You may have heard it said before that Christianity is different than all the religions of the world. It is a true statement, but do you know why it is true? One of the ways that Christianity is fundamentally different is that in all the religions of the world, man is reaching for God; either through good works, or other forms of self-effort in an attempt to attain an elevated status.
This is not so with Christianity. Now unfortunately, Christianity (and the message of Jesus Christ) has been vastly misrepresented by pastors and leaders who have twisted the message into one of self-effort and works, but this is not the message that God originally gave. So today we will be exploring how in reality, it is not man that reaches for God, but how He actually reaches for us, and as we see this, it will not only strengthen our faith, but draw us closer to Him as well.
At this point, you may be wondering why such a distinction is even important. The answer is that if we do not see that God is actually the one coming toward us, that He is the one reaching out for us, that we will always be stuck in a demand-mentality. If we do not see that the burden of attaining is no longer on us, but that Jesus accepts us as we are and He is the one who cleans us and lifts us out of the dirt, then we will always be too ashamed and afraid to receive Him. We will have a mindset of “I need to do this first.” or “I must stop this first.” “Then Jesus will accept me.” When in-fact the truth is that He is ready to accept you right now.
So let’s begin our study today by reading John 1:17:
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
This is a very important detail to understand and it goes to the foundation of our study. The Law was given by Moses after the people boasted in their own ability to obey all that God commanded. In Exodus 19:8, they pridefully declared that “all that the LORD has spoken we will do.” and in the original Hebrew, it is a very prideful and arrogant statement; they were boasting in themselves, and so God commanded Moses to give them the Law, not as a means of salvation, but as a way to show them how truly bankrupt they are in themselves, and to reveal to them their need for a Savior. (Galatians 3:24)
Look now at the second half of our verse: The Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. Grace and truth, together. Some people today believe that the message of grace is not the truth, but here we see that truth and grace are together. God’s truth is on the side of grace, here and many other places in scripture, you will see grace and truth paired because the Holy Spirit is pointing out the fact that grace is not falsehood, but it is truth. God really is that good!
Now notice another detail, that the Law was given, but Grace and Truth came. What does this signify? As we have seen, the Law was given by Moses in response to the people pridefully boasting in their own ability to keep the commandments of God. Grace and Truth came as response of Jesus Christ being a perfect sin offering, that we could have rest and peace with God and no longer stand in ourselves but stand in Christ Jesus for our everlasting life and salvation in Him. But why did Jesus bring Grace and Truth? What was God the Father’s motive for sending His Son? For this, we must go to the most famous verse of the Bible, John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This shows us the heart and love of God the Father, in that He gave His Only Begotten Son. He gave Him, freely, for the express purpose that we would believe on Him, that we would not perish but have everlasting life.
This sentiment continues on in verse 17 even though most people typically do not read beyond verse 16. Let’s continue with verse 17 now:
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved”
Jesus did not come to condemn you; but that you through Him might be saved. You see the only way it is possible to be saved is through Him. He came, to save, not to condemn. He also did not come because the Father needed more workers. Some people today think that they are saved to work; but no, good works are a fruit of salvation, they are a result of salvation, not the root of it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Jesus will meet you right where you are at. He will come to you right now as you are. He has come to cleanse you and lift you out of the dirt. He is not waiting for you to lift yourself out of whatever has you before He embraces you – no, His embrace is what lifts you out of your bondage. You might be thinking “I wish I could believe that, if only I had some proof.” Well turn with me now to Isaiah 40:28-31:
“Have you not known? have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
In verse 28, we have a question, Have you not known? This question is more relevant than you might imagine at first, because the question that follows deals with the message of God and the salvation that He brings. What is it that we should know? What is it that we should be hearing? That the everlasting God, the very same one who gives everlasting life, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint. He does not grow weary. He never wears out, gets tired or becomes exhausted. He cannot be spent, or drained, or used-up. That’s why when you think you have bothered Him and He is tired of you coming to Him – ignore that thought, it’s from the enemy. This verse also tells us that there is no searching of His understanding. Our human brains will never fully understand the wisdom or knowledge of God. This is why He gives us insight drop-by-drop, (Isaiah 55:9-10) because if He gave it to us in one great burst of understanding, our brains would explode; we wouldn’t even be able to contain it all.
What else is there to know about our God? Look at verse 29… He gives power (Hebrew: כּוֹח) strength, power, might. … to those who are faint. And to those that have no might, He increases strength. When you are weary, when you are weak, when you simply have no strength in yourself – He gives you strength. This strength is not your own, this strength is not you clenching tighter and powering through by your own might and then boasting “Ha! I did it!” – No, this strength is supernatural, from the everlasting God, and when it is over, you will drop to your knees, not because you are battle-worn and exhausted from struggling, but you will drop to your knees in awestruck wonder as you realize that you didn’t accomplish anything, but God accomplished it all on your behalf, and you are dropping down to say “thank you.” and to worship Him.
Verse 30 is there to remind us, those of us who are young (and I will always include myself there), don’t boast in your youth because even the strength of the youth is still natural and will fail, but not so with the strength of God which is supernatural. It is not youthful strength that you need, but supernatural strength from God Almighty.
Then look at verse 31. An often quoted verse that has a lot of missed-meaning. It says: They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength. We tend to get hung-up on that word “wait” in our English Bible. But that is probably one of the most unfortunately mistranslated words in Isaiah that has caused a lot of heartache and confusion as people have taken to waiting forever for God to do something when He has actually already done it. You see, the word “wait” there is actually the Hebrew word קָוָה which means to bind together and it carries with it the idea of expectancy. So not only are you binding together, but you are binding together with the expectancy of receiving something. This verse of scripture is not talking about sitting down twiddling your thumbs waiting for God to do some mysterious unknown thing while you say “Oh well, He’s not helping me today I guess!” No! This verse is speaking about recognizing that Jesus has bound Himself to you, He has met you right where you are… right in the midst of your deepest weakness, He has come, and through Him, you have all of the strength in power and might of God working in you in order for you to accomplish victory, and whatever chains or bondage is holding you it is loosed by the power of Christ Jesus.
That is your proof. That is your Word from Almighty God today. Jesus has come to you. He has met you right where you are, and He has come to save, not to condemn. He can love you and lift you right out of your bondage. He has bound Himself to you in the New Covenant of Grace, and in Him you have everlasting life.