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1 GOBEDO MINISTRIES Legalism God's Law Against Legalism In the Battle of Law vs.

Grace, the Grace camp tries to do away with it, and the Law camp misunderstands it, but God still has a law against legalism. Many Christians today believe the law of God was done away at the death of Jesus. They say that if one believes the law of God is still valid, that one is "under the law" or "legalistic." On the other hand, an opposing group of Christians contend that we must keep all of God's Law with all of our might if we are going to be in God's kingdom. They say that the Grace group, with their "faith alone" are practicing "rocking chair religion." Perhaps you can see the problem. Both camps are partly wrong if the focal point of my thesis is correct, that God has a law against legalism. If God's law is still valid it hasn't been done away. And if He has a law against legalism, the Law group has some serious adjusting to do in how they go about keeping the law. First let me define the term legalism as I use it. Legalism is an attempt to be or become righteous by doing God's law in one's own strength. Second, let me define the Law and its purpose. I would like to put forth a concept of the law and what it represents that may help reveal its purpose. The law basically is a set of negative statements that define the character of God as it applies to man. "Thou shall not" is the negative part. Those things God has stated that we are not to do are the very same things that Jesus did not do as He lived a perfect life on Earth. Jesus turned what we see as negative into a positive way of life! Jesus defined the law as a loving way of life! Where the law says "Thou shall not kill" Jesus, in full agreement, says to love your enemies. Far from doing away with the law, Jesus raised the standard to fulfill or fill to the full our concept of what the law is intended to do. If we can picture the law as a transcript of God's character, which is Love, we can see the eternal purpose of His law. The Law of God in its basic form as defined in the Ten Commandments, is simply ten statements to show us when we are not living the way God intended. Perhaps this is why they are stated as negatives! When we do what they say not to do we are living a negative life or in other words, a way of life that leads to death. God created us to live! It was in love that He gave us a document that would warn us of danger. The law, then, could be likened to a signpost pointing us in the right direction. We would never expect a signpost to take us to our destination, yet some people act like the law can make them righteous. The apostle Paul speaks to this problem in Romans 3:20 "Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight: For by the law is the knowledge of sin." He then introduces the concept of righteousness by faith. (Read Romans 3:21-31) In verse 31 he asks a most important question to our topic: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea we establish the law." We can see that the real issue here is not doing away with the law to obtain righteousness but rather the how of becoming righteous. If we do away with God's law we lose sight of what righteousness is! We can see the results of preaching that says that God's law was nailed to the cross, or done away with, in the increasing lawlessness in our society. The laws of the land are based on the Ten Commandments. If we say that God's law is no longer valid we seriously undermine the good laws of our society that were written for our own protection to defend peace and order. If you believe that man can become righteous by doing the law, you are probably wondering how righteousness is served by just believing. On the other hand if you are one who believes that the law is "history," your faith has nowhere to take you for there is no more righteousness to obtain to. These two extremes make up the basic issues of the standoff in a ongoing religious debate in Christianity today. Both sides define themselves in counter distinction to the other. Both sides have some truth, but neither is totally right. Enters the Gospel! The word gospel means "good news." The good news of God's plan of salvation is in short: God offers, by His Grace, the life, shed blood, death, resurrection, and Spirit Life of His Son Jesus

Christ to cleanse, recreate, indwell and work out of us to live righteously, fulfilling the law, when we believe or trust Him to do it in us. Because God, in His perfect love and wisdom, does not want His children to be robots; He has ordained that we must choose between life and death, between His way and our own. It is to protect our freedom of choice and the eternal peace of His kingdom family that He demands we choose. To really know God is to trust Him. If we truly understand His love we will gladly surrender our lives to His care and keeping. This is true faith. Faith is active surrender to God's control in our lives. Faith is the means by which we appropriate the free gift of God's Grace in our lives. He will bring His righteousness into us through the Holy Spirit. His Spirit in us will always work out His true righteousness, that to which the law points. Isn't it simple? Grace through faith accomplishes that which the law defines! This is righteousness by faith. Faith is not a "rocking chair" word but an action word. It is by faith that we ask, seek, and knock. (Matthew 7:7,8) It is because we trust God that we will actively pull the voting lever, putting God in office in our lives. This action is our work! Only we can do it! Every time we choose God in the daily choices we face, God steps in with unlimited power and works His life in us just as He did in Jesus. This is how we will be like Jesus when He appears. (I John 3:2) What is God's law against legalism? This law is the center piece of the Gospel. This is the one law that God said to remember! The one law that satan, by dividing law and grace, has caused many Christians to forget! The one law God put within the Ten Commandments that, if observed, would safeguard against legalism! This is the fourth commandment Sabbath law! Exodus 20: 8-11 8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it you shall not do any work, you nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh-day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. Because we are physical/spiritual creatures, God our creator, gave us physical reminders of spiritual realities. God gave the 7th Day Sabbath as a memorial of His physical creative power. After sin entered this world, He ordained the Sabbath to remind us that He alone can recreate us spiritually. God told Israel that the Sabbath was a sign that He was The One that would sanctify them or set them apart in holiness. (Exodus 31:13) It is not just to physical Israel that God extends that blessing but to spiritual Israel as well, all those who trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for Eternal Life. What a wonderful gift! Each Sabbath He asks us to set aside our daily cares and responsibilities and commune with Him, rejoicing in His gift of physical and spiritual salvation. According to the Hebrew word translated feast (Strong's Hebrew dictionary #4150) in Leviticus 23:2&3 the 7th Day Sabbath is an appointment with the King of Kings! In each week He has set a perpetual, appointed time to meet with Him, physically trusting Him to supply our every need and spiritually trusting His working in us to be righteous. On the first Sabbath, the first full day of their existence, before they had done any real work themselves, Adam and Eve were invited to take part in God's resting from His physical work of creation. That appointment still stands. Each Sabbath, we too are invited to rest both physically and spiritually by faith in Jesus' physical and spiritual life in our behalf. The physical rest on the 7th Day is a reminder that we must rest

3 every day, in the spiritual sense, as He renews His righteousness in us by His Spirit. It is only by His working in us that we can become righteous, fully keeping God's law. (Phillipians 2:13) A "Sabbath keeper" that thinks ceasing from work on the Sabbath qualifies one for salvation or in any way merits God's mercy is actually performing "works of the flesh." To put ones trust in ones own power to merit salvation is nothing short of idolatry. In Galatians 5:19, 20 Paul lists idolatry as one of the works of the flesh. Those who trust in the creature (beast) rather than their Creator are in effect worshipping the "beast." The 4th commandment is a call to remember our Creator, to trust and rest in His creative power. This is why Revelation 14:11 proclaims there is no rest for those who worship the beast! (See Revelation 14:6-12 to review the proclamation messages of the three angels. Please note the call to worship our Creator in the first angels message - verses 6 & 7.) If we believe that God is accomplishing our salvation, we can enter true rest by faith. Our ceasing to labor on the Sabbath, then, is not in order to be saved but rather because we are saved. We put away our everyday concerns and pleasures (Isaiah 58:13,14) during the Sabbath hours so that we can keep God's appointment with us and have undistracted communion with Him! My friend, are you tired of trying to be "good" in your own strength? Can you see that the 4th Commandment is the only one out of the Ten that we automatically spiritually break by trying to keep in our own power? Jesus says, "Come unto me all you that labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28&29) Perhaps you have the uneasy feeling that your life in "grace" is not much different than the lives of the lost souls around you, and you long to live a life set aside in Holiness. God will make you righteous if you ask Him to work out His righteousness (His law) in you. This is the recreation of which the Sabbath is a reminder today! Jesus paid the price for our salvation on Calvary. You can rest in the merits of that completed act! Aren't you glad the Sabbath was made for man! (Mark 2:27) Take courage dear Christian! "There remains . . .a Sabbath rest for the people of God!" (Hebrews 4:9 NAS) Dear Heavenly Father. Please forgive our lack of faith in you. Please bring us into your true Sabbath rest. Please forgive us for physically and spiritually breaking your 4th commandment. Teach us to truly trust in You. Please write Your law on our hearts. Work to fulfill Your law in us just as You did in Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen. -----------------------------------------

Know Your Bible Correspondence Course Lesson 18 Grace, Faith, Love and The Law

Section C: Gods Truth and You

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved! Keep the commandments, and you will surely have eternal life! The commandments were abolished at the cross. We are saved by grace, not the law! Do such expressions sound familiar? Conflicting statements of this type are frequently heard. No wonder many say, Whats the use? Either way, Ill be lost! But in this lesson we want to see how four facets of our Christian walk to salvation all harmonize in a beautiful whole. What is grace?

In the days of the American Revolutionary War, there lived at Ephrata, Pennsylvania, a plain Baptist pastor, Peter Miller, who enjoyed the friendship of General George Washington. There also lived in that town one Michael Wittman, an evil-minded man who did everything in his power to abuse and oppose that pastor. But Michael Wittman was involved in treason and was arrested and sentenced to death. The old preacher started out on foot and walked the whole seventy miles to Philadelphia in order to plead for the guilty mans life. He was admitted into General Washingtons presence and begged for the life of the traitor. No, Peter, said Washington, I cannot grant you the life of your friend. My friend, exclaimed the preacher, he is the bitterest enemy I have! What? cried Washington, you have walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon. And he did. And Peter Miller took Michael Wittman from the very shadow of death, back to his own home in Ephrata. But he went no longer as an enemy but as a friend. Another story will further illustrate the meaning of grace, or unmerited favor. On the eve of Waterloo, June 18, 1815, the rain was coming down steadily and relentlessly. Around the farmhouses of Hougemont and La Haye Saint, the sheaves of harvested corn looked sodden and spoiled. Napoleon had ordered Marshall Ney to place selected sentries on patrol around these strategic farms to prevent Marshall Bluecher and the German army from joining their British allies. In the large cornfield outside the wall of La Haye Saint, a tall Corporal of the Old Guard had been called for sentry duty. He did his beat, up and down, in the driving rain. On one side, in the far distance he could see the sullen glow of British campfires. On the other, there was no sign of the Prussians. Up and down up and down! He was getting weary, and he felt stiff and chilled. The corn shocks looked inviting; under them it was dry; one big sheaf turned over would make a good mattress. Certainly the enemy would not be out on such a night as this; there wasnt a sound anywhere but the swish and splash of the rain. Oh, for twenty minutes rest and warmth; no officers would likely come around. No one would know! He looked all around, but nothing stirred but that monotonous swish of the steady rain. Good! He rolled up his greatcoat for a pillow and laid down the dry sheaf. Taking of his tall military hat and putting his long musket with its fixed bayonet by his side, the Corporal was soon comfortably covered and clear of the rain. A few minutes more, and he was fast asleep. But that night Napoleon was taking no chances, in spite of his orders to Ney. Commanding his orderly to bring out his favorite horse, Marengo, and bundled up in his well-known long cloak, Napoleon and the orderly set out on a tour of the sentries around the farmhouses. All of them, alert, challenged these riders until the big cornfield was reached. The rain had finally stopped, and the clouds were breaking up. Napoleon strained his eyes to find a sentry there but failed. So leaving Marengo with his orderly, he quietly began walking in the field. No sentry anywhere! A ray of light from the moon suddenly shone on something bright in the middle of the field. Stealthily Napoleon walked toward it and found a musket and bayonet on the damp ground, as well as a sentry asleep under a cornshock! Quietly the Emperor picked up the musket and stood like a statue, keeping guard, yet watching his man. Presently the brightness of the moon wakened the sleeping sentry. He rubbed his eyes, looked around, noticed his musket gone, and rolled out on hands and knees. There, looking up, he met the bent head and stern eyes of the Emperor. Mon Dieu! Cest lEmpereur! Springing to attention, he stood shaking before Napoleon. Falling on his knees, he pleaded, Sire, take my bayonet and kill me yourself! It is said that Napoleon replied, Corporal! You know your fate tomorrow morning. But listen I have kept your watch and guard your life is spared. Resume guard! From that time on, what would not that soldier do for his Emperor?! This was grace! But grace does not permit continued transgression. Romans 6:1, 2, 15, 16. Grace brings salvation as a gift, through faith. And grace is what Christ offers us as a result of His death in our place. Ephesians 2:8-10. Faith and love Faith, on the other hand, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.

