Are the words spoken by Jesus before His resurrection no longer applicable to Christians?
If you have encountered adherents of the Hypergrace movement, one of the things you have probably heard from them is that repentance and confession of sins are no longer necessary for Christians. When presented with the example that Jesus provided in the Lord’s prayer, their usual retort is that everything that Jesus taught before He was crucified are still part of the old covenant or the law, since the new covenant was only initiated during his death. This gives them a very convenient justification to dispense with all that Jesus has taught and commanded before He died on the cross. But are the words of Jesus before his resurrection really part of the old covenant and no longer hold true for born again believers? Here I would like to present five biblical reasons why the teachings of Jesus before his death and resurrection are applicable to those under the new covenant:
1. While Jesus was technically living under the OT, He was ushering in the New Covenant. Jesus' time was a very unique point in history. God was walking among humanity. While it is true that some portions of His teachings refer to the Mosaic covenant (Matt 23:23), many of His other teachings were preparing the disciples for the coming New Covenant. He talks about the reality of His kingdom (Mark 1:15; see also Matt. 4:17, 23; Luke 4:43) and how to live under it such as in the sermon on the mount and his dealings with the rich young ruler. These cannot be discarded as being part of the old testament since many of these teachings are not extensions or explanations of the law but preparations for the coming new covenant.
2. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to call God “Father”. Many hypergrace followers believe that the Lord’s prayer, especially the part asking for forgiveness of sins as we forgive others, is a teaching under law. However, they conveniently ignore the opening portion of the prayer where Jesus taught the disciples to call God, “Father”. Although God has been presented as a Father to Israel in the Old Testament as their creator and redeemer under the old covenant, Jesus directly calling God Father and teaching his disciples to do the same puzzled the Jews. The New Covenant has ushered in a new relationship to God that is analogous to Jesus’ own relationship to the Father. Because He is a son, then under Him we are also adopted as sons and children of God. That Jesus was teaching this to his disciples through the Lord’s prayer even before he was crucified shows us that the new covenant is already present in the Lord’s prayer. In addition to calling God “Father”, the prayer’s teaching on asking for forgiveness has no basis in the law and is dependent on grace. The Lord’s prayer, therefore, is taught under the outworkings of grace, not the law and cannot be discarded as being Old Testament.
3. Jesus taught the disciples in the great commission to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 20:28 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” First, we are to make disciples. Disciples by simple definition are followers. We are to teach them to be followers of what? Followers of Jesus. And to be followers of Jesus is to be followers of what Jesus has commanded. Second, the “all that I have commanded you” here do not have any divisions whether they are before or after the crucifixion. A simple reading of the statement tells us that in this case He meant “all” when He said “all”. What kind of disciples are we creating if we tell people to follow Jesus and then tell them they do not have to follow Jesus’s commandments because they are part of the old covenant?
4. Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit will remind them of everything that He has taught. In John 14:26 Jesus said “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Again, there are no indications that the Holy Spirit will only teach and bring to remembrance only those that were taught by Jesus after the crucifixion. If the words of Jesus then are no longer applicable to born-again believers, why do we need to be reminded of them by the Holy Spirit?
5. Jesus was quoted by the apostles in their writings. One very strong example is the Lord’s supper. Jesus did the Lord’s supper before the crucifixion. When he in fact initiated the supper Jesus said: “Do this in remembrance of me.” When Paul quoted these to the Corinthians he said: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Here then is an example of something that Jesus taught and did before His crucifixion that was carried over by the New Testament church and is to be repeated “until He comes.” This shows that it is very dangerous to assume that everything that Jesus taught before the cross was part of or just a further explanation of the law. Jesus has taught things that crossed over into the church age until now.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This was reiterated by several apostles (Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11) notably John in his first epistle where it becomes a major theme of the whole letter. While it is true that the apostles quoted the Old Testament, they did so to support their teachings while those that were quoted from Christ, as shown in our two examples, were direct affirmations of what Christ taught before the crucifixion.
These five reasons show that the words of Jesus even before the crucifixion are important and apply to all born-again Christians. In Mark 13:31, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” In their effort to justify their beliefs, hypergrace adherents have unfortunately discarded entire sections of the New Testament. Discarding Jesus’s teachings before the crucifixion is just one example. Another is by claiming that part or the entirety of John’s letters were not addressed to Christians and therefore do not apply to them. Another is by claiming that some epistles or sections of them were written primarily to the Jews. What they have done clearly is to cherry-pick portions of scriptures that agree with them by conveniently discarding those that don’t, the final result of which can easily veer towards a false gospel.