Saturday, May 14, 2011

Law & Gospel

In some ways, it's felt weird, posting so much about The Law. I think Christians tend to be focused more on the New Testament, with fairly frequent excursions into the Psalms and Proverbs, with bits and pieces here and there throughout the rest of the Old Testament. I cannot possibly be the first and only Christian to notice that God chose to have ~3/4 of scripture written before Jesus was born! I'm not suggesting rigidly dividing one reading, study and attention to scripture in that exact proportion, but maybe a little realignment is in order for some of us? Just a thought ...

Law and Gospel ... It isn't easy to find a proper place of balance, especially in daily life, between legalism and the opposite error, antinomianism (rejection of the Law). Guess What, Part 1: Jesus affirmed the validity of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20). Right and wrong didn't change with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Guess What, Part 2: Christians' salvation doesn't depend on obedience to the Law or being "good enough" (Titus 3:4-6). So, where does the Law fit in Christians' lives - free from legalism and not ensnared in license?

Growing up, I heard John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life," described as "The Gospel in a Nutshell". It's rather apt, if homely, capturing the essence of what God did and the basis of believers' salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 captures a more complete picture of salvation and the Christian life:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Good works can't save us, we can't be perfect. But, as we love God, the good things are there for us to do and be. It isn't just a bunch of do's and do-not's, it's reaching out to our fellow believers and to non-believers, offering Jesus' love for the needs and joys of their daily lives. And it gets better! God custom-prepared things for each of us to do, and gifted us through the Holy Spirit in special, individual, ways (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; Ephesians 4:11-16).

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