sermon: The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 2)
Christianity is a Way of Life
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 04-Feb-95; Sermon #168; 62 minutes
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the doctrinal changes made by the leaders in the Worldwide Church of God were intended to destroy the vision of the purpose God is working out. Ignoring the last portion of Ephesians 2:10, the proponents of the no works, no conditions, no standards, cheap grace mentality have perverted the name of Christianity, adopting the fruit of the world's brand of Christianity, cutting itself off from the law and rule of God. In contrast to this adolescent "obey because we feel like it"- "all roads lead to heaven" mentality is God's package, consisting of a body of laws, a body of beliefs or doctrines, and a way of life, all of which are working to produce a magnificent product- not merely to save us.
Abortion Appeal vanity Calvinistic predestination Carnality Commandment keeping Community Conditions eternal life Course Destination Double speak Engraved character False prophets Fruits of Protestantism Good works Grace Health problems Innocence Law of God unto self Liberal thinking Marks of unconversion Mental hospitals Movement Murder No rules standards Obstacle course Paganism Path Perversion Christianity Pilgrim Prison mentality Protestantism Quality of life Route Rules
The major point that I want us to remember from last week's sermon is that changes of the magnitude that the Worldwide Church of God made cannot be done without causing equally major ramifications in what one does with one's life. It seems as though they have been very careful to avoid teaching what those ramifications are.
The changes that laid the groundwork were those made in 1991. First was the "born again" doctrine, then the "we will not be God" doctrine. Then the emphasis of the gospel was changed. Following that came the change to the Trinity doctrine. The intent of these changes is to destroy one's vision of the purpose that God is working out.
In recent months came changes designed to further thwart us by changing a major means for reaching the goal. Thus, they have to make it clear that there is nothing that one can do to be saved. As a result, along comes an over-emphasis on salvation by grace. They begin making comments that salvation is by grace alone—never mind the fact that the phrase appears nowhere in the Bible. They also start saying that salvation is by faith alone, another term that appears nowhere in the Bible. From there, they advance to say that there are particular laws that one does not have to keep. Even Ten Commandment laws are included within this. Paul says,
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are you 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 has before ordained that we should walk in them.
Notice especially verse 10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." The basic premise of Protestantism is that God is trying to save mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As far as that statement goes, it is true.
There are usually implications, or indications, that there is some kind of battle going on for men's souls; and that battle is between God and Satan. I think you understand, though, that the battle is already over. The battle is already won. There is no war between God and Satan; God has already defeated him. Just put that idea aside, because implications of that are not true at all.
We still have to deal with the basic premise that God is trying to save mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As I said, that sounds good. However, there the understanding stops, because they do not acknowledge that the great Creator's purpose goes far beyond merely saving us. The idea is to get us thinking that all God is trying to do is to save us, that salvation is a finished work at the time of repentance, forgiveness, baptism, and the receipt of the Holy Spirit. It is all over. However, even as the sects of the Sadducees and the Pharisees were a perversion of the religion God gave to Moses, Protestantism is a perversion of true Christianity—mainly through the over-emphasis of grace, as taught through their doctrine of justification.
The deceitful thing about this is that part of this concept is correct. It is true. It is scriptural, but only under the meeting of certain conditions. Notice verse 10: "We are created in Christ Jesus." Remember that we went through this a few sermons ago. That word in means "in union with." It is not that we are literally inside of Him; rather, we are in union with Him.
What does that mean? It means that we are part and parcel with Him. The United States of America is a union of fifty states. All of them together comprise the United States of America. The church comprises Jesus Christ as its head and all of those in union with Him, in agreement with Him.
We are in union with Him for good works! That is the reason that we are in union with Him: for good works. That clearly establishes that we were given grace for a specific reason beyond merely saving us. If you take this to an extreme, if all God wanted to do was to save us, then we would not be created for good works.
When the vision is changed, and then the law—which is intended to be a major part of the guidance towards that vision—is thrown out, it is the same as saying, "I do not know where I am going, but I will end up at the right place, regardless of the way I go." It is a take-off on the "all roads lead to heaven" theme. In other words, you can have Protestantism divided into 400 different denominations, each denomination with its own set of doctrines, its own set of beliefs, its own set of rules; and, regardless of what they are, you all end up at the same place anyway. That is somewhat dumb, is it not? Does every road on the map lead to New York City?
Never mind that the Bible makes it abundantly clear that there are conditions to eternal life. The two clearest are that everybody must repent and and everybody must believe. However, it does not end there. Is God going to give eternal life to someone who continues to rebel against Him? Is He going to give eternal life to someone who is not meeting the "for good works" purpose that verse 10 so clearly establishes?
In the message that was given to John in the book of Revelation, chapters two and three, Jesus said, "To him that overcomes." That sounds like a condition, does it not? It certainly does. Therefore, there is another major condition, is there not?
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. ["It is unthinkable. Do not even think about that," he is saying.] How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
That is a condition. One cannot willy-nilly conduct his life any old way he thinks, after he has repented and believes. He has to continue to meet the conditions that God lays down. Of course, God understands—and we all know—that we are not going to meet those conditions perfectly. We are going to sin, but that does not mean that we should not strive to fulfill the responsibility that God gives to us: to remain faithful and loyal in the keeping of His commands. Thus, one must remain faithful and loyal to God, as shown through the way one is living. This is why Peter said, in I Peter 1:16, that we are to be holy because God is holy. That is a responsibility, an obligation, a condition. That is why Paul said in Romans 6 that we should not sin, that is, break God's law.
Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, not in our sins. Do you know what the word from means? It is a word that we use constantly. Every day we use it. It is one of those words with which we are so familiar that we probably do not even stop to think what it means. From means "beginning at a certain point." We are going to be saved from—beginning at a certain point—our sins. We are to come out of sin, which is the transgression of God's law. That is a qualification.
John 14:1-2 Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Let me set the stage here. It is the night before the crucifixion. Christ knows what is going to occur. He is preparing His disciples by telling them that He is going to go—He is going to leave; He is going to travel, as it were—somewhere else. When He gets there, He is going to prepare a place for them.
John 14:3-4 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.
Well, they did not "know" it quite as well as maybe Christ would have liked that they know. Therefore, Thomas asked the question:
John 14:5 "Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way?"
Pay attention to that question, in light of what is happening within the church of God. How can we know the way to get to the place where we are going to be? Jesus responded:
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father, but by Me."
Jesus announced to them that He was going to leave. Because they wanted to be where He was, they wanted to know the way to get there. When He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," what He basically said is that it is through a unique combination of a relationship with Him consisting of being justified through Him, following His example, and obeying what He commands. That is basically what He said there; I have summarized it and cut it down a great deal.
What I want you to get out of this right now—as we are still laying the groundwork, as we work into the Covenants and so forth—is that Christianity is a way of life. "Show us the way." Where was Christ going to be? He was going to be in the Kingdom of God. How do you get to the Kingdom of God? There is a way! It's not "all roads leads to heaven," as it were, but there is a way to get there. I want to reinforce this by showing you, in the book of Acts, that Christianity is a way.
Acts 9:2 And desired of him [Paul] letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Christianity is shown there to be a way. You may wonder why I am paying attention to this. It is, again, because Protestantism is very hesitant about admitting that Christianity is "a way." There is a reason for that. If you believe that Christianity is a way of life, you begin to underscore the fact that one has to be obligated to obeying certain things in order to achieve the end, the goal of that way.
Acts 16:16-17 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.
That is a very interesting source—a demon. They know that there is a way! It does not say "the ways"—plural; it says "the way."
Acts 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord.
Acts 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Acts 19:9 But when divers [some] were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way...
Acts 19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
Acts 22:4 [Paul says,] And I persecuted this way...
