"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Christ Is the End of the Law To All Who Believe

This blogpost is written for those who are hungry for spiritual guidance during these difficult COVID-19 times, especially for people who aren't in the habit of going to church and may not even call themselves a Christian.  

It's an article about Jesus Christ and how He brings peace to our hearts in terms of an assurance of God's full acceptance of us, even though we have failed miserably in our lives to be the persons that we (or others) expected or desired us to be. 

This blogpost is also a "test." I'll not tell you the reason for the test, but in the coming days, I'll give you the results. 

HERE WE GO (April 20, 2020)
:

Recently I spent some time with a gambling addict who recently landed on the front page of our local newspaper for confessing to embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer (he's given me permission to tell his story).

A few weeks earlier this man had called me and confessed to his crime.

Having been accused of embezzlement by his employer, this man told me that he faced prison time if the courts convicted him of stealing. His attorney counseled him, "Don't confess. Plead 'not guilty.'" The attorney was hoping to get his client a reduced sentence that would possibly include no prison time.

The man who embezzled then asked me, "What should I do?"

I responded, "Are you guilty?"

He answered "Yes."

I said, "Then go to the police station, turn yourself in, and tell them the truth."

And that's what the man did.

This man's picture and the story of his confession appeared on the front page of our paper the following day.

Very few criminals turn themselves in and confess to a crime. To me, what this man did is evidence that God is at work in his life.

Anyway, back to the original appointment with this gambling addict. He told me he thinks that he understands "why" he gambles, which leads him to steal.

Pay attention to his explanation.
"Throughout my life, I've always had the goal of people liking me. I need people to accept and love me. I purpose to get acceptance from others. But most of the time I feel rejected. I feel lacking as a human being. Whenever I feel like a failure (which is most days), and whenever I feel rejected by people (which is very often), I find myself desiring to gamble. It's finally dawned on me that every time I win at the casino, lights go off, people praise me, and I get the "substitute high" of being good enough and being "approved of" as a human. I feel like a "winner," whereas in life I most often feel like a loser. I'm not giving you an excuse for my gambling addiction; I'm only telling you that because I believe I've put my finger on the source of why I gamble."
I found his words to be full of wisdom. I believe if all of us would take a close look at any and all maladjustments in our lives, we'd find the roots of our problems in misplaced goals and purpose for our lives.

I tell people:
"If you ever think, 'I just don't want other people to think...,' or if you ever say to someone else,  'I just don't want you to feel that...,' then you have a misplaced goal."
Those who are concerned and try to control what other people think or feel are addicts in the making.

By the way, addiction to sugar, religion, beauty, work, and other legal (and good things) can be as harmful to the individual person as addictions to gambling, drugs, illicit sex, and other illegal things are. It should go without saying that the latter things (eg. "illegal things") often bring far greater pain to other persons.

With Wrong Goals and Purpose in Place,  Our Addictions Develop


We all set goals, and we all think about our purpose.

Without goals and purpose, a person becomes aimless. But with wrong goals and purpose, a person becomes addicted.

Now, let's talk about our goals and purpose in terms of God.

What is your purpose in terms of your relationship with God? What are your goals in terms of your relationship with God?

99% of all people would respond to these two questions by saying: 
"My purpose is to be pleasing to God and my goals are to stay out of trouble with Him."
When it comes to "how" this occurs, the answer is usually:
"By trying to always do what He wants."
I propose that any purposeful attempt to please God by your obedience to some sort of standard, be it man-made, church-created, government-mandated, or even Bible-based - is a wrong goal that leads to harmful consequences.

To seek to become pleasing to God by your actions is a misplaced purpose.

A person who has failed to be the person he or she should have been will only become pleasing to God through the "faith in Jesus Christ." That's what the Bible teaches.

Why faith in Jesus Christ? Because Christ "is the end of the law to everyone who believes." As it is written in the book of Romans:
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4).
"But wait," you may say, "I read the Bible for myself and it says that God's acceptance, blessings, and favor are on us when we obey His Law!" The first five books of the Bible are called "The Law" or "The Five Books of the Law" (Pentateuch). 

"Listen to this passage from the Law, Wade!"
"If you obey the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out…. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings." (Deuteronomy 28:2-7; 11–12)
"And Wade, listen to these three paragraphs from the Law":
"However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.
The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you." (Detueronomy 28:15-29).
"Wade Burleson, how can you read those passages above and ever suggest to anyone that attempting to please God by a goal of obedience to Law is a misplaced goal or a meaningless purpose in life?"

Good question.

Let the New Testament Scriptures answer that question:


Christ Is the End of the Law
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4).
The word translated "end" is the Greek word τέλος which was used by ancient Greek writers to mean goal or purpose.

Most of the anti-Nicene Christian fathers (pre-3rd century AD) translated τέλος as "goal" or "purpose."

What does it mean that Christ "is the goal or purpose of the Law"?

Simply put:
"Jesus Christ is God's the goal and purpose for which God gave us the Law."
The Law's purpose was not given for you to obey and to become "pleasing to God."

Nope.

In fact, when God introduced the Law, all that did was make you a worse sinner by revealing even more of your sin.
"I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the Law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7).
Any church, religious organization, or lifestyle that emphasizes obedience to Law to be pleasing to God has missed the Gospel.

Christ is the purpose of the Law to everyone who believes.

The Law is about Jesus Christ. 

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24).
So if you wish to ever be free from addictions in this life (legal or illegal activities to which you're addicted), then get to an understanding that you are pleasing to God by the performance and Person of Jesus the Anointed One (Messiah) on your behalf.

Theologians call what happens to you when you come to faith in Jesus Christ imputed righteousness.

I call it grace, or living life feeling the pleasure of God independent of my performance.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11). 

17 comments:

ROsborn said...

Yes and amen!

Maera said...

Wow. This is some great teaching.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I believe ‘obeying the law’ was the First Covenant between God and Man. Since it didn’t work, God gave Man the Second Covenant which was believing in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Bob Cleveland said...

I have fairly recently come to the realization that the commands and instructions in Scripture are not things we have to do, but rather are things we get to do!

They are those things that lead us to live the most rewarding life possible. We are privileged to follow His lead!

What God suggests or instructs us to do stems from His love for us. Why would He tell us anything else?

bperry@gbaptist.org said...

Well said. Legalism does not recognize the power of Grace.

Anonymous said...

'what is man that Thou art mindful of him?'

Christiane said...

"I have fairly recently come to the realization that the commands and instructions in Scripture are not things we have to do, but rather are things we get to do!"

Bob Cleveland, sounds you have an appreciation for the wisdom of the ancients who, in their humility, understood how God, through the law and the prophets, had first condescended to care for them after the Fall; therefore setting the stage for the time to come when the early Christians, inspired by Habakkuk, chanted the Cherubic Hymn for the Offertory of the Divine Liturgy of St James, said to antedate the rest of the liturgy by going back at least to AD 275:

".Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in His Hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand"

Sandy said...

This post sounds antinomian. Perhaps I need to read it more carefully. The old covenant was not discovered to be too difficult because it required obedience, and then replaced by the new covenant which only required faith.

Bob Cleveland said...

The old covenant .. with its accompanying laws ... was perfect. But it could not make man perfect. That was well proven over many centuries, and that itself should have taught people something. I'm guessing the absence of the Holy Ghost hindered that.

At that point, Jesus appeared and told mankind that the old covenant was obsolete and would soon pass away. And salvation emerged as solely based on God's grace.

I'm thinking that's what justified Abraham ... he believed God. And if that means antinomian, count me in.

Donna said...

Ouch.

Sandy said...

Salvation has always been by grace. Salvation has always been a gift. Salvation has always been through faith. It was under the old covenant and it is under the new covenant.

Aaron said...

And your test is...?

Anonymous said...

the topic is ripe for misunderstanding by people who don't share a specific theological orientation,
so defining 'terms' might be a good place to help readers understand better what is being conveyed in order to prevent mis-understanding

just a suggestion

Christiane said...

Hey out there REX RAY,

it's me, Christiane with some news I heard that you might want to investigate yourself, this:

some nurses who work at VA hospitals and facilities are reporting that they know they have been exposed to the virus and upon getting a temperature, have been told to 'take a tylenol and keep working', which is against the old protocols for protecting the staff and the patients

How much of this is true (?) And in what locations (except for Las Vegas, I don't know them)
And IF true, how far up this goes that protocols for protection have changed or been removed at VA facilities, is not known.

The nurses report being told to keep working in spite of previous guide-lines to go into quarantine upon exposure, especially with the development of an elevated temperature. So I wanted to let you know so you can self-protect when you go to the VA for any care. Just investigate and be self-protective. We don't have any family working in the VA system, so I can't call them to check, but just have a care for what might be important to find out.
I do know that for all the rhetoric, there is not enough self-protective gear available for medical staff in many locations. Take care. Never a good thing when protocols are dropped that had been created to protect all concerned.

Christiane said...

only Christ is able to infuse in us the power of the Holy Spirit

the question in theology is often whether or not Our Lord's work in us is transformational, or merely a cosmetic covering of sin ?

does He heal the wounds of sin we carry; or is He the bandage that hides them from view?

the wording is difficult to understand in any deep study of theology, and sometimes only images help us to comprehend as we can grasp the image of a Father, a Shepherd, a Great Physician;
but it is as the Lamb Who was Slain that we come to know the Fount of all mercy that is Christ Crucified and Risen From the Dead, He Who takes away our sins IS the Giver of Life



Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Just now reading your advice about the danger of going to the VA. How did you know I’m scheduled to be there in six hours? :)

I asked Google and there were ten choices that backed up your warning.

I’m glad we don’t live in New York. Our Fannin County, Texas has a population of 35,000 with 8 COViD-19 cases and no deaths.

Our VA is closed on week-ends and is only open from 8 to 5, so there are no sick people in it. Also, before you can enter, they ask questions and check your temperature. I don’t know why a policeman is watching.

But thanks for thinking of me.



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