5 Faith is taking God at His word. It is simply and literally believing that God says what He means and means what He says. In other words, His promises are sure. We can place our utmost confidence in Him and never be disappointed. Faith is the power which enables the born-again Christian to accept the grace of Christ and appropriate Christs righteousness for Himself. Faith overcomes the world. 1 John 5:4. Contrary to much common preaching, faith does not make void Gods law but establishes it! Romans 3:31. When by faith we accept the grace of Christ, we will want to and will also be enabled to keep the law of God, which can be summed up under one heading LOVE. And love has two divisions love to our God and love to our fellowmen. In fact, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9,10. True love keeps the commandments, because the law is a transcript of Gods character, which is love. When our children truly love us, they seek to please us by cheerful obedience. Thus, if we love God, we will do His bidding. If ye love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15. Two laws It is necessary to distinguish between the moral law (the Ten Commandments), which is eternal, and the ceremonial laws, which were nailed to the cross. The ceremonial law was a temporary one of types and shadows pointing to the sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. It was written by Moses on parchment at Gods command. Deuteronomy 31:24-26. After Christs death on the cross, the ceremonial or sacrificial laws had no further significance. See Colossians 2:14-17. By contrast, the Ten Commandments, the transcript of Gods very character, are eternal. . . . All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, . . . Psalm 111:7, 8. The Ten Commandments were not only spoken directly by God but were also inscribed on enduring stone by God Himself. Exodus 20:1,19; 31:18; 25:16. What the moral law can and cannot do The law can do several things for the sinner. It can give him a knowledge of sin and condemn him. Romans 3:23, 19. In other words, it acts as a spiritual mirror to show where we have done wrong. James 1:23-25. It judges man. See James 2:10-12. And it acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, who alone can forgive our transgression of the law. Galatians 3:24. There is also much that the law cannot do for the sinner. It cannot forgive him. Romans 3:20. Nor can it make him want to obey God or be subject to His law. Romans 8:7. The law points us to Christ. Christ does not condemn us, for the law has already done that; instead, He pardons the repentant sinner freely and completely. Acts 13:38, 39. Jesus becomes our righteousness and sanctification, our Redeemer. Thus when a sinner is forgiven, the Lord writes the law within his heart and helps him to overcome sin. Hebrews 8:10. Characteristics of the law Whether he acknowledges it or not, every human being is a sinner. Not one is good. All have come short of the expectations our Creator has for us. Romans 3:23. Likewise we need to remember that Gods moral law, the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20:2-17), is a perfect law. It is holy, just, and spiritual. Romans 7:12, 14. It is referred to further in the Scriptures as the Royal Law. When we keep its precepts, we become sons and daughters of the King of the universe! What a privilege! James 2:8. The psalmist David, called it the perfect law in Psalm 19:7. James called it the perfect law of liberty. Remember, also, that Gods law is eternal. It will stand forever and ever. Psalm 111:7, 8. How wonderful it is that grace, faith, love, and the law complement one another to make it possible for the sinner to be saved! Marvelous love of our wonderful Heavenly Father! Lets appreciate and accept His loving plan for our salvation! Lesson 19 will help us understand how a converted man changes. It will show how prayer is the breath of a Christian

THE PILOT Am I upon lifes sea alone With no sure hand upon the helm, My bark so frail, unseen, unknown, Upon a vast, uncharted deep, Eer at the mercy of the winds And billows high that oer me sweep? Nay, nay! I sail a charted sea, And I have One who knows the way To yonder shore, to pilot me. The winds may blow, the billows roar, But He who at the helm doth stand, Hath sailed the sea of life before. He knows the way, my Pilot brave And when temptations winds arise, He from their power my back doth save, For he hath braved that storm before. And when the waves of suffering roll, With awful might my frail bark oer He steers a course so true, so sure That I with Him the billows ride, Made strong through suffering endure. When in the dark I cannot see, I feel His presence ever near And rest for Jesus pilots me. -Author unknown --------------------------------------God's Law and God's Love (Part 1) Ernest Reisinger "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) `This is the love of-God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3) What God Has Joined In order to serve the Lord faithfully, we must not only distinguish things that differ but also preserve the connection of things God has joined. Law and love are two such things that God has joined. They are inseparable mates. When Martin Luther said, "Love God and do as you please," his point was this: If you truly love God, you will do what pleases Him. But that still leaves the question, What is pleasing to God? Thus Luther's statement needs some explanation, lest the issue be oversimplified or confused. One of the greatest difficulties in dealing with this subject is the many ways the words themselves, law and

7 love, are used in the Bible. In chapter 6 we discussed the different meanings of the word law. Likewise, in Scripture we read of the love of Christ, love for your wife, love for our neighbor, love for our enemies, and a special and peculiar love for the brethren. Volumes have been written on these two little words, law and love. Every true Christian wants to know how to please God. This desire comes with the new birth and immediately thrusts us into the Bible, where God's will is expressed. But how does God express His will? Does He simply say, "Love . . ." or does He express His will by giving us His commandments? The Bible clearly does both, all the while teaching us the proper relationship between law and love. We must exercise our best efforts to discern what that relationship is. The assortment of books, discussions, and opinions on this subject is vast. Thus sorting through the issues requires prayer and the plentiful work of the Holy Spirit, the only true Teacher. May God give us all discernment to distinguish things that differ and to join things that must be understood together. "All You Need Is Love"? Every heresy and cult waves the word love around like a banner of virtue. It is their favorite word, but it is never connected to God's law. The hippie movement of the sixties also proclaimed this word-painted on vans and placards-often in the form of "free love." Political liberals continue to speak of love divorced from individual responsibility. In March of 1965, Time magazine reported a meeting of nine hundred ministers and students at Harvard Divinity School in which they considered the subject of the "new morality." The title of the article, "Love in Place of Law?" set up an antithesis. Under the heading, "We Are Delivered," the article said, "Inevitably, the speakers reached no definite conclusion, but they generally agreed, that, in some respects, the new morality is a healthy advance as a genuine effort to take literally St. Paul's teaching that through Christ we are delivered from the law." Though these words do come from the New Testament, they certainly do not teach what the Harvard speakers implied. Some questions need to be asked about the context of Paul's words: In what respect are we delivered from the law, and, from what laws are we delivered? People who are motivated by genuine love are certainly not lawless. They love the moral and ethical standard that Christ loved and kept, contrary to the words of Princeton president, Paul Ramsey, who said in the same article, "Lists of cans and cannots are meaningless." Now, we are not surprised at this dangerous, destructive ignorance when we find it among cults, liberals, and agnostics. But when Bible-believing preachers set up a false antithesis between law and love, we should be shocked, appalled, saddened, and greatly pained. Setting up a false antithesis between law and love (as if they are conflicting, opposing ideas) is one of the most subtle ways to undermine the Ten Commandments, biblical morality, and true Christianity. Granted there is a difference between law and love; but there is also an immutable connection. The failure to see this unchangeable relationship has led people into countless errors, heresies, and spiritual shipwrecks. An Immutable Connection Let us consider a few passages that show the immutable connection between law and love. Notice how love is joined to the Ten Commandments in the following teaching of Paul: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is

the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8-10) Moreover, what better definition of love could we give than the biblical one we have from John, the great apostle of love himself? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). Observe, also, our Lord's conversation with the lawyer in Matthew 22:35-40. When asked in verse 36, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" our Lord immediately connected God's commandments and God's love. Jesus always connected law and love. What could be plainer than the following examples? He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. . . . If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." (John 14:21,23-24) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. . . . This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. . . . You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15:10,12,14) These statements should settle forever the fact that there is an eternal relationship between God's law and God's love. To emphasize that love itself is a command is consistent with many New Testament passages: "Love your neighbor" (Matt. 5:43); "love your enemies" (Luke 6:27,35); "love one another" (Rom. .13:8); "love your wives" (Eph. 5:25); "love the brotherhood" (1 Peter 2:17). These passages are sufficiently clear to show that there is a vital connection between law and love. They should cause us to renounce any teaching-whether packaged in clever illustrations or dispensed via subtle implicationsthat would separate law and love. If ever the biblical teaching about the commandments was needed in the home, the church, and the nation, it is now! With lawlessness rampant, we certainly do not need preachers and teachers who separate what God has joined together. The "love only" doctrine is the enemy of true Christianity, of the Bible, and of the souls of men. It is not biblical love at all. Nor is lawless love Christlike. The gospel of Christ breathes the Spirit of holy love, namely: Love is the fulfilling of all gospel precepts. Love is the pledge of all gospel joys. Love is the evidence of gospel power. Love is the ripe fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The Spirit of genuine love is never, never, at the expense of law and truth. Nor is love ever separated from the biblical directives for holy living that are objectively and eternally set out in the Ten Commandments. This is underscored in that great love chapter in the Bible, where Paul says that "love rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6). The connection between law and love is deeply embedded in the Old Testament, , as well as the New. This is illustrated in Exodus 20, where God gave the Decalogue at Sinai. Before giving the Ten Commandments, God reminded the Israelites of His redemptive love. `I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (v. 2). That was a loving redemptive act. Not only does the prologue to the Ten Commandments speak

