255 - FAITH AND THE LAW
What is faith? The Bible answers: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is something no one sees, only those who have it and, because they have faith, they have hope of obtaining. This is faith.
But what is faith? To the Christian, faith is to believe in Jesus Christ as the only and efficient Savior. Why the only? Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). With these words Peter is declaring that everyone in this world are lost and condemned; they need to be saved, that is, they need to exit this black abyss filled with sicknesses, pests, plagues, wars, misery, and death as a final prize. But what is faith, finally? Faith is the absolute conviction that I can do nothing on my own to escape the curses ordained by Jehovah in the book of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. These terrible curses were ordained to the Hebrews when Moses transmitted the Law of Jehovah, but they extended to all peoples, even those who never heard of Jehovah, the god of this earth, who spoke through David,“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). But if a men is good and righteous, doing plenty of god works, is he saved or condemned? The apostle Paul answers to this question, saying, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
There are two types of good works: the personal works of charity, and the works of the law. The works of the law are those that the rich young man practiced in order to be saved. But Jesus showed him that he lacked renunciation in favor of the poor of this world (Matt. 19:16-24). We conclude that faith is to believe, certain that the obedience to the precepts of the law do nothing besides proving that someone is an authentic Christian; the acts of charity prove that the person is not selfish or indifferent to the sufferings and misfortunes of others. When someone is not charitable, this person is insensitive and abnormal, for men, as he was created, is the image of God, and God is charity (1 John 4:7-8).
We will provide a few texts that prove how the works do not bring anyone to God: “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Whose sight? Why is it that Paul did not say “God”? The verse that follows explains it:“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction” (Rom. 3:21-22). If in v. 20 Paul spoke of HIM, it is because God, the Father, is another. Auxiliary texts: Rom. 3:24-28; Gal. 2:16.
This is a thought to consider: The works of the Law do not take us to God, but they take us away from God. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector proves that God did not accept the Pharisee, an honest doer of the Law. We conclude that the Law is an impassable obstacle between the believer and God. But Jehovah gave the Law (Deut. 4:1-14; Ex. 24:12; 2 Chr. 17:9; Is. 5:24; Lev. 26:46).
If the Law brings men closer to Jehovah, but drives man away from God, Jehovah is not the Father(Luke 18:9-14).
One more thought: The works of the Law unite men with Jehovah and separate them from God the Father; therefore, Jehovah gave the Law so that no one would escape from his hands as to go to God. Is it not logic? If the works of the Law estranges from God, Jehovah succeeded in taking men away from God the Father, and also from Jesus (Gal. 5:1-4).
Faith means to believe with certainty that, if I believe in Jesus Christ as the only Savior, and search for Him with all my strength, He will not abandon me in the middle of the way, as Jehovah did with Israel. The apostle John registered in his gospel the words of Jesus saying, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). And Paul wrote, with the purpose to strengthen our hope, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Jehovah took his people Israel from Egypt with great promises, but afterwards he abandoned them in the middle of the way. “For I will not go up in your midst; because you are an obstinate people, lest I destroy you in the way” (Ex. 33:3). “And Jehovah said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then Jehovah said, ‘Behold, I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel I will spare them no longer.’” (Amos 7:8). And Amos proceeds with his prophecy, “thus Jehovah God showed me and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. And He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then Jehovah said to me. ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.’” (Amos 8:1). The Psalmist reveals that Jehovah is the Sun of Israel (Ps. 84:11). And Jeremiah declared, “Her sun has set while it was yet day” (Jer. 15:9). Jehovah not only abandoned his people, but he delivered them to evil passions besides. “But My people did not listen to My voice; and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them up to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices” (Ps. 81:11-12). Paul made reference to this Psalm in the letter to the Romans (1:23-27).
But Jehovah, besides abandoning his people and delivering them to wicked passions to dishonor their bodies, contaminated the gifts that he had given them, so they burned their newborn babies to Moloch(Ezek. 20:26). As if this were not enough, he watched over them for harm, so they could not repent and change their lives (Dan. 9:14; Jer. 44:27). The people called to Jehovah, saying, “Why, O Jehovah, dost Thou cause us to stray from Thy ways, and harden our heart from fearing Thee?”(Is. 63:17). Now, if Jehovah gave the Law to take man away from God, and the Law produces sinful passions (Rom. 7:5), he also hardens the heart, and forces into sin.
It is different with Jesus. He takes men who are totally destroyed by evil and by vice, and operates such transformation, that the apostle Paul calls it “new birth” (John 3:3-6). Paul calls it “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). And who does operate this prodigy? The Holy Spirit that Jesus placed inside the Christian (1 Cor. 6:10-11).
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira