BABINC offers this marvelous treatment on the topic of GRACE knowing that you will receive a tremendous spiritual blessing as you carefully review the truths contained within the following chapters. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Founder/President of Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas; Professor of Systematic Biblical Theology; Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra
(C) Copyright, 1922, by LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER
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Part I | Part II | Part III
SECTION Six. THE SABBATH, A TEST QUESTION
According to the Scriptures, all time is divided into seven periods, or dispensations. The Bible is occupied, in the main, with the last three of these periods. All that lies between Exodus, chapter 19, and Revelation, chapter 20, is the unfolding of the exact scope and character of these three ages. These ages are: The age of the law of Moses, which is measured by the duration of the reign of that law, or from Sinai to Calvary; The age of the kingdom, which is measured by the earth-reign of the King, or from the second coming of Christ when He comes to occupy His throne (Mt. 25:31), to the bringing in of the eternal state in the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:1; 1 Cor. 15:24-28); And lying between the age of the law of Moses, which is wholly past, and the age of the kingdom, which is wholly future, there is the present age of grace, bounded by the death of Christ, on the one hand, and by His second advent, on the other. The revelation concerning the out-standing ordinance for this age also marks the limit of duration of the age itself with a future event -- dateless, but never-the-less sure: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
Due recognition of the essential character of each of these ages is the key to the understanding of the exact manner of the divine rule in each age. The rule of God in each case is adapted to the conditions which obtain. Since the respective characteristics of the ages are widely different, the manner of the divine rule is correspondingly different. The practice of confusing these three ages in respect to their characteristics and the manner of the divine rule in each is common, and is, doubtless, the greatest error into which many devout Bible interpreters fall. It is perhaps easier to confuse the present age with that which immediately precedes it, or with that which immediately follows it, than to confuse it with conditions which are more remote; although there need be no confusion of these immediately succeeding but sharply separated periods of time, for they are divided by age-transforming events. The age of the law of Moses is separated from the present age of grace by the death of Christ, when He bore the curse of the law and finished the work by which man may stand justified before God forever, and justified as he could not have been justified by the law of Moses. The age of grace is separated from the age of the kingdom by the second coming of Christ to the earth -- the time when He comes to reign, to bind Satan, to terminate human governments, and to cause righteousness and peace to cover the earth as the waters cover the face of the deep.
The divine government could not remain the same in the earth after the world-transforming, spiritual victories of the cross, as it had been under the law of Moses. So, likewise, the divine government cannot remain the same in the earth after the world-transforming temporal victories of the second coming, as it has been under the reign of grace. All this is reasonable; but, what is far more impelling and compelling, this is what is precisely revealed by God in His Word.
There are, then, three separate and distinct systems of divine government disclosed in the Scriptures, corresponding to three separate and distinct ages to be governed.
In respect to the character of divine government, both the age before the cross and the age following the return of Christ represent the exercise of pure law; while the period between these two ages represents the exercise of pure grace. It is imperative, therefore, that there shall be no careless co-mingling of these great age-characterizing elements, else the preservation of the most important distinctions in the various relationships between God and man are lost, and the recognition of the true force of the death of Christ and His coming again is obscured.
Kingdom teachings will be found in those Psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament which anticipate the reign of Messiah in the earth, and in the kingdom portions of the Gospels. These teachings as found in the Old Testament and the New are purely legal in essence; both by their inherent character, and by the explicit declaration of the Word of God. The legal requirements of the kingdom teachings are greatly advanced, both in severity and detail, beyond the requirements of the law of Moses. This intensification of legal requirements, as it appears in the kingdom teachings, should not be looked upon as a mere continuation of the law of Moses. The kingdom teaching is a system complete and perfect in itself. Moreover, this intensification of legal requirements in kingdom revelations does not move the teachings of the Mosaic law nearer the heart of the teachings of grace. On the contrary, it removes them still farther in the opposite direction, inasmuch as the teachings of the kingdom increase the burden of meritorious workers over that which was required by the law of Moses. In the kingdom law, anger is condemned in the same connection where only murder had been prohibited in the law of Moses, and the glance of the eye is condemned where only adultery had previously been forbidden.
The kingdom Scriptures of the Old Testament are occupied largely with the character and glory of Messiah's reign, the promises to Israel of restoration and earthly glory, the universal blessings to Gentiles, and the deliverance of creation itself. There is little revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the responsibility of the individual in the kingdom; it is rather a message to the nation as a whole. Evidently the details concerning individual responsibility, were, in the mind of the Spirit, reserved for the personal teaching of the King at the time when the kingdom would be "at hand." As to the reign of the King, two important disclosures are made in the kingdom portions of the Old Testament: (1) His will be a rigid reign of righteousness that shall go forth from Jerusalem with swift judgment upon the sinner (Isa. 2:1-4; 11:1-5); and (2), according to the new covenant which He will have made with his people, He will have put His laws into their minds, and will have written them on their hearts (Jer. 31:31-40; Heb. 8:7-12). The writing of the law upon the heart is a divine assistance toward the keeping of the kingdom law which was in no wise provided under the reign of the law of Moses. However, the written law on the heart, as it will be in the kingdom, is not to be compared with the power of the indwelling Spirit which is the present divine enablement provided for the believer under grace.
Under the new covenant, God will have put away the former sin of the nation forever. This, it is revealed, He is free to do through the blood of His Son who, as God's Lamb, took away the sin of the world (Mt. 13:44; Rom. 11:26, 27).
The great key words under the Mosaic system were "law" and "obedience"; the great key words in the present age are "believe" and "grace"; while the great key words in the kingdom are "righteousness" and "peace." The following are brief excerpts from the Old Testament Scriptures bearing on the kingdom:
"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:1-4).
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins" (Isa. 11:1-5).
"And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.... And they shall dwell in their own land" (Jer. 23:3-8).
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their King; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:4, 5).
(Note additional passages: Ps. 72:1-20; Isa. 4:2-5; 9:6, 7; 14:1-8; 35:1-10; 52:1-15; 59:20 to 60:22; 62:1-12; 66:1-24; Jer. 31:36, 37; 33:1-26; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 14:16-21.)
Turning to the New Testament Scriptures bearing on the kingdom, it is important first to consider again the two-fold character of the work and teachings of Christ. He was both a minister to Israel to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, and a minister to the Gentiles that they might glorify God for His mercy (Rom. 15:8, 9). These two widely different revelations are not separated in the Scriptures by a well-defined boundary of chapter and verse; they are intermingled in the text and are to be identified wherever found by the character of the message and the circumstances under which it is given. This, it should be remembered, is the usual divine method of presenting truth. To illustrate: there is no chapter and verse boundary in the prophetic books of the Old Testament between that portion of the Scriptures which presented the immediate duty of Israel, and that portion of the Scriptures which presented their future obligation in Messiah's kingdom. The prophets, while unfolding both of these widely differing obligations, co-mingle these messages in the text and the different messages are discerned only through an observance of the character of the truth revealed. Likewise, there is, to some extent, a co-mingling in the Gospels of the message of the kingdom and the teachings of grace. Moreover, these teachings were given while the law of Moses was in full authority. In harmony with the demands of that dispensation, many recognitions of the Mosaic system are embedded in the teachings of Christ. The Gospels are complex almost beyond any other portion of Scripture, since they are a composite of the teachings of Moses, of grace, and of the kingdom. In attempting to discover and to identify the kingdom teachings of Christ as they are co-mingled with the teachings of grace, and of the law, it is of value to note the peculiar feature of each Gospel:
The Gospel by Matthew is a message to Israel of her King and His kingdom. In that Gospel He is introduced first as the "Son of David" (1:1), which title immediately relates Him to the Davidic covenant, and that covenant eternally secures for Israel a throne, a King, and a kingdom. Christ, being the Son of David, is the Messiah-King-the Hope and Consolation of Israel. While this Gospel is primarily of the King and His kingdom, the closing portion is of Christ as the Son of Abraham.
The Gospel by Mark presents Christ as the Servant of Jehovah. It records more concerning His service than of His teaching, and, like Matthew's Gospel, it is almost wholly addressed to Israel.
The Gospel by Luke presents Christ in His humanity, and, while written to Jews, the avowed purpose of the writer is to "set in order" and establish the "certainty of those things which are most surely believed among us." This certainty of testimony is thus sealed: "Having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first" ("from above." Cf, John 3:31; 19:11; Jas. 1:17; 3:15, 17).
The Gospel by John was also written for a particular purpose: "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (20:31). Thus the saving grace of God in Christ is declared to be the theme of this Gospel. While the ministry of Christ to Israel is acknowledged by the words, "He came to his own, and his own received him not" (1:11), the Gospel by John is primarily of the grace of God in salvation through Christ. The Gospel by John divides the teachings of Christ into two parts: chapters 1 to 12, the grace of God that saves; and chapters 13 to 16, and 19 to 21, the grace of God that teaches.
From this brief consideration of the four Gospels it may be concluded that those teachings of Christ which confirm the covenants made unto the fathers, or Israel, will be found primarily in the Synoptic Gospels, and that these kingdom teachings are crystallized in the first portion of the first Gospel. The position of this kingdom portion in the context of the Scriptures is also significant -- following immediately, as it does, on the Old Testament. The Old Testament closed with its great hopes unrealized and its great prophecies unfulfilled. These hopes were based on covenants from Jehovah, to which He had sworn with an oath. These covenants guarantee to the nation an earthly kingdom in their own land, under the abiding reign of Messiah, sitting on the throne of His father David. No such promise was fulfilled in the Old Testament period. The kingdom as provided for in the faithfulness of Jehovah was revealed in the Old Testament only in predictive prophecy. No such kingdom situation existed when Christ was born. It is expressly declared that Israel's great hope and consolation was yet in expectation when Christ came (Lk. 1:31-33; 2:25). The children of Israel were then largely scattered among the nations and their land was under the authority of Rome.
At this point and under these circumstances, a new message went forth: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." It was proclaimed by the forerunner -- John the Baptist (Mt. 3:1-2), by Christ (Mt. 4:17), and by His disciples (Mt. 10:5-7). The strongest prohibition was imposed against the giving of this message to any Gentile, or even to a Samaritan (Mt. 10:5, 6. Cf 15:24). The message, though brief, was calculated to arouse all the national longings of the people to whom it was spoken. The messengers needed no analytical training to sense the exact meaning of their theme. As instructed Israelites, the kingdom hope had been their expectation and meditation from birth. Later on, and in contrast to this, their utter slowness of heart to understand the new facts and teachings of grace is most obvious. Even when, after His resurrection, Christ had given forty days of instruction in things pertaining to the kingdom of God, they said: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6), so little had they grasped the meaning of His death and the immediate purpose of grace. On the other hand, there is no record that the messengers needed or received one moment of exposition as to the meaning of the message relative to the Gospel of the kingdom before they were sent forth to deliver it. It was evidently Israel's hope.
The phrase, the kingdom of heaven, is peculiar to the Gospel by Matthew, and refers to the rule of God in the earth. In that particular, it is to be distinguished from the kingdom of God, which is the rule of God throughout the bounds of the universe. One, in certain aspects, is included in the other, and there is, therefore, much that is common to both. The Messianic rule of God in the earth was the theme of the prophets; for the prophets only enlarged on the covenants which guaranteed a throne, a King, and a kingdom, over regathered Israel, in that land which was sworn to Abraham. The term, the kingdom of heaven, was used by Christ to announce the fact that the covenanted kingdom blessings were "at hand." This good news to that nation was the "gospel of the kingdom," and should in no wise be confused with the Gospel of saving grace.
The national hope was centered in the genuineness of the claims of both the King and His forerunner. The evidence was carefully weighed, it may be believed, and it was found unimpeachable; but the wickedness of heart prevailed. They imprisoned the forerunner, who was later beheaded by Herod, and they crucified the King. Both the forerunner and the King fulfilled prophecy in respect to the office of each in every detail. The forerunner was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The King was of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, a son of David born of a virgin, in Bethlehem of Judea, He came out of Egypt, and was called a Nazarene. At His birth He was proclaimed, "King of the Jews." In His public ministry He took up the message of a King. At His entrance into Jerusalem He was hailed as Israel's King. At His trial before Pilate, He claimed to be a King. And He died under the accusation, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." The crown of thorns had no significance in relation to His sacrificial death for sin: it was the emblem of the nation's derision for His kingship claim. They thus fulfilled by act the very prophecy the King had made: "We will not have this man to rule over us." There should be no confusion at this point. The rulers of the nation who demanded His death were not personally rejecting a Saviour, as sinners are rejecting Him now; they were rejecting their King. They did not say, "We will not believe on the Saviour to the salvation of our souls"; they said, "We have no king but Caesar."
The rejection of the King was according to "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23; for His rejection and humiliation were foreshadowed in the types, and foreseen in the prophecies of the Old Testament; He was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." At every step in the record His rejection and death are said to be the fulfilling of the Scriptures. It is recorded of Him in sixteen passages that He, by His rejection and death, fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures. It is also recorded of Him in nine passages that He was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the King.
The first ministry of Christ was, then, to Israel as her King. In this He appeared; not as a personal Saviour, but as her long expected Messiah; not as a Lamb, but as a Lion; not as a sacrifice by which a Church -- the spotless Bride -- might be purchased to Himself from among all nations, but as the Son of David, with every right to David's throne, over Israel, at Jerusalem, in the land of promise. In the Synoptic Gospels, there is, therefore, no record of any step toward the formation of the Church, or any reference to that great purpose, until, from His own nation, His rejection as King is evident. According to the Synoptic Gospels, the early teachings of the King were of that nation, and were in no wise related to the great results which would afterwards be accomplished through His death and resurrection in the calling out of His Church from all the nations of the earth. Upon His rejection, He began to speak, in anticipation of His death, of the formation of His Church, and of His coming back again to the earth. He likewise related the sure fulfillment of every covenant with Israel to the time of His return.
Was, then, the Gospel of the kingdom, as announced by John, by Christ, and by His disciples, a bona fide message? Did it really mean what it announced? Was Israel's long predicted kingdom at hand? If so, and had they received their King, what would have become of the divine purposes of redemption as they were to be accomplished through His death? These questions are insistently asked today; but the answers are not difficult.
The Gospel of the kingdom was a bona fide message to Israel. To treat it otherwise, is to accuse God of trickery and deception. It is likewise a serious misrepresentation of all the related Scriptures to apply the message and teaching of the King to the present purposes of God in this age of grace. All confusion which arises concerning the kingdom message in its relation to the cross arises from the failure to recognize the important distinction between the divine viewpoint and the human viewpoint. It is only another application of the rationalistic trick of playing the free will of man against the sovereignty of God. On the human side, there was a clear-cut issue with unrestrained power to choose, or reject, the King. On the divine side, there was a genuine offer of the kingdom in the Person, presence and ministry of the King; but back of this was the foreknowledge of God which was absolute as to the choice they would make. Their choice would be but the outworking of the eternal purpose of God in Christ, and for that choice they would be held guilty. On the divine side, it is said: "Therefore they could not believe" (John 12:39), and on the human side, it is said: "They hated me without a cause" (John 15:25). Is this the only example of such a problem in the Scriptures? By no means.
Every dispensation represents a new divine purpose in the testing of man. In every case man is seen to fail, and to be guilty before God; yet we behold God patiently and faithfully bringing man face to face with the issues involved. After a brief experience in the wilderness, He took Israel to Kadesh Barnea where He provided and offered an immediate entrance into their own land. The choice was theirs; they refused to enter. They were guilty. God knew they would refuse to enter the land; yet His offer was genuine, and His purposes were realized. In chastisement, God sent them back into the wilderness for forty years of added discomfort. In His own time, and by His own power, they finally entered the land. This portion of Israel's history may be taken to be typical. When Christ came, the nation had then experienced over five hundred years of trial in dispossession of their land and the vacancy of David's throne. When their Messiah came, they refused the divine provisions centered in the King, and, as typified at Kadesh, they returned to what has now proven to be two thousand years of added affliction. The day is coming, however, when, according to the faithfulness of God, they will receive their King and abide under His undimmed glory.