9 of God's redeeming love, but later, in reference to the second commandment, verse 6 speaks of God's "showing mercy" to His people. Love and mercy are harmoniously tied to the Decalogue. Jesus reaffirmed that connection in John 14:15: "If you love Me, keep My commandments." His summary of the law in Matthew 22:37-40-the law of love for God and neighbor-echoes the love command given with the law in Deuteronomy 6:5. Not only our Lord and His apostle, but the whole Bible joins God's law and God's love. Love as Motive Love has no eyes except the holy law of God, no direction apart from God's commands. Paul spoke of the love of Christ constraining us. It moves us to duty. Love is the only true motive for all worship and duty, but by itself it does not define either. Therefore, we may not put love "in place of law." They belong together. Christian behavior springs from love to God and our neighbor. If we loved them perfectly, our character and behavior would be perfect because it would conform to God's will. Love is a motive for and expresses itself in obedient action. Such action fulfills the law: "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10). Motive and action cannot be more tightly joined than they are in this passage. If love does not constrain us to fulfill the moral law, it is not the love of which the Bible speaks. The apostle Paul made this very clear when he said that "the love of Christ constrains us" (2 Cor. 5:14). It is the love of God that puts the law of God into effect. Genuine love for God is intensely preoccupied with Him as the Supreme Object of love. It is, therefore, intrinsically active in doing His will. Love itself is commanded in the Old Testament as well as the New. Jesus said, "These things I command you, that you love one another" (John 15:17). Love is also described as a command in Deuteronomy 6:5-7: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." We must be very clear that the command to love will not create love or generate love. This command, like every other, cannot create the disposition or will to obey. But the mere fact that love is a command should silence those who argue for an antithesis between law and love. Moses, Jesus, and Paul all connected law and love, as does John in 1 John 5:3: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." Woe to anyone who separates what Moses, Christ, and the apostles have said belong together! What God has joined let no man put asunder. -----------------------------------Law, Love and the Lord 4 in the series The Message of Jesus Dr. Edwin Gray Hurley James 2:1-17 Psalm 1 Matthew 5:17-20 September 24, 2000

I don't know about you, but for me one of the hardest struggles in life is discovering what's the right thing to do. Where does law stop and gospel start? Or where does doing what established norms say is correct and where what the inner heart knows deep within is right - even when it does not square exactly with what is correct takes over. Or is there any such place of division? Should we as Christians keep the whole Law of God, all 613 of those laws, in addition to the Big Ten, found in the Old Testament? Or should we throw them all out and detach our New Testament faith from its Old Testament foundation, particularly those rules and regulations that are uncomfortable and seemingly archaic? How does the Jewish Law, under which Jesus was raised and out of which our faith emerged, apply to us Gentile Christians today? I suppose you have seen the yard signs around town where folks are declaring their belief in the Ten Commandments. They are listed right there in the yard, so any passerby can read the list of what this particular homeowner adheres to, read it right there on the Kentucky bluegrass or fescue between the Oak tree and the holly bush. And of course we are aware of the Kentucky Legislature's effort, and the Court's rejection of that effort, to place a statue of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol, as a sort of affirmation that indeed the State of Kentucky subscribes to the following list for living. Both candidates in the Presidential elections are playing the God card, declaring their underlying faith and wanting us to trust it will shape the way they conduct the offices of President and Vice President should they be elected. Frankly I find all these efforts "on the surface" sorts of things. In my view they do not push very effectively to the substance of which the Ten Commandments call us to. Yet the trend is understandable. We are living in morally chaotic times, when many people have no clear understanding of basic right and wrong. Moral values are in turmoil. Lying is fashionable. Biblical literacy is at an all-time low. Just watch those sad television interview shows where Jay Leno asks someone on the street who Moses was and gets a blank stare, or who the Madonna was and gets only the answer of a rock star. The ship of western culture has lost its rudder and many are frantically attempting to find some way to steer it again. Hence these movements to have the State support the Commandments for us. Now only a fool would question the validity of the Ten Commandments for our observance as Christians today. Jews, Muslims and many other others would agree here. The Presbyterian General Assembly is demonstrating that by putting forth a program currently about stressing the 4th commandment, the importance of Sabbath keeping, encouraging us again to find time and space for worship, rest and renewal every seventh day. Sabbath has become all the more important as we are living in the middle of a culture that acknowledges less and less our need of it. Truth to tell, we need these commandments for our life. Thomas Cahill, in his beautiful best seller, The Gift of the Jews, writes, "The Ten Commandments require no justification, nor can they be argued away. They are not dependent upon circumstances, nor may they be set aside because of special considerations. They are not propositions for debate. They are not suggestions. They are not even (as a recent book would have us imagine in the jargon of our day) "ten challenges." They are exactly what they seem to be- and there is no getting around them or out from under them. They have been received by billions as reasonable, necessary and even unalterable because they are written on human hearts and always have been."1 In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is addressing the relation of Old and New, the Old which Moses brought down from that Mountain he had been on, symbolized principally by those Ten Commandments, and also the Prophets, those later fiery teachers of Israel who warned against getting comfortable with the status quo and pointed to the Messiah. Jesus used Law and Prophets as shorthand for the Hebrew Scriptures, what we sometimes, and a bit inaccurately, call the Old Testament. A bit inaccurately because such a term seems to imply our acceptance of the very condition Jesus warns the disciples about, namely setting the old aside as irrelevant now that we have him. But Jesus is saying the Old is not irrelevant. It still holds. But, and this is the key, it must be read through him. It

11 is completed in him. And the final completion in Jesus, which his life, death and resurrection set in motion, has not yet happened. It is still being worked out, and awaits the final day when, as we say in the Apostles Creed, "He shall come again." In the meantime, are we free to throw out the Old Testament? May we neglect the Law? Does Jesus give us a blank check for any sort of behavior and to use him as our justification? Jesus says by no means. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished."2 Remember Jesus was born and lived all his life as a Jew. He studied the Torah. He argued about interpretations of the Law in the Temple at the age of twelve. He did not dismiss the Law. He honored it. He took it very seriously. I imagine you have noticed that every Sunday we open our worship with the lay reader bringing in the open Bible and placing it on the pulpit. This is a visible reminder of our source of authority and instruction. It is not simply a New Testament. It is a complete Bible containing the Hebrew Bible that was available in Jesus' day long before his own words and teachings and commentary about him were written down in what we now call this Newer Testament. Throughout the history of the Church, heresies have arisen whenever some tried to detach the Old from the New. The Church continuously, and especially the Presbyterian Church, has always maintained the continuity of the two. We believe in our continuous unfolding covenant of God's grace toward us. We need the Old to understand the New, where Jesus comes as the long anticipated completion of the Law and the Prophets. Without the Old the New is like cut flowers, pretty for a few days but quickly dead. We Presbyterians place ourselves under the authority of both the Old and the New Testaments. But the Old is interpreted in light of the New. We always view the Old through the lenses of Jesus. Thus because Jesus honored and obeyed them, the Ten Commandments have not changed in their importance for us, and we should question someone who holds any one of them does not apply. They are the central core of the first part of this unfolding Covenant. Yet note where they come in their original setting, and also where we use them in our liturgy on Sundays like today when we repeat them. This is very important. In their original setting the Commandments are given to Israel on the other side of deliverance. Only because they know and believe God when he says, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me," only because of that, can they then hear or heed even the first commandment. God's gracious deliverance came first. Likewise we Presbyterians, following the pattern set by John Calvin, use the Ten Commandments after the confession of sin and declaration of forgiveness from sin through Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. Calvin developed what he called "the third use of the Law." Beyond convicting us of sin, this third use of the Law serves as a guide for faithful living. Because we trust and believe that we have been delivered from our sins by Jesus Christ, now here therefore is how we are commanded to live. Jesus believed the Ten Commandments still apply. He commended the Rich Young Ruler who bragged about having kept them all, yet made clear to him there was still something he lacked. Jesus does not muddy the water about how important the teachings of the Scriptures are. Far from eliminating the Law, Jesus intensifies it. He warns against any who would cavalierly dismiss even the most obscure law and teach others to do the same. "Therefore whoever 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." 3 So, does this mean we should keep a kosher kitchen, and stone our disobedient children, and shun women when they are in the midst of their menstrual cycles as sin if the Old Testament laws instruct? Of course not. The Old Testament you see always had a core law and an elaborate expansion upon it. The Ten Commandments make up the core law. The expansion laws regarding diet and hygiene and decorating the sanctuary, while in some places still making good practical sense, are not the core law. For example the dietary laws, when they were given, kept people healthier and reminded them how special they were as children of God who must not,

therefore, ingest unclean foods associated with uncleanness, foods which often were physically unclean, and unhealthy. The Law and the Prophets are not bad and are not to be neglected. They are good and to be heard and heeded, but always through the lenses of Christ so that we are driven to keep the underlying heart of the law and not spend all our time fiddling around on surface things, like yard signs. Responses to the Law fluctuate between two extremes of legalism and libertinism. Both are wrong. The legalist rigidly adheres to all the rules and regulations, like those Old Testament laws about hand washing. The legalist may miss the heart of the law, as Jesus pointed out, when people who were so fastidious about ritualistic hand washing neglected to extend hospitality which the hand washing should have prompted. The libertine, on the other hand, laughs at all laws and lives solely for their pleasure. They practice what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." He warned the Germans of the 1930's against a gospel without any demand, a gospel that claimed the benefits of Christ without undertaking the obligations of discipleship. Yet the grace of God proclaimed in the gospel is never cheap, and the purpose of God's law is never vindictive."4 It is all for our good. Neglecting any of it has serious consequences. Jesus does not eliminate the Law and the Prophets. He personalizes it. He intensifies it. He fulfills it. "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus helps us bore to the core of the apple. He shows us how to get at the underlying purpose, beyond the surface requirements with which the scribes and Pharisees were so preoccupied. In doing so he sometimes violated the letter of the law, good Jew that he was, in order to fulfill the heart of the law. Elsewhere in Matthew we read how Jesus and his disciples violated the Sabbath laws while they were walking through the grainfields and were hungry. Contrary to the Jewish law they picked the grain and ate it. When challenged by the Pharisees, Jesus reminded them how even the great King David fed his hungry soldiers from the bread of the Presence in the Temple, thus violating the law. And Jesus concluded saying, "I desire mercy not sacrifice. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." 5 The Old is seen through the New, which has at its heart the Law of Love. Remember how Jesus himself developed. As he grew, Jesus set himself under the Law and the Prophets. He learned the sacred stories. He reverently attended to the reading of Holy Scripture in the synagogues. That is the first step we must make and teach our children to make. We first must reverently hear and heed the Scriptures. But then, after living under them, Jesus manifests that he is Lord over them. As we grow, as we mature in our faith, we move not apart from the Law and Prophets, but through them, to Jesus. We are primarily under him. We live in the light of his costly love. Thus we live under the word of Scripture as seen, as interpreted through him Jesus Christ. In this way we obey the heart of the law and do not get lost in the minutiae. What the Law finally leads us to is Love, the costly love of God in Jesus Christ. And nothing trumps love. Nothing trumps love. However important the Law and the Prophets are, love is more important. The Law is important. Jesus makes this clear. "Until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law." But Jesus' teaching is even more important. He says later in Matthew, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."6 So Jesus' words outlast the law. Jesus whole life and teaching is reflective of love. Nothing surpasses Jesus' love, not the Law, not the Prophets, not anything. Do we understand, then, how important all these teachings the Bible contains are? Do we understand the law still applies as a guide to faithful living, as interpreted through Jesus and his love? Do we understand the Law and the Prophets come alongside us not as enemies but as friends? Listen - here is an amazing and magnificent and triumphant truth - as James writes in his letter, "Judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment."7 Mercy triumphs over judgment. Nothing trumps love. A week ago last Friday Gayle and Catherine and one of her special friends and I were driving home from the Bowling Green - Logan County Football Game near Russellville. "Mercy" would not be good word to describe how Bowling Green trounced Logan County. We were all light-hearted and happy as we headed home. And

13 besides, our son Stuart got some pretty good plays in during the game. Without noticing it, my foot got a bit heavy on the gas peddle, right there along that treacherous highly patrolled zone near Auburn. Then it happened, blue lights appeared behind me. I pulled over. Suddenly I felt very sinful, very guilty, very much like having my hand stuck in the cookie jar. "Don't get out," Gayle reminded. "They don't like you to get out." After what seemed an endless wait the officer came up to my window. License, registration. You know the routine. "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" "About 60, I thought," I said sheepishly. "I clocked you at 73. Wait here," he said. So we waited and I calculated how much this ticket would set me back, and the bad example I had set for Catherine and her friend, and whether it might cause my insurance rates to go up." With two 16 year olds a few months away from getting their drivers' licenses I am pretty sensitive to insurance rates these days. Finally the officer returned. I braced myself for the inevitable. And he just said, "Mr. Hurley, you be careful driving down here. Have a safe trip home." I could not believe it. Guilty, but pardoned. My speeding was overlooked. I did not deserve it. But I was forgiven my violation of the law. The law is important. The law is a guide. The law is a safeguard. The law is to be obeyed. But always in light of Jesus and his love. "Mercy triumphs over judgment" What better foundation can we build our lives on in these chaotic times than that! "Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of god! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things to him be the glory forever. Amen."8 1. Thomas Cahill, The Gift of the Jews, p.140. 2. Mt. 5:17-18. 3. Mt. 5:19. 4. Daniel Migliore,,Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Fall of 1999, p.15. 5. Mt. 12:7,8. 6. Mt. 24:25. 7. James 2:13. 8. Rom. 11:33, 36.