Friday, September 23, 2011


So, maybe you've been wondering about my life for the last few's been busy, that's for sure. I only have a few minutes today, but I thought I'd update my readers (hello, out there!).

Last week I went to Vancouver with a team from my church to help out a new church plant on the campus of the University of British Columbia. It's called Origin Church and we helped them by prayerwalking on the campus and talking to as many students/people as we could about the church.

To be honest, it was difficult. The people in Vancouver don't make eye contact and think you are kinda strange if you talk to them! At least, this was our experience. Nonetheless, God is doing great things there and the ministries that we worked with last week are glorifying Him. That's what matters. We were able to encourage ministers in several areas, not only Origin Church, but also a campus chaplain, the pastor at the church where we stayed, and the pastor of another church plant in a nearby suburb. All of these people are working hard to plow the ground in Vancouver. The seeds sometimes seem to fall on concrete, but God is breaking up the fallow ground there (thanks for that analogy, Ashley).

It was a good week. I really got to know some great people - the mission team I was working with, the ministers in Vancouver, and some of the few Christians that we met on campus.

Here we are taking apples to a local school, with the love of Christ!

This coming Tuesday I leave again...this time for Germany. That's where Hampton is and I can't wait to see him! We are going to take a little European tour and spend some much needed quality time together.

Due to these two trips, I have been very busy - not only with the actual going, but also with trying to keep up with (and stay ahead of) my school work. Thankfully, I decided to only take one class right now and it's going well.

So, with all of this going on, you may be wondering how my running is going. WELL, it's going okay. I actually had a couple of really great 6-mile runs a couple of weeks ago before I went to Vancouver. Then, in Vancouver, one run was just sad - walked most of it and had NO idea how far we went - and the other run was just around the church parking lot a few times and up and down the stairs! HAHA.

Yesterday, we intended to run 6 again, but ended up walking most of the last half. This Saturday is a big run - 10 miles, since I haven't done that yet.

Then, the countdown begins. The Half-Marathon is only 2 weeks from this Sunday!!! I'll admit, I'm WAY nervous. I just don't feel ready. But I'm determined and I know I'll at least finish.

SO, I probably won't update until AFTER the Half-Marathon. Since it is right after my Europe trip, there will be a lot to blog about. Looking forward to it!! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paul and the Law, Finale

Thanks for sticking with me on this!

Application for Today

An understanding of Paul’s view of the law is critical to believers’ ability to capture the true nature of the gospel of Christ. Like the believers in first-century Israel, believers today are not bound by any law, but are set free by the grace of God. Paul’s view of the law as the standard of righteousness helps modern believers recognize their depravity before a holy God, while still understanding the role of the law in the life of the Christian. Understanding that Christ is the end of the law and has ushered in a new covenant demonstrates to modern believers how God has made a way to bridge the gap between sinners and Himself. Knowing that justification comes through faith in Christ alone illustrates how magnificent God’s grace is toward a sinful world. These truths are essential to realizing what Christ has done and how His action has enabled freedom from sin.

Although believers are no longer under the law, Paul made it clear that sin must not abound in their lives. “Those who are no longer under the law are led by the Spirit which produces its fruit in their lives ([Rom.] 5:22) so that their faith expresses itself in love (5:6). Consequently, even though believers are no longer under the law, they fulfill the law through the love commandment (5:14).”[1] Believers are to take their freedom from the law and exercise it by living in the Spirit. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).


            Paul’s view of the law has been given much consideration and there are many topics on which this paper did not even begin to touch. Because of its importance in the realm of theology and history, Paul’s view of the law will most likely continue to be an area of intense research for some time. The influence of the New Perspective has given rise to a whole new way of thinking about Paul and his view of the law, which deserves further scrutiny. Questions about the practices of first-century Jews, issues such as Paul’s view of Judaism, as well as hermeneutical analyses of words and phrases such as law, works of the law, faith, and justification, will have much influence on future conclusions regarding Paul’s view of the law. Based on Scripture and the research conclusions at this point, Paul’s view of the law as a standard of righteousness, terminated at the coming of Jesus Christ, and not sufficient for justification – is established as a sound, logical, Biblical argument for evangelical Christians.

