THE EIGHTH DAY OF MARCH IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN
A gracEmail subscriber asks why God would throw out the Old Testament and replace it with another; why he would begin with an attempt to redeem sinners through a system of law-keeping, then switch to a system grounded in grace ; and please explain the statement that “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
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The Bible is above all a story–a story of the divine rescue, by which the Creator delivers, redeems and reconciles to himself a broken, fallen and guilty humankind and the creation whose oversight and welfare was humanity’s responsibility. If the human creature had only done what God wanted from the beginning we might never have heard much about either law or grace. And all that God wanted was a covenant relationship in which God would graciously provide the human creature’s every need and, in response to God’s grace, the human creature could freely and faithfully love, trust, and obey the Creator as a way of life. We might call that making “a living sacrifice.”
Adam did not give God himself as a living sacrifice–what God always wanted–and instead mankind became alienated from God. Later in the story, God chose Israel to be his special people and his adopted “son,” but Israel also fell short. The covenant that God gave to Israel was framed around covenant stipulations (laws), covenant blessings, and covenant curses–spelled out in theory and illustrated in real life throughout the Law and Prophets. Having demonstrated the weakness of any covenant that depended on the performance of sinful and broken humans, God sent his Son as our representative and the surety of a new covenant, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. As both the Second Adam and the New Israel, Jesus fulfilled the divine covenant–kept its stipulations (for us), merited its blessings (for us), and bore its curses (for us).
Now fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the old covenant and its scriptures did not disappear and were not destroyed, but continue in the Story as background and context for Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection. Every day of his earthly life, Jesus gave himself to the Father as a living sacrifice. By his faithful human life, his doing and his dying, the Son of God who was made man set us right with God. Now, by his ascension and glorification at the Father’s right hand, the man Jesus Christ has taken our humanity to its intended destiny, and we wait for the day he will appear to receive us and make all things new. I encourage you to read more about these things in the writings below. (After the first two, all others are on my website, to be read at no charge to you. Click the links to read more about each.)
FULL-LENGTH BOOKS EXALTING JESUS CHRIST
The Divine Rescue.
In this book we walk through the Bible together, noting texts on all the major themes mentioned in today’s gracEmail. You will thank God for the Divine Rescuer, our Savior Jesus Christ, as never before, and worship and praise him with renewed intensity and joy.
Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today — A Narrative Commentary.
This full-length book is a guide through the Book of Hebrews, on a tour of God’s salvation that will thrill and encourage like you cannot even imagine.
SHORTER ARTICLES AND BOOKLETS