The Law and the Gospel are Both God’s Character
avatar

One summer when I was ten years old I spent a week with my grandmother in Western Arkansas. At the end of the week my mother came to pick me up. While we were still visiting, I forget what I said to my mother, but it must have not have been too nice, because I will never forget what my grandmother said to me. She said, “You don’t talk to your mother that way.” I thought she was going to follow it up with something like, she is bigger than you or the boss of you or something like that be she didn’t. She finished by saying, “You don’t talk that way to someone who would die for you.” Wow.

http://www.goodsalt.com/details/lwjas0048.html?r=ssnet

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

That has always stayed with me, and even when performing wedding ceremonies, I share that story and encourage the new family always to remember, even in disagreements that you are still disagreeing with someone who would die for you. So at least let’s make it a friendly disagreement.

The reason we put no other gods before us, is not because God is bigger than us or the boss of us, but because He loves us enough to die for us. In the same spirit we honor our parents and are faithful to our spouses. The spirit of the law is, others first. That is also the spirit of Jesus on the cross.

Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:32-35 NLT

While Jesus had every right to call ten thousand angels to His rescue, or turn His persecutors to dust and escape, one simple thing held Him back. Saving Himself and letting others perish, which would have been putting Himself first, simply was not in His character. His character is “others first.” The law is others first, too. When Jesus refused to save Himself on the cross, He was fulfilling the law on the cross, not abolishing it. The law, which says, “others first” was established on the cross. The law is the gospel! The law puts others first. There are commandments about putting God first, putting your parents first, and putting your spouse and then community first, but there simply is no commandment telling us to put ourselves first. Putting yourself first is contrary to the law, and it is contrary to God’s character.

To abolish the law would be to abolish consideration for others! Jesus was not considering Himself on the cross, He was only considering others. Thus He established the law and the gospel on the cross. Many of our parents have that law written on their hearts and would not think twice about dying for us if such a situation arose. Many of our service men and women have that law written on their hearts and have sealed it with their own blood in dying for our freedom. The police officer you just cursed for writing you that speeding ticket will take a bullet for you without even flinching.

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. Hebrews 8:10 NLT

Will you let God write His law on your heart? When He writes His law on your heart, He is also writing the gospel on your heart, for He is placing His very character inside your heart!

Share Button

Comments

The Law and the Gospel are Both God’s Character — 25 Comments

  1. William, I think what you have said in this article encapsulates what Jesus and His church is about very well. There is one thing I would like to say in addition. Even though we are to put others first we should at the same time not neglect ourselves. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and if we allow the temple to go to the dogs then we really haven’t put God first but have instead dishonored Him. To me that is especially so in cases of suicide but not exclusively so. Even though I think there are cases that God will judge very lightly on because of circumstances it is still destroying a part of His creation.

    Like(14)
    • Tyler, I agree that we should not neglect ourselves, but even by doing that we are putting others first because we realize if we take care of ourselves we will then be able to take care of others. So with that mindset we still put others first.

      Like(14)
  2. When I was in church last week there was a beautiful sermon about the death of Jesus. And then pastors wife sang a song about soldiers going to die for the country and then about Jesus dying for us. I was feeling different emotions, at first some disappointed that I have no idea how it feels when someone loves me unconditionally, like a parent does. I don't know what it feels like to know there is someone who is always on your side. Someone who is watching after me. It made me sad but I was pitying myself, God showed me that I got to experience love which was greater than parents love. In most cases parents love is natural, expected but I got to experience love that's much greater than that when my sister would place herself in the harms way of my dad to protect me. She was ready to die for me. Both of my sisters took a burden of loving me and protecting me when it was not expected of them, when it was not natural for them as nobody did the same for them. They did, especially one of them what is unthinkable, she was like Jesus, she would led dad beat her up so badly, she couldn't walk, she would distract him so I could run out to the door while he was beating her up with a piece of wood. She allowed me to be healthy and to live. What kind of love is that. Not many people are able to experience this kind of love which is much greater than parents love. She raised me as I was hers, though I wasn't. It makes me want to love them and then I started getting a glimpse of Jesus and His love for me. It scares me when I think that as a Christian I shouldn't think of myself, but of others, cause who else will think of me? Who else will provide, protect, guide, but me?

    Like(15)
    • If we think of others, rather than ourselves, who will provide for us, protect and guide us? That would be Jesus, I believe.

      Like(3)
  3. So true about the words and you cannot take them back. The person cannot unhear them. Lots to think about. thank you

    Like(4)
  4. Jesus and Others and Me, what a wonderful way to spell JOY. But we have to have a clear understanding of what this means. Some members of our church get sick from over work. I am not saying 'working hard', but 'over work'. Many put others in the church/community first before self just to finally realize the get sick and turn back and ask the question, why did God allowed me to get sick when I was working for others? Answer, you were suppose to take care of yourself as you took care of others. Caring for others do not mean if I have $10, I should give $5 at all times to show I am doing for other. Jesus said, the fields are ripe, but the harvesters are few. PRAY THAT GOD SENT other harvesters into the field. It did not say we must do all to show that we love others. A true understanding of the scriptures are very important as we move along this christian pathway. We can also look at 'how do we care for the poor'? do we make them enablers? lazy? when we ourselves get up and go when the refused to do certain jobs. something to think about.

