Bible Lesson 191

UNDERSTANDING THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

“Thank God for that “fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness” with which Christ covers our wounded nakedness. It becomes ours, though no thread of it was wrought in our looms.”
Alexander MacLaren.

The law and Grace both are of God. The law served God’s purpose for those whom He was bringing to a point that they could exercise faith; but since Christ was crucified and paid the sin debt of some from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people (Revelation 14:6), The law is imperfect for those whom God calls out of the world, and grants His Grace, in the New Birth and regeneration, that we call Salvation, since all the law can do is to condemn.

We must not throw the law out as serving no purpose, since it is the law, preached and applied that brings all who are called of God to see themselves as without help or hope and drives them to the only One who can save. Once the Law has done it’s work in a penitent sinner, Grace comes from God to do that Holy Work that only the Creator can do.

“For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to His mercy He Saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 2:11-14,- 3:3-6.

To understand what we are attempting here, requires that we understand in an orderly fashion, what we find in the Word of God. First let’s all understand that we were all born into the world, under the law, but in the time of God’s Grace. There is an immediate problem for us in that we must move from the law (being condemned and under God’s wrath), into God’s amazing Grace. How do we do that’ We don’t, but God does, at least when we come to the point that God issues that ‘Call’ that no man can resist.

That call, is the call issued by the Holy Spirit, when God begins the regeneration of any man. Jesus preached in the gospel of John chapter Six and verse 44, and tells us that ‘No man can come to Him unless the Father,(His Father), draws them, and Christ indicates to us there that if God issues that call, it will result in Salvation; because that scripture tells us that, Christ will raise them up at the last day.’ Clear your mind now, and forget the idea that has been spawned by many in the church that man can decide to be saved, or that is in the purview of man to determine when God will work in His heart and mind. Salvation is all of God; because Salvation belongs to God (Psalms 3:8; Isaiah 43:11). We, the Creature must not dare to run ahead of God in anything, especially our eternal lives. Understand that God would have all of us read and understand and obey His Inspired Word, the Bible.

Some of you were interested in football, basketball, baseball, or other sports when you were growing up. If you wanted to understand the game and be prepared to participate in it, you had to come to the knowledge of how it was played, what you would have to know before you were prepared to play. You either read it from a book, or gathered it from observation and being told by someone who knew how to play. It is much more important, but not entirely different with our souls, we must go to the only source that we can trust anymore, and that is, that we must read and study and pray and ask God to enlighten our hearts and minds. We must read and study the Bible for ourselves. Certainly, if you can find a church where the Pastor is preaching the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, you should go and participate, always trust, but verify by knowing the truth for yourself (Romans 10:17).

Never think that God has not already judged and placed you under His wrath. No matter how good you may think you have been, or how often you have been to a church service or how much help you have been to those in need, you were born under the wrath of God without help or hope, until God calls you to His Son. We quoted John 6:44 before, and saw that only God can call you, by His Holy Spirit, to His Son. It is good to mention right here that there are more than one kind of call. Sometimes the devil can make a person believe that he has been called of God, and that is always to plant that person who is not saved in the church. The Bible calls them ‘tares’, and the word actually means a plant that looks similar to Wheat, but that is poisonous to mankind. The Rabbis called it ‘bastard’. I would say that that call (the devil’s call is the most common call heard in the world today). That is because the world has taken the assumption that man is in charge of everything in the world, even the things of God. That assumption has filled the visible churches of our day with tares, darnel, bastard wheat, professors without possession (Matthew 13:25-27). That is a shame, because it is much easier for the body of Christ to take the time needed, to watch the life of those who answer to that often repeated invitation to come to Christ; to make sure that it is evident that there are sure signs that this person knows what he/she is doing and why they are doing it. I’m not sure that every sermon should be followed at the close with a ‘vanilla’ type of invitation to join the church.

