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A Torturous Journey
on June 12, 2011
Anytime anyone talks about God's Grace they will always receive a high five from me. But in spite of that I can only give this book 3 stars, and I was inclined to rate it even lower. The first part of the book is a wonderful presentation of God's grace. Grace that not only does not come because of our merit but comes in spite of our demerit. In fact, it throws out the whole merit/demerit system altogether. As I said, this was very good.
If the book stopped there, it would have been worthy of 5 stars. However, because the author is afraid of being called 'antinomian' and feels the needs to somehow cover for God's holiness in His graciousness toward sinners, the second part of the book is exceedingly torturous and painful as it takes back everything he freely gave us in the first part. No sooner has the author free the believer with grace then, as fast as lightening, he binds him up again in bondage to the Law.
The solution to the author's problem (although the author does not appear to understand for all his good intentions) is that the issue is not whether or not there are things in the Law that we can benefit from today. Of course there are. All the Bible is for us. The issue is whether or not God is now dealing with us on the basis of a System of Law/Works or a System of Grace/Faith.
Since God raised up the Apostle Paul to preach his Gospel of Grace to the nations about 2000 years ago, God is no longer dealing with the world on the basis of a system of Law/Works through Israel and her Rise (something spoken about since the world began--Prophecy) but on the basis of a system of Grace/Faith apart from Israel and her Law and in spite of her Fall (something NOT spoken of since the world began--the Mystery). A Law/Works system is a system of command with required blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience. This is the system that Israel lived under for 1500 years, and they proved once and for all that mankind cannot approach God on the basis of a Law/Works sytem. All they could attain even with all their divine advantages were nothing but the curses, which culminated in their removal from the land, the destruction of their nation and the sacking of their city, Jerusalem, with her Temple. At that time Gentiles participated in God's program by coming to Israel and her Law system.
A Grace/Faith system, however, is a system that blesses based on the Person and Work, merit, effort and performance of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is based on who He is and what He has done, not who we are or what we have done. And these blessings are given freely to all who believe. This program has been in effect since God's raised up the Apostle Paul in the 1st century to proclaim.
The author messes up everything in God's plan when he brings the believer back under the Law, even if only the "Moral" part of the Law. Doesn't he know that the "Moral" Law does NOT say "Thou shalt not covet nor lie nor commit adultery?" NO! It says "Thou shalt not covet nor lie nor commit adultery, and if you do covet, lie or commit adultery you shall surely be put to death! That is the Law. Please, let's not emasculate the Law in part or in whole. To do away with the so called "religious" and "civil" parts of the Law as irrelevant and then to emasulate the remaining "moral" part does a great disservice to God and His Word.
The author seems to suggest that the Law comes in only enough to make up for the shortcomings of grace. He is very confused here. Take, for instance, Paul's reference to the fact that the whole Law is summed up in "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The author leads us to believe that this is now the goal for believers today and shows their relationship to the Law. But this is absolutely not the case! Paul's point, in fact, is the very opposite. Paul's point is that you do not have to go back to the Law system because the Grace system accomplishes all that the Law demanded and much, much more, actually empowering us to do it (something the Law could never do). You see, the Law system had an easy command--just love others as you love yourself--easy, smeasy. But the Grace system beseeches us to something far, far higher--love others more than yourself (I Cor. 13, etc.)--and then empowers us to do it through the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Rom. 8 Paul's statement that the righteous requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us does not mean we are still under some aspect of the Law. Again, Paul's point is the very opposite. Rather he is driving home the fact that under Grace we do not need to go back to the Law because what God accomplishes through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit on behalf of the believer more than fulfills anything that the Law demanded--and that infinitely and eternally.
In closing, the author should have answered any accusation of antinomianism the same way Paul answered it in Romans 6, not by placing the believers under an emasculated Law but by pushing them ahead into a fortified Grace. They were to recognize all that God had freely, gratuitously, made them to be in Christ. God had identified them with Christ completely. They died with Him and were buried with Him and now live with Him on resurrection ground. How could they possibly go back to sin??