Friday, May 30, 2014

Christ, The Law and the Gospel

Christ, The Law and the Gospel

In spite of the title of the lesson, its main focus is to prove that the Law and the Gospel are not in opposition.  This point has been made in previous weeks this quarter.   See  Following is a previous view on this subject from a few years ago.  
The Law and the Gospel

 Memory Text: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3, 4, NKJV).

This verse presents a dilemma because depending on how you read it the emphasis could be on knowing Christ- (which would make keeping the law a fruit of knowing Him) or on keeping the law (which would make knowing Him a fruit of keeping the law).  Which one is it? 

We could try looking at the verse closer and see where it leads us.  Let us start within the expression, "that we know Him."  In John 17:3, Christ stated that knowing Him (and His Father) is eternal life.  In John 6, Christ says that eating His flesh and drinking His blood gives life.  When we eat and drink we assimilate the food and drink; it becomes part of us.  So, although we do not think about it in this manner, there is an intimate relation between food and us.  What we eat and how we eat will eventually be revealed.  This is akin to knowing someone, the more time you spend with them the more the two assimilate each other.  In time it will be evident that the two spend a lot of time together.  To those around Peter it became evident that Peter was with Jesus; Peter now spoke like a Galilean (Matthew 26:73).  Peter in many ways acted like Jesus.  So, Peter's speech was evidence that he was with Jesus.  Peter did not go around speaking like Jesus to prove that he was one of them.  It just came out.  When the disciples preached many said that it was evident that they had been with Jesus.  There was a transformation. 

The next expression is "Keeping the commandments."  Who are these that keep them? Paul identifies the just as those who keep the commandments (Romans 2: 13).  The words just and righteous are the same word in Greek.  Abraham was just.  How was Abraham just?  He believed God's words and it was counted to Him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).  Now, if Abraham's faith made him just, and the just keep the commandments, it follows that only those who hear God's words and believe them (since faith comes through Hearing and hearing through the word) keep the commandments (Romans 10:17).  The best way to know someone is to hear what they say and seek to understand them. 

What are the commandments?  We could argue that they are the Ten Commandments.  We typically also call it the Law.  The Ten Commandments speak of things we would do for others, not ourselves.  Not one of the commandments says anything about how you are to treat yourself, but how you are to treat God and others.  Christ stated in Matthew 22: 37 - 40,

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This is a summary of the commandments.  It says in essence, put God and others first.  This is what Jesus did, he put His Father and others first.  So much that He went to die on the cross so others may live.  That is why the Father sent Him (Romans 5:8).  So, John puts it this way,

1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

In the Gospel according to John 15: 10 – 17, Jesus is quoted saying that this is the commandment He gives to us,

Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love…
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And we see in this passage how laying down your life is related to abiding in Christ's love.  So, is love related to the commandments?  Paul gives the answer,

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

How do we relate faith to all of these?  Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).  Anything outside of faith is Sin (Romans 14:23).   So, anything outside of faith transgresses the Law.  We have concluded that the law in essence says to love God and others above yourself,  So, not loving God and others above yourself or loving yourself above others – is transgressing the law, and it is not of faith, therefore it is a Sin.  So, if love fulfills the law and does not transgress it, love is not Sin therefore love is of faith.  This means that since loving God and others above yourself is laying down your life, then it follows that only those who lay down their life for others, as Christ laid His life down for us, are just or righteous; they keep the law.  So, how do we know you know Christ?  Because you willingly lay down your life for others as He laid His down for you. 

So, the question remains, why was the law given?    Romans says it was given to make sin, sinful; so that Sin may abound (Romans 5: 20).   Galatians says that it was given because of transgression (Galatians 3:19).  What transgression is it referring to?  Based on this verse in Galatians and what Paul says in Hebrews, the transgression was the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness (Hebrews 3).  What Paul is really saying is that the law was written on tablets because the Israelites refused to let God write the law in their hearts.  So, the written tablets would be a reminder of what of what is righteousness and in contrast to the Israelites what is Sin.  Paul says in 1 Tim 1: 8,

1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

So, for who is the written law, moral law, 10 Commandments? It is for the wicked, the sinner, the trespasser.  Why?  For who is the MRI? Is it not for those who are sick? Why? It is to diagnose; for what purpose? To condemn so we can punish? No.  It is to convict so the person will go to the doctor for healing.

The commandments were given to expose sin and lead us to a Savior, to convince us of how terrible our condition is, and how we can do nothing to fix it ourselves, so we will stop trying and surrender to the One who has the remedy!  They were given to make Sin unattractive and grace attractive.  Had man been obedient there would have been no need for the law to be given.  Ellen White says,

If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they
would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God's law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of
the additional directions given to Moses. {PP 364.2}

Thus, the Gospel can be defined as the good news that through Jesus the law can be written in our heart and mind if only we allow the indwelling Spirit of God to do it.  This is God's desire.  Nothing will please Him more.  Will we allow Him?

Raul Diaz

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