What the Lord called men to preach is the Word, the truth as it is written, and then have enough humility to back and God will take that truth and apply it to the hearts of those whom He will save (John 8:30-32; John 6:44-45; 2nd Timothy 2:19). All too often that results in people walking the aisle, and professing Christ without knowing who Christ is and what He did for sinners. I know that this is true because I did that put on act myself the first time I joined the church. It ended up as it always does that I had joined some church, and I was now a church member. Then I found God calling me, not to be saved at the moment, but to read the Bible. I had never really enjoyed reading the Bible because I did not always understand it; however over the next three years or so, God kept my nose in the Bible. For three years, I read and argued with what the Bible said, but then I realized that every problem I found with Scripture, was answered by God from the Scripture. It came to the point that if in my reading on any day formed a problem, God answered it within a day or so, not audibly, but in what I read from the Word. I read and became enlightened with every reading until I was thoroughly convinced that The Bible was God’s Word and that God meant every word of His Bible. I prayed and asked God ‘ Lord, if you can used a beat up old piece of clay like Me, I intend to live for you and work for you for the rest of my life, and here I am telling people that they are born under the law, with Grace as a possibility, If, they can believe strongly enough to obey all that Christ has commanded, they can be saved by God’s Grace, through faith in His One and Only Son Jesus Christ, and His death on the cross to redeem those who would obey.

God uses the law to point out for us our sin and our hopeless situation, to show us that we are dead men walking; and then God, by His Grace will save those who come to Him ready to die to self and live through Christ. There are far too many professions of faith that are coaxed from those who have been invited to Christ by other than God. Some respond to emotional sermons, sermons that reach the sensitive hearts of some, and others respond to less than the truth sermons, and some even take advantage of the invitation to join the church for financial or other reasons. The cold hard truth is that everyone of us was so evil, depraved, cunning and hard hearted that it took God Himself suffering and dying to redeem us from our sin, and God’s wrath against our sin. Why do you supposed that The Sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh would say to Nicodemus, a high ranking member of the Sanhedrin, comparable to the Pope in some eyes, that He would have to be born again to even see the Kingdom. God is not in the business of taking used up and wrecked souls and knocking the dents out and repairing, and repainting the old soul that was dead in trespass and sin, and that describes every last one of us before we are saved, (Ephesians 2:1-3). What God does is to put that old creature to death and raises up a new creature.

Ephesians 2:10 says to those who have submitted to the Lordship of Christ, and are now obedient ?..”For we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand that we should walk in them”. This new creature is not an option in Salvation, it is the root and cause of our being Children of God, and unless you can point to a time in your life that you realized that you had been eternally changed into an obedient and submissive Child of the King, it is not to late for you to begin to Ask, Seek and Knock as we are told in (Luke 11:9-10). Now what does it mean to Ask, Seek, and Knock?” We know from the previous verses of Luke Chapter 11, that Christ has taught His disciples to pray properly and gave an illustration of a person who received a friend late at night and had nothing to offer them. He went to a neighbors house and requested they get out of bed and lend Him some bread. The neighbor refused because all were in bed, but the Lord said that if the one who needs that bread would persist in asking, seeking and knocking, that the neighbor would relent and give him what he requested. In salvation, or our interest in our eternal lives, we must continually ask, seek and Knock on God’s door until He is sure that we really intend to have salvation. God knows when you are in earnest, and until God is satisfied that you are ready to be saved (and act like you are) and are ready to inhabit heaven, God will make it happen. Don’t give up!

Those who are truly saved and born again, are new creatures, created by God in His Son Jesus Christ, to act like Christ. We may not look like Christ, in fact we will continue to look just like we did before, except there is a light that shines from within us. We are changed from the inside out, and that change effects and affects all that we think, say, and do. Sure there are many today who would say, that they have been reborn, however they never show any of the attributes of having been recreated, and that new creature never shows up in their lives. That is probably the result of what they have been taught by men who would not know Christ if they bumped into Him. As I have told you before, we as human beings are pretty much like cattle, in that, if we see a group of people standing in a line somewhere, we want to get in the line, and if we see a group rushing to some store we join that group. How many times have we seen people who camped for days to be toward the front of a line that waited to buy some electronics product, or get tickets to some groups show? That is the way we have been taught. God made us in His image to be leaders and people who could succeed and be productive in this life, but we have become like beasts that we were given dominion over. I suppose that is because we feel more comfortable and there is never any chance of being out on the point where we feel alone. Remember Christian, you are never alone, God is always leading you and he will never take you where He cannot sustain you.

So many people rejected being noticed in those works that God had prepared before He saved us that we began to put down anyone who mentioned works in connection with our salvation. Certainly anyone who has read the Bible knows that we are saved by Grace through Faith and nothing else; However once God has saved us we are obligated to do those Works that He prepared in eternity past for us to do. Salvation is not a get out of jail free card! R. L. Dabney (1820-1898), had this to say about works, “While works are naught as a ground of merit for justification, they are all-important as evidences that we are justified.” Works (those that God prepared to be accomplished by His Children) are the only proof that God has given us that New Birth. How ridiculous it is that we should create a culture where the Omnipotent God of Creation, would work in and on the frame of any man to save and give him a new birth, but that work of God is never manifested in the good work that the new birth gives birth to. The new birth is often described as “Regeneration, and regeneration is a mighty and powerful work, wrought in the soul by the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit, wherein a vital principle, a new habit, the law of God and a Divine nature are put into and framed in the heart, enabling it to act holily and pleasing to God, and to grow therein to eternal glory” (Stephen Charnock). It is a shame that God’s creation has spawned creatures who have been high-jacked by Satan and brought down to the point that we refuse to be what God created us to be.

We have been warned over and over by God in His Word the Bible, that we must be vigilant and aware, or we would be led astray by “false prophets”. We were created to be men and women who could and would endure as the creature that God put His image on. Adam and Eve had only one commandment to keep, and it was as easy as waking up every morning and keeping it in mind. God has placed them in a Special Paradise, called Eden, with that one commandment “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). We are also told that in the Garden of Eden, there was ‘Every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food, there was the Tree of life, as well as the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ (Genesis 2:8-9). Wouldn’t you know that it was not the tree of life, that would grant them life, instead of death, that they ate but the one tree that would guarantee them two deaths, and that was the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They ate in violation of the Creator’s order and they died Spiritually, which means that the precious ability to commune with God was dead, and they began the process of physical death, and Adam died when he was 930 years old (Genesis 5:5) . That should speak volumes to this generation of people who think that they can go their own way and set God aside in their rush to enjoy sin for a season, only to gain for themselves a ticket to eternity in hell with all of it’s torments.

God does not require anything from His Creatures except that they obey Him and God provides the power to obey in that New Birth that we spoke of before. It is obvious that many today do not trust God, and I believe that it is because we have never really come to know Him. If we know the true God, we know that He spoke and the worlds that we know came into being, yet we doubt that after He has granted us that New Birth that we speak of, He is unable to sustain that new creature in obedience. It was G.K. Chesterton, who quoted ” The Christian Ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” God says that In the New Birth, He recreates us “IN CHRIST”?and then in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, God speaks to us through the Inspired Writer, and says “If any man be ‘in Christ’, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” Understand now, that verse of Scripture speaks of a ‘done deal’, which means all of the things that were of Adam (disobedience, sloth, etc), have gone and we know they are because God said they were. Not only that but now all things are brand new, because we are in Christ and Christ is in us and we are walking in newness of life, (Romans 6:4). Remember this, a True Christian is not a sinner who has had his brains kicked out ! A true Christian is one whom God has given a new nature, the nature of Christ and that was a nature that obeyed even unto death on the cross. God does not simply forgive our sin, God makes our mind a mind that has been transformed and God also made us people who now know God’s will, but have a mind that agrees with whatever God has said. God has brought us to a point where we understand the difference between sin and obedience, and our mind is off sin and stayed on obedience. One of the things that God has given us a mind to do is to “Put to death our members which are on (tied to) the world, things like fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). The new Birth is the key to being a Christian. All true Christians have been born again, and they are obeying all they know that God has commanded (John 14:15, 21-24).

God tells us plainly that we were predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29-30). Now contrary to popular belief that does not mean that we will be like Christ, when we get to heaven, what that means is, that we are conformed to Christ right here and right now??IF?..we are saved. We are saved by Grace through Faith in God’s sinless Son Jesus Christ?but that is not a momentary act, that grants us passage to heaven. There is much more to it than that. God speaks to us in Titus 2:11-14 and says, For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Here and Now). Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” *Italics my addition. That tells us that God’s Grace which is almighty to save us, is not a one time application, we live and breath and die and go to heaven in God’s grace. Once it has saved us, it stays on board to teach us how to live and that is that we know how to deny ungodliness and we have been taught to live soberly, righteously, and godly?as we live here on this earth. It has become a gospel that is not a gospel, that we cannot obey God, and we are all just sinners and can’t help it. What a sorry testimony of God’s grace that turns out to be!

