Christians struggle with the meaning of grace, as compared with the significance of keeping the Law. Paul attempted to deal with this controversy in Romans 6. But, apparently Paul left some inadequately answered questions. This is just as the majority of people still do not know what a Christian is.
Jesus declared: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19) (ESV).
The above scripture is very clear in that Jesus’ listeners were expected to be committed to keeping the Law, according to how it had been given to Moses. I fully understand those committed to Sabbath-keeping, today, as people struggling with the deficiency of knowledge.
The whole chapter of Romans 6 shows that Christians are not under the Law anymore. After having been baptized, a Christian becomes a new creation, so that he/she is no longer under the slavery of sin, as controlled by the Law.
There is no paradox, whatsoever. The person referred to, by Paul in Romans 6, is a new creation. That person is not under the Law any more, just as Jesus was not under the Law. That person thinks like Jesus, being the child of God, just as Jesus was the Son of God (Romans 8:15-17).
What then did Jesus mean by not having come to abolish the Law? He exactly meant that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. The fulfillment was accomplished on the cross. None of us could have ever kept the Law according to its perfection, except Jesus who accomplished that through the cross, on our behalf:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14) (ESV).
Without understanding the concept of being a new creation makes it impossible for anyone to ever understand the freedom from the Law. A lot of people just talk a great deal about not being under the Law, but being under grace. But the truth is that most of those people do not know what they are talking about.
Others try to use the analysis that the Law was for the Israelites and therefore not applicable to the gentiles. That cannot surprise anyone who knows that anyone groping in darkness is susceptible to grab anything in the vicinity, as serving to quench his/her ignorance.
God’s Law is still applicable, just as it was applicable in times of Israel; as long as the person concerned has not become a new creation. However, on becoming a new creation, that person is not under the Law anymore, just as Romans 6 attests. As a new creation, a Christian ceases to be under the dictates of the Law.
Like Jesus, a Christian takes orders directly from his/her Father in Heaven. That Christian will be part of the royal family that will govern the world (1 Peter 2:9). If Jesus was not under the Law during His sojourn on earth, His brothers (Christians) ought to be in the same category as Jesus was.
At His second coming, Jesus will be the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelations 19:15-16). However, other people, as subjected under that Kingdom, will be governed according to the same Law that was used to govern the Israelites. Those people will still be surviving in the flesh and being governed according to God’s Laws, for the duration of one thousand years (Revelations 20:6).
However, after the Heaven and earth have passed away, the Law will, at that time, be totally banished (Revelation 21:1). This is in line with what Jesus said in Matthew 5:18. It should be taken as principle that there is nothing that Jesus said by His word of mouth that should be treated as idle.
In Romans 14 Paul dwelt on instructing those with diverse opinions on what constituted submission to God’s authority. His instruction was that no-one had a mandate to superintend over others, when worshiping according to their understanding.
These were times of introducing the gospel to a people still struggling with appreciating the value of Jesus. If Paul had taught being dogmatic about keeping the Law; that would have obviously confused those converts, concerning appreciating the significance of Jesus.
Yet, at the same time, if Paul had taught those people to be dogmatic about not keeping the Law he would also have confused them. He would have left them supposing that the advent of Jesus meant indulging in Lawlessness. In other words, Paul contended with the people who got converted, but requiring more time to appreciate the significance of Christianity.
This is why to the Corinthians; Paul declared that he had given them milk, because they had not yet been ready for meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). If Jesus, Himself, had struggled with the hardheartedness of people unable to appreciate the Kingdom (John 6:60-61), what more Paul, who was as human as we are?
However, similar confusion still exists today, just like in Paul’s time. Grace is being viewed as fashionable. Those people elevate the person of Jesus, but not what He taught. The problem with preaching grace is that it confuses many people into supposing that in Christ we are free to indulge in sinfulness, banking on the grace of our Lord?
However, while grace is included in the package, it has got nothing to do with the gospel of the Kingdom of God, whose messenger was Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus advised to seek first the Kingdom of God, before all other things could be added (Matthew 6:33). It is a question of understanding the meaning of the gospel of God’s Kingdom.
God’s invitation has got nothing to do with works. That invitation is unconditional, but the invitees are expected to truthfully accept it (Matthew 22:2-14). Such truthful invitees would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to achieve the desired righteousness; thereby, accomplishing what ordinary humans cannot accomplish (John 14:12, 15-17).
The Christian organizations, stocking the world today, serve only to reveal how confused Christianity is. What a shame! Most Christians would attest to the reality of there being confusion in Christianity, but without being able to know the cause, let alone the cure for it.
However, the reason is that those Christians do not even know Jesus Christ, though professing to worship Him. They may know the story of Jesus, including how He went through the traumatic experiences of the cross, but without knowing who the Christ is. [See “Revealing the Christ in Jesus”].
Also, if all those people professing to be Christians, today, were truly so, all problems of the world would probably not be as appear to be the case right now. [See “Only in Jesus is order recognized”]. What currently prevails is that Christianity, being used as one of the religions of this world, is generally incapacitated, to solve the problems of this world.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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