TGF Topical Studies *IN PROGRESS*

Law versus Grace
A false dichotomy

James Hilston
April 2000 *Still in progress*

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0. Objective: To demonstrate the fallacy of viewing law and grace as mutually exclusive, and to provide the biblical foundation for the proper role and application of both law and grace in the lives of believers.

I. Preliminary questions:

1. Did Jesus "omit" references to grace? Not according to Luke 4:22. Moreover, Jesus defined grace by His very presence. (recall: Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ).

2. Did Paul emphasize laws? Of course; there is indicated in Paul's epistlesPauline law, that is, rules of behavior taught by Paul and binding upon the Body of Christ. Every command given via Paul is law and obligates us to obedience. E.g.:

Ga 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3. Did Paul emphasize good works? Yes. E.g.:

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

4. Did Paul emphasize repentance? Yes. E.g.:

2Co 7:9-10b As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, ...

Why, in the face of such explicit passages, does the some claim otherwise? May we disabuse ourselves of this theological quagmire by understanding some fundamental concepts about law and grace. First of all, no one (regardless of their dispensation) is justified before God by obedience to any law (Gal 2:16). A person is justified before God only by the shed blood of Christ (Ro. 5:9). Secondly, all of God's elect, regardless of dispensation, desire to obey God and His word from the heart, and not out of "forced and steril outward compliance" as some suggest.

Some would have us believe, for the Body of Christ, that rules no longer have any place in the life of the believer. This is simply not true. Paul delights in God's law (Ro. 7:22). He urges righteous obedience to fulfill God's law (Gal 6:2). Contrary to the opinion of certain dispensationalists, Kingdom believers, such as Peter, David, and others, also delighted in God's law. Not because it justified them before God, but because a regenerated person desires the things of God and reflects the holy and law-abiding standards of a holy God. There are those who somehow miss the fact that the law, which condemns the disobedient and unregenerate, becomes a standard of righteous obedience for the believer, and one that he delights to follow. Paul's writings are filled with commands -- laws for the Body of Christ. Are they optional? No. Paul is to be obeyed as he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Should the Body member obey the laws and commands given by Paul? Yes. Should the Body member teach others to do the same? Yes. But does the Body member regard such obedience as justifying him before God? No. He looks to Christ for that.

The same principles apply to elect Israel. Was Israel justified before God by obedience to the Law of Moses? No. Did the regenerated Jews (e.g. David, Peter) obey the law out of "forced and steril outward compliance"? No, rather, they delighted in God's law. Peter was to obey Moses' law, not because he was trying to be justified before God, rather because, as a regenerated Jew, it was his heart's desire. He loved God, Jesus, and the law of Moses. Consider the following:

Ps 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Ps 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Ps 119:70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

Ps 119:77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

Ps 119:174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

Ro 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

What is it that the Law vs. Grace proponents are missing? They apparently fail to see he fundamental difference between Israel's and Paul's gospels, viz., the earthly, outward, visible symbolic ceremonial rites. Instead of presenting the basis for these distinctions (which is the administrative hierarchy of God's elect), some would force an artificial distinction of law versus grace between the gospels, when both grace and law are fundamental to all the households of God's elect.

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