The book of Galatians reveals to us that Jesus our Lord was born under the Law. The Gospel writings are based mainly upon Christ Jesus living among the Jews and doing His ministry under the Old Covenant. He clarified much of the perversions about the Law that existed, and at the end of the Gospel narratives the New Covenant begins.
As Hebrews tells us, the Old Covenant (Testament) wasn’t replaced by the NEW until Jesus’ DEATH. I say replaced, because it was, but it can be also thought of the Fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose.
So, the gospels are a history of Jesus’ ministry with Jews BEFORE THE New goes into effect.
Any belief system or systematic theology writings, statement of faith or confessions of faith, that doesn’t take this into account will leave a Christian totally bewildered and confused in their studies of the word of God.
Trying to Mix Jesus’ teachings directed to Pharisees and zealous Jews with the Epistles will result in great confusion, and incorrect interpretations of truth. Jesus tells people to cut off their hands, to pluck out their eyes, and to be perfect and holy like God. He tells them their own righteousness must be better than the Pharisees. What He was doing was to discourage those in that day as they work to achieve righteousness through the Law.
Those things just could not come about under the LAW. In fact, He was looking forward to the moment He could reveal to them how true righteousness would come about, that is, under the Gospel of Grace through faith in Him and His death, burial and resurrection! His righteousness imputed to their account and no more striving to keep the law which was not designed to provide righteousness at all.
I. GRACE HAS BEEN MENTIONED A LOT BY THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH.
It has been a constant theme of our talk and our prayers. Hymns down through the years have been written about Grace, and some of the finest ones around contain this great truth.
People have fought and died for grace down through our history. Paul fought for it against the Judaizers. Augustine fought the Pelagians, the Reformers fought the Scholasticism of the day, and the spiritual descendants of Paul and Augustine and Reformers have been fighting Romanism and Pelagianism teachings every since.
Paul’s testimony and ours and theirs has been; “By the Grace of God I am what I am” – 1 Corinthians 15:10; and our rule of life is, “I do not frustrate the grace of God.” – Galatians 2:21.
II. NO GRASP OF GRACE IS PREDOMINANT TODAY!
Lip service is given to grace, but when it comes down the really embracing it and loving it, we find most do not think it is important, or at least not necessary for them in their lives today. When I speak of this, I am thinking of what REAL GRACE means, not the watered down version being taught today in many circles. It isn’t that folks fight against the concept of Grace, but rather, it has no real meaning to them as they understand it. It seems beyond their comprehension.
There are four distinct crucial truths about the doctrine of Grace, what it really means, that must be acknowledged and felt, and in one’s very heart, and if they are not, it is impossible one can have a clear faith in God’s grace.
These truths are listed by J. I. Packer as follows:
- THE MORAL ILL-DESERT OF MAN!
Modern men and women, …….naturally incline to a high opinion of themselves. Material wealth is more important than moral character. ……refusing to admit there is anything real seriously wrong with them they go forward on their journey of life. They tend to dismiss a bad conscience, thinking such is just a unhealthy psychological problem. There daily life consisting of such things as drinking alcohol in excess, gambling, reckless driving, sexual laxity, black and white lies, ——dirty reading and things watched concerning evil deeds, and many other things, as they are at heart a very decent and good person. They imagine God is just like they are. It never enters their minds that God considers them fallen creatures, guilty, and unclean. Condemnation and wrath from Him is never considered.
2. THE RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE OF GOD!
Willingness to tolerate evil of all sorts should be ignored, and only punished as a last resort. They see such ideas as virtues. But God states otherwise. He insists that in His goodness He has made a moral world, one in which Retribution is a basic fact of life as breathing is. God is the Judge of all the earth. He will do right at all costs!
3. THE SPIRITUAL IMPATIENCE OF MAN!
The modern man has a belief that will guarantee God’s acceptance of them in the end, whatever they may have done in the past. This is because their pagan ideology teaches them, that man can repair their own relationship with God by putting God in a position where HE cannot say NO anymore. In fact, they are like the old adage of the potter and the clay, they “consider God having a Wax nose, and they can form and fashion that nose as they see fit.”
However, God will have none of it! Romans 3:20 states, “No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law”, even His law and certainly not man’s produced laws.
4. THE SOVEREIGN FREEDOM OF GOD!
Modern paganism cloaked in the garbs of real true religion of some sort, thinks, that God is somehow obliged to love and help us, with little thought of our deserving it does not exist! We do not deserve any help, any forgiveness any benefits from God. Yet HE does grant grace to unworthy sinners every day! Not because of being in need of doing such, but only because HE wishes to do so! It is for HIS good pleasure and He has purposed to have a people for His Son Jesus, called the Bride of Christ.
Here is the Biblical fact to the contrary of the above thought; The God of the Bible does not depend on any human creature for His well-being. See: Psalm 50:8-13 and Acts 17:23. He is not bound or obligated to any sinner, which all humanity is considered as such. We can only expect from Him justice, because Justice is demanded by a Holy God who always does right. Sin demands justice.
So, God in His mercy, states, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,….”! It is HIS free choice to make such a act upon those who are unworthy. He makes the free choice, not man! An individual’s destiny is based on His choice not man’s choice. And that choice flows from His Love toward them in and through the Gospel of Grace. Grace is the source of pardon for Sin. But again, no obligation, but rather, a personal Choice by God to save Some! Not all, but some! So, submit to God through Christ, hear His call, sense His drawing, and know His convicting Spirit about sin and unbelief. Turn in repentance and faith and trust in Jesus and what He did and Who He was providing this through HIS great Love to unworthy sinners like me and many other down through history. He is the Sovereign Powerful Almighty God, let us bow to Him in humility and confess our Pride and arrogance and independence which is rebellion!
(Some thoughts derived from the wonderful work produced by J.I. Packer, Knowing God) Recommend this great writing by a dedicated servant of Christ.