GOD’S LAW: MAN, PROSPERITY (1)

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FOR THE BETTER part of this year, (from June to the end of October) this column has carried lessons on the law of God on the two tables of the Decalogue culminating in exegetic desertions on the Ten Commandments given at Sinai and our Lord Jesus Christ’s summary of their application in the Great Commandment.

Readers have reacted in various ways to the expositions. Some raised the question of whether the believer is still under the law since according to their view, “Jesus’ coming abolished the law” others raised the question of “why is it that in spite of so many churches and preaching of the gospel every where, the society is still deep in evil” one of those who raised this issue said he does not like the word ‘sin’ because, since Jesus abolished the law, He also has abolished transgression, arguing that “without prohibition there can be no transgression” yet another reader asked “Do you not consider it, a waste of time, energy and effort to teach such principles of Christianity in this twenty first century when Christianity has become essentially a matter of exercising the power God has given to man to improve his lot on earth?”. There are many more, but for want of space, I will deal today with the foregoing, and the rest in some other editions. Let me begin responding to these questions from the last one.

In the first place, Christianity is not essentially a matter of exercising the power God has given to man to improve man’s lot on earth. It may be so applied, however, but it is not the principal purpose nor the essence of Christianity. And to access that power, in the first place, one must be acceptable to the source of that power – God; and to be acceptable, one must obey and keep His moral laws, which are consistent with His precepts set out according to His nature and moral attributes which constitute what you call “The principles”.

Christianity is light on earth as enunciated by our Lord Jesus Christ. (see John 8:12). Some simply say that Christianity is “a way of life” (John 14:6). Others define it in one world “light”. All this derive from Christ being the light of the world without which darkness would cover the world (implied in John 3:19; 12:14). But the complete definition anchored on Christ Himself is: “Christianity is light shed on God’s way of life” This light is Christ Himself in spiritual radiant illumination of the soul and spirit of men; the “way of life” is the gospel of Jesus Christ – the precepts and principles of the gospel (implied in John 8:12; 12:46; 2 Cor. 4:4b;  2 Tim. 1:10).

The power in Christianity is objectively intrinsic, not inherent nor incidental; and can only be accessed or obtained through righteousness inherent in faith and repentance. Faith referred to here is not simply the assent of the intellect to the revealed truth, but the practical submission of the entire man to the guidance and control of such truth whose essential idea is in fidelity and faithfulness. The faith that in its essential temper, is that elevation of soul by which it aspires to do good, the true and the Divine (see John 3:18 to 21; Rom. 2:7; 4:5; Heb. 11; James 2:10 to 26) which the efficient cause is effectual calling proceeding from God’s immutable election (Titus 1:1; Acts 8:48). The principal acts of such faith are receiving, accepting and resting upon Christ alone for sanctification, justification and eternal life. Repentance in this discourse refers to a true acknowledgment of sin and turning away from it with full purpose of, and, endeavour to be separated from it, and the determination to resist, by the grace of Christ, the temptation that leads to sin. It involves the pain arising from a true hatred of sin existing in the will as a moral disposition and principle; and from the preference for and love of conformity to God, arising out of a thorough approval of, and complacency of God’s moral perfection.

Repentance, a product of faith presupposes a falling short of the glory of God – sin, which is disobedience to God’s law (the reference to God’s law here is to the moral law of God, given at Sinai, excluding the Jewish ceremonial ritual laws which were abrogated by Christ at Calvary).

The emphasis here is on the gospel truth that God’s power cannot function in, nor operate in a soul depraved by sin – that is for a man who disobeys God’s moral commandments, summarized by Jesus who gave the simple key to their compliance as LOVE in the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37 to 40). Both faith and repentance are stirred up in the soul, by the grace of God, as duties for man to exercise as volition to justify his creation which is the Glory of God.

The Glory of God is an essential prerequisite for eternal life which is the believer’s ultimate goal. Thus it is that, all obedience (righteousness), faith, repentance and the enabling Grace of God are all geared towards securing eternal life, not to improving life on earth. The ability to improve conditions on earth is inherent in the life of every creature. Improvement being ‘a relative term could be achieved either through the enabling power (grace) of God or by the diabolical works of Satan, depending on which side of the spiritual divide the one is. God at creation provided all that man needs for comfortable existence on earth. He gave man the wisdom and intelligence to exercise or apply them according to his choice under God’s Permissive Decree – the Right of choice.

Changes in man’s lot on earth is not exclusive to God’s power. Satan also has enormous power and craftiness, for more often than not, he easily exerts this craftiness upon the unregenerate souls to lure them to fall into his sinful methods of acquiring wealth and depraved life! Hence there are on this earth; liars, rogues, armed robbers, women of easy virtue, fake or false reprobate pastors and teachers etc. etc – “doing well” or prospering and wealthy by mundane standards and acclamation. This is a conclusive proof that “improving man’s lot on earth” is no prime essence of Christianity. Christian principles may be applied as an essential source of power for this purpose on the inevitable conformity with the conditions of God’s moral attributes and requirements of holiness and righteousness in love for God and fellow man. And how does a man know or learn of the Moral Attributes of God and the demands necessary to access the power or be blessed with His righteous power or grace, if not through lessons on His moral precepts, faith, repentance and other principles of Godliness in Christianity, as articulated in the Holy Scriptures.

Apostle Paul in Rom. 15:4 declares “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through the comfort and patience of the Scriptures might have hope” (implied in Acts 20:32; Rom. 16:25 and 26; 1 Cor. 10:11) and in 2 Tim. 2:16 the Apostle teaches that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (implied in Heb. 3:7).

On the question of “whether the believer is still under the law since the coming of Jesus abolished the law?” I will join this question with the next which asks “why is it that evil is multiplying in the society in spite of so many churches and more gospel preaching all our place?”

And in response, I say that some of the pastors and preachers are not called to Divine purpose in the first place, and are therefore preachers of error, who instead of leading converts to Christ through sound teaching of the Word of God, preach their personal opinions; “teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9) and exalting human wisdom in opposition to that superior spiritual knowledge that God imparts (see 1 Cor. 1:27) The excuse that the decay is as result of the approach of end time is plausible for the preceding falling away (2 Thess. 2:3) will be a human -Satan action. If the preaching of the gospel is sound everywhere. Satan is not likely to take hold of so many in this era of the administration of the Holy Christ in the church. Christianity would have been more attractive, but this is not to be, because some pastors and preachers now emphasize wealth as the ultimate and relegate righteousness, holiness and eternal life to a back incidental position!

And to my reader who does not like the word “sin” on the argument that since God’s laws have been abrogated, there remains no transgression, the prohibitions having been removed. I say, first, that I also hate sin for another reason, and that is, that sin leads to, and causes, the destruction of the spirit, soul and body of any man who would not obey the moral laws of God, for the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments given by God Himself at Sinai recorded in Deuteronomy 20: 2 to 17 and 5:6 to 21 still subsist. And our Lord Jesus Christ gave the NT believer the “key” to their obedience in the “Great Commandment – the positive injunctions of Matt. 22: 37 to 40. The following exegesis justifies the foregoing. Please patiently read on.

The foregoing lead to the question of Law and Grace asking: if the law can no longer be a covenant of life to believers, what place and use can it properly have in the plan of salvation by grace? It is common knowledge that there are in the church, erriorists called “Antinomians” who in fact, have sought to exclude the law from the system, asserting that since the law is no longer a term of life, since it has been fully satisfied both in its perceptive and penal demands by the believer’s Divine substitute – Christ – the law therefore has no binding force upon, and no application to, the believer. But the following views of the law, as the necessary and unchanging expression of God’s rectitude, show that the authority of the law over moral creatures is unavoidable. It is therefore simply impossible that any dispensation, of whatever: mercy or grace,                                         could have the effect of abrogating righteous obligations over God’s saints. God’s mercy through a redeemer satisfying justice, may lift off the curse of the law for transgression, but it is impossible that it should abrogate the rightful authority of the law. First, the law remains under every dispensation including the Covenant of Grace and the dispensation of Holy Ghost administration as the authoritative character of God.

 

(to be continued next week)