Turning to the Old Testament, the student is confronted with the problem of the right adjustment as to the time of fulfillment of two great lines of prophecy concerning Christ. On the one hand, He was prophesied to come as a Monarch whose reign and kingdom would be everlasting (Cf 2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 72:1-20; 89:35-37; Isa. 9:6, 7). The thought of His death is foreign to this body of prophecy. It is no function of a king to die, -- "Long live the king!" But, on the other hand, there is prophecy equally as explicit regarding the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ (Ps. 22:1-21; Isa. 53:1-12). Manifestly, these two lines of undertaking could not be accomplished simultaneously. Christ could not be the resistless, undying King, and be an unresisting sacrifice, at one and the same time. It was this very time-element in the problem which Peter declared was not disclosed to the prophets. He writes: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet. 1:10, 11). Since the present age of grace and its purpose was not revealed to the writers of the Old Testament, the time-element relating these two lines of prophecy could not be disclosed. When the fullness of time came, it pleased God to present His King in fulfillment of prophecy and according to all His covenants to Israel. Both by the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" and by the free choice of the nation, the King was rejected and crucified. It is evident, therefore, that the prophecies concerning the King and His earthly kingdom remain unfulfilled to this hour. They are not forgotten or abandoned. Neither are they receiving a spiritual fulfillment. They are yet to be fulfilled when the King returns to the earth.
In like manner, the same clear light as to the divine purpose is revealed through Daniel when he predicts the order of events to be fulfilled in the period between his own time and that of the reign of Messiah. In this prophecy the "cutting off of Messiah" precedes the reign of the King. Thus did God anticipate what would take place; but this in no wise lessens the exercise of free choice on the part of the nation Israel in rejecting the King.
It is puerile to assert that the cross of Christ was held in jeopardy until Israel's choice concerning the King had been consummated. Let those who traffic in such tricks of argument be consistent to the point of applying their rationalism to all the great issues wherein the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are found to meet. The ministry of Christ was genuine. He was a minister to the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. He was likewise the open door into the grace of God that Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. Though real, His rejection as King was the necessary step in all redemption, and God in faithfulness will yet fulfill every covenant related to the throne, the King, the nation, and the land. This He will do when the King comes back to the earth again.
It has been necessary to outline the relation of the covenanted, earthly kingdom to the first advent of Christ, in order that the kingdom teachings of Christ may be seen in their true setting.
Referring to the first section of the Gospel by Matthew (chapters 1 to 12), wherein the Gospel of the kingdom is preached to Israel, it will be found that this precise message of the kingdom Gospel was first announced by John the Baptist, of whom it is said: "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Mt. 3:1-3); it was announced by the King Himself (Mt. 4:17); and by the disciples (Mt. 10:5-7). Embedded in this context wherein only the Gospel of the kingdom is in view, and completely bounded by the records of these proclamations, is the "Sermon on the Mount," which is evidently, the Manifesto of the King (Mt. 5:1 to 7:29). In this Manifesto the King declares the essential character of the kingdom, the conduct which will be required in the kingdom, and the conditions of entrance into the kingdom. This kingdom rule of life is purely legal, both in its inherent qualities and by its own claim (Mt. 7:12). It is, however, very different from the law as given by Moses. In the kingdom teachings, as has been stated, the commands, of Moses are advanced into requirements vastly more impossible as to detail, and this does not relieve, but rather intensifies, its character as strictly legal. Christ does not disown the principles of the law in the unfoldings of kingdom requirements any more than He does in all His dealings with Israel before His death. He is rather presenting a new degree and standard of law which is adapted to the conditions which shall obtain in the kingdom, and which He contrasts with the law of Moses. The great kingdom words -- righteousness and peace -- are dominant, and there is never a reference either to salvation, or grace. Nor is there the slightest reference to those great realities of relationship which belong to the new creation wrought by Christ through His death and resurrection. Such a complete omission of any reference to any feature of the present age of grace, is a fact which should be carefully weighed.
The minute accuracy of the Scripture is seen in Christ's use of the phrase my commandments. During the days of His ministry to the nation Israel, He enforced the commandments of Moses, and spoke of the new principles which were to be applied in the kingdom as "these sayings of mine," and "I say unto you"; but at no time did He use the term my commandments until He used it with His disciples in the upper room, and at the time when He was unfolding the new principles which were to condition the daily living of those who should stand on resurrection ground, in the new creation, and under grace. It is also significant that the first use of the term commandment in this grace message is when He said, "A new commandment I give unto you" (John 13:34). There is, therefore, a possible limitation to be placed on the extent of the responsibility imposed by Christ in His great commission wherein He said: "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mt. 28:20). It is hardly probable that He intends all the Mosaic law, the governing principles of the kingdom, and the teachings of grace, to be combined and applied to those who receive the message of the great commission.
In the teachings of the kingdom, the characterizing phrase is, "hear and do" (Mt. 7:24), while the characterizing phrase under grace is "hear and believe" (John 5:24). The essential character of the teachings of the kingdom as they are contrasted with the teachings of Moses, and as they are contrasted with the teachings of grace, will, at another point of the discussion, be considered at length.
There is a sense in which the kingdom of God, as the rule of God in the hearts of individuals, is present in the world today. This should not be confused with the Messianic kingdom which is to be set up over a nation, and extended through them to all nations, with the King ruling, not in the individual heart, but on the throne of David, in the city of Jerusalem. As the King came nearer to His death, and the rejection became more evident, He made mention of that aspect of the rule of God in the individual heart which was to characterize the hitherto unannounced age of grace. The following passage (like Mt. 13:1-52), taken from the later teachings of Christ as recorded by Luke, is an example: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [outward show]: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (in your midst. Lk. 17:20, 21).
In no sense could it be truthfully said that the kingdom of God was in the hearts of those Christ-rejecting Pharisees. There was, however, a real sense in which the kingdom of God was to be, as it is now, in the hearts of individual believers; but the direct statement of Christ is to the effect that the kingdom was then, in the Person of the King, in their midst. So, also, the phrase, the kingdom of God cometh not with outward show, anticipates the present aspect of the rule of God in the individual heart; but after this, and according to all prophecy, the kingdom of heaven will come with outward show. There is much promise of a transformed earth, which condition will be ushered in, not by unseen forces and processes; but through the resistless power and presence of the returning King.
So, also, He could say to Israel: "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" (Lk. 10:9). As certainly as the King was before the nation, so certainly their kingdom was before them, and this was the appeal of the Gospel of the kingdom which was given to "the children of the kingdom" only. When the King was rejected, His kingdom was rejected. When His kingdom was rejected and its realization delayed until the return of the King, the application of all Scripture which conditions life in the kingdom was delayed, as well, and will be delayed as long as the King tarries. This necessary delay is easily accepted with reference to the earthly, national glory, which is the theme of the kingdom teachings of the Old Testament; but it is equally true that there is a necessary delay in application of the last detail of human obligation related to the earthly kingdom as set forth in the New Testament.
The kingdom teachings are a sufficient and complete statement of all that it will be necessary for one to know concerning the terms of entrance into, and conduct in the Messianic kingdom on the earth. Much in these kingdom teachings is similar to that which is found in the teachings of Moses. Much is similar, also, to the teachings of grace; but these facts do not constitute these teachings an indivisible whole, nor do they justify a careless co-mingling of these great systems of rule in the earth. The characterizing elements in each will be found to be those principles which are peculiarly applicable to the dispensation to which they belong, rather than in the principles wherein they are similar.
Having considered the fact that God provides different rules of life, as recorded in the Scriptures, to fit His succeeding dispensational dealings with man, it is important to consider the wide difference which exists between the principle of law, and the principle of grace, as applied to the divine government of man.
While the purpose of this section is to emphasize the fact that the three systems of divine government are essentially separate, each one from the others, and each one, being wholly complete and sufficient in itself, is in no wise exchangeable for either of the others, and cannot be co-mingled; it should be observed that there are important fields of Bible interpretation and instruction besides the limited aspect of truth which is suggested by the various rules of conduct. The Scriptures unfold many highways of truth with unbroken development from "the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." The important features of this unity in the Scriptures are:
1. The revelation concerning God. He is first revealed in the Old Testament by His names and works, and to this the New Testament adds the fuller emphasis upon the Trinity, the relation of the Persons of the Godhead to mankind, and the various aspects of saving grace. The continuity of the Old Testament testimony concerning Christ was proven by Himself on the Emmaus road, as it is recorded: "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk. 24:27).
2. Prophecy and its fulfillment. Every recorded instance of the fulfillment of prophecy shows that every detail of the prediction was fulfilled to the letter.
3. The union between type and antitype. Almost every important truth of the New Testament was typified and foreshadowed in the Old Testament. This fact proves the symmetry of all Scripture (See 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
4. The revelation concerning Satan and evil. In this body of revelation, likewise, the Bible story is uninterrupted, save for the new material added in the development of the divine message.
5. The doctrine of man and his sin. The exact manner of the application of the divine remedy for sin varies from dispensation to dispensation; but there is no variation in all the record concerning the essential facts of human failure, and the gracious, divine remedy through blood alone.
6. The requirement of holiness in the conduct of saints. While there is wide difference between the rules of conduct which are imposed in the various ages, there is unity in the revelation that a holy manner of life is the divine requirement in every age.
7. The continuity of purpose in the program of the ages. In this aspect of the truth it should be observed that, while each age possesses a character exclusively its own, the divine purpose throughout all the ages is one, ending in the ultimate consummation which God has decreed. This fact is stated in Heb. 1:2. Speaking of God as revealed in, and related to, the Son, it is written: "By whom he programmed the ages" (literal).
Such is the wonderful unity of the Scriptures throughout; but in no sense are the various systems regulating human conduct the same, and the exact application of these systems must be guarded at every point. If truth for the children of God under grace is to be drawn from the teachings of the law of Moses, or the kingdom, it should be acknowledged that it is taken from a system foreign to grace, and that it is applicable only by way of illustration.
These governing principles differ in three particulars: (1) They present independent, sufficient, and complete systems of divine rule in the earth. (2) In these systems the order varies as to the sequence of the divine blessing and the human obligation. (3) These systems differ according to the degree in which the divine enablement has been provided.
I. THEY PRESENT INDEPENDENT, SUFFICIENT, AND COMPLETE SYSTEMS OF DIVINE RULE IN THE EARTH
As has been stated, there are three of these systems of divine government. (1) The teachings of the law of Moses; (2) The teachings of grace; and (3) The teachings of the kingdom. Naturally there is field here for wide expansion, since these three systems of authority occupy the major portion of the Bible. A brief review only of the essential character of these systems is here given:
(1) The Teachings of the Law of Moses.
This rule of life was revealed from God and accepted by Israel at Sinai, and was at no time addressed to the nations of the world. It was a peculiar form of government for a peculiar people, and accomplished a peculiar purpose in condemning the failure of man and in leading him to Christ. Its full detail is revealed in the writings of Moses; but the history of Israel under the law occupies the rest of the Old Testament, and the major part of the Gospels up to the record of the death of Christ. In the doctrinal teachings of the New Testament, very much additional light is given to the character and purpose of the law of Moses. There the law is held in contrast with the teachings of grace. There, also, as will be seen more fully in the later discussion, the law is represented as having passed out of force through the death of Christ; and, it may be observed, that, after the death of Christ, the law is in no instance treated as being directly in force.
The law of Moses was complete within itself. It was sufficient to regulate the conduct of an Israelite under every circumstance that might arise. No other rule of life had been revealed during the days in which the law of Moses was in effect, hence there was no temptation for Israel to complicate her governing principle with any other. In her relation to God, that nation remained for fifteen hundred years under pure law. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
(2) The Teachings of Grace.
Like the teachings of the law of Moses, the teachings of grace have not applied to men in all ages. These teachings were revealed from God through Christ and His apostles. Moreover, they are never addressed to the world as applicable to it in the present age; but are addressed to a peculiar people who are in the world, but are not of the world. These teachings constitute the divine instruction to the heavenly citizen and unfold the exact manner of life that such a citizen is expected to manifest even here in the earth. The full detail of this rule of life is found in portions of the Gospels, portions of the Book of Acts, and the Epistles of the New Testament. As light is given in these particular Scriptures of the New Testament by way of contrast, concerning the character and purpose of the law of Moses, so, in like manner, the very foundations of grace and its relationships are laid in the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. It is revealed that God dealt graciously with the human family from Adam to Moses; but it is also revealed that the precise form of divine government which is the present teaching of grace was not then disclosed, nor was it applied to men until the reign of the law had been terminated in the death of Christ. It is likewise revealed that the death of Christ was the necessary foundation for the present, full manifestation of superabounding grace. It is equally as certain from revelation that the teachings of grace will apply to the children of God under grace as long as they are in the world, and these principles will cease to rule, of necessity, when the people to whom they alone apply are gathered out and taken from the earth at the coming of Christ. This period between the death of Christ and His coming again is not characterized in the Scriptures as a time when the supreme purpose of God is the governing of the nations of the earth; this age is rather spoken of as "the times of the Gentiles" in all matters of human government in the earth. Nor is this age the period in which God is realizing the fulfillment of His unchanging covenants with the nation Israel; that nation is now said to be scattered, peeled, blinded, broken off, and hated of all nations, and they are to remain so to the end of the age. This age is not the time of the salvation of society; that great undertaking is clearly in the purpose of God, but it is reserved for the age which is yet to come. The present age is characterized by a unique emphasis on the individual. The death of Christ contemplated above all else the need of the individual sinner. The Gospel of grace, which the death of Christ made possible, is an appeal to the individual alone, and the very faith by which it is received is exercised only by the individual. The message of grace is of a personal faith, a personal salvation, a personal enduement of the Spirit, a personal gift for service, and a personal transformation into the image of Christ. The company of individuals thus redeemed and transformed, are to be in the ages to come the supreme manifestation of the riches of God's grace. Unto this eternal purpose the whole universe was created and all ages have been programmed by God. The glory of this dispensation is lost to a large extent when the reign of the law is intruded into this age which followed the death of Christ, or when the social order of the kingdom, promised for a future age, is expected before the return of the King. The Bible affords no basis for the supposition that the Lord will come to a perfected social order. At His coming He will gather the saved to Himself, but the wicked He will judge in righteousness. The transcendent glory of this age is that grace which will have been either accepted or rejected by the individual.
The teachings of grace are perfect and sufficient in themselves. They provide for the instruction of the child of God in every situation which may arise. There is no need that they be supplemented, or augmented, by the addition of precepts from either the law of Moses, or the teachings of the kingdom.
(3) The Teachings of the Kingdom.
The teachings of the kingdom have not been applied to men in all the ages; nay, more, they have not yet been applied to any man. Since they anticipate the binding of Satan, a purified earth, and the personal reign of the King, they cannot be applied until God's appointed time when these accompanying conditions on the earth have been brought to pass. The kingdom laws will be addressed to Israel and beyond them to all the nations who will enter the kingdom. It will be the first and only universal reign of righteousness and peace in the history of the world. One nation was in view when the law of Moses was in force in the earth; the individual is in view during this age of grace; and the whole social order of mankind will be in view when the kingdom is set up in the earth.
