Vengeance Is God’s
Luke 17:2 “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
God takes the persecution of His children personally. In Acts 9:4 when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and spoke to him about his persecution of the saints, Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul was not directly persecuting Jesus but he was persecuting His saints. Yet Jesus said, “Why are you persecuting me?” Judgment against those who persecute God’s children will not always come in time to prevent their harm but as this warning makes very clear, God will avenge His own, Romans 12:19.
Letting God be the one who defends us is a matter of faith. If there is no God who will bring men into account for their actions, then turning the other cheek would be the worst thing we could do. But if there is a God who promises that vengeance is His, and He will repay, then taking matters into our own hands shows a lack of faith in God and His integrity.
We are not to take matters into our own hands and defend ourselves.
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”. Striving to vindicate self actually shows a lack of faith in God keeping this promise. It also indicates spiritual “nearsightedness” which is only looking at the present moment instead of seeing things in view of eternity.
Even as Christ did not come to condemn the world and is not holding men’s sins against them, even so, we have been given the same ministry of reconciliation. For those who do not receive the love we extend to them but rather take advantage of us because of our “turning the other cheek,” God will repay.
Our Debt Was Paid
Luke 16:17 “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
The jot was not only one of the smallest letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but also one of the most insignificant, being sometimes deleted at the writer’s pleasure. The tittle was only a mark or a point on a line that helped distinguish one letter from another. The tittle corresponds to our period or apostrophe. The point that Jesus is making is that even the tiniest detail of the law would not pass away.
Christ fulfilled every jot and tittle of the law. The law was ordained to life, but no one could keep it. So, God Himself became flesh. He did what no sinful flesh had ever done. He kept the law thereby winning the life of God as the prize for keeping the law. This granted Him eternal life but before He could give it to us, we still had a debt that had to be paid. This is similar to someone receiving the death penalty for some hideous crime, then some billionaire leaves his whole estate to him. It would do the condemned man no good. But if that same billionaire could somehow take that man’s place and die for him, then he could go free and enjoy his new wealth. That’s what Jesus did for us. He took our sins and gave us His righteousness.
Jesus did much more than just obtain eternal life for us, He also paid all the wages of our sins, Romans 6:23. God literally placed the condemnation, or judgment, that was against us upon His own Son. Jesus’ perfect flesh was condemned so our defiled flesh could go free. What a trade! Since Jesus bore our sentence (condemnation), we don’t have to bear it. The debt has already been paid.
The Right Righteousness
Luke 16:15 “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
Justification is not something to be earned, but a gift to be received. Seeking to earn salvation is the only sin that will prevent a person from being saved, because you cannot submit yourself to the righteousness of God which comes as a gift through faith as long as you are seeking to establish your own righteousness.
Most people are unaware that there are two kinds of righteousness. Only one type of righteousness is acceptable to God. There is our righteousness, which is our compliance with the requirements of the law. This is an imperfect righteousness because human nature is imperfect and incapable of fulfilling the law. And there is God’s righteousness, which only comes as a gift and is received by faith. God’s righteousness is perfect. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. A person who believes that he must earn God’s acceptance by his holy actions is not believing in God’s righteousness, which is a gift. It has to be one or the other; we cannot mix the two.
Righteousness is not what Jesus has done for us plus some minimum standard of holiness that we have to accomplish.
Right standing before a holy God is not to be achieved in the keeping of the law, but in humble trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No one who is trusting in his own righteousness can have the benefit of Christ’s righteousness. The righteousness that gives men relationship with God is the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, and it comes freely through faith in Jesus Christ, Romans 3:22. It is true that the way we obtained this righteousness is by putting faith IN what Christ has done for us. But when we place our faith in Christ, then the righteousness that Jesus obtained by His faith becomes ours. We are possessors of Christ’s righteousness, which His faith produced.
All The Wrong Reasons
Luke 15:28 “And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.”
If this elder son had considered his brother, he would have rejoiced at his return even as his father did. Rather, he was totally self-centered (that’s pride) and became angry. This illustrates Proverbs 13:10; “Only by pride cometh contention:”.
How can we esteem others better than ourselves when in truth we really think we are better than others? Some people are better athletes than others. Some are better businessmen than others. Some are better speakers than others, and so forth. First, we need to recognize that our accomplishments don’t make us better than others. There is a difference between what we do and who we are.
Better performance does not make a better person. A person’s character can be severely wanting even though his performance is good. A classic example of this is found in the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They did the right things for all the wrong reasons. Inside they were corrupt. So our evaluation of others needs to change. God judges by looking on the inside, not the outside, 1 Samuel 16:7. We need to esteem others on a different basis than what most of us do.
Secondly, to esteem someone better than ourselves simply means to value them more than we value ourselves. To some that may seem impossible, but it isn’t.
It is exactly what Jesus did. If Jesus, who was God in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16, could humble Himself and value our good above His own welfare, then we should certainly be able to do the same. It can happen when we die to self and live to God.
Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”
The parable of the man building a tower is a continuation of the teaching regarding what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. This parable stresses commitment. “Jailhouse religion,” where a person is only sorry he got caught and is trying to get out of a bad situation, will not produce true discipleship. It takes a forsaking of all to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus is simply saying, “count the cost.”
Jesus’ teaching on discipleship emphasizes commitment. Just as a king wouldn’t engage in war without thoroughly considering all the possible outcomes, so no one should attempt to become a disciple of Jesus without counting the cost. It would be better not to start following Jesus than to start and then turn back.
When a person first comes to Jesus, it is impossible to know everything that following Jesus might entail. No one, however, should be fearful of making a total commitment because of some imagined problem that may never come to pass. There should be a willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus.
Once we make that decision, then Christ begins to live through us, Galatians 2:20, and we find a strength that is not our own, equal to whatever test we may encounter.
Luke 14:16, 23 “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: … And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
The man who made the supper symbolizes God who has invited “whosoever will” to come to Him. The parable teaches that it is not God who fails to offer salvation to everyone, but rather it is the invited guests who reject God’s offer.
These people had feeble excuses just like the excuses of those today who don’t accept God’s offer of salvation. Therefore, the Lord’s Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be furnished with “undesirables” from the world’s point of view, not because God rejects the upper class, but because they reject Him.
Those who have an abundance of this world’s possessions don’t tend to recognize their need for God as much as those who are without.
Jesus’ parable could also be applied to the Jewish nation. God offered salvation to the Jews but they, as a whole, refused Him. Therefore, the Lord sent His servants to the Gentiles to fill His kingdom.
This very parable proves that the Lord is not advocating us using force to convert people to Christianity, because this man accepted the decision of those who rejected his invitation. Therefore, it must be understood that the Lord is admonishing us to compel them to come in by our persuasion or entreaty. The word “compel” denotes aggressiveness, even in persuading of people. The Church, as a whole, and all of us as individuals are not supposed to simply hang out our “shingle” and wait for the world to come to us. We are supposed to be aggressively going into all the world with the Good News. We have an urgent command to be a witness because the time before our Lord’s return is short.
Who Is Saved?
Luke 13:23-24 “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
Jesus said that many will seek to enter salvation and will not be able to. There are many reasons for this, but it is not because God refused salvation to anyone. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”, Titus 2:11, and God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”, 2 Peter 3:9.
There is effort involved in obtaining salvation. The effort is not for the purpose of earning salvation. That is a free gift, Romans 5:15; but we do have to fight the good fight of faith, 1 Timothy 6:12. Faith in Jesus’ goodness is what saves us – not our own goodness – and Satan is constantly trying to destroy our faith. We have to earnestly contend for the faith. True salvation is not just mental assent, but a real heart-felt commitment.
Many people today think that going to church and associating with Christians will provide them with salvation. Some people think that they are Christians because their parents were. But salvation is having a personal relationship with the Lord. You cannot inherit salvation through the natural birth process. “You must be born again.”
We can rest assured that all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled, Matthew 5:6. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”, Romans 10:13
God’s Great Love For Us
John 10:25 “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”
There were many ways in which Jesus already revealed who He was. His miraculous works certainly revealed who He was. Jesus had also clearly revealed that He was the Christ, both in the synagogue at His hometown of Nazareth, and when speaking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
Jesus, in His pre-existent state, was in the form of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, John 1:1.
Jesus was God, manifest in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16. However, Jesus did not demand or cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His Divine rights and privileges in order to take the form of a servant and be made in the likeness of men. He further humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the Father, even to the point of death.
This was the supreme sacrifice that identified Jesus totally with humanity and enabled God to redeem mankind. By dying a criminal’s death upon the cross, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Deuteronomy 21:23 and bore our curse in His own body. This redeemed us from that curse and opened wide God’s blessing of justification through faith in Christ and the promise of His Holy Spirit, Galatians 3:13-14.
Jesus left His state of being recognized and worshipped by all the hosts of heaven as the Supreme God to become a man who was despised and rejected. The Creator became the creation; the Lord became the servant; the Highest became the lowest. All of this was done because of God’s great love for us.