Welcome To The New Age:
April 3, 2016
Welcome to the New Age. Almost every epic story has a hero. Lord of the Rings has Frodo. To Kill A Mocking Bird has Atticus Finch. And the movie Gladiator has Maximus Decimus Meridius. Within every epic story there is a struggle between good and evil. Whether it is a family that is trouble or a world that is being overtaken by evil the good stories always end with evil being overthrown and the dawn of a new age upon the people. We all love epic stories where the hero saves the day.
Last week as everyone knows (unless you were living under a rock for a few days) we celebrated Easter. During our morning service we spent time looking at what the world would be like if the Resurrection of Jesus never happened. Through using Alternate History we saw the world would have been a very different place if the resurrection would have never happened. But it did…right? There is no disproving historically that the resurrection happened.
This morning we are starting a very short, but yet very significant, two week series called “Welcome To The New Age of Grace”. Regardless of whether you started Following Jesus 2 months ago or 40 years ago the significance of Jesus walking this earth was Epic. Absolutely everything changed in the Spiritual Realm when Jesus came and walked this Earth. He ushered in a New Age. Welcome to the New Age.
Our story starts back at the creation of the world. Many of you know the Biblical account of creation but allow me to remind you of it as that is one of the most significant portions of our story. God created Adam & Eve in his image & he created them perfectly. In creating them he didn’t want robots that were programmed to worship and follow Him rather he wanted to create beings that had a free volitional will to either love Him or not love Him.
The man & woman saw God & Loved God. The Bible says that God walked in the place that hey lived in the cool of the day. But then a thought entered their head…If we do what we want to do…we will be like God…making our own decisions. So in Genesis chapter 3 we see that Adam & Eve choose to go against God’s desire for their lives and as a result they are separated from God. Because God is perfect (remember…he is God…he sets the standard) and mankind was no longer perfect they were separated from God. Not only were they separated from God here on earth but it also meant that when they died they would be separated from God because his Eternal dwelling, heaven, was a perfect place.
Well…as Scripture tells us in 1 John 4:8…God is Love. Love is the very core of who God is. He wasn’t content with man not having a way to be reconciled to him. So, in his Sovereignty, instituted two things. He instituted a sacrificial system & he also instituted “the Law”.
Now I want to pause for a moment and encourage you with this…while this might seem like it is excessive details these details that I’m giving you set the stage for the Epic Hero…Jesus…To come and usher us into a new Era. Please hear the words New Era. I stress those words because in all honest most Followers of Jesus, after they’ve walked with Jesus for a few years, seem like they’ve got amnesia and totally forget that they are living in a New Era. So, hang tight here for a few minutes as we cover the darker side of the story until our Hero enters the scene.
So God instituted both a sacrificial system and also “the Law”. When Adam & Eve sinned (willful disobedience against God) it was essentially treason against God and the penalty for this act of Treason was both physical and spiritual death. So, God not being willing that any should be forced to spend Eternity apart from him, stated that if someone were to regularly sacrifice a young blemish free bull (priests), blemish free male goat (ruler), young lamb without blemish (commoner), or two young pigeons it would pay the required price for the sins that were committed (hattat). Remember…the wages of sin is death.
So for thousands of years mankind sacrificed blemish free animals so that God would overlook their sins. Now it would be wise for you to ask: “Why does the blood of animals suffice the punishment for sin?” That is an incredibly great question to ask. The reason it does is because these sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice that was yet to come…the death of Jesus. So in faith these people had blemish free sacrifices made on their behalf anticipating that the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, which was yet to come, would pay the penalty for their sins. So you need to see that these sacrifices were offered out of Faith. People had faith in days prior to Jesus coming.
So…does the sacrifice make sense? Like I said it wasn’t a lengthy in depth analysis of the sacrificial system but I believe it is enough for you to understand the significance of it. The Sacrificial system was instituted so that those who sinned (acted in ways that aren’t according to God’s nature) would be able to dwell eternally with God.
But how would these people know what sins were? How would they know when sacrifices would need to be made? That is where the Law comes in. If you have your Bible with you, or an the Bible app on your phone, turn to Exodus chapter 20…and we’ll start in verse 1. Many of you know what we are about to read as: The 10 Commandments.
EXODUS 20:1-4, 7, 8, 12-17
And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness (lie) against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
These are the “10 Commandments”. These as well as a whole plethora of other laws written in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy are considered “The Law” or “The Law Of Moses”. According to the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7, the Law was given so that mankind might know what sin was. Makes sense right? How can I know what is a wrong action if I don’t know what the list of rules are. So the Law identifies what Sin is.
What was the law used for? It was used to point out sin as we just said…which was necessary for what? So that man would be reminded that they were what: “sinners” and they’d make the necessary sacrifices to cover or atone for their sins. These sacrifices were constantly made in faith that the blood of the sacrificed animals would cover their sins until Jesus could die on the cross.
The law is kind of like a mirror. When we look in the mirror, we see the dirt on our face. The mirror cannot clean our faces. It takes soap and water to do that. The same thing is true of the law. The law shows us that we are covered with the rottenness and filth of sin, but it cannot cleanse from sin.
But mankind was expected to regularly look in the mirror…they were to offer regular sacrifices. It wasn’t a one time sacrifice. It was the constant reminder that you were a failure in God’s eyes. Though you had a faith in the One who was yet to come the Law constantly pointed out how you had failed. The law fulfilled it’s duty…but the law was incomplete.
A couple of years ago our water hydrant in the barn froze up and split the galvanized pipe open. Most of you know what a pain it is to water animals in the winter but without a hydrant in the barn it was even worse. So, I scoured the internet and found a tape that I’m sure a lot of you McGyvers already knew about…it is a self fusing silicone tape. So I put some heat tape and a light bulb on the pipe and got it thawed out. Wrapped the pipe super tight with this silicone tape and It was the most magical moment in the world when I lifted the handle of the hydrant and water came out of the spout vs. the pipe.
The Old Testament sacrifices were a lot like that pipe tape. The sacrifices would cover the sin but the tape needed to be regularly reapplied. The law was incomplete in really solving the root of the problem.
In Galatians 3:12 we read:
For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
The Law couldn’t fix the root problem. The root problem was that mankind had sinned and in God’s eyes they were still sinners. The root problem was that man was a traitor and his heart was turned towards treason. Look also at Romans 3:20…
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The law was only intended to point out sin…never to take care of man’s sin problem. For thousands of years man was stuck in this continual pattern of sinning, which destroyed relationship with God and man, sacrificing. Then sinning, which destroyed relationship with God and Man, and then sacrificing. Then sinning, which destroyed relationship with God and Man, and then sacrificing. That is why the Prophet Jeremiah said in chapter 17 verse 9…
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
I keep doing the things I don’t want to do. It is like my heart is desperately sick…that inner being where I make all my decisions is messed up. I don’t want to hurt my wife. I don’t want to walk past my neighbor in need. I don’t want to think bad thoughts about my coworker. My heart seems desperately sick…thank God for the sacrifices. But I just wish the struggle would end!
But then…but then…The Epic Hero appears. At just the right time a Hero appears. Galatians 4 says…
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
These two verses are so rich. Go back to verse 4…
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
He was born under the law. Jesus was born in an era known as “Under The Law”. As Jesus walked this earth he was unlike anyone else who had ever walked the earth. We know that he was fully God and was born in human form or human likeness. During his time here on earth he lived a life that was blameless and sinless. There was never a need for a sacrifice to be made o his behalf. He was spotless and blameless…sound like anything we’ve talked about already?
He was the lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. But this sacrifice was a once for all sacrifice. Hebrews 10 calls it a single sacrifice for all time. This was the fulfillment that would cause the heart of mankind. In fact verse 5 says it would be a sacrifice that would redeem those who were living under the law.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son
Jesus did what the Law could not do. The law couldn’t provide forgiveness. The Law couldn’t bring reconciliation with God. The law couldn’t bring peace with God. But…the death of Jesus has brought all of those things!
So Cory…what do you mean by a new Era? This is what I mean. Jesus was born to those who were “under the law.” But when someone comes to Jesus, because the Law has shown them that they are sinners in need of a savior, Romans 6:14 says that “they are no longer under law, but under grace.” If you have recognized your need for Jesus, and have turned to him for the answer to your sin problem, you are no longer law but you are under grace.
Because you are under grace and not law…as we just read there is now no condemnation (meaning you are a failure that deserves hell) because you have been set free from the law of sin and death. You are set free from the law pointing that you are a failure. You are set free from the law which holds a magnifying glass over our lives.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Over the past few weeks I’ve really felt like the Lord was impressing upon my heart that we need to get a healthy understanding of law and grace. This is so near and dear to me because I didn’t get it until later in my growing up years. The law is only designed to show us that we need a Savior. That is all. Then when we find that Savior, Jesus, the Law is no longer applicable to our lives. Why? Because we are living under grace.
We’ve been adopted as sons and daughters of the Living God. The law no longer applies to us. Remember during the crucifixion of Jesus he said: “It is finished” and he hung his head and died? What was finished? His mission. His mission to provide an answer to the question of death and sin. If you are a Follower of Jesus It is Finished. You no longer need to hang your head in shame because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The check list, aka the Law, no longer applies to you.
Now in me saying this I know it may chafe some of you. It freaks you out to hear me say that the law no longer applies to our lives. “Cory you go saying that and we’re going to go all liberal and veer off the straight and narrow!” If those sorts of thoughts come to your mind, I hate to say this, but you might now know Jesus. If you are worried about the morality of those who are “followers of Jesus” I don’t think you know the grace of Jesus…you don’t know Jesus.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
Paul says in Romans 6:15 that even though we are not under law, but under grace, we aren’t to go on sinning so that grace can increase all the more. But as we see here in Titus 2 grace trains us to renounce the things that are not of God. Grace does that. What is grace? Grace is the unmerited favor of God.
Once you are in Christ it isn’t the wrath of God that causes us to stop sinning against God…rather it is the unmerited favor of God that does. It is his kindness that causes us to stop. Meaning we recognize the sacrifice of our savior and we couldn’t ever fathom willfully going against the desires of the one who loves us so much.
Here’s a free parenting tip…if you are parenting with wrath vs. grace…you’ve probably lost the hearts of your kids. Those who’ve been adopted into God’s family are living under His grace…not his iron fist. It is his grace that drives us to obedience. If you’ve lost the hearts of your kids it is time to start working to get them back.
We are under Grace. I could keep going on and on for hours about this because I love the fact that we are under Grace. But lastly, whoever has a bible or an electronic device with a bible app on it turn to John chapter 1. Everyone turn there so that you can either dog ear the page or you can book mark it on your device.
For from his [Jesus] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
A number of years ago I taught out of the book of John and it changed my view of God & Jesus forever. I want to wrap this morning with these thoughts.
The Fullness of Jesus. Meaning sufficiency of. Completeness of. Meaning not lacking anything. Whatever we are about to read we know that it was totally sufficient and complete.
For from the fullness of Jesus we have received grace upon grace. These words right here are what changed my life. If this makes you uncomfortable this morning I invite you to go home and wrestle with this passage of scripture and all of the life of Jesus. Grace upon grace. What this literally means is that the Grace of Jesus is sufficient for the sins we’ve ever committed. But it isn’t just grace…it is grace upon grace. Meaning that if that first reservoir of grace (remember it is full and complete) were to ever run out he has another layer or dose of grace to apply. The grace of Jesus is stronger than any sin that you’ve ever committed. The grace of Jesus is stronger than any sin you’ll ever commit.
Listen, if you are a Follower of Jesus, He has you covered with Grace upon Grace. You’ve been adopted. You are now under grace…not under law. For those of you who are new to Jesus this is great news isn’t it? You aren’t a failure in His eyes. You are a dearly beloved Child who will never be able to keep the law (James 2:10). But you are not under law you are under grace.
Because we live in a New Era…we don’t have to concern ourselves with how someone who attends Pleasant Hill Church looks or acts. Hear me…If they are truly under grace they will be desiring holiness for their lives. Those hearts of those who are under grace will break when they act in ways that are contrary to God’s known will.
As Walter Martin (founder of the Christian Research Institute) said, “Now, we don’t begin our day saying, Today I am going to make the effort to keep the Ten Commandments.” We begin our day saying, Lord Jesus, give me the grace that I may walk with you.” Because if I am going to walk with Christ, I’ll be obeying the will of God and the law of God.”
We can trust that those who know the Grace of God will yield themselves to be trained by that same grace. We can trust that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide and we can be at peace about that. We are not under law…we are under Grace. In fact, we are under grace upon Grace.
I want to ask you to be sure you come back next week as we wrap this time up by immersing ourselves in Grace. The passage of Scripture next week will help make sense of the idea of why Grace would drive us to please our heavenly father. Make sure you come back our you’ll greatly regret it!