The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, Part 19
The Plank of the Faith for today’s meal at The Training Table, The Fulfillment of the Law, is briefly stated in The Belgic Confession below, and yet is as wide and deep as the implications of mankind’s original breech of faith in God, The Fall:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden (Genesis 3)’?”
As God allowed the serpent to speak into the love He had created within the heart of Eve (and by proximity and implication Adam and humankind), He had to allow for free will and UNlove to exist as well: Otherwise God’s love for man would be His will to power and compulsion—and our love for Him, mere puppetry.
God’s laws of love and truth—inherent in His character and the intended ecosystem for mankind’s flourishing—were broken at that time. The law, which must be fulfilled or God is not God, remained unfulfilled until the God-Man Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, resurrected, and ascended.
As Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
In Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the law, by being “The Second Adam”, by living a perfect life, by His blood atonement on the cross, through His bearing the full wrath of God the Father’s condemnation of the entirety of the world’s sin… those who believe in Him by (election, regeneration, justification and) faith are no longer judged by works (RE: fulfilling the requirement of the law—which is impossible: God is 100% pure and we are far, far from it), but by grace and faith—as we are born again, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are in Christ, as we live in gratitude and joyful obedience to the law:
We are motivated not by fear, but by repentance, thanksgiving, gratitude, and eager and urgent service to those whom we are compelled to love, “neighbor as self”!
Never forget, every religion that is not Bible-based Christianity is WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS (trying to earn God’s favor in ourselves)! Works righteousness will crush us under the vile misconception of our ever (even remotely) being capable of earning God’s favor apart from Christ.
The world (power, ego, meritocracy), the flesh (pride), and the devil (the deceiver) are bent on tempting us into meriting God’s favor based upon our own expenditure of time, talent, and treasures! All have sinned (Romans 3:23); sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
For a reminder of how this portion of God’s Story fits, please refresh your memory again! Please remember the BIG PICTURE!
Go ahead! Splash around, gulp it down, do flips under the waters of God’s grace and plan. Soak for a while… INjoy the story deep in your heart. We really, truly need regular refreshment as we live and serve in a land that’s increasingly similar to a barren desert of the culture’s hedonism, stoicism, and existentialism so dominant in our day.
Having laid down the Plank of the Faith below, please take some time to breathe deep and relish in a handful of brief quotes that will reinforce the tenants of this plank, doctrine of our faith.
The Plank of the Faith: Article 25: The Fulfillment of the Law
“We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended with the coming of Christ, and that all foreshadowings have come to an end, so that the use of them ought to be abolished among Christians. Yet the truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have been fulfilled.
Nevertheless, we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to his will.” (Article 25, The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561)
Words to Wonder On… and Witness By:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
“We don’t serve God to gain His acceptance; we are accepted so we serve God. We don’t follow Him in order to be loved; we are loved so we follow Him. Remember: What you do doesn’t determine who you are; who you are determines what you do.” (Neil T. Anderson, Freedom in Christ Ministries)
“The main thing between you and God is not so much your sins; it’s your damnable good works.” (John H. Gerstner)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behavior in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.” Tim Keller, The Reason For God, p177)
“Doing it on my own has given me more confidence than I’ve ever had. I felt like I had to prove something in so many ways. To try and get the title back. To prove I can do it by myself. I proved my point… I think.” (Lindsey Vonn, Top Alpine Skier in the World… she thinks… USA Today, March 14, 2012)
“Once I was free in the shackles of sin:
Free to be tempted, just bound to give in;
Free to be captive to any desire;
Free to eternally burn in hell’s fire.
‘Til Someone bought me and called me His slave:
Bound by commands I am free to obey;
Captive by beauty I’m free to adore–
Sentenced to sit at His feet evermore.”
(John F. MacArthur Jr.)
“Jesus said, you are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).
“Is not this the sort of fast that I choose: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh” (Isaiah 58:6-7)?
“Never be content with your current grasp of the gospel. The gospel is the life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing Truth. It has more facets than a diamond. Its depths man will never exhaust.” (C.J. Mahaney)
“If the gospel (John 3:16) is old news to you, it will be dull news to everyone else.” (Kevin DeYoung)
“Assured of your salvation by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the heartbeat of the gospel, joyful liberation from fear of the Final Outcome, a summons to self-acceptance, and freedom for a life of compassion toward others.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
“Authority, exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight, are the very lines along which our spirits live…Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.” (CS Lewis)
“When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others, when we are free from currying others’ approval, then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied. And then, if we know we have pleased God, contentment will be our consolation.” (Kay Arthur)
“Now I know from this very word and deed of yours what free choice devoid of God is, and is capable of, namely, madness.” (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will)
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (Peter 2:16).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1).
The truth will indeed set us free—saved to serve in joy-filled obedience.