Preparing For Eternity The Law and the Gospel



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The Law and the Gospel

Christ Came To Mediate Between God And Man
THE law of God is changeless. For this reason, Christ died, taking upon himself the guilt of the transgressor, and making it possible for every penitent, repenting sinner to take hold of his strength, and through him to make peace with the offended Lawgiver.

"Sin is the transgression of the law," and "the wages of sin is death." 1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23. It was sin that brought death into the world. Had there been no sin, there would have been no death. Christ died as the sinner's substitute, to save him from the penalty of his disobedience. Could the law of God have been changed or abolished, Christ need not have died; for death was not necessary in order to abolish the law. The fact that God spared not his own sinless, beloved Son from the penalty he pledged himself to bear as the sinner's substitute, is the most telling argument that could be produced to show that the claims of his law will not be released, even in the slightest degree, to save the transgressor. So in the death of Christ we have evidence, not only of God's love for sinful man, but of the changeless character of his law. The law could not be abolished; one precept could not be altered to save the sinner and meet man in his fallen condition; but God so loved the world that he gave his Son to suffer the penalty of its transgression in the sinner's stead.

Grace Does Not Abolish The Law Of God
It is by grace that the sinner is saved, being justified freely by the blood of Christ. But grace does not abolish the law of God. The law is the transcript of God's character. It presents his righteousness in contrast with unrighteousness. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20. The law makes sin appear exceeding sinful. It condemns the transgressor, but it has no power to save and restore him. Its province is not to pardon. Pardon comes through Christ, who lived the law in humanity. Man's only hope is in the substitute provided by God, who gave his Son, that he might reconcile the world to himself. "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Christ did not die to save the sinner in his sins. The whole world is condemned as guilty before God, for they are transgressors of his holy law; and they will certainly perish unless they repent, turn from their disobedience, and through faith in Christ claim the merits of his precious blood. The sin of Adam and Eve lost holy Eden for themselves and their posterity, and those who continue to live in the transgression of God's law will never regain the lost paradise. But through the grace of Christ man may render acceptable obedience, and gain a home in the beautiful Eden restored.

Christ Came To Teach Men The Way Of Salvation
There are some who do not understand the plan of redemption, but make the death of Christ an argument to prove that the law of God is abolished. Men who claim to be teachers of the people, blind the eyes of the ignorant by blending the moral law with the ceremonial, and using the texts which speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished. This is a perversion of the Scriptures. There are two distinct laws brought to view. [See our article entitled, "Moses Law vs. The Ten Commandments"] One is the law of types and shadows, which reached to the time of Christ, and ceased when type met antitype in his death. The other is the law of Jehovah, and is as abiding and changeless as his eternal throne. After the crucifixion, it was a denial of Christ for the Jews to continue to offer the burnt offerings and sacrifices which were typical of his death. It was saying to the world that they looked for a Redeemer to come, and had no faith in Him who had given his life for the sins of the world. Hence the ceremonial law ceased to be of force at the death of Christ.

The gospel of Christ reflects glory upon the Jewish age. It sheds light upon the whole Jewish economy, and gives significance to the ceremonial law. The tabernacle, or temple, of God on earth was a pattern of the original in Heaven. All the ceremonies of the Jewish law were prophetic, typical of mysteries in the plan of redemption. The rites and ceremonies of the law were given by God, who enshrouded in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, was the leader of the hosts of Israel; and this law should be treated with great respect, for it is sacred. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ; and the great apostle pronounces this law glorious, worthy of its divine Originator. That which was to be done away was glorious, but it was not the law instituted by God for the government of his family in Heaven and on earth; for as long as the heavens shall remain, so long shall the law of the Lord endure.

Christ came to teach men the way of salvation; and we might expect that when the shadowy service was no longer of any value, if the law of ten commandments were no longer binding, he would declare its cancellation. If the Old Testament Scriptures were no longer to be regarded as a guide for Christians, he would make known the fact. But this was not the work of Him who came to seek and to save that which was lost. In his memorable sermon on the mount, in which he announced to his followers the object of his mission, he expressly declared the perpetuity of the moral law His solemn warnings to the neglecters and despisers of the law of God, echo down even to our time in the words: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:17-19.

There Is No Discord Between
The Old Testament And The New
These are the words of the great Teacher, but they are often perverted, and made to mean something altogether different from the lesson he designed to give to his disciples, and through them to all who should believe on his name. He came to fulfill the demands of the law, to magnify and make it honorable, to show to all that God will not remit the penalty of its transgression. The Most High will fulfill his word; it shall not return unto him void.

After his resurrection, when Jesus revealed himself to the two disciples who were on the way to Emmaus and to those assembled in Jerusalem, he did not point to the mighty works which he had done, to revive their faith in him as the promised Messiah; but he went back to Moses and the prophets, and explained the scriptures concerning himself. Holy prophets had foretold the manner of his birth, the events of his life, his mission, and his death and resurrection; and Jesus impressed upon his disciples the fact that in his life and death these prophecies had met their fulfillment. Hope revived in the hearts of the disciples, as for them the words of the prophets were clothed with new life and power, and they were ready to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, the long-expected Messiah.

There is no discord between the Old Testament and the New. In the Old Testament we find the gospel of a coming Saviour; in the New Testament we have the gospel of a Saviour revealed as the prophecies had foretold. While the Old Testament is constantly pointing forward to the true offering, the New Testament shows that the Saviour prefigured by the typical offerings has come. The dim glory of the Jewish age has been succeeded by the brighter, clearer glory of the Christian age. But not once has Christ stated, that his coming destroyed the claims of God's law. On the contrary, in the very last message to his church, by way of Patmos, he pronounces a benediction upon those who keep his Father's law: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14. We should study the word of God carefully, that we may come to right decisions, and act accordingly; for then we shall obey the word and be in harmony with God's holy law.

We Cannot Be Saved Without Obedience
While we are to be in harmony with God's law, we are not saved by the works of the law, yet we cannot be saved without obedience. The law is the standard by which character is measured. But we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God without the regenerating grace of Christ. Jesus alone can cleanse us from all sin. He does not save us by law, neither will he save us in disobedience to law.  

The world is full of evidences of the greatness, majesty, and benevolence of God; but the strongest evidence of his love for fallen man is contained in the gift of his Son, who took the nature of man, descended to the office of a servant, tasted life's bitterest pain, and even died a terrible and ignominious death, that through him we might be restored to obedience and the favor of God, and gain eternal life. Christ, as our exemplar, kept his Father's law. As he overcame, so may we. And he has promised: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Revelation 3:21.

The Signs of the Times - July 29, 1886

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