I’ve said all of that because it is Biblical and it highlights the Law and Grace, and the Bible is clear that both are effectual in the salvation of mankind. So many have heard the gospel preached to everyone in it’s hearing that we are not longer under the law. That is a dangerous misunderstanding because there are some who are no longer under the law but under grace; but those are the ones whom God has called, justified and saved by His Grace. Unless you are reborn, radically changed from the inside out and obedient to God, you are not under Grace but under Law. You were born under the wrath of God because you have never been put to death by the law. That is what the law of God does, it prints out a decree of death and hell for everyone who has not known God’s Grace in regeneration and the New Birth. The law is what will cause a sinner to think about what God says and then he will either be converted or he will be condemned because he rejects the Grace of God. Many like to over spiritualize the love of God?but it is the love of God that is the law, and Jesus Christ (God in the flesh), said he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. What that means is that Christ was born under the law, and lived a perfect life which is what the law commands. Now, if you who read this lesson, think that you can keep the law of God, give it a shot, but be forewarned you are on the short end of the stick.

Only God can perfectly keep the law; and He did that in Jesus Christ?.now, we can keep the law by submitting to the Lordship of Christ (Who kept the law for those who will obey Him). The Bible tells us that “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin”. (Romans 3:20). That means that the law works in Salvation since we would never realize that we need to be saved if the law did not convict us. The Apostle Paul, said that he was perfect as far as living the outward life, but found his need of Christ in the law that said “Thou shalt not covet”. (Romans 7:7-12). You meet the law on the way toward Grace and the Gospel of Christ. The law is bad news; but turns us to the Gospel which is the Good News of God, in the Person and Work of Christ. We said before that the law kills but then so does God’s grace, in a good way, since it puts the old man to death and raises up a new creature, in Christ (Romans 6:1-14; John 3:16-21; Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1-11; Galatians 2:20). Now the thing that really puts the pressure on unsaved sinners is to tell them that this new creature conducts the rest of his life (from the time of his salvation), in a manner that reflects His Savior, Jesus Christ. That means that if you are truly saved that you have made up your mind by God’s Grace to live without committing sin. Argue with that if you want to but you will be arguing with the Creator, and His inspired, inerrant word, the Bible. Those who preach that we are all just sinners and sinning every moment of every day must not have read their Bibles; because Roman 6:1-2 says that those who are saved cannot continue in sin; and the big fisherman, Peter tells us in 1st Peter 4:1-2, ” he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should no longer live to the desires of men, but to the will of God.” Now, I ask you would it ever be the will of God that we should sin?

We who are saved have the mind of Christ and it is a mind that is controlled by the will of God. (Philippians 2:13). What about 1st John 3:8-9, that reminds us that; “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because He is born of God, (Born again). Matthew 5:28 commands us to ‘Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect’. Now, I am aware that many preachers attempt to set aside verses like these by doing a juggling act with the word and meanings of words, but that dog won’t hunt. God always says what he means and means what He says. Can there be any doubt that God means that we should live above sin? How dare we who are children of the King attempt to revise His words to use what we think will allow us our precious sin. In the words of George Whitefield, “Christian perfection does not imply an exemption from ignorance or mistake or temptations, but that is does imply that being so “crucified with Christ”, as to be able to testify, “I live not, but Christ lives in me”, Galatians 2:20, and has purified my heart by faith (Acts 15:9). What it does imply is that we are busy ‘casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It also implies the “being holy as He that has called us is holy, in all manner of conversation (Life), and in a word, the loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and serving Him with all our strength.” (2nd Corinthians 10:5; 1st Peter 1:15).

Think on these things after you have read all of the quoted scriptures, and prayed that God would give you light to see His truths. Think about the fact that you have lived all of your life as a law-abiding citizen, and ask yourself, what has God commanded me that I do not obey? Most who claim themselves to be sinners, if asked to identify what sin it is that are guilty of, cannot come up with a sensible answer. Because there is none. I challenge everyone who reads this to go back to Romans Chapter Six and read that chapter, with your brain in gear. Romans chapter six, along with the rest of the Bible understood in Context, lay to rest what the Christian life is based on. We begin life on this planet, dead to God and alive to sin, however, we are given the option of reversing that dire situation, by real, life changing belief in The Sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, and His Work on the cross to redeem those who would believe (Hebrews 5:8-9). We are ‘Justified’ by our belief (faith), and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). Romans chapter 5 reminds us that our salvation was the result of the death of God’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh. Chapter six of Romans opens with a question from God which asks, in effect, what are we to do, now that God’s grace has saved us? Are we to continue in sin, to make God’s grace more evident? The very next verse from Chapter Six of Romans answers that quest with an exclamation “Certainly not!’ or better ‘may it never be’, in our lingo we would say probably “absolutely Not! It is unthinkable in the mind of God that some one who was under His wrath, destined for hell for eternity should be saved, but continue in sin.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob