Monday, August 15, 2016

15 August 2016
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT)
“Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” Romans 3:31 (NLT)

            Good morning. I hope you all had a blessed and restful Sunday, as best as you were able. This morning we will take a look at Jesus’ (and our) relationship to the Law; touching briefly on its place in the Kingdom and our lives. Our relationship to God’s Law is a bit complex. Paul writes extensively about it in Romans and Galatians, theologians down through the centuries have written volume upon volume on the subject, so we won’t go too deep here. We are primarily interested in how Jesus fulfills the Law and what that means for us as we demonstrate Kingdom living in our day to day lives.
            We will begin by reviewing the purpose of the Law. Israel was called out of the nations to demonstrate the character and nature of God, how He intends His people to live, and to show His willingness to bless those who obey Him. The Law reveals God’s nature, character, and what He requires of us. The prophets, in addition to calling Israel into account for breach of covenant, look forward to the coming of God’s Messiah-God’s final Word and ultimate blessing; the one who will remove Adam’s curse once for all. In the prophetic sense, Jesus fulfills all the prophets wrote and spoke about Him.
            In regards to the Kingdom, Jesus fulfills the Law in at least three areas. First, He fulfills by example. As fully God, He has divine life; as fully human, He demonstrates that life by example. Second, He teaches the true intent of the Law, which we will see in the next few days. Third, He fulfills the requirements of the Law for us as only one who is fully God and fully human is able to do. Here is Jesus’ three-fold fulfillment-example, intent, requirement.
            What does this mean for us today, practically speaking? Working backward, by fulfilling the requirements of the Law for us, He frees us from the impossible burden of having to do it ourselves, providing the redemption and regeneration we so desperately need. As a result our hearts are opened to receive and accept the true intent of the Law, which He is ever-willing to teach us. By demonstrating the Law in action-the Living Law-He is our example, showing us the way, going first-the founder and perfecter of our faith, as the writer of Hebrews says. Because He was our substitute Jesus can be our example, our teacher, our guide, replacing our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, renewing our minds to discern His will.
            For our part, the important point is this-we are now free to do the same things. We’ve been over this before but I think it bears repeating. We demonstrate for others what He demonstrated for us. We guide and instruct as we are guided and instructed. When we proclaim the Gospel we offer the same freedom we have received. This is us being the salt of the earth, this is us being the light of the world. I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t consider this optional. I’m pretty sure Jesus requires us to go out and interact with each other in whatever way He has gifted us to do. I am positive He intends for us to do this in partnership with Him.
            This requires purposeful thinking-and living-on a daily basis. This is why discipleship-and practicing Spiritual discipline-is so important. We are replacing bed habits with good ones; we are putting off the old, putting on the new. There’s just a ton of stuff out there on the disciplines and spiritual formation; I believe this to be essential to proper Kingdom living. I have a couple favorite resources, if anyone is interested.
            Speaking of intent, starting tomorrow we will look at how Jesus interprets the Law, revealing God’s true intent. This is fascinating-it can be a real eye-opener. Having given us in the Beatitudes the character traits required of Kingdom children, we now get to see how they work themselves out day to day. Are you beginning to see how everything connects? We are catching the tiniest glimpse of what Paul must have been thinking when he exclaimed “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33, NRSV). This is one of those times when words are just profoundly inadequate. I pray God will light a holy fire within your hearts and take you far beyond anything written here.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all this day. JRG

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