Home » Sunday: Law and Faith    


Sunday: Law and Faith — 25 Comments

  1. We must believe God! He will do what he promises; no question about it. He made all things: he can destroy'. Give God the glory and honor due unto him.

  2. The God we have faith in does keep his promise to us. Sometimes though what we want from him dulls our minds. We can ask, if it is his will we will receive.

  3. To God a promise is a guarantee. It is an assurance resting on the perfect justice, power, benevolence and immutable veracity of God, which cannot fail of performance. He declares "For I am the LORD, I change not.." [Mal 3:6]. Peter also states vehemently "The Lord is not slack concerning his promises". [2 Peter 3:9.] He will definitely fulfill what he said. He is true to His word. He indeed fulfilled His promise when He said "I will make you a great nation;I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing". [Gen 12:2].

    Accordingly the law and faith complement each other. The law exposes and discloses men of his guilt. It helps men to be conscious of his sinful nature. ". . . the law is the knowledge of sin". [Rom 3:20]. The sinner then says “I know I am a sinner, and that is the reason I need a Saviour".Jesus alone came into the world to save sinners. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7) It is this knowledge of sin and man"s understanding of self [helplessness] that points Him to the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world". [John 1:29].

    Before the first advent of the " Lamb of God that take away the sin of the world" a provisional system was put in place. Cleansing by the blood of bulls and goats. Ellen White says "The glory that shone on the face of Moses was a reflection of the righteousness of Christ in the law. The law itself would have no glory, only that in it Christ is embodied.It has no power to save. It is lusterless only as in it Christ is represented as full of righteousness and truth". 1SM 237.2. This shows perfect harmony between the law and faith since it represented the full righteousness and truth of Christ. It bore the stamp of His divinity, and expressed His holiness and righteousness. It was meant to be in effect until the descendant whom the promise had been made [Jesus Christ].had come . When He had come and fulfilled it, it was of no effect. How more glorious then was the one that fulfilled it?

    • Yet, John 1:17 says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace (not righteousness,) and truth came by Jesus Christ. It is interesting how EGW leaves out what the Apostle John makes paramount and EGW makes paramount what John leaves out regarding the law and Jesus.

      • Actually, Pete, I see her words quite differently than you do. I see that she uplifts Christ above the Law, saying that the "The law itself would have no glory, only that in it Christ is embodied.It has no power to save." And that's about the same as what Paul contends in his letters.

        Both present Christ is as pre-eminent, with the Law having value/glory as a reflection of His character.

      • Pete, righteousness and grace are the same thing. By loving others Christ was both righteous and graceful. When we love our neighbor as ourselves we are showing Jesus' righteousness and grace. The law is both righteous and graceful. It tells us how to be graceful and righteous with God, our family and our community. There is no real righteousness without grace and no real grace without righteousness.

    • There is perfect harmony between the Law and the *Promise* because the Law, when rightly understood, expresses the self-renouncing love that is the character of God, as fully demonstrated in the Christ of the Promise.

      However, the teaching of salvation by faith plus law is in direct opposition to the teaching of salvation by grace through faith and not by works. It implies that there is something we can add (our works) to God's perfect plan of salvation.

      The Law is as everlasting as God because it is an expression of His character. However, the attempt to keep it to supplement the grace of Christ is presumptuous both denying the all-sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice and underestimating the damage that sin has done. In other words, any attempt to add works to faith as a means of salvation denigrates the sacrifice of Christ.

      • Inge Anderson the bible and SOP say
        KJV James 2
        23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
        24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
        The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted, it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures. {GC 472.2}
        Kindly explain to us please

        • Theologians have wrestled with the apparent argument between Paul and James for the last 2000 years or so, and we are not likely to settle the question on this blog. These quarter's lessons focus on the writings of Paul and what he teaches. This lesson, in particular, focuses on the primacy of the "promise" in salvation. If you'll scroll up and read the lesson for today, you will see that Paul pointed out that the Law does not nullify the Promise. And the Promise is accepted by faith and fulfilled by grace. Works have nothing to do with it.

          As for Ellen White's statement:

          The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted, it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.

          Neither Paul nor the lesson author promotes "faith without works." What both attempt to make clear is that works are the fruit of salvation, not the basis of salvation. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that God created good works that we might walk in them. Eph. 2:10 In other words, we cannot take any credit for any "good works." No works of ours contribute to our salvation. None. It is Christ that works through us. Gal 2:20, John 15:10 The conditions of salvation are the same now as they were in Eden - perfect harmony with the Law of God, which is a transcript of His character. Humanity in its fallen state cannot offer such compliance, so we are totally and completely dependent on Christ's obedience in our behalf. The condition of our salvation is this full and complete dependence, just like little children. Matt 18:3

          Let's just concentrate on Paul's letters now and leave the study of James for another time. (We just had a recent set of lessons on the letter of James.)

          • I use the principle that say one verse is the key that unlocks another verse in the bible. Paul's teaching don't stand alone.They unlock other verse and are also unlocked by other verses.

          • Anele, I certainly agree with the principle of using Scripture to illuminate Scripture. However, pitting the letter of James against a foundational principle of Paul's writings is not helpful. The two letters can be harmonized, but considering the contentious history of theological arguments on the matter, this may be beyond the scope of this lesson.

            The Epistle of James almost didn't make it into Luther's translation of the Bible. He called it an "epistle of straw." 😉 In order not to come to a similar conclusion, we need to presuppose that James did not contradict Paul but, instead, wrote against an error creeping into the church - probably Gnosticism, which focused on the salvific value of "knowledge" with actions done in the body being more or less irrelevant. John also clearly addressed the same problem in his letters.

            Paul's letters include a preventive against this doctrine, because he clearly teaches that genuine faith becomes evident in a transformed life of "good works."

            What Paul establishes clearly is that Christ's work in our behalf is all-sufficient for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to it, and the attempt to add our works to His gift to us denies the value of His sacrifice.

            A modern analogy might be refusing to accept a multi-million dollar gift of a beautiful estate until we helped pay for it with $10.00. That's less of an insult than attempting to add our works to Christ's infinite sacrifice.

            The consequence of accepting Paul's explanation of the relationship between faith and works is that none of us have anything to boast about. Without Christ, we are no better than the drug addict in the gutter.

        • Here are 3 "parallel" verses..starting with 2 from Galatians to help understand.

          "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith WORKING through love. Gal 5:6

          "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation." Gal 6:15

          "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." 1 Cor 7:19

          The fruit of faith = obedience (Heb 11)
          Obedience results in receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32)
          The fruit of the Holy Spirit = faith (Gal 5:22)
          In theological circles, some call this the cycle of illumination.

          The reason why this "paradox" is puzzling to so many is clued here......"He who wills to do His will.. will know the doctrine." JN 7:17

        • Ing, are you saying that faith, our faith, is predicated on our ability to produce the kind, or quality of faith under discussion?
          We talk about mustard seeds Matt17:20, and salvation in Ephesians 2:8, but faith and trust have been subjects of discussion many times, and isn't the bottom line Jesus and the Holy Spirit are gifts of our faith? Some will use the expression we need to exercise our faith. What ever and how ever.

        • Anele we unjustly are putting Paul and James, and the SOP in a war of semantics. Paul, James and SOP actually agree. Inge explained it so nicely, "works is the fruit of our salvation, not the basis of our salvation." May I add that works can not save, rather works is the reflection of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Desire of Ages, Chapter 17, page 175, paragraphs 3,4,5 explains righteousness by faith clearly.

  4. Jesus did not abolish the law but fulfilled the law which was a symbol, sign and pattern of His first coming and His shedding of precious blood for our sins.

  5. Maybe I'm making it too simple but I don't see any conflict between the two. God's covenant with Abraham was righteousness by faith, the same covenant that continued in the new testament. Ellen White notes that the old testament covenant and the New Testament covenant are nearly exact, except that in the New Testament there is no longer a need for sanctuary rituals since Christ has come.

    There has really only ever been one covenant.

    The covenant that was made at Sinai was a side project put in place to help righteousness by faith work for the stubborn people. The people were not living out righteousness by faith in Egypt, so God gave them the sanctuary rituals to awaken their minds to the severity of sin. but righteousness by faith had already been happening before Mount Sinai for anyone sincerely wanting to walk with God.

    May God bless us as we each continue to grow in an understanding of his ways.

    • Adam, I am not sure what two you are referring to. God used a number of ways to handle problems with sinful people from the garden of Eden to the division of the 12 tribes. He is still dealing with sinful man today. The most important need in our lives today is our relationship with God moment by moment.

      • The two covenants discussed at the start of this week of SS lessons. Mentioned in Galatians, and, this helpful reference from Hebrews 8.

        6 But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one. 8 But showing its fault, God says to them, “Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 “It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord. 10 “For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people. 11 “And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 “For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.” 13 When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear."

        • Adam, there are a number of covenants that God has initiated due to a particular need. The first is in Genesis 6:18. There are hundreds of texts about covenants. Covenants are agreements between two or more and they each serve a purpose. The pertinent question that is applicable is, are we bound by a covenant and if so do we fulfill our part of the agreement?

  6. I think basic things as to law and faith have been said in this discussion. I`d like to add the following observation: Paul was concerned about the Galatians as they have forgotten the apostolic preaching and pre-baptismal instruction as to the crucified Christ as the supreme act of grace adopted by the empty hand faith alone. (Galatians 3:1) Reminding them on the Abrahamic Covenant it goes without saying that the center of that covenant is the altar with slain sacrifices (Genesis 12:7; 15:9.18; 22:13) symbolizing the substitutionary death of the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29)

    What do we do with that grace? There seem to be three possibilities: (1) Misunderstanding grace as freedom in sinning with the expectation of final judgement (2 Peter 2 the whole chapter and the Epistle of Jude). (2) Trying to earn righteousness that already has been earned and paid for by Christ, which was the problem of the Galatian Churches (1 Peter 1:18-19; compare Galatians 5:4) (3) Accepting that supreme act of grace by faith alone without any previous or later act of payment to pay back what already has been paid for.

    While the crucified Christ as the supreme act of grace was proclaimed in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament beforehand, the same supreme act of grace is proclaimed in the apostolic preaching of the New Testament pointing to Christ crucified, the shadow having disappeared and the reality having arrived, which is taken up by the first angel`s message in the proclamation the everlasting gospel. (Revelation 14:6)

    Winfried Stolpmann

  7. I have a question with regard to Galatians 3:16. "And to your seed" who is Christ. I have heard explanations as to the meaning of "who is Christ". The meaning that Paul interjects as an explanation to the Galatians doesn't seem all that clear to them or me. The covenant was with God and Abraham. That doesn't seem to require an endorsement. I would guess that the word seeds and seed have something to do with the comment also. Something like plural singulars? Greek or English grammar?

  8. The lesson says that the "agreement" between God and certain parties was not a covenant but will. Yet in the SOP, it says that there were conditions to the "agreement"

    By this rite they were pledged to fulfill, on their part, the conditions of the covenant made with Abraham. {PP 138.1}

    Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. {PP 154.3}

    On the other hand, there were obligations resting upon the possessor of the birthright. {PP 177.3}

    Isaac made known to his sons these privileges and conditions, and plainly stated that Esau, as the eldest, was the one entitled to the birthright.{PP 178.1}

    He (John the Baptist) told them that they had not fulfilled the conditions of the covenant on their part, which would entitle them to the promises God made to a faithful and obedient people. {2SP 51.1}

    Since there were conditions, it is not a will but covenant.

    • You wrote,

      Since there were conditions, it is not a will but covenant.

      Since there can be conditions to a will, this argument is not valid. Moreover, Paul explains the covenant in terms of promise (Gal 3:15-16), and then he goes on to write of the "inheritance" promised. (Gal 3:18) Now, does a will not promise an inheritance? Thus Paul effectually calls the covenant promise made to Abraham a "will." For further on this subject, please study Hebrews 9:15-28 where Paul also writes about the covenant/will.) Notice also what the lesson author writes:

      The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, never translates God’s covenant with Abraham with the Greek word used for mutual agreements or contracts (syntheke). Instead, it uses the word for a testament or a will (diatheke).

      Thus the Bible consistently refers to God's covenant/"new covenant"/Abrahamic covenant in terms of a one-sided promise, will or testament.

      Yes, there are conditions to meet to receive the inheritance: Complete and full trust in Jesus Christ who died to ratify this covenant. Acts 16:31) In other words, to receive the promise, we need to accept it.


Leave a Reply

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

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>