Sabbath: The Road to Faith
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Read for This Week’s Study:

Gal. 3:21–25Lev. 18:5Rom. 3:9–191 Cor. 9:20Rom. 3:1, 28:1–4.

Memory Text:

“Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22, ESV).

Homing pigeons long have been known for their ability to fly hundreds of miles a day and arrive at their destination with amazing accuracy. Yet, even the best homing pigeons at times have become disoriented, never returning to their starting point. The worst incident happened in England, when about twenty thousand birds (valued at more than six hundred thousand dollars) never came back to their lofts.

As most of us have experienced in one way or another, being disoriented, or lost, is not enjoyable. It fills us with fear and anxiety; it can lead us to moments of panic, as well.

The same is true in the spiritual realm. Even after we accept Christ, we can get lost, or disoriented, even to the point of never returning to the Lord.

The good news is, however, that God has not left us to ourselves. He has mapped out the road to faith, as revealed in the gospel, and that path includes the law. Many people try to separate the law from the gospel; some even see them as contradictory. Not only is this view wrong, it can have tragic consequences. Without the law, we would have no gospel. It’s hard, really, to understand the gospel without the law.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, November 12.

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Sabbath: The Road to Faith — 10 Comments

  1. Though the law cannot save us, what great benefits does our adherence to it have for us?

    Very true, we are not by any means saved by the works of the law. However, in order for us to be law abiding citizens of the New Jerusalem, we must begin getting our acts together right here… The God’s law portrays His character of love. The future citizens of heaven must have the character of God otherwise, (God forbid) the Lucifer incident will re-occur.

    Revelation 22:14 - Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

    This message from the book of Revelation was sent and signified by John His servant, to this generation (living in these last days of the world’s history).

    Interesting to note that this is written after Jesus Christ has resurrected and returned to heaven. Hopefully this clears the air in re: the confusion that the commandments were abolished by His death on the cross.

    Philip. P Bliss actually composed a hymn from that verse:

    Blessed are they that do His Commandments!

    Hear the words that the savior has spoken,
    Words of life unfailing and true,
    Careless one, prayer less one,
    Hear and remember, Jesus said blessed are they that do!

    Chorus:
    Revelation 22:14 – “Blessed are they that do His commandments…”
    Blessed are they, blessed are they,
    Blessed are they that do His commandments,
    Blessed, blessed,
    Blessed are they!

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  2. One thing that I have found very helpful in understanding God's law is the reformation teaching of the three uses of the law.

    Here it is in brief:

    1. The first use of the law.
    The first use of the law is to point out wrong actions and place at least an outward restraint upon sinners.
    We aren't really dealing with salvation at this level, but seeing the law as good for society. It's purpose is in restraining unrighteousness in the world.

    The second use of the law
    The second use of the law deals with conviction of sin and turning a person to Christ for justification. The sinner is aware of his lost condition and can't do anything about it, keeping the law won't forgive and justify him. He can only come to Christ to find relief from his burden of guilt and be justification.

    Paul spends a lot of time expounding on the 2nd use of the law, because He wants them to realize they NEED Christ! Without Him there is no justification.

    Third use of the law
    The didactic use. This use is for the believer who has surrendered his/her life to God. He now sees the law as the manifestation of God's loving will, and as a "new creature" in Christ he delights (desires) to do God's will.
    Only by taking the Third Use of the Law seriously do we take regeneration seriously; and only when we come to love God's revealed Law has sanctification become a reality in our lives.
    If we deny the third use of the law, the second is soon dead and we drift into a self pleasing life style.

    We do not trust in our own righteousness, we do not boast in our holiness, we trust in Christ's merit. Yet, salvation is more than a forensic matter, important as that is. God wants to cleanse the soul temple from sin. It is His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,--from the earthly desires, the selfish coveting lusts, the evil habits, the spirit of rebellion against His law, that corrupt the soul.
    We are to co-operate with Him for He does not force His will upon us. We are to place our wills UNDER His will.
    Though the Holy Spirit is essential in this road of faith, the Word of God must be our guide. Our senses are easily confused. God's law is a guard and standard to let us know we are following the right Spirit.

    Ps. 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

    It seems obvious to me that
    THE ROAD OF FAITH accepts the third use of the law.

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  3. Every person is bankrupt before God. The law put us into a prison from which there is no escape by self-effort. The law nails our casket shut. Ouronly hope is trust in the finished work of Christ. Otherwise, we do not have leg to stand on.
    Law sees to it you do not lose consciousness of your sin. It allows no justification of our sin. It will keep us in the prison of conviction. Jesus opensthe doors of this prison when we place our faith in His work on the cross.
    “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God ” (Romans 3:19).
    Immediately upon trust inthat work, God reckons the merit of Jesus to our account. He views us as having the same righteousness that Jesus has. We possess all the magnificent merit of the incomparable Son of God.He places on Jesus your demerit and reckons to us His merit. Jesus takes our hell; we receive His heaven.
    “…for the Son of Man hascome to seek and to savethat which was lost ” (Luke 19:10 ).
    “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the worldto save sinners , of whomI am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

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    • McRoyal, your post is a good description of the second use of the law.

      But we can't stop there.
      The third use of the law must follow.
      Paul, after expounding on the 2nd use of the law in his letters, follows with the third use of the law:

      Ephesians 4: 17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity....
      25 So stop telling lies.....
      28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
      29 Don’t use foul or abusive language....
      31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

      Colossians 3: 5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

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  4. Ulrike, I've been thinking about your "third use of the law." At first it all sounded good, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't as good as it first sounded.

    Here's why: Paul writes "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Rom 10:4 At first glance it looks like the law is done away with, but that's not what it means. The word telos translated as "end" in the English also means "goal." So in this context it means that the "goal" of the Law was to portray the character of Christ -- which, of course, is hardly possible in ten brief statements. But those statement did express the principles of supreme love to God and unselfish love to one's neighbors.

    However, once we come to Christ, we cease to look at the words of the Law for direction. Instead, we submit to the Holy Spirit who will bring our lives into harmony with the life of Christ. The teachings of Christ actually amplify the Law and show far greater depth than than was possible without the demonstration of His life of self-sacrificing love. If we look only to the Law, it is still possible to become self-righteous Pharisees.

    I believe we do people a serious disservice by directing them to focus on the Law. We make them twice as bad as ourselves -- as Jesus said of the Pharisees. (Matt 23:15) We set them up to fail and/or become fault-finding legalists.

    And why do we have a tendency to do that? I think perhaps we don't trust the Holy Spirit enough. We figure if we don't give people a check list, they just won't "make it."

    That is a lack of faith on our part. And if we don't have faith enough to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in the life of the believer, how can we teach them to have saving faith??

    The promise of the New Covenant is sure:

    31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" Jer 31:31-33

    Our job, as ambassadors of the Messenger of the Covenant is to introduce people to Jesus and teach them how to cling to Him, and He will do what He has promised: He will write His law of love in their hearts - in a manner that is far more effective than an outward exhortation to "obey the commandments." He has promised that if we lift Him up, He will draw all unto Him. (Jn 12:32) He didn't tell us to lift up the commandments!

    If you'll examine the exhortations of Paul at the end of each of his letters, I think you'll find that he directs his converts to follow Christ, to look to Christ, to submit to Christ Jesus etc. He does not refer them to the Law. We should take a lesson from him.

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  5. The third use of the law isn't my invention.
    It was a basic teaching of the Reformers who believed very strongly in Christ our Righteousness.

    Christ is our example -- no question. Without Him there is no righteousness.
    And it is only our surrender to him that enables us to keep His commandments.
    The ten commandments are the basic framework. And of course those commandments contain all the magnification in their principles as revealed in scripture and the teachings of Christ.

    We NEVER sit back and say "I've arrived". That is not what the third use of the law is about. We are always in a humble submission to Christ and His commandments, knowing that without Him we can do nothing. There is no question that we must always keep looking to Him.

    There is no boasting then, and only pointing people to Christ to change the heart and regenerate the character. The third use of the law IS NOT THE FIRST use of the law. It comes into play after and in conjunction with the second use.

    We must remember, there are more spirits in this world.
    Spiritualism will deceive the world. And spiritualism is more than just spirits pretending to be dead people.

    I had one person tell me that once he believed in Christ and invited the Holy Spirit into his life, he didn't really need even the Bible anymore, except for historic purposes, for the Spirit was guiding him and pointing him to Christ.

    Inge -- that is a dangerous direction, and I'm not saying you have gone there, but it is the direction that is taken when the third use of the law is discarded.

    The time will come when all our senses will say "This is right", "this is of God". Love and unity will be the theme. There will be signs and wonders and wonderful exhibitions of power in the name of Jesus. But it will be the work of another spirit.

    We are told how we will know the difference.
    And it is --
    Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

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  6. Ulrike, after reading a good number of Inge’s comments I really don’t think she is relegating the law to some low position. How can she? “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom 3:31 NKJV).

    I think her concern is that we focus on Christ without forgetting the law rather than the other way around. I think of Peter trying to walk on the water and was doing just fine until he took his eyes off the Lord. That is when he began to sink. And Peter must have learned the lesson because later in life he says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV).

    We can study the law 24 hours a day and strive with all our might to do the law but if we are not going to Jesus for the means to do them then they will remain undone. That is the importance and focus that I think we need. As Jesus probably would say, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Mat 23:23 NKJV). There is a priority and Jesus is number one.

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  7. The third use of the law is to affirm that all believers are still "under the law" as a rule of life.

    "Under the law" can mean under the condemnation of the law. And this is often Paul's meaning when pointing to Jesus as our sin bearer.

    But just because we are not "under the law" of condemnation, does not mean we are not "under the law" as a rule of life. Those who fail to understand this distinction are bound to misunderstand and/or convolute the bible.

    Ulrike is correct in her evaluation of how Protestantism used the law. First as a schoolmaster, and then as a continuing rule of life.

    Unless both are working together continually, neither will be relevant in the end.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • Bill, the law will always be in force. The problem is when you become so focused on the law your view is inward on self and not on Christ who is the strength in law keeping. Besides, when a person does that quite often he/she will unknowingly slip into trying to gain salvation by doing the law rather than by faith in a loving God. The point that is made is not whether we keep the law or not but is a matter of priorities and where your focus is.

      As far as Protestantism goes, they don't have a corner on truth any more than anyone else. If they had all the truth then why didn't they keep the Sabbath or understand the state of those who have died, etc.? To me using their concepts and ideas without judgment is like using all the rabbinical writings of the inter-testament period to establish our doctrines.

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  8. EGW understand clearly the 2nd and 3rd use of the law in these words.....

    "A Complete Rule of Life.--God has given man a complete rule of life in His law. Obeyed, he shall live by it, through the merits of Christ. Transgressed, it has power to condemn. The law sends men to Christ, and Christ points them back to the law.--RH, Sept 27, 1881. (HC 138.) "

    There is no need bickering about which comes
    first, "the chicken or the egg" or "the law or the gospel"

    An overview of the old testament is law that points to Christ, (and there is plently of grace in the O.T.), and the new testament is Christ and grace that points us back to the law.

    The bible is not a singular focus book.

    It is about God and Christ.

    It is about man and sin and redemption. The bible tells us how to relate to law and gospel. Neither does it highlight one to undermine the other.

    The words of Jesus are very relevant when He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

    The law still justifies the obedient and condemns the guilty who disobey it. Christ's ministry in heaven makes our obedience acceptable to the Father. He not only cleanses our obedience from sin, He also adds His merit to our works, and we are treated just as if we had merited heaven for ourselves.

    "Although we have no merit in ourselves, in the great goodness and love of God we are rewarded as if the merit were our own. When we have done all the good we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants. We have done only what was our duty. What we have accomplished has been wrought solely through the grace of Christ, and no reward is due to us from God on the ground of our merit. But through the merit of our Saviour every promise that God has made will be fulfilled, and every man will be rewarded according to his deeds. {WM 316.1} "

    Bill Sorensen

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