Grace and the Mosaic Law
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
Do you know what an oxymoron is? Some examples of an oxymoron: dry lake, free gift, numb sensation, same difference, stand down, original copy, non-working mother, jumbo shrimp, vegetarian meatballs. Another more serious oxymoronic concept is working for salvation or working for grace. In the early New Testament, some people insisted that going back under the Mosaic Law was necessary to “earn” grace for salvation.
1. Salvation by grace promised. Galatians 3:8-9: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
Can Gentiles be saved apart from good works? Many believed that in order to be saved one must follow a list of good deeds as outlined in the Mosaic Law. During a council at Jerusalem, James revealed that God would reach out to the Gentiles for salvation (Acts 15:8-18). Amos 9:11-12 also revealed that God would reach out to the Gentiles. It should not have been a surprise that the Gentiles could be saved through faith in Christ alone.
This blessing of salvation would flow through Abraham. Abraham did not live under the Mosaic Law. He lived 400 years before the Mosaic Law. It was Abraham’s descendent, Jesus, that would provide salvation. Likewise today, religious standards and practices do not provide salvation.
Jesus is the only source of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Notice that a lifestyle change occurs as a result of salvation. Living a godly life simply reflects a relationship with God. It does not save. Salvation is of grace, not of works.
2. Salvation by grace promoted. Galatians 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”
The works required by the Mosaic Law are a burden beyond man’s ability to perform. The requirements of the Mosaic Law are a curse. If you are going to follow the Mosaic Law, you cannot pick and choose which laws to follow. The moral code, ceremonial code, and dietary code provides a detailed description of every aspect of life. Furthermore with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70, it is impossible to follow the sacrificial system as laid out in the Mosaic Law.
The Law cannot save you. James 2:10 states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” A man is placed in a difficult position by knowing God’s standard and yet not being able to fulfill this divine standard. We need salvation enabled by grace (Romans 5:12-21).
3. Salvation by grace proclaimed. Galatians 3:11-12: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was transformed by these words: “The just shall live by faith.” He had attempted to earn his salvation through fasting, beatings, and other forms of self-deprivation. His life was wrapped up in an attempt to earn his salvation until he read Galatians 3:11: “The just shall live by faith.” Luther recognized that salvation was a work of God and not a work of man (Romans 6:1-14).
4. Salvation by grace procured. Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
Christ has redeemed us. There is no partial redemption. Christ did what the Mosaic Law could not do. Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” See also John 5:24, 1 Timothy 2:25, 1 Peter 2:24, and 2 Corinthians 5:21.
5. Salvation by grace possessed. Galatians 3:14: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The words in this verse “might receive” signifies that even the Gentiles might receive salvation by grace. Salvation can be possessed in this life. 1 John 5:10-13: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
You can know if you are saved now. Salvation is not based on a lifetime of good works and good deeds, but on Christ’s death on the cross. Salvation does not depend on a religious institution with its rites, rituals, and regulations. It is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross.