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What is Grace?
Holiness, Journey to God
Go & Sin No More
New Covenant Galatians 1 John 2:3-6
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What is the "Grace of God"?

 

What is the "grace of God", anyway? The two major doctrinally distinct sides of the body of Christ--Torah observant (whether Messianic or Sabbatarian) and the new covenant "faith in Jesus is totally sufficient" group--have a wide difference in how they define the grace of God. But there is a real and very strange phenomenon found within both groups. There can often be found within both groups--many Holy Spirit led and inspired members living the same identical Christian lifestyle! How could this be? Next logical question you might ask--"How could I come to such a conclusion, and how do I know my conclusion is accurate?" This would be the honest and logical question any Christian leader might ask me. Well in order to make such an observation, I would have to have been in a good position to observe a good quantity of believers in each group, and to have done so over a sufficiently long period of time. I have been in just such a position. I spent 25 years in a Torah observant Sabbatarian Christian church [called a legalist church by many], and the last ten years in churches (both Messianic and Gentile Christian) that come from the "faith in Jesus is totally sufficient" group. If I can observe believers in Jesus Christ from both groups, all living the same basic Christian lifestyle, then I can safely say that both groups have definitions of the grace of God which are deviating from or at variance with the reality of what the grace of God really is, as spelled out in the Word of God. That is my conclusion. How dangerous is it for a group of Christians to have a false or insufficient understanding of the grace of God? It is very dangerous. Why? Because very sincere believers can be led into wrong Christian lifestyles by following wrong or insufficient teaching on the grace of God, and those wrong lifestyles can then quench the Spirit of God in those believers lives. In the final analysis, this can spiritually weaken and sabotage a whole denomination! So where would I look to find a proper Biblical description of grace? The grace of God is not an easily perceived doctrine that is clearly spelled out in Scripture, like some other doctrines. So I would look for a Holy Spirit inspired man who sees the doctrinal errors and misconceptions that each group has in their understanding and definition of the grace of God. I have found just such a man. Funny thing is, I wrote an article about the grace of God before watching John Bevere's video "Holiness, Journey to God's Presence". Basically--and here's the amazing thing--we agree in our definition and perspective of what the grace of God really is, 100 percent! My article is basically at a school child's level of understanding. His is at the college level. My article is titled "What is Grace?" His is titled "Holiness, Journey to God's Presence", and is a transcript of his video by that same title. John's ministry is basically non-denominational, just like mine--one of those ministries inspired by the Lord to help strengthen and unify the body of Christ across denominational lines in these perilous times we live in. Both groups I have described above have fallen into their own particular doctrinal "ditch" in their misunderstanding and teaching of what the grace of God is. Each "ditch" can and does hinder and seriously endanger the spiritual growth of the believers within that group. Learn how by reading the articles in this section titled "What is Grace?". Your very spiritual existence and future eternal life may be at stake here, it's just that serious. So, what is the grace of God? You'll have to read the articles in this section to learn and get a true perspective on what the grace of God is. It'll breathe new life into your walk with Jesus and your whole Christian life! So don't hesitate. These articles will re-enforce some of what you understand and remove some of the false concepts that hinder your spiritual growth and walk with Jesus. To remain in either ditch is dangerous. Find out what those "ditches" are, to the left and right of the road of "God's grace."

Sincerely,

the editor

 

“THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PERFECT

 

A lot of times, people, especially Christians, are prone to say, “I thank God we’re not under law; we’re under grace”; and there is that tendency to sort of put down the Law of God. The Law of God is good; it is righteous; it is holy. The Law of God is the right way to live in your relationship with God and your relationship with other people. This world would be a much better place if everybody lived by the Law of God.  It could be a beautiful place if everybody lived by the Law of God.

 

There is nothing wrong with the Law of God; we should seek to keep the Law of God.  My faith in Jesus does not release me from the necessity of seeking to keep the Law of God.  But the Law of God cannot make me perfect. That’s where people make a mistake---in seeking to be righteous by the Law of God or in seeking to have a righteous standing by keeping the Law of God.

 

Keeping the Law of God will not make you righteous. We are made righteous through our faith in Jesus Christ, apart from the works of the Law. But by coming into this relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the subsequent infilling of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit within my life gives me the power to do what I could not do in my flesh, that is, to obey the will of God [and the will of God for us is found in the Law of God]. It’s not that God has set aside His Law or abrogated the Law or has now a whole new standard for us as Christians; the standard of God is still the Law.  The power now to keep the Law is given to us by the Holy Spirit.”

 

[Written comment of Pastor Chuck Smith, quoted from page 616 of “The Word For Today Bible, New King James Version”. Pastor Chuck Smith is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa, CA.  Calvary Chapel is a very Grace oriented denomination.]

 

To read an excellent article which makes the various covenants of God clear and easy to understand, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm

 

Three Types of Churches

 

1. A liberal church says you are welcome here and you do not have to clean up your life. (most of the older Christian denominations have become liberal.)

This group of churches tend to be made up of the older Christian revivals-turned-denominations, ones that are from 200 to 300 years old, Lutheran, Episcopal (Church of England), Congregational, Methodist, and many of the Baptist churches, although some of these fall into the next category. Many of these revivals-turned-denominations started out alive and spiritually healthy, and as Charles Stanley said, “the churches became more filled with born-into the church, rather than born-again members of the church.”  This is the normal life-death cycle of most large Christian revivals-turned-denominations, they turn liberal and thus licentious.

 

A friend of mine pointed out the he’s met some real Christians working at a downtown Christian rescue mission, and also a homeless shelter run by one of these denominations from some of these older revival-turned-denominations.  What would Jesus recommend?  What Jesus said in his letter to the church of Ephesus would apply here, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:4-5a) So for those who are still really with-it spiritually and are attending one of these older revivals that has become liberal by the above definition, who have fallen from their first works, how would you follow Jesus’ advice in Revelation 2:4-5a?  You would seek out and start attending a church/denomination that is a young revival-turned-denomination, one that is spiritually vibrant, yet balanced and teaching the Word of God.  See category 3.  

 

2. A legalistic church says you are not welcome here until you clean up your life. The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God tend to be legalistic, and won’t baptize people until they’re obeying to their satisfaction the laws of God, and adhering to their own doctrinal understandings (many of which may be correct, it’s just they’re placing the “obedience cart” before the horse).  There are many other legalistic churches out there as well. Some Torah Observant Messianic Jewish congregations fall into this category, while other’s don’t. As the Book of Acts brings out, baptism and the laying on of hands, which for the early Church brought the Holy Spirit into one’s life, was instant, once a person accepted Christ as their Saviour. Delaying baptism until a high degree of obedience is evident in the person’s life is spiritually counter-productive to the life and growth of these churches as well as for the individual, for it is the Holy Spirit that enables real deep, from the heart obedience (cf. Romans 7 verses Romans 8).  These churches tend to be run by ministers that crack the whip and demand obedience from the pulpit, instead of leading people to Christ, who then through the Holy Spirit enables obedience.  In that sense, these ministers tend to usurp the job of the Holy Spirit through their demands for obedience externally, instead of guiding their flocks to seek the Holy Spirit that enables internal obedience, from the heart. Thus, they tend to be cattle-drivers and not shepherds over God’s flock which has been entrusted to their care. Many of the fundamentist churches are legalistic, although some of them are not. Now don’t come to a wrong conclusion about legalistic churches, especially the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, as many within their congregations have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God do have a very good understanding of God’s Word, the Bible, and many Bible doctrines.  It’s just they have the cart before the horse in their understanding of law & grace, and their concepts about ministry are a bit off (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm).  Amazingly enough, the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are the very descendants of the original Judeo-Christian churches of God in both Judea and Asia Minor up to around 300AD, before being persecuted and driven underground by the proto-Catholic church under Constantine, so don’t be too hard on them. These Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, historically speaking, have endured and survived great persecution over the past 1700 years, and are to be admired for staying the course (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm).  The persecution over the centuries forced these churches to turn inward, becoming exclusive, seldom becoming powerfully evangelical as the early churches of God were during the period of the Book of Acts. Jesus’ advice for them would be similar to that which he gave the church at Ephesus, “remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” What were those first works? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  Pastors, stop usurping the job of the Holy Spirit, baptize immediately, let the Holy Spirit do its job, and gently teach and shepherd the flock of God Jesus has entrusted to your care.  You have a rich heritage of survival against all odds. Move forward in these areas.           

 

3. Jesus says you are welcome here and I will change your life from the inside out (cf. John 8:11-12; Romans 8:1-16; John 14:15-17,21; John 16:13-14)  (this category is filled with the Grace oriented churches, they understand the proper balance between law & grace.)  Calvary Chapels, are a denominational group that is most definitely grace oriented, having a proper understanding of law and grace, although their doctrinal explanation about “law & grace” can be somewhat lacking, as they show an aversion to mentioning the word law in their explanations about law & grace. They are keeping the Laws of God, 9 out of the 10 Commandments, to the level that can only be accomplished by the indwelling Holy Spirit, thus Spirit-level obedience.  There may be a good number of properly grace oriented churches and congregations out there. The Calvary Chapels are the only denomination that comes to mind as a whole denomination in my own personal experience, so I am using them as an example (to learn more about them and when this Christian revival started, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm).  Many Messianic Jewish congregations are properly grace oriented, and fall into this category as well (I attend one). One Messianic Jewish pastor/rabbi, Marty Cohen, who claims his congregation is Torah Observant, but in reality is very grace oriented said this, “Keeping to Torah is not a prerequisite for being saved, but it’s the evidence that you are!” The Calvary Chapels have been called legalistic by the liberal churches, because they adhere to and live by the Word of God, including 9 out of the 10 Commandments. They are not legalistic though. They quietly keep the laws of God as they are enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, while reaching lovingly out to the sinners in the world through their good works.  This is and should be the evangelistic approach of all grace oriented churches and denominations.  Oh, by the way, the Messianic Jewish revival which started to go full-steam around 1970 onward, has seen about one-million Jews come to Christ, by some estimates. Jesus has truly restored the Jewish branch of the Body of Christ, which originally was under the apostle Peter in Judea (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm).  

