The Law and the Gospel (Selected Scriptures)

The Law and the Gospel (Selected Scriptures)

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Well tonight we’re going to turn to a very,
very important subject, the Law and the Gospel…the Law and the Gospel. In the general picture out there of evangelicalism
today, there is certainly much said about God’s love, much said about God’s mercy, much
said about His grace. There is a great emphasis on the fact that
God forgives, that He empowers. Almost nothing is said about the Law of God,
about the judgment of God, about the heinousness of violating His Law, and the just consequences
of such a violation. And so, in a sense the gospel which means
the good news is stripped of what it is really good because people don’t know what is really
bad, which makes the good news such good news. The bad news is that all people are under
the Law of God, they’re under obligation to obey that Law. They are all violators of that Law, therefore
they come under true guilt and with guilt comes condemnation and with condemnation comes
punishment, and that punishment is everlasting. The Gospel cannot be understood as good news,
until people understand what it is that the Gospel delivers them from, namely the bad
news of eternal punishment which is a just punishment on a truly guilty sinner. People are trying to get other folks into
heaven while at the same time avoiding telling them they’re on their way to hell. Trying to get them to accept what is good
for them, without understanding the truth about what is so bad for them. And were you to ask the question to people
out there as they looked at evangelicalism and listened to the general message that Christians
give, if you posed the question…What does Jesus save you from?…they might say, “loneliness,
depression, poverty, lack of purpose, lack of meaning, lack of fulfillment, etc.” cause
they do not understand guilt, condemnation that comes because of a violation of His Law. Scripture, however, is very clear that anyone
who is to grasp the greatness of the gospel must first grasp the greatness of judgment
of sin. Salvation by grace means little to those who
know nothing of damnation under the Law. So, the divine order is Law, then Gospel. And there is a reluctance on the part of evangelical
people today to talk about the Law of God because it makes people feel bad and they
think it makes the Gospel less attractive, when, in fact, it is necessary to make them
feel bad, really bad because that generates the true attraction to the gospel. We understand that salvation is by grace alone
through faith alone, Ephesians 2:8 and 9. We understand that salvation is never by works
but always by grace through faith. All who are saved from eternal damnation at
all times in redemptive history are saved by faith and grace apart from the Law. This is the repeated testimony of Scripture. In the Old Testament, Abraham believed God
and it was counted to him for righteousness. Or Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Or in Habakkuk, the just shall live by faith. This is not a New Testament truth, this is
a universal truth throughout all of redemptive history. Salvation…deliverance from condemnation,
eternal punishment comes by God’s grace through faith. In the book of Romans, we read this morning
in chapter 3 and verse 20, “By the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His
sight. Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” That verse alone ought to be indelibly impressed
upon our minds to give us an understanding of the function of the Law. The Law does not save. By the works of the Law, no flesh will be
justified in His sight, rather through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. The next verse says, “Apart from the Law,
the righteousness of God has been manifested, even the righteousness of God through faith
in Jesus.” This is so basic and so important, it is repeated
again in chapter 4, verse 15, “For the Law brings about wrath.” The Law brings about wrath. Chapter 5 repeats it again in verse 13, “Until
the Law was in the world, sin is not imputed.” Once there is the full revelation of the Law
of God, there is the full imputation of sin. Nevertheless sin existed because death reigned
from Adam until the giving of the Law. But there was not a full understanding of
the Law until the written Law was laid down, though the force of the Law and all violations
were in place clearly indicated by the reality of death. The Law then kills. Chapter 5 verse 10, “The Law came in that
the transgression might increase.” The Law came so that our understanding of
sin might increase. There was an understanding of sin from the
Garden on but there was an increased understanding of sin when the Law came through Moses. In fact, in the next verse, Romans 5:21, “Sin
reigned in death,” that’s because the violation of the Law, which is sin, always produces
