Red Letter Christianity is not New Covenant” because so many think the (4) transition books of the NT are part of the New Covenant. We call them The Four Gospels, but they are not all Good News.
“Don’t stray too far from the red letters,” is a piece of advice often given to new preachers. It means, stay close to the teachings of Jesus and you can’t go wrong.
It sounds good, but it’s reckless advice.
There are two statements in the Bible that seem to contradict each other:
1. “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mt 6:14)
2. “Forgive as the Lord (He Did) forgave you”. (Col 3:13)
Everything Jesus said was good, but not everything he said is good for you.
Read the red letters of your Bible and you will find stories of unprecedented grace and merciless declarations of law.
Mix these messages and you will end up confused and double-minded.
The solution is not to balance law and grace but to filter everything you read through the finished work of the cross.
To make sense of what Jesus said, you need to understand what Jesus did and why.
Jesus lived under law.
Jesus lived at the crossroads of two covenants. As humanity’s representative he came to fulfill the old law-keeping covenant in order that we might relate to God through a new and better covenant forged in his blood. Since the new covenant could not begin before he died, Jesus lived all of his pre-cross life under the old covenant of the law:
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal 4:4-5)
Jesus was born under law, circumcised by law, and presented in the temple according to the law. Every Jewish person that Jesus met was also born under law. We need to keep this in mind when reading the red letters of Jesus.
What law did Jesus preach?
To those under the law, Jesus preached the pure and unadulterated Law of Moses.
When religious people came to trap him with theological puzzles, Jesus would respond with, “What did Moses command you?” (Mark 10:3).
If someone asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the law,” Jesus would provide an answer from the law (Matt 22:36).
His law-keeping ministry honored the Law of Moses:
Jesus had no problem with what the Pharisees were preaching. What really burnt his toast was their hypocrisy – they weren’t practicing what they preached:
“Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law”. (Joh 7:19)
Why did Jesus preach the law?
Like every grace preacher, Jesus esteemed the law and the purpose for which it was given.
The law was given to silence every mouth and hold the whole world accountable (Rom 3:19). The purpose of the law is to make us conscious of sin and reveal our need for a Savior.
If the law had been allowed to do its proper work, the Jews would have been primed and ready for a Savior.
Before he could save the world from sin, he had to preach the law that made sin utterly sinful. Before he give himself as the answer, he had to make sure we were asking the right question. Who will deliver us?
Jesus became the greatest law preacher of all time.
Preaching the red letters of Jesus is a bit like drinking whatever you find in the bathroom, . . . sink or toilet, you choose.
If you fail to distinguish his life-giving words of grace from his death-dealing words of law, you could really do some damage.
Any time you read a conditional statement from Jesus, you should interpret it as law.
“Do not judge and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37).
And anytime Jesus makes a threat, you should interpret that as law as well. “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matt 5:22).
That’s bad news for anyone with a brother!
“Whoever Divorces and Marries Another Commits Adultery” (Matthew 5:27-32; Mark 10:11-12)
“You Must Be Perfect” (Matthew 5:48)
“You Must Hate Your Parents, Spouse, Siblings, and Children” (Matthew 10:37 Luke 14:26)
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. (Mark 9:47)
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you;” (Matt 5:30)
“And if your hand or your foot is causing you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you;” (Matt. 18:8)
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Matt. 5:28)
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom has come, it resides in you. (Lk. 17:19)
“Give us this day our daily bread”, He has promised to provide all your need according to His riches in Glory (Phil. 4:19)
“and forgive us our debts”, (He forgave the debt of the whole world. (John 3:16,17)
“as we also have forgiven our debtor. as we have, no His forgiveness is better & not conditional.
“And lead us not into temptation”, God is not tempted, nor does He tempt any man (James 1:13)
“but deliver us from evil” He has defeated the devil, hell and the grave. (Matt. 6:9-13)
The law is not for you, nor is the Lord’s Prayer. You were never under the law, it wasn’t written to you or for you, other than for your learning.
Rom. 15:4 says, ‘. . . whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning . . .”
Not all of Jesus’ teachings were to show them they can’t meet the requirements of the law.
In most of the parables He showed them the grace and heart of God, like the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, and others.
Jesus’ came to set the captives free and give sight to the blind. The law sets nobody free. But it does reveal our need for a Savior.
To interpret scripture properly you have to drag it through the cross. Without looking at scripture through the finished work of Jesus Christ you will end up with wrong doctrine or at best just plain confused.
Compare the words of Jesus before the cross with the words of Paul & the writer of Hebrews after the cross:
Colossians 1:12 - "Giving thanks to God the Father, who has made us worthy (qualified us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light".
2 Cor. 5:21- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
1 Cor. 1:30 - “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Heb. 10:10 - “And by that will we have been MADE holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Heb. 10:14 - “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who ARE sanctified.”
You have been MADE Worthy, Righteous, Sanctified, Justified, Holy & Perfect without obeying (1) of the OT laws, because He fulfilled all of them for you.
You are free to be who you are in Him, not in the wrong tree and out on a limb, But The Tree of Life is where you’ll see, that your eternal life and freedom be.
Father, we thank you for what Jesus has accomplished for us. Open the eyes of our understanding so we can see all that you have given us through the finished work of Christ. We thank you that you said that you would never leave or forsake us,
And we thank you for the food that we are about to receive, and I cast out all the fats & calories, In Jesus mighty name. Amen
If anyone would like prayer, I’ll be here to pray with you.
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