If you are going to seek the Kingdom of God—is that not what Jesus said, "Seek you first the Kingdom of God"?—if you are going to seek it, you had better know the way to get there. Christianity is a package that is taught through a number of doctrines that make up the way. Some of those doctrines are absolutely essential, and they cannot be left out of the mix.
Go back to a familiar psalm—Psalm 119. We are going to look, again, very briefly, at a number of scriptures within it; and you will see something develop as we go along.
Psalm 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Do you understand what that scripture is saying? The way of God is defined by the law of God. Let me add here that it is not the whole picture, but it is a major portion of the picture. It is a major portion of the package; it is a major portion of the way. I might add here that it is one of those essential doctrines that cannot be left out. "Blessed are the undefiled (those who are not blemished) in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD."
Psalm 119:9-10 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Your Word. With my whole heart have I sought You. O let me not wander from Your commandments.
Does that reinforce verse one? It certainly does. Law here refers to a broad number of laws. Commandments narrows things down, does it not?
Psalm 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
Psalm 119:27 Make me to understand the way of Your precepts. So shall I talk of Your wondrous works.
Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of truth. Your judgments have I laid before me.
God's judgments are truth.
Psalm 119:32-33 I will run the way of Your commandments, when You shall enlarge my heart. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
It is interesting to note that the holy days are statutes. The Sabbath is a commandment. Somehow or another, it does not seem as if they can be left out of the mix.
Psalm 119:35-36 Make me to go in the path of Your commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Psalm 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Your testimonies.
He turned his feet to God's testimonies to get back on God's way.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
It lights the way to go—so that he does not trip, so that he does not wander, so that he stays in the way.
What is a way? We shall define that. I told you last week that I was going to give you a lot of definitions. Some of these words are very common words; but, oftentimes, we do not look up what they mean. A way is "a course traveled from one place to another." It is also "a manner of doing," "a method of accomplishing," or "a course of life." All of those are taken from a common English dictionary—Webster's. Synonyms include custom, practice, behavior, direction, method, manner, procedure, passage, or route. It just depends upon the context. The word way can be substituted for any one of those words; and, in many contexts, those words can be substituted for the word way. In short, a way is a course, a route.
We speak occasionally of something being "an obstacle course," and that immediately portrays to a listener that one was traveling from one place to another. There was something that needed to be accomplished, but there were barriers along the way. There was no way, no means, no method of circumventing them. They had to be surmounted, to be overcome.
We speak of soldiers in boot camp. When you are just a "buck private," you are taken to a camp. There you are put through a course of training so that you are, then, part of the group. Very often, they make these "bucks" run through an obstacle course. They have to run, jump, and climb to get from one point to another. Do you get the impression of movement along a specific course or way?
I will give you another illustration. We talk about golf courses. What do you do at a golf course? You go out to the first tee, hit the ball, and end up on the first green. However, you have not completed the course. You have not completed the game until you finally land on the eighteenth green, and you put that little white pellet into the cup. Then you have completed the course—the golf course.
A way leads from—beginning at—one place and it ends at another place, and there is a specific direction in which the way leads you.
I Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
I want you to think about pilgrims. A pilgrim is not a wanderer. Do you remember the verse that we read in Psalm 119, where the psalmist said, "Don't let me wander from the path"? A pilgrim has a definite goal in mind. He may be passing through. He may not take up residence in the country or along the way that he is traveling; but he is traveling, he is moving to a very specific destination. He is on a pilgrimage. Perhaps the one that we are most familiar with, out in the world, would be the Muslims who make a pilgrimage to a place like Mecca. They may travel from one country to another, but they always have their mind on Mecca.
We make a pilgrimage every fall: We go to the Feast of Tabernacles. We may travel through many states, but we have one destination in mind. We follow the route that we have mapped out in order to get there. We are pilgrims; we are going some place. There is a route—there is a way—that we must follow in order to get there.
Brethren, there is a way to play a card game, a basketball game, or a football game. Is it possible to play a coherent game when each player is doing what he just "feels" is right, if he has his own set of rules? He has his own way of playing the game. Is it possible to play a coherent game when some of the rules are left out? What happens? The game immediately degenerates and will not achieve what the designers of the game intended.
There is a way to repair a mechanical devise. There is a way to assemble things. Some things that you get in a store are no longer assembled, and you have to put them together. If you do not follow the way that they show you in the directions, then the dumb thing will not go together. I hope I am making my point! God is not just trying to save us. He is producing a product. That product is in His image, and there is a way that is going to be produced.
The commandments—all ten of them—play a major role in that way. If you take any one of them out, the product is going to be deficient. The product will not go together. It cannot be assembled in the right way. It will be lacking. Some people think God is stupid for assigning a particular day for worship, but He has reasons for that, as we shall see. Thus, a way is a method, a manner, a direction, or a route to follow—with rules.
Turn with me to Isaiah 11. We all understand that this is a millennial chapter. I want you to see what we are being drawn toward.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
We are being prepared for living in a community in which nobody hurts or destroys, because everybody lives by the same rules—not their own rules, but the knowledge of the LORD—God's rules! What if you are not "practiced" at living by God's rules? What if you have never cared to pay any attention to them? What if you thought one or two of them were rather silly and you really did not need to play according to them or live according to them? I do not think you would fit in His holy mountain, any more than you would fit in the midst of a game in which everybody was playing by the rules except you. You would ruin the game. I hope you get the point.
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
How would you like to live in a human society in which there was no set standard or rules by which its members were expected to conduct their affairs? Life would be pretty chancy, would it not? God was so saddened by this state of affairs that He felt that the only thing that He could do was to wipe it out and start all over again. In that kind of society, every excursion outside your door would be a venture into a veritable jungle in which pain, fear, violence, and possibly death lurked at virtually every step.
Indeed, if everybody were "a law unto himself," one would not even be safe within his own home because the people there, too, would be living by their own rules. It does not sound as though that would be very fulfilling or enjoyable, because only the strongest or the most clever could survive. Life could only be described as a constant and fearful struggle. I think that you can see that life under those conditions as a community would be impossible. There can only be community when everybody adheres to the same rules. God is creating a Community, a Family, a Kingdom.
Compare this second scenario: How would you like to live in a human society in which there were set standards, but people abided by the society's standards only when they felt like it? I think that might be a definite improvement, because people might feel like obeying the rules at least once in a while. There would be more chance for agreement and decidedly less conflict, anxiety, injury, or death.
A third scenario: How would you like to live in a society in which there were set standards and people generally agreed with those standards, and many people restrained themselves (for a variety of reasons) from breaking those standards, even when they did not feel like it? However, if a person or community really felt pressure—if one felt that his own need or the community's need was great enough—then he or it would break those standards, even to the point of mass murder, which is what war is. Again, there is the possibility here of improvement over either of the other two scenarios. The chances of peace and stability are increasing.
A fourth scenario: How would you like to live in society in which people, or a community, overwhelmingly agree on the standards? Again, for a variety of reasons, they would restrain themselves to obey them even when they did not feel like it. I will tell you, life is improving right along. This one is downright millennial.
One final scenario: How would you like to live in a community where the standards were absolutely engraved in each person's character, and there is not even the thought of transgressing them? Every thought is for the well-being of each individual and the community. It is not difficult to choose which scenario would be the most pleasurable to live in and is going to produce the most and the best.
If you are thinking, you will be able to see that, as things now are, we live in the third scenario. Which one of these five is going to allow people to concentrate their creativity, their energies into producing prosperity in every lawful and edifying field of endeavor—without ever having to be anxious, or dissipating one's abilities or energies by being involved in conflicts with one's fellows? It is easy to see that the fifth is the one that fits best.
Of course, the standards that I am implying are the basic laws of God regulating relationships between men and God and between men and other men. Yet, we have been told in a paper recently circulated in the church of God that we should obey God because we want to, because we love our fellow man. That is another one of those statements that sound good at first. It sounds good because it appeals to our vanity about what we think about ourselves and what we think about God. We like to think that we love God and would never harbor any ill feelings towards Him or His rule in our life. We like to think that we do not really do wrong things; we are only "misunderstood."
Are you aware that there are no offenders in prison? Everybody in prison is "innocent." It was the fault of that dumb judge, who was prejudiced; or the evidence was conspired upon, causing the inmate to be unfairly convicted and put into prison; or the witnesses lied. There are all kinds of reasons. Everybody is "innocent."
That is what I mean. That kind of statement appeals to our vanity. However, look at I Corinthians 3:3 and think of it in this light, because the Corinthian people were converted! These were people who had repented. These were people who were baptized. These were people who had received the Spirit of God. I want you to see the apostle's assessment, his judgment, of these people. Paul says:
I Corinthians 3:3 For you are yet carnal.
These converted people were carnal! These converted people did not love one another very much. They did not love God very much. They were not obeying God very much, as the rest of the epistle shows very clearly. You see, the reality is that we do not always love God, and we do not always love those who belong to Him. We do not always love our brothers in the faith. We do not always feel—did you get that word feel?—kindly disposed, either toward God, or toward our brethren.
I have had people tell me that they are angry with God. What they are saying is, "I don't deserve all of this trouble. I don't deserve to be treated this way. I'm innocent!" Did Job feel very good toward God? There is a powerful lesson in the book of Job. Job was acting pretty carnal from time to time.
If we are left to the device of "we are going to obey God because we love Him," it might sound good—but we are in trouble. We are going to wander off the way very frequently. No, we are going to have to discipline ourselves and obey Him and love our brethren—even when we do not feel like it. Our nature, brethren, is so self-centered that God says in Jeremiah 17:9 that it is incurably sick.
The Worldwide Church of God has bought into Protestantism lock, stock, and barrel; it just has not all shown up yet. Joe Tkach, Jr., was quoted by Phillip Aren, from the Watchman Foundation, on "Truths that Transform" (a broadcast that we heard here in Charlotte on Thursday, January 26) as saying recently at a Big Sandy Ministerial Meeting,"The changes will continue into the future for a couple more years." The agenda, which is taking them fully into Protestantism, is continuing.
When in doubt about whether a thing is right or not, Jesus gave us wonderful advice:
Matthew 7:15-17 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit...
By that statement, we should expect that if Protestantism were good, then it would produce good things. Right?
Galatians 5:22-24 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh [our carnality] with the affections and lusts.
Matthew 7:17-20 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
Take a brief look at the fruits of Protestantism, or, more broadly, this world's Christianity, including Catholicism. What has it produced, in the past several hundred years, in this Western world? Is it any better than the obvious paganism of Far Eastern religions (Shintoism, Taoism, Hinduism) or Islam or the animism of Africa or the voodooism of the Caribbean Islands? Undoubtedly, we have better technology, but is that the standard by which the real quality of life is measured?
The Western world leads in murder. I am using the Western world as an example because this is where Christianity resides. Most of the leaders of the Western world claim Christianity—Protestantism or Catholicism—to be their religion. The Western world leads the world in abortion, where the idea is held that it is the major vehicle of population control. Fifty million people were killed in the latest world war, in which the major participants were Christian Western nations—people who claim to be "Christians."
This world's Christianity has been part and parcel of producing our cities with their problems, our environmental problems, our economic problems, trade problems, business problems, legal problems, health problems. The great majority of the people operating these systems are from the Judeo-Christian heritage. Indeed, half of the people in hospitals in the United States are in mental hospitals—which certainly indicates that Christianity is not bringing people peace of mind or security in Christ.
The marks of unconversion, of unbridled human nature, are all over the place! That is the fruit of this world's brand of Christianity, which has cut itself off from the law and the rule of God. They obey it because they "feel" like it. I think the conclusion would have to be that not many people feel like it very often. However, of course, they say, "We are going to obey Him because we love Him." It sounds great, but the fruit shows that they do not love God. They cannot, because despite their words, they have little or no relationship with God. If they were really the sons of God, then they would show His characteristics. "By this shall all men know you," Jesus said, "that you have love one for the other."
Son, in biblical usage, has two applications. It means "a son," literally, as in "Jesus Christ was the Son of God." It also means "showing the characteristics of," as in "sons of Belial," meaning, "sons of foolishness." A person acting a fool is a son of Belial, because he is showing those characteristics. Jesus told the Jews that their father was Satan! They were sons of Satan. What did they want to do? They wanted to kill Him. They were showing the characteristics of a murderer. Who would you see as the "father" of the people in the Western world, as judged by their fruits? It is no wonder that Peter said that they are going right back to the vomit out of which they came.
Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. [Here is what grace teaches us:] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts [Ungodliness is not being like God. Is "worldly lusts" a trait of God, or a trait of Satan?], we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity [sinfulness, lawlessness. Redeem us from lawlessness means, "Redeem us from being without law"], and purify [clean up] unto Himself a peculiar people, [Why are they peculiar? They are] zealous of good works. [That is what sets them apart.] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise you.
What we are getting is confusing "double-speak" in which people have been subtly deflected from the true purpose of life into believing that the keeping of God's commandments serves no positive function in bringing us toward the goal that God is working out. We are getting so specific now that they are pointing out commandments, statutes, and judgments that one does not have to keep. I suppose that, if one were to ask one of those liberal souls, he would say, "Yes, but the commandments and laws of God are not mentioned in those verses."
Let me give you a quote from Mr. Armstrong. This is not an exact quote. I am paraphrasing it because I did not write it down then, and I never thought it would be of all that great importance. However, I have begun to realize now that what he said was important. He knew what was going on. Mr. Armstrong said that the hallmark of liberal thinking is that the liberal always needs a specific "Thus saith the Lord." Without it, he feels free to do what he pleases—because he never understands the spirit, the intention, of God's Word. His heart is always looking for how little he needs to do and still remain "safe" before God.
Brethren, included in "good works" is commandment keeping, because commandment breaking is sin, lawlessness; and sin is evil. Therefore, a simple deduction is that "good works" include commandment keeping—if you do not want to be iniquitous. Iniquity is from what we have been redeemed. Therefore, commandment keeping is good. "Good works," specifically, includes more than commandment keeping, but that is another part of the story. Commandment keeping is part of "the package," the way to the Kingdom of God.
The doing of good works is being cleverly, surgically severed from its God-intended purpose. Our free moral agency thus becomes a useless appendage since God is going to "save" us, no matter what. It is nothing more, brethren, than Calvinistic predestination.
God's purpose is being brought to pass by a package. That package consists of a covenant, a body of laws, a body of beliefs or doctrines—all of which are working to produce a product, not merely to save us. God's purpose is far greater and vaster than that. We are not being saved merely for our own benefit. We are to fit within the community God is creating and the work for which that community is being formed. If we remove laws from that "package," we do so at the expense of destroying what God's purpose is.
I am going to give you a quote from the movie The Ten Commandments; but this is not The Ten Commandments movie by Cecile B. DeMille starring Charlton Heston. If my memory is correct, this Ten Commandments movie was produced and directed by Cecile B. DeMille. However, this is the silent version that was produced somewhere in the 1920s. The story was written by one Jeannie McPherson.
Our modern world defined God as a religious complex and laughed at the Ten Commandments as old-fashioned. And then through the laughter came the shattering thunder of a world war. And now a blood-drenched, bitter world, no longer laughing, cries for a way out. There is but one way out. It existed before it was engraved upon tablets of stone. It will exist when stone has crumbled.
The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey as a personal favor to God. They are the fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together. They are not laws. They are the law.
When the whole Bible revelation is considered, it is obvious that the way into the Community—the Family, the Kingdom of God that God is creating—is through Jesus Christ, for the purpose of justification for past sin, and entering into a covenant with God. God willing, we will get into justification the next time.