The Everlasting Gospel

The Everlasting Gospel

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:3, Hebrews 4:2, Psalms 130:3-4
Date: 12/27/2014  Lesson: 13
"How can we, as people who believe in the importance of keeping the law, protect ourselves from the error of believing that law-keeping is what justifies us? Why is that not always so easy to do?"
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I want to welcome our friends to another Sabbath School Study Hour. And you notice we're back home again in Sacramento. For the last few presentations we actually did it from our place in albuquerque, new Mexico, where we were doing the 'landmarks of prophecy' Bible studies. I want to thank the studio and the crew for getting everything set back up again so that we could study together. Today we are going to be going into our last study on the book of James and - but before we do that we always like to begin with a word of prayer.

Father in Heaven, we're very thankful for the opportunity and the freedom we have to come together in this place and be able to study Your Word. We pray that the power of the word will come alive once again. Be with us as we share - be with me as I speak - and I pray that my mind will be quickened by the Holy Spirit and we'll all be edified and made more like Jesus. We pray in his name, amen. And as I mentioned, in just a moment we're going to be getting into our last study on the book of James.

We have a free offer that goes along with our study today, dealing with the everlasting Gospel, and the offer is called 'justification made simple' - it's the book on assurance. If you like this, we'll send it to you free. You can call the number on your screen. That's 866-788-3966 or that's -study-more and when you do, ask for offer #727 - we'll send it to you. Something else I should mention is, because this is our last study in the book of James, that means we're getting ready to enter a new quarter for the year and I'm really looking forward to this.

It's going to be the book of Proverbs. All that wisdom from Solomon, we're hoping that some of it will leech in and take hold of us. And so, just - those of you who are part of a Sabbath school study group or church where we study these lessons, ask your Sabbath school superintendent or the church that hosts it if they can give you one of the quarterlies so you can be ready for our next study together. You can also find these online. And I don't know if I mentioned it, but this book - you can request the book, we'll send you a free copy.

You can also read that online as well - the book on 'assurance - justification made simple.' Well, with that lengthy introduction, we're going to get into our final study from the book of James and I'm sort of sad to see it end because James is one of my favorite books. I've learned a lot. You know, hopefully, other people learned, but I learned preparing for these studies and this has been a real blessing to me. You know, I just thought that it's always a good idea to review a few things when you're going to finish a book. We spent thirteen weeks now going over the book of James - only five chapters - and it might be a good idea for those who joined us somewhere along the way to just come in and do a little bit of review.

James is not James the brother of John, this is actually James, the brother of Jesus. And we've learned that he was a real pillar in the early church. Matter of fact, in just a moment I'll have somebody read acts :17, but I'm going to start by reading Mark 6:3 - Mark 6:3 - when they were talking about Jesus and he was doing his preaching ministry there in Galilee, they said - or, up near nazareth - they said, "'is this not the carpenter, The Son of mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?'" So Jesus had at least half brothers and sisters. Usually they list them in order of their age. The first one listed is James.

So James was the older step-brother or half-brother of Jesus - probably from an earlier marriage of Joseph. The other interesting thing is Joseph, evidently, dies before Jesus begins his public ministry. Last we hear of Joseph, Jesus is twelve years old. I'm sure he lived beyond that, but you never hear him mentioned again beyond that occasion when mary and Joseph lost him in the temple. So, being the first-born in the family, James would have been the oldest because he was from Joseph's first litter, if you will.

He would have been, basically, the patriarch of even that family. Not only something like Jesus' older brother, but sometimes that older brother was really respected as The Father figure or the leading figure in the family. So he was really a pillar. But earlier on, we learned that the brothers of Jesus, they first questioned what in the world was he doing? And they wondered if he had lost his mind. He seemed like suddenly he had gone from just a kind obscurity to this public national figure that was surrounded by controversy and threats of death and - but later, they came around and they were converted.

Now that says a lot for you. You can fool a lot of people, but when your family says, 'we believe he was The Son of God.' And they've watched you for thirty years or thirty-three and a half years, that's pretty strong testimony that you have a consistent life. And they taught that Jesus had lived a holy, sinless life. James couldn't think - I mean, how many of you had siblings? How many of you have dirt on your siblings? So - I mean - but they believed that Jesus was holy and sinless. Now go ahead, read for us acts :17.

"But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, 'go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.' And he departed and went to another place." Thank you. You know why I think this verse is so important? This chapter - chapter 12 - of acts, begins by telling that herod kills James, the brother of John. It ends with Peter escaping from prison and Peter giving instruction: 'go tell James' - it's almost like there's a transitioning happening at this point. James ends up being - he's recognized as really an apostle in the early church, and a leader.

And probably, the first book written in the Bible - it may not have been written before the book of Mark, but it's certainly one of the first books or letters of instruction written in the Bible and - even though you find it at the end - remember, the books of the Bible are not necessarily in chronological order. Now, notice this, when Paul says - 1 Corinthians 15:3 - about James - "for I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen by cephas," - that's Peter - "then by the twelve" - the other apostles - "after that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once," - probably some time before his ascension - "of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep." - Some have died - "after that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles." See, it's - James is sort of lumped with an apostle. It's not talking about James the brother of John. "Then last of all he was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time." And so, we can see - and then I'll give you one more - this is still introduction - James was a leader in the early church. Acts 15 - when they came down with Paul and barnabas and they had a problem about how much of the ceremonial laws are they to require the gentile converts to keep and how do they handle those issues.

It says, "and after they become silent, James answered, saying, 'men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God first visited the gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written." - And he goes on. So James really, sort of, becomes like chairman of the board - the bishop - the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which was - that was ground zero for the early church. And right now, a lot of people think of rome as the center of Christianity, but it was really in Jerusalem for that first century anyway. So, you know, that's sort of an introduction to our final study in the book of James.

This one is dealing with the everlasting Gospel. Now, if you look in the last verses of James - I don't know if you - maybe what we ought to do first - I don't think I even mentioned our memory verse, did i? Let's do that. Our memory verse is Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 3 - you can read it right out of your Bible or your quarterly there - Jeremiah 31:3 and it's here in the new king James version. Do you want to say that with me? "the Lord has appeared of old time to me saying, 'yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.'" Now, our emphasis is going to be seeing that the Gospel is all through the Bible, including the book of James. And I understand why dr.

Wahlen, when he wrote this lesson, he wanted to emphasize this, especially near the end, because some people, they read the second and third chapters of James, where he talks about faith and works - seems like he's giving more encouragement to works because he's dealing with those who say, 'oh, just believe, believe, believe.' And he says, 'look, show me your faith without your works, I'll show you my faith by my works.' So some thought that that was dismissing the importance of faith. It's really not what he's doing. He's talking about that real faith is going to be evident with fruit in the life. But when we study the book of James, one of the last things that you find is where you look in chapter 5 and it says in the last verse - last chapter of James - "...let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." Wow, what a perfect way to punctuate that the Gospel is in the book of James. His closing, closing salvo, as you would say, is turning a sinner from the error of his ways, covering a multitude of sins.

Now, isn't that what everybody needs in their life? Isn't that the Gospel - to cover a multitude of sins? So as we delve into the lesson, we're really going to talk about the everlasting Gospel - how it really covers a whole panorama of the Bible and it talks about the Gospel in the old testament, the Gospel made flesh, the Gospel in Paul, the Gospel in the new covenant and the climax of the Gospel, so those are the sections that we're considering. Alright, first, the Gospel in the old testament. Somebody's going to have Genesis :15 - alright, you'll be in just a moment, then. We'll get to you. And I'm going to begin by reading Hebrews 4, verse 2 - now I know Hebrews is in the new testament, but he's pointing back to the old testament.

"For indeed the Gospel was preached to us as well as to them;" - who is Paul talking about in Hebrews? Who's the 'them?' When he says, 'the Gospel is preached to us' he means those present - the apostles, the new testament Christians, as well as them - he's pointing back to the old testament. I thought 'Gospel' was only a new testament word. What's the word 'Gospel' mean? Good news. Paul says the Gospel was preached to them. When was the Gospel preached to people in the old testament? Well, even all the prophets, not only in the symbols but all of the prophets and - does it say Enoch was a preacher of righteousness? He said, 'behold the Lord comes.

' Enoch was preaching about the advent of the Lord, so Enoch was an adventist, wasn't he? Matter of fact, it says, 'Enoch, the seventh from adam.' He was a Seventh-day Adventist. I'm sure he was a Sabbath keeper. So the idea that the Gospel didn't show up until Jesus - I've met people before and I've run into this frequently, they say, 'what about all the people who haven't heard about Jesus? Are they doomed to be lost?' And I was talking with a fellow just in New Mexico during our landmark program and he said, 'yeah, the Bible says there's no other name given among men whereby we must be saved, so if someone hasn't heard about Jesus, they're lost.' I said, 'wait a second. Be careful what you're saying because what you're saying is all the people in the old testament who hadn't heard about Jesus are all lost.' Well, we know a lot of them are saved. And even Jesus, he kind of outraged his home town when he said, there were a lot of lepers in the land in the days of naaman, but none of them was healed - from Israel - but naaman the syrian was healed.

God did a miracle for him. So did God have people there? And then he goes on and says there were many widows in the land of Israel in the days of Elijah but none of them were accompanied except the one from phoenicia - that lady of tyre that Elijah stayed with. Remember, he stayed in the upper room, resurrected her son, did a miracle for her. And she understood what sin was. You read that whole story she says, 'have you called my sin to my remembrance?' So God has had people in many different ages.

Nobody is saved without the sacrifice of Jesus. But all through the old testament, the Gospel was preached. When I ask you to think about - in one word - can't use two words - in one word, name some words that you think about that explain the Gospel. You can call them out, I'll repeat them. Love.

Joy. Love. Alright, let's take them one at a time - love. Do you find love in the old testament? We just read one, 'I've loved you with an everlasting love.' Joy - do you find joy in the old testament? You read through all the Psalms - great deal of joy. What's another word? TRuth.

TRuth. Does it talk about the importance of truth in the old testament? Peace. Peace. Yeah, you can talk about - there's many, many verses that talk about the peace of the Lord. 'A great peace have they which love thy law and nothing will offend them.

' What's another word? Mercy. Longsuffering. Alright, so I heard mercy and longsuffering. Let's start with mercy. Do you find mercy in the old testament? 'His mercies are new every day.

His compassions fail not.' Longsuffering - yeah, the patience of the Lord - his mercy endures forever. It talks about - I was waiting for somebody to say 'grace.' Do you find grace in the old testament? Who is it that found grace in the sight of the Lord? Noah, yeah. I've got a song about it - 'Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.' You remember? Is that old testament? You know, there's almost like - it's sort of an urban myth that the God in the new testament is the God of love. The God of the old testament is the God of wrath. And in the old testament they've got, you know, the plagues and the war and the new testament is the love and the goodness and - that's really not accurate.

Do you find death in the new testament? Do you find people being unjustly killed, like Jesus? Pretty brutal death. Stephen being stoned? Are there plagues in the new testament? Matter of fact, the seven last plagues are more universal and severe than the ten plagues that fell on the Egyptians. So, really, it's the same God all the way through. The Gospel was preached to them back there in the old testament. Alright, well, let's go ahead and I think you're going to read for us Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Now this is really the first prophecy in the Bible. It's a little bit enigmatic. It's talking about this animosity, this resistance, this opposition between the woman and the seed of the woman and the serpent. And so it's really talking about the seed of the woman and the serpent. You've got these three characters that are described here: the serpent who tempted the woman and it says that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent would bruise the heel - meaning, you know, if you ever have an injured heel it makes you limp - it's slows or impedes the progress of the seed of the woman.

The ultimate seed of the woman is Jesus. He is the promised seed. And you've got all these stories in the Bible where you've got these, you know, miraculous babies that were born and they were all types of Christ. And these great deliverers like Joseph and Moses and David. And then you get to the new testament and you read in Revelation about the dragon wanting to destroy this baby that the woman is going to bring forth.

And that's been his plan all through history. The devil is wanting to prevent the Savior from coming. And so you can see that the Gospel about God sending someone who would be a substitute to save our first parents from sin and all of their prodigy, which is you and me, that goes all the way back to the beginning. That was the first promise that there'd be this battle between good and evil and the seed of the woman would bruise the head - that's a mortal wound - of the serpent. But the serpent would only bruise the heel of Jesus - or the seed of the woman.

Someone else get ready for Psalms 130, verses 3 and 4 and you'll have that in just a moment. I want to read Exodus 19 - this is, of course, just before the Ten Commandments - Exodus 19:4, he said, "'you have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." So the Lord's desire to have a called out people - you know what the church is? The english word that we use for church is sort of a corruption of an old english word 'kirk.' And it somehow ended up being 'church.' But it actually comes from the word 'ecclesia,' which means 'the called out ones.' Did God only have a called out group in the new testament or did he have a group he called out in the old testament? That's what the church is. So his wanting a special people and his having a plan to save them - go ahead, read for us - I think you're going to read psalm , verses 3 and 4.

"If you, Lord, should Mark iniquities, o Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared." Alright, so even there in the Psalms of David it says that if God was to keep tally of iniquity, who could stand? It's like when Peter said, 'how many times shall I forgive my brother?' - Keeping tally - 'seven times - one, two, three' - you know, keeping track? And what does Jesus say? Seventy times seven. Was he actually saying I'm going to count out 490 times? Or was he using, sort of, a metaphor to say it's much more than that? So it's what David's saying. If God keeps tabs on our sin then who could stand? So the only way we have any hope is leaning on his long-suffering and his mercy for us. That, again, is an old testament concept. You can read in psalm 32 - beautiful psalm of David - "blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;" - talking about conviction - "my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden.

I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the iniquity of my sin." So there you've kind of got a summary of what's involved in forgiveness. He was weighed down with guilt, he's opened up, he confessed, and David says 'you have forgiven the iniquity of my sin.' You know, one of the most amazing prophets in the Bible that deals with these subjects is Isaiah. Why don't you turn to Isaiah 53 - this is in your lesson. And many of you know these passages. If you read, for instance, Isaiah 53 - it's telling us to read 4 through 11.

I'm going to read verse 1, "who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Surely" - now here's the passage, in particular - "he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;" - it says, 'cast your cares upon him because he cares for you.

' - "Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes" - stripes, of course, means when someone's whipped it left stripes on their back - "and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." - So, wow, do you find the Gospel in there? the Lord laid upon him - one - the iniquity of how many? All. So all - the sins of all the world were laid upon him - "he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;" - at his trial he said nothing to defend himself - "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off" - that's the word that was used in Daniel chapter 9 - the Messiah will be cut off - "he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people he was stricken.

And they made his grave with the wicked" - he was executed between two thieves - "but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering for sin," - do we bring a lamb? In the old testament they brought a lamb. Well in a sense - it says he's brought as a lamb to the slaughter. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he - God The Father - "he shall see his seed," - you've got that seed - he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see the labor of his soul," - Christ's - "and be satisfied." - Jesus - The Father looks upon the sufferings of Christ in our behalf and he's satisfied - justice is satisfied. - "By his knowledge" - it's through faith - "my righteous servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities." Wow, is that clear? You know, a lot of rabbis tell some of their Jewish adherents, 'do not read Isaiah 53.' They say, 'it's easily misunderstood.' Because it is such a vivid description of the life and ministry and sufferings of Jesus that people read it and they go, 'wow, maybe Jesus was the one.' So do we see - just to tie this part off - do we see the Gospel in the old testament? It's all through there. And I can just dedicate this whole time - you know, a place for a shameless plug - this is such a precious theme to me, I wrote a book called 'shadows of light: seeing Christ in all the Bible' but principally it's dealing with the old testament and just going through the characters of Jesus. You see Jesus in the Gospel and life of Joseph, right? Dying for - oh, not dying, but rather being sold by his own brothers and a blood-stained robe is brought to The Father, just like Christ left his robe behind. Joseph is an incredible type of Christ.

Moses is a type of Christ, being the great liberator who brings the people out of slavery as Jesus brings us from slavery into the promised land. David is a great type of Christ. He's that beloved son who is not afraid to go with a rock against the giant. Jesus used the Word of God against the devil and David is, you know, the beloved one after God's own heart. He had several opportunities to get even with enemies and he forgave them, even though the enemies were trying to kill him.

I mean, just how different from the Spirit of the times. And so you look through gideon and sampson and everyone from Esther to Ruth and you just - you see the Gospel in the lives and in the stories all through the old testament. So the reason the angel in Revelation 14 calls it the everlasting Gospel is because it didn't just begin in new testament times. It's the same Gospel that Noah preached, that adam and seth and Enoch and methuselah preached all the way down through history. Alright, next section: 'God made flesh.

' Now what the lesson is addressing here is that you can see the Gospel even in the stories illustrated - and Jesus gives a couple parables. The first one here is in Luke , dealing with the prodigal son. I think we all know that story. Now you know why that's important? And why it relates to the book of James - in both the prodigal son - in a moment we'll look at the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector - and you find it's in the church today - it was a problem, especially in the church in Bible times, the mistake of thinking that you were righteous because you kept the law, to the exclusion of others that needed forgiveness. Now, just to look at the parable real quick - there's a certain man, he had two sons and the younger said - I'm paraphrasing, so - the younger son said to his father, 'give me my inheritance that would naturally fall to me.

' Not many days after he takes everything and he goes into a foreign country and he squanders it with riotous living. Later his brother says with prostitutes. And he was living it up until the bank account ran out. At about the same time, there was a famine and work dried up. The economy went bad and the only work he could get was feeding pigs.

Now Jesus is telling this to, you know, a Jewish audience. That's as low as you can get. He's in a far country - they don't care about clean and unclean - they eat pigs - but he's a Jewish boy and he's ended up feeding pigs and he's so bad off that, while he wouldn't eat the pigs, he's ready to eat the seed pods and the husks that the pigs are eating. Finally he says - he comes to his senses and he says, 'my father's servants are eating better than i. I know what I'm going to do.

I'm going to write to my father and I'll say, 'father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.' He says, 'there is bread in my Father's house.' Now, does God have bread in his house? So he arises and he goes back. In the meantime, The Father, with a broken heart - The Son has no idea - with a broken heart, The Father has been looking down the road anxiously - whatever he's doing out in the yard or in the field, he keeps glancing down the road in the direction where he last saw the silhouette of his son disappearing over the horizon. It just broke his heart to see him go.

He knew how it would end. He knew the nature of his son. And he kept waiting and praying and longing for the day when he'd come home. Finally he sees the form he recognizes of his son. Doesn't have the same spring in his step - kind of schlepping home.

And The Father doesn't, you know, put his hand on his hip and tap his foot and fold his arms and shake his head and say 'I told you so. Just look at you now. Here you come. Now what do you want?' Instead, he runs to his son. He embraces his son.

He says, 'let's celebrate - he's alive!' You know? And he's just glad he's alive. And - but the elder brother, when he hears about the party in the house, and he hears that the father went and slaughtered the fatted calf. You only did that for honored company. Remember when Abraham took the fatted calf when Jesus and the angels came over? And so the fatted calf, that's what you saved for, you know, real special guests and then a feast. And The Son, instead of being glad his brother's come home, he's outraged.

And he said, 'here I work for you and I slave and I do exactly what you tell me to do and I've stayed on the farm and I've been good.' - Again, I'm paraphrasing, but this is the essence of what's being related - and he said, 'you don't so much as slaughter a kid' - a little goat - for me and my friends and now this son of yours' - it's like he's disowning him - 'it's not my brother, he's your son.' He comes home and here you slaughtered the fatted calf and you have a feast and he squandered his inheritance with harlots and drinking and' - and The Father says, 'look son, all that I have is yours - always has been. You didn't have a feast for your friends - maybe you didn't ask.' And he said, 'this is your brother. He was dead and he's alive. He was lost and he's found. We should rejoice.

' And the story ends there. It doesn't say what the brother did. It doesn't say how it ends. Why did Jesus tell that story? Couple reasons - one big reason is Christ knew that his sacrifice was going to be the pivotal moment for the nation of Israel. The apostles were to take the Gospel not just to jews, but to the whole world.

And the Jewish nation was going to resent - at least some of them - were going to resist and resent that God would - 'here we've been the guardians of your truth for 2,000 years and all of a sudden, these gentiles who have been for thousands - these nations who've been serving pagan Gods and terrible things and sacrificing their children, they're going to just walk into our synagogues and get the same salvation we get? It's not fair.' You see where Jesus is coming from? Now you and I know that that story has to do with real families, believe it or not. That very thing does happen in some families. It also has to do with churches where people backslide and they come back and they're embraced and someone says, 'what? After the scandal and what they did? Why would we let them through the doors again?' But you really need to look at it historically and realize that they're saying, 'here we've been doing all this work' - the older brother - 'we've been doing all this work, all these years. He's been out partying. You know, Jesus shares the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.

Man goes in the morning and he gets - he says, 'I'll pay you a penny to go work in my vineyard.' Through the day, all day long, he says, 'you go work I'll give you a penny. Go work in my vineyard.' The last time he doesn't even tell them what he going to pay. He says, 'I'll do what's fair - eleventh hour, you go work in my vineyard.' Pay time comes, they all get the same thing. And the ones who've been working all day long, they say, 'that's not fair.' He said, 'what do you mean it's not fair? I'm paying you exactly what I promised. I'm being fair.

I'm just being generous and merciful to them.' A lot of these parables were designed - Jesus was wanting to help the Jewish nation cope with the truth that the Gospel was now going to go to not just them, but to whosoever. And this is our next one. Our next parable is dealing with the same principle and that's in Luke 18, verse 9, "also he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:" - so it tells you right away what the parable's addressing - "two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector." - Now Jesus has just picked two individuals that are the antithesis of each other - they're diametric opposites - they're at the polar extremes. You've got the zealous righteous fastidious pharisee who examines how many seeds he's got in his, you know, squash plant and he's going to give a tithe of that to the Lord, and then you've got the publican who is the party animal - part of the mafia back then - they were just corrupt, hung out with all the wrong people. But they both go to the same church to pray to the same God.

But listen to the prayer of one - "the pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself," - even the wording is interesting - he prays with himself - "'God, I thank you that I am not like other men" - right away his prayer is not a vertical prayer, it's a horizontal prayer - he's pointing at - like this - his prayer is not that way, his prayer is comparing himself among others - "'I thank you that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers,'" - who do you think he's looking at? - "'Or even as this tax collector.'" - I mean, talk about looking down your nose at someone that comes in the church - "'I fast twice a week;'" - who's he trusting in - God's grace or his works? It's all about his works, right? - "'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'" - Was he telling the truth? I assume so - "and the tax collector, standing afar off," - he didn't even feel worthy. He kind of slunk in the back door and went in the shadows - "would not so much as raise his eyes" - he fell in humble attitude, humble spirit, humble posture - bowed his head -"beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Again, he was saying you can't trust in - have you ever heard someone say, 'oh yeah, I've been in the church for this many generations.' Do you get extra credit for how many generations your ancestors have been in the church? Sometimes it could actually work against you because you could start taking things for granted. But tell me the truth, have you heard people say, 'I'm a third' 'I'm a fourth' 'I'm a fifth - oh, I'm a more bona fide adventist than you because I'm a fifth generation.' Karen is a fourth or fifth - it varies on the different sides of her family, but yeah she's, as you would say, dyed in the wool and I'm a convert - first generation, I guess you would say. Does she get more credit in judgment day? If anything, you're more accountable you would think. I mean, if there's any distinction - you think 'to whom much is given, much is required,' right? Isn't that right? So this idea that somehow one group is better - really what this is all about is the Gospel is seen in these real-life parables and stories that Jesus is telling so that we can see it's an everlasting Gospel, it was not just for the jews, and James is talking to really two groups.

Most of the early church was Jewish. When James first began to write, by the time Paul starts writing, they had actually outgrown - the church had spread like fire through asia among the gentiles and before Paul died, I think there were more gentiles in the church than jews. At pentecost, when 3,000 were baptized, it says that there were devout jews out of every nation that were there that had come to worship. And a few chapters later it says another 5,000 were baptized - another 5,000 what? It's not until you get to acts that Peter goes to the gentiles at cornelius' house. Later Paul says to the jews - he felt they were being so stubborn - and I'm not trying to be hard on the jews listening, I'm just telling you what happened historically - later Paul says - he's preaching to the jews in the synagogue and he says, 'lo, if you reject the Word of God you prove yourselves unworthy.

We're turning to the gentiles.' And then - they'd always start with the synagogue but then they just started going directly to the gentiles. So James is - he's talking a little more to the jews and he was, I think, concerned they were putting so much emphasis on faith that they had given up on holy living. So he's addressing that error. Alright, let's go to the next section: 'Gospel in Paul.' Someone's going to read Romans :16 - alright, you'll be up in just a moment then. And this is Corinthians 3, verses 13 through 16 and Paul is writing here.

He says, "unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the old testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

" What's Paul talking about? Paul is talking about a transition that happens. First, he's alluding to a story. Moses, when he talked to God face to face on the mountain - not just the forty days and forty nights when he got the law, but he went up and down the mountain several times - talked to the Lord - he would come down and he had a handicap when he came down - what was that? His face was shining. His face was glowing. I mean, that's really something - it's not like, you know, you can put certain ointments and creams on your face and make your face glow.

We're not talking about that. We're talking about radioactive ointment because the light is looking like it's coming from the inside out. And it was so bad - it's so real - they said, 'Moses, can you - we can't look at you.' They didn't have sunglasses back then or they would have all had to put on sunglasses to talk to Moses. So to compensate they said, 'Moses, please, if you're going to go out in public can you drop a veil?' They had - they knew how to weave fine cloth thin that would still - you could kind of see through it, but it would obscure the light a little bit. But his face wasn't quite as distinct and so the veil makes it where you could see him, but it's like Paul says, 'now we look through a glass darkly.

' Glass, in Bible times, was still a primitive art and it all was a little bit warped and it wasn't clear so things were slightly distorted and they didn't have the ways to get it as crystal clear as we do now so it was often a little smokey colored - it could have greens or browns in it like the old beer bottles - I guess some of the new beer bottles too. So - but you could see through it, but it's obscured. And so Paul is saying that not knowing that Jesus was the Christ - when the Jewish nation was reading the law, without seeing Christ was the middle of it all, they had a veil over their face and the only way that veil was taken away is when then recognize that Jesus is the Messiah - he was the fulfillment of all that. They could still sort of see, but their vision was obscured because they didn't embrace what it all pointed to. What a tragedy.

Alright, we're going to read - talk about the Gospel and Paul - Romans 1:16 please. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the jew first, but also for the Greek." Thank you. Now, again, it's reiterating that point. Why does Paul say for the jew first? Does that mean the jews have, you know, first option for salvation? Or is he saying sequentially the jews had the Word of God first and - but it's also for the gentiles. He says the word 'Greek' there but that's - they spoke principally Greek back then because of alexander the great's influence and even the Romans understood Greek.

So he's saying the Gospel's for everybody. Notice: "...the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the jew first, because they got the foundation, but also for the Greek." The way I look at this is when I go into a new town and I do an evangelistic meeting and I advertise, you know who are the most likely to accept the three angels' message? People who at least believe the Bible's true that have some background and they might be from, you know, all different kinds of Christian persuasions, but at least people that have some Bible background - they're the first - they're the lost sheep of the house of Israel that you go to first. And you - you know, it doesn't take near as long. You give baptismal studies to somebody who is a jew, how long was it from the time they heard about Christ until they could get baptized - if they were a jew? Same day, I mean, Philip talks to the Ethiopian treasurer - he gives him a Bible study that Jesus is the Christ. Did Philip need to tell him what day was the Sabbath? Did Philip need to talk to him about the distinction between clean and unclean meats? Did he have to explain what the Ten Commandments were? He knew all that.

He didn't have to tell him all - he knew all that. There was just one key thing he needed to get squared and he was ready to go. But when Paul went to the Greeks he had to start from ground zero and start saying, 'let's talk about there's one God. You can't be praying to idols. You've got to give up your adultery.

' You read the letter Paul writes to the Corinthians and it's so very different from the letters that you see going to the Hebrews. The Hebrews are dealing with much loftier themes from the law. Corinthians it's saying, 'no, you can't be sleeping with your father's wife.' You know? He's just - because these are pagans, you know, they were so far away, it took a lot more Bible studies. So when Paul says 'to the jew first' well, they had the foundation and so, obviously, they would start with them. Alright, now we're going to talk about the new covenant and this is also alluded to in the book of James.

Where do you first find the new covenant? In the old testament. If you look in Jeremiah 31:31 - that's easy to remember - Jeremiah 31:31 - it's kind of like baskin robbins, right? "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of judah-" now, I always like to pause there. I remember when a preacher first brought this to my attention, I thought, 'wow, that's pretty profound.' Because I was not a Seventh-day Adventist and I was worshiping with Sunday-keeping Christians and we had a lot of discussions about the covenant because I was being told 'Sabbath, Ten Commandments - old covenant. We're new covenant Christians. We're the gentiles.

We're a different dispensation. We live under the new covenant. Old covenant's for the jews.' Have you heard that before? But you notice who the new covenant is made with? The jews. Yes, there's no covenant that's made with the gentiles. The covenant of salvation is made with Israel.

That's why Paul says, 'if we would be saved' - in Romans - gentiles are grafted into the stock of Israel. That's why all the promises in the old testament don't just belong to the jews. New testament promises are for the gentiles. The whole Bible is made for us - whether you're a literal or spiritual jew. So you can't dissect it that way.

Anyway, so here you are, Jeremiah 31, and he's giving the new covenant. Now you can jump ahead and if you read in Hebrews chapter 8 - and I'm going to read - I'll start with verse 7 - "for if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them," - alright, let's stop there. What was the fault with the first covenant? Do you know what a covenant is? A covenant is an agreement. Yeah.

It's a contract. And usually, before you make an agreement, if I say, 'alright, I'd like to buy your house.' You'd say, 'alright, well here's what I want for it.' And I say, 'well, you know, that's a little high. How about this?' And you come back and you counter offer and say, 'alright, let's shake on it.' First what you do is you have a verbal agreement - say 'okay' - you get the terms down because you can spend a lot of letters going back and forth when you're doing all your dickering. You get your agreement and then you say, 'now let's write it down so that it's codified and there's no changing it when it's written down. But if you violate your part of the agreement, the entire covenant between us, I'm not required to keep my side of the covenant if you've broken your part.

The whole covenant becomes void. You see what I'm saying? So God gives the ten commandments to the children of Israel. He speaks them audibly. They say, 'all the Lord has said, we will do.' Then he writes them down. Notice it's on the front and the back - two tables of stone - that's what it says.

I've kind of wondered if there were two copies - one for God and one for man. I don't - we'll have to wait and find out about that. But so they broke it and God tells Moses, 'write it down again.' And so they were still living under this original agreement but there was a problem. They just refused to keep it. I mean, how many times did God ask them to keep the terms of the covenant? They'd backslide and he'd forgive them and they'd come back again.

What was the fault with the covenant? Notice: "because finding fault with the Ten Commandments" - that's not what it says - "finding fault with them." It was their failed promises. He made a new covenant - "he says: 'behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did" - they - "did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them,' says the Lord. 'For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' says the Lord: 'I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'" So, what were the terms of the old covenant? It's the law of God. What are the terms of the new covenant? Law of God. Where's the new covenant write the law? In the heart.

Now some will be quick to say, 'well, that's because it's just now laws of love.' The old covenant was love. The Ten Commandments are love - first four commandments: love to God; last six commandments: love to your fellow man. And it wasn't that they were saved by works back then and we're saved by grace now. They were saved by grace. We already read that - many, many places - it's the mercy of God.

In the old testament Abraham believed God and he counted it to him for righteousness - righteousness by faith. It's an old testament concept. New testament - we're saved by faith. The people saved in the old testament had the law of God in their hearts. People today are saved by the law written in their hearts.

But it wasn't until Christ came and we really saw God and we understood the Spiritual side of the law that it finally sank in. So when Jesus said, 'a new covenant I give you' - or 'a new commandment I give you, love the Lord with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself.' When Jesus said a new commandment, where did he get that? Where does it say love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Is that Paul, Peter, James, or Moses? Moses it's old testament. And when Jesus said you should love your neighbor as yourself, where does he get that? Old testament. So the concept of the whole law being summarized by love, is that a new testament concept or an old testament concept? That's why I - I get so frustrated because I see so many Christians that have this idea - some pastors are responsible for giving them this idea - that in the old testament it was works - that they somehow worked their way to heaven. Is anyone going to be in heaven because they worked their way to heaven? In the new testament it's grace - they're all saved by grace.

But James is so important because he reiterates that same principle you find in the old testament - that if you love God, don't just honk your horn, prove it. If you're saved by grace, don't be just a talker of the word, be a doer of the word. And this is what Christ said. 'Not everyone that says, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom, but they that do.' Who knew the teachings of Jesus better, James or Peter? I know that's a loaded question. How many years did Peter hear Jesus teach? Three three - three and a half.

How long did James get to hear Jesus? His entire life. So - and I believe all - I believe Peter is inspired. I believe James is inspired - don't misunderstand. But I'm saying be careful not to make the mistake that some - martin luther almost made the mistake of dismissing James as too much works in there to be part of the real Gospel - the everlasting Gospel. Oh James, he knew Jesus and he knew Jesus very well, and he knew Jesus believed in not just being a talker or a hearer, but being a doer of the word.

And this is the teaching of Christ. So the everlasting Gospel is all through the book of James as well. Alright, so the new covenant is the law of God written in our hearts. Hebrews 7:22, "by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing.

But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood." You know, in the old testament, if you ran to a city of refuge, you could hold out there. You know, if you accidentally killed somebody, if you could get to a city of refuge and they said, 'alright, look, you know, you're protected now until the death of the high priest.' They lived a long time some of them, but they got old and died like everyone else. And then they'd go to the next generation of priests and - can you imagine having the same president for fifty years? Some of you remember when roosevelt was president and he had four terms. Can you imagine that? Now he didn't complete his fourth term, but some people grew up and they only knew one president during that time from the depression. But you could have a priest for sixty years.

Eli, you know, he was a great age. So - but Jesus, it says he's a priest forever. That priesthood doesn't change. "He is able to save to the uttermost of those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." So Paul is showing, from the old testament priesthood, we still have intercession. Alright, last section - someone's going to read for me Revelation 12:17.

Okay, in just a moment. And I'll begin with Revelation :7 - this is the climax of the Gospel - the crescendo of the Gospel. Revelation 10:7, "but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as he declared to his servants the prophets." Now Revelation's got a lot of sevens in it. You might help me. There's seven churches, seven thunders, seven voices, seven plagues - candles.

Seven candles. There's a lamb with seven eyes. Seven spirits around the throne - trumps. Seven trumpets - yeah, we mentioned that - and lots of sevens. But when it talks about the seventh, which church is the church of laodicea? Seventh - but it's the last too, isn't it? It's the last and what about the last plague? It's Christ coming and you've got the vials that are poured out.

So when it's talking about the seventh angel, he's about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished. All of the Gospel - the everlasting Gospel - it reaches an end. You know, I was posting something online about so much is happening in the news with different religious leaders - pope francis is - he's got his black belt in this saying we need to bring all the Christians together. I've got several quotes, just in the last couple months, of his publicly saying we need unity among the Christians. And then there's other Christian leaders - big leaders of large denominations that are all calling for unity - that we put aside all our doctrinal differences and - that sounds beautiful but if you know prophecy, you know that's exactly what is being foretold would happen in the last days.

And I had someone wrote me and said, 'oh, you preachers have been saying that for years.' And 'why do you get people all stirred up with these things? You just get them stirred up for nothing. It's sensationalism.' And I think, 'you know, Jesus said 'when you see these things happen, know that your redemption draws nigh.' And I always like to tease. I know preachers have been talking about the coming of the Lord for a long time and one of these days, one of us is going to be right. And let's suppose that Jesus does come in five years. Would anybody criticize a pastor for twenty years ago saying the Lord is coming soon.

If you live and you're caught up in the air - if the Lord comes in five years - would anybody dare say, 'you know those preachers twenty years ago, that talked about the Lord coming soon? They shouldn't have said it so soon. They should have waited until just one year before he actually came and not get people stirred up.' Or should we live in an expectancy of the Lord's soon coming? There's going to be a crescendo. Okay, go ahead and read Revelation - this is a verse that every adventist should know - Revelation 12:17. "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." That sounds very much like what James has been saying, that you've got that balance between your living a Godly life that threatens the devil and you keep the commandments and you have the testimony of Jesus. That's the law and the prophets.

the Spirit of prophecy and the commandments of God. You can also read Revelation :12, "here is the patience of the saints. Here are those that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Now that's what James is really saying. He said, 'show me your faith without your works; I'll show you my faith by my works.' That whole section there. Who wrote Revelation? John is accused of being the apostle of love and I believe that he was.

But does he still see that there's a balance between obedience and faith? And then, last chapter of the Bible, verse 14 - Revelation 22 - "blessed" - now is blessed a good thing? Yes. "Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they might have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." And so this theme of having faith and love, but also living lives of surrender and obedience, that's the story of what James is trying to say and it's really all the way through the Bible and it is the everlasting Gospel. Well friends, I think we got through the book of James. I think we got through our lesson. I want to remind you that we do have an offer, I buried here somewhere, that we'll send you for free.

If you'd like a copy, it's called 'assurance: justification made simple' - it talks about the assurance of the Gospel, written by yours truly. And it's - if you want it, the number is 866-788-3966 and that's 866-study-more and ask for offer #727. You can also read it by going to the Amazing Facts website. That's simply 'amazingfacts.org' and you can read it for free online. Next week we're going to start getting into the wisdom of Solomon, studying Proverbs.

God bless you until we study together again next time. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last-day events of Revelation, Biblehistory.com is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's word. Go deeper.

Visit the amazing Bible timeline at 'Biblehistory.com'.

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