MATTHEW 5:17-20: “Don’t ever think that I came to set aside Moses’ Teachings or the Prophets. I didn’t come to set them aside but to make them come true. I can guarantee this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a period nor a comma will disappear from the Scriptures before everything has come true. So whoever sets aside any command that seems unimportant and teaches others to do the same will be unimportant in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches what the commands say will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I can guarantee that unless you live a life that has God’s approval and do it more faithfully than the experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Is the Bible up for grabs? Do I get to pick and choose the verses that I like, while dismissing the verses that are uncomfortable and challenging? The obvious answer is NO! However, this is exactly what we are tempted to do over and over again. The Pharisees and scribes did this in Jesus day. And, the church in our culture is doing this today.
Many confuse the issue of “law” and “grace” as an invitation to dismiss the teaching of the Old Testament. “We are now under a new covenant in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Old Testament do not apply” – some propose. Yet, this supposition ignores the very words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus made it clear – He did not come to set aside Moses’ teachings or the teaching of the prophets. He came to clarify and to fulfill them. In fact, Jesus made it clear,
- “Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a period nor a comma will disappear from the Scriptures before everything has come true.”
There is not one word in the Bible that is now null and void. There is not a dichotomy between the revelation of the Old Testament and the New Testament, between the nature of God in Genesis and the nature of God in Revelation. God never changes, and His Word stands sure. So Jesus reminds His disciples,
- “So whoever sets aside any command that seems unimportant and teaches others to do the same will be unimportant in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches what the commands say will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Some may object that such a position will lead to legalism, an attempt to please God by our own works. Yet, when one truly proclaims the Scriptures, without compromise, something completely different happens. God’s Word is holy and true, but we are broken and flawed. When we hold up the holy and true Word of God, without compromise, it reveals our sin – and most importantly our need for a Savior. It is when we pick and choose from the Bible that we create a system that we try to follow to please God within our own strength. Paul writes in Romans,
- “We know that whatever the Scriptures say applies to everyone under their influence, and no one can say a thing. The whole world is brought under the judgment of God. Not one person can have God’s approval by any effort to follow the laws in the Scriptures. These laws show what sin is.”. (Romans 3:19-20 GW)
It is only when we know and understand that we are truly sinners that we are in the position to repent and receive the Kingdom, by grace through faith. If we take away from the Word of God, we, like the Pharisees, may be found guilty of actually keeping people from entering the Kingdom! Jesus said,
- “Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”. (Matthew 5:3 GW)
Lord, forgive me when I have been tempted to pick and choose only the verses that I want to hear. Help me to come to Your Word with an open heart, and a repentant heart. When the light of your truth shines forth, help me run to You for mercy and grace to find help and strength in time of need. Grant me the strength and courage to proclaim Your Word without compromise and with the full compassion and love of Jesus Christ!
In Jesus Name!