 

related links:

 

1. Why would I say the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are descended from the Judeo-Christian churches of God in Judea and Asia Minor?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htmand then follow the trail, make the comparison historically, and to do that, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm

 

2. How should God’s pastors shepherd God’s sheep? See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm

 

3. Both the Calvary Chapel Christian revival and the explosive revival of the Messianic Jewish movement started around the same time, 1969-1970.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm

 

4. If you’re a believer or a new believer, and trying to decide where you should attend, you’re in the process of choosing a church/denomination, and asking ‘Where would it be best for me to attend, what church/denomination would do the best job of nurturing and establishing me and my family spiritually?’ you need to make a wise choice and consider some spiritual factors. To help you do this, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm

 

5.  You may find this hard to believe, considering the divided and fractured state of the Body of Christ, but Jesus Christ (as the pre-Incarnate Yahweh) has directly and emphatically called for unity within the Body of Christ. See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm

(and scroll to the section on Zephaniah 2:1-3)

 

 

Law & Grace

 

Introduction

 

This subject of "Law and Grace" has been the crux of numerous inter-denominational arguments and disagreements due to the often vague language many denominations use to explain just what grace is, and how the law of God relates to grace.  I have chosen to give the input from two major denominational groups, the Southern Baptist's and an explanation from another pastor from the same church group Pastor Martin is from, Calvary Chapel.  Both the Southern Baptist and this pastor from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale say about the same thing, using different language.  But there is a sort of interdenominational consensus of belief here showing a unity of interpretive spirit--a sign the Holy Spirit is in on this interpretation.  The Messianic Jewish groups would agree with this consensus view, but their interpretation of what is to be included in God's law differs, in that they believe the Old Covenant Ten Commandments are still in total force, which would include the 7th day Sabbath, which is Saturday, as their day of worship along with the Holy Days and probably dietary laws.  As the apostle Paul very strongly pointed out in Romans 14, if that is what you sincerely believe the Bible says, your actions of observance had better follow your beliefs.  So, except for disagreement between Messianic Jewish and other Gentile Christian groups on the 4th of the Ten Commandments, there would appear to be a total agreement with the statements that follow.  First the Southern Baptist article, followed by a quote from the pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.  And finally, a Messianic Jewish view.  First let’s read the Southern Baptist explanation, which is very excellent in fleshing out the concepts concerning Law & Grace. 

 

Law and Gospel

Ernest Reisinger

Importance

Why is the subject of "law and gospel" important? Let me state six reasons:

1.   Because there is no point of divine truth upon which ministers and Christians make greater mistakes than upon the proper relationship which exists between the law and the gospel.

2.   Because there can be no true evangelical holiness, either in heart or life, except it proceed from faith working by love; and no true faith, either of the law or the gospel, unless the leading distinction between the one and the other are spiritually discerned. The law and the gospel are set before us in the Bible as one undivided system of truth, yet an unchangeable line of distinction is drawn between them. There is also an inseparable connection and relationship. Unfortunately, some see the difference between them but not the relationship; however, the man who knows the relative position of the law and the gospel has the keys of the situation in understanding the Bible and its doctrine.

3.   Because a proper understanding between the law and the gospel is the mark of a minister who rightly divides the word of truth. Charles Bridges summed up this mark of a true minister: "The mark of a minister `approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed', is, that he `rightly divides the word of truth.' This implies a full and direct application of the gospel to the mass of his unconverted hearers, combined with a body of spiritual instruction to the several classes of Christians. His system will be marked by Scriptural symmetry and comprehensiveness. It will embrace the whole revelation of God, in its doctrinal instructions, experimental privileges and practical results. This revelation is divided into two parts--the Law and the Gospel--essentially distinct from each other; though so intimately connected, that no accurate knowledge of either can be obtained without the other...." (The Christian Ministry, [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967], p. 222).

The law, like Christ, has always been crucified between two thieves—Antinomianism [(from the Greek “against” + “law”) is any view which rejects laws or legalism and argues against moral, religious or social norms, or is at least considered to do so.] on the one side and Legalism on the other side. The antinomian sees no relationship between the law and the gospel except that of being free. The legalist fails to understand that vital distinction between the two.  Some preach the law instead of the gospel. Some modify them and preach neither the law nor the gospel. Some think the law is the gospel, and some think the gospel is the law; those who hold these views are not clear on either. But others ask, Has not the law been fully abrogated by the coming of Christ into the world? Would you bring us under that heavy yoke of bondage which none has ever been able to bear? Does not the New Testament expressly declare that we are not under the law but under grace? That Christ was made under the law to free His people therefrom? Is not an attempt to over-awe men's conscience by the authority of the Decalogue a legalistic imposition, altogether at variance with that Christian liberty which the Savior has brought in by His obedience unto death? We answer: so far from the law being abolished by the coming of Christ into this world, He Himself emphatically stated "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [or the enforcers thereof]. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17, 18). True, the Christian is not under the law as a covenant of works nor as a ministration of condemnation, but he is under it as a rule of life and an objective standard of righteousness for all people for all times. This makes it important.

4.   Because the power of a holy life needs to be accompanied by instruction in the pattern of it. In what does sanctified behavior consist? It consists in pleasing God. What is it that pleases God? The doing of His will. Where is His will to be discerned? In His holy law. The law, then, is the Christian's rule of life, and the believer finds that he delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). The Christian is not lawless but "under the law to Christ", a phrase from Paul which would be more accurately rendered "in the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21). Sin is lawlessness [1st John 3:4], and salvation is the bringing of the lawless one into his true relation to God, within the blessedness of His holy law. The law of Moses is not other than the law of Christ; it is an objective standard just as Christ is our pattern.

5.   Because the Ten Commandments were uniquely honored by God, founded in love, and are obeyed out of affection for the One who provided redemption. A. W. Pink, writing about the uniqueness of the Ten Commandments, said, "Their uniqueness appears first in that this revelation of God at Sinai--which was to serve for all coming ages as the grand expression of his holiness and the summation of man's duty--was attended with such awe-inspiring phenomena that the very manner of their publication plainly showed that God Himself assigned to the Decalogue peculiar importance. The Ten Commandments were uttered by God in an audible voice, with the fearful adjuncts of clouds and darkness, thunders and lightning's and the sound of a trumpet, and they were the only parts of Divine Revelation so spoken--none of the ceremonial or civil precepts were thus distinguished. Those Ten Words, and they alone, were written by the finger of God upon tables of stone, and they alone were deposited in the holy ark for safe keeping. Thus, in the unique honor conferred upon the Decalogue itself we nay perceive its paramount importance in the Divine government." (The Ten Commandments, ([Swengel Pennsylvania: Reiner Publications 1961], p.5).

6.   Because there is a need for a fixed, objective, moral standard. The moral law carries permanent validity since it is an objective standard uniquely sanctioned by God and goes straight to the root of our moral problems. It lays its finger on the church's deepest need in evangelism as well as in the Christian life: sanctification. The Ten Commandments are desperately needed not only in the church but also in society. We live in a lawless age at the end of the twentieth century; lawlessness reigns in the home, in the church, in the school, and in the land. The Scriptures tell us that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." The Ten Commandments are the only true standard of righteousness.

Moral Measure

Tragically, Christians have contributed to our society's moral decline by removing the Ten Commandments from their instruction. The law restrains sin. Without the moral law this world would be a field of blood, as is evidenced in places where there is no regard for God's commands. The puritan, Samuel Bolton, in The True Bounds of Christian Freedom ([London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1964], p. 79), said: “Blessed be God that there is this fear upon the spirits of wicked men; otherwise we could not well live in the world. One man would be a devil to another. Every man would be a Cain to his brother, an Amon to his sister, an Absalom to his father, a Saul to himself, a Judas to his master; for what one does, all men would do, were it not for a restraint upon their spirits.”

Not only the wicked, but also followers of God need an objective, fixed, yes, an absolute standard of right and wrong. A devotional life cannot exist without regard to morality. We cannot separate devotion from duty. After all, what constitutes a devout person? Someone who is seeking to do the will of God, someone who is instructed in sanctified behavior. And in what does sanctified behavior consist? In doing the will of God. And where do we find the will of God in respect to morality? In the only true standard summarizing the moral law--the Ten Commandments.

This subject, law and gospel, is in the highest degree, important and edifying, both to saints and to sinners. To know it experimentally, is to "be wise unto salvation;" and to live habitually under the influence of it, is to be at once holy and happy. To have spiritual and distinct views of it, is the way to be kept from verging toward self-righteousness, on the one hand, and licentiousness, on the other; and to be enabled to assert, the absolute freeness of sovereign grace, and at the same time, the sacred interests of true holiness. Without an experimental knowledge, and an unfeigned faith, of the law and the gospel, a man can neither venerate the authority of the one, nor esteem the grace of the other.

The law and the gospel, are the principal parts of Divine Revelation; or rather, they are the center, the sum, and the substance, of the whole. Every passage of sacred Scripture, is either law or gospel; or is capable of being referred, either to the one or to the other. Even the Histories of the Old and New Testaments, so far as the agency of man is introduced, are but narratives of facts, done in conformity, or in opposition, to the moral law, and done in the belief, or disbelief, of the gospel. The ordinances of the ceremonial law, given to the ancient Israelites, were, for the most part, grafted on the Second and Fourth Commandments of the moral law; and in their typical reference, were an obscure revelation of the gospel. The precepts of the judicial law, are all reducible to commandments of the moral law, and especially, to those of the second table. All threatenings, whether in the Old or in the New Testament, are threatenings either of the law, or of the gospel; and in every promise, is a promise either of the one, or of the other. Every prophecy of Scripture, is a declaration of things obscure, or future, connected either with the law or the gospel, or with both. And there is not, in the sacred Volume, one admonition, or reproof, or exhortation, but what refers, either to the law or the gospel, or to both. If then, a man cannot distinguish aright, between the law and the gospel; he cannot rightly understand, so much as a single article of Divine truth. If he does not have spiritual and just apprehensions of the holy law, he cannot have spiritual and transforming discoveries of the glorious gospel; and, on the other hand, if his views of the gospel, be erroneous or wrong, his notions of the law, cannot be right. Besides, if the speculative knowledge, of the law and the gospel, be superficial and indistinct, they will often be in danger of mingling the one with the other and they will, in a greater degree than can be conceived, retard their progress in holiness, as well as in peace and comfort. But on the contrary, if they can distinguish well, between the law and the gospel, they will thereby, under the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit, be able, to discern the glory of the whole scheme of redemption; to reconcile all passages of Scripture which appear contrary to each other; to try doctrines whether they are of God; to calm their own consciences in seasons of mental trouble; and to advance resolutely in evangelical holiness and spiritual consolation.  It is important to consider the difference between the law and the gospel as well as the agreement between them. The establishment of the law by the gospel, or the subservience of the gospel to the authority and honor of the law must be addressed. The believer's privilege of being dead to the law as a covenant of works, with a necessary consequence of it is very important. To emphasize this importance of the law (Ten Commandments) I will call three credible witnesses.

The Testimony of Three Witnesses

Consider the attitudes expressed by three of God's choice spokesmen regarding His law:

1.   David, a man after God's own heart--the sweet singer of Israel. "Make me to go in thy path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight" (Ps. 119:35). "Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law." (Ps. 119:53). "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97). "I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law" (Ps. 119:113). "It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void" (Ps. 119:126).

2.   Our Lord's chief apostle--Paul. "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31 ). "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Rom. 7:12). "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" (Rom. 7:22). "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24).

3.   Our Lord Himself. "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Mt. 5:17, 18,).

We often hear the expression, "Be like Jesus." What was He like? He was perfect. How do we know? We must have a perfect standard by which to judge and that perfect standard is the perfect law of God (Ps. 19:7).

The Testimony of the Whole Bible

The importance of this subject is seen in that the whole Bible is either law or gospel--or law and gospel related. For example:

·        The history of the Old and New Testaments, as far as man is concerned, is nothing more than narratives of lives lived in conformity or opposition to the moral law, or lived in belief or unbelief of the gospel.

·        All the threatenings of the Old and New Testaments are threatenings either of the law or of the gospel. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

·        Every prophecy of Scripture is a declaration of things obscure and future and is connected with either law or gospel.

·        Every promise is a promise related to either the law or the gospel, or both.

·        Every good admonition, reproof, or exhortation is with reference to the law or the gospel, or both.

Thus the law and the gospel are the center, the sum, and the substance of the whole Bible. How important then is it properly to relate and distinguish the two? The closer we get to a clear view of the difference between the law and the gospel, and the connection between them as they serve to establish each other, the more we will understand the Holy Scriptures and thus the will and mind of God, and the more useful we will be in His service.

Two Kinds of Knowledge

Another indication of the importance of the law is that it reveals the two kinds of knowledge that are necessary for salvation:

1.   The law reveals the character of God. God's law comes from His nature. The nature of God determines what is right, and the will of God imposes that standard upon all His creatures as a moral obligation. Since his will flows from His nature, and the law is perfect (Ps. 19:7), the law reflects the perfection of his nature.

Man is not answerable to an abstract law, but to God. Behind the law is the Lawgiver. Therefore, to find fault with the law is to find fault with the Lawgiver. The law is not the arbitrary edicts of a capricious despot, but the wise, holy loving precepts of one who is jealous for His glory and for the good of His people.

Christ was perfect. How do we know? He kept the law perfectly--He was the law personified. Christ perfectly manifests the Father : "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

2.   The law reveals the condition of man. To walk up to someone and say, "All have sinned" does not bring conviction unless that person knows what sin is. "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). The knowledge of sin as violation of God's law brings conviction.

The Law and Evangelism

Similarly, the importance of the law is seen in a subject that is dear to the heart of every true preacher and every true Christian--evangelism.

In days gone by, children learned the commandments before they learned John 3:16, because only then did John 3:16 make any sense. Likewise, John Elliot's first translation work among the Indians was not of John 3:16 but of the Ten Commandments, and his first sermon was on the commandments. Did John Elliot think the Indians would be saved by the Ten Commandments? Of course not, but the commandments would show them why they needed to be saved--they were law-breakers, and they needed a law-keeper to be their substitute. [Why we need Jesus becomes relevant.]

John Paton, a great Presbyterian missionary to the New Hebrides, first taught the commandments. Why? People will never be properly interested in a relationship with the Redeemer until they see the terrible breach in their relationship to the Creator. The commandments are the moral mandate of the Creator to creatures. The sharp needle of the law makes way for the scarlet thread of the gospel. The law is indispensable in biblical, God-centered evangelism.

Run and work the law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A sweeter sound the gospel brings;
It bids me fly and gives me wings.

Summary

1.   The whole Bible is law and gospel, and the two are so vitally related to each other that an accurate knowledge of either cannot be obtained without the other.

2.   The law reveals the character of God and the condition of man. These two kinds of knowledge are absolutely necessary for salvation. (See, for example, the first chapter in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.)

3.   The law is essential to true biblical evangelism because by the law is the knowledge of sin. It was the law that was effective in Paul's conversion: "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Rom. 7:7).  [i.e. the Law of God shows us our need for a Saviour.]

4.   The law is the only biblical rule and direction for obedience--that is, a sanctified life. In what does sanctified behavior consist? Doing the will of God. What is the will of God in respect to morality? The moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments.

5.   The law is one of three truths of the Bible that stand or fall together: (1) the law of God, (2) the cross of Christ, (3) the righteous judgment of almighty God.

First, if there is no law there is no sin because sin is the transgression of the law (The Ten Commandments).

Second, if there is no cross there is no hope for poor sinners--no forgiveness of sin.

Third, if there is no righteous judgment of almighty God who cares about sin or a Savior. These three truths stand or fall together.

The following statement by J. Gresham Machen, the principal founder of Westminster Theological Seminary will emphasize the importance of the place of the law.

A new and more powerful proclamation of that law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. So it always is: a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace/ Pray God that the high view may again prevail. (What is Faith?, [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust], pp. 141-142). Preacher, preach the moral law; and parents, teach your children the Ten Commandments. [taken from the Southern Baptist online publication "founders.org", emphasis mine throughout.]

 

 Calvary Chapel View

 

Next the introduction  to the new booklet series titled "The Grand Demandments, Living by God's Design" written by a pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale:

 

Introduction

 

        "What place do the Ten Commandments have in the life of a New Testament believer?  There are two very different answers to this question: one is "none" while the other is "everything."  Actually, both views need some adjustment.  The Law is a vital tool for us as Christians in the 21st Century.  Jesus left us one thing to do until He returns:

        "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NIV)

        The sad reality in many churches today is that the witness of Christ cannot be seen.  Those who claim to love God are breaking commandment after commandment, living lifestyles that are not very different from those in the world who don't claim to love God at all.

        At this point, you may be inclined to say, "Hold on just a minute.  I'm not saved by works but by grace."  While this is certainly true, may I ask you a qualifying question: From what have you been saved?  Simply from the consequence of sin, which is hell, or from sin itself?  There is a huge difference and it is that difference that ties together grace and the law.

The Bible teaches us:

        "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." (Titus 2:11-12 NIV)

        Grace is the empowerment of God to say no to unrighteousness.  It is the missing ingredient between the law and the weakness of our flesh that the Apostle Paul spoke of: "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3-4 NKJV).

        God sent Christ so that we could have the power to say "no" to sin and "yes" to the righteousness of God that is found in the law: "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17 NKJV).

        The law is still God's holy standard of perfection.  The difference between then and now is Christ.  He has fulfilled the law on our behalf, but he still warns us: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5:17-19 NIV).

        Did you catch it?  The difference is that the penalty is gone [the penalty for breaking God's Law was death under the old covenant--Jesus paid that penalty for all believers who put their trust in him].  If you break the law, you are least in the Kingdom of Heaven [or the 1st Resurrection to Immortality at Jesus’ 2nd coming], but you are still in the Kingdom!  Christ is your ticket into Heaven--not the Law.  But the Law does have a purpose.  It is still our tutor--or teacher--of what is important to God.  That's why Jesus said if we obey the commands, we will be great in the Kingdom; our obedience is a proof of our love for God: "If you love me, you will do the things I command." (John 14:15 ICB)  In Christ, this is now possible because we have the grace [Holy Spirit indwelling us] to accomplish it.  So the next time you find yourself coveting, recognize that your teacher (the Law) is telling you that you are low on spiritual fuel--Christ has become small in you.  It is time to shut yourself into the prayer closet and let Jesus become your first love all over again."

 

A Messianic View

 

Now for a description which Messianic Jewish believers would understand, given in part by the blood brother of Jesus or Yeshua--who became the chief ruler of the Jerusalem Headquarters Church of God, which had authority over all the early Churches of God throughout Asia Minor and the Roman world.  James said in his Epistle that the "royal law" was a mirror that shows believers in Yeshua where the dirt is, where the sin is in their lives.  Don't forget, none of us is without sin, only the Lord was.  So we need to be looking into the "royal law"--God's spiritual mirror--to see where the sin is, so it can be washed off.  Let's read what James had to say.  "Do nor merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, [and] after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does."  (James 1:22-25).  The apostle Paul said essentially the same thing in Romans 3:20b, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin."  But a spiritual mirror has no power of itself, just as the law applied to ancient Israel had no power to save them from sin or disobedience.  A mirror has not power to wash the dirt off a person.  Let us look at a fixture in the courtyard of the Temple which served both a physical purpose for the priests, and served also as a spiritual symbol of two very essential things to the believer--the law and the power imparted by Grace living in us, the Holy Spirit.  Turn to Exodus 30:17-21 and Exodus 38:8"They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting."  This brazen basin was for the priests to wash up in before doing service in the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting (Exodus 30:17-21, and later the Temple).  It was symbolic of the Law of God.  The priests could look at themselves all day long in this reflective bronze basin, every day of the year and never be able to cleanse themselves.  They could see the dirt, but couldn't get it off.  They could try, but they'd only succeed in rubbing it into their skin more.  It took water being added to the bronze basin.  In the Bible water is one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit.  A New Testament believer in Jesus, Yeshua, has both the Law as his spiritual mirror and God's indwelling Holy Spirit providing the washing of regeneration.  We are meant to search out God's Law daily, and use God's Holy Spirit within us when we spot sin, to wash it from us, out of our lives.  Now here's something that should make the whole Bible come alive and give it real meaning.  We all know, as do the Jews, that the whole of God's Law is contained in the Torah, the first five books of Moses.  That is the physical application of the Law of God, which God gave to physical Israel, a nation of people who did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit at that time.  Do you remember Moses crying out to God that this burden of leading the children of Israel was too much for him?  God heard him, and poured out his Holy Spirit on 70 elders in Israel, so Moses could have some help.  Two of those 70 weren't in the tent at the time God's Spirit came upon them all.  But the two missing persons were out in the camp at the time.  And they began to prophesy.  Joshua got all up tight and asked Moses if he should go out and shut them up.  Moses said something to the effect  'No, don't shut them up.  I wish to God that all Israel had the Spirit of the Lord in them!' (read Numbers 11:11-17, 24-30 for this vivid account).  Israel had the Law, written especially for their human level of understanding.  When Jesus came, God in the flesh (cf. John 1:1-11), he magnified the Law of God back to its spiritual intent.  It was prophecied in the Old Testament that the Messiah would magnify the Law.  Jesus brought the Ten Commandment Law of God back to its high spiritual intent in Matthew 5:20-48.  And all throughout the New Testament the Ten Commandments are re-iterated, commanded for New Testament believers. They are brought to their spiritual intent.  Paul in his letters lists and command nine of the ten.  When commanding Christians to not steal, Paul commands, "he who stole, let him steal no more, but instead let him work with his hands and give to those in need."  A positive and far more spiritual intent is brought to the Ten Commandment Law of God.  So the whole New Testament is the believer's Torah.  (Messianic believers need to understand that point, and realize why Gentile believers hold the New Testament in the same high esteem that they--Messianic believers--hold the Old Testament Torah.  Think about that one for awhile, meditate on it.)  But you may notice something about the spiritual intent of the Law of God, particularly in Matthew 5:20-48. It's much harder to keep.  God's law was near impossible in the Old Testament version.  But the New Testament version is even harder (if you don't have the indwelling Holy Spirit).  What am I saying harder for?  Both versions are impossible for man to keep on his own.  They're both spiritual mirrors.  The Old Testament Torah Law of God was like an old-fashioned mirror, you could see yourself in it, but it didn't show the true intent of the heart, didn't get to the real inner dirt in our souls.  But the New Testament Law of Christ, now that's like the mirror in the Hubble Space Telescope.  It gets to the heart of the universe in our lives.  It is a spiritual mirror that goes straight to the heart and motive behind the actual physical act of a sin.  But mirrors are useless without water and soap.  God's Holy Spirit must fill the bronze basin.  One of the Old Testament requirements of a newly appointed king of Israel was that he was to write out a copy of the Torah, God's Law, and then he was to read from it for the rest of his life (Deuteronomy 17:18-20--read it).  In Revelation 5:10, Jesus says "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."  We are to be made into a nation of kings and priests when Jesus returns to earth, ruling from Jerusalem with Jesus, Yeshua.  If a king in Old Testament Israel had this command in Deuteronomy 17:18-20 to write out on a scroll the entire law of God (i.e. the Torah), and this Law has now been brought to it's spiritual intent in the writings of the New Testament, doesn't that mean we should be studying the New Testament (as well as Old Testament) versions of God's Holy Law on a daily basis? King David was and is the Bible's key example for believers of how a Holy Spirit led and filled king of Israel did this.  The Psalms he wrote (one third of them) reflect the fact that he studied the Law daily and meditated on it, and loved it.  We're to be kings and priests in God's kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.  And we have a real purpose for looking into God's Law.  We can actually do something, we actually have the power to cast the sins we see with God's mirror out of our lives.  The poor Israelites must have been a real frustrated group of people, ever learning yet never coming to a real repentance, never truly living holy, godly lives with the righteousness of God within them.  We can.  But it takes the bronze basin made of women's looking glasses, filled with the water of the Holy Spirit.  So as Paul asked, in Romans 3:31, "Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law."  I hope this clears up some pretty big misunderstandings within the body of Christ on the issue of Law and Grace--Mirror and Water.

 

God’s Definition Of The New Covenant

 

One other point which proves the "royal law" has a part in salvation--God's law is a vital and integral part of the new covenant.  Don't believe me.  Read the terms for yourself.  Paul in explaining the new covenant which was prophecied to come upon the House of Israel and the House of Judah at the time of the Lord's 2nd coming, quoted it's terms from Jeremiah 31:31-33, which states, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith, the Lord, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."  Now as Zechariah chapter 12-14 points out, all of Israel (Judah) that survives WWIII will come into this new covenant, accepting Yeshua as their Messiah and Savior.  That's why Jeremiah 31:31-33 is a prophecy for the future Millennial nation of Israel.  But Paul in quoting this was telling Christians that this prophecy is being fulfilled in advance in born-again Christians today, from the time of Acts 2 and the birth of the church to the present time.  Let's see how Paul quoted Jeremiah 31:31-33 and explained its meaning for Christians today, in Hebrews 8:6-10, "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.  For if the first covenant has been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, 'Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MIND, AND WRITE THEM IN THEIR HEARTS: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.  In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old.  Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish." Notice, it is the Old Covenant which is vanishing, not the Law itself.  For what does God do with his Law in the New Covenant?  He writes that very Law into the minds and hearts of believers!  Now again,  what is the heart and the core of the new covenant?  It is God writing into our hearts and minds--what?--His LAW.  It doesn't get plainer or simpler.  That's the plain truth of the matter.  Part of God writing his law in our hearts and minds is the enabling understanding of that law God's Holy Spirit gives us as we read it.  But we must do the reading, and studying of God's Word, including the law, whether OT, or the law in it's new spiritual application, explained by the New Testament.  We have our part to do (just as David did), we have to do the reading.  God then imprints what we study and read into our hearts and minds, in such a way that we have the power to live that royal law.  Keeping the royal law of God in and through the power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit is not legalism, for it is a divine miracle of God that enables our obedience, and as Pastor J. Mark Martin points out, we can't take any credit for our own obedience.  I know that for a fact, with some pretty tough sins I've struggled with.  Then in God's time, through his supernatural power, I simply walked away from what I was struggling with, like it was a cake walk.  No way I would ever think of taking credit for my obedience.  I hope you have come to see the important relationship between law and grace, law and the gospel, however you want to put it.  Our works of obedience to God’s Laws are not really our own, but the work of God within us, transforming us into the Image of His Precious Son Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeschiach.

 

Which Set Of Laws Does God Write Into Our Minds And Upon Our Hearts? --- Answer: The Choice Is Yours

 

One important point I wish to make.  The choice over which version of God’s Law we want the Holy Spirit to imprint upon our hearts and minds is left up to the believer in Jesus.  That may sound astounding, and go against the grain of most, if not all Gentile Sunday-observing Christians and denominations.  First of all, it is a historic fact.  The early Church which was established in Jerusalem and spread out across Asia Minor was a Sabbath-observing church, and no New Testament existed for at least the first 75 to 100 years, so all they had was the Old Testament, and the Laws of God contained therein.  So the basic Law of God being written into their hearts and minds was the basic 10 Commandments (including the Sabbath and Holy Days for their days of worship), and probably the dietary laws (for a good historic study of the early Church see https://unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm).  After 325AD Constantine drove these Sabbath-keeping Judeo-Christian churches underground, exterminating many of them who couldn’t escape.  The Christian revivals that took place much later on, starting with the Baptist revivals in 15th century Europe, John Wesley in 18th century England, the Separatists in Plymouth Plantation and Jonathan Edwards in the US in the 17th and 19th century, were all Sunday-observing, and the basic moral law God was writing within their hearts and minds were 9 out of the 10 Commandments, in reality, and their day of worship was Sunday.  And now God has restored the Jewish branch of the Body of Christ which was wiped out by Constantine, where there are almost 1 million Messianic Jewish believers in Jesus as I write this.  So in reality, God has given the individual believer the choice of which version of his basic moral laws you want him to imprint into your heart and mind.  Which set of laws you make as your standard, whether the literal old covenant Ten Commandments, then brought to their spiritual level and intent in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 5), with Holy Days and perhaps dietary laws, or the new covenant Law of Christ version, which bring nine of the Ten Commandments to their spiritual intent, but never mentions the Sabbath or 4th Commandment, will determine whether you belong to and attend a Gentile new covenant Christian church or a Messianic Jewish congregation/church.  Whichever way your Christian conscience and personal belief system takes you is fine, just so you practice what you believe, as Paul firmly points out in Romans 14:22-23.  To understand how the Sabbath and Holy Day commands became transformed from their commanded physical observances to a far higher spiritual intent lived within each believer, click on https://unityinchrist.com/lamb/markintro_5.htm and https://unityinchrist.com/lamb/holyday.htm.  Many new covenant Gentile Christians assume the Sabbath and Holy Day commands were done away with, and that just the 9 of the 10 Commandments were re-iterated in the New Testament--now called the Law of Christ.  Nothing can be further from the truth, just as Matthew 5:20-48 shows us the other 9 where brought to a higher spiritual intent, like not murdering now being commanded to not even hate, so the Sabbath command and Holy Day commands have been transformed within the believer by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Click on those links and find out how.  Messianic Jewish believers, most being new covenant believers, still observe them for the deep significance that they convey, as well as the cultural meaning that are attached to them as Jewish believers.  Other new covenant believers don't physically observe them, but chose Sunday as their worship day--and they're free to do so under the terms of the new covenant.  For a fuller understanding of the various covenants of God found in the Bible, click on https://unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm  If upon reading all these, you still feel the Sabbath or 4th Commandment is still physically in force and commanded for Christians, you are free to worship that way, and should seek out a good Sabbatarian Christian church or Messianic Jewish congregation to attend.  The only difference in the way the Ten Commandments (whether from the Torah or New Testament) are observed and internalized by the believer into their standard of Christian living-- empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit--is whether or not the physical Sabbath is observed by the believer or not.  There has been so much haggling and name-calling back and forth across this doctrinal fence, that it's simply disgusting--and frankly it's just plain un-Christian.  Be sure to read the article on Romans 14 to see the apostle Paul's view of this situation (https://unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm). 

 

 

 

 

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