By Stephen Kingsley


If Jesus were alive today, (that is, if he was ministering on earth today as he did in the gospel period) he would be labeled as “intolerant” for his blasting of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They completely missed the greatest of truths in the Old Testament, “judgment, mercy, and faith,” which are the key elements to the gospel. The Pharisees were highly educated, disciplined, and trained. They loved prayer, tithing, fasting, memorizing scripture, and such activities. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus labeled these men as “hypocrites,” “blind,” “serpents,” and “fools”?

Every Bible topic becomes corrupted when separated from the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the life blood of scripture. Disconnect Jesus from any scripture and it is meaningless. Without Christ, grace becomes license, faith becomes positive thinking, peace becomes unity among men, love becomes something the hippies share, mercy becomes lawlessness, prosperity becomes worldly gain... Take the great reality of the gospel of God’s grace and his free salvation through the cross-work of Christ out of God’s Word, and it becomes a tool through which evil men and seducers deceive and enslave their unwitting victims. Grace, faith, peace, love, mercy, prosperity, (and any of hundreds of other topics from scripture) are all vital subjects for believers to embrace and practice, but apart from Christ they are but an empty shell drained of their real substance.

Let’s preach Christ to the Church and world again. Thus, the Apostle Paul, our example began his ministry, “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the son of God” (Acts 2:20). Likewise, he fulfilled his ministry and ended, “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31).

Don’t be deceived. Christianity is not a system of ethics, morals, virtues, and family values. Much greater, it is the assembly of those who have received the love of the truth, WHO is the Lord Jesus Christ. These are all born again of God’s Spirit, and called to live in the flesh, in this world, in a manner that is worthy of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf, and pleasing to their Father in heaven. A Christian loves the will of God and practices many of the same activities that the Pharisees did, but not to win God’s love and favor as they did, but because of it. The Pharisees likely knew, in the still hours of the night, that they were as empty inside as was their self-righteous principles. How different those same principles become to those whose are secure in Christ’s great and free salvation, having the gift of righteousness.

John 1:17:
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:20b:
... and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.



From the August 2000 issue of The Vine & Branches