Home Menu

Easter Made The Difference

Authority sometimes changes a previous command with a counter-command…something simple like changing "Forward…March!" to "Company…Halt!" Or something profound like, "You’re guilty" to "You’re forgiven," which is mercy: Not getting what I deserve. Or "I give eternal life to them" which is grace: Getting what I don’t deserve.

Since God runs things, if He issues a conditional promise like "If you…then I," He can change it…and He did…not at Christmas, but on Easter. He switched "If you, then I" to "I have, now you." God made the first move! But, God had to prepare folks to receive this shocking, radical change from living under Law to living under grace through Jesus. He did it in a most unusual way. Jesus taught things like the parable about a man who had been forgiven of a great debt who then refused to forgive his own debtor. "Then…his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matt. 18: 32-35). Jesus is not teaching on forgiveness. He’s using this to correct their false belief that eternal life must be earned through law-keeping. Jesus appeared to teach: You’ll be tortured till you forgive "from your heart." Since no one could get a changed heart till salvation, how could a person comply? He couldn’t! Then why did Jesus teach this? To produce hopelessness! Why would He do that? To prepare folks to embrace God’s new plan, salvation by grace, through faith and then learn how to live under God’s grace once this became available in Acts Two. Convincing them they were lost is what motivated them to get saved. Folks don’t want to fix something they believe "ain’t broke." And it’s the same today.

So, Jesus piled on more impossible law demands like, "Tempted to steal? Just cut off your hand;" "Lusting after the Cowboy cheerleaders? Just pull out your eye." "You must be as perfect as God is." Hardly liberating messages! Since Jesus "came to seek and save that which was lost," why did He raise these impossible standards that defeated folks? Because without such teaching they’d have never known their effort to keep the law was futile. They had to abandon their belief that eternal life was attainable through keeping God’s Law before they’d be open to salvation by grace! That’s still the first step.

But, there’s a second. Today’s Believers know we’re saved from hell by faith in Christ’s death, but most don’t know we’re saved from earthly struggles by Christ’s life in (and through) us, via their same faith. After salvation, millions use the Old Covenant method for living the eternal life that they received by faith. Christ’s life through us is God’s provision for our victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law…" (Rom. 8:2-4). Did you get that! That’s a new kind of law! It’s different from the old covenant. We have already won through Christ! The old Covenant folks believed falsely that life was like checkers. If you were good enough you could move into the king row and get crowned. But, gang, God’s new plan says God has moved through Jesus! Under the former plan, man lived by doing something followed by God’s doing something as in Jabez’ prayer. (Please don’t write to prove me wrong.) The Gospel says God has moved, now man may respond. But, the flesh loves a piece of the action. Just give us something to do, something we can get our arms around. What work must we do? If this wasn’t the most FAQ (frequently asked question) that Jesus heard it was a contender. So, "Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent’" (Jn. 6:29). Huh? Whadesay? He said we must believe. Believe in what? Not what, but Who—Jesus! Not merely believing that a Person named Jesus once lived on earth. Great day, the calendar year 2002 is predicated upon that! It’s casting one’s hope for eternal life upon Jesus’ finished work for us. It encompasses believing that Jesus did not set the curve for us (law) or give us a set of principles to live by (law), but that He indwells us to live (to please God) through us, by faith (grace)! This is experienced by shifting your concentration from Jesus’ death to His life in you, through you. It’s placing the responsibility for the burdens of living onto Jesus, making Him (as opposed to self) your Source.

Shout it from the housetops! Dance in the streets! The old "if you—then I," plan was changed to "in Christ, God has" accomplished everything necessary for our reason for being, meaning, peace, security, eternity, fulfillment, (fill in the blank) for us, by grace, through faith. And it’s all bundled up in one gracious "Package"—Jesus. God spells relief J-E-S-U-S! Frankly I don’t understand that. But, I’m not asked to understand how all of that and much more could be personified in Jesus. I’m told to believe it and then demonstrate my faith by living like it’s true. It’s called "the law of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8: 2). And as for obedience, new creatures in Christ long to obey God (Rom. 7: 22)! Did you get that? We LONG to obey Jesus. Although we don’t ace it we desire to! We wish we could. That’s your evidence of the "law of life in Christ Jesus [that] set you free from the law of sin and death (O.T. Law)" (Rom. 8:2).

Then, like Cinderella, God gave His Easter story a thrilling, surprise, happy ending! Through our crucifixion/rebirth in Christ, we were each changed from a commoner into a royal princess engaged to marry the Gracious, Winsome, Glorious Prince of the Universe—Jesus (Rev. 19: 7ff)! That’s even better than that Cinderwoman’s deal. And all of this is by amazing grace! By such grace, God is proving His magnificent, worthy, loving Self to all with eyes to see via the way we treat others.

Now let’s put the cherry on top. Easter celebrates that Christ has destroyed every barrier blocking the intimacy between us and God that He longs for, yes longs for, yearns for. Thanks to Jesus, neither our past, nor future, our reputation, race, culture, behavior, sins, education, nationality, wit, cleverness, prestige, or our lack of any such things that impress the world can either separate or bring us closer to God than Christ has already done! His Holy Spirit urges us to call Him Dad! (Gal. 4:6) If you can handle that, you’re even urged to call Him Husband!! (Rev. 19:7; Hos. 2:16) Only God would extend such grace to us. Allah could never pull that off! I love you, Bill Gillham

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.