Wednesday, August 6

Law and grace, hand in hand?

Does this mean, then, that the laws given to Moses contradict God's promises? That's unthinkable! If those laws could give us life, then certainly we would receive God's approval because we obeyed them. But Scripture states that the whole world is controlled by the power of sin. Therefore, a promise based on faith in Jesus Christ could be given to those who believe. We were kept under control by Moses' laws until this faith came. We were under their control until this faith which was about to come would be revealed. Before Christ came, Moses' laws served as our guardian. Christ came so that we could receive God's approval by faith. But now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the control of a guardian. Galatians 3:21-25 (GWT)

One of the things that has bothered me about Henry W. Wright's prosperity of health gospel is simply the beginning. According to the doctrine, we are still under the law of Moses, and if that is the case, then the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the Cross was as foolish as it was unnecessary. Neither of which I believe God to be capable of; foolish and unnecessary things.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 and Leviticus chapter 26, the chapters where the Law is given in the format of "If you do this, you will be blessed. If you do this, you will be punished", are the base for Wright's claim that the Law and grace go hand in hand. Neglecting the commandments of the Lord God, and you will be punished. Acknowledge and perform obedience and you will gain blessings. But even in the declaration of punishment for disobedience is the Lord's grace, which manifested itself in the ability of the Israelites to confess their sins and be restored to the Abrahamic covenant's promise.

But, Paul, in so many ways, clearly shows that we are no longer under the Mosaic Law and its strictures. In Hebrews, he spoke of why the Law was superceded,

"So the Law which went before is put on one side, because it was feeble adn without profit. Because the law made nothing complete, and in its place is there is a better hope, through which we come near to God" Hebrews 7:18-19 (BBE)

As John Welsey explains, there is a disannulling of the preceding commandment, an abrogation of the Mosaic law. Albert Barnes discussed this further, "It was not adapted to save man; it had not power to accomplish what was necessary to be done in human salvation. It answered the end for which it was designed--that of introducing a more perfect plan and then vanished as a matter of course. It did not expiate guilt; it did not give peace to the conscience; it did not produce perfection , and therefore it gave place to a better system."

It is this 'robbing' of the love of God that worries me the most, insofar as man tries to either point to the impossibility of attaining perfection under Mosaic law or the theft of the grace by which we are given salvation; undeserved, unworkable, and unpurchasable by any means we ourselves can reach.

"Alas, that men should turn from the all-important doctrine of Christ crucified, to listen to useless distinctions, mere moral preaching, or wild fancies! The god of this world, by various men and means, has blinded men's eyes, lest they should learn to trust in a crucified Saviour." Matthew Henry --Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary.

Grace is what brought the salvation plan into being, and the only tie that the Mosaic law has to it is as Barnes noted, it was designed to show the better plan.

Not that there isn't any usefulness for the Mosaic law in our times, but the usefulness is more effective than its original concept ever could have been. It helps us realize in our humanity how we can bring joy to the Father and Son through the empowerment of the Spirit.

Jesus said, "I can guarantee that there will be more happiness in heaven over one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts than over 99 people who already have turned to God and have his approval." Luke 15:7 (GWT)

Salvation is but a step. Complete in and of itself for the purpose to which it was designed. But, in that salvation comes a desire to know, seek, and be in relationship with the God who caused it to happen. And to bring happiness, joy, and glory to the Son who delivered in its reality.

Just a thought for the day.......

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