The ministry of John & Bron Fergusson
© JF Ministries, Auckland, New Zealand. Registered charity in England and NZ.
How much we depend upon our wealth today! And how often Jesus warns us against it! In Luke 16, he tells us that the way we handle money is a gauge of our spiritual maturity: for if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11) The Pharisees sneered, because they loved money. Jesus replied, What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight  Luke 16:15b). It seems that that is the end of the matter, and is the end of the passage in my Bible.

Unwrapping Luke 16’s strange verses

But then Luke records three strange, seemingly out-of-context verses. Recently the Lord gave me a revelation of their meaning and relevance, both to the passage, and to us. Here is the passage: "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Luke 16:16-18). So how does it all fit? Notice Jesus is still talking to the Pharisees, including the (probably true) story of the Rich Man and Lazarus that immediately follows. He is therefore continuing his lesson about love of, and dependence on, wealth. In that story, the Rich Man went to hell because of his callous disregard of the plight of Lazarus, and so would the Pharisees. ‘God knows your hearts,’ Jesus had told them. But now the passage above seems even more odd! How can this be about money? Whenever Jesus seems to go off-subject he is laying foundational principles. The Pharisees sneered at his teaching because they loved money. But there was a deeper problem.

Depending on Works

Now the Greek is much more succinct than my NIV! The passage actually begins, ‘The Law and the Prophets until John.’ The ‘were proclaimed’ is simply not there! So what? Because Jesus is pointing out that the Pharisees depended upon their keeping of the Law for their righteousness. Their hearts were black (revealed graphically in the Rich Man and Lazarus story), because of self- righteousness. Their love of money flowed out of dependence on the Law, because they were no longer depending on God’s grace, but their own works. How much we depend on money is a direct reflection of how much we live under Law, and not under grace. Wow.

John the Baptist and Repentance

So why didn’t Jesus say, ‘The Law and the Prophets until the Son of Man?’ Why John? Often when the New Testament refers to Moses, it doesn’t mean the man but the message; in his case, the Law. John the Baptist’s message was repentance. Therefore whenever he is mentioned, think ‘repentance!’ Now this passage makes more sense. The Law and the Prophets [apply] until repentance. Only when we repent of our dependence upon the Law can we receive the grace of salvation. That is the good news of the kingdom. Equally, only when we repent of our dependence on wealth will we receive his grace of provision.

Forcing

The next bit is also odd: forcing his way into it. But my interlinear says being urgently invited into it! [Strong’s has being ‘seized’ or ‘pressed’]. I believe Jesus is referring to the conviction of (or seizing by) the Spirit towards repentance: the ‘Oh-my-God,-I-have- been-terribly-wrong,’ type of repentance that the Pharisees so needed! Jesus points out if we depend on the Law, we must keep all of it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Not a jot or a tittle can be left out! He then gives an example of what he means, by including the otherwise irrelevant verse about adultery. By this he is also saying it is not enough to keep even the letter of the Law, we must keep the spirit and intention of it as well! That is how impossible it is to keep the Law, and that is why love of and dependence upon wealth is so futile. Worse still, it disqualifies us from God’s grace!

Depending on Grace

People often ask me why we see more miracles of healing in developing countries than we do in the West. I believe this is one reason – our culture has warped us into depending upon our wealth (and all it can buy) instead of depending upon God. Of course wealth is not wrong in itself. God blesses us by prospering us! He blessed Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and David, and Solomon (you get the point) by making them exceedingly wealthy. But let us flee from depending on it and its ephemeral power. Let us instead prefer his eternal grace. “Father, help me to depend on you, and not on the wealth you have so graciously given me. Help me not to mind if I lose it. Help me to be willing to give it way, because you are my faithful provider, and the source of all my needs. Amen.”

Money, Law and Grace

Are you disqualifying yourself from grace?

 JF Ministries
John & Bron Fergusson
How much we depend upon our wealth today! And how often Jesus warns us against it! In Luke 16, he tells us that the way we handle money is a gauge of our spiritual maturity: for if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11) The Pharisees sneered, because they loved money. Jesus replied, What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight Luke 16:15b). It seems that that is the end of the matter, and is the end of the passage in my Bible.

Unwrapping Luke 16’s strange verses

But then Luke records three strange, seemingly out- of-context verses. Recently the Lord gave me a revelation of their meaning and relevance, both to the passage, and to us. Here is the passage: "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Luke 16:16-18). So how does it all fit? Notice Jesus is still talking to the Pharisees, including the (probably true) story of the Rich Man and Lazarus that immediately follows. He is therefore continuing his lesson about love of, and dependence on, wealth. In that story, the Rich Man went to hell because of his callous disregard of the plight of Lazarus, and so would the Pharisees. ‘God knows your hearts,’ Jesus had told them. But now the passage above seems even more odd! How can this be about money? Whenever Jesus seems to go off-subject he is laying foundational principles. The Pharisees sneered at his teaching because they loved money. But there was a deeper problem.

Depending on Works

Now the Greek is much more succinct than my NIV! The passage actually begins, ‘The Law and the Prophets until John.’ The ‘were proclaimed’ is simply not there! So what? Because Jesus is pointing out that the Pharisees depended upon their keeping of the Law for their righteousness. Their hearts were black (revealed graphically in the Rich Man and Lazarus story), because of self-righteousness. Their love of money flowed out of dependence on the Law, because they were no longer depending on God’s grace, but their own works. How much we depend on money is a direct reflection of how much we live under Law, and not under grace. Wow.

John the Baptist and Repentance

So why didn’t Jesus say, ‘The Law and the Prophets until the Son of Man?’ Why John? Often when the New Testament refers to Moses, it doesn’t mean the man but the message; in his case, the Law. John the Baptist’s message was repentance. Therefore whenever he is mentioned, think ‘repentance!’ Now this passage makes more sense. The Law and the Prophets [apply] until repentance. Only when we repent of our dependence upon the Law can we receive the grace of salvation. That is the good news of the kingdom. Equally, only when we repent of our dependence on wealth will we receive his grace of provision.

Forcing

The next bit is also odd: forcing his way into it. But my interlinear says being urgently invited into it! [Strong’s has being ‘seized’ or ‘pressed’]. I believe Jesus is referring to the conviction of (or seizing by) the Spirit towards repentance: the ‘Oh-my-God,-I- have-been-terribly-wrong,’ type of repentance that the Pharisees so needed! Jesus points out if we depend on the Law, we must keep all of it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Not a jot or a tittle can be left out! He then gives an example of what he means, by including the otherwise irrelevant verse about adultery. By this he is also saying it is not enough to keep even the letter of the Law, we must keep the spirit and intention of it as well! That is how impossible it is to keep the Law, and that is why love of and dependence upon wealth is so futile. Worse still, it disqualifies us from God’s grace!

Depending on Grace

People often ask me why we see more miracles of healing in developing countries than we do in the West. I believe this is one reason – our culture has warped us into depending upon our wealth (and all it can buy) instead of depending upon God. Of course wealth is not wrong in itself. God blesses us by prospering us! He blessed Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and David, and Solomon (you get the point) by making them exceedingly wealthy. But let us flee from depending on it and its ephemeral power. Let us instead prefer his eternal grace. “Father, help me to depend on you, and not on the wealth you have so graciously given me. Help me not to mind if I lose it. Help me to be willing to give it way, because you are my faithful provider, and the source of all my needs. Amen.”

Money, Law and Grace