I can see people grasping how God’s PERFECT law has resulted in all of humanity being judged for it’s sin – and the disastrous result is that death is empowered to enslave us to addictions and sickness and financial debt.
But let’s go beyond that. I’d like to draw your attention to the full scope of the grace of God – as described by scripture and as prophesied by Hosea…
Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death?
O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Relenting and compassion are hidden from My eyes. – Hos13:14
God’s grace is provided through Jesus Christ
Some scriptures speak of the grace of God being Jesus Christ, some say Jesus Christ is HOW God gave us grace. I think that is the best description of God’s grace. Jesus Christ is God’s expression of His grace to all of humanity.
Jesus Christ is the One Perfect Sacrifice – He is God’s grace to all of us who are trapped.
The law is not bad. It is just perfect.
The Law therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good. – Rom 7:12
If we are perfect then it finds us righteous. It was originally designed by God to “bring life” (see the scripture below). However… when it finds us being IMperfect, then it finds us UNrighteous and the consequence is death.
And the very legal ordinance which was designed and intended to bring life
actually proved [to mean to me] death. – Rom 7:10
If it finds us UNrighteous the penalty is death. If it finds us righteous then we are reconciled to God and we receive mercy and grace and FAVOR.
Paul says “we uphold the law”…
Do we then by [this] faith make the Law of no effect, overthrow it or make it a dead letter? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law. – Romans 3:31
Paul could see something and I’d like to explain why he was so happy and excited and uttely triumphant when he said (in reference to law, sin and death) “death where is your sting?”
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? – 1 Cor 15:55
I will explain why death is powerless when we believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ… but before that I’d like to explain the law first.
The law is relentlessly requiring perfection
The WHOLE WORLD is under law. Whether we like it or not. Imagine a massive lattice grid all over the earth. I imagine it is something like this…
The law is holy, it is perfect. It judges everything.
Religious people who feel like God is high up in the sky watching and recording their mistakes… are not actually feeling God, they are feeling the law!
Anything which has “fallen short of the glory of the Lord” is considered to be sinful, or in sin. And when the law declares something as sin, death is the consequence, because the penalty of sin is death – and it has been like that since God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree because then they would begin to die (because of their disobedience/sin).
It sucks, but that it what the scriptures tell us. And if you look around you, you can see it. All religions recognise it. None of them can resolve the problem. Each of them have their own way of trying to cope with the effects of it. People and families try to use things like insurance and road rules and a bill of rights etc. to mitigate the impact of death.
But the law remains and its requirement is that we are “perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect”. And if we fail to keep one single law, then we have failed to keep all the laws. The law is perfect, just as God is perfect.
Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law
The law is relentless. Agreed? And more bad news is that Jesus Christ did NOT come to do away with the law.
No, in fact He did something much better – He came to fulfill the law!
Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. – Matthew 5:17
The law – NOW relentlessly unleashing GOOD in this world!
So you might be wondering… why on earth would Christians “confirm and establish and uphold the Law”??? (See Rom 3:31)
Well… what if the law began to be relentlessly finding us righteous? Instead of unleashing death constantly, it would unleash reconciliation and God’s favor and God’s grace and God’s mercy – on all of us!
Yes! There is tremendously good news…
But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded – Rom 5:20
You see, rather than be upset and afraid of the law… instead of trying to be perfect (which I tried to do and failed) and instead of trying to find loopholes (which I spent a long time trying to do)… instead we Christians must proudly UPHOLD the law!
Why? Because when Jesus Christ took the sin of the WHOLE WORLD…
And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world. – 1 John 2:2
and He tasted death for EVERY MAN…
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. – Heb 2:9
… then with sin and death dealt with at that point the law began to find all of us RIGHTEOUS!
See? That is why we UPHOLD the law – when we believe – because of the one act of righteousness by Jesus Christ…
So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death,
[so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord – Rom 5:21
That scripture is clear! Sin reigned and brought death. But now through Jesus Christ grace reigns and brings righteousness!
Well then, as one man’s trespasses [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men,
so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men – Rom 5:18
That scripture is also clear! Adam’s one sin brought us all under sin and death. But Jesus Christ’s one act of righteousness brings us all into acquittal (“not guilty”) and righteousness with God!
And it’s for ALL MEN – did you notice that? The very same perfect law keeps on relentlessly judging and finding “all men” righteous because of Jesus Christ!
But only if Christians believe…
Those who accept will reign as kings
Take a look at this scripture.
For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). – Rom 5:17
What that verse is saying is this: “those who receive this profound truth WILL reign as kings in this life/world”.
Let me summarise that verse for you…
those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace… reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ.
It is your faith dear Christian which “reigns as a king” in this world. Your faith in Jesus Christ on the cross causes the law to find this world righteous! Your lack of faith leaves this world under punishment and suffering.
When you believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the world is judged by the law to be righteous, and billions of people are – to some extent – released from suffering.
THAT is why that scripture says… (NLT version seems clearest)…
If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:23
Jesus Christ took all sins and tasted death for everyone. That is done. Now – for the sake of the world – you need to believe. Be salt, light and fruit to this dying world. What a priveledge has been extended to you!
Hosea promised it!
I love Paul’s very confident and triumphant statement…
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? – 1 Cor 15:55
Basically in modern day language Paul is saying “Ha! In your face death!” (Takes a moment to compose myself). Technically speaking, Paul is paraphrasing the Prophet Hosea…
Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death? O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? – Hos13:14
Jesus DID it, now you can receive it
But we must not forget the key issue is this: Jesus Christ is “the free gift” mentioned in Rom 5:15 and Rom 5:16 and the requirement is that we believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
As He said, apart from Him we can do nothing. But if we remain on the Vine, then it is our faith which overcomes the evil of this world. That is why He described believing Christians as the salt, light and fruit of this world.
We must believe what scripture says about what Jesus Christ did on the cross. As we do, the law – the lattice grid over this whole universe – suddenly finds us all righteous.
And it is UTTERLY unearned and undeserved. The world did NOTHING to earn it. The world did NOTHING to deserve it. Adam’s one sin released death to all. Jesus Christ released life to all. Amen. He is the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45-47).
Just as God promised through the prophet Hosea: God redeemed us through His Son Jesus Christ, and God ransomed us through His One Perfect Sacrifice which is His own Son Jesus Christ.
“Out of all proportion” – a quick turnaround!
And the last bit of awesome news is this. It took 10,000 years for the world to get into the mess it is in now, right?
But it won’t take 10,000 years to get sorted out and cleaned up. Not at all!
But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. – Rom 5:15
much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor – Rom 5:15
Nor is the free gift to be compared to the effect- Rom 5:16
grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded – Rom 5:20
If we Christians will believe, things will turn around very very quickly.
Can I get a HALLELUJAH???
On a personal note
I must make it abundantly clear that I have not as yet received all of this. I have come a long way, I have received a lot, but have not yet got it all. I say this so that no one will have a basis to accuse me of hypocrisy… of preaching what I don’t practicise…
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own – Philippians 3:12
one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13
May God bless you!
The question then emerges – now that we have been justified, declared righteous in the sight of God by our faith in Christ, how ought we to live? A verse from James comes to mind: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12.
I think your point is very important. We shouldn’t throw out the law as many seem to think to do. We abandon trying to keep the law by our own efforts; we recognize the futility of trying to be saved by our works; we move from legalism to salvation by faith in Christ. Then, we move to the obedience of faith. We seek to obey by faith in Him, by constantly asking Him for the power to do so.
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake…” Romans 1:5
“but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith…” Romans 16:26
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:2-3
God gives us access to His divine power in order to live godly lives. 🙂
Amen. Great post.
Thanks Jose!! 🙂
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Excellent explanation of a confussing issue. I will definately read it again and again. Fulfilled not done away with….. thank you Jesus.
Thank you for your very kind words Melissa! I was touched when I read them 🙂