The Harmony of the Law and the Gospel
Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20-31; Gal. 3:10-13; 24-26; 1Cor. 15:1-4
We believe that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral government (Rom. 3:31); that it is holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12); and that the inability which the scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts, arise entirely from their love of sin (Rom. 8:7-8): to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law, is the one great end of the gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church (Rom. 8:2-4).
Although no one, from Adam through to the last man, has ever been saved except by grace through faith; the scriptures make a clear distinction between “Law” and “Grace,” putting “Law” in one dispensation and “Grace” in another. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). By the “Law” we are to understand the “Mosaic Law,” the “Law” given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. It was three-fold.
1. The Moral Law - Ex. 20:1-17 ( The Ten Commandments).
2. The Civil Law - Ex. 21:1 through 24:18.
3. The Ceremonial Law - Ex. 25:1 through 40:38.
Adam’s sin was the transgression of the law that God laid down as to the eating of the fruit of the garden, and grace was revealed and exercised when Adam and Eve were spared the penalty of their sin. In Rom. 2:12, the Apostle Paul speaks of those who were without law from Eden until Moses. He does not mean that they were not accountable for their conduct, for by their actions they showed that there was an unwritten law in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15).
The Law (Mosaic law) was not given to the Gentiles (Rom. 2:14), but to Israel exclusively. God chose out an earthly people (Rom. 3:1,2), the Jews, that He might be their God and ruler, as a demonstration to the lost world, that He required perfect holiness and obedience to His requirements. The Law sets forth what man ought to be; Grace shows what God is. God gave them the Law to prove them (Ex. 20:20) - not to save them – to bring to light what was in their hearts (Rom. 7:7-14). Man cannot be saved by the law (Gal. 3:21, 3:10-12; Heb. 10:28; Rom. 10:5). The law like a plumb-line reveals the crookedness of the wall; as also the level reveals the lay of the foundation; as a lamp on a dark night reveals the pathway - that is, the way one should go. But the plumb-line does not cause the wall to straighten, nor does the wall straighten itself, the carpenter must do the straightening. The law shows how crooked we are.
The law of God, the moral law not the ceremonial, is eternal. It will never be right to do wrong. There can never be a time when the moral law will be changed. The law was given to stop men’s mouths (Rom. 3:19). In the giving of the law (Ex. 20:18-26), they removed and stood afar off, that they might not die. A sad confession of what they are - morally bankrupt. Provision for worship must be made under law, that God could be approached only through a bloody sacrifice. Everything must be done according to the minute instructions of God to Moses. Christians should be against the admission of anything in worship that is not stamped with the approval of God. All the rites and ceremonies of the “Ceremonial Law” pointed to Christ, such as the Feasts and Offerings. Now that Christ has come, neither Jew nor Gentile is under the Mosaic Law, for He fulfilled the Law (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 2:19).
The English word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “god-spell,” good tidings meaning god-story. A similar transition in meaning comes from the Greek “evangelion,” rendered gospel (good tidings). Note some usage’s in the N.T. (Rom. 1:1,16; Acts 20:24; Eph. 6:15, 1:13; Matt. 4:23; Acts 16:10; and the clincher in 1Cor. 15:1-4). The gospel is not to violate the law but to provide a mediator that can fulfill all the demands of the law and yet save the sinner.
“By Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the Gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). From this scripture we see that both grace and faith are gifts from God. Even many Baptists do not see this tremendous truth, that “it” refers back to faith. They try to make faith something that man engenders by his own effort and free will, apart from God. If a man receives salvation in exchange for his works then salvation is but another word for wages. Now if a man receives Salvation as wages, or as a reward, then salvation is not a gift but something that he was entitled to, and therefore is not of Grace. Grace is not something given us to help us keep the Law, Grace is Undeserved Mercy. We are saved by faith, that God gives, not faith in a thing, as some good deed we have done, but faith in a PERSON, and that person is Jesus Christ. (2 Tim. 2:25 – Even repentance is a gift from God.)
Any person who makes his salvation contingent on some human work or act which is not motivated by the grace of God, does not believe in salvation by grace. And often-times God may honor the preaching of the word to the salvation of souls even when the preacher may not fully believe in the sovereignty of God’s grace, and may not give God all the glory which is His due in salvation. Salvation by grace simply means that God takes the initiative in salvation, continues to carry on the salvation of His elect, and shall ultimately complete the work of salvation (Eph. 1:4-6; Phil. 1:6). Salvation is personal. I take the song, “When He was on the cross, I was on his mind” literally.
We believe that grace is elective and saving; that it embraces the personal triune, and redemptive ministry of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (2Tim. 1:8,9). That it comprehends all the labors put forth by the Almighty in the interest of perfect righteousness and the salvation of the lost soul (Tit. 3:3-7). That it encompasses foreknowledge, foreordination, and predestination; that it, and it alone, saves even unto the uttermost all who repent toward God and believe in the lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-30; Heb. 7:25 and Acts 20:20-21). And that salvation thus wrought is wholly by grace, the free gift of God, requiring neither culture nor works in any form to secure it or keep it (Rom. 5:15,16,18,20; 6:23; 11:6; Isa. 1:18, 55:1).
We give some scriptural illustrations of the differences between “Law” and “Grace.”
Note the contrast between the two.
1. Darkness and light. All the law could do was to produce darkness (Ex. 10:22,23). But grace gives light (Jn. 9:5).
2. Death and life. The last scene in Egypt was death (Ex. 12:29-30). The “end of the law” is death (Rom. 6:23). One of the last miracles of Christ was to give life, the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn. 11:41-44).
3. Do and Live versus Live and Do. The Law says - DO and thou shalt live (Lev. 18:5). Grace says “It is finished.” We are not to work to the Cross, but from the Cross.
· The LAW demands holiness.
GRACE gives holiness.
· The LAW says - Cursed - Gal. 3:10.
GRACE says - Blessed - Rom. 4:7.
· The LAW says - love God - Deut. 6:5.
GRACE says - God loves us - 1Jn. 4:10.
· The LAW speaks of - priestly sacrifices offered year by year - Heb. 10:1-4.
GRACE says - But this man by one offering - Heb. 10:12-14.