THE IMPORTANT ONE - Essential 100, Week 9

June 25, 2016

THE IMPORTANT ONE - Essential 100, Week 9

Hello New Life,

Here I am.  The Holy Spirit really impressed upon me the importance of writing to you all this morning.  This is Essential 100, week 9.  Please read and let me know how God is at work in your life today.

This week was all about Jesus.  In light of our Old Testament completion last week, it is now time to answer a pressing question IN CONTEXT of everything God has done from the beginning of time.  The question is:  "WHY DID JESUS COME?"

I love lists, so here's a short one.

1.  Jesus came to atone for our sins (literally means to cover) through fulfilling the law of God on our behalf (He "fulfilled all righteousness").  We couldn't do it, so God did it on the behalf of all who look to Jesus' perfect righteousness in faith.

2.  Jesus came to teach us how to be fully human again as God originally intended for His people through repentance from our sin which has been leading us into a living death existence.

Let me expound based on our readings from the past week:

When Jesus is baptized, He says to John The Baptist, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  (Matthew 3:15)

Jesus then goes off to be tempted by the Devil in the wilderness.  Everywhere our first father Adam failed (and all of us since him Rom. 5:12-18), Jesus prevailed.  Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for us in His temptation.  ALL OF IT!  It's something we could not do for ourselves, so God did it for us.  Hebrews 4:15 says " 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."

So, Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly.  Repeatedly He speaks of fulfilling all righteousness, and he prevailed against the Tempter where all of us since Adam have failed.  All who look to Jesus' perfectly fulfilled righteousness in faith are covered by Jesus as one might be covered or wrapped in a large blanket.  When God looks at us who have faith, he sees only the righteousness of Jesus.  God looks on Jesus and pardons those who have faith completely through Jesus who is God's second self; our Savior.  God fulfilled God's own righteous requirements through God's self out of God's love for us.  Praise Him, and receive what Jesus has done for you afresh today!

But it doesn't end there.  Directly after Jesus prevails against the Tempter, Satan, He repeats John the Baptist's famous statement: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  (Matt 4:17).  He further expounds on this in Matthew 5:17 saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."  Jesus fulfilled the law, but He did not abolish the law.  Matthew 5:19-20 "19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."  Jesus has called us to look to His perfect fulfillment of righteousness in order to be saved, and then He calls us to live into a new humanity He is creating through Himself.

Mathew 5-7:29 is Jesus teaching us how to walk in the new humanity.  Now that we've been released from the law of sin and death, now that we are COVERED under the blood of Jesus who has fulfilled all righteousness on our behalf, now we are invited to walk in the new way of the Spirit.  This is the way of life that God originally intended for his people before sin and death entered the world.  Now that we have Jesus' righteousness, we must ensure that the way we live is not a superficial "only on the outside" righteousness, but that we are actually from the inside out reflecting the righteousness of the one who called and saved us.  So, the law isn't abolished, but we no longer need to fulfill the law to receive salvation; we need only look to Jesus Christ's perfect righteousness for that.  Then, from a clear conscience, we follow Jesus in the new way of the Spirit, practicing an inside-out righteousness, teaching each other to obey Jesus and become authentic whole human beings as God originally intended.  The heart religion Jesus is advocating gets right to the point.  Your heart must change.  If you harbor hatred, bitterness and rage at someone, you have committed murder in your heart.  If you look lustfully at another person made in God's image who is not your spouse, you have committed adultery in your heart.  When you give money or service to the Church as a way to stroke your own ego and to let everyone know how pious you are, you are not practicing heart-felt God-honoring religion, but only a superficial one which is designed to be seen by others in order to stroke your own ego and pride.  Jesus calls for a new way for the new humanity that God is making through Jesus Himself.  Jesus so strongly advocates for a heart-level religious practice that he declares in Matthew 7:21-23  " 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"  You must be born again through looking to Jesus' perfect fulfillment of righteousness on your behalf, and you must now walk in the new way of the Spirit putting to death the misdeeds of the body through the Spirit of Jesus so that you might live fully human as God intended.  The result of a heart level following of Jesus is life in this life and the next.  The result of relying on our own works of righteousness no matter how impressive they may seem to us and practicing a surface level spirituality intended to be seen by others and not from the heart is death in this life and the next.  We have an entire lifetime to walk out this new way Jesus has made for us.  And in the end, the most important question will be, "Did you know Him"?  "Did you really follow Him?"  (Matthew 13:36-43)    

In case this kind of talk makes you fearful, or makes you doubtful, or makes you feel troubled, remember the heart of The Father for you.  Read Luke 15:11-31.  That's how I see myself.  I am the lost son.  Sometimes I feel lost though I've been found by Jesus.  When I do, I run back to Him, and The Father is always faithfully there to meet me with open arms and a party.  As you read all of Jesus' moral teaching this past week, I invite you to go over it carefully.  These are words of life.  Remember what God said to Jesus in Luke 9:35  "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."  And if ever you begin to feel like you are sinking in the muck and mire of this world and in the darkness you find in the recesses of your own heart, simply look to Jesus and say with Peter  “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)  And hear Jesus' warm and understanding words, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31).  Then hear God's voice to Paul, " “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” and declare the truth  "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Cor. 12:9).   

Come to Jesus, and live (link).

Love you all,