The King’s Law and Grace
“...under the Law of Christ”

By Jon W. Quinn
 It is important to properly understand the relationship of grace and law. Grace has come through Jesus Christ. The Old Law is dead and has been replaced by a system of grace. For this we are extremely thankful!

So the Old Testament was a legal system, but what is the New Testament? Many believe it to be some sort of vague guide for Christians who lived in the first century and we need to expand upon it or detract from it, whatever we feel the need of the hour calls for. One fellow said that the New Testament was a response to "the felt needs" of Christians then and that it was "never intended to be a code of doctrine." Do you see where he was headed? He said that we "need a new hermeneutic" which is a fancy way of saying a new way to study and interpret the Scriptures. He says that it is a mistake to look at the commandments of the New Testament as laws and the idea of asking for scriptural authority for the things we do and say is foreign to the concept of grace.

Of course, this would really broaden our horizons to follow this counsel! We could do about anything we wanted and call it "worship." But there is something wrong with explaining away God's commandments no matter how clever our argumentation. In the New Testament, grace and the new law of Christ work hand in hand

The basic problem is this: many people have assumed that it is an either/or proposition. Either we are under law or we are under grace. Since we are under grace then we are not under law. Well, the fact is that we are under both grace and law, not the Old Law of Moses but under the law of the Messiah's kingdom. If we disobey the law of Christ then we shall forfeit His grace. By the way, grace and law work hand in hand everyday in the secular world. The two are not mutually exclusive at all. For example, I may have a grace period for the payment of an insurance premium, but certain laws and rules still apply. If I break one of those rules then I might forfeit not only the grace period but void the whole contract. In the New Testament, grace and the new law of Christ work hand in hand.

King Jesus Has a Law
"...Though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ..." (I Corinthians 9:21). The Holy Spirit spoke often in the New Testament through various writers and speakers of such things as Christ's law, commandments, will and the need to obey Him. Paul wrote that one way to fail to fulfill Jesus' law was to fail to support the brethren in times of spiritual need (Galatians 6:2). James wrote that there was only one lawgiver and that He has given unto us the "perfect law of liberty" (James 4:12, 1:25). Peter said that it is Jesus who fulfilled the prophecies of the ages and of our absolute need to "give heed to everything He says" or one day "be utterly destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:22,23). Does that sound like because we are under grace that we are no longer obligated to keep Divine laws to you? Me neither!

God’s Grace and Law are not Opposed to One Another
"...Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2 Thessalonians 1:8). It is the law of Christ that reveals the provisions of grace as well as how grace is received by us who need it so very much. The gospel includes laws to be obeyed, as we see from the above verse. There is no salvation, no justification by grace, no redemption and no fellowship with God apart from "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).

What About Those “Faith Versus Law” Passages?
"For we maintain that man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:28). Does not this passage suggest that we are no longer under law? No, the passage does not teach that we are no longer under any Divine law, but rather that we are no longer bound by the Law of Moses. The context of such statements always shows that it is the Law of Moses, or the Old Covenant, that we are released from (Romans 7:6,7).

How Does the Law of Christ Differ From the Law of Moses?
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also a mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). How is the new covenant better than the old? The Law of Moses was a strictly legal system. It demanded perfect obedience (Leviticus 18:5). If one came up short, then the Law became a curse to him (Deuteronomy 27:26).

Once a person erred, he could no longer be just according to the works of the Law. Not even the sacrifices of lambs, bulls and goats offered because of sins could really remedy the situation. All they could do was picture the true sacrifice that God's Son would one day make as He shed His own innocent blood for all of us.

While the Law of Moses was inadequate to justify the sinner, it did serve its purposes. It revealed how much in need of a Savior we are by showing how often we have failed to keep it (Romans 7:7). It revealed God's mind on moral issues and it made the people who tried to keep it better people (Romans 7:12,13). It spoke of hope beyond its own scope as it foresaw the coming of Christ (Galatians 3:23-27).

But the law of Christ is also a legal system. The difference is that because of the grace Jesus offers us through His gospel, we now have access through Him to justification. The blood of Jesus did for us what the blood of animal sacrifices could only illustrate. We are saved by "grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). The blood of Jesus did for us what the blood of animal sacrifices could only illustrate as a potential.

Salvation is by grace because we do not deserve it based upon our own legal righteousness. We have all sinned, but as many of us who have obeyed the gospel have also been forgiven of those sins we had committed. And while we are under grace, we are also under law; Christ's law. We must still obey Him, else He cannot be our Lord. There are still conditions to be met as we exercise our faith; remember, we are saved by grace through faith. As we live by faith, we live in a state the Bible calls "walking in the light" and Jesus, our sacrifice, has also become our advocate, keeping us saved as we confess our sins through Him (I John 1:6-10;2:1)!

From The Bradley Banner 11/25/2012
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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