As usual, this past week I stirred up some controversy. I posted a comment via Twitter and Facebook in reference to my upcoming sermon. The comment was not descriptive enough. That’s the limiting power of Twitter with only 140 characters. Anyway, a firestorm of comments ensued for a few days. The comment was this:
Christ came because of LOVE, not the LAW. Otherwise He would be a servant of the LAW. Do we preach LOVE or LAW? LAW pollutes the Gospel.
Here’s the context. Jesus came not because the LAW required, but because LOVE compelled Him. Otherwise Jesus would have been a servant of the LAW. That would place Jesus’ righteousness in submission to the LAW. The LAW, though valuable and needed, does not add to the Gospel. Anything, event the LAW, that is added to the Gospel destroys it’s power, it’s miracle and it’s story. The Gospel is simply this:
Jesus loves us, saves us, redeems us and sanctifies us. We have Jesus and He is enough. Nothing more, nothing less!
This entire thought comes from Paul’s words in Galatians 2:15-21. In this passage Paul states that “by works of the law no one will be justified”. He also says that “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose”.
Read the comments from the Facebook chatter below, and let me know what you think!
Person A: Jesus FULFILLED the Law. And He paid with His life-- God didn't just dismiss His Law and we can't either. Don't cheapen grace.
Myself: Exactly, we have to be very careful to keep the law from being in the requirements for Salvation. It is through faith alone. The law adds value to our lives, not our Salvation.
Person B: So, it doesn't pollute...We are walking a fine line on this point, and all of us have witnessed the results of touchy-feely, "experiential", secularized view of this which leads to lawlessness. The world says that the law pollutes the Gospel...makes things easier for everybody. We are called to HOLINESS, and we can't do it. Only by LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT, STAYING in the WORD, and being held ACCOUNTABLE by REAL and GODLY and gutsy honest friends....not the kind who are part of the mutual admiration society. Hmmmm.....sounds familiar??
Myself: My discussion of the LAW is founded on legalism as method of redemption. The law is important. Standards matter, otherwise we negate fundamentals such as the Commandments. What I am purely referring to is the Gospel for Salvation, pure and undefiled. That is that we have Jesus and He is enough. That is Salvation. Sanctification comes through living by God's standards; through accountability to God's Word and the regeneration of our hearts. Thus the importance of the Law. We have to preach both Love and Sanctification.
Person C: Preach it bro!
Person B: That's right. Good to clarify that one...
Person A: If you are referring purely to the gospel of salvation, the law doesn't pollute it, but makes it all the more clear that we all fall short of God's glory and need Jesus to stand in the gap for us. This magnifies His love for us all the more. Setting aside or diminishing God's call to holiness - even (or especially) when leading someone to Christ is a very slippery slope. You know I love you Michael!
Person D: why dont we all witness to people so that more will be saved and worry about holiness, law, no law, grace etc once someone gets saved? this argument means nothing without salvation first. even then our goodness is as filthy rags, so stop pretending and get real with Jesus. You cant be good enough. its only through Him we can get to heaven.
Person B: You're right Tina, it is more important that we share the GOSPEL and see people come to Christ than being all tied up with lots of words and arguments about it. However, as a person like Michael considers the BIG PICTURE of ministry and preaching to his flock, it is VERY IMPORTANT for him to consider the whole counsel of the Word of God. GOD'S call to Holy living is foundational to going on with God and growing as a Christian... I have to think that God wants lots more of us that "fire insurance", and calls us to a lifelong love relationship and walk with Him. That involves understanding the WORD in regards to living a life set apart, holy, and fully given to Him. You can't lay aside big chunks of the Bible and really understand that. It's not an either/ or, its both/ and on preaching the GOSPEL...
Michael, you've opened up a can!!
Person D: This debate is stupid-yes I said stupid. If you are not saved then the law if of no use anyway. Michael has been greatly used of God because he listens to what the LOrd tells him. Not what people tell him. He knows his responsibilty. lets agree salvation is the priority then let God do the convicting-not man.
Myself: Here's the key. My status did not ellaborate enough on my intentions. My message is this......The law does not bring Salvation, only Love. We cannot mix the Law into a requirement unto Salvation. The Law bring standards and pushes us towards Righteousness. Nothing more nothing less was meant by my statement. Preach the Gospel for Salvation and the Law for RIghteousness and Sanctification.
Person D: as I said earlier, preach the salvation message and then the Lord will lead towards righteousness through Him by conviction
Person E: I don't think Michael opened up anything. He made a statement that is 100% true, and needed no clarification. People started reading into it and made into something it completely was not.
No doubt does the law pollute the Gospel. For that matter, what doesn't? In the way Michael was referring to it above, He clearly says that if we mistakenly believe that Christ came to bring or enforce the law, the the gospel message will be polluted...
Anytime we try to change, neuter, or remove community from the gospel, it ceases to be the Gospel. Period. This includes trying to make it about the Law ;
It is funny, because the arguments in my seminary classes are all like this, and then the professor comes along and reminds everyone to quit trying to be the smart kid, quit blubbering what we read about in some book or heard in some sermon (and quickly regurgitate it like it is our own, sound theological idea) and just understand the gospel in all of it's simplicity
Person D: well said mike and enough said
Person B: What he said to start with was not the "whole counsel of God "kind of comment...you must get a big picture or you'll be running off into heresy. And following false teachers...Again, it's not an "either/or" scenario, unless you want to stay a big fat baby Christian all your life...Interesting dialogue that is opened, do doubt....gee, Mike a seminary student should LOVE this kind of thing??
I’ll break in the comments to save you reading and a little “heat”!