The reign of the King, is never said to be ushered in by a gradual process of world improvement; it is introduced suddenly and with great violence. The return of the King to rule is like a smiting stone, and will demolish the structure of world empires, will grind them to powder, and will scatter them as the wind scatters the chaff of the summer threshing floor (Dan. 2:31-45). Satan and the satanic deception will have been removed from the earth, Israel will have realized the glory of her covenants, and the long predicted blessing will have come upon all the Gentiles, and upon creation itself. The church is not once mentioned in relation to the teachings of the kingdom, nor are those teachings applied to her; for her part in the kingdom is not to be reigned over, but to reign with Christ -- her Head. She, being, the Bride of the King, is His consort. She will still be under the heavenly teachings of grace, and her home will be in the bosom of the Bridegroom in the ivory palace of the King. The King will reign with a rod of iron. Sin and iniquity will be rebuked instantly and judged in perfect righteousness. Clear conception of the glory of the kingdom is lost if it is confused with the age of grace which precedes it, or with the sinless new heavens and new earth of the eternal state which follows it. The kingdom closes with a demonstration of the failure of man and thus it adds the last message of the converging testimony to the wickedness of the fallen heart, and to the fact that in the exceeding grace of God alone is their salvation.
The teachings of the kingdom are found in portions of the Psalms, the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament, and the kingdom teachings in the Synoptic Gospels. These teachings are complete and sufficient to direct the life of the children of the kingdom in every condition that may arise under the rule of the King. There is no need that these teachings be supplemented or augmented by additions from either of the other governing systems.
Under God's classification, there are only three major divisions of the human family -- "The Jew, the Gentile and the church of God." Wherever they are mentioned in any portion of the Bible they are recognized as distinctly separate peoples, and it is important to follow the divine record concerning each from its beginning to its end.
The Jew, or Israel, began with Abraham, was favored in relationship to God above all the nations of the earth for fifteen hundred years in the promised land, is the object of all of Jehovah's purposes and covenants in the earth, is now as free from the law, and is as effectually shut up to the Gospel of the grace of God as are the Gentiles, and will yet inherit the limitless blessings of all the kingdom covenants in the earth.
The Gentile began with Adam, received no direct instruction or covenant from Jehovah in all the ages past, is now the object of appeal, with the Jew, in the Gospel of grace, and will share in the glory of the kingdom to come, when the divine blessing will be poured out on all the Gentiles (Acts. 15:17).
The Church began with the death of Christ and the descent of the Spirit, is the divine objective in this age, is a heavenly people taken from both Jews and Gentiles, and will reign with the King as His Bride, in the ages to come.
Since there is so wide a difference in the character of these ages -- of law, of grace, and of the kingdom -- and in the peoples of the earth -- the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church -- as they stand related to God throughout the ages, it is to be expected that there will be a variation in the divine government according to the essential character of the several ages. This is not only reasonable; it is the precise teaching of the Bible. Since these great governing systems are wholly separate and sufficient in themselves, and since there is much which is held in common in them all, a brief comparison of the systems is here undertaken:
First. The Similarity and Dissimilarity Between the Teachings of the Law of Moses and the Teachings of Grace.
In this discussion, the law of Moses will be limited to the Decalogue; for no legalist proposes to carry forward into grace the judgments which governed the social life of Israel, or the ordinances which governed their religious ritual in the land. However, the moral commandments of the Decalogue are almost universally imposed upon the church by these legalists. In justification of this imposition, the plea is usually made that apart from the direct application of the Decalogue there could be no divine authority or government in the earth.
In no sense does this question involve the issues of world government; for God has never addressed either the teachings of the law, or the teachings of grace to the whole world. The world has borrowed certain moral precepts from the Bible for its self-government; but it does not follow that God has accepted the world on the basis of the teachings of the law, or the teachings of grace. In reality, the world is shut up to the one appeal of the Gospel of grace. Until this appeal is heeded, the individual is neither under law, nor grace, as a rule of life; but is "under sin."
The issue is, therefore, between law and grace as governing principles in the life of the Christian. Must Christians turn to the Decalogue for a basis of divine government in their daily lives? Scripture answers this question with a positive assertion: "Ye are not under the law, but under grace." If this be true, are the great moral values of the Decalogue discarded? By no means; for it will be seen that every moral precept of the Decalogue, but one, has been restated with increased emphasis in the teachings of grace. These precepts do not reappear under grace in the character and coloring of the law, but, rather, in the character and coloring of pure grace. The following brief comparison will demonstrate the fact that the moral values of the law are reincorporated in the teachings of grace.
1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." -- 1. "We ... preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God" (Acts 14:15).
2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image; ... thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them" -- 2. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).
3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." -- 3. "But above all things brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath" (Jas. 5:12).
4. "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." -- 4. No such command is found in the teachings of grace.
5. "Honour thy father and thy mother." -- 5. "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Eph. 6:1).
6. "Thou shalt not kill." -- 6. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15).
7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." -- 7. "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers ... shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9, 10).
8. "Thou shalt not steal." -- 8. "Steal no more" (Eph. 4:28).
9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness." -- 9. "Lie not" (Col. 3:9).
10. "Thou shalt not covet." -- 10. "Covetousness, let it not be named among you" (Eph. 5:3).
While some principles of the Mosaic law are restated under grace, those aspects of the law which are foreign to grace are omitted. The command to keep the seventh day is omitted wholly. This fact and the reason thereof will be considered more at length later in the discussion. So, also, the one promise of the Decalogue is omitted. This promise occurs in connection with the precept concerning the obedience of children. It reads: "Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." The fact that the law presented a promise to obedient children is pointed out in the New Testament (Eph. 6:1), with no inference that the promise is in effect now; but as a reminder of that which obtained under the law. It would be difficult for any individual, or child, in the Church to establish a claim to a God-given land, or to demonstrate that any law now obtains by which long life is guaranteed to those who are now obedient to parents. Again, concerning Israel and her relation to the land it is written: "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed"; "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever"; "For the upright shall dwell in the land" (Ps. 37:3, 29; Prov. 2:21). No land has been given to the Christian. He is a "stranger and pilgrim" here, an "ambassador," a citizen of heaven. If he is taught in the Scriptures, he is not looking for a long life here; but he is looking for the coming of his Lord. He is not clinging to this life; for "to depart, and to be with Christ, ... is far better." The serious manner in which people apply an Old Testament promise, impossible under grace, to themselves is a revelation of the measure of inattention with which the Scriptures are too often read and quoted. Since every adaptable precept of the law is restated in grace, it is not necessary to violate the Scriptures by forcing the law into the sphere of grace.
The Decalogue, in its moral principles, is not only restated in grace, but its principles are greatly amplified. This is illustrated, again, by the same precept concerning the obedience of children. In the teachings of grace, the whole issue of obedience is taken up at length, and to this is added the instructions to parents as well. Under the teachings of grace, the appeal of the first commandment is repeated no less than fifty times, the second twelve times, the third four times, the fourth (about the sabbath day) not at all, the fifth six times, the sixth six times, the seventh twelve times, the eighth six times, the ninth four times, and the tenth nine times.
Yet further, that which is even more vital should be noted: The teachings of grace are not only gracious in character and of the very nature of heaven itself, but they are extended to cover the entire range of the new issues of the life and service of the Christian. The Ten Commandments require no life of prayer, no Christian service, no evangelism, no missionary effort, no gospel preaching, no life and walk in the Spirit, no Fatherhood of God, no union with Christ, no fellowship of saints, no hope of salvation, and no hope of heaven. If it is asserted that we have all these because we have both the law and grace, it is replied that the law adds nothing to grace but confusion and contradiction, and that there is the most faithful warning in the Scriptures against this admixture.
A few times the teachings of the law are referred to by the writers of the Epistles by way of illustration. Having stated the obligation under grace, they cite the fact that this same principle obtained under the law. There is, however, no basis here for a co-mingling of these two governing systems.
The law of Moses presents a covenant of works to be wrought in the energy of the flesh; the teachings of grace present a covenant of faith to be wrought in the energy of the Spirit.
Second. The, Similarity and Dissimilarity Between the Teachings of the Law of Moses and the Teachings of the Kingdom.
As will be seen more fully further on, these two systems of divine government are both legal in character and order. If this is true, it is to be expected that there is much in common between them. (1) They are similar because they are both based on a covenant of works. (2) They are similar because of elements which are common to both. (3) They are dissimilar because of certain points in which they differ.
1. They are similar because they are based on a covenant of works.
The nature of a covenant which is based on human works is obvious. Whatever God promises under such a covenant, is conditioned on the faithfulness of man. Every blessing under the law of Moses was so conditioned, and every blessing in the kingdom relationship will be found to be so ordered. Turning to the kingdom teachings of Christ wherein the issues of personal conduct and obligation in the kingdom are taken up, it will be seen that all the kingdom promises to the individual are based on human merit. The kingdom blessings are reserved for the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peace maker. It is a covenant of works only and the emphatic word is "do." "This do and thou shalt live," is the highest promise of the law. As men judge, so shall they be judged. A tree is approved, or rejected, by its fruits. And not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of "my Father" which is in heaven. As the individual forgives, so will he be forgiven. And except personal righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, there shall be no entrance into the kingdom of heaven. To interpret this righteousness which is required to be the imputed righteousness of God, is to disregard the teaching of the context, and to introduce an element which is not once found in this whole system of divine government. The kingdom teachings of the "Sermon on the Mount" are concluded with the parable of the house built on the rock. The key to this message is given in the words, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them."
Turning to the law of Moses, we discover that it presents no other relation to God for the individual than this same covenant of works: "And it shall come to pass, that if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day [including the Decalogue], that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee ... Blessed shalt thou be ..." (Deut. 28:1-14). "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee ... Cursed shalt thou be ..." (Deut. 28:15-68). "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee" (Ex. 20:12). "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8). "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God ... And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Lk. 10:25-28).
By these references to the law of Moses and the law of the kingdom, it may be seen that both of these systems are based wholly on a covenant of works.
2. They are similar because of elements which are common to both.
In the law of the kingdom, the Mosaic law is carried forward and intensified. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. 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. ... Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill ... But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. ... Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mt. 5:17-28. Cf 31-48; 6:1-18, 25-34). "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets" (Mt. 7:12).
By these illustrative passages it is clear that the law of Moses and the law of the kingdom are similar in that they contain elements which are common to both.
3. They are dissimilar because of certain points in which they differ.
In the law of the kingdom, certain features are added which are not found in the law of Moses. These new features can be mentioned here only in part.
It has been revealed in the Scriptures above quoted that the law is intensified in the kingdom teachings. From these no element of the law of Moses has been subtracted. Rather, to the Mosaic revelation are added the kingdom teachings of Christ concerning marriage and divorce, the taking of an oath, and the personal obligation to others. The law demanding "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" is replaced by required submission. The other cheek is to be turned, the second mile is to be traveled, and to him that asketh, there is to be no refusal. Even the enemies are to be loved. These things are to be done "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven," and are only further evidences that in fact and force they issue from the covenant of works. There is a new appeal for sincerity in alms-giving, in prayer, and in fasting. There is a new revelation concerning prayer; but it is prayer for the kingdom and according to conditions in the kingdom alone. Special instruction is given concerning the use of riches in the kingdom and also concerning anxiety and care.
Third. The Similarity and Dissimilarity Between the Teachings of Grace and the Laws of the Kingdom.
The importance of an unprejudiced consideration of these Scriptures which disclose the whole field of comparison between the teachings of grace and the laws of the kingdom cannot be too strongly emphasized. The theme is extensive, but an outline-treatment only can be given here. While this study of contrasts should be extended into all the kingdom teachings of the Gospels, the plan will be to follow a brief analysis of the Manifesto of the King as recorded in Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, and to compare the various precepts there revealed with the precepts given to the believer under grace. It will be necessary, also, to compare these precepts with the kingdom teachings of the Old Testament; for it will be found that the teachings of the kingdom presented in Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, are in exact accord with the Old Testament predictions regarding the kingdom, and are almost wholly in disagreement with the teachings of grace.
In Luke 16:16 it is written: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." The message of John the Baptist was something new. It was in no sense the preaching of the "law and the prophets" as a direct application of the Mosaic system. Nevertheless, his preaching was purely legal in character. An important exception to this is found in the Gospel by John. In that Gospel, the characterizing words, selected from all the sayings of John the Baptist are, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (1:29). The Gospel by John is distinctly of salvation and grace through believing, and the selection of this one message from John the Baptist beautifully illustrates the mind and purpose of the Spirit in the selection of material for the construction of that Gospel of divine grace. This exceptional word from John the Baptist, fitted to the message of grace in the Gospel by John, should not be confused with his legalistic preaching as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, where his real ministry as the forerunner is set forth. What he preached, is clearly stated in Luke 3:7-14: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance ... And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answered and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
The intense emphasis on the covenant of meritorious works is obvious in this message; but John did not preach Moses and the prophets. The law and the prophets were until John. It is to be concluded that the preaching of John the Baptist was wholly new, and was according to his mission as herald of the King; but that message is legalistic, and not gracious. It is a covenant of works, and not a covenant of faith.
Added light is also given in Luke 16:16 as to the kingdom character of John's preaching. The divine rule in the earth which Matthew terms "the kingdom of heaven" is by Luke termed "the kingdom of God." This is justified since the kingdom of God includes the kingdom of heaven, or the earth-rule of the King. Since Matthew and Luke are so evidently referring to the same divine rule in the earth, and often reporting the same message when employing these two phrases, it is conclusive that Luke's use of the term, "the kingdom of God," here, and elsewhere, is with reference to the limited divine rule in the earth. Into that kingdom, men who enter are said to be "pressing in." "To crowd oneself in," is the literal meaning, and the word suggests intense human effort, and implies the need of merit, which is required for entrance into the kingdom.
There are at least three major distinctions which will appear when the teachings of grace are contrasted with the teachings of the kingdom.
(1) In the kingdom message, hope is, in the main, centered in the kingdom of heaven, and, in Mark and Luke, in that aspect of the kingdom of God which corresponds with the kingdom of heaven. This, it should be remembered, is not heaven: in this connection, it is the rule of the Messiah-King in the earth. However, the larger rule of the kingdom of God is mentioned once (Mt. 6:33), and at a point when all the divine interests are in view, and three times the kingdom message holds the anticipation of heaven itself before its children (Mt. 5:12; 6:20; 7:23). In the teachings of grace it is heaven itself which is in view, with never a reference to the kingdom of heaven, other than that the saints shall reign with the King. Christians, on the other hand, are often related to the larger sphere of the kingdom of God (See John 3:3).
(2) These two lines of teaching may be identified, also, by the use of the great words they employ. According to both the Old Testament and the New, righteousness and peace are the great words of the kingdom. The "Sermon on the Mount" is the expansion of the full meaning of the personal righteousness which is required in the kingdom. The great words in this age are believe and grace. Not once do these words appear in connection with the kingdom teachings of Matthew, chapters 5 to 7. Mercy is unfolded in grace, rather than in righteousness.
(3) The kingdom teachings, like the law of Moses, are based on a covenant of works. The teachings of grace, on the other hand, are based on a covenant of faith. In the one case, righteousness is demanded; in the other it is provided, both imputed and imparted, or inwrought. One is of a blessing to be bestowed because of a perfect life, the other is of a life to be lived because of a perfect blessing already received.
Too often it has been supposed that the kingdom reign of Messiah will be a period of sinlessness on the earth, corresponding to the new heavens and new earth which will follow. Every Scripture bearing on the kingdom emphasizes the moral conditions which will obtain in the kingdom. Because of the binding of Satan, and the immediate judgment for sin, the high moral requirements in the kingdom will be possible; but there will be evil to judge, the enemy will persecute, and many who have professed will fail because they have not actually done the will of the King. So great will be the moral advance in world conditions in the kingdom over the present age, that righteousness will then "reign"; while at the present time, righteousness "suffers" (2 Tim. 3:12).