death. In the seventh chapter of Romans and the seventh
verse, Paul says, “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law.” In Galatians, and we’ll spend a good deal
of time there in a few moments, chapter 2 verse 16, “Knowing that a man is not justified
by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in
Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law,
since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Again, it is unmistakable. Paul later says in verse 19, “Through the
Law, I died to the Law that I might live to God.” In Paul’s letter to the Philippians chapter
3 and verse 8, he says, “I…I suffered the loss of all things for the value of knowing
Christ Jesus, my Lord, to be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own derived
from the Law, but that righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness
which comes from God on the basis of faith.” All of these verses tells us the same thing. There’s no salvation in the Law. There’s no salvation in the keeping of the
Law. The Law cannot save. In fact, go back to Galatians chapter 3, for
a moment, and chapter 10. “For as many as are the works of the Law are
under a curse. Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all
things written in the book of the Law to perform them.” Curse is everyone who does not abide by all
things written in the book of the Law to perform them. If you ever violated at any time any one law,
you are cursed. The Law cannot save. Now in all those passages which tells us the
Law cannot save, we also find what the Law is intended to do. It is intended to give full disclosure on
the matter of sin. The Law comes with immense moral detail. I’m not talking about the special ceremonies
for Israel, dietary laws and things like that, that were set aside in the New Testament,
I’m talking about that Law which is the moral Law that does not change. Put simply, the Law is revealing to us the
extent of God’s holiness. The Law is simply a revelation of how holy
God is. This then sets clearly the divine standard
for acceptable behavior. All people who ever live will be judged by
this standard and justly condemned for violating this standard and sent to hell forever. It’s that simple. God’s Law is a manifestation, a revelation
of His nature. All mankind are required to be as perfect
as God is perfect. Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “Be ye perfect as
your Father in heaven is perfect.” That was not anything new, repeatedly through
the book of Leviticus it says, “Be ye holy for I am holy….Be ye holy for I am holy,”
again and again and again and again. Peter repeats it in his epistle, 1 Peter,
“Be ye holy for I am holy.” Anybody who is not as holy as God is cursed
because he has violated that holiness which is revealed in His Law. The reason there is so much detail in the
Law is to show us, number one, how holy God is and, number two, to show us how sinful
we are. The Law, in that sense, is not temporary. It is no more temporary than the nature of
God is temporary. And since the nature of God does not change,
God is immutable, He changes not, that which manifests or reveals His nature neither changes
as well. It is the revelation of God’s holy perfection
which is unchanging. The Law then serves as a permanent disclosure
of God. And since all men are required to be as holy
as God, that never changes. You say, “Well aren’t we in the age of grace?” Yeah, that’s the whole point. But still that Law never changes and that
requirement never changes. Even before God gave the full disclosure of
the Law to Moses in a prior time, God revealed Himself to some degree so that all men were
responsible for the revelation that God did give. And, in fact, He gave a revelation of His
moral Law in the heart of every sinner, Romans 2:14 and 15 says the Law of God is written
in their hearts. But He gave full disclosure to Moses and to
Israel at Mount Sinai and it was an occasion of solemn and frightening majesty with thunder,
lightning, earthquake, trumpet blasts and angels out of heaven. That Law was condensed into ten commandments
and further condensed into the first great commandment, to Love the Lord your God with
all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second which is like it, to love your
neighbor as yourself. Those two are the summation of the Ten Commandments,
the first half of which relate to loving God, the second half which relate to loving your
neighbor. The Ten Commandments is a summation of all
moral and ethical laws which God has given, all of which have to do either with one’s
relationship to God or with one’s relationship to mankind. This disclosure of God’s morality was given
so that people might see the sinfulness of sin. And as we read earlier, it increases as revelation
increases. Now with that in view, let’s turn to the text
that I want to read to you, Galatians chapter 3 verse 19, which poses the question in the
middle of the discussion of the Law, why the Law then? And that is the question that we want to address…why
the Law then? Paul says, “It was added because of transgressions,
having been ordained through angels by the agency of the mediator until the seed should
come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only whereas
God is only one, is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be. For if the Law had been given which was able
to impart life, then righteousness would indeed been based upon Law. But the Scripture has shut up all men under
sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody
under the Law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor, to
lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer
under a tutor.” Now there’s a lot to be said about these verses,
a more intense study would be required, in fact, of the whole chapter. But let me show you the essential relation
that all have to the Law. First of all, the Law is presented as addition…the
Law is presented as addition. Go back to verse 19. It was added…it was added. The Mosaic Law was an addition to divine revelation
about sin. Did they know about sin? Sure. But there was a time of ignorance. There was a time when they did not have full
disclosure of what sin was. And therefore, the Law was an addition, to
make sin more sinful, to give a fuller revelation of the nature of the transgression and its
extent. It did not come to set aside salvation by
faith through grace which had always been in place. It simply came to add a fuller understanding
of the nature of sin. The Law came 430 years after Abraham. It did not annul the promise of salvation
by faith that had been given to Abraham. The promise of faith is fundamental. The promise of salvation by faith is basic. The doctrine of justification by faith goes
back to Abraham, as far as Israel is concerned. What the Law says is this is sin and this
is sin and here’s how extensive sin is. And here’s one other thing, very important
that the Law added, because of violation, you will die. So the Law was added. Details because past revelation lacked a full
revelation of sin and transgression. When the Law came, as we read, it shut up
everyone to the faith which was the only way for salvation. That is to say, it ended any discussion about
the means of salvation. The Law made it thoroughly evident that all
sinners are violators of the Law of God. They are unable to earn salvation by works
and therefore as we read in verse 10, they are all under a divine curse. That’s the purpose of the Law. The Law is added to make us unmistakably clear
about the extent of sin so that sinners might have no way to escape and all be hemmed in,
shut up, closed in to a salvation that can only come by faith. There’s a second thing I want you to see,
the Law comes as addition, it also comes as insertion. What do I mean by that? Well go back to verse 19 again. It was added because of transgression, “Until
the seed should come.” The seed is Christ. And here we come to a very important point,
maybe the one thing you might take away from our study tonight. The seed is Christ, clearly. Go back to verse 16. “The seed…end of the verse…that is Christ.” The Law functions in a way that is critical
to the matter of justification by faith. It shuts up the sinner. It closes him in. It leaves him no escape, no outlet, no door. He is trapped under a curse, under judgment. And the more extensive the Law, and the more
detailed the Law, the more trapped he is, there are no ways out. But this is, in a sense, an insertion until…it
is an addition because it’s important for us to have the full understanding of sin. It is an insertion until the seed should come. What in the world does that mean? It means now…listen…that the seed has
come and the seed establishes for us an even clearer understanding of the Law. For example, in 1 John chapter 2, John says
this, “If you say you’re a believer, you ought to walk the way Christ walked,” right? Christ…the personification of the Law. To hear, “Be perfect even as your Father in
heaven is perfect,” can be understood and yet what does that mean? It is incomprehensible. If, for example, under the old covenant people
were looking around for somebody that could model that for them, they wouldn’t find anyone. If they were supposed to be holy as God is
holy, where would they see that? What would that look like? And so, the Law functions as an insertion
until the visible living Christ comes and we can see what that holiness looks like. In the Old Testament you can say no one would
go to heaven because they kept the Law. But since Christ has come we could say it
another way. No one will go to heaven because he was a
perfect follower of Jesus Christ. No one could be perfectly conformed to the
Law of God and no one can be perfectly formed to Christ. God is holy. God is pure. And that’s in some ways abstract. There is no experience of that in the world. There’s no model of that. There’s no illustration of that until Christ
comes. And He is the living Law of God. Why? Because He is God and therefore He reveals
the nature of God not in written form but in life. Matthew 5:17 He says that. He comes to fulfill the Law. He lives a life of perfect fulfillment. He said He had to fulfill all righteousness. It was His nature to do that. He puts pure, divine perfection on display
in every circumstance of life…from childhood to adulthood and through all the experiences
of every phase. So, now we have to perhaps go beyond asking
people if they conform to the Ten Commandments. It’s one thing to say to someone, “Do you
lie? Do you covet? Do you steal? Do you commit adultery?” And have them say, “I don’t do that…I don’t
do that.” Perhaps you could probe a little deeper and
ask them if they ever thought about killing or lying or committing adultery or stealing. And they perhaps would have to admit they
did and so they would be brought then under guilt by the words of Jesus who said, “It’s
not enough to just not do it on the outside, it is a violation to even think of doing it
on the inside.” Those are His words in the Sermon on the Mount
and that was an indictment of those Jews who kept the Law on the outside, but not on the
inside. But there’s a deeper issue here and an even
more powerful illustration of the Law and that is the person of Jesus Christ. And the right question to ask the sinner is
this one, “Are you as perfect as Jesus Christ?” There’s no way out of that. Anyone who understand the One who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, the one who is absolutely holy, the One in
whom there is such perfection that His own Father, God, who knows everything can say,
“This is My beloved Son whom I am well-pleased.” That is to say there is no time in the life
of Jesus where He ever does anything that displeases God. I think the intention of what we’re reading
here about the Law being an insertion until the seed comes is intended to have us make
a transition. Christ becomes the new standard and now the
sinner needs to be measured against the perfections of Christ who is God incarnate. The amazing thing about it, thirdly, is the
Law while it is addition and it is insertion until Christ comes is also provocation. Go down to verse 24. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to
lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith.” Christ is both the Law against which we are
measured and the One who alone can save us by faith. And this is consistent with the divine intention
in redemption. God is both our judge and our Savior. He is both our executioner and our Redeemer. When one violated the Law of God in the past,
in the Old Testament before Christ came, a penitent sinner would come to God and plead
with the very God whose nature he had violated to forgive him. God then is the holy Redeemer and He is also
the merciful forgiver. He is a God of absolute justice who is also
a God of pardon. He is a God of Law and He is the same God
of grace. He is holy and He is forgiving. So the Law then is added to make sin sinful. It is added as a way to understand the sinfulness
of sin until the seed comes who becomes the consummate way to understand the sinfulness
of sin. And while you’re taking the sinner to the
Law in the Old Testament, you need at some point to take the sinner to Christ and to
show him that Christ is the One who personifies the absolute holiness of God and lives a life
of sinlessness in which He exemplifies the holiness of God against which any sinner being
compared will fall infinitely short. Sinners may escape by some devious means in
their own minds, culpability forced upon them by the Law of the Old Testament. They’re going to have a much harder time escaping
the culpability of violating the Law lived out in the perfections of Christ. That’s why it’s so important that the Bible
in the New Testament gives us four gospels and that it gives us the book of Colossians
to see the glories of Christ. And it gives us the book of Romans to see
the glories of Christ in the gospel. That it gives us the book of Hebrews to see
the glories of Christ. That it gives us the book of Revelation to
see the glories of Christ. It’s so important for us to be exposed to
the glories of Christ. The bulk of the New Testament is given over
to the four gospels. Why? Because Christ is put on display against which
every sinner is measured. And when you’re preaching Christ, going through
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which we have done for years and years and years, if you
just add all the years up that I have stood in the pulpit of Grace Community Church and
preached Christ from the gospels, it approaches twenty-two–twenty-three years. If you add the book of Hebrews, you can add
a few more years. If you add the book of Romans, you can add
more years. Maybe if you add the book of Colossians, you’re
going to be talking about a ministry that I’ve had here for forty years and perhaps
thirty-plus of those years we have looked at Christ. And when you put Christ on display, the sinner
is indicted….he is indicted. You don’t need to take him necessarily back
and expose him to all the details of the Mosaic ordinance because the seed has come and Christ
is the standard. And one falls under the curse by falling short
of being as perfect as Jesus Christ is perfect. And the amazing reality is that when you face
the Law lived in Christ, and you come under the curse, it is Christ to whom you are driven. That’s why He says, “The Law’s our tutor that
brings us to Christ.” And it is Christ when you’re driven to the
very one who is God in perfection, you are also driven to the one who is God in mercy. So it says in verse 13 of Galatians 3 that
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. This is beyond the conception of any man or
men, beyond the design of any false religious system, that the very God who set the standard
of holiness is the very God who also forgives. All the Law can do is produce the knowledge
of sin, whether written down, or before revealed little by little by little, or whether revealed
fully and consummately and exemplary way in Jesus Christ, all the Law does is expose the
sinfulness of sin. It excites sin in the sinner, and as Paul
says, makes sin exceedingly sinful. So that if one is preaching a true message
concerning Jesus Christ, it is not some kind of sentimental sappy approach because a true
presentation of Christ is an incessant exposure to the glories of one who is all holy. And being measured against Him, we all fall
short. So, that’s the purpose of the law…to expose
sin, whether it is revealed prior to Moses, revealed fully in Moses, or exemplified in
Christ, it has the same purpose. And in any kind of evangelistic strategy there
is a necessary element of exposing people to the Law of God in its fullness, and its
fullness is in Christ. So eventually when you evangelize people,
you want to get to them to the point of being exposed to Jesus Christ in His glory. And then asking the question…Are you as
perfect as Christ? As holy as Christ? And any sinner whose heart and mind is open
will run from such a comparison. The Law then curses us in any form. I want to talk about that a little bit. Back to verse 10 of chapter 3. “As many as are under the Law are under a
curse.” Here’s why the Law can only curse us, and
I’m going to give you a list of things. Number one, it requires behaviors opposite
the desires of the heart. It requires behaviors opposite the desires
of the heart. Do we need to understand that the heart is
driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life? We understand that the human heart is deceitful
above all things, and desperately wicked.. That it is proud and selfish and self-indulgent. The Law demands opposite things. The Law of God demands behaviors that are
contrary to the natural man. It demands unnatural things. Sinners love sin, darkness, the world, the
flesh, lust, not righteousness, holiness, virtue. So the Law is demanding of the sinner behaviors
that are contrary to his nature. Secondly, the Law calls for things not only
that are contrary but are impossible. They are impossible. In that great eighth chapter of Romans and
the seventh verse, the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, it does not subject
itself to the Law of God. It is not even able to do so for those in
the flesh cannot please God. So the Law is asking for things opposite the
desire of the heart and it is asking for impossible things. Even if they did desire them, which they can’t,
they couldn’t do them. Thirdly, the Law exacts from the sinner absolute
perfection of performance, equal to the perfection of God as manifest in the incarnation of Jesus
Christ. That is to say the Law exacts absolute perfection
and accepts nothing less. Sinners can’t desire that. They can’t perform that. Thus they are under a curse. They have no desire for it. They have no ability for it. And yet the Law demands perfection. The Jews didn’t understand this. They thought that if they had kept certain
ones of the Law at certain times, they would be all right. The Law is a severe task master. It asks the sinner to do what the sinner does
not want to do, is not able to do and demands that he do it perfectly. Fourthly, the Law refuses to accept effort
as a consolation. The Law gives nothing to diligence. God never says, “Nice try. A for effort…A for effort.” Can sinners do a few humanly good things? Of course, they can be philanthropic and they
can be kind and thoughtful on a human level. They can do human good. It doesn’t matter to God. They can strive to please God in their flesh,
but the Law refuses to accept any effort as some kind of a consolation prize if it falls
short of absolute perfection so that immoral people, absolutely irreligious people, people
who run to the farthest extreme of immorality and live there are not going to be in a different
hell than the moral and the good and the religious of the world. They’re going to end up in the same place
because the Law refuses to accept diligence and effort at a human good as any consolation. In fact, hell might be hotter for the religious
people who have violated the first commandment by worshiping another God…a more severe
commandment to violate than treating people in an evil way. I would expect that perhaps false religious
leaders might find themselves in the same zone of hell as mass murderers. Number five, the Law accepts no limited payment. The Law accepts no limited payment. There is the idea that for your sins you can
make some payment in life…some penance can be done, some prayers said, some duties fulfilled,
some personal pain inflicted on your body as if offering penance, some sacrifice made
in the religions of the world, some animal sacrifice, some human sacrifice, as in the
case of Israel, some baby burned to Molech to pacify that god and buy some deliverance. The Law accepts no limited payment. But it demands utter and absolute damnation
for ever to anyone who violates it once. Sinners who violate the Law of God find it
permanently fatal. Were they to keep the Law of God, another
way to look at it, all their life and then violate one Law of God just before they died,
they would be forever damned and there’s no way to make a payment to reduce that. Number six, the Law is an unrelenting task-master,
never eases up or lightens the load. God never says, “You have a free week, do
what you want.” Never. There is no rest from the Law’s obligation. There’s no day off. There’s no free week or free day. The extreme demands of the Law never ever
let up. There’s no rest for the sinner. Number seven, consequently the Law breaks
the soul like an iron rod smashes a clay pot, like a hammer shatters glass. Under the Law sinners are broken and that’s
the intent of the Law. Sinners are rendered guilty. They are made to feel shame, restlessness,
sorrow, pain, hopelessness, futility, ignorance, fear, dread, horror. That’s what the Law is
supposed to do. It is supposed to be so relentless, so demanding
that the sinner can feel nothing but crushed under the weight of the Law. Number eight, the Law gives a man a severe
sentence which has no equal, eternal torment in hell. You’re beginning to see the severity of this
issue. This is so essential for sinners to understand. The punishment is this severe. It’s for life. It’s a life sentence and sinners never die. It’s a life sentence and sinners never die. They live forever tormented. Number nine, the Law provides no strength
to help us to keep it. The Law is impotent in that sense. It gives the sinner no power, no aid, it offers
no help. It is powerless. It cannot help the sinner. Number ten, the Law broken offers no amends,
no restoration, no restitution. There is no path back. There is no way to undo. There’s none offered by the Law. The Law never says at any point, “Now if you
have violated the Law, if you will just make a list of your sins, here’s how you can undo
them.” No. There is no path of recovery. There is no path of restoration. There is no path of restitution. There are no amends. There’s no way to cancel out the past. Number eleven, the Law listens to no repentance. There’s no way to cry out to the Law and say
you’re sorry. There’s nowhere in the Law that prescribes
mercy, nowhere. You can’t appeal somehow to something in the
Law that describes a way to repent. It doesn’t exist. Therefore, number twelve, the Law gives no
forgiveness. There’s no forgiveness in the Law. There’s nothing written in the Law of Moses
that offers forgiveness because there is no forgiveness in the Law. That means there’s no mercy in the Law. There’s no grace in the Law. None. Do you understand what we’re saying here? This is devastating. The Law requires sinners to do what they do
not desire to do. The law requires sinners to do what is impossible
for them to do. The law requires that they do it perfectly
all the time their entire life. The Law refuses to accept diligence and effort
as a consolation, accepts no limited payment, never eases up on the sinner, provides no
path of restitution, listens to no repentance, offers no forgiveness. Number thirteen, the Law stirs up sin. It stirs up sin. Sinners who try to live by it are led into
more and more sins. Rather than eliminating sin, the Law just
creates things that the sinners desire to violate. The more things you know are forbidden, the
more your fallen heart seeks to violate them. And finally, the Law offers no promise of
a better day. Nothing to look forward to, nothing. Is the Law sin? No. The Law is the righteous nature of God revealed. Before the Law it was revealed in the Law
of Moses, it was fully revealed, written down and in Christ it is fully demonstrated in
a life lived by a man who was without sin. The Law is not sin, we are sinful. Paul says in Romans 7, “When I understood
the Law, it killed me.” “The Law…he says, Romans 7:12 to 14…is
holy, just and good.” But the Law revealed was how wretched I am. The Law…he says…is spiritual but I am
flesh, sold into bondage to sin. All that defines the state of the sinner. And when the sinner comes to a recognition
of that state and the consequence of that state, that’s the time when the sinner by
the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit becomes ready for the gospel of Jesus
Christ. If you’re looking at Galatians 3, look at
verse 24. “The Law then has become our tutor to lead
us to Christ that we may be justified by faith.” That’s our only hope. That’s what Paul celebrates in Philippians
3. He has spent his whole life trying to earn
salvation by the Law. And then he found there was available for
him by faith a righteousness he could never attain by faith in Christ. And all along the Old Testament history, while
the Law was unfolding in ever increasing revelation, there was running parallel to that a sacrificial
system. It goes all the way back, doesn’t it, to Adam,
Cain and Abel when God revealed that an animal sacrifice was required, death was required
for a violation of His Law. So all the way along from Cain and Abel on
through the history of the Old Testament, there was a sacrificial system as an illustration
of the need for an acceptable substitute to be found to die the death that sinners were
required to die. That whole system was simply saying that there
is a need for a substitute, there’s a need for a substitute, there’s a need for a substitute. It was never the animal, but the animal was
the illustration. And so, along comes Christ who is the Lamb
of God who finally and alone takes away the sin of the world. The Law then is our tutor who will lead us
to Christ. Christ is the very illustration of the Law
because He is God. God then Himself and God in Christ is the
personification, the essence of holiness. He is the one who is our judge but He is also
the one who is being merciful and gracious, our Redeemer. And God in Christ becomes the sacrifice for
sin which is the final sacrifice, the sacrifice once and for all satisfying the requirement
of the Law on behalf of all who will ever believe. This is the meaning of Hebrews chapter 10. It’s worth looking at it just for a moment,
Hebrews chapter 10, verse 4. “It is impossible for the blood of bull and
goats to take away sin.” Of course it’s impossible. Just an illustration…just an illustration. However, in verse 10, the writer says, “We
have been sanctified, set apart from sin and from judgment and death and hell through the
offering of the body of Jesus once for all.” Verse 14, “By one offering He perfected for
all time those who are sanctified.” What we needed was perfection. We couldn’t earn it, we couldn’t attain it,
He did it for us. So, beloved, know this. God is a gospel preacher but God is a preacher
of Law also. Christ was a gospel preacher but Christ was
a preacher of Law also. So we must be. That’s what Paul is calling for in Romans
10 when he says about the Jews, they don’t understand the righteousness of God. And if you don’t understand the righteousness
of God, you don’t understand how holy God is, you don’t understand the Law truly and
therefore you don’t understand your sinfulness. They didn’t understand that. And so the Apostle Paul says there must be
an understanding of the Law of God, the severity of violating the Law of God. Not knowing about God’s righteousness, he
said, they sought to establish their own righteousness and didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness
of God. So you must preach how righteous God is. How sinful man is. And then offer them Jesus. And as Romans 10:11 says, “Let them know whoever
will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Saved from what? Condemnation of the Law…hell. And how are they going to call on Him whom
they haven’t believed? How they going to believe in whom they haven’t
heard? How they going to hear without a preacher? So go preach for faith comes by hearing the
Word of Christ preached, proclaimed. So we all have to be gospel preachers, but
we all have to be preachers of the Law. What leads the sinner to true salvation is
an overpowering realization and a frightening awareness of the inescapable result of breaking
God’s Law. You want a little divine order for evangelism? It goes like this–Law written, personified
in Christ, sin, guilt, judgment, fear, gospel. Law written and personified in Christ, sin,
guilt, condemnation, fear, gospel. You’ve got to get through those things before
you get to gospel. In fact, if you looked at the ministry of
Jesus, you would have to conclude that He preached more judgment than He did forgiveness. It was Martin Luther who said, “The first
duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and to show the nature of sin because
it will act as a school master and bring him to everlasting life which is in Jesus Christ.” It was John Wesley who said, “Before I preach
love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, Law and judgment.” It was Wesley who said, “Preach ninety-percent
Law and ten percent grace.” It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “They will
never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law.” It was John Wycliffe who said, “The highest
service to which a man may attain on earth is to preach the Law of God.” J.C. Ryle, “People who will never set their faces
decidedly toward heaven and live like pilgrims until they really feel they’re endanger of
hell. Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments
and show the length and breadth and depth and height of the requirements of the Law. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon
on the Mount. We cannot do better than to follow His plan.” John Stott wrote, “We cannot come to Christ
to be justified until we’ve first been to Moses to be condemned. Once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged
our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there, we must leave Moses and go to
Christ.” Isaac Watts, many of whose hymns we sing,
wrote, “I never knew but one person in the whole course of my ministry who acknowledged
that the first motions of religion in his own heart arose from a sense of the goodness
of God. I think all besides who have come within my
notice have rather been awaken to fly from the wrath to come by a passion of fear.” In his life and ministry, only one came by
the goodness of God, the rest by fear. One writer said, “If I had my way, I would
declare a moratorium on the public preaching of the plan of salvation in America. Then I would call on everyone who has use
of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of
God, and the Law of God until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ Then I would take them off into a corner and
whisper the gospel to them. Such drastic action is needed because we do
have gospel-hardened sinners. Don’t even use John 3:16.” Why? He wrote, “Because you tell a sinner how to
be saved before he realized that he needs to be saved. And you have gospel-hardened him.” Romans 3:18 says of sinners, as we read this
morning, that they have no fear of God before their eyes. So what do we want to do then? We want them to feel fear and the Law produces
fear. The purpose of evangelism is not to get people
attracted to Jesus because He loves them and wants to be their friend. But to get them to fear God because He hates
them and wants to punish them forever. But the same God also will save him from himself. No one is saved because…really saved…because
they want a better life here. People who are truly saved are saved because
they’re fleeing to Christ to rescue them from damnation. This is when the good news is good news. The Law shows a fiery face. The gospel shows enthroned grace. In the Law, God is revealed as Judge. In the gospel, He’s revealed as Redeemer. You cannot diminish the condemning force of
the Law without diminishing the comfort of the gospel. Father, thank You for revealing this to us
so clearly in Scripture. We’re saddened because there’s so much shallow
understanding of these great holy truths. When we understand them, we understand the
meaning of salvation. When we understand them, we understand that
You have given us a gift that is beyond comprehension. We have violated Your Law, we understand that. We are violators of Your Law. We should be and are under a curse. We would remain under that curse forever were
it not for the Lord Jesus who ran to us like the father in the story of the prodigal and
threw his arms around us and kissed us all over the head, forgiving and reconciling us
in a moment. And in that moment gave us dignity, covered
us with a robe of his righteousness, gave us authority, put a ring on our fingers, gave
us privilege, put shoes on our feet for we are sons and not slaves. And all heaven celebrated. We thank You for this grace. By talking about the Law tonight, in no way
to we intend to diminish grace. Grace is our theme again and again and again
and will always be. But not to the neglect of Law. Help us to implement these things and grant
us that we can awaken sinners, that we can alarm them, that we can bring them to fear
the one that they naturally do not fear that they may flee to Christ who waits with open
arms to receive them. We thank You again for Your great truth. In the name of Christ, amen.

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