THE PLACE OF LAW AND GRACE
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Oil and water do not mix. But, they would mix before law and grace would do so. A question was posed about Exodus 23:3, 6, “Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause,” and “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.” Does this mean that poor people should be exempt from any law based on their socio-economic status? Following is my reply.
It is my studied opinion that Israel is here commanded to be “straight shooters” under the terms of the Mosaic Law. That is, the poor man was not to be excused simply because he was poor, and the judgment against him was definitely not to be skewed in his disfavor. Now consider contextual meaning as well.
These verses are the initiation of Law to Israel, the covenant people of God. It was vitally important that they learn (and we as well from them) the difference between sin and righteousness, and just how completely righteous God is and how completely sinful man is. This law then became our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and to His grace, Paul argues in Galatians 3:24-25.
However, the law and the prophets were until John (the Baptist) Luke 16:16. Jesus said they must be fulfilled, Luke 24:44, and He did so according to Matthew 5:18; Col. 2:14-17. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came to us by Christ Jesus, John 1:17. Grace does not mean that the law was not righteous, quite the contrary. Covenants may change, but principles do not.
Law is Law! It is commandment plus penalty. If either is absent, the law is not in play. It cannot be injected with anything else and still be law. But, it is recognized that some cases tried by the medium of courts of law may either merit or demand mercy. But, when mercy is injected, it negates law and creates grace. Grace is what Jesus is all about. He as The God-man met each and every demand of Law. He fulfilled it to the very jot and tittle, and offers to us not the punishment of law which we deserve, (and by which God’s standard will always remain) but, His own righteousness by grace through faith.
Moreover, just as the law cannot be injected with anything else and remain law, so it is with grace. It is ludicrous to seek to maintain grace through law. This is the trouble the churches of Galatia got into, and which Paul addressed in his epistle by their name. After all, the law was not given to righteous people, but for sinners. By it, they could understand their lost condition, and their inability to do anything about it except through grace.
That mercy and grace should rule whenever possible among the affairs of men is underscored repeatedly in Jesus’ teachings, especially in Matthew 18:21-3
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Romans 3:28.
Paul preached to correct an error in the believers Rome, that is, that keeping the Law justified them in God’s eyes. The problem with trying to mix the Law (works) and faith for salvation is that it does not mix. We could compare it to mixing oil and water. Oil, like faith, always rises to the top and does not mix with water (works).
The Law, as Paul explains, educates about sin. It teaches the students, but it can do nothing to cleanse a person from sin. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24, 25).
Jesus is an equal opportunity Savior. He made it possible for everyone who believes in His death, burial and resurrection to be saved. They may be in their last hours of life when they believe in Jesus Christ and are saved. They may be physically challenged and believe in Jesus Christ and become saved. Salvation does not require works, only faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. That makes salvation accessible and equal for all people regardless of their ability to perform any deeds or good works.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24).
Knibb – Center
He Helped Defeat the Slave Code
1803 – William Knibb was born in Kettering, England, eleven years after the first missionary society in modern history was founded in the same place in 1792. His father gave no indication of salvation, but his mother took the children to Sunday school at the Independent Chapel. William moved to Bristol with his older brother Thomas, and was baptized by Dr. John Ryland in 1822. Thomas went to Jamaica as a schoolmaster and died within four months. William applied to the same mission society to take his place, married on Oct. 1824, and sailed for that other world a month later. His heart broke to see the injustice of slavery. The Society wrote him to have nothing to do with civil or political affairs. He raised the money to set a Black slave free who had been flogged and made to work on a chain gang for two weeks because he attended a prayer meeting. He helped defeat the Slave Code which would have made missionary work among slaves impossible. He also went to England in 1832 to help Wilberforce in his effort to pass the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 through the British Parliament, which abolished slavery throughout most of the British Empire. He died in 1845 at the age of forty-two. [Ernest A. Payne, The Great Succession (London: Carey Press, 1946), p.44. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 490-91.] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon