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Law and Grace

Law and Grace Part 2

Galatians 3:2-3: "Let me ask you only this: 'Did you receive the Spirit by Works of the Law or by Hearing with Faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun By the Spirit are you now being perfected By the Flesh?'

“Dane Ortland: “But growth in godliness is not generated by conformity to any external code – whether the Ten Commandments or the commands of Jesus or self-imposed rules of your own conscience. This does not mean the commands of Scripture are worthless. On the contrary, they are “holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:12). But the commands of the Bible are the steering wheel, not the engine, to your growth. They are vitally instructive, but they do not themselves give you the power you need to obey the instruction…. We grow by going deeper into the justification that forgave us in the first place.”

Edward Fisher: “The truth is, many preachers stand upon the praise of some moral virtue, and do inveigh against some vice of the times, more than upon pressing men to believe… as if a man should water all the tree, and not the root.”

Thomas Adam: “Justification by sanctification is man’s way to heaven… Sanctification by justification is God’s”

Thomas Chamlers: “The freer the Gospel, the more sanctifying the Gospel; and the more it is received as a doctrine of grace, the more will it be felt as a doctrine according to godliness.”

James Stewart: “It is God’s justifying verdict itself which sanctifies….It is precisely because God waits for not guarantees but pardons out and out… that forgiveness regenerates, and justification sanctifies.

Herman Bavinck: Faith is “a practical knowledge of the grace that God has revealed in Christ, a heartfelt trust that he has forgiven all our sins and accepted us as his children. For that reason this faith is not only needed at the beginning of justification, but it must also accompany the Christian throughout one’s entire life, and also play a permanent and irreplaceable role in sanctification.”

GC Berkouwer: “the heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on… justification.”

Belgic Confession: “far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.”

Edward Fisher “The Marrow of Modern Divinity:” Wherefore, when any person or person, do feel themselves oppressed or terrified with the burden of their sins, and feel themselves with the majesty of the law and judgment of God terrified and oppressed, outweighed and thrown down into utters discomfort, almost to the pit of hell…when such souls, I say, do read or hear any such place of Scripture which appertains to the law, let them, then, think and assure themselves that such places do not appertain or belong to them; nay, let not such only who are thus deeply humbled and terrified do this, but also let every one that does but make any doubt or question of their own salvation, through the sigh and send of their sin, do the like.

And to this end and purpose, let them consider and mark well the end why the law was given, which was not to bring us to salvation, nor to make us good, and so to procure God’s love and favour towards us: but rather to declare and convict our wickedness, and make us feel the danger thereof; to this end and purpose, that we seeing our condemnation, and being in ourselves confounded, may be driven thereby to have our refuge in the Son of God, in whom alone is to be found our remedy. And when this is wrought in us then the law has accomplished its end in us; and therefore it is now to give place unto Jesus Christ, who, as the apostle says, ‘is the end of the law’ (Rom 10:3).

Douglas Moo: “God gave the law to exacerbate and reveal sin (Gal 3:19b, 22a). It was never intended to- or even able to – awaken spiritual life.”

Westminster: “Sanctification is the work of God’s Free Grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. (WSC 35)

Martin Luther: “The Law never brings the Holy Spirit; therefore it does not justify, because it only teaches what we ought to do. But the Gospel does bring the Holy Spirit, because it teaches what we ought to receive. Therefore the Law and the Gospel are two altogether contrary doctrines. Accordingly, to put righteousness into the Law is simply to conflict with the Gospel. For the Law is a taskmaster; it demands that we work and that we give. In short, it wants to have something from us. The Gospel, on the contrary, does not demand; it grants freely; it commands us to hold out our hands and to receive what is being offered.”

William Perkins: “Here, I say, we see the difference between the law and the gospel. The law does not minister the Spirit to us: for it only shows our disease, and gives us no remedy. The Gospel ministers the Spirit. For it shows what we are to do: and withal the Spirit is given, to make us do that which we are enjoined in the gospel.”

JV Fesko: “Our redemption is not some sort of 50/50 proposition – God provides his grace and then we give our best effort. Remember again what the prophet Ezekiel wrote: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. We must yield, rest, and look by faith to Christ, and he conforms us to his image through the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Joel Beeke: “The key to happy holiness is the Gospel of Jesus Christ….Doing the will of God is our duty, but, as always, duty must flow from doctrine. The more we understand the doctrines of the Gospel, the more we can do our duty.”

Sanctification IS the application of the gospel to our daily lives.”

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Law and Grace Part 1

God's Glory - Carol's Family Blog

What is the law meant to do in the life of the believer?

Heidelberg answers well

114. Q. But can those converted to God keep these commandments perfectly?

A. No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with earnest purpose they do begin to live not only according to some but to all the commandments of God. 1 Eccles 7:20; Rom 7:14, 15; 1 Cor 13:9; 1 Jn 1:8. 2 Ps 1:1, 2; Rom 7:22-25; Phil 3:12-16. 115.

Q. If in this life no one can keep the ten commandments perfectly, why does God have them preached so strictly?

A. First, so that throughout our life we may more and more become aware of our sinful nature, and therefore seek more eagerly the forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ. Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach the goal of perfection.1 Ps 32:5; Rom 3:19-26; 7:7, 24, 25; 1 Jn 1:9. 2 1 Cor 9:24; Phil 3:12-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3.

Scripture on the role of Law in the life of the believer:

Galatians 3:1-5 (ESV) 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

Paul is talking here about sanctification. The idea that the subject of Galatians is justification is misguided – Galatians is about how justification relates to sanctification. As you can see in the text above there is a close relationship – The FAITH that latches onto Christ for justification is the exact same way believers must latch onto Christ for sanctification. He is not saying the faith at the moment of justification grants you some other internal power to sanctification – NO! He is saying in the exact same way you came to Christ – today you must continue with him – namely by trusting his promises in this moment. This is faith–faith that rests in grace to sanctify as much as to justify. This is opposed to going to the law for righteousness. He goes on

Galatians 3:10-12 (ESV) 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

Those who rely on the law either for justification or “to live by it” are cursed. Why? Because “the one who does them shall live by them” he quotes from the Torah. The law is given with great blessing and cursing – those who wish to live by the law will be destroyed because 1) no one can keep it – 2) the law doesn’t enable the righteous living it requires. In fact Romans says it makes it worse.

Romans 7:7-13 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

So the Law is good – in that it reveals the absolute perfection and holiness of God. The problem is not the law – it is me. And when exposed to its white hot revelation of the nature of God – sin is exposed – and worse – rises in me so that I am condemned by falling massively short of its holy demands. Through the law I see the exceeding sinfulness of my sin – but it does not bring me hope.

Look at II Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 3:4-18 (ESV) 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.

What is the focus of this passage? Transformation of Believers! (vs18) Or Sanctification.

Does this passage talk about the law?

Yes we know it is referring specifically to the Mosaic Law or 10 commandments because it says “carved in letters on stone” and references the veil that had to cover Moses’ face.

How does the passage refer to the law in light of the new covenant?

1) The letter that kills

2) The ministry of death

3) The ministry of condemnation

Perhaps we should use these titles the next time we quote the 10 commandments.

Why does Paul refer to the law this way? Look at Galatians 3 again

Galatians 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Answers:

1) The law’s blessings for keeping it cannot be obtained by us. Yes! If we could keep the law it would give life and righteousness (positional and practical or “having begun” and “go on”) would indeed be by the law.

2) Instead this “Holy and Good” “Ministry of Death and Condemnation” “Imprisons” and “Reveals” the “exceeding sinfulness of my sin” so that I know that I must fly to the “exceedingly great and precious promises” that reveal that Christ alone is able to free me from the curse of the law.

Romans, Galatians, and I Corinthians passages are all written to reveal this truth to BELIEVERS so that they will not only think they are justified by faith but so they will LIVE BY FAITH in the precious promises of the Gospel.

How are we transformed believers? How can we make advances against sin? The law? NEVER! The law alone cannot enable what it commands. Its primary function as Luther said is “to convict human beings of sin SO THAT they would be driven to Christ.” The law is rightfully preached to reveal the holiness of God. It is rightfully preached to tells us God’s good designs. The believer is rightfully convicted by it. The believer does well to love the law of God as it reveals the beauty of God. BUT it cannot change us. What can?

II Cor 3:15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Turn your face, gloriously unveiled, to gaze upon the beauty and majesty and wonder of your Savior. He has fulfilled what you could never fulfill. He has paid what you could never pay. He has forgiven what you could have never earned. Trust his fulfillment – his payment – his forgiveness – today. And worship your King who is your friend. As you behold Him by His Spirit – through the Word and through prayer and through His body the church – you will be changed by one degree of glory to another into His image. Or to put it another way – All the things we think we can accomplish through the law are rather accomplished by delighting in Christ and trusting his promises. Then and ONLY then do the fruit of the Spirit seep out of our lives.

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The Valley of Achor – A Doorway To Hope

doorway-to-hope

Joshua 7:24: “And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.”
Hosea 2:15 – “I will make the valley of Achor (which means trouble) a doorway to Hope.”
Some of you need hope. For some of you everything looks dark – you have tried for so long to deliver yourself and you despair that there is any hope for you. You long for a hero– for a rescuer – for a Substitute but doubt that anyone really cares. And yet no matter how dark your past – no matter how bleak your future seems – God desires in this moment to enter your valley of Achor and deliver you from your debt of sin. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So I want to lift up before you today – Jesus Christ – the perfection of God – He was broken for you! He was slain for you! He will not reject you because of what you have done and he will not receive you because of the good you do – NO! With grace there is no merit except His – You can rest in his perfection for you – You can trust that in His dying your debt was paid – He is a willing Savior.
Surrender and come delight yourself in Jesus and his work for you on the cross. Today is the day of Salvation.

The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light

stevens-drawing

I John 2:8 “Because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shinning.”
There seems to me to be a great chasm between my most holy and righteous works and God’s righteousness. It is a chasm unscalable by my great discipline or willpower or ability. It is infinitely high I cannot get there. The law – the command – that I must get there is not meant to imply that I can, simply that I must. And if I don’t destruction awaits.

Continue reading “The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light”

Grace is Practical

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You don’t have to have your eyes open very wide to realize there is something horribly wrong in the world. I recently picked up a book given to my oldest son Steven by his teacher – Mrs. Copley. It is titled simply “Night” and the book describes the horrors of a young Jewish boy by the name of Elie Wiesel trapped in Nazi concentration camps. The book describesJewish captives being forced to dig their own graves while Nazi soldiers shot their children and then the parents themselves. Elie had a mentor by the name of Francois Mauriac whom he asked to write the forward of his book describing his experience. Mauriac in attempting to understand what young Elie had to endure wrote,

“Let us try to imagine what goes on in his mind as his eyes watch rings of black smoke unfurl in the sky, smoke that emanates from the furnaces into which his little sister and his mother had been thrown after thousands of other victims.”

The thought is unfathomably awful. That was less than 70 years ago. Elie was with us until just a few months ago.

Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

How to Love God – Part 1

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How to Love God

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-27

We often think of the above text as a New Testament command – a softer summation of the Old Testament laws. But actually the lawyer was quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 1”

Every Good Story…

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Here is what I have noticed about every story– there must be a plight. There must be a peril to be rescued from – Kirk must have Klingons endangering the Enterprise or there is no story – there is no glory – there is no rescue. Can you imagine Superman flying at the speed of light – shadow boxing – “don’t be afraid – I’m here to save the day” if there were no bad guys – if there was nothing to be rescued from? You would think that guy is crazy. What is he doing? Saved me from what? Continue reading “Every Good Story…”

When Being a Good Sailor is Not Enough

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The law is like a man in a sailboat with a sailing instruction manual. He knows what proper sailing is – He may even possess a lot of technology to aid him in sailing. But his knowledge and tech cannot move him across the water. Only wind can do that. So we must stop preaching the law for change. We must stop running to the law to make us good sailors. Only the gospel can fill our sails with wind. The grace of the Father in rescuing sinners by the blood of Jesus is the good news – is the gospel. Oh Spirit, breathe your wind in our sails!

The Cross Speaks

bangkok-church

Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

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