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    May 4, 1896

    The Law in Christ or, the Relation Between the Law and the Gospel

    WWP

    W. W. Prescott

    The righteousness of the law was fulfilled by Christ, who did “not come to destroy, but to fulfil” the law, and who by a life of perfect obedience to the Father’s will, wherein He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” was “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19-21.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.1

    The work accomplished by Christ in behalf of man is more than to pay the penalty for a broken law; it includes the bringing of man into harmony with that law. He “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14. For this it became necessary not only that righteousness should be imputed to us, but imparted to us; not only that Christ should live for us, but that He should live in us; not only that we should be “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1), but that we should be “sanctified by faith.” Acts 26:18. So the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory [His character], the glory [the character] as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Angels could convey messages for God, and could do deeds for God, but only the Son of God could reveal the righteousness of God by being God.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.2

    In His life among men Christ became the righteousness which was defined in the law. “The law was given by Moses but grace and truth [grace and the reality] came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. In the law, considered merely as a code, we have only the form of truth, but Christ is the Truth. “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which has the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Romans 2:17-20. The law gives the form, but Christ is the reality. Christ had the law in His heart, and so His life was the law in living characters. This was set forth in the prophecy concerning His work centuries before He was “made of a woman“: “I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.3

    In His teaching Christ interpreted the spiritual character of the law, showing that to hate was to commit murder, to think impurely was to commit adultery, to covet was to be an idolater, and His life was so completely in harmony with the sacred precepts as interpreted by Him that He could challenge those who were constantly seeking something against Him with the inquiry, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” John 8:46.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.4

    And He “who did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22) wrought out this life of perfect righteousness not for Himself but for us, that the image of God might be again revealed in our lives. The law was within the heart of Christ, and He came to do the will of God, in order that the same law might be written in our hearts, and that we might be restored to the blessedness of doing God’s will; that the form might become the reality in us. This is accomplished for each individual by his acceptance of the work of Christ for him through faith in the word of God, by opening the door of his heart to Christ, that He may become the very life of his life, so that he may be “saved by His life.” Romans 5:10. This is righteousness by faith. This is being “found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philippians 3:9.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.5

    Thus we see that the law first gives knowledge of sin. It sets up a perfect standard of righteousness, and so defines the righteousness required; but it cannot confer that righteousness. It does not make one a sinner; it simply reveals the fact that he is a sinner. It cannot give righteousness; it simply shows the need of righteousness. But God, who requires the righteousness of the law in our characters, has made provision that this righteousness shall be brought to us in Christ, who is the centre of the gospel. The standard of character which is defined by the law is presented to us in Christ in the gospel. So we read: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory [the character] of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness; that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26. By the law sin is revealed; in the gospel righteousness is revealed. By the law the disease is made known; in the gospel of Christ the cure is found. This is the first step in the relation between the law and the gospel.BEST May 4, 1896, page 130.6

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