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The Law and the Gospel


The gospel of grace does not nullify God’s Law; it fulfills it. In fact, it is the only way the Law of God could possibly be fulfilled.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? . . . . It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. . . . For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Romans 6:1; Galatians 5:1, 13).

The highest motivation for living the Christian life is the result of God’s sacrificial love for us. If we love Him we will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15). We want to please Him because He reached down in His grace and mercy to save us while we were sinners condemned by God’s just Law. Therefore, we want to love and please Him wholeheartedly.

Moreover, since we have been spiritually regenerated or born again by the Holy Spirit, we are now a changed people. You cannot be justified without out this spiritual birth taking place at the same time. The person who is saved by the grace of God will demonstrate it by a determination to pursue personal righteousness in his daily life. We will do good works because that is what we are destined to do (Eph. 1:4; 2:10). The failure to strive to live a morally upright life according to God’s holy Law only proves that the individual has never been justified by faith and born again (1 Jn. 2:15-17). The evidence for justification and spiritual birth are the good works that follow in a person’s life. You cannot separate the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the justifying work of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul makes it very clear in both Romans and Galatians that justification by grace through faith fulfills and upholds the Law of God. Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law in His life of perfect obedience to the Father. He accomplished for us what we could not do. By His death Jesus established the Law by enforcing the demands of the Law upon all who sin.

The Law of God is God’s perfect standard for humanity. "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (Gal. 3:22). It is so high that no one can fulfill it in his own strength and personal resolve. "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed" (v. 23).

 In fact, the Law points its finger and declares that we are all guilty of sin. We have failed to be what God demands that we be. We have all broken God’s Law and the punishment is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

The exactness of the Law demands that the punishment of death be paid in full (Gen. 2:17). “The soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4). God’s Law demands the death penalty for sinning. Therefore, the Law can be established only by carrying out the death penalty. We must pay the penalty or find someone acceptable to God who will pay it for us.

Jesus Christ died as our substitute on the cross fulfilling the just demands of God’s Law (2 Cor. 5:21). The Law demanded death for everyone who sinned. Jesus met the demands of the Law by His perfect life. He never experienced personal sin. However, as our sinless substitute He met the demands by suffering the Law’s penalty in our place. Through the death of Jesus Christ God established the Law while providing a means by which lost sinners could be saved. God made His own Son sustain the curse of the Law in our stead, and therefore fulfilled all its holy demands. God maintained His just standards. He established the Law by allowing Jesus to bear the full penalty of the Law for all who are saved. By the death of Christ Jesus God demonstrated His righteousness and faithfulness to the Law so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ (Rom. 3:25-26).

Therefore, a holy and just God can remain righteous by providing His own righteousness for the believing sinner (Rom. 3:26-30). This true righteousness is the gift of God, and is a perfect righteousness that alone can fulfill the exact requirements of the Law of God. This is a real righteousness possessed by Jesus Christ and given to the believer.

We are justified by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:16). Because Jesus died in our place bearing the punishment for our sins, God is free to declare us acquitted based upon that death.

God saves us by imputing to us this actual righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). It is not something we accumulate, merit or gain by our virtue because we are sinners. However, Jesus did not fall short. He fulfilled the Law perfectly and His righteousness is by the grace of God credited to the sinner who believes on Him for salvation.

By faith in Christ the sinner receives this perfect righteousness which fulfills all the demands of the Law. It is a righteousness God provides in His grace because as sinners we deserve the very opposite. He gives us what we do not deserve. This grace is provided by God based on the redeeming work of Christ in dying for the sinner. When God justifies the sinner who believes in Christ He does so by declaring us to have met the demands of the Law on the basis of God’s saving work in Christ on the cross.

We receive this right standing with God by faith in Christ (Rom 1:16-17). We are saved by receiving God’s free gift of righteousness by faith (5:1-2). God imputes the righteousness of Christ to our account. God provides His own righteousness for us. God reckons or credits the righteousness of Christ to be ours. Therefore, “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28). Have you put your trust in Him for a right relationship with God?



Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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