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What the Bible says about Grace and Law
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 10:16

This does not contradict Deuteronomy 30:6, where it is said that "the LORD your God will circumcise your heart." It is instead a clarification. The changing, the growing, the overcoming, the transformation of the heart, the writing of the laws on the heart, is cooperative. God does His part; we do our part. If God would do everything, then what would be the need of removing the fault? Why do it? God removes the fault so that we can do our part! It is a cooperative effort.

How does God do His part? He calls us and gives us His Spirit. As John 14 tells us, the Spirit shall be with you and in you. The goodness of God by His Spirit leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). So God calls and opens up the mind, working with us by His Spirit in a way that He never did before. He makes things mean more to us in a far deeper and more meaningful way. He provides us with greater understanding and more passion so we desire to yield to Him. He begins His miraculous work of changing our hearts.

What remains to be seen is what will we do with this altered situation? He does His part by giving us knowledge and increasing our faith. He reveals to us the true Christ, His law, and what the purpose of life is. He spurs an interest in His Word that we never had before. What are we going to do? We must respond. As we respond, changes begin to take place.

Sometimes, Israel's attitude toward God was good, and He delighted in it. However, they could never sustain it. In the book of Judges, when Israel had an outstanding leader like Gideon, things went along smoothly for a good while. But Gideon died, and the country went downhill. God had to raise up another leader. Such is the gist of the historical relationship between God and Israel.

We have had relationships with people that were similar—good for a little while, bad for a long while, good for a little while, bad for a long while. However, God does not want to marry someone about whom He must always worry whether or not He must fight with them. He wants to have a marriage with someone like Him—who thinks as He does, whom He can really be "one" with. He does not want a relationship that is "hot" one minute and "cold" the next, nor one in which the couple throws their arms around each other and everything is warm and fuzzy, but in an instant, one is giving the other the cold shoulder.

That is the kind of relationship He had with Israel. He does not want that kind of a relationship with the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). Thus, there must be a cooperative effort between God and the believer to change our hearts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twelve)

Psalm 19:8

In verse 8, statutes means "mandates," "precepts," "rules," deriving from a root that means "engraved" or "permanent." Here, the word is used in a narrower sense than the two previous words, meaning "something appointed by authority." Rules or statutes are given to guide. It is interesting that the holy days are referred to as "statutes" in the Bible. Tithing is also a statute. They are things appointed by an authority and given to guide.

Tied to this is the word right, and interestingly, it means "equal," "just," "proper." The whole phrase teaches that the rules are not merely arbitrary appointments made by someone of authority but are equal and just in themselves. David is challenging us to think of any rules, statutes, or guidance commanded by any person or body that even comes close to matching what God gives as fair and proper. This is why they produce rejoicing as people experience obedience to them.

Think about this time, this age, in which we live. Federal laws already on the books (and more in the process of development in Congress) are gradually isolating the perceived enemies of the government. How many laws bring advantages to special interest groups and discomfort and hardship to all the rest? We will never know. That is the point that David is making. God's statutes are fair—always. There is not one iota of meanness in them. Love saturates every aspect of every one of them.

"Commandment" is another word that the Bible uses frequently as a name of the law of God. Like "statutes," it has a narrower application than the first two words: They are free from imperfection, stain, or any kind of corrupt tendency. That is why David writes, "The commandment of the LORD is pure."

If they are pure, if they are fair, if they cause rejoicing, and if they convert—why would God want to do away with a perfect guide for life? Is this not part of His Word? It is not "just extraneous material." How can people say they "no longer apply" to Christians? The thought boggles the mind!

The word "pure" gives the sense of brightness and cleanness, leading to the next benefit: "enlightening the eyes." The commandments give light so we know where to walk, how to walk without bumping into or falling over obstacles in the path of our life, going off the path all together, or never even finding it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Fourteen)

Proverbs 30:4-6

Verse 5 appears in context with the questions in verse 4. The questioner asks, in effect, "Is anything better than the Word of God? Has any man ascended to heaven? Who is this person? To whom can I turn to receive instruction better than the Word of God?"

Verse 6 warns the reader not to delve into dangerous speculations and then take it another step farther by adding it to God's Word. Nor should one give it authority equivalent to the Word of God, as if the person speaking such things has been to heaven and returned to earth. Doing so is adding to the Word of God.

This prohibition is a well-established principle that first appears in Deuteronomy 4. In this context, "the word" means the commandments of God that appear in Deuteronomy 5:

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. . . . Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." (Deuteronomy 4:2, 6)

Notice also what David says in Psalm 18:30-31:

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield [or, defender] to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

Who can we depend on? We can depend on the Word of God to deliver us, to provide the right guidance, to give us the truth regarding everything we might face in life.

Connecting these thoughts to Proverbs 30:4-6, we find that the way of God is not improved by alloying it with human philosophy and speculations. Blending God's instruction with such things has always been a major problem. Within the framework of a covenant, this idea makes its first vivid appearance in Exodus 32, in the incident of the Golden Calf, and it continues to the end of the Bible.

Philosophies are the conclusions of men garnered through human experience and reason. So far, so good—because God requires us to use our reasoning powers in relation to His Word. So, we must gather evidence from His Word, use our reasoning powers, and then apply our conclusions to our individual situations.

However, human philosophies frequently begin with faulty premises or introduce evidence that does not agree with biblical truth. The conclusions drawn are thus wrong—and sometimes downright evil—because the wrong premise or the faulty evidence skewed the conclusion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Two)


 




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