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Lesson 9: Christ, the Law and the Gospel *

Introduction: Whether someone has shared a secret with you, or you have some unique knowledge or skill, you feel special when you know things others do not. Some secrets are not to be shared, but sharing knowledge or skills is one of the greatest blessings in life. You are able to improve the lives of others by teaching them important things they do not know. The gospel is like that. God entrusts His message to you. What a blessing it is to share eternal life! Some of the message is understood without your help, but other parts rely on your explanation. Let's wade into our study of the Bible and learn more about sharing the law and gospel!

  1. Teaching Natural and Moral Laws

    1. Read Romans 1:16-17. Why would it cross Paul's mind to be ashamed of the gospel? Why does he feel the need to protest that it is not shameful? (Our God came to earth and lived as a human. He died like a criminal at the hands of the government. Our God gave up Himself that we might live. For a god, this takes some explanation to help others understand.)

      1. What else is unusual about our faith? (Our righteousness comes from faith, not works. I cannot speak regarding all cultures, but my culture believes that work is essential for success. My father taught me to work harder and better than those around me. Thus, work is part of my basic attitude in life.)

      2. What should we conclude from the two points we just discussed? (We have unusual religious beliefs. Our God is self-sacrificing. Our righteousness does not turn on how hard we work. These are counter-intuitive.)

    2. Read Romans 1:18-20. What does this say about the logic, the intuitiveness of our God? (This says that God's power and nature can be clearly seen from those things which surround humans. Humans have no excuse for ignoring God.)

    3. Let's consider these two concepts a minute. Paul says God's power and nature are clear and understandable to all. On the other hand, other aspects of the way our God operates are not so clear and understandable. What does this say about the relationship between natural law and moral law? (A great deal of natural law can be understood. We see it operating every day. But, the intersection with the entire moral law might not be so clear.)

    4. Let's re-read Romans 1:16. What does the reference to "Jew" first and "Gentile" second suggest? (The context is believing the message of our salvation. The Jews were the first to be given this message and now Gentiles have been given this message.)

      1. Re-read Romans 1:18. Who else do we have? (Truth suppressors.)

      2. What does this suggest about your life? (You might be a truth suppressor instead of a truth teacher.)

    5. Read Deuteronomy 30:15-18. What are the choices in life? (Life and prosperity or death and destruction.)

    6. Read Matthew 7:24-27. What difference does obedience make to the way your life turns out? (Again, this is a promise and a warning. Following God's moral law brings a better life.)

    7. Are we (Gentiles) now the source of God's message about His gospel to the world? Are you charged with being a truth teacher as opposed to a truth suppressor?

      1. If you say, "Yes, I will be a truth teacher," how would you start? (I would start with the obvious - the power and nature of God. Then I would move to the less obvious, the self-sacrificing God that we serve who saves us by His grace.)

    8. Let's discuss some very practical questions. I recall church meetings in which the question was "How should our church share truth with our neighbors?" Some said, "Let's share a tract about the Sabbath." Others wanted to pass out a big book about the history of the conflict between good and evil. Still others wanted to pass out a book about the love of God. Look again at Matthew 7:24-27 and Deuteronomy 30:15. What do these suggest about our approach? (God's approaches us by saying He has the secret to a better life. He has the secret to building a life that will endure the storms. I think we should take the same approach.)

  2. John's Example

    1. Read John 1:1-5. How does John start his instructions about Jesus? (He starts with the natural. See the creation? Jesus did that.)

    2. Read John 1:10-11. What is not so obvious about Jesus? (The world did not recognize Jesus as the Creator! "His own," meaning the Jewish people, did not receive Him. They did not accept His message.)

    3. Read John 1:12-13. Who did Jesus go to next? ("All who receive Him.")

      1. What is the special secret about accepting Jesus as Creator and Savior? (We become the children of God!)

      2. Think about your own children. Do you have your child's best interests in mind? (Yes! If you are a normal parent, you want to be a great blessing to your children. That is our God's attitude towards us! Praise Him!)

    4. Read John 1:14. What is the key belief here? (God became human and lived with us.)

      1. What does it mean that Jesus was "full of grace and truth?" (Grace, of course, refers to the gospel - that Jesus lived, died and rose again to save us from sin and give us the promise of eternal life.)

      2. What is the "truth" part of Jesus? (Jesus revealed the true nature of God.)

      3. Can you see that John is following the same pattern we discussed before? When you want to share the message, start with things which are known to all, those things which reflect nature and the natural law. Then move to the teachings which are less obvious, God took on human nature and died to give us eternal life.)

    5. Read John 1:16-17. Why does it say that the law was given "through" Moses? (God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Exodus 24:12. This was not Moses' idea.)

      1. Let's go back to the concepts from Deuteronomy 30 and Matthew 7. These are the texts about how obedience makes your life better. Is this part of the "natural" aspect of the gospel message? Should this be obvious to all? (Yes. It should be obvious that if you avoid killing and stealing your life will be better.)

      2. If God is the Author of the Ten Commandments, and they are part of the "obvious" it follows that leading with them would be consistent with this plan. How, for example, would you lead with the Sabbath (the fourth commandment)? (I would not start out with "this is what God says," but rather "Would your life be better if you took off work and spent one day a week with your family?" "What if this was God's will for you so that you never felt guilty about not working on Sabbath?")

  3. Paul's Example

    1. Read Ephesians 2:1-3. How does Paul start his argument? (He does the same thing. He starts with the natural. Instead of holding out the promise of blessings, Paul says, "Your life used to be pretty lousy, right? You used to find yourself colliding with natural law and it was not pleasant.")

    2. Read Ephesians 2:4-7. What is Paul's next argument? (He goes next to how Jesus loved us, saved us, and gives us the promise of heaven. This is the part that is not obvious. This is the secret we get to share with others.)

    3. Let's revisit John 1:17. Grace and truth came "through" Jesus. The law was given through Moses and grace and truth through Jesus. Why does John set up the two "through" statements in this way? (This is a summary of our gospel message. God gave us the law - and it makes sense to both the wise and to those who have already banged their head on the natural law. And, God gave us the less obvious, the tremendous gift of Jesus which shows us the grace and love of God. We cannot keep the law. We cannot earn salvation. But, we can have faith in Jesus' grace, and we can show intelligence by living a life in accord with God's law.)

    4. Friend, will you show wisdom in sharing the gospel with others? Why not start with the obvious, and then share the secret of our great God's love and salvation?

  4. Next week: Christ, the Law and the Covenants.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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