When we read Bible through the lens of Grace (the new covenant), then the whole Bible will become beautiful, unveiling Jesus in all the Loveliness of His Person, and the perfection of His finished work on the cross. There should be no fear but love, peace and joy of being a believer in Christ. Many Christians felt lost when they read without the lens of Grace, it is like walking from town A to town B, and yet not knowing where town B is? Like Walking in wilderness, without end. Like the children of Israel after claiming the Law covenant at Mt. Sinai, walking in wilderness for 40 years, what they could have reached in 11 days from Egypt to the promised land.
When you read bible and there are obscured passages that are not in line with Grace, do not get panic, first of all, always ask these 3 basic questions :
1) What are they speaking about? (Old / New Covenant)
2) Who is speaking?
3) Whom or to whom are they speaking to?
1) What are they speaking about ? (Old or New Covenant?):
Bible is divided into 2 parts, and is not for a show of neatness or any other reasons, but clearly, there has been a change from the Old to the New testament. The death of Jesus on the cross signifies the point of change. The Cross: the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, and the subsequent outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, divides history and how God relates with us.
The basis of Bible promises:
Old covenant (OT) is the Law: we were blessed if we were good, and obedience to the Law. By the same token, cursed if disobeyed the Law. (God Himself had made the old covenant obsolete – Heb 8:13)
New covenant (NT) is the unmerited favor of God (Grace): we are blessed because He is good. There is no curse any longer, as Jesus had hung on the cross to take the curses and all punishment of all sins.
Asking this question:
a) Is this scripture describing the old law covenant that condemns sinners? or
b) Is it describing the new grace covenant that makes sinners righteous.
Reading with the Lens of Grace, even when you read the Old Testament, you should see Jesus is hidden inside the verses. Jesus taught that all of the OT were shadows of Him.
Luk 24:25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luk 24:26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
Luk 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luk 24:44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
The role of OT for us in the New Covenant:
Rom 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.
2) Who is speaking:
All bible words quoted in the Bible, are truly words of Many people being truly recorded, including the words of Satan, the devils, the fool, the depressed like Job, etc. So, NOT all quotations are the truth about God or Jesus.
For example, this is the words of a wicked, and lazy servant:
Mat 25:24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
Mat 25:25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
Mat 25:26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
Mat 25:27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
Next is the words of a man named Job, who had this one really bad week when his livestock were stolen, his servants were slain, and his kids were killed when a house fell on them. For some reason, Job thought God was behind his loss for he said:
Job 1:21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Anyone who has suffered loss has probably heard this verse. It’s often quoted at funerals by the ministering Pastors. We even sing songs about it. For some strange reason people seem to find comfort in believing that God is responsible for their loss. But, it was not the truth about God, but it was Job’s own words being truly recorded word by word, and Job was not in sanity of mind when he said it ! Job said some dumb things about God. Later on in the story Job would come to regret his choice of words saying “I spoke of things I did not understand” (Job 42:3).
If you want the very best insight into God’s character, you are better off looking at Jesus, who said “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), while Job, who had only heard of God but did not actually know him (see Job 42:5). Furthermore, Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
So if God is doing the giving, who is doing the taking? Again, Jesus provides the answer: “The thief (= Satan & his cohorts) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).
3) Whom are they speaking to:
The context will reveal, like Questions from Pharisees / Jesus’ answers would relate to Jews under the Law, and not to Christian Gentiles. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matt 15:24)
When Jesus spoke, He also look at whom He was speaking to?, Is the person a Jew who lived under the Old Covenant ? Like this story of a young ruler:
Luk 18:18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luk 18:19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
Luk 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘DO NOT MURDER,’ ‘DO NOT STEAL,’ ‘DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER.’ ”
Luk 18:21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
Luk 18:22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
The correct answer for the above question of the young ruler, today under the New Covenant, would be: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(Rom. 10:13). or “”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ”(Acts 16:31).
However, the ruler was living under the Old Covenant and Jesus spoke to him also as such. Jesus was saying the way to eternal life is by obeying the 10 commandments. The ruler boasted that he had done all, and Jesus being the expert on Law, unleashed the first commandment of “Thou shall not have other God”, and money seemed to be the god of this young ruler, as he could not do “by selling everything he had and giving to the poor?”
Forgiveness in the Old & New Covenant:
As mentioned earlier, the Old Law Covenant is a conditional Covenant, you had to do this in order that God will do this. So, this is also reflected in the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray, because Jesus was still walking in the era of Old Covenant,
Matt 6:12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.
Mat 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Mat 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus walking in the era of OT, while no body (except Jesus Himself) knew the upcoming of New Covenant yet, and although at times He promoted the New Covenant by making people realize that they cannot perform the Old Covenant by God’s standard. (The Jews Pharisees tried to make the Law “do-able”, but Jesus always brought up the Law to its esteemed original God’s standard)
OT: IF this, THEN. This is a conditional clause. “IF you forgive, THEN He will forgive.” “IF you do not, THEN He will not.”
Compare with the era after Jesus’ death and resurrection, verses quoted by the Apostle Paul.
Eph 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Col 3:13 Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
So, there has been a change: IF God had forgiven me, THEN I forgive. Forgiveness is about our relationship with Christ. IF we have received God’s forgiveness through Him THEN we can and should forgive others. (see my article on “Un-Forgiveness” https://liftingjesus.org/2013/06/12/if-god-had-forgiven-all-our-sins-past-present-and-future-why-then-must-we-forgive-others-2/)
Love in the OT & NT:
Jesus summed up the Old Covenant law also as Love: “Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love others as ourselves. (Matt 22:37-40) ; However notice that the Love originated from man towards God, and furthermore, it is an impossibility that no one could do. Can anyone proclaim to love like this? (May be the pharisees will boast this way), as Jesus knew that no one can love like God.
Compare with the New Covenant of Grace, Love has been defined as:
1Jn 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
1Jn 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
It is not our love for God, it is His love for us, so great is His Love, God loves us with all His Heart, Soul, and Mind, that He came to save us,
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
As Jesus has loved you with all His Heart, Soul, and Mind, and with that new strength of Love that He first gave you, now you are able to love one another.
Summary or Bible Era: