16 Mar 2014

Jesus Fulfills the Law: Reconciling Faith and Works

Religious 25 Comments

This post will only interest believing Christians, but I wanted to share something that recently occurred to me.

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus famously says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

He also explained what the two greatest commandments were in this exchange (Mt 22: 36-40):

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Now, there is definitely a sense in which Christianity frees people from bondage under the Law. Rather than being judged by your works, instead you are judged by the single criterion–have you “believed in” Jesus? This represents the greatest joy and greatest stumbling block of Christianity. How can someone get into paradise regardless of his works?

But watch this: When we push deeper and ask, “What does it mean to ‘believe in’ Jesus?” it’s more than an intellectual acknowledgement that He’s the Son of God. (After all, the demons know that.) One way of defining “belief” (in this context) is to say it means “to be in love with.” (That certainly does not hold for the demons; they know there is a God and that His Son is Jesus, but they don’t love God.)

So, if you “believe in” Jesus in the sense required for your salvation, then you are in love with Jesus. And the core “fact of reality” for Christianity is that Jesus is Himself God incarnate while being fully man. Therefore, if you believe in Jesus and you accept that He is God, then you (a) are in love with God and (b) are in love with your fellow man.

In other words, if you obey the new “updated” rule for getting into heaven, you are actually doing exactly the works that Jesus summed up as the foundation of the Mosaic Law.

Last thing: I don’t think this is ungrounded speculation on my part. Look at John 6: 28-29:

28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

25 Responses to “Jesus Fulfills the Law: Reconciling Faith and Works”

  1. Yosef says:

    Bob, so it is out of “love with your fellow man” that you stone them for working on a certain day, or eating a certain thing, or loving a certain person?

    That is the law. You either support it, or destroy it. Let’s see, what did Jesus say he came to do?

    • Gamble says:

      Read Galatians 3.

      Here is the main point, although a full reading is preferred.

      24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    >In other words, if you obey the new “updated” rule for getting into heaven, you are actually doing exactly the works that Jesus summed up as the foundation of the Mosaic Law.

    If Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law, then loving Jesus would seem to imply that we must love not wanting to abolish the Law either. There is no justification for an “updated” set of rules that would usurp the OT Law. At best, it could only add to the Law. Is Jesus instead said “I came here to abolish the Law and replace it with Jesusian Law”, then modern day Christians would be able to give a sigh relief and claim Biblical justification for their desire not to obey the OT Law.

    But we don’t live in that world. It is hypocritical for Christians to disobey the Law on grounds that contradict Biblical passages, and then claim that the Bible is the word of God and must be obeyed. We either accept OT Law as binding as per Jesus, or we don’t and cease considering the Bible to be the work of something other than a product of the minds of ancient human mystics.

    Why not just admit that ancient society humans messed up with the OT Law, and why not just take a stand and declare that we don’t need to follow the OT Law, not because of some make believe “New Testament update eradicates the Law that Jesus said he didn’t come to eradicate” caveat, but because of secular moral….wait a minute…now it makes sense. Nevermind…

    • Gamble says:

      Major as smart as you are, you completely and utterly fail to comprehend the purpose of Messiah. You also fail to grasp purpose of Old Testament and Jewish Law.

      The OT did 2 things.
      1. It prophesized of coming Messiah.
      2. It proved time and time again, man could not follow the law, hence need for coming Savior.

      The OT set the stage for Messiah.

      Most Jews have yet to fully grasp this, denial if you will.

      • Gamble says:

        Even Jesus uses OT to prove perfection under the law was unattainable. HE goes so far as to say, by your own standard, you would be put to death. He tactfully explains the law was nothing more than asset of manmade rules that could no be followed an missed the mark. Jesus also condemns ritualistic behavior( Catholics and Protestant offshoots take note), instead encourages us to bridal out tongue.

        Matt 15
        15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
        “‘These people honor me with their lips,
        but their hearts are far from me.9
        They worship me in vain;
        their teachings are merely human rules.”

        10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
        13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
        15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
        16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Jesus did not, in these passages, FORSAKE the Law of the elders. He did not say “Do not follow the Law anymore.” He only pointed to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

          Gamble, it is you who are failing to comprehend the OT. He did not “tactfully explain” that the Law is not to be followed.

          The passage is clear as day. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill them.” If a person says they did not come to abolish a law, then by definition that law is still applicable in the opinion of that person.

          You are misreading the Bible, Gamble. Sorry.

  3. Benjamin Cole says:

    What did Jesus mean about rich men had about as much chance getting in heaven as a camel has getting through the eye of a needle?

    • Gamble says:

      Jesus also said not to labor for material things. He also said the correct path is narrow and the way of the many was wide. He also said there is no point gaining the world yet losing your soul. He also said if you want to be “perfect” sale your stuff and then walk the world glorifying God. Just as He did.

      Basically few wealthy people will make it to heaven because even though they may pay lip service to God, He is nowhere close to their minds and hearts.

      Some will, many will not.

  4. joe says:

    Does “in love with your fellow man” mean you are in love with Krugman? Is that the basis for the obsession?

    • Gamble says:

      “in love with your fellow man?”

      Love your neighbor as YOURSELF.

      Means don’t hold a double standard. If everybody loved neighbor as they love themselves, neighbor hoods would be peaceful. This does not mean to pester your neighbor, unless of course you pester yourself and love it.

      Matthew 22:36-40

      36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

      37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as YOURSELF.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Gamble, joe isn’t sincerely asking that question, he is just trolling me.

        • Gamble says:

          While we are on topic, neighbor is an often overlooked and misappropriated word. I understand neighbor to literally mean physical neighbor. We are suppose to love our neighbors as our selves.

          This mandate tells me 2 things. First, the golden rule is biblical.
          Secondly, self government is the underlying theme.

          You can’t love your neighbors as yourself if you have a far removed centralizer mandating behavior. You have to be free to travel and free to associate. This is the only way you can love neighbor as yourself. Sometimes you have to move and create a community of like minded people in order to follow the second commandment of Jesus.

          Troll on…

    • Anonymous says:


  5. Ben B says:

    Obsession isn’t about love per se; it’s about a lack of love for oneself.

    • Ben B says:

      That was meant for joe.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp says:

    An interesting post, but only enabled by COMPLETELY ignoring what Jesus said after claiming that he had come to fulfill the Law:

    “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    The later Pauline heresy that “Christians” aren’t subject to the Law of Moses conflicts completely with what Jesus is actually recorded as having said and taught.

    • guest says:

      Jeremiah 31:31-34
      31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

      Hebrews 10:1-4
      For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

      Psalm 51:14-17
      14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

      Isaiah 1:10-14
      10 Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. 11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. 12 “When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? 13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.

      Micah 6:6-8
      6 With what shall I come to the Lord And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? 7 Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Thomas L. Knapp, are you COMPLETELY (all caps for emphasis) ignoring John 3:16? Paul didn’t invent salvation through faith out of whole cloth.

      • Lord Keynes says:

        “Paul didn’t invent salvation through faith out of whole cloth.”

        On the contrary, that is actually what the evidence suggests.

        In Paul’s own writings we have references to Christians at Corinth who preached a **Jesus different from his own and another gospel ** (2 Corinthians 11:4). These were Jewish Christian preachers with the authority of those Paul elsewhere calls the “pillars” in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:16–21; 2:1–10).

        The pillars in Jerusalem were apostles before Paul (Gal. 1:16–21), yet it is very clear that they did not accept his gospel of justification by faith or the view that Jesus’s crucifixion had abolished the Torah (the Mosaic Law).

        Paul tells us explicitly that he felt he needed to lay out his gospel before them for approval (Gal. 2:1–10). Why on earth did he need to do that??

        The conclusion is straightforward: his gospel (or at least an important part of it) was new to them.

        Many have suspected rightly that Paul’s account of his meeting with the Pillars is loose with the truth.

        That should be clear given the incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11–14).

        Paul accused Peter of compelling Gentiles “to Judaise” (Gal. 2:14) and Paul was defeated and left to carry out his missionary activities in areas well away from Syria, such as Galatia, Asia Minor and Greece, to escape the Pillars.


        • guest says:

          I like how Lord Keynes can discuss a number of different topics.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp says:

    Very nice.

    Was there some part of “till heaven and earth pass” that you didn’t understand?

  8. Daniel says:

    “Now, there is definitely a sense in which Christianity frees people from bondage under the Law. Rather than being judged by your works, instead you are judged by the single criterion–have you “believed in” Jesus? This represents the greatest joy and greatest stumbling block of Christianity. How can someone get into paradise regardless of his works?”

    I may be missing something, but I think you are mistaken in your belief that one can get into heaven “regardless of his works.” The passages you quoted in Mt 22: 36-40 are clearly important, but nowhere (to my knowledge) does the Bible state that these rules are the sole criteria for entering heaven. To the contrary, when the kingdom of heaven is mentioned, it is the performance of good works, and not solely love of God and neighbour, that are important:

    6:17: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

    Also, consider the analogy of the king and his servant in Matthew 18:23-35. It is the servant’s lack of forgiveness for his debtor that appears to deliver him into hell. Although the servant’s treatment of his debtor is clearly not in accordance with the Golden Rule, it is the servant’s actions which are of paramount important.

    Lastly, you state that belief in Jesus is the sole criterion for entrance into heaven, but Matthew appears to support the opposite view in 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe that the those who adhere by the rules in Mt 22: 36-40 will almost certainly complete good works. However, belief in Jesus *means* that one will perform good works when presented the opportunity, and it is these works (resulting from a belief in Jesus) that are subject to judgement.

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