The Necessity of the Law
Is the teaching of morality and the practice of
righteous living an essential prerequisite to the presentation of gospel
of salvation? Or should Christians present the gift of eternal life though
faith in Jesus Christ without making reference to a person's performance?
in the Presentation of the Gospel
From my experience, few seem to sense the need to be saved and the
urgency to escape the wrath of God. Why? And how can we give people this
Or, for such people who have little conviction of sin, perhaps we
should ignore God's justice and present Him as a sort of Santa Claus figure
just focussing on His love and the fact the gift is freely available?
I seem to have run into many "Christians" who are products of such
a philosophy. And "as they have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so they
walk in him". They received him as a sort of Santa Claus figure without
conviction of sin and the fear of God, and so they walk - doing whatever
they want to do with no regards to submission to God.
How did God present the gospel?
Throughout the Bible, God presented the law
or its symbolic representation before the gospel
Conviction of Sin
Righteousness by Works
Believing the Promise
Righteousness by Faith
The Old Covenant
John the Baptist
The Synoptic Gospels
The New Covenant
The Gospel of John
The Old Covenant
"And if we are careful to obey all this law before
the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."
The New Covenant
"This is the covenant I will make with the house
of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their
minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will
be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother,
saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least
of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their
wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
The Synoptic Gospels
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked,
"Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus
replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey
the commandments." Matt 19:16,17
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher,"
he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied.
"How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and,
'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied.
"Do this and you will live." Luke 10:25-28
The Gospel of John
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one
and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but
have eternal life." John 3:16
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word
and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;
he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says
to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and
the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared
righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we
become conscious of sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law,
has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness
from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Why did he do that?
Though righteousness cannot be obtain by a person's performance
"know that a man is not justified by observing
the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in
Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing
the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."
because we all fall short of God's standards,
"For if a law had been given that could impart
life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the
Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what
was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given
to those who believe." Gal 3:21,22
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory
of God" Rom 3:23
the law has a necessary purpose in leading us to Christ
"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ
that we might be justified by faith." Gal 3:24
It does so by convicting us of sin
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous
in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious
of sin." Rom 3:20
This being the case, those who lack the conviction of sin or think that
they can make it on their own are not qualified to receive eternal life
"You who are trying to be justified by law
have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
All who rely on observing the law are under a
curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to
do everything written in the Book of the Law." Gal 3:10
The fact that the law brings conviction of sin is the reason why it is
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly
not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.
For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not
said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the
commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from
law, sin is dead. Rom 7:7,8
Several days later Felix came with his wife
Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he
spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness,
self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's
enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for
you." Acts 24:24,25
As Paul has also demonstrated in the book of Romans, he starts his presentation
of the gospel with a discourse on sin and judgment with the hope that it
would produce the fear of God's judgment and so drive one to consider the
good news seriously.
Why do we start people in the middle of the book?
Why does it seem that the Old Testament is not held in as high a regard
in the Christian community as the New Testament? It seems when God wrote
the book He had little concern about people being turned off by his hatred
of sin and bringing harsh judgments against what many consider to be minor
offenses. In fact what He considers serious sin is often much different
from the world's point of view. Whereas He seems to tolerate slavery and
polygamy, those who commit adultery or just curse their parents are put
to death! Which seems opposite to the way the world thinks. In so many
ways it seems that God's attitude is much different than that commonly
found in the world. Yet He makes no excuse for anything He did in the Old
This is why the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery
to Jesus. They wanted to see if he agreed with the God of the Old Testament.
And he did - He commanded that she be stoned to death - only that the person
without sin be the first to throw a stone. And before he sent her away
he commanded her to sin no more. (Little did the religious leaders know
that they were speaking to the God of the Old Testament)
If people don't like God as He has presented Himself in the Old Testament,
then to hell with them (literally)!
If a person acknowledges that they are sinners, but they don't agree
with what God calls sin or don't agree with His judgment against sin are
they qualified to be saved? I think not! For how can you say that you believe
in God, but don't agree with what He said. Isn't it like making the golden
calf in the place of God worshipping it?
Yet often Christians seem to treat the Old Testament as if that's
the way God used to be, but He's not like that anymore.
However, having said that, I do find the New Testament to contain
sufficient and concise information on these matters to warrant starting
a person off in it, rather than starting in the Old Testament. The synoptics
gospels and the beginning of Romans particularly emphasize these points.
But lets not skip or skim through them, for as zealous as some of us want
to see those around us become believers, to do so without having firm convictions
concerning sin and judgment often results in mere nominalism. And how can
these be achieved? By presenting the gospel as God did throughout the Bible
and as Jesus did, presenting issues of sin and judgment first.
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources