Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D.
President of the Evangelical Theological College, Dallas, Texas;
Professor of Systematic Biblical Theology
Copyright © 1922 by
The Bible Institute Colportage Association, Chicago
~ out-of-print and in the public domain ~
The salvation in grace which GOD accomplishes for those who believe includes, among other things, the placing of the saved one in position as a son of GOD, a citizen of Heaven, and a member of the family and household of GOD; and, since every position demands a corresponding manner of life, it is to be expected that a rule of conduct as exalted as Heaven itself will be committed to the believer. This is precisely what we find; for grace not only provides a perfect salvation and eternal keeping for the one who believes on CHRIST; but grace provides, as well, the instruction for the daily life of the one who is saved, while he is being kept through the power of GOD.
This instruction for the daily life, it will be found, is a particular revelation from GOD to Christians only. As it is wholly gracious in character, it is entirely separate from, and independent of, any other rule of life which is found in the Word of GOD. The Bible, being the one Book from GOD for all people of all the ages, contains the detailed expression of the will of GOD concerning the manner of life of various dispensational classes of people as they are related to GOD in different periods of time, and under the several corresponding covenants.
Among these revelations, is the rule of conduct regarding the daily life of those who are saved by grace in this dispensation which occupies the time between the Cross and the second coming of CHRIST. This gracious rule of life is complete in itself and stands alone in the Scriptures, disassociated from any other and uncomplicated. It is the teachings of grace.
The remainder of this discussion will be occupied, in the main, with the identification and application of the extended body of Scripture relative to the teachings of grace.
The value of knowing this revelation cannot be estimated,
(1) because no Christian may hope to live well-pleasing to GOD who does not know the facts of the revealed will of GOD for his daily life, and
(2) because appalling ignorance exists on every hand concerning these vital truths and distinctions of the Word of GOD.
No careful reader of the New Testament can fail to observe the fact that doctrinal strife obtained at the very opening of the Christian dispensation. This controversy was concerned mainly with the question of whether law or grace furnishes the governing principle for Christian conduct. Although the New Testament contains specific and lengthy warnings against both the legalizers and their teachings, and their systems are therein proven to be opposed to the doctrines of pure grace, their successors from generation to generation to the present time have ever sought to discredit the grace of GOD. Their messages, though steeped in error, have often exhibited great zeal and sincerity; but zeal and sincerity, greatly to be desired when well directed, fail utterly in GOD's sight as substitutes for a consistent presentation of the truth.
The only hope of deliverance from the false doctrines of legalizing teachers is through unprejudiced consideration of the exact revelations of Scripture. This examination of the Scriptures should be free from a blind following of the teachings of men, and should be made with a heart willing to receive "reproof" and "correction" from the Word of GOD as well as "instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16). Only the one to whom these teachings are crystal clear can appreciate the transcendent value of understanding the teachings of grace.
In presenting this introductory consideration of the extensive theme of the teachings of grace, it is necessary in some instances to assume conclusions the fuller proof of which are taken up in subsequent treatments of the discussion. Likewise, in completing the various lines of argument, repetition at certain points is unavoidable.
THE LIFE UNDER GRACE (continued) SECTION ONE GRACE PROVIDES A PARTICULAR RULE OF LIFE
In chapter 2 of the Epistle by Paul to Titus, beginning at verse 11, we read: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world [age]; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Two widely different ministries of grace are set forth in this passage:
First, the grace of GOD which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men. This, it is clear, refers to the saving grace of GOD which has come into the world by CHRIST JESUS, and is now to be proclaimed to all men. It is a message for all men, since its provisions are universal and its invitation is to "whosoever will." Grace upon grace is bestowed both now and unto the consummation of the ages upon those who believe.
Second, the passage reveals, as well, that it is the same grace which has brought salvation to all men, that teaches "us."
The word us, it should be observed, does not refer to the wider class of all men mentioned before; but it refers only to the company of those who are saved. The importance of this distinction is evident; for whatever grace proposes to teach, its teachings are addressed only to those who are saved by grace. This qualifying aspect of the teachings of grace is not limited to this one passage, though that would suffice; it is an outstanding characteristic of the whole body of grace teachings as they appear throughout the New Testament.
These teachings, being addressed to Christians only, are never intended to be imposed on the Christ-rejecting individual, or the Christ-rejecting world. This fact cannot be emphasized too forcibly.
The Word of GOD makes no appeal to the unsaved for a betterment of life. There is but one issue in this dispensation between GOD and the unregenerate man, and that is neither character nor conduct; it is the personal appeal of the Gospel of the grace of GOD. Until the unsaved receive CHRIST, who is GOD's gift in grace, no other issue can be raised. Men may moralize among themselves, and establish their self-governments on principles of right conduct; but GOD is never presented in the unfoldings of grace as seeking to reform sinners. Every word regarding the quality of life is reserved for those who are already rightly related to Him on the greater issues of salvation.
Could it be demonstrated that GOD has made the slightest moral appeal to the unregenerate other than that which is implied in the Gospel invitation, then it must be admitted that, should that moral appeal be complied with by any individual, that individual would have moved nearer to GOD. The works of man would become meritorious, and thereby a third classification of humanity would be created, standing somewhere between those who are "under sin" and those who are "in Christ," or "under grace."
In this age, no such intermediate group of people is possible. If such a class existed, they could not be saved; for they would no longer be fit objects of grace.
Men are either lost and condemned "under sin," or wholly and eternally saved by grace in CHRIST JESUS. The common practice of presenting the great standards of Christian living indiscriminately to mixed congregations by preaching, and to people in general through public print, is a tragedy of infinite proportions.
If the unsaved are present when the teachings of grace are discussed, there should be a Gospel appeal made by which the unsaved are classified and excluded from any share in those teachings. Apart from this appeal, it is impossible to save the unregenerate from receiving the impression that GOD is now seeking their reformation before He seeks their regeneration. Nothing is more wholesome for the unsaved than lovingly to be reminded that they, according to the Word of GOD, have no part in the Christian life, and that they are shut up to the acceptance of CHRIST. Saving results are sure to follow the continued, clean-cut, discriminating preaching of the Word in its right application to both the saved and the unsaved.
It is alarming to the unsaved to be warned that they are lost until they receive CHRIST, and such faithful preaching, being the Truth of GOD, is owned and used of the Spirit of GOD.
Nothing need be said here of the crime against high Heaven which is committed by men who are purposely urging moral betterment on the unsaved in lieu of the Gospel of grace.
The unrevoked anathema of GOD rests upon them; "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8, 9).
There is a possibility, however, that, through carelessness or ignorance, some, whose intentions are good, may make the same fatal error in presenting GOD's truth. As certainly as the exercise of pure grace is the supreme divine purpose unto the eternal glory, so certainly to hinder an understanding of that grace, or to mislead one soul by a misstatement, is the supreme blunder. How momentous is the practice of preaching and of personal work, both for those who hear and for those who speak! Well might the high crime of dealing damnation to the souls of men in the name of Christian preaching be treated, from a mere humanitarian viewpoint, with a thousandfold greater penalty than the crime of dealing deadly poison to the bodies of men. Sinners are to be saved by grace. It is Satan's device to complicate this simple fact with the lesser issues of Christian living.
The teachings of grace, it will be found, comprise all of the teachings of the Epistles, the Acts, and also certain portions of the Gospels apart from their mere historical features. Returning to the passage already quoted from Titus, we discover that only a portion of the whole appeal of the teachings of grace are mentioned in this Scripture; but here the believer is taught that he is to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, godly, and looking for the personal return of his Lord from Heaven. This describes a life of peculiar devotion and sweetness. Thus would GOD "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." According to the Scriptures, Christians are confronted with a two-fold danger:
On the one hand, they may go in the way of the irresponsible, careless sin of the Gentiles, or, on the other hand, they may go into the legality of the Jews. They may "walk as do the Gentiles," or they may "fall from grace." They are warned as much against the one mistake as against the other.
The doctrines of grace may be so perverted that, while there is a holy horror of slipping into careless sin, it is deemed most pious to assume the cursing burden of law. The teachings of grace give equal warning against the sin of turning either in the way of Gentiles or in the way of the Jews.
In discovering the fact and scope of the teachings of grace, it will be noted that,
(1) The Christian's daily life is to be directed only by the teachings of grace,
(2) The law is excluded from the grace teachings of CHRIST,
(3) The law is excluded from the teachings of the Apostles, and
(4) The life and service of the Apostle Paul is an illustration of a life which is lived under grace.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S DAILY LIFE IS TO BE DIRECTED ONLY BY THE TEACHINGS OF GRACE
In exact accord with the fact that Christians are to be governed only by the teachings of grace, the Biblical appeal in grace never contemplates an observance of the law. Through the death of CHRIST, the law is not only disannulled; but, as a rule of life, it is never mentioned, or included in the teachings of grace. It is rather excluded. The believer is to walk by a "rule," but that rule, it will be seen, is never an adaptation of the law (Cf Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16). This important fact should be carefully verified by the reading of all the Epistles. It is impossible to refer here to this extensive body of Scripture beyond a very few illustrative passages.
In the following Scriptures, as in all grace teachings, the law, it will be found, is not once applied to believers:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Romans 14:17-19).
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11).
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:8, 9).
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation]. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:14-16).
"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:5, 6).
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets" (Romans 3:21).
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:4).
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Romans 13:14).
"False brethren . . . who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you" (Galatians 2:4, 5).
"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well" (Acts. 15:28, 29).
"As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such things" (issues of the law) (Acts 21:25).
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).
By these passages, selected from the whole body of New Testament teaching concerning the believer's walk in grace, it is seen that the teachings of grace do not include the precepts of the law as such; but that they exclude those precepts. However, no vital principle contained in the law is abandoned. It will be observed that these principles of the law are carried forward and are restated in the teachings of grace; not as law, but as principles which are revised, adapted, and newly incorporated in the issues of pure grace.
II. THE LAW IS EXCLUDED FROM THE GRACE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST
Concerning the admixture of the principles of law and grace, it will be seen that these principles are wholly separated in the teachings of CHRIST.
Are Christians to keep the law as the rule of their conduct either because of a command from CHRIST, or because of the example of CHRIST? No light will be gained on these questions until the two-fold aspect of the ministry of CHRIST is distinguished.
According to Romans 15:8, 9, CHRIST was:
first, "a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers"; and,
second, "that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy."
This two-fold distinction obtains at every point in the Gospels and Epistles. So, also, it obtains in the Old Testament types and prophecies relating to CHRIST.
CHRIST sustained a particular and unique relation to the nation Israel as the One who fulfilled the great Messianic covenants given to that people.
At the opening of His ministry He said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24); and when, at the same time, sending His disciples out with the Jewish message of "the kingdom of heaven," He instructed them, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:5-7).
As a Jew, and as the Consolation and Hope of Israel, He personally acknowledged, kept, taught, and enforced the law.
As the Saviour and Hope of the world, He established the new manner of life and relationship which belongs to the believer under grace. Speaking to the Jewish ruler, CHRIST said: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).*
* In the Synoptic Gospels, life, it should be noted, is sometimes that aspect of divine blessing which is provided for those who enter the kingdom of Heaven (Note Matthew 18:1-10; 25:31-46), and being somewhat different, should not be confused with the present gift of GOD, which is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST our Lord. One was offered, and is yet to be granted, on the basis of faithful, law-keeping works: the other is gained only through the grace which is by JESUS CHRIST our Lord. One is provided for the age to come (Luke 18:30). The other is a present possession; for He has said: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).
True to the Jewish dispensation, He said with reference to the law of Moses: "This do and thou shalt live"; but when contemplating the Cross and Himself as the bread come down from Heaven to give His life for the world, He said: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he [GOD] hath sent" (John 6:29). These opposing principles are not to be reconciled. They indicate that fundamental distinction which must exist between those principles that obtain in an age of law, on the one hand, and an age of grace, on the other hand.
What interpretation should be given, then, to the word commandments as used by CHRIST or as related to CHRIST, according to the following passages:
"If ye love me, keep my commandments";
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me";
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love";
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments";
"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight";
"He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him"; "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments";
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"; and,
"Blessed are they that do his commandments" (John 14:15, 21; 15:10; I John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:2; Matthew 28:20; Revelation 22:14)?
Is CHRIST here requiring the commandments as given by Moses?
In considering this crucial question, it should be noted that, when dealing with Jews as such, He gave no "commandments" of His own relative to the rule of their lives. He recognized only the law of Moses and the law of the kingdom. In matters of life-relationship to GOD He said, "What readest thou in the law?"; but when He began to instruct those who were saved by grace through His Cross, He began to announce what He was pleased to term "my commandments." This term is not found in all the Gospels until the record is given of His farewell words in the upper room on the night before His death (John, chapters 13-17).*
* Matthew 28:20 not only follows the Cross, in point of time; but also follows the forty-days post-resurrection teaching concerning the kingdom of GOD as recorded in Acts 1:3.
This is most significant; for it is evident that the upper-room discourse was addressed, not to Israelites, but to those who were "clean" through the Word He had spoken to them.
In this portion of the Scriptures, the Cross is treated as an accomplished fact (John 16:11. Cf 12:31); the whole body of teaching is dated by CHRIST beyond the Cross by the words, "And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe" (14:29); and, finally, the only reference to the law in this great message of the upper room is so stated as to place those Jews to whom He was speaking outside its authority: "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their [not your] law" (John 15:25).
The upper-room discourse is the genesis of the Epistles of the New Testament; for in it, in germ form, the great doctrines of grace are announced. The phrase my commandments is reserved until this grace-revelation, because this term refers to the teachings of grace, rather than to the law.
Added proof that the term, my commandments, refers to the teachings of grace may be seen when the passages which indicate the character of His commandments are considered.
Some of these are:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you";
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you";
"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave commandments";
"And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also";
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous"; *
* This could not be said of the law of Moses; for of that law it is written: "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10). Reference is here made to the law of Moses, and to place it on the children of grace is to "tempt God." It is an unbearable "yoke"; but CHRIST said, when anticipating the relationships of grace, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30). Christians are not to be "entangled" with the "yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). So, also, the "old commandment" of I John 2:7, is, in 3:11, seen to be the same message of grace.
"I rejoice greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another."
To this the Apostle Paul has added a testimony concerning the commandments of the Lord. By the testimony of Paul, the whole teaching of grace, as set forth by himself, is related to the commandments of the Lord:
"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord"; - "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus";
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (John 13:34, 15; 12; I John 3; 23; 4; 21; 5; 3; 2 John 1:4,5; I Corinthians 14:37; I Thessalonians 4:2; Galatians 6:2).
The "commandments" of CHRIST are not, therefore, the law, or any aspect of the law; they rather constitute "the law of love," and "the perfect law of liberty." They enter into the teachings of grace as those teachings are set forth by CHRIST, and by those to whom He gave authority and commandment (Matthew 28:18; Acts 1:3; Luke 24; 46-48; Hebrews 2; 3, 4).
III. THE LAW IS EXCLUDED FROM THE TEACHINGS OF THE APOSTLES
From the teaching of the Apostles it will be seen that the principles of law and grace are not to be mixed.
There can be no question but that their teachings are exactly according to CHRIST's message concerning grace. As an example, and in harmony with the teaching of all the Apostles, it may be observed that the Apostle Paul spoke by the authority of CHRIST (I Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3; I Thessalonians 4:15; I Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:11, 12; Ephesians 3:1-11).
It is equally evident that he contended only for the blessings of pure grace. At no point would he suffer the principle of law to intrude.
The Jewish element in the early church was slow to abandon the law, and there is evidence that, by the provisions of men, a double standard was suffered to exist for a time - one, a legality for the Jews, and the other, pure grace for the Gentiles. This fact of a double standard is revealed in connection with the first council of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:19-21. Cf 21:18-26); but the Apostle Paul never countenanced this double standard (Romans 1:16, 17).The change from law to grace was revolutionary, and the age-long covenant of works did not readily yield to the new teachings of grace, nor has it wholly yielded to this day.
There are some who, ignorant of the dispensational divisions of GOD's Word, and seeking to qualify the clear grace teachings of the Apostle Paul, are encouraging themselves in legalism on the strength of the fact that CHRIST kept and vindicated the law in the days of His particular ministry to Israel. The teaching of these legalists is a circumvention of the whole revelation of divine grace.
IV. THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE TEACHINGS OF GRACE
The personal position and practice of the Apostle Paul is evidence that the principles of law and grace should not be mixed.
The Spirit has prompted the Apostle to make a seven-fold exhortation to believers to be followers of himself (I Corinthians 4:6; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9; I Thessalonians 1:6; II Thessalonians 3:7, 9).This appeal was warranted because his doctrine was revealed to him from CHRIST (Galatians 1:11, 12; Ephesians 3:1-10), and was in fact, therefore, the very teachings of CHRIST; because he was an Apostle; and because his own attitude toward Judaism and his own experience was a living illustration of the power of a life in grace.
The Epistles of Paul are an uncompromising protest against the intrusion of law, or any phase of law, into the reign of grace.
Among very many Scriptures, there is one passage in particular which reveals the Apostle's own position. Speaking of his hope of a reward because of faithful service, he proceeds to describe the details of that service. In this connection he is incidentally led to disclose his own position at that time, as compared to other possible positions before GOD.
We read: "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain them that are without law" (I Corinthians 9:19-21).
These various relationships should be considered:
First. "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews."
Was not the Apostle a Jew? Did he not make that his boast (Philippians 3:4, 5)?
He was a Jew by origin, birth, and training; but when he became saved by grace he passed over onto new ground where there "is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11). In like manner, Gentiles when saved, are no longer Gentiles in the flesh: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, . . . now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:11-13).
The new creation in CHRIST is in view here. Through the new birth by the Spirit, a new humanity is being formed, and, though drawn from both Jews and Gentiles, it is neither Jew nor Gentile; it is the Church of God - the redeemed of all generations from Pentecost until the Lord returns for His own.
According to the Scriptures, humanity is now classified under three major divisions: "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God" (I Corinthians 10:32).
The Apostle made an effort to become "as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews." Thus he left his own position, as it were, to adapt himself to the position of the Jew. To what length he went, it is not revealed. As regarding himself, it is clear, however, that he everywhere disclaimed every Jewish relation to GOD. There are very many questions which might be discussed between a Jew and a Christian; but the Apostle passed these by that he might get to the heart of the Jew with the one issue of the Gospel of the grace of GOD.
Second. "To them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law."
While it is evident that the law was never addressed to any outside the one nation Israel, and also that, since the death of CHRIST, no Jew, Gentile, or Christian is now under the law either for justification, or as a rule of life (which statement will receive fuller proof at another place), there was a multitude of people in Paul's day, both Jews and Christians, as there are today, who have placed themselves under the law.
This does not suggest that GOD has placed them there, or that He recognizes them as standing in their self-imposed position. However, having assumed a position under law they are morally obligated to "do the whole law" in the interests of consistency.
It is not a mere repetition, then, when the Apostle makes reference first to the Jews and then to those that are under the law. The important point to be observed here is that the Apostle did not consider himself to be under the law; for he represents himself as leaving his own position that he might approach the man who is under the law.
What endless discussions might he have waged with the one who was under the law!
He set all these questions aside that he might rather present the more vitally important blessings of grace. The supreme issue was not, and is not, one of correcting the outward life by the application of one rule or another: it was, and is, one of believing on CHRIST unto salvation by grace. When that is accomplished, and because of the very character of salvation, the saved one, of necessity, is subject only to the governing principles of grace.
Third. "To them that are without law, as without law, . . . that I might gain them that are without law."
Thus the Apostle implies that, as to the rule of his life, he is not "without law." The class referred to as being "without law" is not the heathen to whom no missionary has ever gone; it refers, rather, to the great Gentile world to whom the law was never addressed. To these the Apostle went, acknowledging as he went, that he, as a Christian, had no part with the lawless and ungoverned.
Fourth. "Not being without law to God, but under the law [literally, inlawed] to Christ." Here the Apostle reveals the exact truth as to his own relation to GOD as a Christian.
It is unfortunate that the theological discussion which has proceeded on the supposition that a Christian must either be under the law of Moses, or else be absolutely lawless and ungoverned, could not have made place for the fact that there is a third ground of relationship to GOD which is neither the law of Moses, nor the ungoverned lawlessness of the world. To be "under the law [inlawed] to Christ" is to be under the teachings of grace as a rule of life.
These teachings include the "commandments" of CHRIST which are addressed to Christians as such in the upper room, and these "commandments" of CHRIST have been taken up, enlarged, and advanced, under the guidance of the Spirit in the book of the Acts and the Epistles of the New Testament. They constitute a separate and sufficient rule of life for the believer which is divinely adapted to his position in grace, and these great governing principles of grace are addressed to the believer alone, and not to the Christ-rejecting world.
The message of GOD to the unsaved world is that they believe on the Saviour who is offered to them in limitless grace.
The message to the saved is that they "walk worthy" of the calling wherewith they are called.
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