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The Law and the Gospel


The Purpose of the Law


“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20.


How particular is God concerning Christians conduct?


“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10.


Christ Saves Man, Magnifies Law


What is the gospel declared to be?


“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16.  


What is the significance of the name Jesus?


“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,” because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. 


In whom is this power to save from sin revealed?


“But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23,24.


How was Christ’s attitude toward God’s law foretold?


“Then I said, “Here I am, I have come – It is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:7,8. 


What does Christ promise of the new covenant?


“But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8: 6,10.


What must we do in order to benefit by Christ’s work?


“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:10.  


For what did the Apostle Paul trust Christ?


“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Philippians 3:8,9.


Does the faith that brings righteousness abolish the law?


“Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

Romans 3:31. 


Note - In the gospel, the law, first written in the heart of Christ, is transferred to the heart of the believer, where Christ dwells by faith. Thus the new covenant is fulfilled. This is righteousness by faith – a righteousness that is witnessed by the law, and revealed in life in harmony with the law. Such faith, instead of making void the law, establishes it in the heart of the believer.

The law demands obedience, but cannot produce it; it is holy in itself, but it can not make us holy; it convinces of sin, but it cannot cure it; it reveals the disease, but it cannot provide the remedy; while the gospel both requires and enables, saves and sanctifies (Romans 3:19-32; 4:15; 5:20, 21; 7:7-13; II Corinthians 3:7-9; Galatians 3:21-24; I Timothy 1:8-11).

The gospel shows us the Savior whom we need, and declares that He has fully obeyed the precepts of the law by His spotless life as our great representative, as well as completely exhausted its penalties through His atoning death as our substitute (II Corinthians 5:21).


What did Christ take away?


“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29.   


What has Christ abolished?


“But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

2 Timothy 1:10. 


Note – Man needs to be solemnly reminded that the law of the spirit of life in Christ sets him free from the law of sin and death, but not from the law of God.


What change is brought about through the gospel?


“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18.  


Note – It is sometimes claimed that Christ changed, abolished, or took away the moral law, and put the gospel in its place; but this shows a misapprehension of the real work of Christ. The individual believer is changed by beholding the glory revealed in the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 1:14); death has been abolished through the death of Christ; and the great Sin Bearer has taken sin away; but the law of God still remains unchanged as the very foundation of His throne.


What spiritual interpretation did Christ give the sixth and seventh commandments?


“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21,22. “You heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Verses 27,28.


Of what prophecy was this teaching a fulfillment?


“It pleased the Lord for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious.”

 Isaiah 42:21.


Note – Christ not only gave a spiritual interpretation of the law, and Himself thus observed it, but He showed the holiness and the immutable nature of the law by dying on the cross to pay the penalty of its transgression. In this way, above all, He magnified the law.


Grace and the Law


In what promise was the gospel preached to Abraham?


“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you,” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Galatians 3:8.


On what basis was Abraham accounted righteous?


“What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3.  


What scripture cuts off all hope of justification by works?


Therefore no one will be declared righteous in the sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20.  


In what was are all believers in Jesus justified?


“And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Verse 24.


Is the believer expected to go on in sin after this?


“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1,2.


What was Christ’s personal attitude toward the law?


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.Matthew 5:17. “ If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10


What scripture shows that God’s remnant people will understand the proper relation between law and gospel?


“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.


Note – God has not left men enmeshed in their own disobedience – He has provided a way of restoration. This is not by pulling the heavenly standard down to the level of our guiltiness and weakness, but by lifting men up to the eternal standard of his holiness. This restoration is restoration to a state of obedience to the Law.

The atonement of Jesus Christ bears an eternal relation to the Law of God, the Law that is holy, just and good. [As a believer is] delivered by the work of Christ from the penalty of a broken law, and given a new heart by the Holy Spirit, by which he loves the way of obedience that once he shunned, the Law and the gospel are seen working in glorious harmony for the blessing of the redeemed man.

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