THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST (4) – JESUS, THE FRIEND OF SINNERS – CASE DISMISSED!
During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “JESUS, THE FRIEND OF SINNERS”. Her main text was taken from the Book of John 8:2-12).
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD APART FROM THE LAW IS REVEALED
“The righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed”. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16, 17) … “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:19-24) … “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17)
The Gospel is God’s Good News. It is totally God’s Word and God’s Work. It is God’s only method to save sinners. Christ is the only Savior. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Justification by Grace only, by Faith only, in Christ only, is the only method God uses to save sinners. Rejecting the Gospel means eternal condemnation. Justification by faith alone is the proclamation of God the Father, the Creator, and the Eternal Judge, that on behalf of the Merit of the Cross, the sinner who has faith in Christ Crucified, is justified freely. The sinner who has faith in Christ crucified becomes righteous before God and man. Grace comes from above, from God. Faith comes from the sinner, which is also a work of Grace. Once Grace and Faith meet, revelation is born. Salvation is by revelation, the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit. Without revelation, there is no Christianity.
Righteousness is being made right with God, to stand in His presence and have a relationship with Him. God insists on perfect Righteousness. None can obey God’s Law perfectly. Therefore, by the deeds of the law, no man is justified in God’s sight. Christ obeyed the Law perfectly, even unto death. By faith in Christ, believing that He became sin for you, and died as your Substitute, you receive His perfect robe of Righteousness. It is called the imputed Righteousness of Christ. The sinner is covered with the perfect Righteousness of Christ. God now freely justifies the sinner and accepts him as His child. So, justification, is by Grace, by faith in Christ alone, thru the Word of God, to the glory of God alone!
THE LAW DEFINED
In the dictionary, The Law is defined as a system of rules created and enforced by an authority, through social or governmental institutions, to regulate the people’s behavior. The Law has been variously described as a science or the art of justice.
In the Bible we see that God has given man His Laws. Apart of the Ten Commandments, God has given many other laws, found especially in the Old Testament. Why did God give man His Laws? Before we answer this question, we must clarify the fact that salvation in Christ does not come by obeying God’s Law. Justification, righteousness, to a sinner comes by Grace alone, by Faith in Christ Crucified alone. It is the free gift of God. This is the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and it is found in the Word of God. This is very important to know: God’s Law was not given to save man!!! God never intended that man should be saved by obeying His Law! God’s Law has a different purpose! Selah! Justification by faith alone applies to both the Old and the New Testament, as the only mode of salvation. Long ago, before the world was made, The Holy Trinity had a counsel, deciding the plan and purpose of salvation of sinners. God that Father decided that sinful men shall be saved thru faith in His only Begotten Son, who will die as their Substitute. From ages past, faith in God has always been the only method of salvation! Faith is the Key to open the door of salvation! There is no other key! Please remember that! By obeying the Law man cannot become righteous or accepted by God. The righteousness God has provided, is by Grace and by Faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not achieved by obeying God’s Law. Many Christians make mistake here. They think that by obeying some Biblical Laws, by behaving well, or by doing good deeds, they shall be saved. This is an error. Search your heart and examine your faith!
God gave His Laws to men in two ways: to the Jews, God gave the Law thru Moses. It was written on the Stone. It is external. It appears in the Old Testament. Israel is the only nation that had the privilege to hear God’s voice and to receive God’s Laws. The rest people, also called the Gentiles, they received God’s Laws in their hearts, written in their consciences. This was an internal law. The Holy Spirit is a witness to that internal Law. God judges all sinners either by the written law or by the law of their conscience. Rejecting Christ and His Gospel because of unbelief is the greatest sin. The reaction to the Gospel is God’s standard in judging all sinners. There is no partiality with God (Rom 2:1-16).
THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S LAW
1-God gave His Law so that man knows God, His holy and just character. Thru the Law, we understand what God loves and what God hates.
2-God gave His Law so that man knows what sin is. The Law identifies, exposes, and judges sin. “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). Without the law, sin hides and deceives man. ‘Sin is lawlessness’ (1Jn 3:4). The Law was given so that we understand God’s hatred, wrath, and judgment on sin. When a Judge in the court condemns a criminal, he quotes the Law that was broken. In the same way, God convicts us of sin, by pointing us to the broken law (Rom 1:18-32). The Doctrine of the Wrath of God: God is Holy! God hates sin! God always fights and destroys sin. If the sinner does not have faith in the Gospel provided by God, that sinner is condemned, and he will perish. Rejecting the Gospel, blocks the way to Grace and Mercy to manifest. There is no hope for such man to be saved. God’s Wrath is not an emotional, erratic reaction as the human anger. It is God’s character to hate and destroy anything that is sin. Holiness is jealous for the glory of God! The first manifestation of God’s wrath was in the Garden of Eden when Adam broke the Law. The curses placed on the serpent, the devil, on Adam and Eve, these are all manifestation of God’s wrath against evil and sin.
3-God’s Law directs the sinner to the Savior. God’s Law is like a strict Teacher, a Tutor, or a Schoolmaster! How does it work? The sinner tries to obey the Law to please God. He is not able to do it. He becomes frustrated. This spiritual frustration is under the control of the Holy Spirit. It will lead to the Savior, to Grace! The sinner finds life, hope and salvation, at the foot of the Cross. The Law does not work with faith. It has no mercy or grace. It expects total obedience. The Law humbles men because they fail to obey it! The Law kills the pride of man. No man can boast of obeying the Law to save himself! The Law punishes all rebellion and directs the student to the only Savior, full of Grace and Truth (Gal 3:19-25).
THE LAW GLORIFIES CHRIST
God the Father, thru God the Son, by the Holy Spirit, is the Author of the Law. God created and enforced the Law. As a Man, Christ was born under the Law, to identify with sinful men, to be able to be their Substitute. “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:1-5). Try to imagine, a Supreme Court Judge, stepping down from his exalted seat, going so low, becoming a criminal willingly. He does it so that he can pay the debt of a wicked man, just because he wants to adopt him as a son. This is just a small picture to understand what our Lord did. This is the greatest humility revealed to men and angels! Appreciate the price paid to save your soul! Jesus died so that you could live. Blood was shed on the Cross that you may have eternal life! Does this revelation move you? Is the depth of your spirit touched by this greatest love of all? Worship the Lord!
Christ is the only Man who obeyed all God’s Law perfectly! He obeyed it in two ways:
1-Christ obeyed the Law actively, by submitting to all God’s Law and obey it, spiritually, and externally. Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and lived a sinless life, totally obedient to the Law of God, both in His heart, in His words and actions. He is the standard for perfect obedience.
2-Christ obeyed the Law passively, by becoming sin for us. God’s Law says: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20; KJ); “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Christ became sin as our Willing Substitute and obeyed this Law. That is why He died. This was His passive obedience to the Law, like a Lamb led to the slaughter, He did not say a word in His defense. Prophet Isaiah said long ago: “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11).
Listen to what our Lord said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:17-20). Our Lord says that He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. To fulfill it means to satisfy the hopes, promises and expectations of someone. Christ obeyed the Law and fulfilled the promises of the Word of God. He did this by teaching men the Word of God and by obeying it. He is the only perfectly Righteous Man. His perfect Righteousness, coming from His total obedience to the Law of God, is imputed on us who believe in Him. This is the revelation of the Righteousness of Christ, apart from the Law, offered to sinners, so that they can be saved! It is greater than the outward self-righteousness of the religious leaders. The righteousness of the Child of God is not just an act. It is a Living Person. It is Christ Himself. He lives inside you, changing you, not to become religious, but to become like Him! Christ has “became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
Finally, faith is not an enemy to God’s Law. You become saved by Faith in Christ. Once you become born again, by the power of the Holy Spirit you obey God’s Law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom 3:31). No believer is lawless. We love God’s Law and we are now happy to be able to obey it! Worship the Lord!
THE FRIEND OF SINNERS (John 8:3-11)
If you want to know who your true friends are, then make a big mistake. A friend is the one who comes in and stays, even when all others go out. A lover may betray, but never a friend. Ruth was a friend to Naomi. Jonathan was a friend to David. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother … A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (PV 18:24; 17:17). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus is called the “Friend of Sinners” (Mt 11:19). He died so that sinners might live! God is interested in sinners. Those who know that they are sinners, humble themselves and repent! The Pharisees hated that! They hated the God who sent His Son to be the only Friend sinners have. They hated Jesus and His Grace! Even today, the religious legalists still do that!
This is the story: the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in His words. They brought a woman who they said was caught in the act of adultery. They quoted the Law of Moses saying that the woman should be stoned to death. They asked Jesus, what is His judgment? Remember that they did not care about the Law of God, about justice, or about the woman. They brought her ‘in the midst’ of people carrying stones in their hands, ready to kill her. They had no love for God or mercy for the woman. They tried to use God’s Law only to trap Jesus and convict Him of sin. It was a wicked evil desire to condemn Christ, who is the Author of the Law and the Judge of all men. The Law their quoted about stoning for the sin of adultery appears only once in the Bible. A woman should be stoned to death if she is a virgin pledged to be married and she committed adultery with another man (Deut 22:23, 24). The Pharisees who brought this woman to Jesus did not prove if she was a virgin pledged to marry another man. Her pledged husband was not there as a witness. The man who they said committed adultery with her was also not identified. During the time of Jesus, death for adultery was seldom carried out. In fact, the most common punishment for adultery in Jewish society in Jesus’ day was not death, but divorce and financial compensation for the husband from the adulterer himself. Remember that the Pharisees did all this not for the sake of justice or for the honor of God’s Law. They did it to trap Jesus in His Words. No matter what He said, He will be found guilty. It was a ‘win-win’ case for them. If Jesus said: ‘let her go free’, they will say that Jesus does not care about God’s Law. If Jesus said, ‘stone her to death’, it means He is not loving and merciful to sinners, the way people saw Him. His reputation as a Friend of Sinners will be ruined.
Amid this crisis, “Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear” (John 8:6). He is calm. He prays. Many speculate what did Jesus write with His finger, on the dust found on the stones at the courtyard of the temple. The answer is that we do not know. What we know is that God who wrote the Ten Commandments on the stones with His finger (Ex 31:18). In that case, Jesus reminded them indirectly that He is God, that He gave them the Law. He is the Judge! It is also possible that Jesus sent a fast ‘Email’ asking the Father if this woman is on His List to be saved. In that case, He has the authority to declare her justified because He has paid the price for her sin. Moments later, as the tension increased to the maximum, the Lord Jesus stood up. The Judge of the Living and the dead said: ‘the one without sin, throw the first stone!’ The words ‘without sin’ does mean ‘sinless.’ What the Lord meant is that if there is anyone among the accusers, who has a personal interest in this matter and is not totally fair to do justice and to give glory to God, that one is disqualified from being a judge or a witness in this case. God’s Law said that for a man to be put to death, at least two or three witnesses must testify, saying the truth, and not lie before God. The witnesses must be the first to stone the guilty one. If a witness is found to be a false witness, what he planned to do to another, should be done to him (Deut 19:15-21). What the Lord said is this: if you are false witnesses, if you have an evil plan in accusing this woman so that she will die, then you will die with her. The Lord trusted that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin in their consciences. He did! One by one, the older ones first, convicted of the sin of wickedness, to trap the Son of God, they dropped their stones and went away. By their action, they proved to be wicked, to be hypocrites!
Finally, Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. The accusers have left. It is possible that the disciples of Jesus were there all along. The woman, who had been the defendant in a capital case, is now alone in court. Only Jesus, the rabbi who had been asked to settle the case is still present. None of her accusers — and, more important, witnesses against her — are present to testify. The case is thrown out of court for lack of evidence. “Then neither do I condemn you,” says Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, no sentence or condemnation is appropriate without witnesses. Go and Sin No More, said the Lord!
This is the greatest theological dilemma? How does God balance His Justice with His mercy, His Law and His Grace? How does God punish sin and forgive the sinners? Human wisdom does not have the answer! Jesus wrote on the ground. He is calm. Waits for God to give Him the answer. This is a holy moment; you see the intimacy of the Trinity. The accusers were convicted by the Holy Spirit in their conscience. They were supposed to repent and believe in Jesus. They were to fall at His feet and ask for forgiveness. But they refused. They went away to their perdition. The only person who stayed was the woman. She too was convicted of sin. But she stayed!!! At the feet of Jesus, that is the best place to be! Jesus told her gently to repent. This woman was saved that day. Her body and soul were saved! Why? Because she stayed with Jesus! The religious leaders tried to trap our Lord using the Law of God. But they ended being trapped themselves. To be a Judge is God’s business. Not for sinners to condemn sinners! They judged another man’s servant! They wanted to be God! Jesus knew that He would die on the Cross for her! This is the only way He could forgive and heal somebody. He took their sins and sicknesses. He paid their bills! The sin of the religious rulers was that in the presence of Jesus, hearing the majestic word of Wisdom straight from heaven, they did not fall on their knees to surrender and repent! Convicted by their conscience, they went away hardened, in the darkness of perdition! What a great opportunity they missed! But the woman, sinner she may be, stayed at the feet of the only Friend she had that they! And the Friend did not disappoint her! Case Dismissed! Worship the Lord!!!!