lundi 19 mars 2012

The Grace, The Law - Defining words and concepts

Hello Friends,

Let's continue the discussion where I left it last time.

"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (The Gospel of John 1:17)
One of the way theologians, bible students and the authors of the New Testament have rightly divided the word of truth has been to put the holy writings in two categories. First, the ancient testament (aka Old Testament) and the New Testament. In the Old testament the main way God dealt with people was with the Law. In the New Testament, the main way God dealt with people was with the Grace. The principal spiritual player in the Old Testament was Moses because it is through his prophetic ministry that God gave the divine Laws to the children of Israel. The main player in the New Testament is the precious person of Jesus because through him that God gave the divine grace to the children of Israel first and to the rest of world consequently.

Here are two exceptions: in the Old Testament books, those living before God gave the Law to Moses did not function with the Laws of God, example: those in the book of Genesis.

A/ What is the Law of God and what is the Grace of God?

As this can easily be seen in the scriptures, the laws given by Moses were sets of commandments and edicts of God that He expected the Children of Israel to follow. Why was the law given?

1. It gave them their identity as the people of God, as a nation that belonged specially to God contrary to all the other nations around them.
2. It was given so that the Israelite may know how to function as society that pleases God.
3. The Law was given to the Israelite as a pedagogue - to teach them about God's plan and personality as well as God's unique holiness and the absolute wickedness of their human nature.

In brief the law was given as a mean for people to know how to relate to God, i.e how to approach the fiery God in a pleasant way without being guilty of judgement or even death. The last point 3 is the specific one that the New Testament capitalizes on, hence it will be the one I'll use also to discuss this issue (Galatians 3:19-24).

On the other side, Grace means favor. The Greek word used in the verse above is 'charis' which means favor. So the Grace of God means the favor of God. By Grace we mean what Men receives without deserving it. As I heard it once in South Africa, Grace is when God give you what you do not deserve. There is an other word which is similar to grace, it is Mercy. Now Mercy is the reverse of Grace but not the opposite of grace. Mercy is when God does not give you what you deserve.

Why was the grace of God given? So that people of all nation may have the opportunity to approach the fiery God in a pleasant way.

Author Watchman Nee said in his book, 'The Normal Christian Life' that the Law is what Men do for God. While Grace is what God does for Men.

Here is a popular example to illustrate this: In the Old Testament Men needed to bring a sacrifice of blood to the alter that Men can be forgiven of their sins by God. In the New Testament God brought His blood to the alter so that Men can be forgiven of their sins.

If you are attentive and familiar with the Bible you'll say, but I see God's grace i.e favor both in the New Testament and the Old Testament as well as God's laws i.e demands/commands both in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. What's the big deal?

Well, indeed both testaments shows a gracious God and a demanding God. But if this is all you see, i'll invite you to pay more attention on what you are seeing.

To understand that better, I'll start treating them in the light of the New Testament in my following post on this issue.

Have a nice evening and week in Jesus' name.
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