Faith, Grace and Law Part 2
INTRO: Good morning. Previously we have examined the role of God's grace and our faith. Then we looked at God's law for us.
We saw that God's grace is His role in the redemption plan of mankind and includes everything that He did to accomplish our salvation. We saw there has to be a response from man for God's grace to be of any value. If no response was required, then everybody that ever lived would be saved automatically just by being alive.
The required response to God's gracious offer of salvation scripture says is faith. As a comprehensive biblical term, this word “Faith” represents everything that man does in response to what God has done for us in His gracious offer. Grace is God reaching down from heaven to mankind with an offer and a means of salvation. Faith is man reaching up to God in the hope of that salvation.
Next we talked about works. A work is defined as a mental or physical action which is intended to produce a result. Grace is the work of God. Faith is the work of man. God's grace and man's faith work together for a result. Both grace and faith are indispensable to the salvation process and both of them are works.
Thus, we rightfully conclude that if works were not necessary as many people in the religious world believe and teach, then salvation would be possible without any response from man whatsoever. Yet, Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:21 that only those who do the will of God can enter the kingdom of heaven.
We also saw that works cannot save us by circumventing God's grace or our faith. Works cannot save us by going around Jesus Christ to get us to heaven. Works cannot save us by compelling God to offer His grace. God's grace is a gift, freely offered, completely exclusive of anything that we could ever do. Works cannot save us by earning, paying for, or meriting salvation in any way. If works could save us, then we wouldn't need God's grace.
Faith is defined in the word of God as a work in First Thessalonians 1:3 and Second Thessalonians 1:11. We read those several times. Even though there are some ways in which works cannot save us, they are our response to God's grace and they are absolutely necessary if we want to be granted eternal life with God in heaven. Works are a necessary component of our faith.
We saw from scripture in the last lesson that there were two major law systems spoken of in the New Testament. There is the Old Law, which was the Law of Moses which has been done away with. The Law of Moses was the Old covenant Law.
Christians today live under the New Covenant or the New Testament. The New Testament contains law as well. The New Covenant law of God replaced the Old Covenant, Law of Moses. Law is defined as rule of behavior, and new covenant law shows us the way God wants us to live. It is how God wants us to behave as His children. If we did not have God's law, we would not know what our response to God's grace should be. Without God's law, we would not know how He wants us to live.
Today’s lesson picks up where we left off and the first question I want to look at is; Why did God give us His law?
God's law, God's commandments, are rules of behavior. These are how God wants us to behave. When we see a reference to a commandment in the New Testament, unless it is a reference to Old Testament law of course, we regard it as God's rule of behavior or simply God's law. God's New Testament commandments are law. Any reference in the New Testament to something God wants us to do or how He wants us to behave is His law. Whether it's from Jesus Christ or from the apostles, it's all inspired and it all comes from God.
God's law communicates His will to us. As Christians, we are regarded as the children of God. Speaking to Christians Galatians 3:26 reads – “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” God is our spiritual father. In Second Thessalonians 1:2, we read, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Like any loving parent, God gives His children instructions because He loves them. Without instructions, we, as God's children, would not know what He expects of us.
The word of God teaches us in John 5:28-29 that – “… the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” It would be a cruel father indeed who would condemn his children without telling them what they needed to do in order to avoid the damnation and receive the resurrection of life.
As earthly parents we teach our children how to behave because we love them and we don't want to see them get hurt. Our spiritual father in heaven gave us His law for the exact same reason.
If you turn with me to First John 5:2-3 we'll read there what John says about the love of God and His commandments. John writes by inspiration, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
God gave us His law because He loves us for the same reason that we give our earthly children our commandments, our rules, our law, because we love them. We want them to do well. We do not want them to come to harm.
In Second John verses 5-6, John writes that “… now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”[NKJV] I want us to note verse six again, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.”
God gave us His law because He loves us. Then, what does God's law do? How does it benefit us?
I. God's law restricts bad behavior. In Galatians 5:19-21 we read “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, 20. idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21. envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”[NKJV]
A. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “9. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10. nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
B. Bad behavior causes harm to others and to ourselves. All of the bad things listed in these two scriptures are things that can bring physical harm upon us or on others. God's law does not permit us to engage in behavior that is harmful.
1. Imagine, if you will, what society would be like if it obeyed just these two scriptures. There would be no sexually transmitted diseases associated with the sexual sins listed above because there would be no sex outside of a marriage bond.
2. There would be no practitioners of fraudulent, untruthful, deceitful things, nobody who was envious of others, no murderers, no drunkards, and no thieves. There would be no haters. There would be no extortionists. It goes on and on. It would be a society of complete peace and harmony.
3. God's law restricts those behaviors and promotes peace and order within society. He gave us His law because He loves us, and His love is clearly seen through His law.
II. God's law provides equality. Galatians 3:28, where Paul writes “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
A. Romans 2:6-11 reads “6. who "will render to each one according to his deeds'': 7. eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8. but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9. tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10. but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11. For there is no partiality with God.”
1. In a society living faithfully under God's law, there would be no need for civil rights movements. There would be no bigots. There would be no race baiters or racial crimes. There would be no women's rights violations or human rights violations that we read of in the news. Everyone would be equal and everyone would live in peace.