[1] Matera, 243.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paul and the Law, Part Cinq

Justification by Faith

Paul views the law as insufficient for justification and salvation.  The law cannot save a person from their sins, nor reconcile a person unto a holy God. Carson and Moo make it clear that “God’s promises were never intended to guarantee salvation to every Israelite by birth ([Rom.] 9:6b-29).”[1] Something more than heritage and the law is required. Paul notes in Romans 9:32 that the Israelites did not pursue the law “by faith, but as though it were by works” and therefore did not “arrive” at righteousness. Sloan asks and then answers his own question, “Why does Paul argue that the law cannot save? Paul's answer seems to be (note well Rom. 8:3) that the law now operates within the power sphere of sin and death and, thus weakened, has not the power to save.”[2] In other words, the law cannot save because it does not have the power to do so. This power only comes from Jesus Christ.

Because Paul views Christ as the only one with the power to save, he clearly teaches against trying to earn salvation by any other means. To this point, Westerholm states,

The righteousness of faith operates apart from any consideration of the deeds of its recipients in part because they—sinners, the ungodly, those needing forgiveness—have no righteous deeds to offer. But it also represents an offer made by divine grace that (according to Paul's definition) itself excludes any role for human works ([Rom.] 4:4-5; 11:6).[3]

The recipients of righteousness are incapable of producing it on their own; humans cannot do anything to earn salvation. Cranfield notes, “When Paul says that no human being will be justified in God's sight by works of the law, he means that no one will earn a status of righteousness before God by obedience to the law, because such true obedience is not forthcoming from fallen human beings.”[4] Paul made it clear that no one would be justified by works of the Law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16). Furthermore, Paul makes the point that if righteousness came through the law, then Christ did not need to die (Gal. 2:21); if people were able to attain salvation by any other means, Jesus could have avoided the cross. Martin states, “To attempt to attain it [eternal life] by obedience to the law is to deny the necessity of the death and resurrection of Christ as a saving event.”[5] However, the law does not produce righteousness, nor does it result in eternal life, and Christ did die to redeem mankind and to grant eternal life based on His grace alone. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom. 14:9). His death was not the end, but the beginning of new life.

Christ’s death and resurrection were soon followed by his ascension and the coming of the Spirit. Acts 2 records this pivotal event in the history of the church, at which Peter, in his declaration of the gospel, preaches that the resurrected and exalted Jesus has sent the promised Holy Spirit. Byrne states, “The replacement of the law by the Spirit enables believers to live out the gift of righteousness ([Rom.] 6:1-8:13).”[6] Paul recognized the Spirit’s role in the righteous life and urged believers to live under grace instead of under the law. After careful analysis of Paul’s theology and view of the law, Sloan distinctly summarizes:

Paul's rejection of the law as a means of salvation, a rejection which he was led to justify historically/theologically in terms of the connections between the law and the powers of evil…was existentially the result of Paul's own nearly disastrous experience with the law, an experience which was not constituted by or based upon prior psychological frustration, but an experience which, in light of the Damascus Christophany, Paul came to view in retrospect as psychologically destructive, diabolically motivated, and theologically/eschatologically blinkered.[7]

Clearly, Paul’s letters indicate that he found salvation by faith in Christ alone. The law had no bearing on one’s standing before God; it was powerless. Paul’s view of the law reflects this understanding of justification by faith through Jesus Christ and the ability to live in the Spirit as a result of that faith.

[1] Carson and Moo, 392.
[2] Robert B. Sloan, “Paul and the Law: Why the Law Cannot Save,” Novum Testamentum 33, no. 1 (January 1991): 54.
[3] Stephen Westerholm, “The Righteousness of the Law and the Righteousness of Faith in Romans,” Interpretation 58, no. 3 (July 2004): 253-264.
[4] Cranfield, 100.
[5] Martin, 282.
[6] Brendan Byrne, “Interpreting Romans: The New Perspective and Beyond,” Interpretation 58, no. 3 (July 2004): 245.
[7] Sloan, 55.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Part 4 of Paul and the Law

Jesus as the New Covenant

Paul views the law as terminated at the coming of Jesus Christ. Although there exist varying views of the terminology Paul uses in reference to Christ being the “end of the law” (Rom. 10:4), evidence shows that Paul’s intention was to contrast the law with the work of Christ.  “With Christ, God is re-creating [emphasis added] the people of God, identifying those who belong to his people on the basis of their faith.”[1] Walvoord agrees, “The righteousness of God which Paul is now presenting is not through another law, superceding the law of Moses, but through an entirely new method [emphasis added] which is apart from all law.”[2] Schreiner gives an excellent analysis of how Paul described the law as being abolished and at the same time fulfilled by Christ’s coming.[3] He notes, “Paul's point is that God intended the Mosaic covenant to be in force for only a certain period of salvation history. …Now that Messiah has arrived the Mosaic covenant is no longer in force.”[4] He also cites Westerholm: “Paul does speak of fulfilling the law, but the point here is not that one is bound to fulfill the concrete demands of the law; rather, such obedience is the natural result of life in the Spirit.”[5] In other words, the goal of the Christian life is not to keep the law, but to follow Christ and thereby live within the law as a result. Christ’s life in the believer provides the only means to salvation.

The Mosaic Law is no longer God’s Covenant with man. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection provide a new covenant. Paul makes the connection between the law and Christ’s death clear in Galatians 3:10-14:

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

These verses provide a potent picture of the significance of Christ’s death; He died to take away the curse of the Law, so that man could be declared righteous by faith. Matera states, “Paul argues…that it was precisely to free those under the law that Christ died, taking upon himself the curse of the law that was pronounced upon him when he was crucified.”[6] This new covenant with man is God’s promise fulfilled; “God has granted it [the inheritance] to Abraham by means of a promise” (Gal. 3:18). Matera further notes, “Life-giving righteousness only comes with the appearance of Abraham's singular descendant, into whom the Galatians have been baptized (3:26-29). With Christ's appearance, the temporary role of the law has ended.”[7] Through the original covenant that God made with Abraham, a covenant of faith, Christ came and provided a new covenant, releasing people from the law. Schreiner states two forms of this release: “liberation from the Mosaic covenant which contains rites that are particularly Jewish and therefore leads to a separation between Jews and Gentiles” as well as “liberation from the power of sin which uses the law as a bridgehead.” [8] Freedom from the law leads to freedom from sin.

In an allegory of Abraham’s sons, Paul speaks clearly to the Galatians about the difference between being a slave to the law and experiencing freedom in Christ (Gal. 4:21-31). Longenecker portrays the contrast well:

The guardianship of the Mosaic Law was meant to be for a time when God's people were in their spiritual minority, but now with the coming of Christ the time set by the Father has been fulfilled and Christians are to live freely as mature sons apart from the Law's supervision.[9]

Paul also makes it clear to the Romans that they are “not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14) and “that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). Paul’s view of the law changed significantly upon his personal encounter with Christ. Snodgrass keenly describes Paul’s view post-conversion: “Whereas formerly the center of gravity or dominating force for Paul and other Jews was the law, now he found that center of gravity in Christ.”[10] The road to Damascus was a road to deliverance from the law. At the point of his conversion, seeing and believing Christ for who He truly is, Paul knew that everything had changed. He could no longer seek righteousness by simply obeying the Law, but now he must declare the truth of justification by faith to the nations.

[1] Carson and Moo, 385.
[2] John F. Walvoord, “Law in the Book of Romans,” Bibliotheca Sacra 94, no. 375 (July-September 1937): 281.
[3] Thomas R. Schreiner, “The Abolition and Fulfillment of the Law in Paul,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament, no 35 (Fall 1989): 47-74.
[4] Ibid., 50.
[5] S.R. Westerholm, “Letter and Spirit: The Foundation of Pauline Ethics,” New Testament Studies 30, no. 2 (April 1984): 229-48, quoted in Schreiner, “The Abolition and Fulfillment of the Law in Paul,” 53.
[6] Matera, 240.
[7] Ibid., 242.
[8] Schreiner, “The Abolition and Fulfillment of the Law,” 58.
[9] Bruce Longenecker, “The Pedagogical Nature of the Law in Galatians 3:19-4:7,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25, no. 1 (March 1982): 57.
[10] Snodgrass: 97.


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