Pod Prep: 5-20-16
Why Is Grace So Misunderstood By The World?
Law and Grace, the Basics
A scribe trying to trap Jesus, asked which was the greatest of the Commandments. They had clever comebacks to respond to whatever answer our Lord gave. But Christ stated that the purpose of the Law was to demonstrate how to love God (The first four) and how to love mankind included in the last six. See Mark 12:28-31. Christ informed the Pharisees that the Sabbath was meant to serve mankind not the other way around. Jesus went out of his way to violate their stifling Sabbath rulings. Note Mark 2: 27. God’s Laws are good for us when properly administered in love!
Law and grace do not contradict each other, but work together. If the Law no longer exists, there is nothing to break and grace would therefore not be needed. However the Law does still exist. Revelation 22:14 plainly says “Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. So if we want to live forever in God’s Kingdom we had just better keep His Commandments. Matt.5:17 also explains that Christ did not come to destroy the Law. Why in the world would God want to be surrounded for all eternity by a bunch of reprobates? If there is no grace all is lost for no one is perfectly obedient to the Law. Note how Paul explains that grace does not negate the law in Romans 3: 20, 30-31, 6:1-2. Romans 12:3 Tells us that God has given each of us a measure of faith to grow as our part in the process. We access grace through our faith which leads to our salvation.
The True Purpose of the Law
The purpose of the law is not nor never has been the achievement of salvation. The law is to help us grow spiritually and keeps us out of trouble. The law is for our benefit but never do we EARN salvation thereby. Ephesians 2:9 reminds us that our salvation is not because of works lest any man should boast. We cannot earn spiritual points to pay off our salvation. It is a free gift. Note Job 35:5-8. Some of the Jewish groups had a perspective of earning salvation by using the law. That is not the purpose of the law and we cannot be that perfect. However God wants us to walk obediently and when we slip to repent and continue in the way. Even though we are under grace, not the law Paul explains that we should walk obediently in newness of life. See Romans 6: 4; 14-15, 7:7.
The Grace of God Was Evident In the Old Testament As Well
Grace is not a new doctrine that started at Pentecost. No, grace was a factor in the Old Testament as well. Jonah knew of God generous grace. That is why he ran away from warning Nineveh, Israel’s enemy. He was afraid God would be gracious to them. An example of how Jonah could have felt would be if one of us was commissioned to go preach to Isis. See Jonah 4:2. God, through Elisha was gracious to a pagan general. See II King 5:18-19. David often received of God’s love and graciousness. The very God of the Old Testament period was the one who became a man, Jesus Christ. See I Cor. 10:4. Grace was every bit at play in the Old Testament as the New. Jesus referred in Matt 12:3-4 to an old historic event in which God allowed David, in an emergency, to violate some temple food laws, why because God is gracious and not petty. People think the God of the Old Testament was like a computer. He would blindly push the smite button no matter the details. What a terrible misunderstanding of God! Noah was also saved by grace. He was not perfect either. See Gen 6:5-6.
The Long Battle between The Apostle Paul and the Judaizing Party
Paul convened a worldwide ministerial conference in 49 A.D. to handle the controversy the Judaizers were creating in God’s churches. See Acts 15. They were telling the gentiles that they could not be saved without circumcision even though God gave the Holy Spirit to uncircumcised gentiles in a very public manner. See Acts 10:44-45. The conference decided to continue following God’s lead and to not require circumcision of gentiles. The Judaizers could not refute this policy openly and fairly so they went into stealth mode. The Judaizing Party worked behind Paul’s back. After he had started a new congregation in the empire, they would infiltrate and attempt to make ‘good Jews’ of them all. Remember that for years Christians were considered a sect within Judaism. Christianity was a group with a lot of dynamism but still thought of as a sect within Judaism. They nearly undermined the Galatian church with the more Jewish approach of earning your salvation by keeping circumcision laws and all the traditions of Judaism. Christ criticized many of those traditions. Judaizers strained at a gnat while swallowing a camel. Note Matt 15:2-6. They knew circumcision would be a barrier to limiting the number of gentiles joining the church. They also hoped to gain favor with other Jews. It was just the normal human ethnic bias exploited by the devil throughout history. Note Gal 2:11-14.
Paul admonished them that they were no longer living by all the Jewish customs so why try to force gentiles in that old direction. He was shocked at how soon the Galatians were undermined by the Judaizing Party (JP). He said that any new gospel was an apostasy. (Gal 1:8-9) Paul told them law and grace are partners and both are needed for salvation. (Gal2:17-18) The JP approach is a self-righteous form of trying to earn our salvation. Paul wonders who bewitched them to move away from the importance of faith, grace and obedience to God’s Law. Yet the law is not against faith and grace. (Gal 3:21) The JP wanted to separate the people from the balanced, sound leadership of Paul. (Gal 4: 17-18)
Paul employs an allegory comparing the human method of using Hagar, Sarah’s maid to produce a promised heir, with the spiritual method by faith in a promise regarding Abraham’s need for a son. The spiritual method was linked by faith with heavenly Jerusalem. The physical method was linked with physical Jerusalem where the people were enslaved by JP rules. Clearly putting the JP in the slavery method. Jesus said his yoke was light while the religious leaders’ yoke was heavy. (Gal 4:24-27) Paul states that we are to remain free of Judaizers religious system that enslaves its followers. (Gal 5:1-3) Yet he reminds them to not abuse their freedom by going into sin (law breaking). Truly mature Christians are both free and obedient. See Gal 5:13. Last of all he tells them that the JP is all pretense. They are not really obeying God’s Law themselves. They have selective obedience. (Gal 6:12-13)
All of God’s churches need to watch for infiltration of NEW doctrines that were not delivered to us from the Bible, including salvation by works instead of through faith and the mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ or that grace nullifies the law.