Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Spiritual and Religious (4)
And God spoke all these words, saying:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20.1, 2
Redemption and Law
Many believers today are chary about embracing the Law of God, because they believe that by doing so, they are substituting for salvation by grace through faith a kind of salvation by works. They know we are not saved by our works, and so any faith that requires us to take up the works of the Law is a works-faith rather than a grace-faith, and we must not fall into that Pharisaical snare.
So, setting aside the Law of God, they adopt a faith that prescribes vague and changeable ideas of love as its primary expression, without much regard for the comprehensive outlines and examples of love for God and neighbor provided in the Law of God. Thus doing, they embrace a worldview built on a foundation of shifting sands – definitions of love that tend to change with the moral winds of the day.
It is significant, I think, that God, after He had graciously delivered His people from Egypt, when He assembled them to renew His covenant at Mt. Sinai, did not simply say to them, “Now I have saved you. Do your best to love.” God understands the blinding power of sin, and He knows that the law of sin, which remains even in those who have been redeemed and saved (Rom. 7.21), powerfully tends toward definitions of love that are primarily self-interested and without risk, and are therefore misguided.
Having redeemed and saved His people, God brought them to Mt. Sinai, showed them His glory, and then gave them His Law. He did not give them the Law so that they might be saved. He gave them the Law so that, being saved, they might live to the full, expansive parameters of love for Him and their neighbors, guided by His holy and righteous and good Law (Rom. 7.12).
The Law of God comes after we are saved, so that being saved, we might live in the glorious liberty and Christlike love of the redeemed of the Lord. Being redeemed by grace through faith in Jesus Christ does not nullify the Law; rather, it establishes the Law as the basis for our lives in the world (Rom. 3.31).
Not for redemption, but unto it
The Biblical worldview contained in the Law of God is a redemptive worldview. That is, it sets us free from our natural tendency to sinful self-love, and reveals the way to full and abundant life in a covenantal relationship with the living God. The Christian worldview brings the liberty and renewal of redemption to every area of life, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. And it does so on the established foundation of God’s Law.
The Law of God does not accomplish redemption, and people do not attain redemption through obedience to the commandments, statutes, precepts, and rules of God’s Law. God alone is our Redeemer, and the redemption He provides comes to His people as a work of grace, based on His covenant, and founded on the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But the Law of God is unto redemption in that those who have come to know the saving deliverance of God may now expect, through obedience to God’s Law, to realize with ever-increasing fullness and power, the benefits of that redemption by practicing love for God and neighbor in obedience to the Law.
It is thus natural and indispensable to Christian worldview living, that we begin our consideration of that worldview in God’s first words to His redeemed people, His Law.
A plan for good and blessing
The redemption God’s people experienced from the tyranny of Pharaoh was merely the beginning of God’s plan for them, a plan for good, and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope (Jer. 29.11). God intended His people to know blessings in every aspect of their lives (cf. Deut. 28.1-14), and He determined to leave nothing to chance or their sin-tainted imaginations when it came to figuring out how to obtain the blessings He had prepared for them.
Thus the Law of God was given to bring life full and abundant to a people who had been redeemed by the gracious and powerful hand of the God of the covenant (Lev. 18.1-5). The Law does not accomplish redemption, but the Law enables the people of God to enjoy and increase in the redemption God has graciously provided.
It was by spiritual power that Pharaoh was overcome, the Red Sea parted, and the Law of God given to His people. It was on the basis of His covenant and the promises made to Abraham that Israel – now no longer a tribal group but a considerable nation – was shown the way to greater fullness through the elaboration of God’s covenant at Mt. Sinai (Exodus, Leviticus) and on the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy).
The redeemed of the Lord cannot know the full value of this great gift apart from seeking the Lord and obeying His Spirit according to His Word, beginning with the Law of God. The Law of God outlines the broad parameters of covenant blessing which God intends for His people as they approach Him in fear and wonder, and go forth from His presence in faith and obedience. When we say that the Law is the starting-point for Christian worldview, we are saying to Christians, who are called to take every thought captive for obedience to Christ and the glory of God (2 Cor. 10.3-5; 1 Cor. 10.31), that as God’s redeemed people, we must begin our journey with Him where He did, by receiving His Law in humble faith and obedience.
The Law comes to us from the unseen realm of eternal glory and truth, and calls us to a religious life – a life of being bound back (Latin: religare) to the God Who made us, loves us, and knows what we need – a life of love for God and neighbor, bounded not by our own finite and silly imaginations, but by the glorious and holy Law of God.
1. Meditate on Matthew 22.34-40. Why should we look to the Law of God to teach us how to love?
2. How does the Law help us to increase in the redemption we have in Jesus Christ?
3. The Christian worldview is a spiritual and religious worldview, grounded in God’s Word, beginning with His Law. How do you experience this worldview in your own walk with and work for the Lord?
Next steps – Transformation: Jesus is the full embodiment of the Law of God, fully and perfectly obeyed. What place should contemplating Jesus have in helping us to understand and abide by the Law of God? Talk with a Christian friend about this question.
T. M. Moore
The Christian worldview focuses on Jesus. Do you know Him? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer that question confidently, and equip you to tell others about Jesus as well. Order your copy by clicking here. For a handy compendium of the laws, statutes, and precepts contained in the Law of God, grouped according to the Ten Commandments, order our book, The Law of God, by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.