What Did Jesus Teach?
Here are some facts about Jesus's earthly ministry that many evangelicals miss:
1. When Jesus walked on earth, he obeyed the Law of Moses and taught others to do the same.
2. Jesus was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4).
3. Jesus was a servant to the circumcised, or the Jews (Romans 15:8).
4. Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).
Therefore, it should not surprise us that Jesus directed His earthly teachings to those under the Law, not to those of us who live by grace through faith. At the time of Jesus's earthly ministry, the gospel of salvation by grace through faith was hidden in God. The grace gospel was not brought to light until it was revealed to the apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:5,9). When Jesus walked on the earth, Gentiles (non-Jews) had no hope and were without God (Ephesians 2:12).
Jesus made this crystal clear when asked by the rich young man, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). The answer Jesus gave was, obey all the commandments and sell all you have give to the poor! This is a far cry from the apostle Paul's answer to the Philippian jailer who asked him, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul's response, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30). In other words, no Law allowed.
When Jesus ministered on earth, He offered His Kingdom to the Jewish nation, not the entire world. What a fantastic privilege for them, but they rejected their Messiah and put him to death on the cross. While their rejection was devastating for the nation of Israel, it was a gift for the entire world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). In Jesus's earthly life, he came only to and for Israel; in his death and resurrection, he became "Lord both of the dead and the living" (Romans 14:8).
In the book of Acts, we see Jesus through His apostles, giving the nation of Israel one more chance to believe in Him. In the meantime, He chose the apostle Paul and showed him a revelation of grace. ALL men could now be justified by belief in Jesus and not by works of the Law (Acts 13:38-39).
By A.D. 70, Israel had entirely rejected their Messiah; Jerusalem, along with the Temple, was destroyed, and the Jews were dispersed throughout the world. Today, only one gospel is preached, and it is for whosoever will may come, both Jew and Gentile. That gospel is salvation "By grace through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works…" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The lesson to be learned (and as foreign as it may sound) is that if we are following the earthly teachings of Jesus Christ, we are living under the Law and not by grace. Christians often miss this and live a life of mixed messages, trying to live up to the standards of the Law but always missing the mark and then feeling guilty for their failure. This is why the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to "Study” and “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We can take that imperative as an instruction for us too. To rightly divide is to cut the word of God in a way that separates Law from Grace. When you figure that out, you will live a victorious and exciting Christian life every day. We can thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for revealing that truth to us through the apostle Paul in His holy Word.
Always rightly divide the Word of God whenever you read it. Don't apply instructions or promises intended for the nation of Israel to your own life. To do so will eventually cause you to live under the Kingdom (Law) gospel and not the gospel of grace. Understand what passages were for Israel and what passages we can build our doctrine around. Paul tells us this kind of understanding comes only through study, as a workman who needs not be ashamed.]