So which is it you ask? Law…or grace… So here is my opinion, take it or leave it. I believe the debate/argument about law and grace is the most useless, unprofitable, and worthless debate going on in “Christian” circles today. So there it is, and here is why I believe what I believe.
But…before I proceed, I just want to unequivocally state that I firmly believe no one can be saved by works of the Law. That was never the purpose of the Law…ever. We are saved by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we try to obtain salvation through works of the Law, we become legalistic which is strongly cautioned against by the church today, and rightfully so. However, many have become so caught up in anti-legalism, anti-Law, that the “church” has swung on the pendulum way too far in the opposite direction.
So, now here it is…why I believe what I believe. The Holy scriptures themselves tell us in several places that the Law of God is eternal: Ecclesiastes 3:14, “I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him.” Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” Matthew 5:18, “For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.” Luke 16:17, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”
The Word of God also tells us that when the Messiah came there was a change in the priesthood. And Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well.” Hebrews 9:11-14 then tells us, “But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come in the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” This was a change in how the Law was manifested, not an exchange of one set of laws for another or to abolish the Law. Messiah’s words in Matthew 5:17 reiterate this point, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Here is an example. The Law of sacrifice is still in effect today. The death of Yeshua on the cross did not cancel the sacrificial law. It is true that because of Him we do not need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sin. Yeshua took care of that once for all. However, there is still a definite need for the Law of sacrifice to be in effect today. Romans 12:1 commands us to, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” The manifestation of the Law changed…i.e. animals to humans…dead to living…but did not cancel the Law. God’s Laws are eternal.
What about the “Law” of celebrations…Feasts of Yahweh? Some say they are for the Jews only. Some say they were done away with when Yeshua fulfilled them. Well, both of the arguments are not scriptural. When the feasts are commanded by Yahweh he states very clearly they are eternal, permanent statutes throughout the generations. He gave those eternal statutes to the Israelites, the people, that if we claim to be believers in Yeshua, have been grafted into (Romans 11:17). Not only that, He did not say they were for the Jews, the Christians, etc. They were His feasts, His appointed times (Leviticus 23:1-2). Divine. Godly. The New Testament even shows us that the feasts were kept after the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us, “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Yeshua is our Passover. So much more depth and spiritual meaning are added to Yahweh’s appointed times in light of Yeshua. Again, our observance of these biblically appointed times are not a matter of salvation. They are a matter of worship; a time of remembrance and reverence for what He has done for us and is continuing to do. (For more on Yahweh’s feasts see Holy Days vs. Holidays.)
What about the dietary laws? Following them does not lead to salvation, however they are proven to be healthy guidelines to follow…the proper way to treat our “temples of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The bottom line is science can confirm the health benefits of following them. God gives us His Law for our health and benefit.
One of the purposes for Yeshua’s sacrificial death was to change the heart of man, not abolish the Law of God. Ezekiel 11:19-20: And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God.” Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
James 2:12 tells us, “Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom.” I have heard this verse used to “prove” that we are free from the Law of God. The reality is that this verse is speaking entirely to our freedom from sin by the mercy and grace of Yahweh. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2).To develop a theology that is based solely on grace and nullifies the Law of Yahweh is to commit a gross misunderstanding of the scriptures. To develop a theology that is based solely on the Law nullifies the sacrifice of Yeshua. The conclusion of the matter is this: There is no such thing as law versus grace. You must have both. You can’t have one without the other. It is law and grace.
All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. – Psalm 25:10