Luke 16:17               Easier for Heaven and Earth to Pass                8/1/2004         ßà

  • The Law and the Prophets (Luke 16:16-17, Ps 119:48, John 10:34, Gal 4:21-22)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Kingdom of God Is Preached (Luke 16:16, Matt 21:43, Rom 14:17, Mark 1:15)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Everyone Is Taking It by Force (Luke 16:16, Matt 11:12, John 1:12-13, Job 14:4, Eph 1:4-5)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       What Is Easier? (Luke 16:17, Matt 5:17-18, Rev 22:19, Rom 6:14-16, 3:31)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Christ Came to Fulfill the Law (Jer 31:33-34, Rom 10:4, Gal 5:1)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Law Still Stands (Gal 3:24, John 14:15, Matt 28:1)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke 16:16 (2X). The title for the sermon of today is Easier for Heaven and Earth to Pass  Perhaps you noticed that I did not finish the sermon last week, and therefore we are in the same text. Last week I spoke about:

  • The Law and the Prophets (Luke 16:16-17, Ps 119:48, John 10:34, Gal 4:21-22)

And perhaps you remember that the Law and the Prophets stood for the entire OT. But when we look at the Law only we understand that the Law, in the time of Jesus, also represented the entire OT. Let me show you this briefly, here in Luke 16:16-17,

Lu 16:16  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Lu 16:17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

The Law and the Prophets were preaching until John the Baptist came on the scene. Paraphrased Jesus said: Is it not wonderful that God would act today on the minds of men by preaching the Gospel directly to them instead of at a distance, through signs and shadows that are hard to understand? Is it not wonderful that the principles of the Kingdom of God are preached openly for the establishment of His Kingdom? And we agree. It is wonderful! In the NT age we have been freed from the pressure of the Law, and we have been freed from the pressure of the ceremonies, and we have been freed from the pressure of legalistic teachers of the Law, and we have been freed from performing bloody animal sacrifices every day, and so on. But are we worthy of that freedom? Has our worship of God been degenerated to Sunday morning worship only, instead of every day in the OT time? Has our gratitude to God been reduced to giving God 3 to 4% of our income, instead of 35% in the OT time? Has our dedication to hear God speak been reduced to an occasional Bible Study, instead of every day in the OT time? How many in the NT time can honestly say with the saints of old the words of: Ps 119:48  My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes”. How many? Not many? And thus we must conclude that the degradation of the Gospel in the OT time, which was so prevalent when Jesus came on the scene, is also a continual process of degradation in the NT time, even until now. For example, one degradation that is so prevalent in our time is the notion that the Law represents the 10 Commandments. That is simply not true at all. Jesus said in Joh 10:34, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” The Lord Jesus quoted these words from Psalm 82. Therefore the Psalms are also called “the Law”. And God spoke in Gal 4:21-22 these words, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman”. This story was written in Genesis. Therefore Genesis is also called “the Law”. I gave more examples last week. Therefore the NT clearly tells us that “the Law” refers to the entire OT. Occasionally “the Law” refers to the 10 Commandments. The context shall make it clear if the Law refers to the entire OT or if it refers to the 10 Commandments. And this is how we must interpret those passages in the

NT where the words “the Law” appear.

#1.       The Kingdom of God Is Preached (Luke 16:16, Matt 21:43, Rom 14:17, Mark 1:15)

 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached”. What is the “Kingdom of God” that is preached to men on earth? The Kingdom of God is that realm where God is King. Therefore it is a spiritual Kingdom in the hearts and souls of those who truly have been saved. On the one hand, it is a Kingdom that has always been in existence on this earth since Adam and Eve were created. For example, the Lord Jesus was addressing the leaders of the Jews in Matt 21:43, where He said, “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof”. This was the externally visible Kingdom of God of which they were appointed as undershepherds in the OT time. But because of their unfaithfulness to the truths of the Gospel they were fired from their jobs at the time the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. Fifty Days later, on Pentecost, the NT church received the authority to preach the Kingdom of God. The NT church is the external manifestation of the Kingdom of God on this earth. It does not mean that God was King in the souls of everyone in the NT church, but the externally visible church became the hardware, which God chose to perform His marvellous work in this world. Therefore the externally visible church is not identical to the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is present, or may be present, within the externally visible church. When God addressed the saints in the church at Rome through the hands of the Apostle Paul, God said in Rom 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”. This is the internal state of anyone who has become a child of God, whether he is an OT saint, or a NT saint. On the other hand, depending on the context, the Kingdom of God is spoken of as a new era in the congregation of the people of God. A new era that was marked by a new set of principles, which actually were not totally new but which were more clearly set forth in the NT. And this is the meaning of the words, “since that time the kingdom of God is preached”. Since the time of John the Baptist the new Kingdom of God is preached. That is why the Lord Jesus said in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel”. Repent! That is almost a dirty word these days. People look at each other and think by themselves, “Who needs to repent? Are there some heinous sinners here among us?” And we do not realize that these words are addressed to us! We need to repent every day from the sins we have committed. But it takes eyes of faith, and eyes of discernment, to recognize our sins before we can repent of them. Only God can give us this awareness of our sins. Only by God’s grace can we repent.

And then we read in Luke 16:16, “and every man presseth into it”. What does this mean? Actually this portion of Luke 16:16 could have been translated a little better. The Greek verb translated “press” should not have been translated “to press”, but “to take by force”. It is a word that is associated with violence. Therefore, the words “every man presseth into it” should actually read:

  • Everyone Is Taking It by Force (Luke 16:16, Matt 11:12, John 1:12-13, Job 14:4, Eph 1:4-5)

The whole verse 16 should read as follows:

Lu 16:16  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and to get into it every man is taking it by force (2X).

We know that we are on the right track, because the words “is taking by force” is one Greek word which letter for letter is identically spelled in the Greek text for Matt 11:12. There we read, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”. And so, what does it mean if we read in Luke 16:16 in the KJV, “and every man presseth into it”, or directly from the Greek text, “and to get into it every man is taking it by force”? What does it mean? Does it mean that everybody who hears this preaching of the Kingdom of God is excitedly thronging the doors of the church trying to get into it? No! Not at all! The atmosphere of violence must be an integral part in the interpretation of this verse. First of all, “every man” does not refer to every man in the world. The words “every”, and “all”, are words that have to be defined by the context. Look at the words in the last part of Luke 16:16 again. Those whom God chose to give salvation as a free gift have no reason to take this violent path. On the other extreme are those who remain uninterested in the Gospel and are not setting a foot in church, no matter what comes. Therefore, “every man” in Luke 16:16 refers to people who are in church, but who are not saved. How is it that these people are getting into the Kingdom of God when God says that they are taking it by force? It can mean only one thing: They did not receive it freely from God, therefore they take it by force. They did not receive the gift of salvation freely from God therefore they take salvation themselves. These are people who believe in a “Do it yourself salvation”. They believe that Christ died for the sins of everybody in the whole world, except for the sin of rejecting Christ. Then they who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior have by their acceptance of Christ earned the right to be called sons of God, according to John 1:12. Is this the God whom we know? Is this how we have learned the Good News? No! This is not the Gospel of the Bible. It is a man made gospel, it is a man made plan of salvation, and it is a man made god who acts this way. But God specifies who the sons of God are in John 1:13, where we read, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. According to the Bible, they, which were “born of God”, are the ones who are called “sons of God”. Can anyone of us make ourselves be “born of God”? Absolutely not! According to the Bible, we must receive it as a free gift from God. Salvation does not come any other way. According to John 1:13 salvation does not come from being born in the right bloodline, and salvation does not come by making a decision for Jesus, and salvation does not come by having your father make that decision or having the preacher make that decision at your water baptism. Salvation only comes if God makes that decision. And why must this be so? It must be so because God says, for example, in Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one”. Beginning with Adam and Eve the entire human race is unclean, because everyone is infected with sin. Therefore every baby we bring into this world is also infected with sin from the moment that baby is conceived in the womb. Every human being is in need of salvation, because every human being comes into the world full of sin. Can such an unclean person make himself clean by making himself “born of God”? Not according to Job 14:4, and God does not lie. Therefore only God can make us clean. Put a sticker here in Luke 16:16 and please turn to your right (ß) to the Epistle to the Ephesians 1:4 (2X). When we observe the masses of unsaved mankind we realize that God does not make everyone clean. In fact, God says in the Bible that He chooses whom He will save, and He will not save someone for any good work that we have done, or are doing, or will do in the future. O No! God saves a person entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. For example, we read in Eph 1:4-5, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”. In other words, Before the foundation of the world God elected whom He decided to save, and God would do this entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. God predestinated us, which means God elected us and God determined the destiny of us. But in order to make us clean God had to send the Lord Jesus Christ into this world to take on Himself a human body so that He became our Kinsman, and so that He could take on Himself the guilt of all the sins of all those whom God elected unto salvation. He then went to the cross and paid for all those sins the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, which was the penalty that must be paid to satisfy the righteousness of God. Now God had to apply this payment to each one of His elect at the right time in our life. God chose to call this the moment of being “Born Again”, or being “born from above”, which was when God made our dead soul alive, and washed all our sins away, and God came to dwell in our soul. All this was 100% God’s initiative and God’s action. We had no input in Christ’s atonement for our sins 2000 years ago, and we had no input in the Holy Spirit’s action of making us hear the Gospel and making us “Born Again” at the same time. Salvation was a gift from God’s irresistible grace.

Therefore, when someone claims that Christ did all that He could, and now it is up to us to make the decision and complete the transaction of Christ’s payment for our sins, then God calls this a violent grab of salvation by man. Man is taking it by force. But it does violence to God’s plan of salvation and it is an insult to God, because God laid down His program of saving His elect, and God does not appreciate any interference by man. It is a man-made plan of salvation and it involves a man-made god to operate in this way. It is idolatry! Can anyone be saved in this idolatry? Not according to the Bible. In the OT no one was saved while worshipping Baal. Please turn again to the Gospel according to Luke 16:17 (2X). Let us pick up the context on Jesus’ explanation of the Law.

#2.       What Is Easier? (Luke 16:17, Matt 5:17-18, Rev 22:19, Rom 6:14-16, 3:31)

Is it easy for the NT saint to abandon the 10 Commandments? What did Jesus mean when He said:

Lu 16:17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

It is similar to what we find in Matt 5. Put a sticker here in Luke 16:17 and please turn to your left (à) to the Gospel according to Matthew 5:17 (2X). This is that portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke about the Law. The first part of this chapter deals with our conduct in this world. But then, beginning in verse 17 the Lord Jesus spoke about the doctrine of the Law. He said in:

Mt 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.                  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

What does it mean that Christ came to fulfill the Law? It did not mean that He came to do away with the Law, but that He would fulfill the prophecies made therein. The Lord Jesus declared that His doctrine is not in opposition to the Law. On the contrary. Jesus said that His doctrine perfectly agrees with the Law and the Prophets, and in fact brings complete fulfillment of them and in them. Of course, anyone who thinks that the Law is identical to the 10 Commandments is already on the wrong track. The Law is the whole Bible. This is God’s Law book. This is what God will use to condemn all the unsaved on the Last Day. The context also indicates that the Scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus that His teachings were against the teachings of the Law. Jesus boldly opposed this lie. He would not oppose the eternal Word of God, and He would not introduce any novelty that is contrary to Scripture. He did not come to do away with the Law. In fact, we must keep in mind Rev 22:19 where God says, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”. This proves to be a sufficient warning to us not to abandon the OT, or else we might be in danger of coming under the curse of God. Obviously, since a saint cannot lose his or her salvation, only unsaved people start to meddle with the contents of the Bible, or abandoning the Law, thereby heaping on themselves a greater curse than was already on them. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law”. In the Gospel according to Luke the Lord Jesus said it quite a bit stronger. “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”. It means that there is nothing so durable in the entire universe as the words of the Law. The perfect truth of the doctrines contained in the Law must remain, at least until heaven and earth has passed away. There is nothing in the Law that is unimportant; nothing was put there at random. Even the smallest points in the Hebrew writings are important. And so it is impossible that a single letter of the Law shall perish. But some will object and they will say, “We are not under the Law but under grace”. They are quoting from Rom 6:14, which says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”. And that is true. If we have become saved then we have died to the Law and we have become the Bride of Christ. But the Law still stands. All the unsaved are still under the dominion of sin and under the Law. But if we have become saved then by God’s grace sin shall not rule over us. If we have not been saved, then sin shall rule over us and we are still under the Law.  God tells us that precisely in the following two verses:

Ro 6:15  What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Ro 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

If I am saved I died to the Law. Does this mean that all the saints can do away with the Law? Not so. God says in Rom 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”. In other words, we delight in obeying the Law because this is pleasing in God’s sight. Before our salvation the Law was our enemy. The Law pointed the accusing finger at me and said, “Sinner! Go to Hell!” But after our salvation the Law has become our friend, because there is no sin any more  found in us, and because the Law tells us what is pleasing in the sight of God. Therefore the Law has become our friend. But now, what does it mean that:

  • Christ Came to Fulfill the Law (Jer 31:33-34, Rom 10:4, Gal 5:1)

Please turn to the Prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33 (2X). This is a prophecy of the New Covenant that God would make with the NT saints. God said that He would make this Covenant with the house of Israel. But from the NT letter to the Hebrews we understand that this Covenant is made with the NT saints, who are called the Israel of God because Christ is called Israel. We read in Jer 31:33,

Jer 31:33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jer 31:34  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

From the words, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” we understand that God is speaking about saved people. God is speaking about NT saints. And of these people God says, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts”. The Covenant is confirmed and ratified when the New Covenant will succeed it. This is the meaning of Christ’s coming to fulfill the Law. You see, the Law is not done away. Christ fulfilled the prophecies in the Law, and then He placed the Law in our hearts, for us to meditate on it and to find those things that are pleasing in His sight. Likewise there is a tie between the Law and the Gospel. The Gospel is a fulfillment of the Law. But don’t we read that Christ is the end of the Law, and so the Law has ended? Then we are taking verses out of context. We find that Rom 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”. But the context speaks about “How to become righteous before God”. The Jews seek to become righteous by obeying the Law. But God’s way of making people righteous is by giving them the faith to believe that Christ suffered and died for their

sins. This is the righteousness of God that is given and that is accompanied by faith.

Ga 5:1 ¶ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Does this mean that we are forbidden to obey the laws of the 10 Commandments? Does this mean that “the yoke of bondage” refers to the yoke of obeying the 10 Commandments? That is a misinterpretation of this yoke. Actually this refers to the yoke of sin. Before we were saved we were slaves of sin and of Satan. We could not break loose on our own, just like the children of Israel could not free themselves from their slavery in Egypt. And so, if we properly read into this verse that the yoke of bondage refers to the yoke of sin, then we have a good grip on this verse. Christ liberated us from this yoke of bondage. Christ has Redeemed us. What doe that mean, “Redeemed”? The Greek word “Agora” means “the marketplace”. The word “Agoradzo” means “to buy out of the marketplace”, or just plainly “to buy”. The word “Exagoradzo” means “to buy a slave out of the marketplace and set him free”. That is the word “Redeemed”. When Christ Redeemed us, He set us free. But since we no longer are married to the Law, we are now free to become the Bride of Christ. No one who is still under the Law is allowed to do that.

#3.       The Law Still Stands (Gal 3:24, John 14:15, Matt 28:1)

Why was the Law given? God says in Gal 3:24, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”. This was the reason God established the Law. We had to be confronted with the wickedness of our sins. Only when we realized that we were sinners, on the way to Hell, did we realize that we needed a Savior. And so, God designed the Law so that no one was able to obey it perfectly. Our efforts to obey were always mixed with sin. This then led us to cry out to God for a Deliverer. And God did send us a Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who delivered us from our sins and from the consequences of our sins. If Christ then made us free from the Law, why did the Lord Jesus say in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. Now Jesus is not talking about the Law, but about His Commandments. What are His Commandments? Let us summarize His Commandments this way: #1, Love God above all, and #2, Love your neighbor as yourself. But how can we keep these commandments? We know we cannot obey these perfectly, but we can keep them in our heart. We keep them in our mind. We make these our top priority in our daily life, without trying to pay back to Jesus what He has done for us. Should we then obey the 10 Commandments? Most definitely we should obey the 10 Commandments, because we know that this is pleasing in God’s sight. But what about the 4th Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”? We know from Lev 23 that the 7th day Sabbath is part of the Ceremonial Law. All things in the Ceremonial Law were signs and shadows of Christ and the salvation we have in Christ. The rest commanded in the 7th day Sabbath was a shadow of the rest we have in Christ’s complete remission of our sins. But when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave on that first Easter morning, God made arrangements to replace the 7th day Sabbath with the Sunday Sabbath. All four narrative Gospels show this language clearly in the Greek text of the Greek NT. For example, Matt 28:1 reads as follows, “But after the Sabbaths (plural), at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths (plural), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre”. It was Sunday morning. The Saturday Sabbath has just passed. In other words, the era of 7th day Sabbaths has just passed and a new era of Sunday Sabbaths was just beginning. Thus God appointed the Sunday Sabbath to come in the place of the 7th day Sabbath. God took the 4th commandment out of the 10 Commandments and replaced it with a new 4th commandment, which is the Sunday Sabbath. Must we keep the Sunday Sabbath holy? Absolutely yes! Watch out for those preachers who tell you, “Don’t you dare to keep the Sunday Sabbath holy”. These are “antinomians”, derived from “anti” and “nomos”, which means the Law. Antinomians are against the Law. Antinomians are very dangerous. These are people who bring a gospel that is so close to the true Gospel, which means it is a gospel so close that even the elect could be deceived by them, if that were possible. But the Law still stands. “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one title of the Law to fail”.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.