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Seeds of the Kingdom

Law and Grace

by Peter Brokaar

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:17-20, NIV

The last ‘Seed’ I wrote was on the subject of God’s commandments being good, and part of His gift for us, so that we can walk in the way of life. Today’s ‘Seed’ follows on from there.

You have probably heard many Christians say, “I’m under grace, and not under law”, by which some people mean to say that God’s Laws no longer apply to them under the New Covenant. But we have to be careful here, as ignoring His ordinances can come at our own peril.

It is true indeed that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not through being good. Only Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to deal with our sins and to restore us into right relationship with our Maker. It is important that we never revert to trying to earn God’s acceptance through our own good works, or through keeping the Law. This is not only doomed to fail, but also displeases the Lord, who gave Himself freely for us. But does this mean we can now ignore God’s Laws altogether? By no means!

Let’s look at how Jesus Himself interpreted God’s commandments. As part of a rabbinical debate, He was asked how He saw certain aspects of the law. Did Jesus keep to a strict interpretation of the law, or did He have a looser approach? His response must have stunned His audience. Jesus not only interpreted things pretty strictly, but He also massively raised the bar for everyone! Instead of not murdering anyone (which most of us have been able to do), Jesus said we shouldn’t get unreasonably angry. Instead of not committing adultery (which again is a manageable requirement), He said we shouldn’t even lust after anyone we’re not married to. Jesus pointed to the true heart and intent of God’s Laws, which shows us how we all fail at keeping them.

But here is the good news of God’s grace: though we fail we can be forgiven. And as we are forgiven and restored, God says He will empower us by His Holy Spirit and starts etching His laws (His desires for mankind) into our hearts. Jeremiah 31:33 says, ‘“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days”, declares the Lord: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people”’.

Rather than saying that, in the dispensation of grace, God’s requirements for mankind become irrelevant, the Bible teaches us that they are so important that they should become part of us. Instead of just outward obedience, God wants to shape us inwardly to start conforming to His will and desires.

As stated in the previous ‘Seed’, when we walk in God’s ways, we will receive the blessing of following in the path of life. But when we break His commandments, then we ourselves, as well as those around us, reap painful consequences.

One of the most sobering elements of New Testament teaching is that, in the last days, lawlessness will reign supreme. People will have no regard for, or reference to, God’s Word. Yet in the midst of this increasing darkness God is raising up people who are not lawless, but who abide in His will and will shine like stars in a darkened sky. Through our willing obedience to His will, the Lord will draw many men to Himself.

Peter Brokaar is Director of Ellel Ministries Scotland and has been there together with his wife Liz since 2005. They have 3 kids, all born in Scotland! In his free time he likes reading, cooking, running and surfing. Being at Ellel Scotland has given him the privilege of getting to know God deeper and sharing that joy with many others.


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