I strongly disagree with Bible teachers telling people to just read the RED words of Jesus in the Bible to understand the truth of the Gospel. That would actually be disastrous! Except for John 3, not many unsaved people would find the truth here in the Age of Grace if they do that alone. In fact, they may even believe a false gospel message!
Throughout Jesus’ ministry on Earth He was addressing the Nation Israel – the Jewish people, the Pharisee leaders and Scribes who believed that they are justified with God by keeping the Ten Commandments and all the Law of Moses.
Jesus says some harsh things to the Jews during His Earthly ministry to Israel as we see in Matthew 18 where He tells the Jews the extreme of The Law. We see Jesus taking the Law to an all new high level of required Holiness.
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness SHALL EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20 KJV)
Jesus is seen time and time again in the Gospels showing the Jewish people that it is hopeless to keep all the Law of Moses.
“8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, CUT THEM OFF, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, PLUCK IT OUT, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” (Matthew 18:8-9 KJV)
Cut off your hand/foot? Pluck out your eye? I certainly hope no one today reads these “red words” of Jesus and goes and cuts off a limb!
Look at Matthew 5 where Jesus says this,
“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22 KJV)
“ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29 KJV)
Jesus tells the Jews that if they even look at someone with lust but do not commit the physical act that they have broken the commandment in their heart and are guilty of adultery! Hate someone and you have committed murder in their heart.
In Matthew 19 we see the rich young ruler who when Jesus asked if he kept all the commandments boasted that he DID ‘keep it from his youth’ (No one has but Jesus – the begotten Son of God, God in the flesh!). This rich young ruler was so boastful in SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS just as the Pharisees were. To him Jesus says to sell all his possessions (he was rich!) and follow Jesus. He walked away. Jesus said to the disciples ““Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”” (Matthew 19:23-24 KJV) EVEN the Disciples were shocked by this and asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus answer is not… well get on with it! Keep all the commandments! NO. Jesus answer is “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” IT IS GOD that will accomplish it and not man.
All through the Gospels Jesus is burying the Jews and Pharisees in their Law keeping to bring them to their knees and cry out to God for MERCY. To understand that it is impossible to keep the Law in SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jesus was preparing the Jewish people for the soon coming NEW COVENANT of the Grace of God through Jesus Christ.
!!! CONTEXT MATTERS GREATLY !!!
All the Bible is for our learning but not all the Bible is addressed directly to us here in the age of God’s Grace under the New Covenant. For us today, we need to understand that the book of ROMANS to PHILEMON is addressed to us today, living under the New Covenant of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ.
When we, today, read the Gospels we need to understand that the New Covenant did not start in Matthew (the first book of New Testament) . The New Covenant actually started at the cross! In the Gospels, Jesus is addressing Jews living under the Old Covenant and believing Law keeping justifies them. Today, we need to read the Gospels and words of Jesus through the lens of the New Covenant of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ that Jesus gave Apostle Paul to teach us. Jesus says to Paul,
“But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.” (Acts 26:16 KJV)
The Gospel is known fully to us NOW from Romans to Philemon in the New Testament. Before these books and after is addressed mainly to the Nation of Israel – the Jewish peoples. Romans to Philemon is written about us (and to us) living in this current Age of God’s Grace under the New Covenant.