Law and Grace

ten-commandments-187967_1280God’s Law is perfect. What does it mean for us?  How does grace fit in?  How does the law fit in with grace?  What is grace?  Grace is unmerited favor; it is a gift from God.  Nothing we cannot earn our way into heaven.  To follow the law to earn our way to heaven, we must follow the whole law, every bit of it, all of it, every day.

Galatians 3:10-14

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

Christ has 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”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

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None of us are good enough to obey all of the law.  We have all sinned against God and none of us are righteous enough to be in His glory.  Only by what Christ did for us and our faith and belief in Him will we have eternal life.  We are saved by grace, not by works

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Galatians 2:16

…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

So, does that mean we do not need God’s law?  What is the purpose of the law?  It is to show us that we need a Savior.  That we are not able or worthy to enter God’s kingdom on our own.  Jesus is.  He is perfect.  He is God.  He paid the penalty for our sins and through His blood, we are declared worthy to enter into heaven, if we truly believe and surrender our lives to Him who is worthy.  What a blessing!

Romans 7:4-12

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

We are saved by God’s grace.  So, once we are saved, does that mean we can live according to our own desires and wants?  Can we continue living in disobedience?  If there is no change, there is no redemption.  Once you put your faith in Christ, you will be change.  You will have new life. One question I have often heard is “if it were to be illegal for you to have faith in Jesus Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Let us hope so.  And let us be sure that the evidence is there.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your walk.  If you love Jesus, you will follow Him and obey Him, not to be saved, but because you are saved.

Galatians 5:13-15

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Rom 6:1-8

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

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Thank God that we do not have to rely on ourselves.  Jesus died for us so that we can live with Him.  He will never leave you or forsake you and He gives you the Holy Spirit to guide you.  It is my prayer that you will accept the grace of God and believe.  I thank God that He gave me the faith and that He gave me grace.  I would truly be lost without Him.

What Crown will We Receive?

There will be a day when we will be at Jesus feet.  Some will see Him at the Great White throne judgment, and those of us who follow Him will see Him at the Bema seat.  Those who decide to not follow Him will be judged by what they did in their life to determine where they will go.  The Great White Throne is where He will judge the nations on whether they are worthy to enter into heaven.  Unfortunately, none of us are good enough to enter heaven on our own merit.

Revelation 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire

But, fortunately, Christ died on the cross and took the full penalty of our sins, so that those who believe will be saved and will spend eternity with Him.  We will be written and the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Romans 10:9-13

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Believers will be judged in a different way.  Our salvation is not based on what we do, but where our heart is.  We follow Christ and are saved.  As we follow Christ, we do works because we love Him.  We should be doing things to further God’s kingdom.  God will use each of us for His purpose.  The things we do on our own are of no use to Him.  .

1 Corinthians 3:9-15

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Our works will be judged to determine the rewards we will receive in heaven.  I believe when we receive these rewards, we will lay them down at Jesus feet in worship and gratitude to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The judgment seat, also known as the Bema seat is where Christ will sit and determine what rewards we will gain.  As believers, we have that guarantee to be in His presence for all eternity.  What a wonderful day that will be!  How awesome to be in His presence.  So what are these rewards?  There are several references in the Bible to different crowns we may obtain.  What are they?  These are the five crowns I have found in my studies.  Are there more?  Maybe.  Please comment if there are any in scripture I may have missed.

     1.  The Imperishable Crown.

I believe this may also be the crown of faith, or the crown of salvation.  Be strong in the Lord.  Follow His will.  Obey His commands.  Discipline yourself and practice those things in God’s word. That is how you obtain this crown.

  1 Cor 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

     2.The Crown of Life.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ, repent and overcome temptation, and endure by trusting in Him will receive the Crown of Life.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Rev 2:10-11

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘

     3.  The Crown of Righteousness.

This crown goes to those who yearn for Christ’s return, those who are ready.  Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  Are you answering and allowing Him to come in?  Are you following Him and surrendering your entire life to Him?  What if He were to return right now?  Would He be pleased with what you are doing, how you are living?  Paul encourages us to be ready to share the gospel; to teach the truth; to not give up sharing the gospel and to defend it.

2 Tim 4:1-8

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

     4.  The Crown of Rejoicing.

As people come to Christ, those who disciple them will see great joy in watching their faith grow.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.

     5.  The Crown of Glory.

This is for those who lead in the church, in particular elders, who “shepherd the flock,” teaching and guiding with integrity to help others grow spiritually.

1 Peter 5:1-4

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

I think we receive some of these rewards in this life as well.  When you share the gospel and you see someone make a decision to follow Christ, there is no greater reward than that.  When you disciple someone and watch their faith grow, it is such a blessing.  May we strive to do all these things and more, not to gain reward, but because we love God and want to please Him, and because we love others and want them to have the grace and gifts of God that He has given us.

Love and the Commandments

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God is gracious and loves His children.  Jesus came to save the world and fulfill the law.  He gave us a new covenant, that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  The  Lord has come to save us, Jew and Gentile alike.  The law was brought to us to show us that we could never be righteous enough to obtain salvation on our own.  We should not ignore God’s commandments, though.  God’s commands are good and His ways are best for our lives.  As one who is born again, a person follows the commandments of God and live by the Spirit because we love Him.  We obey God not to gain salvation, but because of it.

Jesus taught us that it is not about the act of obedience, but the heart and desire to obey our Lord. The teachers of the law asked Jesus about God’s commandments.  They were always focusing on the doing, but Jesus taught people to take it a step further and to do things out of love.

Matt 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

What did he mean that all the law hang on these two commandments?  Well, let’s look at the ten commandments.

Exodus 20:1-17

And God spoke all these words, saying:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

These commandments teach us to love God.  ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The rest of the commandments are examples how to love others.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  When asked about this, Jesus did not quote the ten commandments, but told a story of someone who really showed love.  It was about treating others right.  Someone who showed compassion not who just followed a bunch of do’s and don’ts.

Luke 10:25-37

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed,* he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

God’s Word is Life

God’s word is more than a book to read, it is a way to live.  Do you want to know God’s will?  Read the word.  Do you want God to speak to you?  Read the word.

Hebrews 4:12-16

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

First, our beliefs should come solely from the word of God, not based on what anybody says, not based on popular belief. Anything you hear, check it out for yourself. Study God’s word daily to know what you ought to believe and to share with others and defend the gospel. 2 Timothy says “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Second, we are to give account to God. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. This is not the judgement of our salvation. This is for those who are already saved. The Bible is clear that we are saved through His death on the cross, and is not earned by anything we could do. Being saved, being His children, it is our responsibility to live holy and to bring the gospel to others. We are saved by His blood not our actions. But we will give account for how we use the gifts he gave us. What crown will we have to lay at Jesus feet when we get to heaven? How will we answer when God asks us what we did with the time and gift He gave us? Did we go and make disciples of all nations?

Third, Jesus understands our weaknesses and because of that and because of His grace, we can come boldly before Him. We can obtain strength in our weakness. We can turn to Him to overcome anything that this world or the devil puts in front of us.

 

Bless the Lord

We want our prayers to be answered.  There is so much going on in our lives, so many ‘needs’ and desires.  As we pray, let us focus on how great and awesome our God is, who provides all our needs and always does what is best.  He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Our God is so good to us, there isn’t enough praise in the world that is good enough compared to all the blessings He gives us. He is the creator of everything, His beautiful creation is all around us to remind us of His glory.  He is the eternal, loving God who cares about each of us. He is our salvation. Let us always remember the many blessing He has given us, all the tough times He has lead us through, and His never ending love and mercy. Many of the Psalms offer wonderful praises and prayers to our God.

Ps 103:1-5

Bless the LORD , O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD , O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Ps 103:11-12

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.