Law and Gospel
Of what did Paul say he was not ashamed?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." Rom. 1:16.
What good tidings did the angels announce to the shepherds?
"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10, 11.
What did Simeon say after seeing the Saviour?
"And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, "this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." Luke 2:34.
To whom did Anna the prophetess speak of the Saviour?
"And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Luke 2:38.
NOTE: The words of Simeon and Anna show the general expectation of the Jewish people concerning the Messiah and His mission to the earth. They expected redemption, not through their outward forms, but through the Lord Jesus.
In his pre-announcement of Christ's birth and name, what did the angel say Christ should do?
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His flame Jesus [Saviour]; for He shall save His people from their sins." Matt. 1:21.
On what condition was He to save them?
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Christ saves believers from their sins under the Christian dispensation; but does His blood atone for sins committed in the old dispensation?
"And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Heb. 9:15.
NOTE: The blood of Christ availed for believers the same in the old dispensation as it does in the new. The first promise made to man, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, was as verily the gospel of Jesus Christ as was the song the angels sung over the plains of Bethlehem, to the shepherds, as they watched their flocks by night, "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men."
How did Abel show his faith in the coming Saviour?
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent Sacrifice than Cain." Heb. 11:4.
NOTE: Abel brought a firstling of the flock in faith of Christ, the great sacrifice for sin. God accepted his offering. Through the blood of the firstling, Abel saw the blood of Jesus Christ. He looked forward to Christ, and made his offering in the faith and hope of the gospel, and through it saw the great sacrifice for sin, as truly as we see the bleeding Lamb, as we look back to Calvary, through the broken bread and the fruit of the vine." --James White, in Law and Gospel.
What did the ceremonial law of the Jews contain?
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come." Heb. 10:1.
What were these "good things to come" which this law foreshadowed?
"But Christ being come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle." Heb. 9:11.
NOTE: The Jewish system looked forward to Christ as the world's Redeemer. "The law," says Paul, "having a shadow of good things to come." The typical system is but the shadow. The "good things," of which Christ as a sacrifice and mediator is the center, is the body that casts its shadow back into the Jewish age. The bleeding sacrifices of that dispensation were but the shadow. Christ, bleeding on the cross, was the great reality, and the gospel was the objective point of the faith of believers under former dispensations.
Did those of the patriarchal age have a knowledge of sin?
"Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done." Gen. 20:9 (Gen. 4:7) (Gen. 13:13).
By what means must they have gained that knowledge?
"By the law is the knowledge of sin." "I had not known sin, but by the law." Rom. 3:20; 7:7.
Was there a priesthood in the days of Abraham, to minister for the sins of the people?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him." Heb. 7:1.
And was the gospel preached to Abraham?
"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham." Gal. 3:8.
NOTE: We have learned from the foregoing scriptures that from the earliest age men were convinced of sin, and that their knowledge of their sinful condition could be learned in no other way than by a moral rule, even God's law. They also had a ministering priesthood, to point them to Christ, which was the good news, or gospel, that gave them hope in a coming Messiah actually to take away their sins. When Christ came, He died for the transgressions which had been committed in the old dispensation, just the same as He did for those which would be committed under the new.
But when Christ came, did He expect to put away the law of God in order to save men?
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law "or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Matt. 5:17.
NOTE. - He came to fulfill the law; that is, to carry out its design. The law was ordained to life. (Rom. 7:10.) Had man never broken the law, he would not have been a sinner, and would therefore, from the first, have lived eternally. Now Christ fulfills it, or carries its design into effect, that is, gives life to the believer in Him. Had man never transgressed the law, he would not have needed Christ; if the law could have been done away, after man had broken it, he would not then have needed Christ; for it is the law, and that only, which condemns him to death. Take away the instrument of death, and man would live. Christ could not abate a jot of that law; for His mission was to make an atonement before the law, in behalf of the sinner.
How much of the law did Christ say should remain in force?
"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." Matt. 5:18.
Then if we have faith in Christ and the gospel, how does that affect the law?
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God for- bid: yea, we establish the law." Rom. 3:31.
NOTE: The fact that Christ is necessary to save one from eternal death, shows the law still in force. When one applies to Christ to save him, he virtually acknowledges the power of the law to slay him, and thus the law is "established." The law must exist with the gospel; otherwise the gospel were a nullity. If there is no law, the letter of which kills, there can be no lost condition from which to save one, and hence there would be no necessity for the gospel.
How many lawgivers are there?
"There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy." James 4:12.
What part does Christ act in behalf of the sinner?
"If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1.
NOTE: In other words, Christ our High Priest pleads for the sinner, over the broken law of God. Without such intercession, the life of the sinner, which he has justly forfeited, could not be restored. Faith in this work is what gives us "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Through faith in Him alone we have access to the grace of God, and are made to rejoice in the hope of His glory. Rom. 5:1, 2.
In the closing message to the world, how are the law and the gospel associated?
"Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14:12.
NOTE: There is no salvation in the law. There is no redeeming quality in law. Redemption is through the blood of Christ. The sinner may cease to break the commandments of God, and strive with all his powers to keep them; but this will not atone for his sins, and redeem him from his present condition in consequence of past transgression... The hope of eternal salvation hangs upon Christ. Adam hung his hope there. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and the believing Jews hung theirs there. We can do no more, the hope of the next life depends upon Christ. Faith in His blood can alone free us from our transgressions. And a life of obedience to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will be a sufficient passport through the golden gates of the city of God. --James White, in Law and Gospel.