GOD IS THE SAME
A Short Address Given to the Oslo (Norway)
- L'viv (Ukraine) Mission,
24 October 1993, Moss, Norway
by Kirsti E. Larsen
This talk was given on the occasion of the visit of the L'viv, Ukraine Mission to Norway in 1993.
What I hope to share with you all today is to assure you that whatever all of us hope -- and what is in fact our most desperate hope -- that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Not many days ago I found myself not really believing this truth. In a discussion with my husband, I pointed out that the Old Covenant, given to Moses, allowed for the killing of people for many kinds of sins. The discussion started because of the murder attempt here in Norway on the publisher of Salmon Rushdie's book, Satanic Verses, which has made many people of a certain belief ready to kill.
Řyvind, my husband, reminded me of Jesus Christ, who, when he walked this earth, fulfilled the Law and at the same time stressed its importance. At the same time He was able to live a totally peaceful life, allowing both His friends and His enemies to live theirs as they chose. All He did to them was to put their acts in the light they claimed to have, or thought they had. What He corrected (which some called His "law-breaking") was the man-made rules and regulations that had become attached to the Law, as well as their understanding of the Law. Often He would say: "You have heard that it is said, but I say unto you...."
The sudden realisation that our Lord would at any time in history have forgiven someone like the woman caught in adultery was a totally new thought to me. In fact, I was born again in my understanding of one side of the New Covenant -- the Everlasting Covenant. Jesus said:
To illustrate the Old and New Covenant -- their freedom, punishment and dangers -- I would like to use a simple illustration from our home. We mostly live on the first floor ("second floor" in Norway) in a rather big house. If one window were to be left open, even for a few minutes, our smallest boy, and maybe even his 4-year old sister, might fall out. Therefore it is vitally important that the other small children never open the windows for their own purposes. They are not responsible enough, minute by minute, to use such freedom correctly.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:17-19, AV).
But why should anyone need to open the windows in our home in the first place? Well, we use them for bringing fresh air inside, letting insects out and, to a degree, to communicate with family members and animals playing or working outside.
It is possible to compare this situation with the difference between the Old and New Covenants. We could, for example, live by the "Old Covenant", never risking the life of our little boy by opening a window. There are, after all, other ways of getting fresh air, getting rid of insects, and communicating with people outside, though it would demand much more time and effort, such as going downstairs to open the door to get fresh air in the house.
But though these windows can be the cause of the greatest possible danger for us, they can also be of life-saving importance. Messages given through them could prevent playing children, dogs or others from running into unexpected dangers such as cars or rivers which they are not trained to avoid.
As we can see from this example, we can choose between a lower law -- never to open the window -- or a higher one -- more freedom and greater possibilities, but also more responsibility. As we, the older children and adults in the family, teach by word and by example, and show our younger children the many uses windows can be put to by living a higher Law in this area, so we desire all our family to be able to use the same freedom as ourselves at the right time when they are more mature and responsible and can stop living a lower law of never being allowed to open the windows.
As Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant or Law in every area in human life, so we, by imitating Him, are made ready to live the New Covenant with all its freedoms and responsibilities. This allows us to use and develop our many gifts and talents. These freedoms and responsibilities of the New will not be a source of confusion to us because we will have a perfect rôle model in Jesus's life and teachings.
But as we know only too well we sometimes break the Law because we are imperfect. As a parent I know that this can happen to me and to the older children in the window situation. Because of disobedience, distraction, or for other reasons, the windows can be left open. Therefore parents like myself have to be prepared for possible accidents, even the possibility of a child dying.
Our Lord and Saviour has also prepared for these eventualities. He knows that for many reasons we break His Laws. The difference between us and Him is that He is perfect, and has made provision for our mistakes provided we accept the terms He gives.
Throughout history, different covenants have been required of people, according to the callings and responsibilities they have longed for in their hearts. But God remains the same. His laws always have the same purpose, and because His Only Begotten Son has fulfilled them by living them Himself without fault, we are given the opportunity to live out the New Covenant with all its freedoms and opportunities, come to know the truth of it. We are invited to walk its way.
Kirsti E. Larsen, with her husband Řyvind Larsen, were formerly House Group Leaders for the Hurdal House Fellowship, Oslo, Norway.
"Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6, AV).
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