17 September 2013

Law and Gospel, 3

This is part 3 of a series looking at Law and Gospel. Links to the previous installments: Part 1 Part 2.

Having said that both concepts of Law and Gospel are present throughout the whole Bible, it could be helpful to substantiate that claim with some examples. I contrasted this view with that of seeing Law as Old Testament era and Gospel as New Testament (into the present) era. Here's how I'd depict the contrast:
Erroneous view
More accurate view


Since it is usual to see Law in the OT, I will only show examples of Gospel in the OT and likewise only examples of Law in the NT.

Gospel in the OT

By Gospel I mean anything that God gives to humanity out of sheer grace based on Christ's merit, apart from any merit of the recipients.
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Gen 3:21 ESV)
This may seem insignificant, but Adam and Eve's new clothes were really a gift from God that they did not deserve. The skins is an indication that animals were killed in order to provide these clothes. God indicated that to trespass his law meant certain death (Gen 2:17), yet here God shows that He is gracious to spare them by providing atonement in a substitute. Yet, what was it that allowed God to pass over their sin, allow them to live, and give them clothes? How could He neglect justice? Was it the death of these animals that satisfied His justice? Surely not. Only the atoning death of Christ could provide this (see Rom 3:23-26). The sacrifice of the animals was to indicate to Adam and Eve the severity of their sin, that it indeed deserved death, but that God is gracious, and that He is gracious based on the merits of a substitute. The animals were suggestive of the substitute concept, while Christ is always the actual substitute. I don't think Adam and Eve were confused on this, because previous to the gift of clothes God had announced the coming of a Messiah:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Gen 3:15 ESV)
Then, after pronouncing Eve's curse of pain in childbirth, this seemingly random statement comes:
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (Gen 3:20 ESV)
Though she had yet to give birth to anyone, it seems that to have called her "mother of all living" was their statement of faith in God's promise to provide in her offspring a savior, the true substitute, the victor over Satan. And the very next verse, on the basis of their confession of faith in the Messiah, comes the gracious provision of clothes.

This post has already gotten too long, but this understanding of the animal sacrifices as not sufficient in themselves but as pointers to the true sacrifice is a significant concept to remember throughout the OT (so I won't provide commentary for the following examples). It may seem that God's gracious favor can be merited through animal sacrifice, but in reality the one offering the sacrifice did so in faith of God's promise of the real sacrifice to come. God's grace is merited only by Christ's atonement and his righteousness accounted to the sinner when the sinner believes, whether that sinner was Adam or me or any in between.
(Gen 8:20-22 ESV) 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."
(Gen 15:5-6 ESV) 5 And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
(Gen 22:17-18 ESV) 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.
As the NT explains in Gal 3:8, "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'In you shall all the nations be blessed.'"

Law in the NT

By Law I mean anywhere that God commands.
(Mat 5:17, 21-22, 27-28 ESV) 17 "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. ... 21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. ... 27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
(Gal 5:19-21 ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Jam 4:11 ESV) 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
(1Pe 1:14-16 ESV) 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 
(1Jo 2:15-17 ESV) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life--is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

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