In the previous post, I pointed out a few places where Jesus actually used the word typically translated “grace”. In this post, I want to point out a passage that I have read dozens of times but only recently has it stood out to me in an unexpected way. The verses I am talking about are in the sermon on the mount, specifically Matthew 5:17-20,
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.“
Jesus first says that everything the Scripture say really do matter. Because these things are so serious, there is a penalty for setting aside the teachings of Scripture. What is the penalty? Set aside the least of the commandments and you yourself will be least in heaven. That is pretty straight forward. You know what is even worse than personally setting aside a commandment? Teaching it to someone else to follow you in it. Do you know what the punishment for that is, according to Jesus? Not hell and eternal torment. No. Being least in the kingdom.
I hear people say any wrong teaching is false teaching and any false teachings makes someone a false teacher and we know false teachers won’t be in heaven. So the logic results in wrong teaching = being lost. I don’t hear that in what Jesus is saying.
And yet, notice that with Jesus following the commandments is still important. Paying attention to and following Scripture still matters. We don’t teach a “do whatever you want because your reward will just be a little less” because of these verses. No. We teach that one should follow the Scriptures. And by the way, if you miss the boat on something, get it messed up…study it and come to the wrong conclusion…God’s grace is sufficient. He still has room for you at the table. Praise God for that!