The various topics presented in the "Sermon on the Mount," are here considered in order:
1. The Beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12).
This kingdom message opens with the record of the nine-fold blessing which is promised and provided for the faithful child of the kingdom. These blessings are won through merit. This is in sharp contrast to the blessings in the exalted position of the Christian to which he instantly attains through Christ at the moment he believes.
a. "Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble]: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." As the little child, "of such is the kingdom of heaven." In the Old Testament vision of the coming manifestation of the King, it is said: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). To the Christian it is said: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind" (Col. 3:12). These virtues are not put on by the Christian to gain heaven; much less the kingdom of heaven. They are put on because these elements of character belong to the one who is already "elect of God, holy and beloved." Christ is the pattern (Phil. 2:8), and God resists aught but humbleness of mind (Jas. 4:6). In the teachings of grace, "put on" does not mean to pretend, or assume; it is the manifestation of the life through the power of the Spirit (See Eph. 4:24; 6:11; Col. 3:12).
b. "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Mourning does not belong to the Bride of Christ. To her a different message has been given: "Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice." Mourning is the portion of Israel until her King comes, and when He comes, it will be "to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isa. 61:2, 3. Cf Isa. 51:3; 66:13; 35:10; 51:11; Zech. 1:17).
c. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Under grace, meekness is wrought in the believer by the Spirit, and is never rewarded; but the judgments of the King will be to "reprove with equity for the meek of the earth" (Isa. 11:4. Cf Isa. 29:19; Zeph. 2:3; Ps. 45:4; 76:9). The earth is to be inherited in the kingdom reign. The glory of the King will be in the earth. It could hardly be supposed that the meek are inheriting the earth now, or that this is any promise to the Church, to whom no earthly promise is made. Those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, have an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven.
d. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." The Christian may crave a closer walk with God; but he is already "made the righteousness of God in him." In distinction to this, righteousness is that quality which must be attained in the kingdom (Mt. 5:20). "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake will I not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory" (Isa. 62:1, 2. Cf Ps. 72:1-4; 85:10, 11, 13; Isa. 11:4, 5).
e. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." The exact condition revealed in this promise should be carefully considered; for in this passage, mercy from God is made to depend wholly on the exercise of mercy toward others. This is pure law. Under grace the Christian is besought to be merciful, as one who has already obtained mercy (Eph. 2:4, 5; Tit. 3:5). The mercy of God will go forth in grace to the nation Israel when He gathers them into their own land (Ezk. 39:25); but He will, at the same time, deal with them as individuals by law: "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them" (Ps. 103:17, 18). "Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward" (Ps. 18:24-26). Under grace, He is rich in mercy, even when we were "dead in sins."
f. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." Opposed to this, and under grace it is written: "But we see Jesus," and "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (Heb. 2:9; 2 Cor. 4:6). In Christ, God now is revealed to the believer, while the kingdom promise to the pure in heart is that they shall see God. The kingdom promises continue: "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; ... Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty" (Isa. 33:15-18). "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart" (Ps. 24:3, 4).
g. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Peace is one of the two great words in the kingdom. The King who is "the Prince of Peace," shall so reign that righteousness and peace shall cover the earth as waters cover the face of the deep (Cf Ps. 72:3, 7). In that kingdom there will be special distinction given to the one who promotes peace. "They shall be called the children of God." Under grace, no one is constituted a child of God by any works whatsoever. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26).
h. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Again, the issue is righteousness. The Christian, on the contrary, suffers with Christ and for His sake, and his reward is in heaven. "But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake" (John 15:21). "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12).
i. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." The believer is called to suffer for Christ's sake: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Phil. 1:29). "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim, 2:12). It should be noted that when the children of the kingdom are compared to any class of men in suffering, they are taken back to prophets which were before them, and not to the saints who comprise the body of Christ.
Concluding these observations concerning the nine beatitudes, attention should be given to the fact that, in contrast to the nine-fold, self-earned blessing of the kingdom, the believer under grace is to experience a nine-fold blessing which is produced in him by the direct power of the indwelling Spirit. A careful comparison should be made of the nine-fold blessing which is promised under the kingdom, with the nine-fold blessing which is prepared under grace. It will be seen that all that is demanded under the law of the kingdom as a condition of blessing, is, under grace, divinely provided. The two aspects of life which are represented by these two groups of characterizing words are most significant. The total of all the blessings in the kingdom is not comparable with the superabundant "fruit of the Spirit" -- "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (self-control, Gal. 5:22, 23). The very tense of the verb used is important. Under grace, the fruit of the Spirit "is," which indicates the present possession of the blessing through pure grace; while under the kingdom, the blessing "shall be" to such as merit it by their own works.
2. The similitudes of the righteous in the kingdom (Mt. 5:13-16).
In this portion of Scripture the children of the kingdom are likened to the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. "Salt," as a figure, is not so used in the teachings of Moses or in the teachings of grace. However, the Christian is said to be "light in the Lord," and is exhorted to "walk" as a child of the light (Eph. 5:8). Again, "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day" (1 Thes. 5:5). But, concerning Israel in her coming kingdom blessing, it is said: "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles"; "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth"; "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning"; "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising"; "The LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 42:6; 49:6; 58:8; 60:3, 20). Still another contrast appears in this connection: The Christian is appointed to manifest Christ (1 Pet. 2:9); but the children of the kingdom are appointed to manifest their good works (Mt. 5:16).
3. Christ interprets the law in its relation to the kingdom (Mt. 5:17-48).
This Scripture declares that the law shall not pass until it is fulfilled. This has to do with observance, for it is added: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments ... shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." It is the law of Moses intensified. In so doing, Christ transfers the obligation from the outward act to the attitude of the heart. This intensifies, rather than relieves, its legal character. It carries with it the most scorching condemnation possible to law. The Christian is not under law. He has no "altar" other than Christ (Heb. 13:10). The altar is always related either to the Mosaic system, or to the coming kingdom, and is intensely legalistic in character. Concerning the kingdom it is said: "Their burnt-offerings, and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar" (Isa. 56:7. Cf 60:7; Ezk. 43:13-27; Zech. 14:20). The child of the kingdom must agree with his adversary quickly, lest he be cast into prison where there is no degree of mercy available (5:25, 26). To the child of God it is said: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:17-21). The high standard of generous submission is, in the kingdom teachings, substituted in place of the exact equity of the law of Moses (5:38-48). In place of the principle of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," the other cheek is to be turned, the cloak is to be added to the coat, the second mile is to be traveled, no goods are to be withheld from him that asketh, and enemies are to be loved. This is not to be done as an expression of a high position already received in grace: it is to be done meritoriously that "ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." Such relations between men will be required and practiced in the day when the King shall reign in righteousness and Satan is bound. The teachings of grace concerning murder, adultery, divorce, and swearing, are all clearly stated in the Scriptures.
In this portion of the "Sermon on the Mount," the extreme legal penalty for wrong-doing is imposed (5:20-22, 29, 30). Is any child of God under grace in danger of judgment, or the awful penalty of hell fire? Argument is uncalled for in the light of the Scriptures; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment] but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24) "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man [created thing] pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28); "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
It is quite true that believers will be judged by Christ as to the character of their life and service, that the Father chastens every son whom He receiveth, and that the Apostle Paul suggested that he might visit a certain church with a rod; but how different is all this from the penalty of hell fire which is unconditionally imposed on the children of the kingdom because of their sin! How imperfectly believers realize, when they turn from grace, the awful penalties of the law and the meaning of eternal damnation! How precious, too, that such ignorance of the law does not change the abiding, divine covenant of grace into which the believer has been brought through faith in Christ!
4. Mere externalism rebuked (Mt. 6:1-7, 16-18; 7:21-29).
In the kingdom, a spirit of vain show as the actuating motive in alms-giving, offering, of prayer, and professions of devotion, will be judged instantly. On the other hand, these things, if done in secret, will be rewarded "openly." Such recompense should not be confused with the rewards for service which are promised the Christian at the judgment seat of Christ. Humble faithfulness in the kingdom will receive its immediate recognition from the King.
5. Prayer for the kingdom, and in the kingdom (Mt. 6:8-17; 7:7-11).
What is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer," but what is, in reality, the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples when contemplating the kingdom, is not intended to be a ritual prayer. He said: "After this manner therefore pray ye." The prayer is directly concerned with the issues of the coming kingdom. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Of the great themes mentioned in this model kingdom prayer, but one is taken up for special comment and emphasis. It is as though the Spirit of God was seeking to save the reader from any confusion at this point. This special comment amplifies the one petition: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." The divine comment on this reads: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This, again, is purely legal. Forgiveness on the part of the Christian is enjoined; but it is enjoined in agreement with the exalted principle of grace: "Tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you"; "Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13. Cf 1 John 1:9). The legal character of this great kingdom prayer should not be overlooked because of sentimental reasons growing out of early training.
Attempts have been made to relate this divine forgiveness, which is conditioned on a forgiving attitude of the sinner, with the Father's present forgiveness toward the believer who is under grace. Such an interpretation is as foreign to the precise relationships which belong to grace as it would be if the passage were said to teach the present divine forgiveness of the unsaved. Present forgiveness for both the unsaved and the saved is a matter of pure grace, and the divine conditions which are imposed are in perfect harmony with this fact. In this age, the unsaved are forgiven as a part of the entire accomplishment in salvation on the one condition that they believe (Eph. 4:32), and the saved are forgiven on the one condition that they confess (1 John 1:9). These two words do not represent meritorious works; they represent the simple adjustment of the heart to that which is already provided in the grace of God. The cross has changed things for all. A covenant purely of law-works is stated in the passage in question. Such a covenant is the very foundation of all kingdom teaching; but it is wholly foreign to the teachings of grace. Christ, as some claim, must not be presented as a stern, austere Ruler. The marvel is that He is ever anything else. God's holiness is not subject to gracious leniency toward sin. Apart from the cross where redemption's price has been fully paid, there could be nothing but the consuming fire of judgment; but, since God in infinite love has provided a Substitute, there is boundless grace. In this age, God is dealing with men on the ground of His grace as it is in Christ. His dealings with men in the coming age are based on a very different relationship. At that time, the King will rule with a rod of iron. There is no word of the cross, or of grace, in the kingdom teachings. This prayer is, by its own expression, a kingdom prayer.
The whole basis of appeal in this prayer, as in 7:7-11, is the faithfulness of the Father to His children in the kingdom. The basis of appeal in prayer during the days before Christ, or under Moses, was the faithfulness of Jehovah to His covenants. The basis of appeal in prayer under grace is that of the believer's present union and identification with Christ. Access is provided only through Christ (Heb. 10:19, 20), and the new argument of appeal in prayer is, in the name, and for the glory, of Christ. Long after He had taught His disciples the kingdom form of prayer, and after He had turned to the teachings of pure grace He said: "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). The kingdom form of prayer omits every feature of the essential note of prevailing prayer under grace.
6. The law governing riches in the kingdom (Mt. 6:19-24).
The right use of riches, as under grace, will be rewarded in heaven, and there is no compromise: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
7. The Father's care over the children of the kingdom (Mt. 6:25-34).
This portion of the Scriptures is one of surpassing sweetness. As God clothes the lilies of the field, so will He clothe those who rest in Him by faith; but here His care is only for such as seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: while, under grace, His care is unconditioned by any human work or merit: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you"; "Be careful for nothing" (1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6). The same principle of divine care was presented under the law of Moses; but in the form of pure law: "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Ps. 55:22).
8. Warning against judgment of others (Mt. 7:1-6.).
This kingdom law is unyielding: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." One under grace has passed beyond all judgment, by virtue of his acceptance in Christ who died for him (John 5:24). He may be chastened by his Father, which is a form of judgment (1 Cor. 11:27-32); but such judgment is never said to be the return of his own sin back upon his own head, as is prescribed in this portion of the kingdom teaching.
9. Warnings against false prophets (Mt. 7:15-20.).
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." The warning here is against false prophets who are to be discerned by the quality of their lives. The warning to the children of God under grace is against false teachers who are to be discerned by their doctrine concerning Christ (2 Pet. 2:1; 2 John 7-11); never by their lives; for outwardly, false teachers are said to appear as the "ministers of Christ," and to be directly under the power of Satan who himself appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). The attractive personality of the false teacher affords great advantage as a background for the appeal he makes for his doctrine.
10. Three determining statements concerning the kingdom.
a. "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:20). Exposition is unnecessary concerning this passage. It is the foundation of all the demands for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It should in no wise be confused with the believer's entrance into heaven through the finished work of Christ: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Tit. 3:5).
b. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Mt. 7:12). This passage stands as a conclusion of the whole appeal of this kingdom teaching. It is as a key to all that has gone before. The legal principle, restated in this passage, is not said to be any part of the teachings of grace: it is rather "the law and the prophets."
C. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Mt. 7:13, 14). Under the conditions laid down in the kingdom teachings, life is entered by a personal faithfulness (Mt. 5:29, 30; 18:8, 9; Lk. 10:25-28). When this same exhortation is stated in the Gospel by Luke (13:24), it opens with the words, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." The word strive is a translation of agonizomai, which means to agonize. It suggests the uttermost expenditure of the athlete's strength in the contest. Such is the human condition that characterizes all the kingdom passages which offer entrance into life. An abrupt change is met when turning to the Gospel by John, which Gospel was written to announce the new message of grace, which is, that eternal life may be had through believing. No two words of Scripture more vividly express the great characterizing relationships in law and grace than agonize, and believe. Grace is the unfolding of the fact that One has agonized in our stead, and life is "through his name," and not by any degree of human faithfulness, or merit.
There is a dangerous and entirely baseless sentiment abroad which assumes that every teaching of Christ must be binding during this age simply because Christ said it. The fact is forgotten that Christ, while living under, keeping, and applying the law of Moses, also taught the principles of His yet future kingdom, and, at the end of His ministry and in relation to His cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace. If this three-fold division of the teachings of Christ is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion of mind and consequent contradiction of truth.
Again, it is not unreasonable to recognize that these kingdom teachings should directly apply to a yet future age. The Bible is the one revelation from God to all peoples of all the ages. It is not difficult to understand that much of the Scripture applies to conditions which are now wholly in the past; nor should it be difficult to understand that some of the Scripture applies to conditions which are wholly of the future. How else shall we know of the future? Certain revelations are of the coming tribulation period and are in no sense applicable to the present time. Who has ever prayed that his flight should not be on a sabbath day? Yet Christ commanded that prayer to be prayed (Mt. 24:20).
In like manner, the use of the word "whosoever" in Mt. 7:24 does not imply that all the people of all the ages are addressed. It is more reasonable to believe that it applies to the people living under the conditions of the period which the passage describes. The all-inclusive word "he" is used by Christ when He said, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mt. 24:13); but nothing could be more contradictory to the teachings of grace than the principle set forth in this passage. There will be a salvation in the tribulation for those who endure its trials to the end. Under grace, the believer endures because he is saved. If the word "whosoever" in Mt. 7:24 includes those who are saved by grace, then they have been thrust into the blasting covenant of works which that passage proposes, and grace is wholly sacrificed.
Thus it may be concluded that the teachings of the law, the teachings of grace, and the teachings of the kingdom, are separate and complete systems of divine rule which are perfectly adapted to the varied conditions in three great dispensations. The teachings of Moses and the teachings of the kingdom are purely legal, while the instructions to the believer of this dispensation are in conformity with pure grace. There is much that is held in common within all these rules for conduct; but this is no justification for their admixture. All that in the law appertains to life under grace is preserved and restated from the law in the great injunctions and beseechings of grace. To transgress these bounds, is to frustrate grace, and to complicate the individual with the system of law in such a manner as to make him a debtor to do the whole law. The law cannot be broken or divided. It stands as a unit. To undertake any part of it, is to be committed to it all. Nothing could be more unreasonable, or more unscriptural, than to borrow some portions from the law system, either that of Moses, or of the kingdom, and, at the same time, reject other portions. He who will choose the law must, to be consistent, do the whole law (Rom. 10:5), and if he shall break it at one point, he is guilty of all (Jas. 2:10). How precious are the riches of grace in Christ Jesus! How sweet and fitting to the child of God in grace are the heavenly beseechings of grace!
