[Thought questions for The Law and the Gospel December 5, 2012]
1. The law and the gospel. Do the words “law” and “gospel” seem somewhat contradictory? Why? Does the concept of “love” belong to both the law and the gospel? Under all circumstances? Under any circumstances? When you’re in love, deeply in love, with someone, how hard is it to do something that person wants you to do? Do you appreciate the freedom God has given you to do what is right? What about the freedom to sin? How much do you appreciate that? Do you love the law of God? Why or why not?
2. Torah. What role do the first five books of the Bible play in the formulation of the Torah? In the gospel story? How does the Torah as the law of God reflect God’s character? Could you explain to a visitor attending your class today the difference between ceremonial laws, civil laws, and the moral law? Can we ignore the ceremonial and civil laws these days? If not, what can we learn from these ancient descriptions of laws that governed the Israelite nation?
3. The moral law. What did you think when you saw lawn signs bearing a summary of the Ten Commandments a few years ago? Did you think, “Ah, at last! People are going to start obeying all ten of them!” Why doesn’t a simple posting of the Ten Commandments improve morality? Or does it? Were the Ten Commandments known to mankind before Moses received from God the two tablets of stone in the wilderness? What about in heaven, before the fall? Did the angels obey the Law of God? How do you and I show our love of the law of God? Or is it wrong to love anything but God Himself?
5. The role of the law in the gospel. What if someone held an evangelistic series with the theme, “God wants you to obey Him.” Would that title draw people to the meetings? Why or why not? Is the law a means to salvation? Can we have salvation without keeping the law? Can we keep the law and miss out on salvation? In what way(s) is the law like a mirror? Does the mirror make us look good or not so good? If you look in the mirror and see a black streak across your face, what do you do next? Does God help us see ourselves through the mirror of the law and then correct our blemishes when we ask Him to?
6. The Sabbath and the law. Have you ever heard someone argue against the commandments condemning stealing? murder? adultery? Sabbath keeping? What is the first response people give when you mention that you keep the seventh-day Sabbath because it’s in God’s law? Today many thousands of Sabbath-keepers work on Sabbath at jobs in healthcare, child care, and other helping occupations. For the pastor, Sabbath is probably the busiest day of the week. Is this in harmony with God’s plan for keeping the Sabbath holy? Do we have the authority to judge the behavior of others regarding the Sabbath? Do you welcome the Sabbath every week?
7. His alone. How much of your body and brain belong to God? How much of the time you have each day belongs to God? How much of your bank account? What about the crops that grow? Are they God’s? How can you “pay tithe” if all of your money belongs to God? How does the Sabbath law remind us of Eden and the creation of mankind? How successful is Satan in convincing people that it’s an easier life if you don’t rest on Sabbath? Why does he seem to “pick on” the Sabbath as the punching bag for his battle with contemporary Christians? Can you find joy, real joy, in keeping the Sabbath hours holy? What about using Sabbath time to appreciate God’s beautiful world with a quiet walk or a brisk hike? Or sharing food with friends? It’s going to be Sabbath soon. Aren’t you glad?