Freed From the Law to be For the Law

 
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Ask a Law question, get a Law answer. For example, a religious leader asks Jesus a Law question: "Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses' teachings?" Jesus gives a Law answer: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and most important commandment.

Jesus then asks a Gospel question to get a Gospel answer. "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?" The religious leaders answer, "David's Son." Jesus asks more Gospel questions, but after just one question, the religious leaders have had enough of Gospel questions. “From that day on, no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Matt. 22:46).

The religious leaders, like any religious person, prefer a Law question. A Law question gets a Law answer, remember. Gospel questions don't get a Law answer. Religious questions beg for Law answers. "What must I do to be saved" begs for a "You must do this" answer. Jesus' question, "Whose Son is the Messiah," begs for a "God must do this for you" answer

Gospel questions don’t get a Law answer. Religious questions beg for Law answers.
— Donavon Riley

If we've had enough of Gospel questions, then we're going to want Law answers. But, there's never a Law answer to a Gospel question. "How do I become a baptized child of God" begs for a "This is what God's Word with water and the Spirit do for you" answer. "How do I find a new life and hope," begs for a "This is the blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of sin" answer. "How do I get right with God and enjoy freedom and peace" begs for a "You're sent a preacher who declares forgiveness, life, and salvation to you in Jesus' Name" answer.

If we want a Law answer to a Gospel question, then get ready for hell. The Law isn't given so that we can get a "You must do this" answer. The Law is given so that our trespasses are increased beyond all measure. The Law is given so that we are shut up and have no excuses when God’s furious anger and judgment overtake us. The Law is given so that our need for a Gospel answer is made clear to us. The purpose of the Law isn't to give us a "You must do this" answer. The Law is given to drive us to a "God must do this for you" answer.

The religious leader asks Jesus a Law question: "Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses' teachings?" Jesus gives a Law answer: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and most important commandment.

Jesus doesn't give a Law answer to the religious leader's question, so he can go out and try to save himself from God's furious anger and judgment. Jesus gives a Law answer so the religious leaders will be forced to admit that it's impossible to "Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind." But, they won't do this, they won’t admit that it's impossible for them to love God with all of themselves. Instead, they stop asking Jesus questions.

They know what Jesus says is true and impossible for them to do. But, what they don't know, and don't want to know, is that God commands the impossible, so we'll stop trying to do the impossible, and admit that only God can do the impossible. That's why Jesus says, "What is impossible for you is possible for God” (Luke 18: 27).

We can't "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Deut. 6:5). But, God does love us Jesus-much. He loves us with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind.

He gives us His faith and His love so that we’re free from all worry about His furious anger and judgment.
— Donavon Riley

But, again, if we don’t like that, if we've had enough of Gospel questions, and we prefer a Law answer to Gospel questions, then get ready for hell. The Law isn't given so that we can get a "You must do this" answer. The Law is given so that our trespasses are increased beyond all measure. The Law is given so that we're shut up and have no excuses when God’s furious anger and judgment overtake us. The Law is given so that our need for a Gospel answer is made clear to us. The purpose of the Law isn't to give us a "You must do this" answer. The Law is given to drive you to a "God must do this for you" answer.

And He does do it ALL for us. He waters us, bodies and bloodies us, and preaches us into faith and love. He gives us His faith and His love so that we're free from all worry about His furious anger and judgment. We're so free that we get to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." And when that's done, we get to love our neighbor Jesus-much too.

We're free from Law questions and Law answers. We're free from the demands and threats of the Law. We're free from fear, insecurity, and worry. We're free because faith in Jesus sets us free; because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. We're free because "when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed" (John 8:36).

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Manager for Higher Things, a contributing writer for 1517, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. He is also the co-host of The Banned Books podcast and the As Lutheran As It Gets podcast.



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