II. THE ORDER VARIES AS TO THE SEQUENCE OF THE DIVINE BLESSING AND THE HUMAN OBLIGATION
The second major distinction between the teachings of law and the teachings of grace is seen in the varying order between the divine blessing and the human obligation. This variation is found to exist when the principle of grace is compared with the principle of law in any form of the law whatsoever. It is equally true of the law of Moses, the law of the kingdom, or, when legally stated, of the larger conception of the law as being the whole revealed will of God. When the human obligation is presented first, and the divine blessing is made to depend on the faithful discharge of that obligation, it is of and in conformity with pure law. When the divine blessing is presented first, and the human obligation follows, it is of and in conformity with pure grace. The varying orders under law and grace may be stated in the words "do and live"; or "live and do." In the case of the law, it is do something with a view to being something; in the case of grace, it is be made something with a view to doing something. Is the Christian who is under grace saved and kept by good works, or is he saved and kept unto good works? The law said "If you will do good, I will bless you"; grace says, "I have blessed you, now do good." Under the law, man lives well to become accepted of God; under grace man lives well since it becomes one to live well who is already accepted. The law presents first a human work to be done: grace always presents first a divine work to be believed. Law begins with the question as to what man ought to do; grace begins with the question as to what God has already done. Every word of the law revelation is thus made to be a conditional covenant of human works: while every word of the grace revelation is made to be an unconditional covenant of divine works.
The instructions given to Israel under Moses, and the instructions proposed for the government of the yet future kingdom in the earth, are purely legal in their character. The farewell word of Moses to Israel as recorded in the closing chapters of Deuteronomy is the crystallization of the whole law of Moses. One passage is the heart of this message: "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be ... But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be." (Deut. 28:1-68).
Every teaching of the kingdom which contemplates the responsibility of the individual is, in like manner, based on a covenant of human works, and is, therefore, purely legal in character. This may be observed in all the kingdom teachings of the Old Testament, and the kingdom teachings of the New Testament. Grace is extended to the nation when, apart from all merit, she is placed in her land, and restored to divine blessing; but the rule of the King will be on the basis of pure law, and the responsibility of the individual to that rule necessarily will be in conformity to the same. Beyond what has gone before in the discussion, this fact will need but a passing illustration from the kingdom teachings of the New Testament:
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth"; "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy"; "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven"; "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"; "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again"; "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven ... Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man" (Mt. 5:5, 7, 20; 6:14, 15; 7:1, 2, 21-24). To this may be added all other kingdom teachings of the New Testament.
The kingdom teachings, likewise, are to be distinguished from the teachings of grace by the order which each presents between the divine blessing and the human obligation. The word of the kingdom is, he that heareth my words and doeth them shall be blessed (Mt. 7:24). The word of grace is, he that heareth my words and believeth them shall be blessed (John 5:24).
In the teachings of grace, the gracious, divine blessing always precedes, and is followed by the human obligation. This is the order maintained throughout the great doctrinal Epistles of the New Testament. These Epistles are therefore subject to a two-fold division. In the first division, the mighty undertakings of God for man are disclosed: while in the second division the saved one is besought and exhorted to live on the plane to which he has been brought in the exceeding grace of God. The first division of the Book of Romans is the unfolding of the saving grace of God toward sinners, which is extended to them on the sole condition that they believe (1:16; 3:22, 26; 4:5; 10:4); the second division is an appeal for a corresponding manner of daily life, which life is "reasonable" in view of the results which God has already achieved in sovereign grace. This appeal is stated in the first verse of the second section: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). The Book of Ephesians opens with three chapters in which there is not one requirement for human conduct; it is the unfolding of the marvelous grace of God in bringing the believer to the exalted heavenly positions which are his in Christ. The opening verse of the second section is a condensation of all that follows: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are called" (Eph. 4:1). So, in like manner, the Book of Colossians opens with a portion which is devoid of even a semblance of an appeal in matters of conduct, since it is occupied with the unfolding of the glory of Christ and the fact of the perfect standing of the believer in Him. The second portion is an appeal: not for the human works which might induce God so to bless the sinner; but for works which are consistent with the present, God-wrought, glorious union with Christ: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1).
The grace order between the divine blessing and the human obligation is preserved in every offer of salvation to the sinner and in every purpose looking toward the preservation of the saint. Since this is the basis of the divine purpose in the ages and the only hope of the sinner, or the saint, it should not be questioned upon a superficial consideration of the Scriptures. There is the widest possible difference between the two replies of Christ to practically the same question: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Answer: -- "This do, and thou shalt live." Again: "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Answer: -- "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent." One answer is related to the law of the kingdom: the other is related to grace, wherein Christ is seen as the "living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever."
It is to be concluded, therefore, that the sinner is saved by grace apart from every human demand other than that he receive that grace as it is for him in Christ, and that the saint is kept by grace unto good works; but not by good works. The righteous Father must insist on the good works in the life of His child; but He does not make these works the condition of His faithfulness. This is the vital distinction, then, between the order relating divine blessing with human obligation in the two systems -- law and grace. One is a covenant of pure works; the other is a covenant of pure grace.
(Consideration should be given to the fact that rewards, which are bestowed in addition to the blessing of the saving grace of God, are offered to the saved one on the principle of merit; and, on the other hand, grace was offered to the people under the law, in addition to the demands of the law, in the provisions of the sacrifices. In no case do these added blessings condition the exact character of the covenant of grace, on the one hand, or the covenant of works, on the other hand.)
Since the covenant of grace which is based on human faith was established in the promises made to Abraham, the covenant of the law, made four hundred years later, and added only for a temporary purpose, cannot disannul it. The reign of law, with its covenant of works, ceased with the death of Christ. Its purpose had been accomplished, and its appointed time had expired. Thus the by-faith principle which was announced in the Abrahamic covenant is brought again into force through the death of Christ. The divine blessing is now unto him that "worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly." "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:3, 5, 24, 25). By this Scripture it is announced that the by-faith principle of the Abrahamic covenant is continued and now offered through the sacrificial death of Christ. This fact is restated thus: "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. ... The law is not of faith" (Gal. 3:9-12). The law was a covenant of works; but the works always failed through the weakness of the flesh, and the law then became, of necessity, a condemnation and curse. According to this same Scripture, the holy will of God is not ignored in grace: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (3:13). This, it must be observed, was wrought under the one great purpose: "That the blessing of Abraham [acceptance in the imputed righteousness of God] might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ" (3:14).
After declaring that the law has passed, either as the grounds of the justification of the sinner (Gal. 3:24), or as the rule of life for the believer (Gal. 3:25), the Apostle challenges the law-ridden Christians at Galatia to consider the fact and force of two great covenants which can in no wise co-exist. He therefore points out that one gave way to the other: "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law [and he is writing to Christians only, concerning the law as a rule of their lives], do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants [the by-works covenant which would depend on the flesh and the by-faith covenant which would depend only on God]; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar [the bondmaid]. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia [where the Mosaic law was given], and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children [Israel]. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all [typified by Sarah, who illustrates the by-faith principle which depends on God alone]. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not [suggesting the utter helplessness of the flesh before God]; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband [or the arm of flesh on which one might depend]. Now we, brethren [Christians], as Isaac was, are the children of promise [we have been saved by faith]. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman [not merely her offspring, but the whole by-works principle which she represents] and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free" (Gal. 4:21-31).
It was concerning the promise of the supernatural birth of Isaac that Abraham believed God, and that belief was counted unto him for righteousness. Afterwards, Abraham turned to the flesh in the birth of Ishmael (Gen. 16:1-4). This two-fold fact illustrates, with all the perfection of the Word of God, the two covenants -- one of faith, and the other of works. The lapse in Abraham's faith typified the intrusion of an age of law. So, also, the relationship with Agar represents what man can do in his effort to be accepted of God. The supernatural relationship with Sarah represents what God can do for one who will believe. The marvels of grace are indicated by the multitudinous offspring of Sarah: not that her physical seed, Israel, are the children of faith; but they, being more exalted than the children of Agar, typify the surpassing victory of God through grace. There can be no co-mingling, or compromising, of these two great covenants. "What saith the Scripture?" should be the end of discussion. The testimony is, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." The by-works principle of the law, and the by-faith principle of grace, cannot co-operate, or co-exist, either in the salvation of the sinner, or in the rule of life for the believer.
The by-works principle of the law is not limited to the fleshly effort to do the particular things found in the law of Moses, and the law of the kingdom. It is the fleshly effort to do anything by which one seeks to become acceptable to God. Therefore, when the teachings of grace are attempted with a view to being accepted of God, they become purely legal in their character. In like manner, when the elements which are contained in the law and restated under grace are attempted in the power of the Spirit and on the basis that acceptance with God is already gained through Christ, these precepts become purely gracious in their character. This principle may be extended to the larger sphere of any and all self-imposed law, regardless of Bible injunctions. In which case it will be seen that the doing of any good works with a view to being accepted of God, is purely legal in character; contrariwise, the doing of any good works because one believes himself to be accepted through Christ, is purely gracious in character. The legalist may thus enter the field of the teachings of grace and suppose himself to be subject to the whole Bible, when, in reality, he has no conception of the blessings and relationships in grace. A person either chooses to accept Christ in the confidence that Christ is all he will ever need to make himself acceptable to God, or he chooses to depend on the best that he can do for himself by good works. The latter is the normal bent of the natural mind. The proposition of becoming acceptable to God by being good, appeals to the fallen heart as the only reasonable thing to do, and, apart from that which it has pleased God to reveal concerning grace, it is the only reasonable thing to do. It therefore becomes a question of believing the Record God has given concerning His Son (1 John 5:10).
Since there is so much delusion in a counterfeit, the person most difficult to reach with the Gospel of divine grace is the person who is trying to do all that a Christian ought to do, but is doing it as a means of becoming accepted before God. His willing acknowledgment of the value of the Christian life his unquestioned reception into the fellowship of believers, and his real sincerity in all Christian activities, constitute his greatest hindrance. Such an one is more deluded than the person who acknowledges no relationship to God. Both fall short and are lost through their failure to believe on Christ as the all-sufficient Saviour; but, naturally, the person who has no false hope is more apt to become conscious of the fact that he is lost than is the person who believes he is a Christian. The law cannot save, and the one who transforms the teachings of grace into a legal system by attempting to do them in order that he may be right with God, is still unsaved.
Turning to meritorious works as a basis of salvation, be those works a precise counterfeit of a true Christian life, is to be under a by-works relation to God, and therefore to be under condemnation; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. Turning to meritorious works as the basis of keeping after one is saved, or as a rule of life for the saved, is to return to a by-works relation to God, from which one has already been saved. It is to fall from grace, and to lose the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. The by-works principle can no more avail for our keeping, than it can avail for our salvation. As God could provide Abraham with a seed under an unconditional covenant, so, under the same unconditional covenant, He could guarantee the future of that seed even to the time when their number shall exceed the stars of the heavens. Likewise, under the present unconditional covenant of grace made in the blood of Christ, God can guarantee the future security of every child of His under grace. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure (Rom. 4:16).
Lastly, the covenant of works is "cast out" because it is fulfilled and superseded by the fuller and more perfect covenant of faith. All that the covenant of works contemplated as a result of a lifetime of human struggle, is instantly accomplished in the power of God through the covenant of faith. By faith in Christ, the believer is made the righteousness of God in Him, and made accepted in the Beloved. This is a perfection of relationship with God to which no human works could ever attain, and to which human works can add nothing. Being related to God through the by-faith principle, the whole object of law-works is more than fulfilled. Thus the law is ended in the death of Christ. The bondwoman is cast out. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Amazing indeed, is the blindness of heart that is not instructed by the tragic experience of failure on the part of the countless millions who have been lost under the by-works covenant! Yet men are still turning to their own works, both moral and religious, in the vain hope that through them they may be accepted of God. To such He must ever be as unapproachable as the mountain of awful fire, thunder, lightning, and earthquake; but to the one who turns to the sufficiency which is in Christ, God becomes the Father of all mercies, and His power and grace are exercised in the behalf of that one for all time and eternity. The awful throne of God's holy judgments becomes a throne of infinite grace. To one thus saved, and whose security is guaranteed, the by-works covenant of the law is in no wise adapted as a rule of life; for that covenant looks beyond to a time of acceptance still future, when the flesh shall have completed its task. Only the teachings of grace are consistent for one who is saved by grace. Those teachings alone counsel him as to that manner of life which is in accord with his present position in grace.
The second major distinction between the rule of law and the rule of grace is, then, that these two systems are opposites in reference to the order between the divine blessing and the human obligation, and this holds true for any life or service whatsoever which may be undertaken.
III. BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DIFFICULTY AND DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DIVINE ENABLEMENT
The three rules of life -- the law of Moses, the law of the kingdom, and the teachings of grace -- are widely different because of two facts: (1) The requirements of the manner of life under them are far from uniform, and (2) these systems differ in the degree of divine enablement which is provided in each. These two facts are so closely related with these governing systems that it is necessary to consider these two facts in their relation to each rule of life:
First. The Law of Moses.
In discussing the law as a regulation for human conduct, attention should be given,
1. As to the measure of requirement which is imposed.
The standard of conduct presented by the law of Moses was limited in its requirements to the extent that its demands were imposed on even unregenerate men. The Mosaic law was addressed to the natural man, and, it is evident, its requirements did not exceed his limitations; yet because of the weakness of the flesh, these demands were never actually fulfilled by any person other than Christ.
2. As to the degree of divine enablement.
There is no hint in connection with the proclamation of the law of Moses of any divine enablement being provided for the keeping of that law. God addressed those commandments to men, and the result was no more than the unaided flesh would produce. The law dispensation, extending over a period of fifteen hundred years, thus became a demonstration of the universal failure of man under the reign of pure law. Christ, through His death, became the end of the reign of law; as He, through His death, is the end of confidence in self-works for all who put their trust in Him.
Second. The Law of the Kingdom.
Again, attention should be given,
1. As to the measure of requirement which is imposed.
The standard of conduct which will be required under the law of the kingdom is, as has been seen, advanced and intensified in its demands beyond that which is presented under the law of Moses. In the kingdom rule, portions of the Mosaic law are extended beyond the overt act to include the very thought and intent of the heart. Added to this, there are entirely new requirements concerning matters of personal yieldedness and devotion to God which are foreign to the Mosaic system.
2. As to the degree of divine enablement.
The degree of divine enablement which will obtain under the rule of the kingdom is seen in three provisions: (a) The environment, (b) the inclined heart, and (c) the outpoured Spirit.
(a) The environment in the kingdom will be that of a purified, transformed earth; creation will be delivered from its present bondage and corruption; Satan will be bound and confined to the abyss; and the subjects in the kingdom will realize the immediate power and inspiration of the personal reign of the King, which will be extended over all the earth.
(b) Added to this is the revealed fact that the King will have inclined the hearts of His people to do His holy will. This great promise is made to Israel as a vital part of the new covenant under which Israel, during the reign of her Messiah King, will yet live in her own land (Cf Jer. 31:33-37; Heb. 8:7-12). These kingdom blessings will also be extended to the nations of the earth (Isa. 11:10).
In the prophecy by Moses concerning the attitude of heart which Israel will experience when restored to her own land, we read: "And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. ... And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day" (Deut. 30:5-8. Cf Hos. 2:14-23; Zeph. 3:14-20; Rom. 11:26, 27).
So, again, in the new covenant it is stated: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more" (Jer. 31:31-34. Cf Heb. 8:8-12).
(c) The promise concerning "the last days" for Israel, according to Joel 2:28-32, is that the Spirit is to be poured out upon all flesh. He records further: "And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."
That this great promise began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, is explicitly stated by Peter in his sermon on that day. It must be borne in mind, however, that Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy concerning the kingdom was made in connection with the renewed appeal to Israel, extended at Pentecost, that she repent and receive her Messiah whom she had slain. As the Gospel was extended to Gentiles in the formation of the Church, the abiding ministries of the Spirit became evident, and the final outpouring of the Spirit which, according to Joel, is to characterize the inception of the kingdom in the earth, awaits the return and enthronement of the King.
Little is revealed as to the enabling power of the Spirit for the individual's life and conduct in the kingdom. Doubtless, to some extent, such power will be imparted. The particular emphasis falls on the national glory as suggested by the phrase "all flesh," and the individual is said to be moved to prophesy and to see visions and to dream dreams.
Thus will Israel be situated in the kingdom. She will have her added responsibilities in the larger demands of the kingdom law, and she will have the added advantage of the kingdom environment, the inclined heart to do the will of the King, and upon her the Spirit will be poured out.
Third. The Teachings of Grace.
The standard of conduct prescribed under the teachings of grace is immeasurably more difficult to maintain than that prescribed either by the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom. It is as much higher than these as heaven is higher than the earth. Similarly, the divine enablement provided under grace is nothing less than the infinite power of the indwelling Spirit.
The teachings of grace are addressed only to the supernatural man who is both born of the Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit. These teachings are such as naturally belong to a citizen of heaven. Since the saving -work of God places the believer in the heavenly positions in Christ, and transfers his citizenship from earth to heaven, it is only consistent that he should be required to walk as it becometh a citizen of heaven. This, it is evident must be a supernatural life. Turning to the Scriptures which reveal the position and responsibility of the child of God under grace, it is found that a superhuman manner of life is proposed and that a supernatural power is provided for its exact and perfect execution. These are two of the most vital facts concerning the teachings of grace and they should be observed with great care:
1. As to the character of the requirements which are imposed.
The manner of life which is enjoined under grace is superhuman. This aspect of the teachings of grace may be seen at every point. A very few passages will suffice by way of illustration:
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5); "That ye should shew forth the praises [virtues] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9); "Giving thanks always for all things unto God" (Eph. 5:20); "That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Eph. 4:1); "Walk in the light" (1 John 1:7); "Walk in love" (Eph. 5:2); "Walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16); "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30); "Quench not the Spirit" (1 Thes. 5:19).
There is no question as to the superhuman character of these injunctions. What human resource is able to reproduce the very virtues of Christ? Who is able to give thanks always for all things? Who will be able so to live that he will not grieve the Holy Spirit, nor quench the Spirit? This demand is for a superhuman manner of life, and the passages quoted are only representative of the whole character of the teachings of grace. These teachings surpass the standards of the law of Moses in the measure in which infinity surpasses the finite. When unfolding the high character of the teachings of grace, Christ said: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another"; "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 13:34; 15:12). The new commandment is in contrast to an old commandment of Moses: "Love thy neighbour as thyself." These Scriptures may be taken as a fair illustration of the difference between the standards of the law of Moses, and the standards of grace. Under the Mosaic system, love for others was to be in the degree in which one loved himself : under grace it is to be in the degree in which Christ has loved us and given His life for us (1 John 3:16).
The standards of the teachings of grace surpass the standards of the laws of the kingdom. The same example -- of love one for another -- will again illustrate. The requirement in the kingdom on this point is stated thus: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" (Mt. 5:43-46).
This is a great advance over the standard of love demanded under the law of Moses. There love was required to a limited degree; but nothing was said concerning the necessary attitude toward the enemy. Christ implies that the law of Moses proposed love for the neighbour and hate for the enemy. The degree of love expected under the ideals of the kingdom is only such as might reasonably be expected from the heart that has been inclined to do the kingdom law. It bears no comparison to the standards of love which are proposed under grace. Consider, first, that love under grace is the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22). Literally, "the love of God is shed abroad [gushes forth] in our hearts by [out from] the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). This both guarantees the exact reproduction in the child of God of the love of Christ -- "as I have loved you" -- and destroys every ground of personal reward for such love. The believer is not said to be rewarded for those graces which are not his own, but which are produced in him by the indwelling Spirit. On the other hand, love, according to the standards of the kingdom is distinctly said to be a matter for personal reward. By such love for enemies, the children of the kingdom will be the children of their Father which is in heaven. This, it is evident, is made to depend on self-wrought conformity to the Father who Himself is benevolent to His enemies. In the "Sermon on the Mount," the Spirit is not once mentioned nor is any divine enablement suggested.
Consider, also, that love, as anticipated in the teachings of grace, is the very heart of the Evangel and evangelism. By the imparted, divine compassion for the lost which brought Christ from heaven to earth and took Him to the cross to die, under grace, men are to be impelled to win souls. Such divine compassion for souls has been the dynamic of all soul-winning work from Pentecost until now. It was the experience of the Apostle Paul as disclosed in his testimony: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:1-3). There was no occasion for the Apostle to be accursed from Christ, nor did he expect to be; but he was willing to be. Thus was the love of Christ, who bore the sin of others, definitely reproduced in the one in whom the Spirit wrought. True passion for the salvation of men is not a manifestation of love springing out of human nature. It must be imparted from God. Therefore evangelism is neither expected nor required in either the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom.
By this very partial treatment of the varying degrees of difficulty presented in these dissimilar rules of conduct, it may be seen that the standards under grace are infinitely higher than the standards of either the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom. They are superhuman.
2. As to the divine enablement.
A supernatural power is provided for the exact and perfect execution of the superhuman rule of life under grace. There is no aspect of the teachings of grace which is more vital than this, or which so fully differentiates these teachings from every other rule of life in the Bible. Under grace, the all powerful, abiding, indwelling and sufficient Holy Spirit of God is given to every saved person. This statement is abundantly established by revelation (John 7:37-39; Rom. 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19; Gal. 3:2; 1 Thes. 4:8; 1 John 3:24; 4:13), and is assumed in every teaching of grace. (Careful study will disclose the fact that Lk. 11:13; Acts 5:32; 8:12-17; 19:1-7; Eph. 1:13 do not contradict this positive doctrine of Scripture.) The superhuman manner of life under grace is not addressed to some spiritual company alone within the whole body of Christ; it is addressed to all believers alike. The imposition of this superhuman manner of life upon all believers alike, carries with it the revelation that all have the supernatural power by which to live according to the superhuman standards. This, it is evident, is according to the teaching of the Word of God.
The character of pure grace is destroyed when the reception of the Spirit into the individual heart is made to depend on any human merit, goodness, or personal consecration whatsoever. In 1 Cor. 6:19, 20 we read: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." The law element is excluded here. Under the law, it would have been written: "Glorify God in your bodies and spirit and ye shall become temples of the Holy Spirit." Under grace, believers are temples of the Spirit without reference to merit, and this is true of every aspect of their salvation. The fact that they are temples of the indwelling Spirit is the basis of this appeal for a holy life. A consideration of 1 Cor. 5:12, 13; 6:1-8 will give abundant evidence of the meritless condition of the Corinthian saints at the time the Spirit addressed this appeal to them through the Apostle Paul. The earnest supplication is for a daily life which corresponds to the wonderful fact that they are already temples of the Spirit.
There is an important distinction to be noted between the indwelling and the infilling with the Spirit. No Scripture asserts that all believers are filled with the Spirit. The filling with the Spirit, which is the requirement for an experience of blessing and the exercise of divine power, is an issue which should be considered wholly apart from the revelation concerning the indwelling Spirit.
The fact that the Spirit indwells every believer is peculiar to the age of grace. In the law dispensation, for particular divine purposes, certain individuals were, at times, filled with the Spirit; but there is no revelation stating that every Israelite, being under the law, was a temple of the Spirit. In like manner, under the law, there was no abiding character to the relationship between the Spirit and individuals upon whom He came (Ps. 51:11). The Spirit came upon them, or departed, according to the sovereign purpose of God. Under grace, the Spirit is not only given to every believer, but He never withdraws. This assurance is based on the unfailing prayer of Christ (John 14:16). This is in precise accordance with the conditions embodied in the covenant of grace. Should human merit determine His abiding presence, then, under that relationship, the basic principle of grace would be superseded by the principle of law-works. The entrance of the Spirit into the heart, and His abiding presence there, is a part of the saving and keeping power of God, which is by grace alone. The revelation of the New Testament with regard to the indwelling, abiding Spirit in every believer is in full agreement with the doctrine of pure grace.
When considering the question of the enabling power of the Spirit in the individual lives of the children of the kingdom, it will be seen from the Scriptures that, at the opening of that period at least, the Spirit is to come upon all flesh, and the individual will prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-22); but there is no revelation to the effect that this will be an abiding presence and ministry, since it is related to mighty signs and wonders in nature which accompany the second advent of Messiah. And, in like manner, there is no revelation concerning the enabling power of the Spirit for conduct in the daily life of the individual in the kingdom. The kingdom teachings of the Scriptures do not emphasize the work of the Spirit. Any divine provision for personal enablement in daily life, it would seem from a careful examination of the Scriptures, is foreign to every aspect of law-rule; whether it be that of Moses, or that of the kingdom.
So vital is the fact that the enabling Spirit is now given to every believer as a part of salvation by grace, that it is presented as a fundamental characteristic of this age. This is the dispensation of the indwelling Spirit. We read: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit [Spirit], and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom. 7:6). Thus the new enabling power of the Spirit characterizes this age, as the "oldness of the letter" characterized the age that is past. Likewise circumcision is now "of the heart," in the Spirit, and not in the "letter" (Rom. 2:29), or as it was in the flesh under the law. Again, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit [Spirit]: for the letter killeth, but the spirit [Spirit] giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6). Reference in this passage is not made to different methods of interpreting Scripture -- a spiritualizing, or a literal method; but to two dispensations with their different methods of divine rule. "The letter killeth" -- such is the inevitable ministry of the law; "But the spirit giveth life" -- divine life, spiritual vitality, energy, and power is provided for the believer under grace, and for every believer alike. Thus it is revealed that the blessing of the indwelling Spirit is an essential characteristic of this age.
If the manner of life under grace is superhuman, so, also, the provided enablement is supernatural, and is as limitless as the infinite power of God. Since God has proposed a humanly impossible manner of life, He has, in full consistency, provided the Spirit who giveth life. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that, since God has proposed the impossible rule of life and provided the sufficient Spirit, the believer's responsibility is thereby changed from being a struggle of the flesh to being a reliance on the Spirit. Grace thus introduces a new problem for the believer's life which is wholly foreign to every aspect of the law. It is the problem of the adjustment of the heart to the holy presence of the Spirit, and of maintaining the unbroken attitude of dependence on the Spirit. The new principle of achievement consists in getting things accomplished in the believer's daily life and service by trusting the power of Another, rather than by trusting the energy of the flesh. The revelation concerning this new problem of life under grace constitutes the major part of the teaching of the Epistles. Not only is the faith principle directly taught in the Epistles; it is implied and assumed in every injunction under grace. The unfolding of the precise relationship between the personality of the Spirit, and the personality of the believer, is not omitted. Experimentally, the believer, when empowered by the Spirit, will be conscious only of the exercise of his own faculties. The Spirit does not disclose His presence directly; His ministry is to reveal and glorify Christ. His presence will be evidenced, however, by the victory that is wrought, which victory could be wrought only by the Spirit.
Thus, either the by-works principle of the law, or the by-faith principle of grace, may be chosen by the believer as a method of achievement even within the deepest issues of Christian conduct and service. If these heaven-high demands are undertaken in the energy of the flesh, they become purely legal in character; if they are undertaken in full reliance on the provided energy of the Spirit, they are purely gracious in character. One is wholly within the scope of the covenant of the law, which covenant is based on works; the other is wholly within the scope of the covenant of grace, which covenant is based on faith. Thus the teachings of grace, when attempted in the energy of the flesh, become a legal code, the demands of which are the most impossible to meet. How very many Christians are under this aspect of law; even those who give some attention to the actual precepts of grace!
There are two inseparable revelations given in the grace teachings of the New Testament. Each one is the counterpart, complement, and supplement of the other, and untold violence is done to the whole revealed purpose of God in this age when either one of these themes is made to stand alone. One theme is presented in that body of Scripture which sets forth the character of conduct that is becoming to the one who is already saved and safe in the grace of God; the other theme is presented in that body of Scripture which sets forth the fact that the life in grace is to be lived in sole dependence on the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit. The latter body of Scripture includes all the details and instructions concerning the life of faith, and the walk in the Spirit. It is obviously imperative that these two revelations shall not be separated. Otherwise, on the one hand, the teachings of grace will seem to be an impossible law-code, or, on the other hand, the walk in the Spirit will seem to be an uncharted, aimless procedure.
In the grace teachings of the New Testament, these two aspects of truth are never separated. In adducing proof of this, it is impossible in a work of this length to review every Scripture bearing upon this truth. Proceeding from the fact that the superhuman manner of life under grace is taught in all the New Testament books beginning with the Gospel by John, there is space for only one quotation from each of these up to, and including, the Epistle to the Colossians. This body of Scripture discloses the truth that the life in grace is to be lived only by the enabling power of God:
John 7:37-39. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)." Here the superhuman outflow of rivers of living water is distinctly said to be the result of the energy of the Spirit.
Acts 1:8. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me." The revelation here is that, apart from the power of the Spirit, there can be no vital witness unto Christ.
Rom. 6:14; 8:4. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." No enabling power was provided for the doing of the law; but such power is provided under grace. "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." No passage in the teachings of grace is more decisive than this. "The righteousness of the law," referred to, is evidently no less than the whole will of God for His child under grace. This divine will is to be fulfilled in the believer; but never by the believer.
1 Cor. 12:4-7. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh [energiseth] all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [Christian] to profit withal." As all Christian service is by the exercise of a spiritual gift, these gifts are wholly realized by the energy of the power of God.
2 Cor. 10:3-5. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." For this superhuman manner of life, the believer is to be "mighty through God."
Gal. 5:16. "This I say then, Walk in [by means of] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." This promise is as sure as it is far-reaching.
Eph. 6:10, 11. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." True overcoming strength is none other than the imparted "power of God."
Phil. 2:13. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Here the divine enablement reaches to the very molding of the desires of the heart, and to the full accomplishment of those desires.
Col. 2:6. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." In this Scripture the very same faith-principle, by which alone a soul can be saved, is continued as the principle by which alone he is to walk.
The whole aspect of grace, which provides a supernatural sufficiency for the superhuman, heavenly conduct, and which is the believer's reasonable life and service, is summed up in two great doctrines of the New Testament:
a. The superhuman manner of life is to be Christlike. He is the pattern: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5); "As he is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17); "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye, should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21); "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). To be inlawed to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21) is to be committed to the very standard of which He is the ideal. Therefore the Christian's standard is superhuman, and beyond the power of human achievement.
b. It is the supreme purpose of the indwelling Spirit to reproduce Christlikeness in the believer. The most comprehensive statement of the reproduction of Christ in the believer is found in Gal. 5:22, 23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (self-control). Every word, as here used, represents a superhuman quality of life. It is an exact description of the life of Christ; but Christlikeness is never gained by the energy of the flesh. These virtues are not found in human nature; they are the "fruit of the Spirit." Under the law, that degree of love is required which is possible to the natural man; under grace, the divine love is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit. This is true of all the superhuman demands under grace. They are wrought into the life by the Spirit. The heavenly standard requires: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). This is humanly impossible, but the fruit of the Spirit is "joy," and the Lord has said, "That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). The standard of grace requires that "The peace of God" shall "rule in your hearts" (Col. 3:15). Man has never achieved this, but the fruit of the Spirit is "peace," and Christ has said: "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27). The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit represents the true Christian graces, since under grace, this fruit is produced in the heart and life by the Spirit.
