The Necessity of the Law
in the Presentation of the Gospel

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?

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 sense?

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

God's Justice
Conviction of Sin
Righteousness by Works
God's Grace
Believing the Promise
Righteousness by Faith
Old Testament
The Old Covenant
The Law
John the Baptist
The Synoptic Gospels
Romans 1:18-3:20
New Testament
The New Covenant
The Gospel
The Gospel of John
Romans 3:21+

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." Deut 6:25

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." Jer 31:33-34

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

Romans 3:19,20

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. 

Romans 3:21,22

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

because we all fall short of God's standards,

the law has a necessary purpose in leading us to Christ

It does so by convicting us of sin

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

The fact that the law brings conviction of sin is the reason why it is presented first

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 Testament.

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