Today I have the privilege of joining week 4’s Book Club discussion on “The Grace of God” by Andy Stanley. You can read both Jason S’s, Sarah Salter’s and Dusty’s thoughts on this chapter by clicking their names.
Both Christian’s and non-Christians struggle to understand the relationship between God’s GRACE and God’s LAWS.
This has lead to much confusion inside and outside the Church.
Are we saved by grace?
Can we earn our salvation?
Can we lose our salvation if we don’t obey the commandments?
Was the” Ten Commandments” OT and “Grace” NT?
These questions stem from not understanding WHO God is. They also arise out of ignorance of God’s Word.
In chapter 4, Stanley provides background information surrounding the Laws God gave Moses. This information shows the established RELATIONSHIP between God and the Israelites BEFORE He gave the guidelines marking them as His chosen people.
These Laws” CONFIRM an existing relationship” (emphasis mine). They don’t CREATE the relationship.
“God doesn’t throw fences around people to make them his. God gives rules of conduct to those who already belong to him.”
Following “rules”, AKA the Ten Commandments, doesn’t make us Christian. Instead, those who call God LORD have these rules to help them walk in this deceitful world, to set them apart from this world.
“These divinely inspired instructions stand not as a gateway into a relationship with God, but as a confirmation that you already belong to him.”
That’s pretty awesome.
But some of you might still be wondering “why have the rules to begin with?”
This is where understanding the context surrounding God giving Moses the Ten Commandments comes in handy.
The Israelites had been slaves for over 400 years! That’s a long time to acclimate to a culture…a pagan culture that frequently worshiped numerous gods and sought their favor in various ways.
AFTER God called these people out of Egypt, He needed to help them know WHO He was. Not just the power He was capable of (plagues anyone?) but of His character. They needed to know they couldn’t manipulate Him the way they could the foreign god’s the Egyptians served.
You might be thinking, “they knew WHO God was” but you need to remember that 400 years is a long time. Think of American history, do you think we hold our nation as sacred as those who fought and died in the American Revolution did? We can understand why they fought. We can appreciate their sacrifice. But few of us hold America as dear as they did. Few of us are willing to die for love of nation.
The Israelite's knew “of God” but they didn’t have a sacred love for Him their forefathers- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob- did.
These rules helped them learn WHO God was. It gave them AWE of the ONE true God, the God above all the other gods they had been surrounded by.
It helped provide structure to the relationship God had already established between them, a relationship not based on any merit of their own, a relationship based on HIS grace.
Rules follow Grace.
God’s Law also shows us what He values, and He values YOU.
“We protect best what we value most.”
God’s Laws are a means to protect us. He loves us enough to not leave us as sitting ducks for satan.
His laws help us see how satan works. They keep us safe. They protect our lives and our relationship with the one who loves us most- GOD.
Remember: The Law is for those who have a relationship with God, who are called His beloved.
“Obedience does not determine ownership.”
Another great example of this is the Garden of Eden. God made Adam and Eve THEN He gave the ONE rule (don’t eat from one tree). They had a relationship with God first. A relationship established by HIS grace, THEN He gave them a rule to protect their lives and the relationship.
Rules weren’t given to tie us down, burden us, or to be used as a measuring stick…they are meant to protect what God’s loves most- His Children.