    Like(4)
    • Marva, I think that is what Tyler is talking about. Part of caring for ourselves to make ourselves useful includes not being overworked. Years of service in the church has taught me when to say no, and to not let people send me on a guilt trip for not doing a job someone else should have done. Thursdays are my only day off and I carefully guard that day not because I am selfish but because I know if I don't rest and pace myself I will become overworked and it will destroy my ministry and relationship with God.

      Like(10)
  5. "The law and the gospel". What law and what gospel? Is the law the law of love (about God) or the 10 commandments (about us)? Is the gospel about us and our salvation or is the gospel the good news about God? Us=selfishness God=selflessness.

    Like(4)
    • Larry, you raise good questions that deserve answers. Isn't it fact that we are dead in sin, but God alone is righteous? That we are selfish, and He unselfish?
      This completely dismisses the idea that the Law of God is "putting others first".
      1. Honor God, as the only God, and not choose our own gods, in HIS universe.
      2. Honor God, as God, and not choose a god that we make to displace Him.
      3. Honor God's name/identity, and not claim it, then disrespect it.
      4. Honor God's time, and not try to displace Him
      5. Honor God's genetic code of parents producing children, who we are
      6. Honor life the God's gives and not try to deprive anyone He gives
      7. Honor God's gift of marriage and don't try to break it up
      8. Honor the property of God in someone's stewardship, and not claim it
      9. Honor the name/identity God gives a person and not lie about it
      10. Covetous in the heart is what kills.

      Not a single command says I put someone first. Every command says we respect who God is, and respect the life God gives, and the rights of the other person's unique identity . To do this, I start by respecting my own unique identity, stamped on unique finger print, heart print, life print, that God gave me.

      Lucifer, angel, wanted to be God. Adam and Eve, humams, wanted to be God.
      From in Heaven, to the Garden of Eden, to every person today, we have in us the potential to covet what someone else has/is, and try to take it from them.
      It is not about other's being first. It is about respecting who I am, and who the other person is. Honor takes it to a higher level.

      Prefering another says that I have the heart of Jesus Christ, who came to rescue the lost, to die for us. How? Jesus Christ became the God/Man. If He became man, He dies with no return. As the God/Man, He dies, but He will be resurrected. Which says that we never give up the identity God gives us or puts in us. For Jesus Christ to rescue us, He took on our identity, without losing His identity. For me to be there for another, I must retain my God-given identity, then let Him put it in me to walk in the "ditch" to rescue the other person. The blind cannot lead the blind. It is the one who sees that can enter the ditch, to rescue the blind.

      I want to thank Sarah B. for sharing a wonderful and revealing story of her life, in which her sister sacrificed herself, preferring her sister above her own health and life. It is the strength and love of Jesus Christ in her that gave her the power to do this. It is Jesus Christ in us that let us know that He is our resurrection, so that our "sacrifice" not only has the human identity in death, but also have the identity of Jesus Christ/God in us. It God's unique transformation, we become the God/Man, not JESUS himself, but my own unique identity given me through the Lamb of God, living in me.

      Yes, fact that it is the work of God. ALL HIS WORK.

      Like(2)
      • Clarify: Sarah, I sincerely want to thank you for sharing an extremely painful and confusing major experience(s) of your life, that wonderfully illustrate the love of Jesus Christ in your sister.

        A distinction in my opinion: This is not like a police or soldier dying in the line of duty for commitment to country and safety, not necessarily with a spiritual motive, not necessarily without a self-centered motive. Our agendas are all both multiple and different, and cannot be merged.

        Sarah, I thank the Lord that you are alive to tell this story that illustrates the love of Jesus Christ. You sister has been a very brave and courageous young lady and woman. May our Father continue to bless her and family. You do have a Father in Heaven who lived in your sister. God bless.

        Like(4)
        • Dear Sarah,
          Thank you for sharing your story! This touched me in such a way as to show me the selfless love of our dear Savior shining forth in the love of your sister.

          Like(1)
  6. Elaine, in saying what I have said I am not disagreeing with you or William. What you have said only reinforces that idea, “if we take care of ourselves we will then be able to take care of others.”

    Like(0)
  7. Another e.g. in the time of our forefathers of the bible many were rich, a few of them were Job, David, Abraham, Lot, Solomon.etc,etc. When we read about them, I asked myself what service did they do for the community?
    Remember love and service can be expressed in many ways. Because what they did in showing the other nations about who God was, the other nations got to know about God. But 1st the guidelines were laid down by God how the should treat their brothers and sisters.
    How servants (bond-servants or hire-servants) should be treated. I can remember one man was preaching on the TV and my husband pointed him out to me and asked me if I know him, I said no. He said he knew him well because he worked for him a long time ago and he did not even pay him his due salary. If we do well to our neighbor or bad it will be carried about and the name of God will be honor or disgrace. Let us cont to love each other as God would have it.

    Like(1)
    • Marva, you are very selective. I didn't get your reason for picking the wealthy brothers in the church. I get the idea about how you should treat others, including how a pastor ripped off your husband.

      Incidentally, the wealthy folks you picked were one family and two kings. Job was Abraham's great nephew, wealthy folks from Babylonia; and in Caanan Abraham had the opportunity to pick large tracks of unclaimed property. David and Solomon were kings, so what would you expect? The first pair not only took care of the poor around them, and protected the defenseless, but also treated their workers right. As for David and Solomon, great wealth, and great hearts. Of course their failures are recorded to teach us, including letting us know that the best can mess up somewhere between the great beginnings and the fantastic endings -- that surrender to God is required for both bookends to occur.

      Like(1)
  8. In reading most of the comments the fact that we and the culture that we live in is much different than sonme of the middle eastern cultures. Parents and governments dertermine how children are treated. When a young girl of 8,10,12, is sold, or sent to labor camps, or industrial centers, to support the family, this is far from a parent that would die for that child. When Jesus died for our sins, it was in human form, not as God, and the the prayer that he offered in gethsemani three times helps us understand just how human He was. If He had been delivered from that sacrafice, the whole plan that was determined befor the earth was created would have been of no use. Who knows the outcome of the contoversy between

    Like(0)
  9. There are still pockets of believers,even among Adventists, who wrongly feel that the law is 'encroaching' on their faith. It is easy to conjecture the reason, for one, the term law comes into thought accompanied by secular concepts of the law; stern,exacting,reprimanding and its tone rude and harsh. On the contrary our relationship with God is based on that broad concept of agape; that selfless love that comes God himself. Agape,however does not provide free airlifts for believers to heaven, their faith must be ordered and securely anchored on the dictates of the law of love, the ten commandments.

    Like(2)
  10. Law of Moses could bind us to death however gospel of Jesus give us grace to keep on moving having fallen hence forgiven through Jesus' grace for His death in the cross

    Like(1)
    • Yes Manuel, the law will "bind us to death" if we don't heed the the purpose of that Law given to lead all to find salvation in God's grace through Christ. Few will surrender fully and in the end, will be condemned by the law that was only teaching them how to love God and their fellow man.

      The law is God's means for "converting the soul" that is lost in sin, by leading them to the only Hope of sinners. Paul demonstrates this conclusion in Romans 7 & 8.

      The law can lead to Life or condemn to death. It's our choice.

      Like(2)
    • You are right Manuel. Disobedience to the law brings death. 1 John 3:4, Romans 6:23. Obedience to the law brings life. Revelation 22:14. sin is me first and Jesus says if we try to preserve ourselves we will die, but if we follow the law of others first and lose ourselves we will have life.

      Like(1)
      • However, William, the law is not the gospel. Without the gospel, we have neither power nor inclination to obey the law. We are slaves to selfishness and disobedience. Jesus didn't live and die just to show us how to live. He did it to become our personal Saviour from sin and death.

        Like(4)
  11. Many people want to condemn the law because of grace but we are treading down dangerous path. My bible says; law, love and Jesus are one, without one the other cannot exist. So is sin, law and grace. Some look at grace like if it came into being at the cross, but grace existed when sin can into existence,i.e in heaven. Sin started in heaven when Satan broke the law in heaven. Christ gave him chances to redeem himself by offering grace, but he refused and drew 1/3 angels with him. The law, sin and grace was seen again in Eden when Adam and Eve sin by disobeying the law, grace again was extended in Gen 3:15.

    Like(0)
    • We cannot talk about the law apart from Christ as if they were two separate issues. This is the struggle the Pharisees and Sadducees had to their own detriment. When we are daily allowing his Spirit to guide us and are choosing his will over our own, the natural course of events that follows is the obeying God's law.

      Like(0)
      • The law existed with God from eternity while the gospel came later, so they seem to be separate issues, yet they are inseparable. The law simply states the will and character of God who made all things and gives life to all. Rebellion against these principles (and thus rebellion against God) forfeits life. But God who truly loves and is merciful has given the Gospel of Christ to save sinners from themselves, promising to restore them fully in harmony with God and His ways once again. IF sinners believe, Life is the result.

        Sinners and even the sinless are blessed by this greater knowledge of God seen in Christ as the redeemer of sinners. God's grace is revealed in this salvation, and the redeemed will be the crowning evidence of how great God's love truly is. This evidence should silence every doubt and answer every question regarding God's true character. The law is magnified through God's grace toward sinners, as the prophet wrote: "He will magnify the law, and make it honorable". So in the end, the gospel is simply a further definition of the law/character of God when challenged by rebellion.

        Like(3)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.