It is sad but true that many of God’s true children, because of ignorance or prejudice, perhaps both, ridicule with real antipathy the principle of “dispensationalism” in the appropriation, interpretation and application of Divine truth in the Bible. Undoubtedly every child of God who knows anything of the difference between God’s dealings with Israel “under the law”, and the Church “under grace”, rejoice that they have not again received the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father.
We shall all have to admit that it is no easy task to definitely separate all that is law from all that is grace in the Books which we call the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and, John. John’s Record is so different from the three synoptic Gospels, and is so filled with the message of grace, that the task is less difficult. In the very first chapter of John we see the Lord Jesus rejected, and the witness that He is the Lamb of God which beareth away the sin of the world. We read in that first chapter, “the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”.
In order to understand the grace that came by Jesus Christ, to be given to Gentiles, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel while Christ was on earth, we must turn to the words of grace that Christ gave to us through our Apostle Paul. Let us emphasize the words found in Ephesians 3:1 and 2: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward”. Now observe these three points: First—Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for Gentiles. Second—The dispensation of the grace of God given to Paul. Third—The dispensation of the grace of God given to Paul for Gentiles.
This messenger of grace, sent by Christ to the Gentiles, wrote to the Gentiles that Jesus Christ was made under the law. Galatians 4:4. He wrote to the Gentiles, “ye are not under the law, but under grace”. Romans 6:14. Now we want to compare forgiveness for sin in Matthew, while Christ was under the law, with the forgiveness of sin for those of us who are not under law but under grace. First we quote Matthew 18:21 to 35.
“Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times; but, until seventy times seven.
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
“And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
“But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had and payment to be made.
“The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
“Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
“But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
“And the fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
“And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. “So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
“Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me;
“Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant even as I had pity on thee?
“And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
“SO LIKEWISE SHALL MY HEAVENLY FATHER DO ALSO UNTO YOU, IF YE FROM YOUR HEARTS FORGIVE NOT EVERY ONE HIS BROTHER THEIR TRESPASSES.”
Also Matthew 6:14 and 15:
“FOR IF YE FORGIVE MEN THEIR TRESPASSES, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER WILL ALSO FORGIVE YOU; BUT IF YE FORGIVE NOT MEN THEIR TRESPASSES, NEITHER WILL YOUR FATHER FORGIVE YOUR TRESPASSES”.
This message was given by the Lord Jesus to His disciples while He was under the law. Now we quote Colossians 2:13 and 14
“AND YOU, BEING DEAD IN YOUR SINS AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH, HATH HE QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH HIM HAVING. FORGIVEN YOU ALL TRESPASSES;
“BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES THAT WAS AGAINST US, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US, AND TOOK IT OUT OF THE WAY, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS.”
And Ephesians 4:31 and 32:
“LET ALL BITTERNESS AND WRATH, AND ANGER, AND CLAMOUR, AND EVIL SPEAKING, BE PUT AWAY FROM YOU, WITH ALL MALICE;
“AND BE YE KIND ONE TO ANOTHER, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, EVEN AS GOD FOR CHRIST’S SAKE HATH FORGIVEN YOU.”
You will notice in these two quotations, we have emphasized the words, “so likewise” and “even as”.
Now surely you and I will bow our heads and give thanks to the Lord that the forgiveness of our sins by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ has been by the free grace of God, an not conditioned upon our imperfect forgiveness of our fellow man. But then our hearts should be so filled with gratitude because of what God has done for us, for Christ’s sake, that we should fully forgive those who trespass against us. Surely it takes much grace. But God is the God of all grace, an He is able to make all grace abound toward us; that we, a ways having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to ever good work. II Corinthians 9:8. And let us also remember that not only does God forgive; but God forever forgets. And it will not be so difficult for us to do this if we will keep in mind the difference between “ten thousand talents” and “one hundred pence.”
But surely we shall not go back to legal grounds and the King’s message to Israel for our unmixed message of grace.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.