We believe that it is through the gospel of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus’ power is made manifest in the lives of the believer, and not the ‘Law’. And, we believe, as St. Paul said in 2nd Corinthians, that “the law which came carved on tablets of stone (the 10 Commandments) is the dispensation (or ministry) of death”, and that “the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
And the good Pharisee in the pew says, “So what? That has nothing to do with what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about keeping the 10 Commandments, but rather adhering to Biblical Principles.”
As my Father used to say, “six of one, or a half dozen of the other.” ‘Law’ is law…is law…is law. Any demand that existence places upon you to be the person you ought to be…is ‘law’. Any demand is …’law’.
Anytime you look to rules, or principles for living to become a better Christian, you have just become a law keeper.
We, as Christians, “live in the Spirit of God, the new covenant, the fragrance of life to life”, as Paul says. “The aroma of Christ.”
The law has it’s purpose, so we don’t just jettison the law. The law’s purpose, apart from the practicality of keeping us all sufficiently hemmed in so that chaos won’t reign upon the earth (God’s gift to us), but the law’s theological purpose is to give us godly grief that we might know our deficiency in being what God demands of us. This godly grief produces death to the self. Repentance can then occur (by God’s grace) and lead us to Christ and His Gospel of forgiveness.
So the law, used in a way as to make us better (principles for living), will not make us better (in the long run), but only worse, for the law just exposes our inability to keep it. And the law must be kept…perfectly, at all times, in all places. When the law is not kept in our lives, a price will be paid. The law must be kept.
The law kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The law is written upon our hearts. We inherently know what we ought be doing. But because of sin we inherently won’t do it out of a pure heart with no self motivations. That is why the scripture in Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous deeds are filthy rags.”
Dead yet? I hope so. If not, we’ll pour more of the law on you later. You’ll get plenty of the law in the course of your day today, hopefully that will be enough to kill you off (at least temporarily) so that Christ can lead you to repentance and give you His new life.
You can no more adhere to the law to be all that you can be, than I can. You have failed miserably in thought, word, and deed. In what you have done, and even more than that, what you haven’t done that you should’ve done.
But, be of good cheer for Jesus Christ has forgiven all of that. You have recieved a pardon! That death… was your death! But that resurrection…that was your resurrection! Easter! For you!
When this life is over (and it goes by quickly), you will be welcomed into the Kingdom with a full share of all that God has to offer. The joy in Heaven will be unimaginable. No more pain, no more tears. The wedding feast that will put to shame the spread that any cruiseship could ever lay out.
All this He has done for you out of the kindness of His Fatherly heart, with nothing required of you other than faith. And this faith is also a gift that He gives to you. (so there is really nothing at all that you have to do)
He gives you faith in His Word of Promise. He gives you faith in your baptism. He gives you faith in His Supper (Holy Communion). He acts… for you.
Why else in heaven’s name would they call it “the good news” ?
It is good news! There couldn’t possibly be any better news!
That’s the gospel.
– Steve Martin
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