Enduring Word, Everlasting Love
Chan Gin Kai
“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 their 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. (Luke 16:16-17)
I was torn for a moment. What should I name this article? “God’s Enduring Word”? “Everlasting Love”?
The former is a literal take on what the verse is about, that God’s Law (and actually everything else in the Bible too) is unchanging. Besides its romantic ring, the second aptly describes what God’s Word is — a declaration of His eternal love for us. A merger of both titles solved the little dilemma.
The Law and the Prophets (aka the Old Testament) was proclaimed until John the Baptist, the watershed between two eras. He was the last of the prophets, and he was the herald that prepared for the coming of Jesus. When Jesus started his ministry, he preached the good news of the Kingdom.
The change of eras was not about abolishment but fulfilment. The “least stroke of a pen” will not “drop out of the Law” because Jesus didn’t come to nullify it. Instead, he completed it.
Jesus’ life fulfilled the prophecies, his words completed the story, his death secured the covenant. The love song that was sung through millennia culminated in the biggest declaration of God’s love, on the cross.
The Law, the Prophets, and Jesus’ good news (forming the Bible) teach a common message, they all proclaim God’s love for us. It has always been a beautiful story of God’s courtship of His people. It contains God’s promises to us, and a call to enter a relationship with Him.
God’s Word endures forever because His love for us is everlasting.
Various commentators have explained “everyone is forcing their way into it” differently.
Some describe it as opposition to Christianity, similar to what Jesus described in Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and violent people have been raiding it.” God’s Kingdom has faced persecution through the centuries, and we will be persecuted too.
Other commentators interpret it as the strong efforts we need to make to enter the Kingdom. Jesus had preached about the radical efforts required with various violent descriptions… cutting off hands and plucking out eyes (Mark 9:47), hating family (Luke 14:26), not bringing peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). It isn’t easy, for the gate and road are narrow.
I subscribe to the second explanation, that we need to make every effort to enter the Kingdom. But it is nonetheless true that our journey is made even harder by persecutors who oppose our beliefs.
But why is effort required on our part when God’s grace is sufficient to forgive our sins? Hasn’t the Bible also said that we cannot earn our salvation? It has nothing to do with earning, and everything to do with love.
It goes back to the everlasting love story we’ve discussed above.
Love requires effort and sacrifice. It is the nature of love. Can we love our families and friends without putting in effort? Have we even heard of love that does not require any sacrifice?
Because of His love, God has done so much for His people, and He continues to do so much for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice too, through the death of Jesus.
So if we claim to love God, radical effort and sacrifice are required of us too. We don’t make them to meet a church standard, please a human leader, or prove our worth. We do it because that’s the nature of love. If we truly love God, we will want to make every effort to please Him.
Example Of Love
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)
I’ve always thought that this verse stands out like a sore thumb. Why did Jesus talk about the unchanging Law of God and making effort to enter his Kingdom, and then suddenly shift his focus to the topic of divorce?
There is no shift of focus if we again see it in the light of everlasting love. This verse is as much an example of Jesus’ point, as a sub-point to his lesson.
God has meant for marriages to last. Love between spouses should last till death takes one or both away. If we regard love simply as warm fuzzy feelings, we’ll be surprised if it lasts even a decade.
Marriage is the greatest commitment that two humans can make to each other. That’s why it is a relationship that can never include a third party. Adultery breaks the commitment and becomes ground for divorce.
In the Bible, marriage is often used to describe our relationship with God; and in this far more important union, there can never be a third party either. That’s why Jesus taught (just a few verses before, in Luke 16:13) that we cannot love both God and money. Once we allow money or any other third party to come between God and us, the commitment gets broken.
God’s Word endures forever because His love is everlasting. Let’s make every effort to love Him in return, for our union with Him should last for eternity.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.