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Friday, September 27, 2013

Law and Grace # 17

The Standard of Life for Christians

The standard is the will of God in the context of His grace given in our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed perfectly in the entire written Word of God. This is so important that it should be memorized. The essential elements are:

a. The will of God.
b. In the context of His grace.
c. Given in our Lord Jesus Christ.
d. Revealed in the entire Word of God.

Three passages should be read and studied in this connection. The first is Romans 12:1-2, where Paul sets before us as Christian believers what he calls "the will of God." But it should be noticed that this "will" of God is enshrined within "the mercies of God. The "mercies" are first. For saved sinners this is the order of approach to the "will of God." The first eleven chapters of Romans are devoted to the exposition of the "mercies" of divine grace. Then the apostle takes up the matter of God's will for Christians, and he sets it before us in the very center of the "mercies." In exhorting us to realize the "will of God," he writes, "I beseech you... by the mercies of God". This is what we mean by "the will of God in the context of His grace."

The second passage is John 5;39, where our Lord declares Himself as the central object and theme of all written revelation. To the Jewish hearers of His day, men who prided themselves on their zeal in study of the written Word, He says, "Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life." And then he reminds them that these same Scriptures "are they which bear witness of me." If they miss Him, all their zealous searching of Scripture will count for nothing. For the gift of eternal life comes only by divine grace, and the grace of God comes only in His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the will of God in the context of His grace is found in Christ alone. "Grace ... came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

The third passage is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where the Holy Spirit through Paul affirms that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" in every way for the children of God, to bring them to perfection and furnish them unto all good works.

Consider now these important truths found in the above three passages:

1. The entire written Word of God is able to make us "wise" with reference to that salvation which we have by faith in Christ. It is undoubtedly true that a sincere perusal of the Scriptures can, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, bring the unsaved to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also true that one may in simple faith receive eternal life in Christ and yet remain unwise in many respects with reference to that great salvation. For this reason God has given us His total written Word to make us "wise" regarding the greatness of our salvation in Christ.

2. This entire Word of God is "profitable" to all Christians in all its various parts. We should notice the sweeping character of the apostle's statement "All" scripture ... is profitable." Or as it is also properly translated, "Every scripture ... is profitable". Let us beware, therefore, of the error of supposing that there is anything in the Book of God which can be set aside, or even neglected, by the Christian believer. All of the Book - every part of it, no matter how small - will be found "profitable" for the saved. We cannot dispense with any of it without loss to ourselves. In this connection, it needs to be emphasized without any compromise, that "all scripture" includes the law of Moses. Not only so, but it includes all the elements of that law - moral, ceremonial and civil. And included also are the penalties of the law. We who are saved are NOT under the law, but the law is part of the written Word and is therefore "profitable" to the saved. In what way is "all scripture" profitable? The answer is: (a) "for doctrine", (b). "for reproof," (c). "for correction," (d). "for instruction in righteousness." We find  in 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 an instructive lesson in how Paul used the law of Moses in the Pentateuch in the various ways outlined above for the good of Christian believers in his day. We are not under the law; but because that law is inspired Scripture, it is full of valuable doctrine and useful lessons for us.

3. This entire written Word serves as a "mirror" for the Christian. In this perfect mirror of the Scriptures we may see ourselves. Speaking of the Word of God in relation to Christian believers, James describes the man who "beholding his natural face in a glass: .. and goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was" (James 1:23-24). He contrasts him to the man who not only "looketh" at himself in the mirror  but also is a "doer" of something about the matter (1:25). In the beginning, the difference between the two men is not merely a matter of doing or not doing, but rather in the manner in which they look into the mirror of the Word. The Greek verb of verse 24 suggests a merely casual look,whereas the verb of verse 25 indicates a careful look. It is the careful look and continuance therein that produces the "doer of the work" and the resultant blessing.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 18)

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