Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Pauline View of the Law: Part 7 Conclusion

            The sheer volume of scholarship on this topic presents a formidable task for a work of limited length such as this.  To unpack any of many views on Paul’s view of the law further necessitates additional discussion on others that would likely take this monograph well beyond the limits imposed.  There is little wonder in my mind why there is so much scholarship devoted to Paul, the law, and first century Judaism.  The subject is worthy of further study that I hope to undertake during my time in LBTS’ DLP.  If the opportunity does not present itself, perhaps the Lord will see fit to provide another opportunity.
            The law was given as a means to maintain the relationship between God and his people following the exodus from Egypt after God had delivered his chosen people from bondage.  The law should be viewed in the context of the covenant between God and his people.  It is not the basis of the divine-human relationship but rather a guide for the maintenance of that relationship.  The law was given after Israel experienced salvation, after being delivered out of Egypt, not before.  It is important to remember that Israel was saved by God’s mercy and not by their own good works.  When the New Testament (NT) refers to the law, it is referring to the Law of Moses which the Jews received at Mt. Sinai though this is not always the case.  The law is itself neither good nor bad but rather is a tool used by God to bring to light man’s sinfulness and his inability to perfectly keep the law as required.  The purpose in giving the law is to magnify sin and demonstrate that righteousness through the law was not possible as it is not possible for anyone to keep the law.  God’s grace shines brighter when conquering human sin.
            While the promises made to Abraham begun to be fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ, the moral absolutes are also fulfilled in Christ.  The fulfillment of these commands does not change the commands themselves.  What has changed is that the believer can now keep the law through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling within the believer.
            In Christ’s crucifixion, the curse that the law pronounced on Israel was focused on Christ whose sinless death on the cross atoned for Israel’s repeated violations of the law.  With the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul speaks of the end of the Mosaic Law which clearly involves a number its specific commandments.  An inductive study also shows that Paul speaks of the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law.  Some of the laws from the OT ear are no longer practiced literally because they are fulfilled in Christ.  Paul is of the belief that the moral norms of the law are still in place and that believers can now carry them out by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer.[1] 
            Justification is by faith and faith alone.  This was true in the OT and continues today with the finished work of Christ on the cross.  There were some Jews who mistakenly believed that keeping the law would lead to their own righteousness in the sight of God.  There is no salvation through works and never has there been.  There are many in our own day who would do well to realize this and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

                [1] Schreiner, Thomas R. The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 176-78.
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