Last week I wrote an article entitled, God’s Law: The Standard Yesterday, Today, and Forever, and encouraged everyone to read the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s book, By This Standard, which American Vision recently republished. As I expected, somebody wrote in claiming that God’s Law is no longer in force because of their misunderstanding of Matthew 5:17-19, where Jesus says he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.
His name is David and he writes,
The Apostle Paul states that Christ came to fulfill the law. He also said that the law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Again he said that we are not under the law but under grace. Of course our consciences tell us that murder, rape, incest (which Paul mentions,) and various other things covered in the ten commandments are wrong…
Christ came to fulfill the law. When something is fulfilled, be it prophecy or anythig else, it is finished. He also said that the law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Again he said that we are not under the law but under grace. He admonished the Galatians not to return to the law. Through a vision God told Peter he had done away with the dietary laws. Paul said to be under the law was to be bound We must Of course our consciences tell us that murder, rape, incest In Acts 15 the church leaders determined that the Gentiles (us) were to only keep the law fobidding fornincation and eating things with the blood. (which Paul mentions,) and various other things covered in the ten commandments are wrong. We cannot pick and choose scriptures to fit our particular belief but compare scripture with scripture.
Let’s read exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-19,
Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy them but to fulfill them. For truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth perish, one jot or one tittle of the Law shall not escape, till all things be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall observe and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (1599 Geneva Bible)
First, David misunderstand what it means to fulfill in this passage. “Fulfilling the Law” cannot mean finishing it. Jesus makes this abundantly clear when he says that he did not come to destroy (abolish, abrogate, or finish) the law. On page 67 of his book, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Greg Bahnsen says, that the word “fulfill"should be taken to mean “confirm and restore in full measure”. We must not think that the coming of Christ has invalidated the previous law of God, for “the word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
Second, once David abolishes the Law he finds himself in a quandary about how to determine what is ultimately right and wrong. Like the humanists of our day, he appeals to conscience as the ultimate determination of right and wrong. The obvious problem here is that our consciences differ. And since they differ, who or what can we appeal to determine whose conscience is right or wrong? What a mess!
Third, David chastises me by saying, “We cannot pick and choose scriptures to fit our particular belief but compare scripture with scripture.” Well, I couldn’t agree more, David. But it appears you are throwing out the entire Old Testament, and the clear teaching of Christ and the Apostles regarding the Law as the eternal standard of right and wrong.
Finally, let me address David’s reference to the Apostle Paul’s teaching that the Law is our schoolmaster pointing the way to Christ. Nobody explains this better than Dr. Bahnsen himself,
The law cannot give life to man, or else righteousness would have been by the law (Gal. 3:21). Although the law itself is a way of life, it cannot restore life lost because of sin; hence, for the transgressor of the law, the law is a way of condemnation and death. So conspicuous is the law’s function of indicting men of sin that Paul can often use “sin” and “law” as synonyms; for example, “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). To be under the law is to be dominated by sin; not being able to live by the law, the man who is under it as a way of salvation dies, and sin is then victorious. To be saved by grace includes dying to sin as well as to the law (Rom. 7:4; Gal. 2:19). The law represents a curse and indicting conviction of sin to all men. Thereby the law is a schoolmaster which leads sinful man to Christ, the sinless One (see Gal. 3:24); by its oppressive and condemning yoke the law drives us to our emancipation in Christ. Consequently, the Scriptures uniformly represent justification by the works of the law as a way of death which is contrary to justification by Christ (who perfectly kept the law), the way of life.
As I stated last week, American Vision believes that God’s Law reflects His unchanging holiness and His righteous standard for the universe, which is the same yesterday, today and forever. Of course, we cannot perfectly keep God’s Law. That’s why we need a Savior who kept it perfectly to represent us before God. American Vision believes that obedience to God’s Law is the only way Christians can demonstrate our love for Him and the only way to live a joyful and effective life of service for our King (1 John 5:3). This week, I recommend that you add another book by Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, to your library.