Christian Churches of God
The Relationship between Salvation by Grace and the Law
(Edition 3.5 19941217-20000408-20071014-20191117)
This is the first of a series on the Grace and Law issue. The paper commences with the biblical position of God as the source of salvation. The position of the Law in relation to salvation by grace is discussed. The obligations under the Law are discussed and it is explained why Christians keep the Law.
The Relationship between Salvation by Grace and the Law
Grace did not do away with the Law. The Law is not abolished, for it is written: “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Mat. 5:17-18). That does not mean part of it will pass away. It means not a comma or full stop/period will pass from the Law until this planet is destroyed. That goes right on through the Millennium and through the Judgment. When he comes here Christ will insist on the Law being implemented at the point of a sword and he will kill people who do not implement the Law. There is nothing weak about our Master. When this is reinstated and reinstalled under Jesus Christ, if we do not keep the Law we will be dead.
People will die by slow starvation or by plagues if they don’t keep the Law. If we think that is ungodly we had better read the text from Zechariah 14:16 onwards, where it states if we don’t keep the Feast of Tabernacles we will get no rain in due season. The whole process will be a drying up of the planet so that the nation that does not keep the Feast will starve to death, until they go on their knees and they say: “Lord give us some rain; we will send our representatives to Jerusalem”. If Christ is going to do that in the Millennium, he is not going to excuse us for not keeping the Law while we are waiting for him and the restoration. If he set it up under Moses he is going to restore it in the Millennium. The interregnum is obviously a point at which we are tested on the Law.
The argument that grace has eliminated the requirement to keep the Law is very old. It emerged under Protestantism and found its height in antinomianism both in the early and post-Reformation churches. It is based on a series of false assumptions and distortions of Scripture. The Churches of God normally have little difficulty in dealing with this error. It usually accompanies Trinitarianism and is accompanied by the same intellectual distortions that enable the Trinitarian doctrines to be established. The errors are based on the selective misuse of Scripture, and the arguments are seen to be false when the full range of the Scriptures is placed in context with each other.
The starting point is the concept of God as the source of salvation. He is our refuge and the point of origin of the process which He initiated through Jesus Christ, the only born Son of God. This is the first step in the Trinitarian heresy where they say that Christ is the source of salvation not God. They try and distort the concept of salvation. God is our rock, our strength and our salvation. That is the function of God. Salvation came through Jesus Christ under direction of God. The first basis of the Trinity is to elevate Christ to equality with God and make Christ the object of worship and the object of salvation. It effectively does away with God.
God is our rock, our strength and our salvation, in whom we take refuge.
Psalm 18:1-2 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (RSV)
Both the Law and salvation stem from God through Jesus Christ. Christ ordained the Law at Sinai as the Angel of the Lord and he died as the instrument, the sacrifice and the object of salvation.
We trust in Him and are not afraid (Isa. 12:2). Trust in the Lord casts out fear.
Isaiah 12:2 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." (RSV)
The knowledge of salvation is a function of Christ and the prophets (Lk. 1:77). John went as a prophet before the Lord.
Luke 1:77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, (RSV)
This knowledge is extended to the Church, where the saints are stewards of the Mysteries of God.
1Corinthians 4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (RSV)
Salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (RSV)
However, it was extended in Christ to those who worship God in spirit and in truth.
John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (RSV)
There is salvation in no name under Heaven – other than Christ – given among men by which we might be saved.
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (RSV)
Thus salvation was given by the Gospel, being the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, first coming to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. In the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith, for he who through faith is righteous shall live.
Romans 1:14-17 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish: 15so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." (RSV)
God did not destine humanity for wrath but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.
1Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (RSV)
So God is not dealing with us in a harsh way to destroy us. He is dealing with us in order to bring us all to salvation in Jesus Christ; and to do that there has to be a process.
The understanding of God results in godly grief, which produces repentance that leads to salvation.
2Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. (RSV)
The Gospel is the word of truth and is hence the Gospel of salvation, resulting in the sealing of the repentant with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (RSV)
Salvation is obtained from the sacred writings or Scripture. Being inspired by God, Scripture is able to instruct the repentant for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
2Timothy 3:15-16 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (RSV)
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:8-9 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, (RSV)
Thus he was offered once to deal with sin and will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who eagerly await him.
Hebrews 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (RSV)
Salvation is thus common to all and was once and for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (RSV)
Hence, there is no revelation after that given to Jesus Christ by God and handed to John. All that is required for the salvation of mankind is contained in the Bible. Salvation and power and glory belong to God and He has revealed it to His servants through Christ, and it is not to be altered.
Revelation 22:18-19 I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (RSV)
The final sealing of the saints is thus through the Holy Spirit, being based on the Law of God as revealed in the Bible from the Old Testament.
Christ gave the Law at Sinai as the Angel of the Covenant or the Presence – the Angel of Yahovah. He said that:
... till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven... (Mat. 5:18-19).
Thus Christ in no way diminished the Law. He kept the Law and commanded people to do likewise. The Law and the prophets were until John. From John the good news of the Kingdom of God is preached and everyone enters it violently (or is pressed into it).
But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void (Lk. 16:16-17).
The Law was given through Moses, yet it was not kept.
John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?" (RSV)
They sought to kill him because the carnal mind is enmity towards God, for it is not subject to the Law (Rom. 8:7). It thus seeks to eliminate those who keep the Law, being condemned by their obedience.
Those who sin without the Law will perish without the Law. Those who sin under the Law will perish under the Law.
Romans 2:12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (RSV)
Sin is lawlessness or transgression of the Law (1Jn. 3:4). The penalty of sin is death whether it is committed in administrations under the Law or outside of the Law. It is irrelevant whether the administration decrees differing laws. Those who sin die unless they are restored to the newness of life in the salvation of Christ. They then keep the Law.
Circumcision is of the heart and the keeping of the tenets of the Law is the measure of circumcision. He who keeps the Law is circumcised of heart, while he who is circumcised and does not keep the Law is as though he is an infidel. Those who are Jews are those who keep the Law from their hearts, being Jews inwardly, while those who say they are Jews and are not come into condemnation (Rev. 3:9) and will be made to prostrate themselves before the saints. (This prostration is also translated as worship and is applied to Christ and the elect.)
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie -- behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you. (RSV)
See also the paper The Genetic Origin of the Nations (No. 265).
The Protestant argument of grace eliminating Law is based on the statement that the elect are dead to the law, from the text at Romans 7:4. Antinomianism couples this distortion with misuse of the doctrine of predestination.
Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. (RSV)
This structure does not eliminate the Law but rather emphasises the power of the Holy Spirit in regulating the individual by the nature of God that proceeds from Him through the Holy Spirit. The distinction is made between living in the flesh, and attempts to regulate one’s relationship with God by regulations made to interpret the Law, which is of itself holy and righteous and good. The Law is not a physical thing. Those of the flesh treat it as a physical thing. We are dead to that aspect because we no longer live in the flesh. Messiah will reintroduce the Law in its entirety for the Millennium according to Scripture, and Scripture cannot be broken. How then is the Law done away with as a reality? The Law does not give life; the Holy Spirit does that through Christ.
Romans 7:5-7 While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. 7What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (RSV)
Without the Holy Spirit the lusts of the flesh are aroused by the knowledge of good and evil, which is enshrined in the Law. Without the nature of God we cannot keep the Law in holy righteousness. Thus we are discharged from the Law into Jesus Christ. That does not discharge us into licence. If we love God we keep His Commandments.
John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (RSV)
There is no contradiction in these texts. The Commandments proceed from the Father and are kept by Christ.
John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. (RSV)
What, then, was nailed to the stake?
Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14having cancelled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. (RSV)
Colossians 2:14 is translated in the main text by Marshall as:
¦>"8,\R"H JÎ 6"2z º:ä< P,4D`(D"N@< J@ÃH *`(:"F4< Ô µ<
exaleipsas to kathi emõn cheirographon tois dogmasin ho en
wiping out the against us handwriting in ordinances which was
ßB,<"<J\@< º:Ã<s 6"4 "ÛJÎ µD6,< ¦6 J@Ø :XF@Ls BD@F08fF"H
upenantion emin, kai auto erken ek tou mesou, proselõsas
contrary to us and it has taken out of the midst (way) nailing
"ÛJÎ Jè FJ"LDèq
auto tõ staurõ
it to the cross [stake (staurõ)].
Thus the bill of account or debts (cheirographon) incurred from the ordinances of the ceremonial law was the thing that was nailed to the stake. Therefore, the ritual purification by offering was eliminated or taken out of the way once and for all by Christ. This heresy at Colossae is examined in detail in the paper Heresy in the Apostolic Church (No. 089). The Holy Days and the Sabbaths are not part of the ordinances of the ceremonial law. Only the sacrificial laws are eliminated. By his sacrifice, Christ once and for all disarmed the principalities and powers. The Greek text for these says archas (translated rulers) and ezousias (authorities). He exposed them with openness, triumphing over them in it. Thus Christ exposed the heavenly powers (and chiefly Satan) that would not give themselves for their human charges as he had. The Law stands.
For the Law is holy, and the Commandments are holy and just and good.
Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. (RSV)
Christ said: “If you would enter into life, keep the commandments”.
Matthew 19:17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." (RSV)
So we cannot inherit eternal life unless we keep the Commandments. Here God is seen as the centre of ultimate Good, hence the word God. The Law hangs in its entirety on the two Great Commandments (Mat. 22:40).
Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (RSV)
The Law is thus destined to an end or purpose, which is in Christ and intended to reconcile us to God. The Law, being spiritual, proceeds from God and thus is kept in our natures in order to reconcile us to God. The Law then does not cause death but rather it is sin, which is transgression of the Law, working within the individual that causes death.
Romans 7:13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (RSV)
The Law is spiritual but humanity is carnal, sold under sin.
Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. (RSV)
The entire argument that the Law is not spiritual and hence not of the New Testament is utterly false. The truly converted person delights in the Law of God in their inner selves.
Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! (RSV)
Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, (RSV)
For the Law leads men to Christ, who is the end of the Law.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified. (RSV)
The end of the Law (telos gar nomou) here is the conclusion as the goal or the objective, being the point or act or state aimed at. It is not the cessation of the Law.
Being led by the Spirit liberates the individual from being under the Law.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. (RSV)
Not because it does away with the Law, but rather because it enables the Law to be kept from inner desire and right action, being in our very nature.
Hebrews 8:10-13 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." 13In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (RSV)
Thus the spirit is written in the hearts and minds of the people. So the people keep the Law through the Holy Spirit. The Law kept through the heart in right action serves then as the mark of the elect. Again, unconverted thinking is identified by its resistance to the Law and arguments which seek to eliminate the Law.
The Law of God is to be pursued by faith and works and not by works only.
James 2:14-18 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. (RSV)
Romans 9:32 Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, (RSV)
Obedience to the Commandments is a necessary prerequisite to the retention of the Holy Spirit, which dwells in those who keep God's Commandments.
1John 3:24 All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us. (RSV)
Acts 5:32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." (RSV)
Thus it is impossible to be a Christian and love God and Christ without keeping the Law. Of necessity this involves keeping the Sabbath as the Fourth Commandment.
Salvation by Grace
The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce all irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope and the appearance of the glory of the great God and the saviour of us, Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:11-13; see Marshall's RSV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament). Christ is thus the appearance of the glory of the Great God, who is our Saviour (Tit. 2:10). Grace is thence a product of the activity of Jesus Christ.
The Church is guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1Peter 1:5 who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (RSV)
The outcome of faith is the salvation of the soul. The prophets prophesied about the salvation but did not know the time or the person of Messiah when they predicted his suffering and subsequent glory.
1Peter 1:9-10 As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls. 10The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; (RSV)
Sin came into the world through Adam and reigned from Adam to Moses. Death was the result of sin.
Romans 5:12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned -(RSV)
Sin existed before the Law was given to Moses.
Romans 5:13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. (RSV)
Thus the consequences of the Law were already known from Adam, as sin is not counted where there is no law. Hence all men died and were consigned to the Second Resurrection outside of the Law. Under the Law, the Patriarchs and the Prophets attained the First Resurrection.
Grace thereby abounded because of the redemption of man from sin and the Law. Where sin increased under the Law, grace abounded.
Romans 5:15-21 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. 20Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (RSV)
Hence the Law was introduced to increase the trespass so that the understanding of the regulation of affairs according to the love of God was obvious to those who sought God. However, Israel was not obedient. By one man's obedience many will be made righteous, that is, by grace that reigns through righteousness to eternal life in the anointed Jesus (Rom. 5:20-21).
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (RSV)
The Law is thus fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (RSV)
The Spirit directs the mind according to its purpose.
Romans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (RSV)
The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's Law and indeed cannot submit to the Law.
Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; (RSV)
Thus the carnal or unconverted mind is identified by its resistance to the keeping of the Laws of God. The argument that grace has eliminated the Law is essentially that of an unconverted mind. The entire Grace-Law argument identifies those who are obedient to God and those who are not obedient to God. The dispensation is not “if” but “how” the Law is kept. Let no man judge you in respect of food and drink, or for festivals, New Moons or Sabbaths (Col. 2:16-17). They are a shadow of what is to come but the substance belongs to Christ. Christ thus gave the Law under direction of God and is the mediator and objective of the Law. So nothing will pass from the Law until all is accomplished – namely, the restoration of the planet to the Law and thence to God at the end of the Millennium. That is why Christ restores all of the Holy Days, New Moons and Sabbaths on his return (Isa. 66:23; Zech. 14:16-19). If he requires those things kept in the Millennium, then they are binding on the elect for all time.
The Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead lives in the Christian, giving life through the Spirit dwelling in the individual.
Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. (RSV)
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:14).
Romans 8:12-14 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh -- 13for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (RSV)
And this is by the grace of God. The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (RSV)
We thus cry Abba or Father, developing the same sonship (Rom. 8:15) as was given to our brother Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (RSV)
The Law itself does not provide justification. A person is justified through faith in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 2:16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. (RSV)
The life they live is by faith in the Son of God.
Galatians 2:20-21 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose. (RSV)
(See also the paper The Works of the Law Text – or MMT (No. 104).)
Through the Law we die to the Law that we might live to God.
Galatians 2:19 For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. (RSV)
However, we do not nullify the grace of God by keeping the Law because we are not justified by the Law (Gal. 2:21). We keep the Law because the Spirit directs us, and the Law proceeds from the very nature of God that we have put on and of which we are partakers (2Pet. 1:4), as is Christ.
2Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. (RSV)
We are saved not by Law but by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Acts 15:11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." (RSV)
Sin has no dominion over the elect because they are not under the Law but under grace and are slaves to God.
Romans 6:14-15 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (RSV)
Nevertheless, we do not sin by transgressing the Law because we are slaves of God and righteousness and not of sin, becoming obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which we were committed.
Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (RSV)
Whereas before we were dead through our trespasses, now we are made alive together with Christ by grace.
Ephesians 2:5 … even when we were dead through our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (RSV)
We have been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly places so that God may show, in the coming ages, the extent and richness of His grace and kindness to us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:6-7 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (RSV)
For by grace we have been saved through faith. This is not the doing of the individual; it is the gift of God and not because of works, so that no person can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- 9not because of works, lest any man should boast. (RSV)
Thus we keep the Law through the Spirit of God by grace.
Obligation under the Law
There is an ongoing obligation to keep the Law, which does not pass away nor is it altered as we have seen (Mat. 5:18; Lk. 16:17). It was not kept correctly by the Jews at the time of Christ (Jn. 7:19), being altered by tradition (Mat. 15:2-3,6; Mk. 7:3,5,8-9,13).
Matthew 15:2-6 "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." 3He answered them, "And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God commanded, `Honour your father and your mother,' and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.' 5But you say, `If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honour his father.' 6So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. (RSV)
Mark 7:3-13 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?" 6And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." 9And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! 10For Moses said, `Honour your father and your mother'; and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die'; 11but you say, `If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) -- 12then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do." (RSV)
The Law was altered into a burden or yoke by the Jewish teachers of the day, making a trial of God (see the paper The Works of the Law Text – or MMT (No. 104)).
Acts 15:10 Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (RSV)
There is a continuing obligation from above to keep the Commandments of God. They are extant and will not pass away until the end of the ages, which concern human existence.
Why Christians keep the Law
Christians are saved by grace and not by the Law. Why then is it axiomatic that they acknowledge and keep the Law? It is because the Law of God emanates from the abiding goodness of His Nature. The Law of God proceeds from the nature of God and, thus, it stands forever, as God Himself is unchangeable being essentially good as the centre of ultimate goodness. In Mark 10:18 Christ said: “Why call me good, God alone is good”, or “Why ask me about what is good. One there is who is good. If you would enter life keep the commandments” (Mat. 19:17). God's goodness leads each of us towards repentance.
Romans 2:4 Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (RSV)
The nature of God is of unchangeable goodness. The heavenly Host partake of His nature. Thus they become constant in the divine nature and goodness. In this way Christ is the same yesterday, today and unto the ages (aioonas).
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. (RSV)
The elect, by partaking of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4), become part of a divine priesthood of Melchisedek, which is intransmissible (aparabaton) or unchangeable unto the age (aioona).
Hebrews 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. (RSV)
In this way also the elect continue in their priesthood forever, being ransomed as kings and priests; and they shall reign on or over the Earth (epi) (Rev. 4). This is a millennial prophecy.
Christ is able to save in entirety those approaching God through him (see Heb. 7:25, Marshall's Greek-English Interlinear). However, Christ is not the object of worship, nor is he the God that commands by will.
Hebrews 7:25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (RSV)
We have a New Covenant where the Lord establishes His Laws in our minds and writes them on our hearts. He is our God and we are His servants, worshipping Him by keeping His Laws in our very nature (Heb. 8:10-13).
Hebrews 8:10-13 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." 13In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (RSV)
Thus outward signs are nothing. It is the keeping of the Commandments of God within us that circumcises us (1Cor. 7:19) as Christians and members of spiritual Israel.
1Corinthians 7:19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. (RSV)
It is those who keep the Commandments of God who enrage the dragon and are identified in the persecutions.
Revelation 12:17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. (RSV)
These are the saints who keep the Commandments of God and endure.
Revelation 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (RSV)
The saints keep the Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus. The requirement for endurance stems from the consistent efforts to undermine the intent and strength of the Commandments of God through theology that seeks to strike at the sovereignty of the One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) and the integrity of His Commandments. The Sabbath is but one of the Commandments which are attacked as being eliminated by the Grace-Law argument. The most extraordinary illogic and misrepresentation of Scripture is advanced by professing Christians who, by their reasoning, demonstrate a hostility to the Commandments of God. They thereby demonstrate the carnal basis of their belief and the unconverted nature of their thinking. The elect have been persecuted for their failure to acknowledge this false reasoning. Because they continue to keep the Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus, His Son, they are persecuted.
The false system of the Triune God is established as a precursor to the Grace-Law error. The apostasy (apostasia) of the Last Days among the elect is centred around the Law. The man of sin is actually the man of lawlessness (anomias). This means without law. Thus, the man of lawlessness attempts to eliminate the import of the Law. He sets himself above all that is of God. He is seated in the naos of God, of which we are part.
1Corinthians 3:17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are. (RSV)
The word translated temple here is naos. The text is rendered by Marshall as:
If anyone the shrine of [the] God defiles, will defile this man [the] God; for the shrine of [the] God holy is, who (which) are ye.
The mystery of lawlessness was already operating when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.
2Thessalonians 2:7-10 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. [more correctly until out of the midst it comes (eoos ek mesou genetai)] 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, 10and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (RSV)
Thus the activity of Satan is directed at establishing a system among the Temple of God to defile it with a system that seeks to eliminate the Laws of God – and that would deceive even the very elect, if it were possible. The love of the truth is essential to the saving of the elect in this issue. The elect have to grapple with this form of deceit over the whole period of the Church until the coming of the Messiah.
There is an argument sequence that has lasted over the entire period of the Church and for which it has been defiled and persecuted and that is the Modalist-Trinitarian or Triune Godhead argument, and the Grace-Law argument that inexorably follows it. The argument was seen in 1John, stemming from Modalism as an early Triune form which finally resulted in the Trinity. The other consequences of this error were seen in Colossae and Galatia as well as Ephesus. The love of the truth is the mark of the elect. Those who do not reject this argument and do not keep the Commandments of God are rejected by God. That process is most obvious and severe in the Last Days and in the Laodicean and Sardis churches. Both those churches are rejected and only a few individuals are saved.
See also the papers: