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 ~
Having considered the fact that GOD provides different rules of life, as recorded in the Scriptures, to fit His succeeding dispensational dealings with man, it is important to consider the wide difference which exists between the principle of law, and the principle of grace, as applied to the divine government of man.
While the purpose of this section is to emphasize the fact that the three systems of divine government are essentially separate, each one from the others, and each one, being wholly complete and sufficient in itself, is in no wise exchangeable for either of the others, and cannot be co-mingled; it should be observed that there are important fields of Bible interpretation and instruction besides the limited aspect of truth which is suggested by the various rules of conduct. The Scriptures unfold many highways of truth with unbroken development from "the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."
The important features of this unity in the Scriptures are:
1. The revelation concerning GOD. He is first revealed in the Old Testament by His names and works, and to this the New Testament adds the fuller emphasis upon the Trinity, the relation of the Persons of the Godhead to mankind, and the various aspects of saving grace. The continuity of the Old Testament testimony concerning CHRIST was proven by Himself on the Emmaus road, as it is recorded: "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).
2. Prophecy and its fulfillment. Every recorded instance of the fulfillment of prophecy shows that every detail of the prediction was fulfilled to the letter.
3. The union between type and antitype. Almost every important truth of the New Testament was typified and foreshadowed in the Old Testament. This fact proves the symmetry of all Scripture (See I Corinthians 10:1-11).
4. The revelation concerning Satan and evil. In this body of revelation, likewise, the Bible story is uninterrupted, save for the new material added in the development of the divine message.
5. The doctrine of man and his sin. The exact manner of the application of the divine remedy for sin varies from dispensation to dispensation; but there is no variation in all the record concerning the essential facts of human failure, and the gracious, divine remedy through Blood alone.
6. The requirement of holiness in the conduct of saints. While there is wide difference between the rules of conduct which are imposed in the various ages, there is unity in the revelation that a holy manner of life is the divine requirement in every age.
7. The continuity of purpose in the program of the ages. In this aspect of the truth it should be observed that, while each age possesses a character exclusively its own, the divine purpose throughout all the ages is one, ending in the ultimate consummation which GOD has decreed. This fact is stated in Hebrews 1:2. Speaking of GOD as revealed in, and related to, the Son, it is written: "By whom also he made the worlds [programmed the ages]" (literal).
Such is the wonderful unity of the Scriptures throughout; but in no sense are the various systems regulating human conduct the same, and the exact application of these systems must be guarded at every point. If truth for the children of GOD under grace is to be drawn from the teachings of the law of Moses, or the kingdom, it should be acknowledged that it is taken from a system foreign to grace, and that it is applicable only by way of illustration.
These governing principles differ in three particulars:
They present independent, sufficient, and complete systems of divine rule in the earth.
In these systems the order varies as to the sequence of the divine blessing and the human obligation.
These systems differ according to the degree in which the divine enablement has been provided.
I. THEY PRESENT INDEPENDENT, SUFFICIENT, ANDCOMPLETE SYSTEMS OF DIVINE RULE IN THE EARTH
As has been stated, there are three of these systems of divine government:
(1) The teachings of the law of Moses;
(2) The teachings of grace; and
(3) The teachings of the kingdom.
Naturally there is field here for wide expansion, since these three systems of authority occupy the major portion of the Bible. A brief review only of the essential character of these systems is here given:
(1) The Teachings of the Law of Moses.
This rule of life was revealed from GOD and accepted by Israel at Sinai, and was at no time addressed to the nations of the world. It was a peculiar form of government for a peculiar people, and accomplished a peculiar purpose in condemning the failure of man and in leading him to CHRIST. Its full detail is revealed in the writings of Moses; but the history of Israel under the law occupies the rest of the Old Testament, and the major part of the Gospels up to the record of the death of CHRIST. In the doctrinal teachings of the New Testament, very much additional light is given to the character and purpose of the law of Moses. There the law is held in contrast with the teachings of grace. There, also, as will be seen more fully in the later discussion, the law is represented as having passed out of force through the death of CHRIST; and, it may be observed, that, after the death of CHRIST, the law is in no instance treated as being directly in force.
The law of Moses was complete within itself. It was sufficient to regulate the conduct of an Israelite under every circumstance that might arise. No other rule of life had been revealed during the days in which the law of Moses was in effect, hence there was no temptation for Israel to complicate her governing principle with any other. In her relation to GOD, that nation remained for fifteen hundred years under pure law. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
(2) The Teachings of Grace.
Like the teachings of the law of Moses, the teachings of grace have not applied to men in all ages. These teachings were revealed from GOD through CHRIST and His apostles.
Moreover, they are never addressed to the world as applicable to it in the present age; but are addressed to a peculiar people who are in the world, but are not of the world. These teachings constitute the divine instruction to the heavenly citizen and unfold the exact manner of life that such a citizen is expected to manifest even here in the earth. The full detail of this rule of life is found in portions of the Gospels, portions of the Book of Acts, and the Epistles of the New Testament.
As light is given in these particular Scriptures of the New Testament by way of contrast, concerning the character and purpose of the law of Moses, so, in like manner, the very foundations of grace and its relationships are laid in the types and prophecies of the Old Testament.
It is revealed that GOD dealt graciously with the human family from Adam to Moses; but it is also revealed that the precise form of divine government which is the present teaching of grace was not then disclosed, nor was it applied to men until the reign of the law had been terminated in the death of CHRIST. It is likewise revealed that the death of CHRIST was the necessary foundation for the present, full manifestation of superabounding grace. It is equally as certain from revelation that the teachings of grace will apply to the children of GOD under grace as long as they are in the world, and these principles will cease to rule, of necessity, when the people to whom they alone apply are gathered out and taken from the earth at the coming of CHRIST.
This period between the death of CHRIST and His coming again is not characterized in the Scriptures as a time when the supreme purpose of GOD is the governing of the nations of the earth; this age is rather spoken of as "the times of the Gentiles" in all matters of human government in the earth.
Nor is this age the period in which GOD is realizing the fulfillment of His unchanging covenants with the nation Israel; that nation is now said to be scattered, peeled, blinded, broken off, and hated of all nations, and they are to remain so to the end of the age.
This age is not the time of the salvation of society; that great undertaking is clearly in the purpose of GOD, but it is reserved for the age which is yet to come. The present age is characterized by a unique emphasis on the individual. The death of CHRIST contemplated above all else the need of the individual sinner.
The Gospel of grace, which the death of CHRIST made possible, is an appeal to the individual alone, and the very faith by which it is received is exercised only by the individual.
The message of grace is of:
a personal faith,
a personal salvation,
a personal enduement of the Spirit,
a personal gift for service, and
a personal transformation into the image of CHRIST.
The company of individuals thus redeemed and transformed, are to be in the ages to come the supreme manifestation of the riches of GOD's grace. Unto this eternal purpose the whole universe was created and all ages have been programmed by GOD. The glory of this dispensation is lost to a large extent when the reign of the law is intruded into this age which followed the death of CHRIST, or when the social order of the kingdom, promised for a future age, is expected before the return of the King.
The Bible affords no basis for the supposition that the Lord will come to a perfected social order.
At His coming He will gather the saved to Himself, but the wicked He will judge in righteousness. The transcendent glory of this age is that grace which will have been either accepted or rejected by the individual.
The teachings of grace are perfect and sufficient in themselves. They provide for the instruction of the child of GOD in every situation which may arise. There is no need that they be supplemented, or augmented, by the addition of precepts from either the law of Moses, or the teachings of the kingdom.
(3) The Teachings of the Kingdom.
The teachings of the kingdom have not been applied to men in all the ages; nay, more, they have not yet been applied to any man.
Since they anticipate the binding of Satan, a purified earth, and the personal reign of the King, they cannot be applied until GOD's appointed time when these accompanying conditions on the earth have been brought to pass. The kingdom laws will be addressed to Israel and beyond them to all the nations which will enter the kingdom. It will be the first and only universal reign of righteousness and peace in the history of the world.
One nation was in view when the law of Moses was in force in the earth; the individual is in view during this age of grace; and the whole social order of mankind will be in view when the kingdom is set up in the earth.
The reign of the King is never said to be ushered in by a gradual process of world improvement; it is introduced suddenly and with great violence.
The return of the King to rule is like a smiting stone, and will demolish the structure of world empires, will grind them to powder, and will scatter them as the wind scatters the chaff of the summer threshing floor (Daniel 2:31-45).
Satan and the satanic deception will have been removed from the earth,
Israel will have realized the glory of her covenants, and
The long predicted blessing will have come upon all the Gentiles, and upon creation itself.
The church is not once mentioned in relation to the teachings of the kingdom, nor are those teachings applied to her; for her part in the kingdom is not to be reigned over, but to reign with CHRIST - her Head. She, being the Bride of the King, is His consort. She will still be under the heavenly teachings of grace, and her home will be in the bosom of the Bridegroom in the ivory palace of the King. The King will reign with a rod of iron. Sin and iniquity will be rebuked instantly and judged in perfect righteousness.
Clear conception of the glory of the kingdom is lost if it is confused with the age of grace which precedes it, or with the sinless new heavens and new earth of the eternal state which follows it. The kingdom closes with a demonstration of the failure of man and thus it adds the last message of the converging testimony to the wickedness of the fallen heart, and to the fact that in the exceeding grace of GOD alone is their salvation.
The teachings of the kingdom are found in portions of the Psalms, the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament, and the kingdom teachings in the Synoptic Gospels. These teachings are complete and sufficient to direct the life of the children of the kingdom in every condition that may arise under the rule of the King. There is no need that these teachings be supplemented or augmented by additions from either of the other governing systems.
Under GOD's classification, there are only three major divisions of the human family:
Wherever they are mentioned in any portion of the Bible they are recognized as distinctly separate peoples, and it is important to follow the divine record concerning each from its beginning to its end.
The Jew, or Israel, began with Abraham, was favored in relationship to GOD above all the nations of the earth for fifteen hundred years in the promised land, is the object of all of the Lord's purposes and covenants in the earth, is now as free from the law, and is as effectually shut up to the Gospel of the grace of GOD, as are the Gentiles, and will yet inherit the limitless blessings of all the kingdom covenants in the earth.
The Gentile began with Adam, received no direct instruction or covenant from the Lord in all the ages past, is now the object of appeal, with the Jew, in the Gospel of grace, and will share in the glory of the kingdom to come when the divine blessing will be poured out on all the Gentiles (Acts 15:17).
The Church began with the death of CHRIST and the descent of the Spirit, is the divine objective in this age, is a heavenly people taken from both Jews and Gentiles, and will reign with the King as His Bride, in the ages to come.
Since there is so wide a difference in the character of these ages - of law, of grace, and of the kingdom - and in the peoples of the earth - the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church - as they stand related to GOD throughout the ages, it is to be expected that there will be a variation in the divine government according to the essential character of the several ages. This is not only reasonable; it is the precise teaching of the Bible. Since these great governing systems are wholly separate and sufficient in themselves, and since there is much which is held in common in them all, a brief comparison of the systems is here undertaken:
In this discussion, the law of Moses will be limited to the Decalogue; for no legalist proposes to carry forward into grace the judgments which governed the social life of Israel, or the ordinances which governed their religious ritual in the land. However, the moral commandments of the Decalogue are almost universally imposed upon the church by these legalists. In justification of this imposition, the plea is usually made that apart from the direct application of the Decalogue there could be no divine authority or government in the earth.
In no sense does this question involve the issues of world government; for GOD has never addressed either the teachings of the law, or the teachings of grace to the whole world.
The world has borrowed certain moral precepts from the Bible for its self-government; but it does not follow that GOD has accepted the world on the basis of the teachings of the law, or the teachings of grace. In reality, the world is shut up to the one appeal of the Gospel of grace. Until this appeal is heeded, the individual is neither under law, nor grace, as a rule of life; but is "under sin."
The issue is, therefore, between law and grace as governing principles in the life of the Christian. Must Christians turn to the Decalogue for a basis of divine government in their daily lives? Scripture answers this question with a positive assertion: "Ye are not under the law, but under grace."
If this be true, are the great moral values of the Decalogue discarded? By no means; for it will be seen that every moral precept of the Decalogue, but one, has been restated with increased emphasis in the teachings of grace. These precepts do not reappear under grace in the character and coloring of the law, but, rather, in the character and coloring of pure grace.
The following brief comparison will demonstrate the fact that the moral values of the law are reincorporated in the teachings of grace.
|1 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."||1 "We . . . preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God" (Acts 14:15).|
|2 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image; . . . thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them"||2 "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21).|
|3 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain."||3 "But above all things brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath" (James 5:12).|
|4 "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy."||4 No such command is found in the teachings of grace.|
|5 "Honour thy father and thy mother."||5 "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1).|
|6 "Thou shalt not kill."||6 "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15).|
|7 "Thou shalt not commit adultery."||7 "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9, 10).|
|8 "Thou shalt not steal."||8 "Steal no more" (Ephesians 4:28).|
|9 "Thou shalt not bear false witness."||9 "Lie not" (Colossians 3:9).|
|10 "Thou shalt not covet."||10 "Covetousness, let it not be named among you" (Ephesians 5:31).|
While some principles of the Mosaic law are restated under grace, those aspects of the law which are foreign to grace are omitted.
The command to keep the seventh day is omitted wholly. This fact and the reason thereof will be considered more at length later in the discussion. So, also, the one promise of the Decalogue is omitted. This promise occurs in connection with the precept concerning the obedience of children. It reads: "Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." The fact that the law presented a promise to obedient children is pointed out in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:1), with no inference that the promise is in effect now; but as a reminder of that which obtained under the law. It would be difficult for any individual, or child, in the Church to establish a claim to a God-given land, or to demonstrate that any law now obtains by which long life is guaranteed to those who are now obedient to parents.
Again, concerning Israel and her relation to the land it is written:
"Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed"; "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever"; "For the upright shall dwell in the land" (Psalm 37:3, 29; Proverbs 2:21).
No land has been given to the Christian.
a "stranger and pilgrim" here,
a citizen of Heaven.
If he is taught in the Scriptures, he is not looking for a long life here; but he is looking for the coming of his Lord. He is not clinging to this life; for "to depart, and to be with Christ, . . . is far better."
The serious manner in which people apply an Old Testament promise, impossible under grace, to themselves is a revelation of the measure of inattention with which the Scriptures are too often read and quoted. Since every adaptable precept of the law is restated in grace, it is not necessary to violate the Scriptures by forcing the law into the sphere of grace.
The Decalogue, in its moral principles, is not only restated in grace, but its principles are greatly amplified.
This is illustrated, again, by the same precept concerning the obedience of children. In the teachings of grace, the whole issue of obedience is taken up at length, and to this are added the instructions to parents as well.
Under the teachings of grace, the appeal of the first commandment is repeated no less than fifty times, the second twelve times, the third four times, the fourth (about the Sabbath day) not at all, the fifth six times, the sixth six times, the seventh twelve times, the eighth six times, the ninth four times, and the tenth nine times.
Yet further, that which is even more vital should be noted:
The teachings of grace are not only gracious in character and of the very nature of Heaven itself, but they are extended to cover the entire range of the new issues of the life and service of the Christian.
The Ten Commandments require:
no life of prayer;
no Christian service;
no missionary effort;
no Gospel preaching;
no life and walk in the Spirit;
no Fatherhood of GOD;
no union with CHRIST;
no fellowship of saints;- no hope of salvation, and - no hope of Heaven.
If it is asserted that we have all these because we have both the law and grace, it is replied that the law adds nothing to grace but confusion and contradiction, and that there is the most faithful warning in the Scriptures against this admixture.
A few times the teachings of the law are referred to by the writers of the Epistles by way of illustration. Having stated the obligation under grace, they cite the fact that this same principle obtained under the law. There is, however, no basis here for a co-mingling of these two governing systems.
The law of Moses presents a covenant of works to be wrought in the energy of the flesh; the teachings of grace present a covenant of faith to be wrought in the energy of the Spirit.
As will be seen more fully further on, these two systems of divine government are both legal in character and order. If this is true, it is to be expected that there is much in common between them.
(1) They are similar because they are both based on a covenant of works.
(2) They are similar because of elements which are common to both.
(3) They are dissimilar because of certain points in which they differ.
1. They are similar because they are based on a covenant of works.
The nature of a covenant which is based on human works is obvious. Whatever GOD promises under such a covenant, is conditioned on the faithfulness of man. Every blessing under the law of Moses was so conditioned, and every blessing in the kingdom relationship will be found to be so ordered.
Turning to the kingdom teachings of CHRIST wherein the issues of personal conduct and obligation in the kingdom are taken up, it will be seen that all the kingdom promises to the individual are based on human merit. The kingdom blessings are reserved for the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peace maker. It is a covenant of works only and the emphatic word is "do."
"This do and thou shalt live," is the highest promise of the law. As men judge, so shall they be judged. A tree is approved, or rejected, by its fruits. And not everyone that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of "my Father" which is in Heaven.
As the individual forgives, so will he be forgiven. And except personal righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, there shall be no entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. To interpret this righteousness which is required to be the imputed righteousness of GOD, is to disregard the teaching of the context, and to introduce an element which is not once found in this whole system of divine government.
The kingdom teachings of the "Sermon on the Mount" are concluded with the parable of the house built on the rock. The key to this message is given in the words, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them."
Turning to the law of Moses, we discover that it presents no other relation to GOD for the individual than this same covenant of works:
"And it shall come to pass, that if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day [including the Decalogue], that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee . . . Blessed shalt thou be . . . " (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
"But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee . . . Cursed shalt thou be . . . " (Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee" (Exodus 20:12).
"All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8).
"Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God . . . And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:25-28).
By these references to the law of Moses and the law of the kingdom, it may be seen that both of these systems are based wholly on a covenant of works.
2. They are similar because of elements which are common to both.
In the law of the kingdom, the Mosaic law is carried forward and intensified. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven . . . Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill . . . But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . . Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:17-28). (cf 31-48; 6:118,25-34).
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
By these illustrative passages it is clear that the law of Moses and the law of the kingdom are similar in that they contain elements which are common to both.
3. They are dissimilar because of certain points in which they differ.
In the law of the kingdom, certain features are added which are not found in the law of Moses. These new features can be mentioned here only in part.
It has been revealed in the Scriptures above quoted that the law is intensified in the kingdom teachings. From these no element of the law of Moses has been subtracted. Rather, to the Mosaic revelation are added the kingdom teachings of CHRIST concerning marriage and divorce, the taking of an oath, and the personal obligation to others.
The law demanding "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" is replaced by required submission. The other cheek is to be turned, the second mile is to be traveled, and to him that asketh, there is to be no refusal. Even the enemies are to be loved. These things are to be done "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven," and are only further evidences that in fact and force they issue from the covenant of works.
There is a new appeal for sincerity in alms-giving, in prayer, and in fasting. There is a new revelation concerning prayer; but it is prayer for the kingdom and according to conditions in the kingdom alone. Special instruction is given concerning the use of riches in the kingdom and also concerning anxiety and care.
The importance of an unprejudiced consideration of these Scriptures which disclose the whole field of comparison between the teachings of grace and the laws of the kingdom cannot be too strongly emphasized. The theme is extensive, but an outline-treatment only can be given here.
While this study of contrasts should be extended into all the kingdom teachings of the Gospels, the plan will be to follow a brief analysis of the Manifesto of the King as recorded in Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, and to compare the various precepts there revealed with the precepts given to the believer under grace.
It will be necessary, also, to compare these precepts with the kingdom teachings of the Old Testament; for it will be found that the teachings of the kingdom presented in Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, are in exact accord with the Old Testament predictions regarding the kingdom, and are almost wholly in disagreement with the teachings of grace.
In Luke 16:16 it is written: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it."
The message of John the Baptist was something new. It was in no sense the preaching of the "law and the prophets" as a direct application of the Mosaic system. Nevertheless, his preaching was purely legal in character. An important exception to this is found in the Gospel by John. In that Gospel, the characterizing words, selected from all the sayings of John the Baptist are, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (1:29).
The Gospel by John is distinctly of salvation and grace through believing, and the selection of this one message from John the Baptist beautifully illustrates the mind and purpose of the Spirit in the selection of material for the construction of that Gospel of divine grace.
This exceptional word from John the Baptist, fitted to the message of grace in the Gospel by John, should not be confused with his legalistic preaching as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, where his real ministry as the forerunner is set forth. What he preached, is clearly stated in Luke 3:7-14: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance . . . And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answered and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
The intense emphasis on the covenant of meritorious works is obvious in this message; but John did not preach Moses and the prophets.
The law and the prophets were until John. It is to be concluded that the preaching of John the Baptist was wholly new, and was according to his mission as herald of the King; but that message is legalistic, and not gracious. It is a covenant of works, and not a covenant of faith.
Added light is also given in Luke 16:16 as to the kingdom character of John’s preaching. The divine rule in the earth which Matthew terms as "the kingdom of heaven" is by Luke termed "the kingdom of God." This is justified since the kingdom of GOD includes the kingdom of Heaven, or the earth rule of the King.
Since Matthew and Luke are so evidently referring to the same divine rule in the earth, and often reporting the same message when employing these two phrases, it is conclusive that Luke's use of the term, "the kingdom of God," here, and elsewhere, is with reference to the limited divine rule in the earth. Into that kingdom, men who enter are said to be "pressing in." "To crowd oneself in," is the literal meaning, and the word suggests intense human effort, and implies the need of merit, which is required for entrance into the kingdom.
There are at least three major distinctions which will appear when the teachings of grace are contrasted with the teachings of the kingdom.
(1) In the kingdom message, hope is, in the main, centered in the kingdom of Heaven, and, in Mark and Luke, in that aspect of the kingdom of GOD which corresponds with the kingdom of Heaven. This, it should be remembered, is not Heaven: in this connection, it is the rule of the Messiah-King in the earth. However, the larger rule of the kingdom of GOD is mentioned once (Matthew 6:33), and at a point when all the divine interests are in view, and three times the kingdom message holds the anticipation of Heaven itself before its children (Matthew 5:12; 6:20; 7:23). In the teachings of grace it is Heaven itself which is in view, with never a reference to the kingdom of Heaven, other than that the saints shall reign with the King. Christians, on the other hand, are often related to the larger sphere of the kingdom of GOD (See John 3:3).
(2) These two lines of teaching may be identified, also, by the use of the great words they employ. According to both the Old Testament and the New, righteousness and peace are the great words of the kingdom. The "Sermon on the Mount" is the expansion of the full meaning of the personal righteousness which is required in the kingdom. The great words in this age are believe and grace. Not once do these words appear in connection with the kingdom teachings of Matthew, chapters 5 to 7. Mercy is unfolded in grace, rather than in righteousness.
(3) The kingdom teachings, like the law of Moses, are based on a covenant of works. The teachings of grace, on the other hand, are based on a covenant of faith. In the one case, righteousness is demanded; in the other it is provided, both imputed and imparted, or inwrought. One is of a blessing to be bestowed because of a perfect life, the other is of a life to be lived because of a perfect blessing already received.
Too often it has been supposed that the kingdom reign of Messiah will be a period of sinlessness on the earth, corresponding to the new Heavens and new earth which will follow. Every Scripture bearing on the kingdom emphasizes the moral conditions which will obtain in the kingdom. Because of the binding of Satan, and the immediate judgment for sin, the high moral requirements in the kingdom will be possible; but there will be evil to judge, the enemy will persecute, and many who have professed will fail because they have not actually done the will of the King. So great will be the moral advance in world conditions in the kingdom over the present age, that righteousness will then "reign"; while at the present time, righteousness" suffers" (II Timothy 3:12).
The various topics presented in the "Sermon on the Mount," are here considered in order:
1. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
This kingdom message opens with the record of the nine-fold blessing which is promised and provided for the faithful child of the kingdom. These blessings are won through merit. This is in sharp contrast to the blessings in the exalted position of the Christian to which he instantly attains through CHRIST at the moment he believes.
a. "Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble]: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." As the little child, "of such is the kingdom of heaven."
In the Old Testament vision of the coming manifestation of the King, it is said: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15). To the Christian it is said: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind" (Colossians 3:12).
These virtues are not put on by the Christian to gain Heaven; much less the kingdom of Heaven.
They are put on because these elements of character belong to the one who is already "elect of God, holy and beloved." CHRIST is the pattern (Philippians 2:8), and GOD resists aught but humbleness of mind (James 4:6). In the teachings of grace, "put on" does not mean to pretend, or assume; it is the manifestation of the life through the power of the Spirit (See Ephesians 4:24; 6:11; Colossians 3:12).
b. "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Mourning does not belong to the Bride of CHRIST. To her a different message has been given: "Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice."
Mourning is the portion of Israel until her King comes, and when He comes, it will be "to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isaiah 61:2, 3.) (Cf Isaiah 51:3; 66:13; 35:10; 51:11; Zechariah 1:17).
c. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Under grace, meekness is wrought in the believer by the Spirit, and is never rewarded; but the judgments of the King will be to "reprove with equity for the meek of the earth" (Isaiah 11: 4). (Cf Isaiah 29:19; Ephesians 2:3; Psalm 45:4; 76:9).
The earth is to be inherited in the kingdom reign. The glory of the King will be in the earth. It could hardly be supposed that the meek are inheriting the earth now, or that this is any promise to the Church, to whom no earthly promise is made. Those who are kept by the power of GOD through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, have an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven.
d. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." The Christian may crave a closer walk with GOD; but he is already "made the righteousness of God in him." In distinction to this, righteousness is that quality which must be attained in the kingdom (Matthew 5:20). "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake will I not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory" (Isaiah 62:1, 2.) (Cf Psalm 72:1-4; 85:10, 11, 13; Isaiah 11: 4, 5).
e. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." The exact condition revealed in this promise should be carefully considered; for in this passage, mercy from GOD is made to depend wholly on the exercise of mercy toward others. This is pure law. Under grace the Christian is besought to be merciful, as one who has already obtained mercy (Ephesians 2: 4, 5; Titus 3:5).
The mercy of GOD will go forth in grace to the nation Israel when He gathers them into their own land (Ezekiel 39:25); but He will, at the same time, deal with them as individuals by law: "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them" (Psalm 103:17, 18). "Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward" (Psalm 18:24-26).
Under grace, He is rich in mercy, even when we were "dead in sins."
f. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." Upon concluding these observations concerning the nine beatitudes, attention should be given to the fact that, in contrast to the ninefold, self-earned blessing of the kingdom, the believer under grace is to experience a nine-fold blessing which is produced in him by the direct power of the indwelling Spirit.
A careful comparison should be made of the nine-fold blessing which is promised under the kingdom, with the nine-fold blessing which is prepared under grace. It will be seen that all that is demanded under the law of the kingdom as a condition of blessing, is, under grace, divinely provided.
The two aspects of life which are represented by these two groups of characterizing words are most significant. The total of all the blessings in the kingdom is not comparable with the superabundant "fruit of the Spirit" - "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (self-control, Galatians 5:22, 23).
The very tense of the verb used is important. Under grace, the fruit of the Spirit "is," which indicates the present possession of the blessing through pure grace; while under the kingdom, the blessing "shall be" to such as merit it by their own works.
2. The similitudes of the righteous in the kingdom (Matthew 5:13-16).
In this portion of Scripture the children of the kingdom are likened to the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. "Salt," as a figure, is not so used in the teachings of Moses or in the teachings of grace.
However, the Christian is said to be "light in the Lord," and is exhorted to "walk" as a child of the light (Ephesians 5:8). Again, "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day" (I Thessalonians 5:5).
But, concerning Israel in her coming kingdom blessing, it is said:
"I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles";
"I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth";
"Then shall thy light break forth as the morning";
"And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising";
"The LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 58:8; 60:3,20).
Still another contrast appears in this connection: The Christian is appointed to manifest CHRIST (I Peter 2:9); but the children of the kingdom are appointed to manifest their good works (Matthew 5:16).
3. CHRIST interprets the law in its relation to the kingdom (Matthew 5:17-48).
This Scripture declares that the law shall not pass until it is fulfilled. This has to do with observance, for it is added: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments . . . shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." It is the law of Moses intensified. In so doing, CHRIST transfers the obligation from the outward act to the attitude of the heart. This intensifies, rather than relieves, its legal character. It carries with it the most scorching condemnation possible to law.
Opposed to this, and under grace it is written: "But we see Jesus," and "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 2:9; II Corinthians 4:6).
In CHRIST, GOD now is revealed to the believer, while the kingdom promise to the pure in heart is that they shall see GOD. The kingdom promises continue:
"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly . . . Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty" (Isaiah 33:15-18).
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart" (Psalm 24:3,4).
g. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Peace is one of the two great words in the kingdom. The King who is "the Prince of Peace," shall so reign that righteousness and peace shall cover the earth as waters cover the face of the deep (cf Psalm 72:3, 7).
In that kingdom there will be special distinction given to the one who promotes peace, "They shall be called the children of God." Under grace, no one is constituted a child of GOD by any works whatsoever. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).
h. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Again, the issue is righteousness. The Christian, on the contrary, suffers with CHRIST and for His sake, and his reward is in Heaven. "But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake" (John 15:21). "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).
i. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
The believer is called to suffer for CHRIST's sake:
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29).
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (II Timothy 2:12).
It should be noted that when the children of the kingdom are compared to any class of men in suffering, they are taken back to prophets which were before them, and not to the saints who comprise the body of CHRIST.
The Christian is not under law. He has no "altar" other than CHRIST (Hebrews 13:10). The altar is always related either to the Mosaic system, or to the coming kingdom, and is intensely legalistic in character. Concerning the kingdom it is said: "Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar" (Isaiah 56:7). (Cf 60:7; Ezekiel 43:13-27; Zechariah 14:20).
The child of the kingdom must agree with his adversary quickly, lest he be cast into prison where there is no degree of mercy available (5:25, 26). To the child of GOD it is said: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:17-21).
The high standard of generous submission is, in the kingdom teachings, substituted in place of the exact equity of the law of Moses. In place of the principle of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," the other cheek is to be turned, the cloak is to be added to the coat, the second mile is to be traveled, no goods are to be withheld from him that asketh, and enemies are to be loved. This is not to be done as an expression of a high position already received in grace: it is to be done meritoriously that "ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
Such relations between men will be required and practiced in the day when the King shall reign in righteousness and Satan is bound. The teachings of grace concerning murder, adultery, divorce, and swearing, are all clearly stated in the Scriptures.
In this portion of the "Sermon on the Mount," the extreme legal penalty for wrong-doing is imposed (5:20-22, 29, 30).
Is any child of GOD under grace in danger of judgment, or the awful penalty of hell fire? Argument is uncalled for in the light of the Scriptures:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment]; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24);
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man [created thing] pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28);
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
It is quite true that believers will be judged by CHRIST as to the character of their life and service, that the Father chastens every son whom He receiveth, and that the Apostle Paul suggested that he might visit a certain church with a rod; but how different is all this from the penalty of hell fire which is unconditionally imposed on the children of the kingdom because of their sin!
How imperfectly believers realize, when they turn from grace, the awful penalties of the law and the meaning of eternal damnation!
How precious, too, that such ignorance of the law does not change the abiding, divine covenant of grace into which the believer has been brought through faith in CHRIST!
4. Mere externalism rebuked (Matthew 6:1-7, 16-18; 7:21-29).
In the kingdom, a spirit of vain show as the actuating motive in alms-giving, offering of prayer, and professions of devotion, will be judged instantly. On the other hand, these things, if done in secret, will be rewarded "openly." Such recompense should not be confused with the rewards for service which are promised the Christian at the judgment seat of CHRIST. Humble faithfulness in the kingdom will receive its immediate recognition from the King.
5. Prayer for the kingdom, and in the kingdom (Matthew 6:8-17; 7:7-11).
What is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer," but what is, in reality, the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples when contemplating the kingdom, is not intended to be a ritual prayer. He said: "After this manner therefore pray ye." The prayer is directly concerned with the issues of the coming kingdom. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Of the great themes mentioned in this model kingdom prayer, but one is taken up for special comment and emphasis. It is as though the Spirit of GOD was seeking to save the reader from any confusion at this point. This special comment amplifies the one petition: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." The divine comment on this reads: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
This, again, is purely legal forgiveness on the part of the Christian is enjoined; but it is enjoined in agreement with the exalted principle of grace:
"Tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you";
"Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13. Cf I John 1:9).
The legal character of this great kingdom prayer should not be overlooked because of sentimental reasons growing out of early training.
Attempts have been made to relate this divine forgiveness, which is conditioned on a forgiving attitude of the sinner, with the Father's present forgiveness toward the believer who is under grace. Such an interpretation is as foreign to the precise relationships which belong to grace as it would be if the passage were said to teach the present divine forgiveness of the unsaved.
Present forgiveness for both the unsaved and the saved is a matter of pure grace, and the divine conditions which are imposed are in perfect harmony with this fact.
In this age, the unsaved are forgiven as a part of the entire accomplishment in salvation on the one condition that they believe (Ephesians 4:32), and the saved are forgiven on the one condition that they confess (I John 1:9). These two words do not represent meritorious works; they represent the simple adjustment of the heart to that which is already provided in the grace of GOD. The cross has changed things for all. A covenant purely of law-works is stated in the passage in question. Such a covenant is the very foundation of all kingdom teaching; but it is wholly foreign to the teachings of grace.
CHRIST, as some claim, must not be presented as a stern, austere Ruler. The marvel is that He is ever anything else. GOD's holiness is not subject to gracious leniency toward sin. Apart from the Cross where redemption's price has been fully paid, there could be nothing but the consuming fire of judgment; but, since GOD in infinite love has provided a Substitute, there is boundless grace.
In this age, GOD is dealing with men on the ground of His grace as it is in CHRIST. His dealings with men in the coming age are based on a very different relationship. At that time, the King will rule with a rod or iron. There is no word of the Cross, or of grace, in the kingdom teachings. This prayer is, by its own expression, a kingdom prayer.
The whole basis or appeal in this prayer, as in 7:7-11, is the faithfulness or the Father to His children in the kingdom.
the basis or appeal in prayer during the days before CHRIST, or under Moses, was the faithfulness or the Lord to His covenants.
the basis of appeal in prayer under grace is that or the believer's present union and identification with CHRIST.
Access is provided only through CHRIST (Hebrews 10:19, 20), and the new argument or appeal in prayer is, in the name, and for the glory, of CHRIST. Long after He had taught His disciples the kingdom form of prayer, and after He had turned to the teachings or pure grace He said: "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).
The kingdom form of prayer omits every creature or the essential note of prevailing prayer under grace.
6. The law governing riches in the kingdom (Matthew 6:19-24).
The right use or riches, as under grace, will be rewarded in Heaven, and there is no compromise: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
7. The Father's care over the children of the kingdom (Matthew 6:25-34).
This portion or the Scriptures is one of surpassing sweetness. As GOD clothes the lilies or the field, so will He clothe those who rest in Him by faith; but here His care is only for such as seek first the kingdom or GOD and His righteousness: while, under grace, His care is unconditioned by any human work or merit:
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you"; "Be careful for nothing" (I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6).
The same principle or divine care was presented under the law of Moses; but in the form of pure law: "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22).
8. Warning against judgment of others (Matthew 7:1-6).
This kingdom law is unyielding: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." One under grace has passed beyond all judgment, by virtue of his acceptance in CHRIST who died for him (John 5:24). He may be chastened by his Father, which is a form or judgment (I Corinthians 11:27-32); but such judgment is never said to be the return or his own sin back upon his own head, as is prescribed in this portion or the kingdom teaching.
9. Warnings against false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20).
"Beware or false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." The warning here is against false prophets who are to be discerned by the quality of their lives. The warning to the children of GOD under grace is against false teachers who are to be discerned by their doctrine concerning CHRIST (II Peter 2:1; II John 7-11): never by their lives; for outwardly, false teachers are said to appear as the "ministers of Christ," and to be directly under the power of Satan who himself appears as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:13-15). The attractive personality of the false teacher affords great advantage as a background for the appeal he makes for his doctrine.
10. Three determining statements concerning the kingdom.
a. "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). Exposition is unnecessary concerning this passage. It is the foundation of all the demands for entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. It should in no wise be confused with the believer's entrance into Heaven through the finished work of CHRIST: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5).
b. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12). This passage stands as a conclusion of the whole appeal of this kingdom teaching. It is as a key to all that has gone before. The legal principle, restated in this passage, is not said to be any part of the teachings of grace: it is rather "the law and the prophets."
c. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13, 14). Under the conditions laid down in the kingdom teachings, life is entered by a personal faithfulness (Matthew 5:29, 30; 18:8, 9; Luke 10:25-28). When this same exhortation is stated in the Gospel by Luke (13:24), it opens with the words, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." The word strive is a translation of agonizomai, which means to agonize. It suggests the uttermost expenditure of the athlete's strength in the contest. Such is the human condition that characterizes all the kingdom passages which offer entrance into life. An abrupt change is met when turning to the Gospel by John, which Gospel was written to announce the new message of grace, which is, that eternal life may be had through believing. No two words of Scripture more vividly express the great characterizing relationships in law and grace than agonize, and believe. Grace is the unfolding of the fact that One has agonized in our stead, and life is "through his name," and not by any degree of human faithfulness, or merit.
There is a dangerous and entirely baseless sentiment abroad which assumes that every teaching of CHRIST must be binding during this age simply because CHRIST said it. The fact is forgotten that CHRIST, while living under, keeping, and applying the law of Moses, also taught the principles of His yet future kingdom, and, at the end of His ministry and in relation to His cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace.
If this three-fold division of the teachings of CHRIST is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion of mind and consequent contradiction of truth.
Again, it is not unreasonable to recognize that these kingdom teachings should directly apply to a yet future age. The Bible is the one revelation from GOD to all peoples of all the ages. It is not difficult to understand that much of the Scripture applies to conditions which are now wholly in the past; nor should it be difficult to understand that some of the Scripture applies to conditions which are wholly of the future. How else shall we know of the future? Certain revelations are of the coming tribulation period and are in no sense applicable to the present time. Who has ever prayed that his flight should not be on a Sabbath day? Yet CHRIST commanded that prayer to be prayed (Matthew 24:20).
In like manner, the use of the word "whosoever" in Matthew 7:24 does not imply that all the people of all the ages are addressed. It is more reasonable to believe that it applies to the people living under the conditions of the period which the passage describes. The all-inclusive word here is used by CHRIST when He said, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13); but nothing could be more contradictory to the teachings of grace than the principle set forth in this passage. There will be a salvation in the tribulation for those who endure its trials to the end. Under grace, the believer endures because he is saved. If the word "whosoever" in Matthew 7:24 includes those who are saved by grace, then they have been thrust into the blasting covenant of works which that passage proposes, and grace is wholly sacrificed.
Thus it may be concluded that the teachings of the law, the teachings of grace, and the teachings of the kingdom, are separate and complete systems of divine rule which are perfectly adapted to the varied conditions in three great dispensations. The teachings of Moses and the teachings of the kingdom are purely legal, while the instructions to the believer of this dispensation are in conformity with pure grace. There is much that is held in common within all these rules for conduct; but this is no justification for their admixture. All that in the law appertains to life under grace is preserved and restated from the law in the great injunctions and beseechings of grace.
To transgress these bounds, is to frustrate grace, and to complicate the individual with the system of law in such a manner as to make him a debtor to do the whole law. The law cannot be broken or divided. It stands as a unit. To undertake any part of it, is to be committed to it all. Nothing could be more unreasonable, or more unscriptural, than to borrow some portions from the law system, either that of Moses, or of the kingdom, and, at the same time, reject other portions. He who will choose the law must, to be consistent, do the whole law (Romans 10:5), and if he shall break it at one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).
How precious are the riches of grace in CHRIST JESUS! How sweet and fitting to the child of GOD in grace are the heavenly beseechings of grace!
II. THE ORDER VARIES AS TO THE SEQUENCE OF THEDIVINE BLESSING AND THE HUMAN OBLIGATION
The second major distinction between the teachings of law and the teachings of grace is seen in the varying order between the divine blessing and the human obligation. This variation is found to exist when the principle of grace is compared with the principle of law in any form of the law whatsoever. It is equally true of the law of Moses, the law of the kingdom, or, when legally stated, of the larger conception of the law as being the whole revealed will of GOD.
when the human obligation is presented first, and the divine blessing is made to depend on the faithful discharge of that obligation, it is of and in conformity with pure law.
when the divine blessing is presented first, and the human obligation follows, it is of and in conformity with pure grace.
The varying orders under law and grace may be stated in the words "do and live" or "live and do." In the case of the law, it is do something with a view to being something; in the case of grace, it is be made something with a view to doing something. Is the Christian who is under grace saved and kept by good works, or is he saved and kept unto good works? The law said "If you will do good, I will bless you"; grace says, "I have blessed you, now do good." Under the law, man lives well to become accepted of God; under grace man lives well since it becomes one to live well who is already accepted.
the law presents first a human work to be done: grace always presents first a divine work to be believed.
law begins with the question as to what man ought to do; grace begins with the question as to what GOD has already done.
every word of the law revelation is thus made to be a conditional covenant of human works: while every word of the grace revelation is made to be an unconditional covenant of divine works.
The instructions given to Israel under Moses, and the instructions proposed for the government of the yet future kingdom in the earth, are purely legal in their character. The farewell word of Moses to Israel as recorded in the closing chapters of Deuteronomy is the crystallization of the whole law of Moses.
One passage is the heart of this message:
"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be . . . But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be . . . " (Deuteronomy 28:1-68).
Every teaching of the kingdom which contemplates the responsibility of the individual is, in like manner, based on a covenant of human works, and is, therefore, purely legal in character. This may be observed in all the kingdom teachings of the Old Testament, and the kingdom teachings of the New Testament. Grace is extended to the nation when, apart from all merit, she is placed in her land, and restored to divine blessing; but the rule of the King will be on the basis of pure law, and the responsibility of the individual to that rule necessarily will be in conformity to the same. Beyond what has gone before in the discussion, this fact will need but a passing illustration from the kingdom teachings of the New Testament:
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth";
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy";
"Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven";
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"; - "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again";
"Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven . . . Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man" (Matthew 5:5, 7, 20; 6:14, 15; 7:1, 2, 21-24).
To this may be added all other kingdom teachings of the New Testament.
The kingdom teachings, likewise, are to be distinguished from the teachings of grace by the order which each presents between the divine blessing and the human obligation.
the word of the kingdom is, he that heareth my words and doeth them shall be blessed (Matthew 7:24).
the word of grace is, he that heareth my words and believeth them shall be blessed (John 5:24).
In the teachings of grace, the gracious, divine blessing always precedes, and is followed by the human obligation. This is the order maintained throughout the great doctrinal Epistles of the New Testament. These Epistles are therefore subject to a two-fold division. In the first division, the mighty undertakings of GOD for man are disclosed: while in the second division the saved one is besought and exhorted to live on the plane to which he has been brought in the exceeding grace of GOD.
The first division of the Book of Romans is the unfolding of the saving grace of GOD toward sinners, which is extended to them on the sole condition that they believe (1:16; 3:22, 26; 4:5; 10: 4); the second division is an appeal for a corresponding manner of daily life, which life is "reasonable" in view of the results which GOD has already achieved in sovereign grace. This appeal is stated in the first verse of the second section: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto GOD, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
The Book of Ephesians opens with three chapters in which there is not one requirement for human conduct; it is the unfolding of the marvelous grace of GOD in bringing the believer to the exalted heavenly positions which are his in CHRIST. The opening verse of the second section is a condensation of all that follows: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1).
So, in like manner, the Book of Colossians opens with a portion which is devoid of even a semblance of an appeal in matters of conduct, since it is occupied with the unfolding of the glory of CHRIST and the fact of the perfect standing of the believer in Him. The second portion is an appeal: not for the human works which might induce GOD so to bless the sinner; but for works which are consistent with the present, God-wrought, glorious union with CHRIST: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).
The grace order between the divine blessing and the human obligation is preserved in every offer of salvation to the sinner and in every purpose looking toward the preservation of the saint. Since this is the basis of the divine purpose in the ages and the only hope of the sinner, or the saint, it should not be questioned upon a superficial consideration of the Scriptures.
There is the widest possible difference between the two replies of CHRIST to practically the same question: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Answer:- "This do, and thou shalt live." Again: "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Answer:- "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent." One answer is related to the law of the kingdom: the other is related to grace, wherein CHRIST is seen as the "living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever."
It is to be concluded, therefore, that the sinner is saved by grace apart from every human demand other than that he receive that grace as it is for him in CHRIST, and that the saint is kept by grace unto good works; but not by good works. The righteous Father must insist on the good works in the life of His child; but He does not make these works the condition of His faithfulness. This is the vital distinction, then, between the order relating divine blessing with human obligation in the two systems-law and grace.
One is a covenant of pure works; the other is a covenant of pure grace. *
* Consideration should be given to the fact that rewards, which are bestowed in addition to the blessing of the saving grace of GOD, are offered to the saved one on the principle of merit; and, on the other hand, grace was offered to the people under the law, in addition to the demands of the law, in the provisions of the sacrifices. In no case do these added blessings condition the exact character of the covenant of grace, on the one hand, or the covenant of works, on the other hand.
Since the covenant of grace which is based on human faith was established in the promises made to Abraham, the covenant of the law, made four hundred years later, and added only for a temporary purpose, cannot disannul it. The reign of law, with its covenant of works, ceased with the death of CHRIST. Its purpose had been accomplished, and its appointed time had expired. Thus the by-faith principle which was announced in the Abrahamic covenant is brought again into force through the death of CHRIST.
The divine blessing is now unto him that:
"worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly."
"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
"Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:3, 5, 24, 25).
By this Scripture it is announced that the by-faith principle of the Abrahamic covenant is continued and now offered through the sacrificial death of CHRIST.
This fact is restated thus: "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them . . . The law is not of faith" (Galatians 3:9-12).
The law was a covenant of works; but the works always failed through the weakness of the flesh, and the law then became, of necessity, a condemnation and curse. According to this same Scripture, the holy will of GOD is not ignored in grace: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (3:13).
This, it must be observed, was wrought under the one great purpose: "That the blessing of Abraham [acceptance in the imputed righteousness of God] might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ" (3:14).
After declaring that the law has passed, either as the grounds of the justification of the sinner (Galatians 3:24), or as the rule of life for the believer (Galatians 3:25), the Apostle challenges the law-ridden Christians at Galatia to consider the fact and force of two great covenants which can in no wise co-exist.
He therefore points out that one gave way to the other:
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law [and he is writing to Christians only, concerning the law as a rule of their lives], do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants [the by-works covenant which would depend on the flesh and the by-faith covenant which would depend only on God]; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar [the bondmaid]. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia [where the Mosaic law was given], and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children [Israel]. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all [typified by Sarah, who illustrates the by-faith principle which depends on GOD alone]. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not [suggesting the utter helplessness of the flesh before God]; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband [or the arm of flesh on which one might depend]. Now we, brethren [Christians], as Isaac was, are the children of promise [we have been saved by faith]. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman [not merely her offspring, but the whole byworks principle which she represents] and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free" (Galatians 4:21-31).
It was concerning the promise of the supernatural birth of Isaac that Abraham believed GOD, and that belief was counted unto him for righteousness. Afterwards, Abraham turned to the flesh in the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4).
This twofold fact illustrates, with all the perfection of the Word of GOD, the two covenants - one of faith, and the other of works.
The lapse in Abraham's faith typified the intrusion of an age of law. So, also, the relationship with Agar represents what man can do in his effort to be accepted of GOD. The supernatural relationship with Sarah represents what GOD can do for one who will believe. The marvels of grace are indicated by the multitudinous offspring of Sarah: not that her physical seed, Israel, are the children of faith; but they, being more exalted than the children of Agar, typify the surpassing victory of GOD through grace.
There can be no co-mingling, or compromising, of these two great covenants.
"What saith the Scripture?" should be the end of discussion. The testimony is, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." The by-works principle of the law, and the by-faith principle of grace, cannot co-operate, or co-exist, either in the salvation of the sinner, or in the rule of life for the believer.
The by-works principle of the law is not limited to the fleshly effort to do the particular things found in the law of Moses, and the law of the kingdom.
It is the fleshly effort to do anything by which one seeks to become acceptable to GOD. Therefore, when the teachings of grace are attempted with a view to being accepted of GOD, they become purely legal in their character. In like manner, when the elements which are contained in the law and restated under grace are attempted in the power of the Spirit and on the basis that acceptance with GOD is already gained through CHRIST, these precepts become purely gracious in their character.
This principle may be extended to the larger sphere of any and all self-imposed law, regardless of Bible injunctions. In which case it will be seen that the doing of any good works with a view to being accepted of GOD, is purely legal in character; contrariwise, the doing of any good works because one believes himself to be accepted through CHRIST, is purely gracious in character.
The legalist may thus enter the field of the teachings of grace and suppose himself to be subject to the whole Bible, when, in reality, he has no conception of the blessings and relationships in grace. A person either chooses to accept CHRIST in the confidence that CHRIST is all he will ever need to make himself acceptable to GOD, or he chooses to depend on the best that he can do for himself by good works. The latter is the normal bent of the natural mind. The proposition of becoming acceptable to GOD by being good, appeals to the fallen heart as the only reasonable thing to do, and, apart from that which it has pleased GOD to reveal concerning grace, it is the only reasonable thing to do.
It therefore becomes a question of believing the Record GOD has given concerning His Son (I John 5:10).
Since there is so much delusion in a counterfeit, the person most difficult to reach with the Gospel of divine grace is the person who is trying to do all that a Christian ought to do, but is doing it as a means of becoming accepted before GOD. His willing acknowledgment of the value of the Christian life, his unquestioned reception into the fellowship of believers, and his real sincerity in all Christian activities, constitute his greatest hindrance. Such an one is more deluded than the person who acknowledges no relationship to GOD. Both fall short and are lost through their failure to believe on CHRIST as the all sufficient Saviour; but, naturally, the person who has no false hope is more apt to become conscious of the fact that he is lost than is the person who believes he is a Christian. The law cannot save, and the one who transforms the teachings of grace into a legal system by attempting to do them in order that he may be right with GOD, is too often still unsaved.
Turning to meritorious works as a basis of salvation, be those works a precise counterfeit of a true Christian life, is to be under a by-works relation to GOD, and therefore to be under condemnation; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. Turning to meritorious works as the basis of keeping after one is saved, or as a rule of life for the saved, is to return to a by-works relation to GOD, from which one has already been saved.
It is to fall from grace, and to lose the liberty wherewith CHRIST has made us free.
The by-works principle can no more avail for our keeping, than it can avail for our salvation. As GOD could provide Abraham with a seed under an unconditional covenant, so, under the same unconditional covenant, He could guarantee the future of that seed even to the time when their number shall exceed the stars of the heavens. Likewise, under the present unconditional covenant of grace made in the blood of CHRIST, GOD can guarantee the future security of every child of His under grace. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure (Romans 4:16).
Lastly, the covenant of works is "cast out" because it is fulfilled and superseded by the fuller and more perfect covenant of faith. All that the covenant of works contemplated as a result of a lifetime of human struggle, is instantly accomplished in the power of GOD through the covenant of faith.
By faith in CHRIST, the believer is made the righteousness of GOD in Him, and made accepted in the Beloved.
This is a perfection of relationship with GOD to which no human works could ever attain, and to which human works can add nothing. Being related to GOD through the by-faith principle, the whole object of law-works is more than fulfilled. Thus the law is ended in the death of CHRIST. The bondwoman is cast out. CHRIST is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
Amazing indeed, is the blindness of heart that is not instructed by the tragic experience of failure on the part of the countless millions who have been lost under the by-works covenant!
Yet men are still turning to their own works, both moral and religious, in the vain hope that through them they may be accepted of GOD. To such He must ever be as unapproachable as the mountain of awful fire, thunder, lightning, and earthquake; but to the one who turns to the sufficiency which is in CHRIST, GOD becomes the Father of all mercies, and His power and grace are exercised in the behalf of that one for all time and eternity. The awful throne of GOD's holy judgments becomes a throne of infinite grace. To one thus saved, and whose security is guaranteed, the by-works covenant of the law is in no wise adapted as a rule of life; for that covenant looks beyond to a time of acceptance still future, when the flesh shall have completed its task.
Only the teachings of grace are consistent for one who is saved by grace. Those teachings alone counsel him as to that manner of life which is in accord with his present position m grace.
The second major distinction between the rule of law and the rule of grace is, then, that these two systems are opposites in reference to the order between the divine blessing and the human obligation, and this holds true for any life or service whatsoever which may be undertaken.
III. BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DIFFICULTY AND DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DIVINE ENABLEMENT
The three rules of life - the law of Moses, the law of the kingdom, and the teachings of grace - are widely different because of two facts:
(1) The requirements of the manner of life under them are far from uniform, and (2) these systems differ in the degree of divine enablement which is provided in each. These two facts are so closely related with these governing systems that it is necessary to consider these two facts in their relation to each rule of life:
In discussing the law as a regulation for human conduct, attention should be given,
1. As to the measure of requirement which is imposed.
The standard of conduct presented by the law of Moses was limited in its requirements to the extent that its demands were imposed on even unregenerate men. The Mosaic law was addressed to the natural man, and, it is evident, its requirements did not exceed his limitations; yet because of the weakness of the flesh, these demands were never actually fulfilled by any person other than CHRIST.
2. As to the degree of divine enablement.
There is no hint in connection with the proclamation of the law of Moses of any divine enablement being provided for the keeping of that law.
GOD addressed those commandments to men, and the result was no more than the unaided flesh would produce. The law dispensation, extending over a period of fifteen hundred years, thus became a demonstration of the universal failure of man under the reign of pure law. CHRIST, through His death, became the end of the reign of law; as He, through His death, is the end of confidence in self-works for all who put their trust in Him.
Again, attention should be given,
1. As to the measure of requirement which is imposed.
The standard of conduct which will be required under the law of the kingdom is, as has been seen, advanced and intensified in its demands beyond that which is presented under the law of Moses. In the kingdom rule, portions of the Mosaic law are extended beyond the overt act to include the very thought and intent of the heart. Added to this, there are entirely new requirements concerning matters of personal yieldedness and devotion to GOD which are foreign to the Mosaic system.
2. As to the degree of divine enablement.
The degree of divine enablement which will obtain under the rule of the kingdom is seen in three provisions:
(a) The environment, (b) the inclined heart, and (c) the outpoured Spirit.
(a) The environment in the kingdom will be that of a purified, transformed earth; creation will be delivered from its present bondage and corruption; Satan will be bound and confined to the abyss; and the subjects in the kingdom will realize the immediate power and inspiration of the personal reign of the King, which will be extended over all the earth.
(b) Added to this is the revealed fact that the King will have inclined the hearts of His people to do His holy will. This great promise is made to Israel as a vital part of the new covenant under which Israel, during the reign of her Messiah King, will yet live in her own land (Cf Jeremiah 31:33-37; Hebrews 8:7-12). These kingdom blessings will also be extended to the nations of the earth (Isaiah 11:10).
In the prophecy by Moses concerning the attitude of heart which Israel will experience when restored to her own land, we read: "And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live . . . And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day" (Deuteronomy 30:5-8. Cf Hosea 2:1423; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Romans 11:26, 27).
So, again, in the new covenant it is stated: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their GOD, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). (Cf Hebrews 8:8-12).
(c) The promise concerning "the last days" for Israel, according to Joel 2:28-32, is that the Spirit is to be poured out upon all flesh. He records further:
"And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."
That this great promise began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, is explicitly stated by Peter in his sermon on that day. It must be borne in mind, however, that Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy concerning the kingdom was made in connection with the renewed appeal to Israel, extended at Pentecost, that she repent and receive her Messiah whom she had slain. As the Gospel was extended to Gentiles in the formation of the Church, the abiding ministries of the Spirit became evident, and the final outpouring of the Spirit which, according to Joel, is to characterize the inception of the kingdom in the earth, awaits the return and enthronement of the King.
Little is revealed as to the enabling power of the Spirit for the individual's life and conduct in the kingdom. Doubtless, to some extent, such power will be imparted. The particular emphasis falls on the national glory as suggested by the phrase "all flesh," and the individual is said to be moved to prophesy and to see visions and to dream dreams.
Thus will Israel be situated in the kingdom. She will have her added responsibilities in the larger demands of the kingdom law, and she will have the added advantage of the kingdom environment, the inclined heart to do the will of the King, and upon her the Spirit will be poured out.
The standard of conduct prescribed under the teachings of grace is immeasurably more difficult to maintain than that prescribed either by the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom. It is as much higher than these as Heaven is higher than the earth. Similarly, the divine enablement provided under grace is nothing less than the infinite power of the indwelling Spirit.
The teachings of grace are addressed only to the supernatural man who is both born of the Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit.
These teachings are such as naturally belong to a citizen of Heaven. Since the saving work of GOD places the believer in the heavenly positions in CHRIST, and transfers his citizenship from earth to Heaven, it is only consistent that he should be required to walk as it becometh a citizen of Heaven. This, it is evident must be a supernatural life.
Turning to the Scriptures which reveal the position and responsibility of the child of GOD under grace, it is found that a superhuman manner of life is proposed and that a supernatural power is provided for its exact and perfect execution.
These are two of the most vital facts concerning the teachings of grace and they should be observed with great care:
1. As to the character of the requirements which are imposed.
The manner of life which is enjoined under grace is superhuman. This aspect of the teachings of grace may be seen at every point. A very few passages will suffice by way of illustration:
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5);
"That ye should shew forth the praises [virtues] of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (I Peter 2:9);
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God" (Ephesians 5:20);
"That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1);
"Walk in the light" (I John 1:7);
"Walk in love" (Ephesians 5:2);
"Walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16);
"Grieve not the holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30); - "Quench not the Spirit" (I Thessalonians 5:19).
There is no question as to the superhuman character of these injunctions.
what human resource is able to reproduce the very virtues of CHRIST?
who is able to give thanks always for all things?
who will be able so to live that he will not grieve the HOLY SPIRIT, nor quench the Spirit?
This demand is for a superhuman manner of life, and the passages quoted are only representative of the whole character of the teachings of grace. These teachings surpass the standards of the law of Moses in the measure in which infinity surpasses the finite. When unfolding the high character of the teachings of grace, CHRIST said: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another"; "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 13:34; 15:12). The new commandment is in contrast to an old commandment of Moses: "Love thy neighbour as thyself."
These Scriptures may be taken as a fair illustration of the difference between the standards of the law of Moses, and the standards of grace. Under the Mosaic system, love for others was to be in the degree in which one loved himself: under grace it is to be in the degree in which CHRIST has loved us and given His life for us (I John 3:16).
The standards of the teachings of grace surpass the standards of the laws of the kingdom. The same example - of love one for another - will again illustrate.
The requirement in the kingdom on this point is stated thus: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" (Matthew 5: 43-46).
This is a great advance over the standard of love demanded under the law of Moses. There love was required to a limited degree; but nothing was said concerning the necessary attitude toward the enemy. CHRIST implies that the law of Moses proposed love for the neighbour and hate for the enemy. The degree of love expected under the ideals of the kingdom is only such as might reasonably be expected from the heart that has been inclined to do the kingdom law. It bears no comparison to the standards of love which are proposed under grace.
Consider, first, that love under grace is the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). Literally, "the love of God is shed abroad [gushes forth] in our hearts by [out from] the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). This both guarantees the exact reproduction in the child of GOD of the love of CHRIST - "as I have loved you" - and destroys every ground of personal reward for such love.
The believer is not said to be rewarded for those graces which are not his own, but which are produced in him by the indwelling Spirit. On the other hand, love, according to the standards of the kingdom is distinctly said to be a matter for personal reward. By such love for enemies, the children of the kingdom will be the children of their Father which is in Heaven. This, it is evident, is made to depend on self-wrought conformity to the Father who Himself is benevolent to His enemies.
In the "Sermon on the Mount," the Spirit is not once mentioned nor is any divine enablement suggested.
Consider, also, that love, as anticipated in the teachings of grace, is the very heart of the Evangel and evangelism. By the imparted, divine compassion for the lost which brought CHRIST from Heaven to earth and took Him to the Cross to die, under grace, men are to be impelled to win souls. Such divine compassion for souls has been the dynamic of all soul-winning work from Pentecost until now.
It was the experience of the Apostle Paul as disclosed in his testimony: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:1-3). There was no occasion for the Apostle to be accursed from CHRIST, nor did he expect to be; but he was willing to be. Thus was the love of CHRIST, who bore the sin of others, definitely reproduced in the one in whom the Spirit wrought.
True passion for the salvation of men is not a manifestation of love springing out of human nature. It must be imparted from GOD. Therefore evangelism is neither expected nor required in either the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom.
By this very partial treatment of the varying degrees of difficulty presented in these dissimilar rules of conduct, it may be seen that the standards under grace are infinitely higher than the standards of either the law of Moses, or the law of the kingdom. They are superhuman.
2. As to the divine enablement.
A supernatural power is provided for the exact and perfect execution of the superhuman rule of life under grace. There is no aspect of the teachings of grace which is more vital than this, or which so fully differentiates these teachings from every other rule of life in the Bible. Under grace, the all powerful, abiding, indwelling and sufficient HOLY SPIRIT of GOD is given to every saved person. This statement is abundantly established by revelation (John 7:37-39; Romans 5:5; 8:9; I Corinthians 2:12; 6:19; Galatians 3:2; I Thessalonians 4:8; I John 3:24; 4:13), * and is assumed in every teaching of grace.
* Careful study will disclose the fact that Luke 11:13; Acts 5:32; 8:12-17; 19:1-7; Ephesians 1:13 do not contradict this positive doctrine of Scripture.
The superhuman manner of life under grace is not addressed to some spiritual company alone within the whole body of CHRIST; it is addressed to all believers alike. The imposition of this superhuman manner of life upon all believers alike, carries with it the revelation that all have the supernatural power by which to live according to the superhuman standards. This, it is evident, is according to the teaching of the Word of GOD.
The character of pure grace is destroyed when the reception of the Spirit into the individual heart is made to depend on any human merit, goodness, or personal consecration whatsoever. In I Corinthians 6:19, 20 we read: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
The law element is excluded here. Under the law, it would have been written: "Glorify GOD in your bodies and spirit and ye shall become temples of the HOLY SPIRIT. " Under grace, believers are temples of the Spirit without reference to merit, and this is true of every aspect of their salvation.
The fact that they are temples of the indwelling Spirit is the basis of this appeal for a holy life. A consideration of I Corinthians 5:1, 2, 13; 6:1-8 will give abundant evidence of the meritless condition of the Corinthian saints at the time the Spirit addressed this appeal to them through the Apostle Paul. The earnest supplication is for a daily life which corresponds to the wonderful fact that they are already temples of the Spirit.
There is an important distinction to be noted between the indwelling and the infilling with the Spirit.
No Scripture asserts that all believers are filled with the Spirit. The filling with the Spirit, which is the requirement for an experience of blessing and the exercise of divine power, is an issue which should be considered wholly apart from the revelation concerning the indwelling Spirit.
The fact that the Spirit indwells every believer is peculiar to the age of grace. In the law dispensation, for particular divine purposes, certain individuals were, at times, filled with the Spirit; but there is no revelation stating that every Israelite, being under the law, was a temple or the Spirit. In like manner, under the law, there was no abiding character to the relationship between the Spirit and individuals upon whom He came (Psalm 51:11). The Spirit came upon them, or departed, according to the sovereign purpose of GOD. Under grace, the Spirit is not only given to every believer, but He never withdraws.
This assurance is based on the unfailing prayer or CHRIST (John 14:16). This is in precise accordance with the conditions embodied in the covenant of grace. Should human merit determine His abiding presence, then; under that relationship, the basic principle of grace would be superseded by the principle of law-works. The entrance of the Spirit into the heart, and His abiding presence there, is a part of the saving and keeping power of GOD, which is by grace alone. The revelation of the New Testament with regard to the indwelling, abiding Spirit in every believer is in full agreement with the doctrine of pure grace.
When considering the question of the enabling power of the Spirit in the individual lives of the children of the kingdom, it will be seen from the Scriptures that, at the opening of that period at least, the Spirit is to come upon all flesh, and the individual will prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-22); but there is no revelation to the effect that this will be an abiding presence and ministry, since it is related to mighty signs and wonders in nature which accompany the second advent of Messiah.
And, in like manner, there is no revelation concerning the enabling power of the Spirit for conduct in the daily life of the individual in the kingdom. The kingdom teachings of the Scriptures do not emphasize the work of the Spirit. Any divine provision for personal enablement in daily life, it would seem from a careful examination of the Scriptures, is foreign to every aspect of law rule; whether it be that of Moses, or that of the kingdom.
So vital is the fact that the enabling Spirit is now given to every believer as a part of salvation by grace, that it is presented as a fundamental characteristic of this age. This is the dispensation of the indwelling Spirit. We read: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit [Spirit], and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6).
Thus the new enabling power of the Spirit characterizes this age, as the "oldness of the letter" characterized the age that is past. Likewise circumcision is now "of the heart," in the Spirit, and not in the "letter" (Romans 2:29), or as it was in the flesh under the law. Again, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit [Spirit]: for the letter killeth, but the spirit [Spirit] giveth life" (II Corinthians 3:6).
Reference in this passage is not made to different methods of interpreting Scripture - a spiritualizing, or a literal method; but to two dispensations with their different methods of divine rule. "The letter killeth" - such is the inevitable ministry of the law; "But the spirit giveth life" - divine life, spiritual vitality, energy, and power is provided for the believer under grace, and for every believer alike. Thus it is revealed that the blessing of the indwelling Spirit is an essential characteristic of this age.
If the manner of life under grace is superhuman, so, also, the provided enablement is supernatural, and is as limitless as the infinite power of GOD. Since GOD has proposed a humanly impossible manner of life, He has, in full consistency, provided the Spirit who giveth life. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that, since GOD has proposed the impossible rule of life and provided the sufficient Spirit, the believer's responsibility is thereby changed from being a struggle of the flesh to being a reliance on the Spirit.
Grace thus introduces a new problem for the believer's life which is wholly foreign to every aspect of the law. It is the problem of the adjustment of the heart to the holy presence of the Spirit, and of maintaining the unbroken attitude of dependence on the Spirit.
The new principle of achievement consists in getting things accomplished in the believer's daily life and service by trusting the power of Another, rather than by trusting the energy of the flesh. The revelation concerning this new problem of life under grace constitutes the major part of the teaching of the Epistles. Not only is the faith principle directly taught in the Epistles; it is implied and assumed in every injunction under grace.
The unfolding of the precise relationship between the personality of the Spirit, and the personality of the believer, is not omitted. Experimentally, the believer, when empowered by the Spirit, will be conscious only of the exercise of his own faculties. The Spirit does not disclose His presence directly; His ministry is to reveal and glorify CHRIST. His presence will be evidenced, however, by the victory that is wrought, which victory could be wrought only by the Spirit.
Thus, either the by-works principle of the law, or the by-faith principle of grace, may be chosen by the believer as a method of achievement even within the deepest issues of Christian conduct and service.
If these Heaven-high demands are undertaken in the energy of the flesh, they become purely legal in character; if they are undertaken in full reliance on the provided energy of the Spirit, they are purely gracious in character.
One is wholly within the scope of the covenant of the law, which covenant is based on works; the other is wholly within the scope of the covenant of grace, which covenant is based on faith. Thus the teachings of grace, when attempted in the energy of the flesh, become a legal code, the demands of which are the most impossible to meet. How very many Christians are under this aspect of law; even those who give some attention to the actual precepts of grace!
There are two inseparable revelations given in the grace teachings of the New Testament. Each one is the counterpart, complement, and supplement of the other, and untold violence is done to the whole revealed purpose of GOD in this age when either one of these themes is made to stand alone.
One theme is presented in that body of Scripture which sets forth the character of conduct that is becoming to the one who is already saved and safe in the grace of GOD; the other theme is presented in that body of Scripture which sets forth the fact that the life in grace is to be lived in sole dependence on the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit. The latter body of Scripture includes all the details and instructions concerning the life of faith, and the walk in the Spirit. It is obviously imperative that these two revelations shall not be separated. Otherwise, on the one hand, the teachings of grace will seem to be an impossible law-code, or, on the other hand, the walk in the Spirit will seem to be an uncharted, aimless procedure.
In the grace teachings of the New Testament, these two aspects of truth are never separated.
In adducing proof of this, it is impossible in a work of this length to review every Scripture bearing upon this truth. Proceeding from the fact that the superhuman manner of life under grace is taught in all the New Testament books beginning with the Gospel by John, there is space for only one quotation from each of these up to, and including, the Epistle to the Colossians.
This body of Scripture discloses the truth that the life in grace is to be lived only by the enabling power of GOD:
John 7:37-39. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)." Here the superhuman outflow of rivers of living water is distinctly said to be the result of the energy of the Spirit.
Acts 1:8. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me." The revelation here is that, apart from the power of the Spirit, there can be no vital witness unto CHRIST.
Romans 6:14; 8: 4. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." No enabling power was provided for the doing of the law; but such power is provided under grace. "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." No passage in the teachings of grace is more decisive than this. "The righteousness of the law," referred to, is evidently no less than the whole will of GOD for His child under grace. This divine will is to be fulfilled in the believer; but never by the believer.
I Corinthians 12: 4-7. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh [energiseth] all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [Christian] to profit withal." As all Christian service is by the exercise of a spiritual gift, these gifts are wholly realized by the energy of the power of GOD.
II Corinthians 10:3-5. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." For this superhuman manner of life, the believer is to be "mighty through God."
Galatians 5:16. "This I say then, Walk in [by means of] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." This promise is as sure as it is far-reaching.
Ephesians 6:10, 11. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." True overcoming strength is none other than the imparted "power of God."
Philippians 2:13. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Here the divine enablement reaches to the very molding of the desires of the heart, and to the full accomplishment of those desires.
Colossians 2:6. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." In this Scripture the very same faith-principle, by which alone a soul can be saved, is continued as the principle by which alone he is to walk.
The whole aspect of grace, which provides a supernatural sufficiency for the superhuman, heavenly conduct, and which is the believer's reasonable life and service, is summed up in two great doctrines of the New Testament:
a. The superhuman manner of life is to be Christlike.
He is the pattern:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5);
"As he is, so are we in this world" (I John 4:17);
"Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (I Peter 2:21);
"For to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
To be inlawed to CHRIST (I Corinthians 9:21) is to be committed to the very standard of which He is the ideal. Therefore the Christian's standard is superhuman, and beyond the power of human achievement.
b. It is the supreme purpose of the indwelling Spirit to reproduce Christlikeness in the believer.
The most comprehensive statement of the reproduction of CHRIST in the believer is found in Galatians 5:22, 23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (self-control).
Every word, as here used, represents a superhuman quality of life. It is an exact description of the life of CHRIST; but Christlikeness is never gained by the energy of the flesh. These virtues are not found in human nature; they are the "fruit of the Spirit."
Under the law, that degree of love is required which is possible to the natural man; under grace, the divine love is wrought in the heart by the HOLY SPIRIT. This is true of all the superhuman demands under grace. They are wrought into the life by the Spirit. The heavenly standard requires: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4: 4). This is humanly impossible, but the fruit of the Spirit is "joy," and the Lord has said, "That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13).
The standard of grace requires that "The peace of God" shall "rule in your hearts" (Colossians 3:15). Man has never achieved this, but the fruit of the Spirit is "peace," and CHRIST has said: "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27).
The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit represents the true Christian graces, since under grace, this fruit is produced in the heart and life by the Spirit.
Likewise, Christian service is to be superhuman.
It is the outflow of "rivers of living water"; but "this spake he of the Spirit" (John 7:37-39). It is the full proof of "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2); but, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
It is all supernaturally wrought; for it is the exercise of a spiritual gift - a "manifestation of the Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:7).
As Christian character is the composite of the in-wrought graces, so Christian service is an imparted "grace." "But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7); and, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Corinthians 12:7).
Divine grace, inwrought and imparted by the indwelling Spirit, results in a manifestation of the very graciousness of GOD in and through the heart of the believer. It is in no sense an imitation of GOD's graciousness; it is a reproduction by the indwelling Spirit of that graciousness in the life and service of the believer. This truth is one of the most extensive doctrines of the New Testament (Cf Romans 12:3-6; 15:15; I Corinthians 1: 4; 3:10; 15:10; II Corinthians 1:12; 4:15; 6:1-3; 8:1, 6, 7, 9; 9:8, 14; 12:9; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:2-8; 4:7, 29; Philippians 1:7; Colossians 3:16; 4:6; II Thessalonians 1:12; II Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 4:16; 12:15; James 4:6; and II Peter 3:18).
It may be concluded, then, that there are three major distinctions between law and grace:
(1) They are unlike because they impose separate and sufficient rules of life, which are, in their character, either wholly legal or wholly gracious;
(2) They are unlike because there are in these systems opposite orders between the human obligation and the divine blessing; and
(3) They are unlike because the requirements of these systems of divine rule differ, with corresponding revelations concerning divine enablement provided in each.
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