Likewise, Christian service is to be superhuman. It is the outflow of "rivers of living water"; but "this spake he of the Spirit" (John 7:37-39). It is the full proof of "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2); but, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). It is all supernaturally wrought; for it is the exercise of a spiritual gift-a "manifestation of the Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:7). As Christian character is the composite of the inwrought graces, so Christian service is an imparted "grace." "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph. 4:7); and, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (1 Cor. 12:7).
Divine grace, inwrought and imparted by the indwelling Spirit, results in a manifestation of the very graciousness of God in and through the heart of the believer. It is in no sense an imitation of God's graciousness; it is a reproduction by the indwelling Spirit of that graciousness in the life and service of the believer. This truth is one of the most extensive doctrines of the New Testament (Cf Rom. 12:3-6; 15:15; 1 Cor. 1:4; 3:10; 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 4:15; 6:1-3; 8:1, 6, 7, 9; 9:8, 14; 12:9; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:2-8; 4:7, 29; Phil. 1:7; Col. 3:16; 4:6; 2 Thes. 1:12; 2 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 4:16; 12:15; Jas. 4:6; and 2 Pet. 3:18).
It may be concluded, then, that there are three major distinctions between law and grace: (1) They are unlike because they impose separate and sufficient rules of life, which are, in their character, either wholly legal or wholly gracious; (2) They are unlike because there are in these systems opposite orders between the human obligation and the divine blessing; and (3) They are unlike because the requirements of these systems of divine rule differ, with corresponding revelations concerning divine enablement provided in each.
Since law and grace are opposed to each other at every point, it is impossible for them to co-exist, either as the ground of acceptance before God or as the rule of life. Of necessity, therefore, the Scriptures of the New Testament which present the facts and scope of grace, both assume and directly teach that the law is done away. Consequently, it is not in force in the present age in any sense whatsoever. This present nullification of the law applies not only to the legal code of the Mosaic system and the law of the kingdom, but to every possible application of the principle of law. The larger conception of the law, as before defined, is three-fold: (1) The actual written instructions of both the teachings of Moses and the teachings of the kingdom; (2) The law covenant of works in all of its applications, which conditions blessing and acceptance with God on the ground of personal merit; And, (3) the law principle of dependence on the energy of the flesh, in place of the faith principle of a dependence on the power of the indwelling Spirit. It will also be seen that (4) Judaism is done away.
That the law, in the widest three-fold meaning of the term, is now set aside, is revealed as a fundamental fact in the divine economy of grace. That the law has now ceased, even in its widest meaning, should be considered with unprejudiced attention.
I. THE ACTUAL WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS OF BOTH THE TEACHINGS OF THE LAW OF MOSES AND THE KINGDOM ARE DONE AWAY
These actual written commandments, either of Moses or the kingdom, are not the rule of the believer's life under grace, any more than these systems are the basis of his salvation. The complete withdrawal of the authority of these two systems of law will now be considered:
First. The Passing of the Law of Moses is the Explicit Teaching of the New Testament Scriptures.
An important and determining feature of this truth is found in the difference which is revealed between the abiding, eternal character of the Abrahamic covenant and the temporal, limited character of the law covenant of Sinai. The Abrahamic covenant anticipated both the earthly seed through Israel, and the spiritual seed that would stand related to God on the principle of faith. This covenant, being without human condition, simply declares the unchanging purpose of Jehovah. It will be achieved in pure grace, apart from every human factor, and its accomplishments are eternal. On the one hand, the covenant of the Mosaic law was a temporary, ad interim, dealing with God, which was deliberately chosen by the nation Israel, and which applied to them only. It was plainly designed to govern that people in their land, and for such time as might intervene between their acceptance of that covenant, and the coming of the promised Seed. The Seed is Christ. The coming of Christ into the world was the realization of the hope contained in the Abrahamic covenant, and, of necessity, the termination of the ad interim reign of the law. We read: "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise [the Abrahamic covenant] made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression [though there is sin]. Therefore it [the promise through Abraham] is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law [believing Israelites], but to that also which is of the faith [even believing Gentiles] of Abraham; who is the father [on a faith principle] of us all. ... And therefore it [the faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Rom. 4:13-24). Thus it is demonstrated that the law has no place in the divine dealings under grace. We read again:
The law "was added ... till the seed should come" (Gal. 3:19); but when the Seed did come, the authority of the Mosaic law was no longer required, or even possible, as a principle of divine rule. It was the purpose of God to close every door of access to Himself, but one. This fact is next stated in the argument from the Scriptures: "But the scripture hath concluded all [both Jew and Gentile] under sin" (Gal. 3:22). This, it has been seen, is more than a declaration that men are sinners by nature and by practice, and therefore subject to divine displeasure; it is a universal, judicial decree which places the whole race absolutely without merit before God. From that position there is no escape other than through the exercise of pure grace on the part of God. The divine motive in the universal sentence of the race under sin is declared to be, according to that which follows in the text: "That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe" (Gal. 3:22). Thus the ad interim reign of the law is completely annulled, and the divine blessing is now centered in Christ as the sole object of faith, being promised to them that believe. The law principle is not retained as a possible optional relationship to God: "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It is important to observe, however, that, while God has completely terminated the reign of law by the death of Christ, so far as His relation to man is concerned, man is free to reject or distort the truth of God, and to impose the law obligation upon himself. In such a case, it does not follow that God accepts, or even recognizes, any self-imposed legalism. He could not do so. It does follow, however, that the self-constituted legalist, to be consistent with his own choice, should any part of the law be accepted as binding, must observe the whole of the law to do it. The law was a unit. He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all; whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, and, he is a debtor to do the whole law. Since the law is done away, these statements can only apply to the one who, without divine sanction or recognition, has assumed the obligation of the law.
The following Scriptures disclose the fact that the law was never given to any people other than Israel: "Hear, O Israel" (Deut. 5:1); "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law" (Rom. 9:4); "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature [practice] the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves" (Rom. 2:14); "Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law" (John 18:31); "Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters" (Acts 18:14, 15). The chief captain of the Roman army wrote of Paul, "Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law" (Acts 23:29). Paul answered for himself: "Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all" (Acts 25:8); "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their [not your] law" (John 15:25).
There is no record of any assumption of the law on the part of Gentiles before the death of Christ. At the cross, it will be seen, the divine application of the law ceased even for the Jews, and all -- Jew and Gentile -- were shut up to grace alone; but the Jews, because of unbelief, still persist in the observance of the law which was given to them from God by the hand of Moses; while Gentiles, because of failure to recognize the meaning of the death of Christ and the essential character of pure grace, are assuming the law obligation. This many are doing, some as a means unto justification before God, and some who are saved by faith in Christ, as a rule of life. These two errors -- that of the Jew and that of the Gentile -- are clearly set forth in Scripture. Of Israel it is said: "But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart." But in the case of an individual Jew receiving Christ it is said: "Nevertheless when it [the heart of a Jew] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away" (2 Cor. 3:15, 16).
Turning to the Gentiles, there are two aspects of their assumption of the law: (1) With reference to the certainty of divine judgments on the Gentiles before the cross, or during the period in which the law was divinely imposed on Israel, it is said: "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law." Then it is added concerning Israel, "And as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" (Rom. 2:12). It is impossible that this Scripture offers an optional choice between justification by the law, and justification which is by faith alone; for the word is final relative to God's dealing in this age: "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Rom. 3:20). Reference here is, without question, to conditions which did obtain when the law was in force. (2) Regarding assumption of the law by Gentiles it is said: "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature, [practise] the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another" (Rom. 2:14, 15). Thus the anticipation of assumption of the law by Gentiles is revealed, and the precise effect of the law upon them. The conscience is molded and they stand before a self-imposed condemnation. To such there is no blessing. All that the legal conscience can do is to accuse or excuse for failure. Let it never be supposed that, because of self-imposed legality and misguided conscience, there is any divine recognition of Gentiles as being under the law. God must be true to His eternal purpose as revealed in His Word, and men stand, or fall, before Him now on the sole basis of their attitude toward His saving grace in Christ. Those who are now lost may honestly suppose that they do the will of God in perpetuating the principle of the law with its blasting curse; but they are lost notwithstanding, apart from Christ. It is the people of a past age who will be judged by the law. The Gentiles who now practise the things contained in the law are not said to be subject to divine judgment because of broken law: they are, by that self-imposed law, either self-accused, or self-excused, according as they have created a conscience in regard to the law. The law produces the effect only of discomfort, misdirection, confusion, and limitation of their own conscience.
Before turning to the positive teaching of the Scripture relative to the passing of the law, it may be important to restate the three major aspects of the law, which are yet to be considered in this connection more at length:
1. Both the commandments and requirements of the Mosaic system, and the commandments and requirements of the kingdom, are wholly legal in their character, and, together, comprise the written statement of the law; which law, it will be seen, is set aside during the present reign of grace.
2. Every human work, be it even the impossible, heaven-high beseeching of grace, which is wrought with a view to meriting acceptance with God, is of the nature of a legal covenant of works, and, therefore, belongs only to the law. Through the finished work of Christ, acceptance with God is perfectly secured; but that acceptance can be experienced only through a faith which turns from dependence on merit, and rests in Christ as the sufficient Saviour. In like manner, it will be seen, the whole proposition of legal, meritorious acceptance with God has passed during the reign of grace.
3. Again, any manner of life, or service, which is lived in dependence on the flesh, rather than in dependence on the Spirit, is legal in character and has passed during the present period in which grace reigns. It is written: "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal. 5:18). The law made its appeal only to the flesh, and, therefore, to turn to the flesh, is to turn to the sphere of the law.
The law, though wholly superseded by grace, may now be self-imposed. This may be done by turning for a rule of life to the written legal code of Moses, or of the kingdom; it may be done by turning to self-works as the basis of acceptance with God; or it may be done by depending on the energy of the flesh for power to live well-pleasing to God. Self-imposed law, of whatever kind, is not acceptable to God; but it, like all human sin, may be chosen by the free will of man, and may be practised in opposition to the revealed will of God.
In view of the positive Biblical statements relative to the passing of the law, question may be raised as to the meaning of certain passages:
Gal. 3:23. "But before faith came we were kept under the law." This is in no sense the present experience of the unsaved before they accept Christ. The Apostle is here speaking as a Jew, and of those circumstances which could have existed only for the Jew of the early church who had lived under both the dispensation of Moses, and the dispensation of grace. Nevertheless, in the wider meaning of the law before stated, all humanity was delivered by the death of Christ from the obligation of meritorious works, and from the necessity of depending on the flesh. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them"; "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law"; "God sending his own Son condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Gal. 3:10, 13; Rom. 8:3, 4).
1 Cor. 9:20. The Apostle said that he became "to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law." This is plainly a consideration of the whole class of people who have imposed the law upon themselves in any aspect of the law whatsoever (Note Gal. 4:21).
Rom. 4:14. "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect." This is equally true of all humanity when the larger aspects of the law are in view; but, it should also be pointed out that, the age-long designation of the Jews as being "of the law," in contrast to Gentiles to whom no law was ever given, still obtained in the early church (Cf Rom. 2:23; 4:16).
Rom. 2:13. "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." This is to state an inherent principle of the law. It was an absolute covenant of works. No one is now to be justified by the law (Cf Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11). Again, "As it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law- but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision" (Rom. 2:24, 25). This, likewise, is a principle which belonged to the law. Failure to keep the law was a discredit to God, and an insult to His righteousness (Cf Isa. 52:5). The same principle is a warning to all who attempt, or even contemplate, the keeping of the law (See, also Jas. 2:10).
Rom. 3:31. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." The law has never been kept by those who tried to keep it. It is kept, however, by those who humbly acknowledge their helplessness to do anything well-pleasing to God, and who turn and find shelter in Christ who has met every demand of the law for them. Such, and only such have ever vindicated the holy law of God. The people who attempt to keep the law have always outraged the law.
Rom. 7:16. "If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." The use of the word "law" throughout this whole context (7:15 to 8:13) is clearly of the wider sphere of the whole will of God, rather than the limited commandments of Moses. Not once is Moses mentioned; but "the law of God" is three times referred to (7:22, 25; 8:7).
The complete passing, through the death of Christ, of the reign of the Mosaic law, even for Israel, is the extended testimony of Scripture. A few important passages which declare the fact of the passing of the law here given:
John 1:16, 17. "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for [added to] grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." According to this passage, the whole Mosaic system was fulfilled, superseded, and terminated in the first advent of Christ.
Gal. 3:19-25. "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made ... that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we [Jews] were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [child-conductor] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we [Jews] are no longer under a schoolmaster" (the law). Comment is unnecessary concerning this unconditional declaration as to the passing of the Mosaic system.
Rom. 6:14. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." While the direct message of this passage is of the enablement that is provided for the life under grace, which was never provided under the law, the positive statement is made, "Ye are not under the law."
Rom. 7:2-6. "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit [Spirit], and not in the oldness of the letter."
Several important revelations are given in this passage. The relation of one who had been under the law (which was true of the Apostle Paul) to the teachings of grace was that of a wife to her second husband. The law, or obligation, of the wife to her husband ceases with his death. Should she be married to a second husband, she is then under an entirely new obligation. The sacrificial death of Christ was the ending of the reign of the law, which law is likened to the first husband. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead." Nothing could be clearer than this. The Christian is now under obligation to Christ. He is "inlawed" to Christ. He has only to fulfil "the law of Christ." Certainly it is most unreasonable to propose that a woman should try to be obligated to two husbands at the same time: yet this is the divine illustration of the error of co-mingling the teachings of law and the teachings of grace. Spiritual polyandry is offensive to God.
In the new union which is formed with Christ, there is to be the bringing forth of fruit unto God. This is a reference to the fact that the Christian's life and service is to be enabled by the power of God and therefore is superhuman. The Christian, it is clearly stated, is not only "dead to the law," but is "delivered from the law," and every aspect of the law, that he should serve in "the newness of the Spirit"; for the teachings of grace are particularly characterized by the fact that they are to be wrought by the enabling power of the Spirit. The Christian is not to live and serve in "the oldness of the letter," which is the law. It is by vital union in the body of Christ as a living member that the believer is both absolved from every other relationship, and is made to be centered only in that which belongs to the living Head. Thus positively is it indicated that the opposing principles of law and grace cannot co-exist as rules of conduct.
2 Cor. 3:7-13. "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit [Spirit] be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished."
It is the law as crystallized in the Ten Commandments which is in view; for that law alone was "written and engraven in stones." In the midst of the strongest possible contrasts between the reign of the teachings of the law and the teachings of grace, it is declared that these commandments were "done away," and "abolished." It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory. The passing of the law is not, therefore, a loss; it is rather an inestimable gain. The striking contrasts which are presented in this whole context are here arranged in parallels:
The Teachings of the Law -- The Teachings of Grace
1. Written with ink. -- 1. Written with the Spirit of the living God.
2. In tables of stone. -- 2. In fleshy tables of the heart.
3. The letter killeth. -- 3. The Spirit giveth life.
4. The ministration of death. -- 4. The ministration of the Spirit.
5. Was glorious. -- 5. Is rather glorious.
6. Done away. -- 6. Remaineth.
7. Abolished. -- 7. We have such hope.
Gal. 5:18. "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." There is no place left for the law, and hence no occasion for its recognition. To be led of the Spirit is to realize a manner of life which surpasses and more than fulfills every ideal of the law.
Eph. 2:15. "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances."
Col. 2:14. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."
John 15:25. "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law." This one and only reference in the upper-room discourse to the law of Moses is most significant. As has been shown, Christ, in this discourse, has taken His followers beyond the cross and is unfolding to them the very foundations of the new teachings of grace. These men were Jews; but in this teaching Christ does not speak to them as though the law of Moses was binding on them. He says "their law"; not "your law," thus indicating that these Jews who had come under grace were no longer under the reign of the law of Moses.
By this Scripture not only is the whole law system definitely declared to be done away during the dispensation of grace; but it is noticeable that the law, as law, is never once applied to the believer as the regulating principle of his life under grace. This is not an accidental omission; it is the expression of the mind and will of God.
Thus it may be concluded that the written law of Moses is not intended to be the rule of the believer's life under grace. Yet, on the other hand, the abiding principles of the law which are adaptable to grace, are carried forward and restated under the teachings of grace; not as law, but reformed to the mold of infinite grace. This great fact is aptly illustrated by the experience of an American citizen who was in Germany at the breaking out of the recent war. Fleeing through Holland, he reached England with his pocket filled with German gold coin. This coin, bearing the German stamp, was of no value as currency in England; but, when melted and restamped in the mints of England, it bore all the value of coin in that realm. Thus the intrinsic value of the gold of the law is preserved and reappears bearing the stamp of the new teachings of grace.
In applying the teachings of grace it is legitimate to point out that a similar principle obtained under the law of Moses, thus to demonstrate that the precept in question represents the unchangeable character of God; but it is both unscriptural and unreasonable to apply the teachings of the Mosaic system directly to the children of grace. Since both the law of Moses and the teachings of grace are complete in themselves, wither one requires the addition of the other, and to combine them is to sacrifice all that is vital in each. Great importance should be given therefore to the positive, unvarying message to the believer which is stated in the words, "Ye are not under the law, but under grace."
Second. The Error of Co-mingling the Law of the Kingdom with the Teachings of Grace.
If it be accepted that the Messianic, earthly kingdom, with Israel restored to her land in the full realization of all her covenants, under the reign of Christ sitting on the throne of David, has not been established, and there is now no semblance in the light of present world conditions of that kingdom on earth, then it follows that the laws and principles which are to govern in the kingdom, and which could apply only to conditions within that kingdom, are not yet applied by God to the affairs of men in the earth. It is not a question, as in the case of the law of Moses, of discontinuing that which has once been in force under the sanction of God; it is rather a question as to whether the kingdom laws, which have their application of necessity in the future earthly kingdom of Messiah, should be imposed now on the children of God under grace. Definite proofs are needed to establish the fact that there are kingdom laws presented in the Scriptures. These proofs have already been offered. Having granted that the kingdom laws are found in the Scriptures, should they be considered as any part of the divine instruction now governing the daily life of the Christian? Certainly it is no more difficult to believe that Scripture reveals a rule of life which is not yet in force because belonging to a yet future age, than it is to believe that Scripture reveals a rule of life which is not now in force because belonging to an age which is wholly past. In considering the question as to whether the laws of the kingdom are to be applied to the Christian in this age, the fact that there is a complete system of kingdom ruling, and that this ruling is strictly legal in its character, is assumed on the basis of proofs already given. Certain vital issues, though already mentioned, should not be forgotten at this point:
1. The two systems cannot co-exist.
The laws of the kingdom, being legal in their character, introduce those principles of relationships to God which can never co-exist with the relationships which obtain under grace. By such co-mingling of opposing principles, all that is vital in each system is sacrificed. On the one hand, the sharp edge of the law, which constitutes its sole effectiveness, is dulled by an admixture of supposed divine leniency; on the other hand, the truth concerning the absolute graciousness of God is corrupted by being commercialized, conditioned on the merit of man, and made subject to the persuasion of man. The principle of pure grace demands that God shall in no wise recognize human merit, and that He invariably shall be graciously disposed toward man, and therefore needing at no time to be persuaded by man. God is never reluctant in the exercise of grace: instead, He seeks, draws, and entreats man. The principles of law and grace are mutually destructive, and doctrinal confusion follows the intrusion of any legal principle into the reign of grace. When law is thus intruded, not only is the clear responsibility of the believer under grace obscured, but the priceless attitude of God in grace, which He purchased at the infinite cost of the death of His Son, is wholly misrepresented.
Since the kingdom rule is purely legal, and since the believer is not under law, it follows that he is not under the injunctions of the kingdom.
2. It is not necessary to combine them.
The laws of the kingdom are not required to be combined with the teachings of grace, since every item within those laws, which could have any present application, is exactly and amply stated in the teachings of grace. It is not necessary, then, for the believer to assume any law obligation whatsoever.
When it is shown by Scriptural exposition that the laws of the kingdom are not applicable to the Christian under grace, opposition is sometimes aroused which is based on wrong personal training, habits of misinterpretation, and prejudice. The cost of unteachableness should be weighed with much care; for the sacrifice of the liberty and blessing which belongs to uncomplicated grace is a loss too great for computation. By the right division of the Scriptures, the truth will be clearly seen that grace reigns uncomplicated and undiminished by law.
The kingdom law is a complete and indivisible system in itself. It is therefore unscriptural, illogical, and unreasonable to appropriate convenient and pleasing portions of this law, and to neglect the remainder. It should be considered that, as in the Mosaic system, to adopt some portions of the law is to be committed logically to all its teachings. "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them"; "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them"; "And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them" (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10, 12. Cf Lev. 18:5); "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law" (Rom. 3:19); "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. 5:3). Not only are some aspects of the kingdom law never attempted by Christians (Cf Mt. 5:42); but its whole character, being legal, is opposed to grace.
The law of Moses is interrelated and wholly dependent on the sacrifices and ritual provided for Israel in the land. The laws of the kingdom are only related to the yet future kingdom conditions which shall be in the earth under the power and presence of the King when Satan is bound, creation delivered, and all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest. All harmony of truth is shattered when there is the slightest co-mingling of the principles of law and grace. Grace alone now reigns through Christ to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
II. THE LAW COVENANT OF WORKS, IN ALL OF ITS APPLICATION, WHICH CONDITIONS BLESSING AND ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD ON PERSONAL MERIT, IS DONE AWAY
Under this conception of law, its scope is extended beyond the actual writings of the Mosaic system and the law of the kingdom, and includes, as well, any human action, whether in conformity to a precept of Scripture or not, which is attempted with a view to securing favor with God. The law formula is, "If you will do good, I will bless you." It matters nothing what is undertaken as an obligation. It may be the highest ideal of heavenly conduct belonging to the teachings of grace, or it may be the simplest choice of moral action in daily life; but if it is attempted with a view to securing favor with God, such relationship to God is self-imposed, since it ignores His attitude of grace, and such attempt is purely legal in character and result. Let it be restated that the basic principle of grace is the fact that all blessings originate with God, and are offered to man graciously. The formula of grace is, "I have blessed you, therefore be good." Thus it is revealed that the motive for right conduct under grace is not to secure the favor of God, which already exists toward saved and unsaved to an infinite degree through Christ; it is rather a matter of consistent action in view of such divine grace. The unsaved are not urged to secure salvation by meritorious conduct, or even to influence God in their behalf by asking for salvation. Since God is revealed as standing with out-stretched hands, offering His greatest possible blessings in grace, and is moved to do so by His unchanging, infinite love, it illy becomes a sinner to fall before Him in an attitude of coaxing and beseeching, as though he were hoping to move God to be merciful and good. The message of grace is: "But as many as received him, to them gave he the power [right] to become the sons of God" (John 1:12). The eternal saving grace of God is offered to all who will believe. Moreover, the saved do not return to divine fellowship after a relapse into sin because they plead for divine forgiveness; their restoration is conditional on confession. They do not abide in divine fellowship because they seek, or merit, the light; they are instructed to "walk in the light" which is all theirs through riches of grace. In no case are divine blessings to be secured by human merit, or by pleading; they await the faith that will appropriate them. Every gift of divine love is provided and bestowed in pure grace; and not of necessity, nor as a payment, nor a recognition of human merit. Such lavishings of grace create a superhuman obligation for that manner of life which is consistent with the heavenly blessing and position which grace bestows; but the heavenly blessing and position is never earned by even a superhuman manner of life.
The determining character of pure law is seen in the fact that it is a covenant of works wherein the divine blessing is conditioned on human merit. No semblance of this principle is to be found under grace, except that rewards are to be bestowed for faithful service upon those who have already entered into every present position and possession provided in grace. It therefore follows that, not only the written rules of the law, but the very principle of the law covenant of works, has been done away in this age of grace.
III. THE LAW PRINCIPLE OF DEPENDENCE ON THE ENERGY OF THE FLESH, IN PLACE OF THE GRACE PRINCIPLE OF DEPENDENCE ON THE POWER OF THE INDWELLING SPIRIT, IS DONE AWAY
The third and last major distinction between law and grace is seen in the attitude of heart-dependence which is maintained in view of any and all obligation toward God. The law, being a covenant of works and providing no enablement, addressed itself to the limitations of the natural man. No more was expected or secured in return to its commands than the natural man in his environment could produce. The requirements under the law are, therefore, on the plane of the limited ability of the flesh. On the other hand, grace, being a covenant of faith, and providing the limitless enablement of the power of the indwelling Spirit, addresses itself to the unlimited resources of the supernatural man. The requirements to be met under grace are, therefore, on the plane of the unlimited ability of the Spirit. There is no divine injunction addressed to the unregenerate concerning his daily life. The Gospel of the saving grace of God alone is offered to him. The only divine injunctions now in force in the world are addressed to those who are saved, and these heaven-high standards are to be realized on the principle of faith toward the sufficiency of the indwelling Spirit, and never by dependence on the energy of the flesh.
Thus, it may be seen, that any aspect of life, or conduct, which is undertaken in dependence on the energy and ability of the flesh is, to that extent, purely legal in its character; whether it be the whole revealed will of God, the actual written commandments contained in the law, the exhortations of grace, or any activity whatsoever in which the believer may engage. Dependence on the arm of the flesh is consistent only with pure law; dependence on the power of God is demanded under pure grace. Since there is no provision for the flesh in the plan of God for a life under grace, the law is done away.
IV. JUDAISM IS DONE AWAY
It is often inferred that Christianity is an outgrowth or product of Judaism. In reality these two systems are as independent of each other as the two opposing principles of law and grace. Being thus so widely different in their essential elements, they are, like the principles which they embody, as far removed the one from the other as heaven is higher than the earth. One is of the earth, the old creation, and the flesh; the other is of heaven, of the new creation, and the Spirit. As there are elements and threads of truth which run throughout the entire Bible, so certain features which belong to Judaism are seen to reappear in Christianity; but this obvious fact should not be made the basis of a supposition that these systems are the same, or that one was merged into the other. God, holiness, Satan, man, sin, redemption, and the issues of eternity, are not only relevant facts of both Judaism and Christianity, but they are essential facts of all time, from its beginning to its end. It is true that the same God is the God of the Gentile as well as of the Jew, and that the Jew anticipated the value of Christ's death by sacrifices, as we realize the value of His death through faith; but it does not therefore follow that God's purposes and ways are the same with Israel as with the Church.
When these two systems are confused, it is because the differentiating essentials which constitute the Jewish religion and Christianity are ignored.
First. Considering, Them as Rules of Life.
The Old Testament system of law is absolutely superseded by the new system under grace. Christians are not under law either for justification or for sanctification. When Christ said, "I came not to destroy, but to fulfil," and that nothing should pass from the law until all was fulfilled (Mt. 5:17, 18), He was dealing with Israel while Judaism was still in force, and anticipating the Messianic Kingdom which, it is revealed, will be purely legal in its character.
Second. Considering Them under Their Respective Aspects.
In the matter of service, there is nothing but contrast between Judaism and Christianity. Israel, under Judaism, went in to perform a sacrifice; we go out to proclaim a sacrifice. "Judaism had its ritual, its forms, and its ceremonies which were typical. Christianity could incorporate none of these since it provides a living union to Christ who is Substance and Antitype of all that Judaism prefigured.
Third. Considering Them in Respect to Personal Relationship to God.
Under Judaism, the nation was related to Him by the covenant of Sinai, the Abrahamic covenant being temporarily set aside until Christ should come (Gal. 3:19), and individual Israelites were spiritually renewed through their personal faith, though the exact character of their salvation is not revealed. But, under grace, all the positions and possessions of the believer in relation to God transcend the earthly promises of Israel.
The message of Ephesians 2:18 to 3:10 does not teach that the Church is being built on the prophets of the Old Testament; reference is only to the prophets and apostles of the New Testament (Cf 4:11). In like manner, the "mystery" (3:6) is the formation of a new humanity -- the Church -- out of both Jews and Gentiles, and not a combining of Old Testament saints with New Testament saints. The theological term, The Old Testament Church, has no Scriptural warrant (Acts 7:38 is no exception, being merely a reference to an assembly of people). The true Church began at Pentecost, and was made possible through the new outflow of grace in Christ Jesus, -- by His death, resurrection, and ascension, -- and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, Gentile branches are not grafted into Judaism, but into Christ (Rom. 11:17). He is the Vine.
Judaism speaks of an earthly people and an earthly walk in the flesh. Christianity speaks of a heavenly people and of a heavenly walk in the Spirit. Since one is of the old creation, its people are under the curse of the First Adam, and its history closes in failure. Since the other is of the new creation, its people are ensphered in the resurrected Christ, and its history will be the consummation of the glory of divine grace. Christianity is indebted to Israel for the humanity of Christ and for the Oracles of God; but Israel, the people, must be distinguished from Judaism, the law system. Israel abides to the present hour, while Judaism, so far as divine recognition goes, ceased with the death of Christ. Israel, like all the nations, was, as a whole, in Adam, lost and undone. While for Israel there was healing for sin and mercy from God, no one under Judaism had any clear vision or revelation of the new life and relationship under grace, which more than all else distinguishes Christianity.
The new life and relationship which characterizes Christianity is Christ as the sphere of the new creation. CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST. It is the unlimited, unrestrained love of God in Christ and its final result will be the unveiling of the glory of His grace in the ages to come. Judaism, through the nation Israel, purposed the highest glory in the earth. Christianity, through the Church, purposes the highest glory in heaven. One is of the "first man" who is "of the earth, earthy." The other is of the second Man, who is "the Lord from heaven."
Judaism was based on the law and, like the law, applied only to Israel and passed out of force with the death of Christ. So, likewise, Israel alone was delivered from the written commandments of Moses through the death of Christ. However, both Jew and Gentile were delivered by that death from the hopeless principle of human merit, and from the useless struggle of the flesh.
The exalted quality of the law is never questioned. It is the expression of the very character of God. "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12). The law did not die; it was a race that died unto the law in Christ the Substitute. The holy demands of infinite righteousness can never change or pass away; but man may be changed in his exact responsibility to God and to certain particulars of His holy demands.
The sanctity of the law is never preserved by those who attempt to keep it. The holy will of God was never wrought by any person other than Christ. The effort of man has universally failed. The supposition that God will be pleased and honored by any fleshly attempt to do His will, is a delusion as old as the race. Those who try to keep the law, or try by their own effort to do the whole will of God, outrage the law at every step by their absolute failure. On the other hand, those who, in recognition of the righteous character of the law, bow before those holy demands, acknowledging their utter failure and inability to fulfil them, and who flee to Christ that they may stand in His redemption and partake of the very righteousness of God in Him and be sheltered under the cross whereon He met every demand of the law for them, are the only ones who really uphold the law, or keep it. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31).
We may conclude, then, that every aspect of the reign of the
law has ceased with the death of Christ and the introduction of
the reign of grace. There is no longer any obligation to do the
things which are written in the law, only as they have been
transferred and restated under the teachings of grace; there is
no longer any obligation to secure favor with God by human merit;
and there is no longer any yoke of bondage, or impossible burden
to do what no flesh has ever been able to do. There is perfect
liberty and victory in the priceless provisions of grace; For ye
are not under the law but under grace.