Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Modus Operandi of Jesus Christ: Grace & Truth

Law enforcement and detective agencies often talk about the modus operandi of a criminal - the usual methods and practices that the perpetrator uses that help them to identify and arrest him or her. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it means "a method of operating or functioning, and, or a person's manner of working."

When I'm on the job, and upon entering any given area, I can usually identify (without seeing who's assigned to work that area) who the worker is by the level of cleanliness; what gets the attention of the worker and what doesn't. What some specialize and focus on, others might completely ignore; they may instead focus on something else as their 'speciality'.

One's modus operandi could be considered a sort of 'trademark signature' that makes them distinct from others.

I began thinking about the LORD Jesus Christ, and how He functions as the LORD of creation, the Judge and, or Redeemer of sinners; the Head of the Church and the Messiah of Israel; that is, His methods and practices in each of these roles. After considering this for a certain length of time I realized I had another article in the making, but I also realized that to exhaust all of the ideas and perspectives that involve the quaternary nature of the LORD Jesus, it would take a very long article, if not a substantial series on this subject. I wouldn't want to monopolize the time of all of you readers in doing such a thing!

So I decided to narrow the parameters a bit (but only a bit really) by examining the primary modes of operation of Jesus Christ, and that would include the two major aspects of His very Person: grace and truth.

Now, right there, with just those two aspects of grace and truth you have enough to fill multiple seminary libraries with the volumes that would elaborate on these two precious pillars of the LORD! I shall however attempt to be as succinct as possible (if that's even possible for me!).

The LORD Jesus dealt with everyone He ever encountered, as seen abundantly in the Gospel accounts, with the Truth. Not only did He always speak the truth (He is Himself the embodiment of Truth), He spoke it with love as the sublime and singular motivation. I could theoretically speak the truth to someone who wronged me and supply it with a good 'dig' that would wound them to my gratification - but such was never the case with Jesus Christ, not even when He was speaking to the "Pharisees, scribes and hypocrites" there in Matthew ch. 23. Give that chapter a read and understand that this is God, Love Incarnate saying those things; if I were to say them, I think my blood pressure would escalate remarkably! This is not to say that the LORD Jesus didn't get angry when He made these declarations; His modus operandi in the Temple, His Father's house is ample evidence that He did indeed get angry. Or how about when women brought their children to the LORD to receive blessings upon them, and they were shooed away by His disciples - Scripture says He was "much displeased" about that! We must not preclude the idea that love never gets angry; it's because of the love and care we have for others that we sometimes become angry when they do something that would cause themselves harm or trouble.


Its important to understand however that when the LORD became angry, it was never for Himself, but on behalf of others; in the two cases cited above, His anger was for His Father's sake, as well as for those children and their mothers. Too often I can have indignation, but it isn't righteous indignation; it's because I personally was offended at someone who committed an affront towards me, not others, or most especially not God Himself.

The church of Jesus Christ is witnessing in today's world, an alarming trend of apostasy, growing like a weed (tares even?) with extreme rapidity. Along with this there have been a number of discernment ministries cropping up to expose the lies, deceptions and the "falling away from the faith." The primary weapon, indeed, the only weapon is the Truth as revealed by God's Holy Word. The modus operandi of discernment ministries is in fact, the utilization of God's Word of Truth to expose the various falsehoods entwined in churches and para-church organizations.

Such discernment ministries must be critical when examining teachings and practices of pastors, teachers and other leaders within the church with as much objectivity as possible, using the Scriptures as the yard stick of measure.
Most of us have heard the admonition to be like the "Bereans" who received what Paul the apostle had to say with an open mind, but then didn't take his word for it, but rather searched the Scriptures for themselves to confirm the truth of what he taught (Acts 17:11).

If such ministries are to follow after the modus operandi of their LORD, then this utilization of the truth must be coupled together with grace.

There are some ministries that claim to provide the service of discernment to the body of Christ, but are unfortunately little more than gossip centers, or perhaps so overzealous in their mission that their view is myopic, and any teaching that they don't agree with has the ministry providing such teaching labeled as heretical, rather than simply espousing different views that can be supported biblically; some such discernment ministries seem to make it an imperative to prove themselves right, and everyone that disagrees with them, wrong. We must remember that even discernment ministries must be discerned and held as accountable as those that they treat with biblical examination.


Other discernment ministries go the other way: they emphasize the grace of God (f0r those that are in serious need of correction) but their hold on the truth seems lax; they claim biblical integrity, and may carry a reputation for such - for a while, but then slowly they become doctrinally eroded until finally they are befriending and associating with known heretics, New Agers, Emergent Leaders, etc. while ignoring their stand in opposition to the Bible which inevitably causes confusion and division among God's sheep.

And should we likewise be extending grace to heretics and apostates? In regards to their teachings, no - absolutely not! In keeping with objectivity, we must be clear that any teaching that is presented to the body of Christ requires examination with the Scriptures to either confirm or deny its veracity. This is not therefore an attack against teachers, per se, but against the teachings of the teachers. We cannot judge hearts and motives, but we can and must judge words, teachings, doctrine to determine if its good spiritual provender or not, and reject it if it's not.

I believe that those who are conversant with the full counsel of God (and ideally this should be EVERY Christian believer, but sadly in this day and age, it's not so at all!), and have attained some considerable level of spiritual maturity are not only obligated to challenge false teachings and their teachers, but are also liable if they don't!


We should however show a measure of grace towards those in error, or promoting error by our fervent prayers for their souls, and that they would be delivered from the snare that the enemy has entrapped them in. We should endeavor where ever possible to reach out to them even as our LORD would and beseech them towards uprightness of doctrine and good works.

Ultimately even the Brian McLarens and the Rob Bells and other such like, of our present world are victims of Satan and are "deceived and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3: 13; also note vs. 7-8). The religious leaders of the LORD Jesus' day were deceivers, and were themselves deceived - but He didn't refuse any of them who would invite Him over for dinner; however unlike too many today, He didn't allow their hospitality or politically correct popularity to curb His rebukes and His intolerance towards their misconduct and their "leaven" or bad doctrine.


Those of us who love God's Word have heard enough about "don't touch God's anointed," however, the One Whom God has anointed without measure, that is, the full measure of the Spirit without any limitations whatsoever is Himself the Anointed One (Christ):

John 3:34-35 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

Isaiah 61:1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

The Anointed One Who is the Word Incarnate took the time to make sure that His Truth was recorded in the Word Inspired - the Scriptures themselves, and one specific reason (among many!) He did, was so that His disciples would be able to judge or discern true teachings from false, viewing them through the lens of God's Word (Heb. 4: 12-13; 5: 13-14).

So those who would warn others to "not touch God's (so-called) anointed" had better themselves beware because in teaching false doctrines and heresies, they are contradicting God's Word and are offending THE Anointed One!

The LORD Jesus commended the Ephesian church for their vigilance in guarding against false apostles and teachers and expressing zero tolerance towards them (Rev. 2: 1-3, 6), yet for all of this, and their labor and their patience, the LORD found fault with them in that they left their first love - the LORD Himself. The church at Ephesus was careful to heed the admonition and warning of Paul who told them that grievous wolves would enter in, not sparing the flock, and also those in their midst would rise up and draw some away with them in Acts 20: 29-31.

There was such an emphasis for truth, and guarding against false doctrine, that they had lost focus on the One for Whom should have held the place of their chiefest love - Jesus our LORD! The grace of God and the love of God are closely knit together. You could say that grace is the outward manifestation of the love dwelling in the deepest place of God's heart.

Let's turn now and look at a few scriptures and see how these two marvelous attributes of God relate to each other:

2 Cor 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Eph 6:23-24 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

1 Tim 1:12-14 ¶ And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.


2 John 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love
.

Note that in this reference from 2 John there is a correlation between truth and love. In the Gospel of John we have "grace and truth" mentioned together:

John 1:14, 17 ¶ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.


The grace of God is of course His "unmerited favor" expressed to the people of Earth. There is none of us worthy of any interaction with God whatsoever, other than as our Holy Judge in which case we are worthy of His condemnation. Yet ". . . God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . ." Now, THAT is the most eloquent expression of grace found anywhere in the pages of Scripture, is it not?

The love of God is an unconditional love that is focused on the one being and receiving love, rather than the one giving it; it disregards any inconvenience, hardship, pain and or suffering that it may cost to have that love fully realized upon the recipient, and rejoices when that love is truly received and reciprocated. I think we can see a bit more clearly now how these two attributes of God are just a mere hair's breadth apart from one another, if even that broad.

Now the Truth of God is an attribute that is just as integral to His nature as is His love; observe:

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
.

Truth is something that is irrevocable, something immutable, something that expresses reality as seen in the eyes of God (the Creator of such), and to those whom He shares such vision. Truth is propositional, that is, something that can be rationally observed and determined upon evidences that exist in reality. We've done a series on this doctrine of truth, based in part upon John MacArthur's The TRUTH War, as well as Norman Geisler's Apologetic works. To view the first of these articles, click this link here:

Got TRUTH?

For the saint, we must understand that the grace of God is just as immutable as the truth of God, and as the love of God; for the sinner, they must likewise understand that apart from God's grace extended by the wounded, nail scarred hand of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, they will know nothing of God's love, but only His judgment based upon the truth of His Law.


Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

There will be no appeal, no plea for mercy will be heard, no oath or vow to remedy sinful behavior by promising thousands of years of 'community service'. All judgments are eternally binding and irrevocable; this is why its absolutely imperative that everyone who does not yet know Jesus Christ repent of their sins, turn their lives over to the LORD, and receive the grace of God by the atoning work of Christ on the Cross.


Titus 2:11-14
¶ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works
.

God must judge according to Truth as this is His a primary characteristic of His. He cannot simply let someone 'off the hook' as this would deny justice which Truth demands. To deny Truth, God would have to deny Himself - an impossibility.

At the same time, God desires, yearns even to show mercy and grace, and has the perfect means to do so - through His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ.

Here we have the two-fold modus operandi of Jesus Christ, and they are as dependable and reliable as He is Himself.

By receiving the grace of God via salvation, the saint's exposure to truth will be a blessing, as is ably testified by every child of God who reads, studies and applies God's Word to their lives and who likewise receives encouragement, exhortation, reproof and rebuke from the LORD that loves them!

It is God's nature to show mercy, compassion, healing, restoration, and love; to bestow such love, joy and peace as only He can provide; He is the ultimat Encourager, Counselor, Manager, Friend and Lover - He is all in all for those who turn to Him with contrite, trusting and humble hearts:

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
vs. 22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Isaiah 57:15 ¶ For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 61:1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound
;

For those willing to come to God on this basis, we have this blessed promise of acceptance from the HOLY ONE:

Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. . .to comfort all that mourn. . .

By judgment declared, based on the truth of God and His law, one is not at all exposed to grace and this will be a curse to the sinner who will never know the grace and love of God which had been rejected in the Person of Jesus Christ.

And for those under judgment, the remainder of Isaiah 61:2:
. . . and the day of vengeance . . .
Once again:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

So which have you chosen? The Law of God based solely on Truth, or the grace of God coupled together with Truth? The former will only bring condemnation by the Creator and Judge of all souls, whereas the latter will bring commendation to the saints of God our Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. These are indeed the modus operandi, and we can expect that the LORD will not conduct Himself by any other means!

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