The Bible Speaks

16. Law and Grace

Being instructed by God to keep the Law is impossible for sinful human beings. All humans have broken God's Law, are sinners and therefore subject to the death penalty. Praise God that He has provided a way that we may keep the Law perfectly through the grace of Jesus Christ.

01. What command did God give to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis 2:15-17
15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.
16 But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden -
17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Note 1
Since God created man with the freedom of choice, the tree of knowledge of good and evil became the test of Adam’s loyalty to God. It was placed in the Garden of Eden as an alternate choice to obeying God. By eating the forbidden fruit, our first parents sinned against God and became self-dependent.

02. Through whom did sin and death enter the world (mankind)?
Romans 5:12
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
Note 1
That “one man” was Adam (see 1 Corinthians 15:22a). The word “Adam,” in the original, means mankind. In creating Adam, God created the whole human race in him; therefore, the entire human race was implicated when Adam sinned. Although we are not guilty of Adam’s sin, the consequence of his wrong act is that sin and death spread to or affected all mankind.

03. What sentence was passed on mankind because of Adam's sin?
Romans 5:18a
Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone...

04. In contrast, what did Christ’s obedience bring to mankind?
Romans 5:18b
but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
Note 1
The “one” who sinned was Adam and the “one” who obeyed was Christ. By his perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross, Christ – the last Adam (mankind) – reversed the consequences of Adam’s sin on mankind. This is the good news of the gospel and what salvation by grace is all about.

05. Besides condemnation, how did Adam's sin affect humanity?
Romans 5:19a
Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.
Note 1
The word “many” is referring to mankind. Because of the fall of Adam, all of mankind is born with a nature that is dominated by sin. His one offense not only condemns us to death but it is also what makes us sinners from birth.

06. Whose obedience will one day make us righteous?
Romans 5:19b
But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.
Note 1
As Christians we are justified or declared righteous only by faith. It is not until Christ comes the second time that we will be changed and made righteous. This is the blessed hope of all believers (see Philippians 3:20, 21).

07. What is the wages of sin, and in contrast, the gift of God?
Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

08. What does the law demand of us in order for a person to be justified?
Romans 2:13

For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.
Note 1
Unlike the gospel, which justifies us by faith, believing in the law of God cannot save anyone. Being under the law means that we are required to obey all its demands perfectly and continually if we are to qualify for life. One single failure results in death (see Galatians 3:10).

09. How then can anyone experience justification?
Romans 3:28
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
Note 1
Justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ is the very opposite of salvation by works of the law. The two are diametrically opposed to each other. That is why the two methods of salvation cannot be mixed or reconciled.

10. What is the legal status of the whole human race under the law?
Romans 3:19
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.
Note 1
God placed sinful mankind under the law in order to open our eyes to see that we are sinners in need of a Savior. The law makes us conscious of our sins so that we might be saved by grace.

11. How many can save themselves by keeping the law?
Romans 3:20

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

12. In contrast, who has fulfilled the law, and enabled righteousness for the believer?
Romans 10:4
For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

13. Why is sin not able to have dominion over, and destroy the believer?
Romans 6:14
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Note 1
Under grace, sin can no longer condemn us to death. This is because we are no longer under the authority of the law. However, this must not lead us to condone sin, since grace does not give us license to sin (see Romans 6:15-18).

14. Which method of salvation did Paul believe in? Works (keeping the law) or Grace?
Romans 11:6

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is - free and undeserved.
Note 1
When it comes to salvation, law and grace are opposites. These two methods of salvation cannot be reconciled. Therefore, we cannot subscribe to both methods of salvation; it has to be one or the other. To be saved by grace is saying, Not I, but Christ (see Philippians 3:9).

15. According to Scripture, what is the only way a person may be saved?
Ephesians 2:8-9
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Note 1
The New Testament makes it absolutely clear that man's only hope of salvation is by faith in Christ. This is what it means to be saved by grace. We cannot earn salvation; we must simply accept it by faith as a gift from God.

16. When we believe in God and are saved by faith, does that make the law null and void?
Romans 3:31
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Note 1
In the original text, the word “faith” is preceded by the definite article. By “the faith” Paul is referring to the doctrine of justification by faith and not the believer's faith. By His perfect obedience and His sacrificial death, Christ met the full demands of the law on man's behalf. This is how the law is established in the doctrine of justification by faith (see Romans 10:4).

17. With what must the Galatian Christians not be entangled again?
Galatians 5:1
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
Note 1
False teachers had convinced the Galatian Christians that they still had to keep the law as a requirement for salvation (Galatians 1:6, 7; 3:1-3). This is the yoke of bondage. Such a religion gives one no peace, nor assurance of salvation.

18. What is the relationship between God's Law and God's Grace?
Romans 6:14, 15

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!

19. When we love others as we love ourselves what are we fulfilling?
Galatians 5:14
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

20. Therefore, does salvation by grace do away with the law?
Matthew 5:17-19
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Note 1
Christ did not come to do away with the law, as some teach, but to fulfill its demands on man’s behalf. He then upholds it as a standard of Christian living.

21. According to the New Covenant where does God write His law?
Hebrews 8:10
But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day,* says the LORD:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

Note 1
Besides giving us peace and assurance of salvation, God also gives believers a new heart of unselfish love. This love is what fulfills the law of God. See Galatians 5:14.

22. What made God's grace perfect in Paul?
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Note 1
God’s strength does not depend on human abilities. Our weakness permits God to manifest His strength. That is why Paul could say to the Christians in Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

23. What behavior proves to others that we are truly Christ’s disciples?
John 13:35

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Concluding Question