It’s Monday Grace!
The point of the Sermon on the Mount, as I say throughout my book, is the call to follow Jesus. If there is one command, one invitation, one message that Jesus brought to all the people, it was simply to follow Him.
The Beatitudes, if you will excuse the analogy, are the hook. Those who are struggling in life are called to follow Jesus. It isn’t the struggle that brings blessing, but the connection with Jesus. That’s why the blessings are set in a future tense. If you want the blessing, come to Jesus.
Perhaps the message of grace has always been set against the self-help or self-righteousness message. It was a call away from the law, away from human striving and frustration. It was not a call away from the Lord of the Jews. God was still God. The commands, the history, the life lessons of the Jews were all still important. But now the focus would be on Jesus.
From the time of the Garden, God has been reaching out to the people with His love. I believe that the message of the Old Testament is the same as the message of the New, because God is the same. Some seem to think that God tried the Law, but it failed, so He tried Jesus. No. There was always the primary call for the people to come to the heart of God. Jesus is the expression of that divine heart.
At the right time, the Scriptures say, Christ came. It was in the plan all along that the revelation of the heart of God would become more distinct, more inviting. It would culminate in the Messiah, the Anointed One who would bring people home. Moses, David, Elijah and so many others trusted the heart of God for their whole lives. When Jesus came, the promise was given form but not changed.
As you read the New Testament, you find a few people who had kept their eyes and hearts on the Lord, rather than their religion. They did what the Law commanded, even more than the Law commanded, but they knew there was still more. They looked to the heart of God for their hope. And, when Jesus came, they recognized Him. The ones who sold out to the rules and regulations, to the hope that they could somehow save themselves by doing good, looked right past Jesus. In fact, He got in their way. They had to move against Him so they could feel good about doing it their way.
Even in the church today, some people look past Jesus to the works or rules or doctrines in hopes their obedience will somehow save them. They might not be Jews, but they are doing the same thing. Jesus is part of their system, not the whole thing. They like Jesus, may even claim Him as Lord, but they still place their faith and hope in the things they do. And they stand against the simple message of grace.
So, if you hear a message in church today that doesn’t need Jesus—even if that message uses the word “grace”—know that it is a false message. Yes, there are “grace” teachers who speak against the law and the striving but fail to focus on Jesus. The only true message of grace is the one centered on Jesus.
Let me emphasize that: The only true message of grace is the one centered on Jesus.
Jesus has done everything required by God for His people. He is our only and sufficient hope. He is our only righteousness. Our sins are washed away—past, present, and future—by Jesus alone. Heaven is ours only because of Jesus. So, any message that tells you to be responsible for your salvation, all or part, is not the message of grace.
Follow me. That’s what Jesus said. That was His message. In Him you will find everything you need. His grace is sufficient for you and for me.