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The Law of Christ
Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6: 2
To those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
1 Corinthians 9: 21
How are we to understand the word, “law”?
The word, law, is capable of a range of meaning. It can refer to;
What is the law of Christ?
The law of Christ is a law based upon the principle of “faith” not “works’. The Law of Moses is a law based upon “works.” Romans 3: 27
What is the difference between a law of faith and a law of works?
There are great differences but at least one similarity. Both laws require a response on the part of man. Faith always, if it is not dead or useless, always obeys or responds. This is the message of James. Faith without works (a response) is dead. This is the message of the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews in the eleventh chapter. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed.” This is the message of the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. James 2: 17, 20; Hebrews 11: 8; Galatians 5: 6
There are several differences. Primarily the law of faith never views the obedience of faith as meriting, earning or placing God in debt or obligation. For example when we are baptized by faith into Christ, baptism is not considered to have put God in debt to us. Baptism always looks back to the faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which prompted it. If you will notice when this principle is given in the Scriptures, it is not in the form of “If you believe, God is obligated to save.” Rather we find the statement, “the righteous man shall live by faith.” A law of works, such as the Law of Moses states, “So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them. I am the Lord.” Under this arrangement if a man keeps God’s law, then God is obligated to give Him life. Romans 1: 17;Galatians 3: 11; Hebrews 10: 38; Habakkuk 2: 4; Leviticus 18: 5
Another major difference is motivation. The law of faith is kept, at the beginning, because of fear mingled with love. But as time goes on and the awareness of the promises of God increases and as confidence in God increases, love casts out fear. The mature Christian is perfected in love. A law of works on the other continues with fear of punishment mingled with pride, envy and strife.
1 John 4: 17, 18; Philippians 1: 15-18; Ephesians 2: 9
The third major difference is that in a law of faith, faith is vested in God and Jesus our Lord. In a law of works, faith is in the ability of the individual to keep the law or in his religious heritage. Luke 18: 9
Lastly, the obedience of faith always proceeds from personal faith in God. Responses such as the baptism of infants (which does not and cannot involve faith on the part of the infant) is an empty ritual. It is no more effective than baptism of an adult contrary to their will.
When the epistles that comprise the “New Testament” was originally sent to the recipients was it so that the recipients could now, become children of God, enter into Christ, share in eternal life and be saved?
No, they already knew God and were in the kingdom of God. Knowing God was a prerequisite to entering into the New Covenant relationship with God. unlike the Old Covenant when a male was circumcised at eight days and the had to be taught to know God, The purpose was to explain the way more perfectly, give more detailed account and additional information, help with solving problems that arose and offer encouragement. Hebrew 7: 11
Are the 27 books of the “New Testament” the new covenant?
No, even though they are called the New Testament by convention, more properly we would say they pertain to the new covenant. The law of the new covenant is “that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another just as He commanded us”. Similarly the Old Testament is not the old covenant. Moses wrote the words of the covenant in the “book of the covenant”. The old covenant included all the words of the Lord and the sundry ordinance. The Ten Commandments are representative of the covenant the Lord made with the nation of Israel and are called the old covenant. 1 John 3: 23; Exodus 24: 1-8; 34: 27, 28
When was the cannon of the New Testament established?
The cannon of the New Testament was established in approximately 367 AD. This means, of course, that if the entire 27 books of the New Testament are the Law of Christ, then that law was not available in its entirety to a great many Christians for many years.
But will we not be judged by the words of Christ? John 12: 48
Yes, we will, but not all of his words have a judgment attached to them. These do:
For example in Hebrews 10: 25 we are told not to forsake the assembling together, but a penalty is not attached. Does this mean we can ignore this instruction? Certainly not, if we love and trust God, we will want to obey. If we do not, trust and love are lacking. The command is not because God arbitrarily gives commands, but it is for our benefit so that we might encourage one another. When the command to assemble is seen for its true intent, to encourage one another, we will assemble when able, to encourage our brothers.
What information did the Ethiopian Eunuch possess when he went on his way rejoicing?
He had only the information that Philip could convey to him in the short time they had together. None of the New Testament books had even been written. He had no detailed code of laws. He did have the book of Isaiah from the Old Testament.
The Law of Moses is a code of rules written in a book. Joshua 8: 34; 23: 6; 2 Kings 14: 6
The law of Christ is two principles, faith and love. They are written by God on the heart and mind and can be conveyed in a short time. 1 John 3: 23; Hebrews 8: 10; 10: 16
What is the law of Christ also called?
The law of Christ is also called the law of God, the perfect law of liberty and royal law. 1 John 3: 23, James 1: 25; 2: 8, 12
How can we be sure that the law of Christ (the law of God) is based upon two principles, faith and love?
The Scriptures identify the two principles. 1 John 3:23; John 3: 16; 13: 34
Are we under the principle of law or grace?
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6: 14
We are not under a law of works such as the Law of Moses or distortions of the gospel of Christ, but we are under the law of Christ which is a law (principle) of faith. Romans 3: 27, 28; Galatians 1: 6-8 If we were under a law of works, we would be condemned, for no one, except our Lord, has kept the Law of Moses completely. To be guilty of one point is to be guilty of all. The very prohibition of certain behavior brings that behavior to our minds and elicits the very response it was intended to disallow. Romans 7: 6-9 Thank God, His people are under grace!
Is the law of Christ similar to the Law of Moses?
No, the Law of Moses is a law of works. The law of Christ is a law of faith. Romans 3: 27, 28; Galatians 3: 10
Was the Spirit of God received through the law or through faith?
The Spirit of God was received by faith not law. Galatians 3: 2-4
Is law a blessing or a curse?
Those under the law are under a curse for they are required to keep the law perfectly. Galatians 3: 10
What was the purpose of the law?
Therefore the Law has become our (Israel’s) tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. Galatians 3: 24
Can law impart life?
If a law had been given which was able to impart life, the righteousness would indeed have been based on law. Jesus said he that believeth shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16; Galatians 3: 21
What is the principle of justification under law, and under grace?
Law- He who practices them shall live by them. Galatians 3: 12 or
Law- so you shall keep My statutes and My Judgments, by which a man may live
If he does them; I am the Lord. Leviticus 18: 5
Grace- But the righteous man shall live by faith. Romans 1: 17
What is the basis of fellowship under grace and legalism?
Grace- unity is based on
Legalism- fellowship is based upon conformity to law as interpreted by a
Is sonship by law or by faith?
Law- under the law the heir is a child, and does not differ from a slave although
He is owner of all. Galatians 4: 1
Faith- for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3: 26
How comprehensive is the basic law of Christ; to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God; to love God and to love one another.
Faith in Jesus and the resultant obedience of faith encompasses all we need to know and do to enter into a relationship with Christ. Galatians 3: 26
The principle of love encompasses every requirement of God. Romans 13: 9
What type of people is the law designed for? Faith?
The law was intended to control a lawless and rebellious people. 1 Tim 1: 8-9
The law of faith is intended for those that know God and trust Him.
Does the law condemn or justify?
If a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would have been based on law. The law can only condemn because those under the law are cursed unless they keep it perfectly. Thus the commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death. Therefore we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. That which is engraved on stone is a ministry of condemnation and death. Galatians 3: 10, 21; Romans 7: 10; 3: 28;
2 Corinthians 3: 7-9
What deficiency does the law exhibit?
Law cannot deal with human weakness? Hebrews 7: 18, 19 Hence, as an instrument to bring salvation, it is destined to fail.
What is the result of those who would pervert the gospel into a law of works?
They have fallen from grace. Galatians 1: 6, 7; 5: 4
Do we denigrate the Law of Moses?
Certainly not! The law is holy and spiritual, but it was never intended to impart life. Romans 7: 12
Many, including myself, have thought of the 27 books of the New Testament as the Law of Christ, a written code of laws given by the grace of God to the early disciples to provide them and us with a detailed account of the will of God. This code of laws, if meticulously followed, would result in eternal life. This view of the Law of Christ is essentially legalistic. Legalism is the attempt to be justified (declared righteous) by law. In this view the law of Christ is of the same nature as the Law of Moses. This view, in my opinion is incorrect.
I changed my view of the law of Christ several years ago.
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Last Update 09/26/12