April 6, 2016
18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
When it comes to the relationship between the Old Testament Law and the Gospel of grace people are all over the map. People go so far as to make the untenable assertion that the God of the New Testament is different than the God of the Old Testament. So just for fun, let’s do a four question T or F Pop Quiz.
Respond to each of the following statements with T for True or F for False.
- The New Testament does away with the Old Testament.
2. The Gospel does away with or sets aside the Law.
3. The Old Testament is about law, but the New Testament is about grace.
If you answered True for any of the questions above, you failed. The answer to each is an emphatic False.
Grace holds no meaning for a fallen humanity apart from Law. And we must understand “Law” does not mean “the rules.” The Law is the Covenant, which means the structure and substance of relationship. The Old Testament is filled with grace as is the New Testament with the Law.
Take a look at Wesley’s analysis from his Fifth Discourse on THE SERMON.
There is, therefore, the closest connection that can be conceived between the law and the gospel. On the one hand, the law continually makes way for, and points us to, the gospel; on the other, the gospel continually leads us to a more exact fulfilling of the law. The law, for instance, requires us to love God, to love our neighbor, to be meek, humble, or holy. We feel that we are not sufficient for these things; yea, that “with man this is impossible.” But we see a promise of God, to give us that love, and to make us humble, meek, and holy. We lay hold of this gospel, of these glad tidings; it is done unto us according to our faith; and “the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us,” through faith which is in Christ Jesus. . . He will work in us this very thing. It shall be unto us according to his word. (Thirteen Discourses on the Sermon on the Mount p.94-95)
The law and the gospel meet one another at the intersection of Holy Love. They are two sides of the same coin. The law explicates the holiness of love. The gospel empowers the love of holiness.
A wise theologian once explained it for me as follows: “The law was given so the gospel might be desired. The gospel was given so the law might be fulfilled.”
Are you tracking? Is this helping?
When Jesus cries from the cross, “It is finished!” He’s not saying it’s over. He’s actually just getting started.
1. So how about you? Have you labored under a less than accurate understanding of the relationship between law and grace? how does this reading challenge that understanding?
2. What are the implications for you that the gospel empowers us, by the Holy Spirit, to fulfill the deeper intent of the Law, which is Holy Love?
3. How does Jesus fulfillment of the Law empower our obedience? Wrestle with the way holiness and love interact around these points.
*NOTE TO READERS: This last entry may have felt a bit like deja vu for some of you. Soon after beginning the Daily Text in 2014 I ran a series on the Sermon on the Mount. Back then, only my mom and a few others were reading along. As I came to the Sermon on the Mount in this journey through Matthew, I went back and read through those early writings. I have decided to bring them forward with some enhancements for everyone who has joined me since that series ran—which will be most of you. If it feels too repetitive for those of you who were with me way back then, once we finish chapter 7 (in a month or so) I will be back to brand new content.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.