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Questions & Answers
Good News Magazine
January 1981
Volume: Vol XXVIII, No. 1
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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Questions & Answers
Good News Staff

   Some who have left the Church claim Christ did away with God's law. One scripture they cite is Luke 16: 16: The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached." Would you explain the meaning' of this verse?

   Jesus Himself explains in the very next verse: "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail" (verse 17). Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Jesus said it would be easier for them to perish or be destroyed than for God's law to pass away or perish!
   On another occasion Christ told a young man seeking the way to eternal life, " If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19: 17). How clear that God's holy law is still in existence.
   But what, then, did Jesus mean by the statement, "The law and the prophets were until John"? When Jesus spoke of the "law and the prophets," He was referring to the Old Testament. The first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, are known as the law; the books of Joshua through Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 minor prophets comprise the "prophets." The third major section of the Old Testament was known as the "writings" or "psalms." Notice Luke 24:27-45.
   Jesus, therefore, meant that the Old Testament scriptures alone were preached until the coming of John the Baptist. That was all they had. The New Testament had not yet been written!
   When John came on the scene in Palestine, he was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, preparing the way before Him, the "voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Mark 1:2-8). John thundered to the Pharisees, the Sadducees and all the people of his day, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2).
   John began to proclaim the Gospel, preparing the way for Christ Himself. But what Gospel — good news — did Christ preach? "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
   And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark I: 14-15).
   Christ preached the same Gospel as John! This is why He said that from the time of John the Baptist, the Gospel or good news of God's coming Kingdom was proclaimed.

   What did Paul mean in Romans 7:4, when he said," Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to 'him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God"?

   Notice carefully what Paul said. He did not say, "The law is dead. "He clearly said, "Ye… are become dead." The law of God did not perish. But the people became dead to the law by the body of Christ.,
   Verse 5 helps explain it. "For when we were in the flesh" — that is, before we were converted, and while we were living according to the pulls of the flesh — "the motions of sins, which were [manifest, revealed for what they were] by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." Thus, when we were yet sinners, we were worthy of death in
   God's sight, having transgressed His holy law.
   "But now," Paul explains in verse 6, "we are delivered from the law" — that is, from the inexorable death penalty of the law. Christ paid it for us — in our stead. The law of God no longer claims our lives, " that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
   While sinners, we were worthy of execution. But, now, Paul says, we are dead to the law — that is, the penalty of death has been paid by another, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us. So far as the law is concerned, the penalty is paid — we are dead, in Christ — and there is no further date with death for us, if we continue to live in Christ.
   This verse in no way says the law is done away. It merely shows that Christ paid the penalty of the law for us. He died for us. We are dead with him (Rom. 6:3-4) . No longer does condemnation await us (Rom. 8: I), because we are also made spiritually alive with Him through His resurrection (Rom. 6:4-5, II).
   No longer, then, are we in a sense married to sin, the way of the flesh, but we are to be "married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead [in newness of life], that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Rom. 7:4).

   Would you explain what Paul meant by " the end of the law" (Rom. 10:4)?

   Those who attempt to do away with God's law often turn to this verse. In the previous verse Paul explains how the Pharisees were going about trying to establish their own righteousness, apart from God's righteousness. They ignored the sacrifice of Christ and thought that mere commandment-keeping would be enough for anyone.
   But, as Paul points out in verse 4, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." What does "the end of the law" mean? It means the aim, the purpose, the fulness or outcome of the law. Christ in us gives us the power to keep God's holy, perfect law, since we lack the spiritual strength, ourselves (Rom. 8:4).
   Apart from Christ, no one can manage to keep God's law in the spirit. By his very nature, man falls far short. But through Christ, we can (Phil. 4:13). The aim or end of the law is to make us like Christ. This word end, used in Romans 10:4, is also found in James 5: 11: "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
   Now, did James mean that Christ's end had come? Of course not. Rather, James explains it himself. They had seen the purpose or aim of the Lord — "that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

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Good News MagazineJanuary 1981Vol XXVIII, No. 1ISSN 0432-0816
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