[Thought questions for Christ, the Law and the Gospel May 28, 2014]
1. Memory text. Does the word “but” in the memory text (John 1:17) trouble you in any way? (…the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth…through Jesus Christ…) Could you explain to someone that this does NOT mean that the law has no place in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Does law contradict grace in any way? What is the end result of the law–and grace–in our hearts?
2. Sin and the law. Why did Paul ask the question, “Is the law sin?” especially if he didn’t believe the law to be sin? What indeed did Paul believe the law to be? Have you ever driven in another country and found yourself quickly learning a new set of highway laws? Have you ever encountered a law that you thought was unfair and wrong? How common is the sin of coveting? Do most people consider coveting something that belongs to someone else to be just one of those things that runs through the mind? How can coveting relate to murder? to adultery? to stealing? Do you want coveting in the church? in your heart?
3. The law and Israel. Could only the people of Israel understand and accept God’s law? Why didn’t God reveal the law to surrounding nations as vividly as He did to His desert nation? How did the law as given in the wilderness by God affect the relationship between God’s people and the other people nearby? What happens to your faith when you obey God? Were the Israelites blind to the benefits of obeying God’s holy law? How should the utter failure of the children of Israel in following God’s word affect us as we approach the end of time on earth?
4. The law and the nations. Remember God’s overwhelming desire for the Children of Israel? What did He want them to learn? Can God reach people who can’t read or hear God’s word? How? Do you think we’ll meet people in heaven whose whole experience with God came from watching nature and longing to be full of love to others? How do we learn love from surroundings that are so chock-full of sin, envy, and sins of passion and hatred? Falling short of Sabbath keeping, church membership and so many other elements of “our” church, how will these people fit into the eternal kingdom? What is our obligation to them now?
5. Grace and truth. When Adam sinned, how did the curse of death affect the just-created world? What do you think Adam thought when he saw freezing rain, wilted flowers, and angry sharp-toothed creatures? Why is Jesus called “the Second Adam?” Did Jesus come to live on the earth with no sin at all in His heart or mind? How could he be totally human without sin? What does His sinless life do for you and me? What is the grandest gift God could possibly give His loved ones who choose to follow Him? Why is that gift so special and rewarding?
6. The law and the gospel. Do you ever see signs of sin and death as you’re taking a pleasant walk on Sabbath afternoon? Would you agree that a horrible way to be punished by death would be to be chained to the body of a dead person, absorbing the smell and the germs of the rotting corpse until you died? Can you and I avoid living a life chained to the body of sin? How? What is the result of being covered with the robes or righteousness rather than the moldy, dank rags of sin? If you choose a life of joy and obedience to the loving God, can you have His righteousness as your reward?