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Mercy and Truth for Them; Grace and Truth for Us

Proverbs 3:3-6

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:” (Proverbs 3:3). The combination of the words “mercy” and “truth” is not unique to this passage. It is actually a very common theme particularly of Psalms and Proverbs, often used to describe God’s dealings with man. His mercy is described as “everlasting” and His truth as enduring to “all generations” (Psalms 100:5).

This combination is foreign however to the New Testament, not being used even once. The closest that we get is 2 John 1:3, when the Apostle John uses the two words in the same verse, but not in connection with one another. The New Testament equivalent of this phrase is found in John’s writing as well, this time in his gospel:

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Notice that instead of truth coupled with mercy, it is now joined with “grace”, and the method of this combination coming to us is not given through a doctrine, but is brought by the man, Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is truth, for He told us as much in John 14:6, but why the change from “mercy” to “grace”?

In the Old Testament, man was judged by his keeping or breaking of God’s law. This is the same law that our previous verse told us was “given by Moses”. This law was so holy, just and good that men could not possibly keep it, so they were constantly seeking God for forgiveness by the offering of sacrifices. If not for the mercy of God, man would have gotten what he deserved many times over. God never ceased to be “true” to His holy nature, even though He was merciful to mankind.

When Christ met all of the demands of the law, He offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world, satisfying the anger of His Father (1 John 2:2). While mercy is us not getting what we deserve, grace is us getting what we could never deserve. The cross is what we deserved, for it was death for sin, but God’s mercy killed Jesus instead of us. God’s unconditional love and favor is what we can never deserve, but the cross brought us those things and God calls it grace. With no law to keep in order to please God, we now walk in His grace and truth, thus the New Testament preaches these concepts for the believer.

When you function under His grace, you are giving Him your whole heart, and not leaning to your own understanding (Psalm 3:5). The more we learn this dependency, or “learn to lean”, the clearer that His path will become, leading us to even more of His glory and grace.

Thank the Lord today for His mercy which has spared you from judgment. Thank Him as well for His grace and truth, which has given you all things and blessed you with joy unspeakable.

 

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Unlawful Usage of the Law

1 Timothy 1:4-11

Timothy was a young preacher who was saved under the ministry of, and mentored by, the Apostle Paul. Paul felt a special closeness to this young man, and reserved some of his finest instruction for ministry and preaching in the final two letters of his life, both addressed to Timothy.

The first few verses of his first letter to Timothy are rich in good advice about what not to preach. He tells him to avoid fables and endless genealogies, which only cause people to ask questions that lead nowhere (verse 4). On the contrary, he instructs Timothy to edify the hearers, challenging their faith (verse 4).

Paul’s instruction to Timothy is not unlike Jesus’ very simple command to Peter, when He asked Peter if Peter loved Him. When Peter said that did indeed love Him, Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).

Then Paul begins to get specific with Timothy as to how to edify the listeners. Every preacher, pastor, evangelist, and even lay person would do well to grasp what Paul says about the “glorious gospel” (verse 11). He tells him that the end of the commandment is “charity out of pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned (not pretending)” (verse 5). The Law demanded that men love the Lord with all of the heart, mind and soul, but no man was able to do that without a heart reformation. Christ entering into us gives us that reformation, thus completing the demand of the Law. Paul then warns that some preachers have turned aside from preaching that, to “vain jangling” or “useless talk” (verse 6).

What a bold thing to say! By continuing to preach the commandments, Paul says that a preacher is presenting useless talk. To further the argument, he continues in verse 7 with this powerful comment:

“Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:7).

Now Paul wants to make sure that no one thinks that he is against the law, so he says that it is good, “if a man use it lawfully” (verse 8). Wait a minute! If there is a lawful way to use the law, then there must be an unlawful way to use the law. Paul says, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane…” (verse 9). In light of this instruction, why is the law so frequently used against Christians? When a saint fails, we often hear the same condemnatory remarks used, citing the Law of God, as we do against the sinner. Instead, we should edify the believer, reminding them of who they are in Christ. Only the grace of God is going to teach them how to live righteous in this present world (Titus 2:11, 12).

Saint, receive no condemnation today. Let the love of God and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son silence the voice of condemnation in your spirit. God’s Law is just, holy and good and it shows people their sins. You are clean in Jesus, so see His grace and favor, and walk therein.

 

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No Mixture

Romans 11:6

Though it needs no paraphrasing (it is that simple), I will add my own little twist to this amazing verse:

“If we are saved by grace, then there are no more works involved in it, because if there are works then grace isn’t really grace. But if we are saved by works, then there is no room for grace (free favor), because if there is any grace then all of our works don’t really work”.

Can this be plainer? It is incredible that this verse is in the Bible, the New Covenant at that, and it is preached on and commented on so little. When I see it, I am incredulous that we are not making a much bigger deal out of the absolute necessity that works and grace stay forever separate.

What man calls “balance” God calls “mixture”, which is why there is no way to strike a balance between law and grace. Some hear of God’s grace and they counter it with, “Yes, God’s grace is good but you need to use God’s Law to show people how to live”. They are saying that too much grace is bad for you. Let’s see what God’s word says:

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) – This means that truth will always fall on the side of grace and Jesus is truth (John 14:6). For this cause, grace is not a doctrine but a person; and His name is Jesus! Too preach too much grace is to preach too much Jesus.

“The strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56) – Sin gains both strength and momentum when the Law is applied. This is why God gave the Law, so that man would see his inability beneath such a heavy load of sin. Do you want a sin revival? Insert the Law (Romans 7:9).

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12) – Grace has “appeared” and it is currently “teaching us”. Grace appears in the form of Jesus and Jesus is constantly teaching us. Notice that grace teaches you how to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and it even teaches you how to live righteously. Opponents of grace say that you will never learn these things without the Law. The Apostle Paul said otherwise.

“No man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish” (Luke 5:37). The New Wine is the Holy Spirit of the New Covenant, which can never be housed in the wineskin of the Law under the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant cannot house the power of the Spirit which is why you live by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil under the Law, but you have your senses exercised to DISCERN (not just to know) both good and evil under the New Covenant (Hebrews 5:14).

Finally, notice Jesus’ message to the church at Laodicea:

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16) – Lukewarm water is made by combining hot with cold. Jesus would rather you either embrace the warmth of grace or the coldness of the Law, but to try and marry the two is spiritual confusion and adultery. Let’s put works in their rightful place, which is to show others that we are already saved, not to show God that we are good enough to save (James 2:18).

 

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None Made Righteous By the Law

Romans 10:1-4

Paul had a burning heart for the salvation of his Jewish brethren. Verse one alone shows us that Paul did not consider you to be “saved” just because you were a Jew. In the same vein, you are not saved just because you attend church or you have a pastor in your family. Zeal for God is great, but if there is no saving knowledge with that zeal then it is just what the Greek says that it is “excitement, fervor of spirit”.

This set of verses were not written to insult the intelligence of those who seek religion for their answers, but to show us that no act of religious fervor on our part can bring us to the pristine level of God’s righteousness. Paul gives them credit for their zeal, but admits that it is “not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). The Greek word for knowledge here is ‘epegnoses’ which means, ‘correct knowledge’. It was used earlier in the book in Romans 3:20 when Paul stated that “by the law is the knowledge of sin”. Israel thought that they were capable of doing what was right in the eyes of God, so God provided them with the Law; not to teach them how to do right, but to show them ‘correct knowledge’, which was that they could NOT live up to His standards of holiness.

If you are ignorant of what God’s righteousness is, then you might go about to establish your own righteousness. Israel, because they had the Law, had become convinced that by the keeping of the Law, they could be found righteous in God’s eyes. However, their misunderstanding of the purpose was not much different than many people’s understanding of it now. They felt that a man was righteous when he did what he was told to and didn’t do what he was told not to do. There are people in the church now that would say “Amen” to that!

To submit yourself to the righteousness of God, you must come to the knowledge that among men, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). No righteous act that you can do can ever be viewed by God as anything more than a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6). His righteousness is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Jesus was made to be sin so that you and I could be found righteous through that sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The moment that Christ fulfilled the Law of God through a perfect life and a sacrificial death, the Law was to never again be viewed as a vehicle by which man could achieve righteousness. Though he was never able to be righteous through the Law anyhow, at least after Calvary, we had something else to set our sights on, and the Law was to fade away.

Paul said that when Moses came down the mountain, carrying the Law of God, he covered his face with a veil, because the glory that came from the Law was the glory which “was to be done away” (2 Corinthians 3:7). In other words, Moses did not want Israel to see that the glory of the Law was ALREADY FADING! Unfortunately, Paul said that many people still have that veil over their heart when they read the Law, refusing to see that its glory has been replaced (2 Corinthians 3:15).

Remove the veil and bask in the glorious light of the Spirit, finding your righteousness in Christ and His finished work.

 

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The Unsettled Soul

Acts 15:24

This verse is from the opening sentence of a letter that was written and approved by the early church fathers in the first Council in Jerusalem. The apostles had gathered together to settle the issue as to whether or not the Gentile believers were to be told to keep the Law of Moses after they were saved. The final verdict from the host pastor (Apostle James) was, “We trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God” (Acts 15:19).

The letter contains four things that the apostles felt should be preached to the Gentile believers: that they abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication (Acts 15:29). Three of these four things pertain to dietary laws that the Jews observed; where they ate nothing that had been previously sacrificed to another god and that they never eat an animal that had not been properly bled out. The final restriction, fornication, is the only moral message delivered, which Paul mentions in detail in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.

When the apostles agreed on this four-point message to the newly converted Gentiles, they decided that this needed to be done because “Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day” (Acts 15:21). They knew that the Law of Moses was being read and preached as the standard for living in every village in the Jewish world. This repetition of the Law of Moses was placing a burden on the backs of the Christians as they were being told that grace will save them but that works will perfect them. Paul comes against that particular mode of preaching in Galatians 3:1-5.

Let’s take a closer look at this opening sentence of the apostolic letter to the Gentile Christians:
“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ‘Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law’: to whom we gave no such commandment” (Acts 15:24).

The word ‘subverting’ in the King James is a bit hard to understand in our modern tongue. In Greek it means ‘to unsettle’. The troubling words that were being preached by so many were unsettling the souls of the Gentile Christians. Would it not be unsettling to learn that you are saved by grace through no works of your own but then after you are saved you must do a laundry list of things to stay saved? It was unsettling then and it is unsettling now!

The letter clearly states, “We gave no such commandment” emphasizing that the apostles were against the preaching of the law to Christians. What is so dangerous about a believer hearing the Law? Isn’t the Law just and holy and good? Yes! In fact, Romans 7:12 tells us that, but man has no ability to squeeze one drop of that just, holy and good out of the law. When the law enters, sin goes crazy due to the fact that the law was designed by God to show man that he is a sinner (Romans 5:20; 7:9; 1 Corinthians 15:56). It is the “ministry of death, written and engraven in stones” (2 Corinthians 3:6). When a believer hears the law, he becomes condemned at his inability to live it perfectly and that condemnation always leads to more failure. The very law that demands our holiness lends us no help in becoming holy!

Grace must be the message proclaimed from the housetops! Grace is a person and His name is Jesus (John 1:17). Proclaim Jesus and His loveliness and right living will always follow. The Holy Spirit has seen fit to lay upon us all “no greater burden than these necessary things” (Acts 15:28). Even those things mentioned by the apostles were given to the Gentiles simply so that they would not offend the Jews that they were around (1 Corinthians 8). You are free in Jesus!

 

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Your Old Spouse is Dead

Romans 7:1-6

Contrary to what it is often used for, these first several verses of Romans 7 are not Paul’s treatise against divorce. Within the context of the entire book, this illustration of marriage and divorce is meant to work as a metaphor for Paul’s teaching on freedom from the Law of Moses. When viewed through this lens, these verses speak volumes as to what truly happened to us when we received Christ.

Paul’s audience is the Jewish people (“I speak to them that know the law” verse 1) and he reminds them that the Law dominates them as long as they are alive. Just as a woman is bound to her husband by the covenant of marriage as long as he is lives (verse 2). If the husband dies, she is loosed from that covenant.

If a woman runs off with another man while she is still married, she is called an adulteress (verse 3), but if she were to wait until her husband was dead and then remarry, she “is no adulteress” (Romans 7:3). Using this example, Paul concludes that we are dead to the marriage that we had with the Mosaic Law due to the “body of Christ” (Romans 7:4). The phrase “body of Christ” speaks of the death of our Lord on the cross. We were baptized into His death at salvation (Romans 6:3), thus we are as dead to the Law as He is. Now that we have died to the Law, we are free to marry another, and the one that we are married to is the one “who is raised from the dead” (Romans 7:4).

Our first husband was a tough taskmaster. He made loud demands on us that we could never keep. He was perfect and just and good but he always reminded us that we were none of those things. We spent day and night trying to live up to his standards and we constantly fell short. When we were unable to perform just right, he provided us with no mercy or help. He spoke the truth to us, but it always cut and hurt because it exposed our flaws and our problems. He wore us out, and we were constantly tired and beat down.

Then he died, and our life started brand new again. Our old husband was the Law and our salvation sounded his death sentence. Jesus, having kept the demands of the Law perfectly, paid the price for all of our Law-breaking, which freed us from that Old Covenant. Now we are married to our new husband, Jesus Christ. He puts no hard demands on us; in fact, He is easy and His burdens are light. We serve Him in every way though He never demands it. His loving presence brings forth wonderful fruit from our lives (Romans 7:4). We are a better spouse to Him than we ever were to our old husband, because this husband washes us with the water of words, speaking sweet nothings into our ear (Ephesians 5:26).

We have been joined together to Christ through the marriage of salvation (Ephesians 5:31). This marriage has delivered us from the bondage of the Law (Romans 7:6). Don’t think that you will run away and “sin like crazy” now that you are free from the trappings of the Mosaic Law. Actually, the contrary is true. We once served our husband in the letter of the Law, with its demands written in stone. Now, we serve our new husband with a new spirit (verse 6). Quite literally, we served the first husband because we had too. We serve the new husband because we truly want to, in our heart.

 

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The Easy Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus spoke these words to the Jewish people, who were students of the Law of Moses. Laden down with the burden of keeping the Law in its perfection, the people had grown weary and tired. The Law of God is holy and just and good (Romans 7:12), but man is none of those things, thus he becomes heavy-laden when he tries to live beneath its demands.

When you live beneath the demands of the law, sin will dominate you (Romans 6:14). Weariness ensues when you are always trying to live up to a standard that cannot be achieved through human effort. The Law was never given to be lived perfectly, for that is an impossible task. Instead, the Law was given to show man his sin, so that he would know his need for grace (Romans 5:20).

Some have tried to explain Law as being anything that you do to achieve righteousness, and while that definition is true; it is the weakest example of the Law. Paul described the Law as the 10 Commandments (2 Corinthians 3:7) and the ordinances written by hand (Colossians 2:14). Concentrating on everything that is Law is a form of telling you what to avoid and what to do. Within itself, that is a form of the Law! Let us concentrate on the grace and favor of God in order to be free from the dominion of sin. If we focus our attention on Jesus and His grace then we are finished with trying to figure out what is Law.

The Jews that Jesus spoke to are a type of the believer and the sinner who think that their works give them some standing with God. Believers are saved by grace, but many go on working the Law in order to achieve standing or goodness with God, though these things are unnecessary. Sinners do good works for the same reasons, hoping to earn heaven with their actions. Jesus came to set all of us free from our lifestyle of good works. The believer can rest from their deeds seeing as they are the righteousness of God in Christ; and sinners can be saved by accepting Jesus, whether they understand the Law or not.

When you lay down the yoke of the Law, Jesus gives you the yoke of His grace. While religion takes the yoke of sin and replaces it with the yoke of the Law (which unwittingly brings power back to the sin); Jesus takes off the yoke of the Law and replaces it with grace. We are not above grace, but under it, with Jesus protecting us from the cares of this life (Romans 6:14).

Christianity is a day-to-day learning experience of who Jesus is. Notice that Jesus tells us to “learn of me”, not “learn how to live”. When we learn of Jesus we are learning how to let Him live through us. Unfortunately, many of us are concentrating on how to live right, while Jesus in His mercy and grace wants to live His life through us. Learn of Him and His finished work; the price that He paid for your health, wholeness and salvation, and you will know how to live. True relationship will bring His righteousness out in your lifestyle, and you will never even think about it.

When your Christianity begins to feel hard and heavy, reevaluate your relationship with the Lord. Jesus said that the yoke of grace is “easy” and His burden is “light”. If you are told that Christianity is hard, that message is being presented to you by those who are still viewing their works as the basis for their blessings. You are free in Jesus and His lifestyle is easy and His burden is light. In Jesus, “find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

 

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Under Grace

Romans 6:14

This verse contains an iron-clad, blessed promise for those who are under the grace of God, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14). Let us shout this from the housetops; God’s grace destroys sin’s control over the believer. Only the grace of God can render sin’s power ineffective to dominate and destroy the saint.

The promise comes at the front of the verse, with the reason for the promise coming at the end. The reason that sin cannot dominate the believer is that we do not live underneath the power of the law anymore. Notice that we are not “under the law, but under grace”. This shows that the position of the saint is beneath one or the other; either beneath the load of the law or beneath the power of grace.

Law was given to bring our sins to light (Romans 5:20), and it provides the strength for sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). When set loose in someone’s life, the law will bring forth a revival of sin (Romans 7:9) and cause them to walk in anger (Romans 4:15). In short, the law will minister condemnation and death to all that fall beneath it (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9). It is a cruel taskmaster, literally keeping its adherents from walking in faith (Galatians 3:12, 23) and from having a loving relationship with God (Galatians 4:1-5).

Grace is neither a doctrine nor a substance; grace is a person, and His name is Jesus. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth (notice which side truth falls on?) came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Law is written and engraved in stone (2 Corinthians 3:7), but grace appears to us and teaches us how to live right (Titus 2:11, 12). Grace is a gift to be received in super-abundance for all that wish to reign in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17), and grace is at its best where sin is abounding (Romans 5:20).

To be under the law is to have the law above you, hearkening for you to come up higher. The law is like Jacob seeing the ladder in the wilderness with God standing at the top (Genesis 28:12, 13); no matter how good you live, you can never climb up that ladder, for if you fail in one point of the law, the weight of the whole thing falls upon you (James 2:10).

To be under grace is to have the never-ending blessings of favor flowing down on you from the finished work of grace. Grace is like Jesus saying to Nathanael, “Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51). Though Jacob lived prior to the giving of the law, the illustration still stands as his incident was before Christ. So, under law, God is at the top; with Nathanael, under grace, Jesus comes to you. Grace always comes to you!

If you know someone who is living a lifestyle of sin, and they are justifying it by saying that they are living under grace, share Romans 6:14 with them. It is impossible to live a life dominated by sin if you are truly living under grace. Only when you are living under the guilt and condemnation of the law will sin have dominion over you. This verse is NOT progressive, where someday sin will not have dominion over you, it is a present promise! Sin cannot and will not dominate the believer who trusts completely in God’s grace for their life.

For this cause we have no reason to fear the message of grace. It will never produce Christians that sin like crazy and live sloppy lives. On the contrary, true grace will produce radical saints who are intensely in love with a God that loves them more than words can say. Rejoice; sin no longer dominates you!

 

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Preach it Again!

Acts 13:37-43

The Apostle Paul went into a synagogue to minister on a Saturday at Antioch. The transcript of his sermon is recorded for us in Acts 13, and it gives us remarkable insight into the preaching style and content of the great Apostle. We have no audio recordings of this great man of course, so we must rely on this nugget of gold from his ministry to see how he preached and what he emphasized.

His sermon opens with God choosing Abraham and exalting the nation of Israel; the Exodus from Egypt; the conquering of Canaan and ministries of Samuel, Saul and David, leading right into the arrival of Jesus. He then ignores the life of Christ and jumps straight to the cross and the resurrection; tying both events to the salvation of mankind and the forgiveness of sins. This is where our little devotion picks up the sermon, for it is here that he leads into his invitation.

His final thrust in the sermon is found in 13:38, 39, where he preaches “forgiveness of sins” and that all who believe “are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses”. He then concludes with a warning that appears in the prophets about men rejecting the work that God will do. Rejection of the message of grace is the final straw in a man’s rejection of God and His love.

When the Jews moved out of the synagogue, the Gentiles that were there clamored to meet Paul and “besought” or “begged” him to come back and preach the same message the next Saturday (Acts 13:42). When the next week arrived, almost the whole city came together to hear the Word of God (Acts 13:44) and the Jews turned out to contradict the message that Paul preached. Not much has changed from those who cling to works and religion, for they still contradict the message of grace, always quick to try to add “balance” by pouring in law and personal responsibility. Religion is scared of relationship, for if relationship with God is possible, religion is unnecessary.

The Jews of Antioch saw that it was impossible to stop the Gentiles from believing on Jesus, so they pulled out the big guns so to speak in order to convince the townsfolk that Paul’s message of grace was wrong. To do their bidding, they call on the “devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city” (Acts 13:50). Again, not much has changed. When the church wants to come against the preaching of radical grace, they find the most shining example of the law and works that they can and they send it in a tirade against the Apostles of God’s grace and favor. Ishmael has always persecuted Isaac with his words; don’t feel that it is unusual now.

Let’s return to this type of ministry, where we tell the sinners in our lives that Jesus has died for the forgiveness of their sins. Only when the church becomes the place of refuge and hope for the unbeliever will it be appealing enough to bring them back. May we never brag when our churches seem hostile towards the unsaved, and they feel condemned and guilty when they enter our midst. Set them free by shining the light of Christ into their lives and showing them the way out. If they reject the brightness of Jesus then there is no hope for them, but are we even trying?

 

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Elevated at Transfiguration

Luke 9:28-37

Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain to pray and while there, He transformed from His physical form to His glorified nature. His countenance changed and His clothes glistened. We call this incident the Transfiguration because Jesus showed the disciples His glorified man, literally transforming before their very eyes. Paul used the same Greek phrase for transfigured (Matthew 17:2) in Romans 12:2 when he tells the Christian to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”.

Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared with Jesus and began to speak of His coming death in Jerusalem. Ever wonder what heaven talks about? In this case, they were speaking of the finished work of Jesus, which was about to be accomplished on the cross. Heaven has always been about Jesus and His beauty and the redemption of mankind.

The story of the Transfiguration gives us a remarkable look at the arrival of grace. Grace is not a doctrine; it is a person, and His name is Jesus! John said that “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), and Paul said to Titus that “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). A doctrine does not “appear”, but a man does. This shows us that when we speak of grace, we are speaking of Jesus.

Moses speaks of the law, while Elijah is representative of the prophets. The Old Testament is full of the Law and the Prophets, while the New Testament is the ministry of Grace. On top of this mountain, the Law and the Prophets became witness to the Righteousness without the Law (Romans 3:21). When Peter expresses a desire to build 3 tabernacles; one for each person, the Lord speaks from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him” (Luke 9:35), and there was no one left on the mountain with them except Jesus (Mark 9:8). Peter was placing the value of the Law and the Prophets on equal footing with Grace, and God spoke emphatically that it was Jesus who was to be listened to; not Moses and Elijah. When we try to elevate the Law and the Prophets to the status of God’s Grace, the Law and the Prophets will vanish to relinquish all attention towards Jesus.

What a command of God! Whatever Jesus says, that is what we are supposed to listen to. What is the first statement from Jesus’ mouth following the powerful voice of His Father? “Arise, and be not afraid” (Matthew 17:7). Rise up in who you are and do not fear. What a mandate for the believer today!

Notice that when the Law was given on Mt. Sinai, the people ran away from Moses when he came down the mountain bearing the tables of stone (Exodus 20:18). When Jesus comes down the mountain after His transfiguration, the people run to meet Him (Luke 9:37). Where Law runs man away from the presence of the Lord, Grace runs man towards Him, for Law ministers death, while Grace always ministers life (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).

The lesson for Peter, James and John was an awesome visual, but it was also wrapped up in their names. Peter means “stone”; James is “Jacob” in Hebrew meaning “supplanter”; John is “grace” in Greek. Put them back-to-back-to-back and you have, “The stone (Law) is replaced by grace”. Transfiguration taught it, and God said, “Listen to it!” Awesome!

 

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