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April 30, 2007 / Daniel

Law and Grace

Did the OT Law (the Torah) actually teach that someone can earn God’s favor? 

Did the OT Law teach that someone needs to be absolutely perfect into order to be saved?

 The more that I read the OT, the more convinced I become that the answer to these questions is a definite NO.   The very foundational principle of all the laws in the Torah is found in God’s gracious selection of Israel as a nation.  Look at Deut. 7:7-11.

7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. 10 But
       those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
       he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

 11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

 Does that sound like God expect them in the OT to earn their salvation through the works of the Law?  The Law teaches grace.  The old Lutheran dichotomy between law and grace distorts the teaching of the OT.   This needs to be brought back in the discussion when we’re talking about the Old and New Perspectives on Paul.



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  1. Matthew C / Apr 30 2007 6:19 pm

    I am not quite sure what position it is you are responding to, if this is not a straw man.

    I believe, contrary to Reformed theology, that the law did not offer a means of salvation (hypotheitical or actual), but rather promised earthly blessings conditional upon faithfulness.

    Those under the law were saved by grace through faith the same way as those in other dispensations.

    Every Blessing in Christ


  2. fiester25 / May 1 2007 4:40 pm

    Lutherans often teach that the Law teaches that you must be perfect to be saved, but in actually no one can do that. And that’s why you need Jesus’ imputed righteousness.

  3. Matthew C / May 2 2007 7:58 am

    The Scriptures do not speak of Christ’s imputed righteousness. Rather, they speak of our being made the righteousness of God in Christ.

  4. Daniel / May 2 2007 1:26 pm

    Romans 4 speaks of imputation (or accreditation in some translations).

    The debate between the Old and New perspectives on Paul is what this language means.

  5. Matthew C / May 2 2007 3:15 pm

    Which old perspective?

    The Reformed Covenant view is quite different from the Brethren Dispensational view that I take.

    Romans 4 certainly speaks of imputation, but it says nothing of that being the personal righteousness of Christ in keeping the law, as Reformed theology holds.

  6. Daniel / May 2 2007 5:59 pm

    Good point. I’m talking about the Lutheran view. I’m not familiar with the Brethren view. Any recommended resources?

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