11 March 2013

Yes Grace, but What About All Those Commands?

Over the past couple of months, I have been chewing on the relationship between unmerited grace and the commandments that we see in the Bible.  Let me lay some groundwork before proceeding.  
  1. There are hundreds of commands given to the Israelites in the Old Testament.  We see again and again that God's people fail to live up to those commands.  God is perfectly holy and they are not, which leads to ongoing rebellion and God's anger at their sin.   
  2. We also see in the Old Testament that God's ultimate plan is that He will save His people, not based on anything they have done, but because He is merciful.  When you look for this message, it is everywhere in the Old Testament.  One of the clearest places to see this in my opinion is in Genesis 15, where God establishes covenant with Abraham.  In that passage (e.g., verse 17), it is evident that God passes between the animal pieces alone without Abraham, establishing that salvation is monergistic (e.g., God alone does it) rather than synergistic (God and Abraham do it together).  
  3. In the Gospel accounts, we see this salvation come to fruition.  God sends Jesus his only son to save His people.  We read again and again that by his death and resurrection, he bore our sin and shame...all of it...and gave us his righteousness.  In Christ our slates are clean, not because of anything we've done, but because of his mercy.  No matter what we have done, or what we will do, those who are in Christ find forgiveness in him. Always.
  4. HOWEVER, there are many (hundreds!) commands in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.  What shall we do with those?  Here comes my current thinking: God gave us these commands, these imperatives, because he knows what is best for us.  These commands provide us with a view of what righteous living is all about.  God wants good things for His children and so, through His inspired writers, he provided a lot of guidance about what that living looks like.  
Perhaps this isn't news to any of you.  Perhaps some of you are thinking, "well duh..."  But maybe, just maybe, some of you have view those New Testament commands as a way to demonstrate your worth to God.  If you are in Christ, you are worthy.  You are a beloved child.  In fact, you are so beloved that God is telling you just how to live so that are the most physically, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually healthy you can be. 

Your standing with God does not depend on whether you keep these New (or Old) Testament commands.  Your standing with God depends upon Christ and Christ alone.  He alone is your righteousness, but that doesn't mean God has not shown you a better way to live. 

No comments: