Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Jesus Paid It All

“The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”—Romans 7:12

“The law of the LORD is perfect.”—Psalm 19:7

I have a dear friend who I crossed paths with before many years ago and today we are attending the same church. One get together and one phone conversation after another, she has been discipling me. Many of you who know me may think that I already have learned so much about God and His Word over the years. And you would be right. I say that not to highlight my achievements in studying (which are really a far cry from what others have to study for degrees and so on) but to emphasize, we never stop needing to learn and grow in Christ. Like most relationships, my relationship with the Lord has its ups and downs. And lately, my general fellowship with Him in His Word and among His people can be compared to someone wandering in a desert in desperate need of an oasis. My soul craves to know something more about Him. To enter that next step in my relationship with Him. We see Peter encouraging us, through God's Holy Spirit, to do the same: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

That growing in grace is no casual statement for me either because it is this topic that my friend has been discipling me on. God knew exactly how to encourage me to grow in His grace and in the knowledge of Him by using someone who is as intense as I am about studying the Bible. It is fun for us to read great doctrinal truths and to go deeper into the knowledge of God's Word. Now, lest it sound like I'm looking for new revelation or truth, like the Gnostics of the New Testament days, I assure you this is not the case. The knowledge I am seeking is always there and changes not. But what has changed has been my readiness to receive this next level of growth in Him. And it has been a marvelous thing!

So, why do I open this post with verses on the law above? Well, one of the books I was encouraged to read by this friend was Alva McClain's Law and Grace booklet. I own his The Greatness of the Kingdom book, which is his theological masterpiece on the doctrine of the Kingdom in Scripture. It is a book I was highly recommended to read many years ago (and one I'm still in the process of reading) while I was an intern with the Fundamental Evangelistic Association when it was located in Los Osos, Calif. All that to say, I knew Law and Grace was a book that could be trusted because of who the author was. I read this 80-page booklet, and what impressed me most was just how holy and perfect God's law is. McClain shows how the law cannot be separated into three parts (ceremonial, civil, and moral) like it is generally done in Christendom and has been done down through the ages. His argument is that this separating of the law into parts and believing that only some of the law has been fulfilled in Christ (as in the ceremonial and the civil), has been the cause of much confusion and false teaching, especially resulting in the various forms of legalism we see and experience in every generation.

Below are three quotes that encapsulate how God's law relates to His grace, which is the truth that I wanted to share with you today. But first, I think it's helpful to understand that God's law was given because of man's transgressions (Galatians 3:19). This shows me that the law was given for protection against ourselves, which also shows us that God is gracious and loving. This was yet another eye-opening understanding for me, even though that truth was always in Scripture. 

Now, the quotes from "Law Unable to Save Men," Chapter 3 of Law and Grace.

“The law's demands could not be relaxed to accommodate the weakness of men. This is the curious idea that some people hold. Grace, to them, is God's tolerance in lowering the absolute demands of the law to the point where sinners can keep it. Such a misconception dishonors both the law and grace” (pg. 21).

“It was necessary, therefore, for God to devise a plan for saving sinners without any relaxation of the law. This brings us to the very heart of the gospel … the Son of God incarnate at Calvary paid man's obligation to broken law to the last farthing … Jesus paid it all” (Emphasis mine-pg. 22).

“The law of God can do nothing to save sinners. It cannot save us from the guilt of sin. It cannot keep us from the dominion of sin. It cannot provide a sufficient motive for obedience to the law. It cannot supply the power necessary to keep its requirements. It cannot recover us when we break the law. May God open our eyes to understand that our 'help cometh from the LORD' (Ps. 121:2). Our only hope is in Him” (pg. 23).

I just can't articulate these truths better than McClain. The law was fulfilled at the cross, and since then, all of God's children are free from the weight, burden, condemnation, and judgment of the law. We, who are His children, walk in grace today...not a grace that minimizes God's law but a grace that looks to Jesus, and with adoration and weeping, we fall down at His feet and say, thank You, Jesus, for what You did on my behalf. Thank You for saving me and giving me Your Holy Spirit to walk in newness of life.

What I have been learning in bits and pieces about His law and His grace has been a tremendous blessing to my heart, and it has given me a tender heart for His children who want to go back under God's holy and perfect law. It's not necessary. Jesus paid it all. We are free from the law!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that is was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: The righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).

Is that not a gorgeous section of Scripture in light of reading about the perfection of the law and how we are now set free in Christ? It's glorious! The way to tell if you are then walking in the Spirit or in the flesh is to read Galatians 5:16-26, where God reveals to us the difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

If we are walking in the Spirit, it is not because of any goodness in ourselves. We need to understand that it is Christ in us, that gives us the power to walk in His Spirit, not our will or the works of our flesh. I believe many Christians are religious and think they are walking in the Spirit, but when one considers the results of their religion and religious teachings, they can be summarized by works of the flesh. Namely these—wrath, strife (contention, fighting, dissension, friction, rivalry, conflict are all synonyms of strife), seditions, heresies, and such the like.

My Christianity of the past was rife with these works of my flesh. Through this step in my growth in Him, in learning more about God’s law and His glorious grace, I now see how wrong I was.

Moving forward, I pray that my Christianity and my walk with Him and in Him permeates this glorious truth, that Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.

(From Wikimedia Commons)

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