Archive for the ‘Christ and the Law’ Category

Christ and the Law 3

June 11, 2016

Galatians 3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. 19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Paul was fighting against the Judaizers who wanted to bring something into the Gospel and add one little something men were supposed to do in order to be saved. He tried to show them that 430 years before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and God gave them the Law, the promises had already been made. Before the Law came to Israel the Gospel came to Israel and the covenant with Israel concerning the Gospel had already been made. The Law cannot possibly contribute to the salvation of those that God had already promised salvation apart from the Law.

A driving question to this day is why God sent the Law when men are not saved by it and in fact are condemned (at least the condemnation is manifested) by this Law. Galatians 3 gives us at the very least part of the answer. If the thought of why God sent the Law after He promised the Gospel has never been something you have thought of, then please give it some thought. Not only is this a revelation of the New Testament, it is something that is very relevant to our day. If God gave the Law with and for a purpose that the Law is not being used for, then it should make us nervous and wary about this. The Law was given so that all men would be shut up under sin.

This deserves to be repeated over and over until it is driven to the depths of our heads and our hearts. The Law was given so that all men would be shut up under sin. It was never given as something men could keep and thereby be holy, but instead it was given to show us our unholiness and inability to get better by the Law. It was given to show us our hearts and those hearts are provoked by the Law and thus we see that they are full of sin and are sinful by nature. The Law was so far from being given so that people could earn righteousness by it for salvation that the text tells us that it shut up everyone under sin so that the promise by faith in Christ might be given to those who believe. Notice the point and the glory of that point. The Law was not given in opposition to the Law, but it was given so that the promise could be carried out.

This point is so vital that it must be repeated because our hearts are drawn by a spiritual or fleshly gravity (so to speak) to the Law for blessings or for salvation. We live by the free-grace of God which is to say that we live by promise rather than by the Law. Before this faith came, which is to say, before Christ came who was the fulfillment of the promise and so people had faith in Him more specifically, we were in custody by the Law and we had no other place to go. The Law was used to shut people up under sin which shut people up to the faith later to be revealed. This shows the place of the Law and it was and is to lead people to Christ where the promises of the Gospel are fulfilled. The Law came 430 years after the promises of the Gospel and it can never supplant the Gospel or add to the Gospel. The Law leads and drives people to Christ and they are justified by faith alone.

We live in a day where free-grace is under attack from all sides. We live in a day where the true work of the Law has been changed from what it was supposed to be for to what it was not to be for and will never be for. The Law was to be a tutor or instructor of men and their hearts as to their sin and their sinful natures. The Law has no place in the Gospel itself and at best an advisory role in sanctification. Christ is the Gospel and Christ is our sanctification. The Law shows us our sin and is used by the Spirit to convict us of our sin and drive us out of self-love and self-strength into despair of self and looking to Christ alone. It must never have any other place.

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Christ and the Law 2

June 10, 2016

Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. 19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Justification is said to be justification by faith alone, though it really means justification by Christ alone and justification by grace alone through faith alone. Abraham believed the promise of God concerning the seed (which was Christ) and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abraham, then, was declared righteous in the eyes of God before the Law was ever given. We see that Abraham was a descendant of Eve and as such the seed of the woman can be traced to him. The seed of the woman would come through the seed of Abraham and in fact would be the Christ. But again, no Law was given until 430 years after Abraham.

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.

Clearly, then, Abraham was not justified before God by keeping the Law or by any work. It was when Abraham had faith in the coming seed which was Christ, he was declared just and he had righteousness imputed to him. Once again, over and over our hearts must hear that Abraham was justified and was declared righteous before there was any written law for him to keep. If Abraham would have been justified by works or even had a few works that assisted God in justifying him, then he would have had something to boast about. But Abraham had nothing to boast in but free-grace and the free-grace that the coming seed would purchase in his place.

Abraham did not work for righteousness because the text just above tells us that the one who works his wage is not by grace of favor, but it is what is due to the person. On the other hand, the person that does not work for salvation/justification but believes in God who justifies the ungodly, that person’s faith (in Christ) is credited as righteousness (because the person is united to Christ). There is no need for works for justification because the person is perfectly justified by Christ. Abraham was a blessed man because God credited righteousness to Abraham apart from works. Abraham was justified by Christ before there was a law for him to keep. This is a point we need to hear over and over.

Abraham was justified by grace alone through faith alone and that occurred 430 years before the Law was given. Justification was always by grace alone through faith and this is emphasized in the New Testament over and over. The Law was never given as a way of justification and not as a way of sanctification. The Law was added because of transgressions, that is, it was given to show us our sinfulness and open our hearts to how sinful and helpless we are. The Law was not given as a way we can have life, but to show us Christ who is to be our life. The Law does not justify us, but Christ justifies us. The Law does not sanctify us, but Christ is our sanctification. The Law has no power at all, but all power is in the hands of God to do as He pleases.

Christ and the Law 1

June 9, 2016

Galatians 3: 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. 19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

The purposes of the Law (regardless of whether it is civil, ceremonial, or moral) must not be allowed to stand in the place of Christ. If the Law was not meant to save sinners and not sanctify them either since Christ is the justification of the believer and Christ is the sanctification of the believer, then what purpose was and is the Law? This is a vital question and it is not an easy answer. However, it simply must be dealt with honestly and biblically. We can answer this question differently with different theological categories, but we cannot arrive at the biblical truth without answering the question from the biblical point of view.

The question (v. 19) comes from the background of how the Law came 430 years after the promise to Abraham. The promise of Christ to Abraham is the glorious promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God made a covenant with Abraham that He was going to bring forth the seed from Abraham and this covenant was one of promise. The Law, which came 430 years after Abraham, did not invalidate the promise of Christ to Abraham. In fact, if we read this in context, the Law came about to show us the need of Christ. The Law did not come in as a way of life or as a way of holiness, but instead it came about to show us our great need of a Savior.

This must be a point that drives deeply into our souls. The purpose of the Law was to be a tutor or teacher to prepare for Christ. The promise was for Christ and the Law, which came over 400 years later, was not against the promise and did not add or change the promise. The Law was part of the plan to keep men under custody of the Law and be their tutor to take them to Christ. The Law does not stand against sinners in this sense, but it is to show them and teach them of Christ. The Law does not stand against believers and has no power over them to curse them or have authority over them.

When we step back and look at the picture that Galatians gives us, we can see that the Law had a good purpose. The Law was and is centered upon Christ and was never meant for anything else in terms of what its primary goal and function was. “Why the Law then?” The question of Paul was answered (by him) in what follows: “It was added because of transgressions.” The Law was added because of transgressions. On the surface of it that seems rather meaningless. However, Paul is driving at a point for us. The Law was ordained through angels. The Law had a purpose and the Law had an end. The Law was ordained through angels, yet the promise came by God Himself. The Law had an end and that was when Christ (the seed) who was and is the promise would come.

We are left beholding the glory of God and His wise and sovereign plan in bringing forth Christ to save sinners. While many would want to divide the civil, ceremonial, and the moral laws at this point, the Bible does not do so and in fact will not allow it. Since the Law was added because of transgressions, it had the moral law in mind as well. Since the Law cannot impart righteousness, we can know that the moral law was in mind there as well. The Law in all of its aspects came in order to be a tutor to lead people to Christ. The Law is not opposed to Christ in truth and the Law does not replace or instruct Christ in truth. The Law came because of transgressions which is to say that it came to show men their sinful hearts and expose their sin. That is the major reason for why it came. It came to show sin.