2. Under God's law, there is going to be equality in judgment. Those who do bad things are going to be punished with no regard to race, color, creed, class, or however much money they may have in the bank. We cannot buy justice and equality from God under His law. Under God's law, we have them.
III. God's law provides unity. In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul wrote “1. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2. with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
A. Now verse 3. endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6. one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
B. Just drive through almost any town in the United States and you will see any number of denominations. Each one has its own set of beliefs.
1. Jesus only established one body, and there is only one law. If everybody on earth obeyed that law, then there would be only one church. All Christians worldwide would be united under one head, and that's Jesus Christ. There would be no religious confusion.
2. There would be no need to hunt for a church that taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because all Christians everywhere would be united in truth. God's law provides unity.
IV. God's law also provides order.
A. In our assemblies, God commands order. First Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” In this chapter Paul was dealing with things that were being done during their assemblies which caused confusion and disorder.
B. On down in this context at Verse 40 it says “Let all things be done decently and in order.” This is the rule for organizing and conducting public worship services of the church. The first announcement of it came in a situation where it was drastically needed. Perhaps in some places there has been an over-formalization and over-zealous enforcement of it, but the failure to enforce it at all causes the same confusion seen in Corinth.
C. In our Christian lives, God's law requires order. In Hebrews 6:12 we read “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
V. God's law provides for the protection of others. Second Corinthians 12:20 – “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults:” He doesn't want the envying, the backbiting, the whispering and all of the things that are associated with those.
A. God's law restricts disruptive and harmful behavior toward one another, even to our enemies. Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, (this is Jesus speaking) love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”
B. Protection for one another…God's law provides that. Galatians 5:15 – “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Then going on down in the same chapter to verse 25 – “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
1. In Ephesians 4:2-3 we read – “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
2. Colossians 3:13-14 reads “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection”
3. We are to look out for one another. Christianity is a “one another” religion. For those of you with concordances, I invite you to look up the phrase “one another” in the New Testament and see how many times it comes up. You may be surprised. In the KJV the Greek phrase ἀλλήλων, allḗlōn, al-lay'-lone is translated “one another” 76 times.
C. God's law provides for the protection, the care, and the benevolent oversight that we have for one another.
VI. God's law will be used in judgment. James 2:12-13 we looked at this last week. “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
A. In John 12:48 as well, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, (that's Jesus speaking) has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
B. In Romans 12:19-21, looking back at the law which provides protection even for our enemies, we read, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,'' says the Lord. "Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.'' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” God’s Law tells us to return good for evil and deploy good actions against the evil actions of our enemy for God's Law will be used in judgment.
VII. God's Law also includes what we must do to be saved.
A. Second Timothy 3:16-17 reads “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God's law includes everything that we need for instruction in righteousness, for doctrine that we can be truly furnished, thoroughly furnished, all the way unto all good works. It's all there in His law. It's complete.
B. Looking back to what we read earlier in First John 5:2-3, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” John makes it clear that God's love for us is evident through His law.
God’s Law demonstrates His love for us by restricting bad behavior, by promoting unity, by promoting order, by protecting others, by punishing those who have harmed us, and by giving us the complete instructions for living an acceptable life and inheriting an eternal home in heaven.
God's Law was given to us entirely for our benefit. As has been said before, imagine what a society would be like if everyone in it lived in accordance to all of God's law. It would be a very different from what we see today.
If everyone lived according to God's law, all of the bad things we see in our society would vanish. We'd be living in a harmonious, loving, unified society where nobody would have to fear thieves, rapists or murderers. There would be no hate crimes, no abortions, and no sexually transmitted diseases. There would be no wars, no religious differences, and no broken homes with children being raised by single parents. There would be no moral corruption, no need for locks or alarms or police protection.
If everybody lived in accordance with God's law, than all of the self-inflicted scourges of humanity would instantly disappear. This physical life that we're living right now would take on a whole new look. Yes, there's law in the new covenant, and every single element of it is for the well being of mankind.
Those who live by these rules are doing what they can to promote goodness and righteousness wherever they are. They are the lights shining in the darkness.
Those who do not live in accordance with God's laws are the bringers of darkness. Through their actions, they contribute to the problems we see in society today worldwide. Those who live outside the law of God are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem.
In the end, when all of this life has ended and we stand before God in judgment, the life we lived in accordance to the rules God graciously gave us, will determine where we spend our eternity.
Mankind is sinful and lost. By grace we are saved through faith. Grace is God's role and represents everything He did in providing mankind with a hope for salvation. Faith is man's role and represents everything done in response to God's grace. God's law is where we find the instructions for how we are to respond to God's grace in faith. By grace we are saved through faith, as evidenced by works, guided by God’s Law.
Romans 2:5-13 we looked at some of this at the beginning of the lesson. We're going to look at it again and expanded it a bit. While we do so let's think about judgment, deeds, works and law.
Paul writes “5. But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6. who "will render to each one according to his deeds'':
Paul continues at verse “7. eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8. but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness indignation and wrath, 9. tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10. but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11. For there is no partiality with God.”
In verse “12. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law”
And lastly verse “13. for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;”
That is the conclusion of our look at faith, grace, works and law. It is my hope that we learn from this and take what we've heard in these four lessons, meditate on God’s word and make the right applications to our lives.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
Taken from a sermon by: David HerseyPrint
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