Grace And Obedience
© 09.13.11 By D. Eric Williams
This article appeared in the September 15 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle (article #6 in the series)
Does the fact that all mankind are expected to obey God's law have a bearing on the doctrine of salvation by grace? The answer is yes. The responsibility of obedience to God's law has a direct connection to our need for a Savior. The Bible tells us that there is no one righteous, no not one and that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). We need to realize this judgment is based on the fact that every human being is responsible for obedience to the law of God. Indeed, a man in the natural state is under law not grace. In other words, he is judged by the law and found to be guilty of disobedience and therefore condemned to hell. This is what the Bible is talking about when it says believers are no longer under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14). It doesn't mean we can ignore God's word and live how we want; it means we are no longer condemned by the law but are reckoned as righteous in the court of Almighty God because of Christ's substitutionary death on our behalf. For He made Him who knew no sin to be a sin offering for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As followers of Jesus Christ saved by grace we have the responsibility to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Our job is to tell others that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus Christ. We, like the apostles who originally received the kingdom commission, are to go and make disciples of people from every nation baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son the Holy Spirit, teaching them to do all the things the Lord commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). As we have seen thus far in this series, God is the creator and ruler of the universe and every person is expected to obey the law of God. Thus, part of the responsibility of believers in making disciples is to teach them how to obey God's law in this new covenant age. The greatest obstacle to our doing so is our lack of knowledge concerning the application of the law Word to all life.
Fear of legalism or of falling into works salvation are two reasons Christians may neglect the study and application of God's law. We do not want to diminish the majesty of God's grace and so we tend to ignore the Old Testament and keep our focus on the new. Yet, we cannot properly understand grace until we have a handle on the law. Moreover, we cannot be sure we are doing the will of the Father without the objective standard of the law always before us.
The truth is, many Christians use a fear of legalism as an excuse. In my experience, the most spiritual followers of Jesus Christ are the most obedient. Their adherence to the word is not legalism but love. They realize grace is not about obedience unto salvation but salvation that results in obedience.
What does this have to do with God and government? Much in every way; for it is through Holy Spirit enabled obedience to God's word that we govern ourselves and our arena of activity. It is only through a Christ informed embrace of God's law that we present to the world a life system every bit as comprehensive and far-reaching as the ungodly alternatives now in place.
Next week we will begin to discuss the call to civil service and the training of Christian statesmen.