GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
Persecution and a Subtle Attack on the Gospel. Part 2.
Revelation 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down violently to the earth, he persecuted the woman [the nation Israel] who gave birth to the male child [the Lord Jesus Christ].
The Jews were responsible, as a client nation to God, for the formation, preservation, communication, and fulfillment of the canon of Scripture. The reason they have suffered so much persecution is that they have rejected this responsibility. They rejected the sign of the virgin birth, which means they rejected Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
The Jews must fulfill the principle found in Rom 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." One of the most subtle attacks on the Gospel is the pseudo-salvation of publicly confessing Christ, which is a distortion of ROM 10:9-10.
The background here is Paul's great burden for the Jews, ROM 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them [the Jews] is for their salvation."
We can pray for the unsaved, however, our prayers cannot save them; only the Lord Jesus Christ and their positive volition can accomplish that, ROM 10:2-3, "For I bear them [the Jews] witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge [metabolized doctrine]. For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God." Anyone who adds something to faith in Jesus Christ is in a state of arrogance. Salvation is a gift from God and God does not need our help; we cannot work for it or earn it because it is all by grace.
In ROM 10:3 we see the ultimate of human arrogance-ignorance of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish one's righteousness. The Apostle Paul makes his point magnificently in Rom 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Christ is the end of the Law because he fulfilled the Law perfectly. As far as righteousness is concerned, Christ is the termination of the Law and any system of human self-righteousness. What the Law could not provide, the Lord Jesus Christ provided. The Law could not provide righteousness based on merit; on the other hand, Christ provides the righteousness based on God's grace in response to faith. Salvation is always the same-faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in each dispensation.
You cannot even begin to experience the "Lordship of Christ" until you have learned enough doctrine under the filling of the Spirit. After salvation, the ministry of God the Holy Spirit produces a virtue far superior to any form of human righteousness or morality. The imputation of divine righteousness at the moment of salvation through faith in Christ replaces any system of human self-righteousness, pseudo-spirituality, or legalism.
The unbeliever cannot establish two conflicting systems of righteousness in his life. Either he will accept his own self-righteousness for salvation, or he will accept the righteousness of Christ. In salvation, the conflict is between human works righteousness (salvation by works) and God's righteousness (salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ). After salvation, the conflict is between spirituality by works (legalism) and spirituality by grace.
The reason behind the Jews' persecution throughout history is found in passages such as ISA 53:2-3 and JOH 1:11,"He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." They were given the responsibility of constructing, preserving, and communicating the canon of Scripture, but they ignored their responsibility. Rom 10 illustrates this principle magnificently. Christ is the "end of the law" in Rom 10:4 because He fulfilled the law inside the predesigned plan of God, remaining impeccable even while bearing our sins on the Cross, Mat 5:17-18, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished."
The Mosaic Law is divided into three parts-Codices 1, 2, and 3. In the English translation they are called the Decalogue (Codex 1), the Ordinances (Codex 2), and the Judgments (Codex 3). Codex 1 is the Decalogue, or the freedom code, commonly called the Ten Commandments, and forms the basis for the heritage of Israel's freedom. There can be no freedom without morality, which can be fulfilled by both believers and unbelievers. The Ten Commandments define human freedom in terms of morality, privacy, property, life, and authority in general. While a few sins are mentioned in the Ten Commandments, their purpose is not to define sin. The sins mentioned are intrusions upon privacy, property, and freedom.
Codex 2 is the spiritual code, EXO 25:1; EXO 31:18. This emphasizes the principle that believers are designed to function under the laws of divine establishment as well as Bible doctrine in the soul. These ordinances are the spiritual heritage of Israel, the theological code designed to present Jesus Christ as the only Savior. This includes a complete "shadow" soteriology and Christology, essence of God, explanation of justification in terms of divine integrity, and adjustments to the justice of God. These doctrines were communicated through ritual and oral teachings. The ritual communication included the structure of the Tabernacle (Exo 25-27), the delineation of the Holy Days (LEV 23:10ff), the proper function of the Levitical priesthood (Exo 28-29), and the significance of the Levitical offerings (Lev 1-3). All these principles spoke of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Codex 3 is the establishment code, the national heritage of Israel. This covers the entire political and functional heritage of the nation, and includes every principle related to the function of a client nation to God, such as freedom and authority, privacy, rights, property, privileges, marriage and divorce, military policy, taxation, diet, health, sanitation, quarantine, criminal law, trial, punishment, laws of evidence, and capital punishment, EXO 21:1-23:9. These laws of divine establishment are for believer and unbeliever alike. Morality mandated by the Mosaic Law was for both believers and unbelievers; it was not the means of spirituality. Spirituality is infinitely greater than morality. Morality is produced by human self-determination and is positive and beneficial, but spirituality is produced by God the Holy Spirit and is infinitely greater than human good. Codex 2 presented the Gospel, which the Jews had to believe for salvation, but the Law itself was never a way of salvation. And Christ fulfilled all the principles in Codex 2, for example, in reference to the feasts, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."
Christ is the "end of the law" because he abrogated [annulled, voided] the Law as a way of salvation. However, rather than realizing that Christ fulfilled Codex 2, the Jews chose Codices 1 and 3, the establishment and morality codes, as the means of working for their salvation. They tried to be saved by their own self-righteousness. Keeping the Law produces moral self-righteousness, which is often parlayed into a system of arrogant legalism, and keeping the Law never provided salvation for the Jews or anyone else, ROM 3:20, "Therefore, by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." All that the law could do for us was to reveal our sin and our need for the Lord Jesus Christ, ROM 3:28, "We conclude, therefore, that a man is justified by faith totally apart from the works of the Law"; GAL 3:24, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith."
We can learn about our sinfulness from the Law and how Christ was judged for our sins. However, we cannot keep the Law and be saved by morality. Jesus Christ is the termination of any system of human self-righteousness because faith in Him results in the imputation of divine righteousness at the moment of salvation. No system of human self-righteousness can compete with God's perfect righteousness. The unbelievers in the dispensation of Israel were blinded by their arrogance of self-achievement and self-righteousness by keeping the Law. And to this day this is the problem with many Jews.
God the Father is not impressed with any human righteousness; He is impressed only with the salvation work of Jesus Christ; this is the doctrine of propitiation. God is satisfied with the work of Christ on the Cross and imputes His own righteousness to anyone who simply believes in Jesus Christ. The imputed righteousness of God is the foundation for building a system of virtue based on grace, which is mutually exclusive to self-righteousness.
ROM 10:5 begins to distinguish between works righteousness and faith righteousness: "For Moses writes [in LEV 18:5], that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness." The one who thinks that practicing righteousness makes him righteous shall live by that righteousness-he takes his chances in his own righteousness, and he ends up unrighteous, because the only way of salvation in any dispensation is faith in Jesus Christ. Paul is saying, "If you try to be saved by keeping the Law, you must accept the consequences."
There are many questions about the Law that need to be answered:
1. Why was the Law given? The answer: ROM 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law [here is why the Law was originally given], that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God." The Law was given so that all the human race would have to close their mouths, and never be able to boast in their own righteousness, PHI 2:10 "In order that at the title of Jesus every knee of the heavens should bow, and on earth, and under the earth."
2. Can any member of the human race be justified before God by following the Mosaic Law? The answer: ROM 3:20, "Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." The Law was given so that we would know what sin is.
3. How can a person then be justified before God if he cannot be justified by following the commandments or the Law? The answer: ROM 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."
4. What was the purpose of the Law? The answer: Rom 4:15, "For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation." However, in ROM 5:8-9, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
5. How does the Law relate to sin and transgressions? The answer: ROM 5:20-21, "And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." In other words, God gave man a perfect set of rules, which man could not follow, so that God could reveal that only is He holy, just, and perfect, and that He is the God of all grace.
6. What relationship does the believer have with the Law? The answer is given in Paul's great dissertation in Rom 7:4-8:4, "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. [The Law exposed our sinful passions and revealed to us how sinful we are in the eyes of God, our Creator.]But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter [the Law]. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
7. Is following the Law the Christian way of life after salvation? The answer: GAL 3:10-13, "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.' Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, 'The righteous man shall live by faith.' However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, 'He who practices them shall live by them.' Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'"
9. Was the Law ever given to the Gentiles or the Church? The Mosaic Law was never given to Gentiles, because Israel was the client nation, ROM 2:12-14, DEU 4:7-8, "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" The Mosaic Law was never given to the Church, Acts 15:5-24, ROM 6:14, GAL 2:19. We have a higher code in the Royal Family honor code. The Church has no animal sacrifices, Saturday Sabbath worship, specialized priesthood, etc.
10. What are the important principles related to the Law and grace (the spiritual life)?
a.The believer has died to the Law, GAL 2:19.
b. The believer has received all the benefits of the Spirit through faith, GAL 3:1-5.
c. The Law brings nothing but condemnation, GAL 3:10-14.
d. The Law has no power to give life or sustain life, GAL 3:21.
e. The Law is a bondage to the believer, GAL 4:9.
f. Law and grace are mutually exclusive principles; therefore, you can only choose one or the other, GAL 4:21-31.
g. The believer has an abiding freedom in Christ, GAL 5:1.
h. The believer must keep all the Law, if he would attempt to keep even part of it, GAL 5:2-4.
i. The persuasion to put the believer under the Law is not from God, GAL 5:8.
j. All the Law is fulfilled by the Holy Spirit, GAL 5:16-24.
k. The life of the believer must be sustained on the same principle as his new birth, or regeneration, GAL 5:25.
l. All who advocate the Law for the believer cannot keep it themselves, and their intention is ultimately glory in the flesh, GAL 6:13.
For a more detailed study, order tapes IA11-351 to IA11-353.