Have you ever felt that after accepting Christ's sacrificial atonement that the Law was still in effect or dogging you in your life, or that you somehow must make sure you are striving to keep every part of it, including the Sabbath day? Are you feeling guilty?
Jesus stated, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" -(Matthew 5:17).
But notice that Christ Jesus said he came to "fulfill" the law and the prophets. He was born under the Law -(Galatians 4:4) and fulfilled all of its demands, including as His sacrifice for our sins (something none of us could ever do) and He fulfilled all that the prophets prophesied about Him as the Messiah. That meant all sins, past, present, and future!
The Greek word for "fulfill" is "Pleroo" (which is determined by the context). Here it means "to completely fully". Jesus fulfilled the Law in three major ways:
1. He lived a life of complete obedience to the Law.
2. He died on our behalf for our sins.
3. He was the prophetic fulfillment of what the Law foreshadowed.
The very next verse continues: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" -(Matthew 5:18).
The Greek word for "fulfilled" is "Ginomai" which means "be brought to pass"; "come to pass"; "be finished". "Ginomai" was one of the first words I learned in my seminary Greek class.
Christ Jesus' last words from the cross were: "It is finished" -(John 1:30). When he said "It is finished" that means our redemption was finished. It did not say it is still being fulfilled. "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" -(John 17:4).
The definition of Biblical Grace is "unearned, unmerited favor from God". Works of the Law play absolutely no part in qualifying for, maintaining, or receiving our salvation. Do you get that important statement. The works that will follow one's acceptance of Christ Jesus as their personal Savior are works of faith that He works in us and through us. To believe there is anything we must do to gain salvation is merely to confuse or co-mingle the Old Testament with the New Testament and ancient Israel with the New Testament Church.
"Not only are we saved by faith rather than by law but law is not to be the rule of life for the believer. We are not to live by law at all. Grace supplies the indwelling and filling of the Spirit to enable us to live on a higher plain than the law demanded. This all is our portion when we trust Jesus Christ as Savior. It is in Jesus Christ that we receive everything - salvation and sanctification. Let's stop trying some legal system or rote of rules. We have a liberty in Christ". -(J. Vernon McGee, 'Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee', Vol. 5, Galatians 5:1).
After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples He said: "And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me" -(Luke 24:44).
Notice the words: "all things must be fulfilled". The Mosaic Law and all its rituals, days and commandments pointed to Christ Jesus who was to come to this Earth, be born of a virgin, and die for the sins of the whole world. Those rituals, ordinances, and laws from the Old Testament were only shadows of Him. If we have a picture of a loved one, do we continue to hold only the picture after the person arrives? No, we no longer need the picture, but embrace the reality, which, in this case, is Jesus Christ -(Colossians 2:17). We no longer need days, laws, rituals, and works of the flesh (those listed in the previous verse 2:16) as the reality is already here. To try to apply works of the Law with faith is adding works to Grace, which is impossible and illogical to boot. It is an attempt to "earn" Grace. Some have called it a "second work of grace" such as in Wesleyan theology and Pentecostal theology. Our love for Him after placing our faith in Him as our Savior has absolutely nothing to do with focusing on any part of the Mosaic Law. Mixing Law and works with Grace is not compatible when it comes to receiving salvation:
Paul the Apostle said, "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works". -(Romans 4:4-6).
The book of Acts is often used to try and prove one must keep the Sabbath day. But a thorough search of church history will reveal that the early church met on both days - Saturday and Sunday. The Apostles preached in the synagogues on the Sabbath because that that is when the Jews met and it was how the Gospel was able to be preached to them. As time went on the Church began to meet on Sunday. The book of Acts is a historical record of what it says - the Acts of the Apostles (or the acts of God through the apostles). It is not a book for finding doctrine. Doctrine is found in the Epistles of Paul. Paul's Epistles to the Church make no mention of the need for Christians to keep Sabbath days, or any of the works of the Law, in order to maintain or gain salvation.
Law-keepers desire to bring others under the bondage of the Law: "....False brethren unawares bought in, who came in privily to spy out liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage" -(Galatians 2:4). It does not take very long to recognize when you are at a web site, a church, a sect, a cult, where Law is emphasized. They don't hit you with the Law right away but you can count on their bringing it up at some point in their diatribe. They will always bring this to the table in their rants and ravings about obeying the Mosaic Law. Our Anti-Pre-Trib Rapture opponents are not remiss with their trumpeting the Law. When the Anti-Pre-Trib Rapture babblers can't offer a systematic logical case they trot out their links to the Sabbath-observers.
Those who believe on Jesus Christ and have received Him - by faith - are the sons of God. They do not need to try to qualify for it. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" -(John 1:12). "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" -(1st John 5:12, 13). In this post and the two previous ones I have not said a word about repentance, but I have not ignored it. I plan to devote a post to it, meaning repentance, to reconcile some misconceptions about repentance and so-called "Easy Grace".
Notice the above words: "He that hath the son hath life" and "that ye may know that ye have eternal life." Those who believe on the Son (turn to Him and place their faith in Him) hath eternal life. These are the true words of Scripture written when Christ Jesus was raised form the dead.
Striving to obey the Law stirs up sin and leads to fear; frustration, contention, discouragement, discord, and a condemning attitude towards others that are perceived as not keeping the Law. This is known as a 'negative goodness'. The Law could only bring death (not life) because it demanded absolute perfection. No one is able to live up to that standard. I have never met such a person this side of eternity. Christ desires for you to cease from your struggles under the Law and come to understand that there is nothing you can do to receive salvation. We cannot make ourselves holy or acceptable to God by laws, rules or regulations. You are imprisoned in bondage if you think you can live by the Law of Moses.
I spent the majority of my adult life as a Methodist pastor, later the United Methodist Church, in bondage and slavery to the Wesleyan theology which taught holiness and sanctification by strict adherence to something that was not really New Testament-based. It was Old Testament-based upon the Mosaic Law. We always felt degrees of guilt for such things as going to the mall on Sunday afternoon. I don't know how many of you can remember this but once upon a time existed when there was nothing open on Sundays, but a few gas stations on a major highway or a pharmacy to handle emergency prescriptions for a doctor or two. When Pennsylvania dropped the so-called "blue laws" the denomination was concerned about the impact on Sunday school and church attendance. I left the United Methodist Church in 1998 over issues afoot seeking to bring about the acceptance of sodomites and lesbians as clergy along with other theological issues. I chose to go Non-Denominational in doctrine.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" -(Romans 10:9-10).
When our minds turn to the Lord Christ Jesus for salvation, we have freedom from the bondage of the Law. The Spirit of God brings us to Christ Jesus, the place of liberty. This brings peace and rest. Those who follow the Mosaic Law view this as being weak or soft, but in their warped understanding of the Bible, they cannot honestly claim they have anything but frustration and failure because they can't live out the Law in their own daily life. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" -(2nd Corinthians 3:17). Guilt hounds them like their physical shadow
Jesus Christ fulfilled the following at His first coming: "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" -(Isaiah 61:1). I could do a whole series of sermons on this single verse.
After placing our faith and trust in Christ Jesus as our Savior and having all out sins washed away, past, present, and future, we are now positioned in Him, accepted by God, and all because of what He has already done for us. There is nothing else you can do or to earn your salvation. The work of salvation was finished on the cross.
We can never be saved by doing any kind of works. We are saved by God's Grace, and through our faith in Christ Jesus. However, this does not mean we now use our liberty in Christ to live in sin and go around stealing, lying, living in immorality, etc. God's love in us will produce the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, and which says nothing about keeping the Sabbath or feast days, is what the Holy Spirit produces through faith. I'm not talking about the teaching of "once saved, always saved". That is another subject altogether for another time. A brother in Christ, Garry Boggs reminded me of something the other day. He quoted Matthew 5:44 and Matthew 12:31-32. Those passages are extremely pertinent. It was so obvious, and in the course of writing it does not preclude my making an oversight, but I also should have noted that Jesus Christ gave us two commandment that for all intent and purpose exceeded the Old Testament Law, that being to love God first and our fellow man as ourselves.
Grace was at work in the Old Testament, and that is often overlooked by folks. Romans 4:3 states that Abraham was justified by faith and Genesis 15:6; 22:1-14 tells us that he was justified by faith. Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith, evidenced by what he did. Hebrews 11:6 does not say "without works" it is impossible to please God, but "without faith" it is impossible to please Him.
At the end of John's Gospel he wrote, "These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that by believing you might have life through His name". To feel we must do certain works in order to maintain our salvation takes away from what Christ did for us at Calvary. The righteousness that we have is because of Him, and nothing else. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" Salvation and righteousness comes by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and our walk is by faith. It is a result of what He has already done for us. God will reward us for our service to Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but works do not earn us a dime toward our salvation. "By whom also we have access by faith into this Grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" -(Romans 5:2).
Those that believe we must keep the Law (which, by the way, encompassed the entire Mosaic Law, including a total of 613 points of Law) fail to understand that the more one focuses on keeping it, the more hard-pressed they will be to keep from breaking it. In other words, when one continually focuses on keeping the Law, they are obsessing on something that enslaves them. The more one continually focuses on keeping the Law, with its observances of days, meats, foods, times, and regulations, their eyes are not on Christ Jesus. Their life centers around law-keeping, instead of around the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and having a relationship with Him and being able to embrace His love and acceptance. This is not so different than those folks that seem to believe the Apocrypha and Pseudepigraphal writings are inspired. They are so transfixed on the "minors" and not focused on the "majors", the Gospel message. I'm talking about keeping the main thing the main thing! But their endeavor is to distract others with that nonsense about fraudulent writings that undermine the credibility of the genuine!
Those who believe they must do the works of the Law to gain (or maintain) their salvation can easily become judgmental, argumentative, and self-righteous, as the focus on what they have done and what they feel others have not done. This is what we call in theological studies as a "negative goodness". "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" -(Philippians 3:9). To preach any other gospel beside being saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus is preaching a false gospel and brings a curse. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" -(Galatians 1:8-9).
It is very interesting but I do not think folks have noticed this, but on another site that always posts Scripture passages, along with Spurgeon's notes, you will never find references to the Epistle to the Galatians. The book is small, just six short chapters, but it contains more bang for the buck in clarifying the issue that the Judaizers brought to Paul's meetings and messages. Because of the Judaizers' efforts and attempts to get new Gentile Christians to become first as Jews, we have significant validation and confirmation of the New Testament message of Grace. I hate to tell you this, but Paul ate ham sandwiches.
When we try to mix works and grace, we no longer have Grace! That's not Pastor Bob's words, but they are the words of the Apostle Paul himself. "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" -(Romans 11:6). To mix Law with Grace as the means of either justification or sanctification is to preach "another gospel". "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might him" -(2nd Corinthians 11:4).
All Scriptures that deal with Grace and Law can be correlated and unified. Redemption is always connected with the Grace of God -(Ephesians 1:7) and the definition of Grace is unmerited favor from God. Grace is because of what God has done - sending His Son to die for our sins, and not because of any works we might do to maintain that salvation. That Grace is part and parcel of the "Mystery" of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
As a closing thought for the reader to consider, the Roman Catholic Institution, and about 85% of all Protestant denominations, the church walks with its feet in both camps - Law and Grace. They are competent enough to straighten out this mess, but don't expect it to happen any time soon. They use the conundrum for their own benefit. Neither religious groups noted deal with Paul's Epistles in a serious consideration on this issue. By that I am saying that the church deliberately dances around Paul's words, which are doctrine for the Christian believer in the Age of Grace. It is almost as if they attempt to water down or muddy the waters of the believer by the diluting the central message of the New Testament.
This is equally true of those denominations today that declare they are the so-called "True" church of God. Watch out when someone tells you they belong to the so-called "True" church of God. I am referring to those particular denominations that are Sabbatarians (Sabbath observant), advocating Saturday as the only day Christians are to worship. Many of them declare that those that worship on Sunday are worshiping the "Sun"day. Many of them are explicit enough to state that if you worship on Sunday, you have the "Mark" of Satan and that is the "Mark" of the Beast. I have heard it said over and over by these folks and their literature makes that perfectly crystal-clear. Whether it is Gerald Flurries of the Philadelphia Church of God or David C. Pack of the Restored Church of God, or William Dankenbring of the 'Prophecy Flash' magazine, or the hundreds of other spin-offs that resulted when the World Wide Church of God fell when the false prophet, Herbert W. Armstrong died, and his son Garner Ted Armstrong fell into sin with his extra-curricular activities with women outside of the church and female students at Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA. I am well familiar with these folks, after all their literature is mailed free for the asking. I read everything that I can get my hands on in regards to the FALSE teachers and their claims. Some of there news magazines are interesting reading on our world today, but be careful, you just might fall into the teachings of these churches that are Old Testament Mosaic-Law based. If you are not discerning and carefully observing Acts 17:11 you can easily be seduced into believing their doctrine of Law-based Christianity. These folks publish some of the highest-quality end products in terms of publications.
These are the folks that are sure to propagate their "Replacement Theology" views concerning the Jews, and that the Church began with Abraham, etc.
Blessings from the King of Grace, Christ Jesus,