What we thought about...



6th March, 2006

Seeing God articles
Faith & Reason articles
Bible Teachings articles

Law versus love

I recently received this email in response to the book excerpt “Christians and the law”:

What inspires us most is the incredible work being accomplished by those who are focusing on Christian core issues: that of taking the gospel and the love of Jesus into the world. Especially people like 10/40 movement… who risk their lives or torture in order to take God's word into the least evangelized areas on earth, where people are desperate for spiritual truth. We could never go back to making the Law the number one issue; love and sacrifice are so much harder to accomplish. (This obviously does not mean that we break the law and grieve the Spirit.)

Doesn't this letter sum up the beliefs of most Christians today? The law is seen as opposed to love. The Old Testament stresses law, while Jesus came to preach a much higher ethic — love, even of one's enemies. Most would agree with the writer that law, even if God has not yanked out the props from under it entirely, should be way down on the list of Christian priorities. Should not our main focus be on fulfilling the last words of Jesus recorded in Matthew:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:19-20).

Hats off — sincerely — to those who are willing to risk life and limb, to sacrifice comfort and modern conveniences, to take the knowledge of Jesus and His love into the villages of the poor and needy, into the huts of the spiritually sick and dying. Indeed, one wonders if any of us will enter the kingdom of God if we refused such a task were it presented to us. (And God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts fully.) However, should not one ensure she is fully equipped before striking out into the veldt? What value is a medical missionary, no matter how zealous to bring relief to the sick and dying in the remotest corners of the globe, if she hasn't studied medicine? What qualifications does a gospel evangelist

need in order to help the starving?

Surely the above writer hit the nail on the head — one cannot be effective in teaching others about Jesus if one doesn't strive diligently to be like Him, to have His love flowing through them through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. “Suicide evangelists” who give their bodies for martyrdom and their worldly goods to feed the poor may make headlines, and create a crowd of admiring followers in the Christianized West, but what have they truly accomplished if they have not love? (1 Cor. 13:3 — please read it).

Of course, I would be exposing myself as a hollow fool if I were to suggest that every evangelist who risks life and limb fits into such a category while I, sitting safely at my computer tapping away, have the love of God flowing through me and am therefore better than they. I am absolutely not suggesting any such thing. I am merely trying to fill out the meaning of love. To help correct the notion that love and law are at enmity with each other, that love has little place for law. Jesus fully upheld the law (Matt 5:17-20). He kept it. Paul declared that we will be judged by the law (Rom. 2:12). Above all, love for God and for fellowman is commanded in the law (Deut. 6:5, Lev. 19:18). Jesus said that on these Old Testament laws prescribing love hang all the other statutes and judgments (Matt. 22:40)! In other words, love is taught by law. Biblical law amounts to a window revealing the mind of God, of which love is the chief attribute. Love is “the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). James declared that he would demonstrate his faith and therefore, by extension, his love, by “works” of the law (James 2:18). Jesus came to atone for our sins which, among other things, result from breaking the law (1 John 3:4). The “naked evangelist” — he who carries “gospel seed” but refuses to teach obligation towards divine law — may suffer for “the Cause”, but what good does it do him? What good has he done? Indeed, such gospel seed will merely produce a crop of tares.

Gospel food, to provide nourishment to those who receive it, must contain spiritual protein — knowledge of the way of life that Jesus lived, and therefore a part of Jesus' teaching that His disciples are to take into all the world — as well as essential vitamins and minerals.


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