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The True Gospel of Jesus Christ
Understanding the Differences Between Law and Grace

Ancient City of Shiloh

Definition of Grace

Grace is where God initiates and provides everything necessary for salvation, and where He initiates and provides everything necessary to live as a functioning member of the Body of Christ. Your part is to believe and receive what God has already accomplished through Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament and the 4 Gospels teach the Mosaic Law that was given to Israel; Jesus lived under this Law and taught the Law. After He fulfilled the Law by living a sinless life under it, Jesus was uniquely qualified to be the Lamb without "spot or blemish." By His Cross, Jesus defeated sin; by His resurrection, Jesus conquered death. The Law was always intended to be a temporary measure for the Jews until Christ came. After Christ fulfilled the Law, it was no longer needed because it was based on human performance. Under grace, righteousness and righteous living come from Christ living in you, not by your own human efforts. As a member of His Body, Christ lives out His life in you and does His good works through you.

New Covenant Grace

  • Grace is based on what God has done through the finished work of Jesus Christ, not on anything you do.

  • In grace, God comes to live in your born again heart. The Bible speaks of this indwelling life as "the Holy Spirit" in you (1 Corinthians 6:19) or "Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20); they both mean the same thing.

  • Grace is lived out by faith; it is lived out by following what Christ in you is doing. Christ lives out His righteous life through you; you follow what He is doing by being His hands, feet and voice in the world today.

  • At the Last Supper, Jesus began to reveal the true meaning of grace to His disciples (John 14-17); later, Jesus completed the revelation to the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles.

  • God moved the righteousness of the Law from being an external standard lived out by human effort and performance to being an internal standard lived out by the power of Christ within (Hebrews 10:16).

Old Covenant Law

  • The Law was based on human performance (works); no one was ever able to keep the Law fully except Jesus Christ.

  • The righteous standards of the Law did not disappear; rather, they were moved into the hearts of all who believe so that Jesus Christ, Himself, can live out God's holiness (Jeremiah 31:33).

  • The Law was given to Israel as a temporary measure until faith came (until Christ came) (Galatians 3:23). Once Christ accomplished all that the Father had asked of Him, the Jews were no longer under the Law (Galatians 3:25). (Note: Israel, as a nation, rejected Jesus and still live under the Law; but the number of individual Jews who have received Jesus as their Savior is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.)

  • The Law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12). The Law is the opposite of faith because it is human works vs. God's works.

  • The Law causes sin to increase, not decrease (Romans 5:20); therefore, those who teach Law are inadvertently causing sin to increase.

  • Sin's power is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56); righteousness comes from the power of Christ within.

  • The Law, including the Ten Commandments, ended when God raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Hebrews 8:6,13; Hebrews 10:9). If the Law was still in effect, God would judge you on your ability to live a life of perfect righteousness. With faith, you have already been made righteous by the indwelling life of Christ; your born again heart is perfect and without any sin because Christ is joined as one to you.

  • After God ended the Old Covenant Law, although holy, it became the "ministry of death" and the "ministry of condemnation" because no one could keep it perfectly (see 2 Corinthians 3:6-7,8-9).

  • The Law ceased to exist before salvation was ever offered to the Gentiles. If the Law was still in effect, the Gentiles would have no hope of salvation. Why? It is because the Mosaic Law was the barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11,12,13-14,15-16, especially Ephesians 2:12,14).

Difference Between Law and Grace

The Law focused on the standard of righteousness; it was an external standard that the Jews attempted to live out by their own human effort. Grace looks to the source of righteousness, Jesus Christ. Grace is an internal standard that is lived out by Christ, Himself, as He lives His righteous life in you and does His good works through you; you follow Him in faith.

Why the Confusion?

Much of the confusion about Law and grace is due to the fact that, in the four Gospels, Jesus lived under the Law and taught the Law as God meant it to be taught. Because the four Gospels are in the New Testament, people have misunderstood this as our rule of life. We are to live as Jesus did - by faith - not under the rule of law. The Apostles taught grace, not Law, in the rest of the New Testament. The Law ceased to exist after Christ's resurrection. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged that there would be a period of transition from Law to grace; but, this applied only to the Jews.

Hebrews 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

The completed Law allowed grace to be revealed to the whole world; now, because of grace, God is offering salvation to the Gentiles by grafting them into a salvation that is from the Jews (John 4:22). This is an essential point: Jesus came to bring salvation the Jews (Matthew 15:24). But, because the Jews rejected their Messiah (Romans 11:15), God brought the Gentiles into this salvation ...

Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off (the Jews who rejected Jesus), and you, being a wild olive (the Gentiles), were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree (salvation),

Myths About Grace and Law ...

Myth #1: If there is no law, people will be unrestrained and it will give a license to sin.
Answer: This is wrong on more than one level. First, this thinking comes from a sin focused perspective; true Biblical faith is focused on righteousness because Jesus Christ defeated sin by His Cross. Second, the Law causes sin to increase, not decrease (Romans 5:20) because sins' power is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).

Myth #2: Unbelievers are under the Law while believers are no longer under the Law.
Answer: The Law was a temporary measure given only to the Jews from the time of Moses to Christ (Galatians 3:25, Romans 10:4). Since the Law is the opposite of faith (Galatians 3:12) due to the fact that it was based on human performance, God completely ended the Law (Hebrews 8:13, 10:9). People have always had a conscience that functions in the same way as the Law did; people in all cultures know that it is wrong to kill or steal.

Myth #3: All people are under portions of the Law, like the Ten Commandments.
Answer: The Law was based on a person's ability to keep the Law; grace is based on the truth that Jesus Christ already kept the Law for the people. Keeping the righteousness expressed in the Ten Commandments comes from the power of Christ within, not from human strength and determination (Galatians 2:20).

If Grace Had Been Understood ...

"Religion" is man-made; it consists of a little grace and a lot of law. Had religion understood the transition from Law to grace, the activity of the "church" toward the world would be showing the love of Jesus Christ and offering new life in Him. All of the judgment, condemnation, political power-seeking and anti-Semitism that has been part of the history of the Christian church would never have reared its ugly head. Within the Church, there would be no divisions and no separation of clergy and laity. And, religion's obsession with sin would give way to the truth that Jesus put away sin by His Cross (Hebrews 9:26). The Cross allowed God to forgive and forget the sins of all people for all time (Hebrews 8:12). And, the Body of Christ would express the real Jesus Christ through love and good works.

Many claim that the Law is still in effect today; the comments on these four verses directly address why this is not true.

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Jesus did not abolish the Law; rather He fulfilled and completed the Law for the nation of Israel. Then, God replaced the external Law with grace, which is internal. The Old Covenant Law was a Jewish religion; New Covenant grace included, for the first time, the Gentiles. Now all people have access to God.)

Matthew 5:18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (All was accomplished by Christ living a sinless life, thereby fulfilling the Law.)

Matthew 7:12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Love is the fulfillment of the Law - see Romans 13:8,10; James 2:8.)

Luke 24:44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled," (These things were fulfilled by the sinless life, Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are about Jesus Christ.)

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