Law and Gospel 4

 

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d. Of the five views on law and grace, which view do you prefer? Give reasons.

Of the five views on law and grace provided, I resonate more towards the view presented by Douglas J. Moo which states that the law of Christ is the fulfilment of the Law of Moses. This view can also be known as a modified Lutheran view.

The reason of my preference to this view can be stated in three points which can be stated as; (1) this presentation upholds the value of law; specifically the mosaic law, (2) this presentation sees the discontinuity of the mosaic law at the coming of Christ, and (3) it is to the Law of Christ in which the Christian must abide to now.

1. This View upholds the value of law; specifically the mosaic law

Moo gives, in my contention a balanced view of the Mosaic law. For the Israelites the Mosaic law plays a prominent role in the life and faith of the people. According to Moo, although revealing God’s character, it implies that one conform to that character or face the punishment of disobedience.[1] In accordance to Galatians 3:24…”the Mosaic law functioned among the people of Israel to direct their behaviour until the time of their maturity, when the promised Messiah would be revealed (cf. Gal. 4:1-7).”[2] Using texts such as Rom 3:19-20 and 7:7-12 denotes to specify that the law, although revealing God’s character heightens the realization of sin.[3] Thus, bringing these views in perspective the Mosaic law is revered because it is holy.

Although giving the Mosiac law its primary place in the how it reveals God and what he desires for the people to confer in by way of how to live, the law also has its disabilities. Because of the sin in humanity, the law is unable to bring them salvation.[4] Moo further explains this more clearly where,

“In the law God says in the effect: “Here is who I am, and here is what you must do be to if you want to stand before me.” In seeing the impossibility of ever achieving by works the holiness that God demands, the pious Israelite would, as God intended, flee faith to the mercy of God, wherein can be found the only means of righteousness actually available to sinful humanity.”[5]

2. Discontinuity of the mosaic law at the coming of Christ

It is helpful to start this point by stating to Moo’s thesis concerning this,

“The entire Mosaic law comes to fulfilment in Christ, and this fulfilment means that this law is no longer a direct and immediate source of, or judge of, the conduct of God’s people. Christian behaviour, rather, is now guided directly by “the law of Christ.” This “law” does consist of legal prescriptions and ordinances, but of the teaching and example of Jesus and the apostles, the central demand of love, and the guiding influence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”[6]

In the insistence on the discontinuity of Mosaic law, Moo draws our attention concerning the English word used “eternal” and “everlasting”  were words that was used to translate the Hebrew word to mean “lasting for an age.”[7] Other NT writers express the confined validity of the Mosaic law and from this “it is clear that we cannot press these Old Testament texts to prove the eternal applicability of the Mosaic commandments.”[8] Another potent argument that Moo makes is that since the Mosaic Law has some striking resemblance to “second millennium B.C. Hittite “suzerainty” treaties”[9] implies the limited and contextual leanings of the Mosaic law. Also, the repeated disobedience of Israel puts the continuation of the Mosaic law is jeopardized (Dan. 9:7-14; Hos. 6:7, 8:1). 344 Adding further emphasis to the discontinuity of the Mosaic law is the passage in Jeremiah where “The covenant is no simple renewal of the Mosaic covenant, but a new arrangement, “not…like the covenant I made with their forefathers” (Jer. 31:32).”[10]

3. The Law of Christ is the Fulfilment of the Mosaic law

This is a generally held belief particularly among most evangelical or Christians alike. The understanding that Jesus’ coming has begun the ‘denunciation[11],’ the Mosaic law. But to understand this we have to come to an understanding of what is meant by Jesus fulfilling the Mosaic law. Following Moo’s suggestion we focus our attention to Matthew 5:17-48. Following his study, there are two popular views held in interpreting in what is generally know as the antithesis passages where (a) Jesus was seen as giving the correct interpretation over against the distorted meanings given and (b) Jesus was giving a more deeper meaning of the law.[12] But a strict leaning to each interpretive suggestion does not help in giving a good understanding to this.[13] Moo goes on to mention that, how Jesus actually fulfils the Mosiac law is by way of him, “reenacting its events by making demands to which the law pointed forward.”[14] By pointing forward Jesus was basically proclaiming the kingdom righteousness that the law was anticipating.[15] This can be further reasserted by Paul (Rom. 10:4) where he saw Christ as both the goal and end of the law.[16]

But what is this law of Christ? Central to this insistence is that it is love that gets the main focus in how we are to understand the law of Christ. For one thing, it is not a set of rules but principles derived from Christ teaching and life, applied in specific situation by the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit and with the central motivation of love.[17]369 (Gal 5:1-6)

Thus, in combining the three points together, this view gives a balanced position where it insists that the Christian is not free from the law (God’s general will) but this freedom is from the stipulation of the Mosaic law. But since being free, it does not denote being free to do one’s will but now being bound under the Lordship of Christ. This then ascribes the Christian to abide under a new rule which is now being under the law of Christ.[18]


[1]Moo, Douglas. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. Pg 335

[2] Ibid. Pg 338

[3] Ibid. Pg 339

[4] Ibid. Pg 327

[5]Moo, Douglas. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. Pg 327

[6] Ibid. Pg 343

[7] Ibid. Pg 344

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid. Pg 345

[11] In stating this I am simply noting the general understanding of most Christians that Jesus’ coming eliminates the stipulations of the law.

[12] Moo, Douglas. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. Pg 348

[13] Ibid. Pg 348-350

[14] Ibid. Pg 352

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid. Pg 358

[17] Ibid. Pg 369

[18] Gundry, Stanley N (Gen. Ed.). Five Views on Lawand Gospel. Pg 268

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