Closely related to our last study of the two covenants is the issue between Law and Grace. These two are opposites when it comes to salvation. The law says you have to obey in every detail to live; while grace says, believe in Christ and you will live. Consequently many Christians find it difficult to reconcile the two. Yet both are from God and therefore do not contradict each other when seen in the light of the true gospel. It is only when law and grace are correctly understood that law and grace can be reconciled. There are three main reasons why God gave the law to the fallen human race. The primary reason was to convict us of our sinfulness. This in turn will make us realize the need of a Saviour which is the tutorial function of the law. Secondly, the law points to Christ as the perfect fulfillment of righteousness for our salvation. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the demands of the law were fully met on man's behalf. This is the gospel function of the law. Finally, the law defines the righteousness which we Christians must attain. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, law keeping comes within the reach of every believer. Accordingly, the law becomes the standard of Christian living. Seen in this light, there is really no contradiction between God's law and His grace. The problem we sinners face is that God's holy law and our sinful natures are incompatible. This makes salvation through law keeping impossible. Grace comes in and satisfies the demands of the law in Christ and then gives power to the believer to fulfill its requirements. This study will cover the relationship between law and grace.
1. What commandment did God give to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis 2:16,17 ______________________________________________________________________
Note: The tree of knowledge of good and evil was not sinful, in and of itself. But since God created man with the power of choice, it was placed in the Garden of Eden as an alternative to obeying God. By eating the forbidden fruit our first parents sinned against God and the result of this fall brought condemnation and death to them, as well as their posterity. This is the sin problem we inherited from Adam.
2. Through whom did sin and death enter the world (mankind)?
Romans 5:12 ________________________________________________________________________
3. Who is that one man who brought sin and death to all mankind?
1 Corinthians 15:22 (first part) ______________________________________________________
Note: The word "Adam" means mankind. This is because when God created Adam, He actually created the whole human race in Adam. Therefore, when Adam sinned the whole human race was implicated in that sin. The result is that the death sentence passed on to Adam, spread to all humanity.
4. What are the wages of sin, and in contrast, the gift of God?
Romans 6:23 Sin _____________________ God's gift ___________________________________
5. Besides the condemnation of death, how did Adam's sin affect humanity?
Romans 5:19 (first part) _____________________________________________________________
Note: Because of the fall of Adam, all mankind is born with a nature that is sinful and incapable of obeying God's holy law. This is our predicament under law.
6. What does the law demand in order to be justified?
Romans 2:13 ________________________________________________________________________
Note: Unlike the gospel, which justifies us by faith, believing in the law of God cannot save anyone. Being under the law means that we are required to obey its demands perfectly and continually if we are to qualify for life. If we fail once, it means that we come under the law's condemnation, the sentence of death (see Galatians 3:10).
7. How does Moses describe the righteousness which is of the law?
Romans 10:5 ________________________________________________________________________
8. In contrast how is one declared righteous under grace?
Romans 10:4 ________________________________________________________________________
9. Under law, what is the legal status of the whole human race?
Romans 3:19 ________________________________________________________________________
Note: God gave the law in the first place to show humanity that we are born into a sinful race. Through the law we become conscious of the fact that we are all sinners condemned to death and are in need of a Saviour.
10. How many can save themselves by keeping the law?
Romans 3:20 ________________________________________________________________________
11. What does it mean to be under grace?
Romans 3:21-24 _____________________________________________________________________
Note: Under grace we are not saved by our performance but by faith in what Jesus did. This is God's supreme gift to sinful humanity.
12. Does our law keeping make any contribution towards justification by faith?
Romans 3:28 _______________________________________________________________________
Note: Justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ is the very opposite of salvation by works of the law. The two are diametrically opposed to each other. That is why the two methods of salvation (law and grace) cannot be or reconciled. 13. What logical conclusion does Paul draw from this verse?
Romans 11:6 ________________________________________________________________________
Note: The New International Version says, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." In other words, we cannot be saved by both methods; it is either one or the other. To be saved by grace means not I but Christ.
14. If we cannot be justified by the works of the law, how are we justified?
Ephesians 2:8,9 ______________________________________________________________________
Note: The New Testament makes it absolutely clear that man's only hope of salvation is by faith in Christ. This is what it means to be saved by grace. We cannot earn it but simply accept it as a gift from God.
15. Does this justification by faith do away with the law?
Romans 3:31 ________________________________________________________________________
Note: The word faith in this text is preceded by the definite article "the" in the original. Paul's real question was, "Do we then make void the law through the faith?" By "the faith" Paul is referring to the doctrine of justification by faith and not the believer's faith. In other words, did God ignore or bypass the law to save us? The answer Paul gives is a definite NO! God had to fully satisfy the law to save us. By His perfect obedience and His sacrificial death Christ met the full demands of the law on man's behalf. This is how the law was established by grace.
16. Does a Christian saved by grace no longer need to keep the law?
Matthew 5:17-19 ____________________________________________________________________
Note: The Pharisees of Christ's day accused Him of undermining or doing away with the law. Christ, in turn, made it clear that He came to fulfill all the demands of the law on man's behalf, and then upheld it as the standard of Christian living.
17. How does Paul describe those who still want to be saved by the law?
Galatians 5:1 ________________________________________________________________________
Note: The Galatians became Christians through righteousness by faith, but false teachers convinced them that it is not enough to believe in Christ to be saved. They insisted that keeping the law was still required for salvation. This is the yoke of bondage.
18. In contrast what does the yoke of Christ do to the believer?
Matthew 11:28,29 ___________________________________________________________________
Note: Christ was totally God-dependent when He lived on this earth. He made it clear that He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:30). Now He tells us Christians to take His yoke and depend totally on Him for salvation. This is the only way we can find rest or peace for our souls.
19. Does salvation by grace give us license to sin?
Galatians 5:13 _______________________________________________________________________
Note: Since our law keeping does not save us, the great danger we face under grace is condoning sin. This is called "cheap grace." But being saved by grace gives us no such liberty. Instead it creates in us love for others and a hatred for sin.
20. In loving others as ourselves what are we fulfilling?
Galatians 5:14 _______________________________________________________________________
21. In the New Covenant where does God write His law?
Hebrews 8:10 _______________________________________________________________________
Note: Besides giving peace and assurance of salvation to the believer, God also puts His unselfish agape love in the heart of the believer, creating desires that are in harmony with the spirit of His law, which is love. This is also part of the New Covenant. This love manifests itself in good deeds to our fellow men (see Titus 3:8).
22. When was God's strength or His grace made perfect in Paul?
2 Corinthians 12:9 ___________________________________________________________________
Note: God's strength does not depend upon our natural abilities. He can take our weakness and turn it into strength. That is why Paul could say to the Christians in Philippi: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (see Philippians 4:13).
23. Besides being saved, what were we created in Christ Jesus to do?
Ephesians 2:10 ______________________________________________________________________
Note: God did not save us in Christ only from death to life or from condemnation to justification, but also from a life of sin to a life of good works. These good works do not save us but witness the salvation we already have in Christ.
24. What is the greatest evidence we can give that we are Christ's followers?
John 13:35 __________________________________________________________________________
Note: When we love each other as Christ loved us, this is true commandment keeping. If we speak like angels, understand all mysteries, do many good works, and even give our bodies to be burnt, but do not manifest the love of God, it will profit us nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
25. How does the Bible describe the last generation of Christians?
Revelation 14:12 ____________________________________________________________________
Note: Through the everlasting gospel, the Christians who are living just prior to the second coming of Christ will develop the endurance of the saints, have the faith manifested by Jesus, and demonstrate this by their unconditional love, which is the true fulfillment of the law (see Romans 13:10). May you be one of them.