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Thread: The Law or Relationship?

  1. #1
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    The Law or Relationship?

    Do we follow Christian Law without a covenant relationship with God? Or, do we follow Christian Law in order to maintain a covenant relationship with God?


    I don't know how this fits into the Scriptures, but I feel confident that God has always emphasized a *covenant relationship* with His people to show that it isn't enough just to keep Christian Law. After all, Adam and Eve may have lived an otherwise godly life in the Garden of Eden. It only took one sin that broke their relationship with God to void all of the godly laws they had been keeping.


    What do you think? Is this "covenant relationship" the thing that saves? Apart from observing Christain Law what would this "covenant relationship" entail?


    I personally believe that this "covenant relationship" involves not just a commitment to Christian Law, but more, a complete turning over of our self-administration to the internal control of God. By letting Him deposit His Spirit within us, as a constant guide to follow His spirituality, we live in covenant relationship.


    I believe there is a price to having a real, spiritual relationship with God. And this involves giving up first place to God in all matters--basically putting God in charge of our lives. Whenever we want something so bad we are willing to sacrifice our spirituality, we have to decline, and resubmit to the right spirit.

    What do you think? Do you have a Scriptural way to explain this? Is this what God intended by expressing the need for a "covenant relationship?"

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    I'm answering my own question. The 1st thing God did, in the plan of salvation for Israel, was to solicit their commitment to Him as the only God and the only Way. It was a Marriage Proposal for a complete commitment to a divine spirituality. And this spirituality would be driven by guidance from God's word to our conscience, as well as by written laws of human behavior. The assumption is here made that God's word exists in our conscience to begin with, and that as we begin to respond in a full commitment to that word a spiritual relationship will come to a full expression.

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    Do we follow Christian Law without a covenant relationship with God? Or, do we follow Christian Law in order to maintain a covenant relationship with God? [...] Is this what God intended by expressing the need for a "covenant relationship?"
    What scripture are you alluding to for these ideas, just so we're on the same page?

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviyah View Post
    What scripture are you alluding to for these ideas, just so we're on the same page?
    I was just exploring how the Scriptures depict our salvation, apart from the standard Christian theology, ie in the OT sense. I was actually trying to find Christian truth expressed in the OT Scriptures. The Scriptures that I'm beginning with are the ones in Exodus that express that in giving His Law to Israel God was making Himself Lord over the entirety of our lives. We were to follow no other gods, and that would, of course, preclude our own autonomous initiatives. And out of that was to be developed a "covenant relationship." That is, after all, the terminology that is used--a "covenant."

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    I was just exploring how the Scriptures depict our salvation, apart from the standard Christian theology, ie in the OT sense. I was actually trying to find Christian truth expressed in the OT Scriptures.
    OK gotcha.

    Well I'll just start by saying that reading the OT apart from Christ will only lead to the same errors and blindness the preceded Him. There is nothing in the OT which offers anything new not found through faith in Christ, because all of it was written in anticipation of Him. Ex:

    [The old priesthood] serve at a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary [...] Now, however, Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises. (Hebrews 8)

    And this is the better covenant mediated by Jesus:

    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [...] For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. (8:10-13)

    Different from the law of Moses (OT):

    Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. (8:9)

    So the OT laws are obsolete to the NT one (the "law" of Christ), because the OT ones were external and not written on our spirits. The purpose of our redemption was not to lead us back to the OT shadows:

    You search the Scriptures [the OT] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5)

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself. (Luke 24)

    So my question would be, what is the purpose of exploring the OT without "Christian theology?" What value could this have if it didn't even benefit the people who dedicated their entire lives to studying it? As for your OP:

    Do we follow Christian Law without a covenant relationship with God? Or, do we follow Christian Law in order to maintain a covenant relationship with God?
    If you are a Christian, your covenant and standing with God depends entirely on the intercession of Christ:

    We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6)

    It's this "ON OUR BEHALF" part that I think you're overlooking, even though it is so crucial to understanding salvation and the new covenant. We aren't saved because of what WE do, but because of what Christ has done ON OUR BEHALF. Our righteousness and standing in God's covenant depends on CHRIST's ability to maintain perfection. This is why He had to live a perfect life, so that His righteousness could be counted to us - solely through faith in HIM.

    Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for Abraham, but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited - for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4)

    Our justification comes from what Christ accomplished, and we are sustained in the covenant by His everlasting intercession for us in heaven. I think this is a good summary of the whole issue really:

    Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9)
    여러분은 주님 안에서 항상 기뻐하십시오. 내가 다시 말합니다. 기뻐하십시오.
    모든 사람을 너그럽게 대하십시오. 주님께서 오실 날이 가까웠습니다. Philippians 4


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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    Do we follow Christian Law without a covenant relationship with God? Or, do we follow Christian Law in order to maintain a covenant relationship with God?


    I don't know how this fits into the Scriptures, but I feel confident that God has always emphasized a *covenant relationship* with His people to show that it isn't enough just to keep Christian Law. After all, Adam and Eve may have lived an otherwise godly life in the Garden of Eden. It only took one sin that broke their relationship with God to void all of the godly laws they had been keeping.


    What do you think? Is this "covenant relationship" the thing that saves? Apart from observing Christain Law what would this "covenant relationship" entail?


    I personally believe that this "covenant relationship" involves not just a commitment to Christian Law, but more, a complete turning over of our self-administration to the internal control of God. By letting Him deposit His Spirit within us, as a constant guide to follow His spirituality, we live in covenant relationship.


    I believe there is a price to having a real, spiritual relationship with God. And this involves giving up first place to God in all matters--basically putting God in charge of our lives. Whenever we want something so bad we are willing to sacrifice our spirituality, we have to decline, and resubmit to the right spirit.

    What do you think? Do you have a Scriptural way to explain this? Is this what God intended by expressing the need for a "covenant relationship?"
    My take on the above is that it's impossible to have a relationship/covenant (a relationship between two or more people) with God in this dispensation (NT) without committing to the Law of Christ which you aptly referred to as "Christian Law". I may be wrong, but it looks like you asked the same question in different ways?

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviyah View Post
    OK gotcha.

    Well I'll just start by saying that reading the OT apart from Christ will only lead to the same errors and blindness the preceded Him. There is nothing in the OT which offers anything new not found through faith in Christ, because all of it was written in anticipation of Him. Ex:

    [The old priesthood] serve at a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary [...] Now, however, Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises. (Hebrews 8)

    And this is the better covenant mediated by Jesus:

    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [...] For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. (8:10-13)

    Different from the law of Moses (OT):

    Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. (8:9)

    So the OT laws are obsolete to the NT one (the "law" of Christ), because the OT ones were external and not written on our spirits. The purpose of our redemption was not to lead us back to the OT shadows:

    You search the Scriptures [the OT] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5)

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself. (Luke 24)

    So my question would be, what is the purpose of exploring the OT without "Christian theology?" What value could this have if it didn't even benefit the people who dedicated their entire lives to studying it? As for your OP:



    If you are a Christian, your covenant and standing with God depends entirely on the intercession of Christ:

    We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6)

    It's this "ON OUR BEHALF" part that I think you're overlooking, even though it is so crucial to understanding salvation and the new covenant. We aren't saved because of what WE do, but because of what Christ has done ON OUR BEHALF. Our righteousness and standing in God's covenant depends on CHRIST's ability to maintain perfection. This is why He had to live a perfect life, so that His righteousness could be counted to us - solely through faith in HIM.

    Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for Abraham, but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited - for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4)

    Our justification comes from what Christ accomplished, and we are sustained in the covenant by His everlasting intercession for us in heaven. I think this is a good summary of the whole issue really:

    Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9)
    Though we draw different conclusions regarding the fulfillment of the NC, I do believe that this post, answers the questions posed by the thread quite Aptly.

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    I regularly find myself in these gnarly considerations. If we say that salvation only takes place in the NT we are saying that nobody got saved in the OT. And that is obviously untrue. That would eliminate from salvation men like Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and David--even John the Baptist!

    So we understand that the *basis of salvation* is not OT Law, but rather NT Theology. It's the cross of Christ that saved us, and nothing man did before that, under the Law or otherwise. Adam's sin destroyed any hope for man apart from the atonement of Christ.

    So if the basis of salvation is NT Theology, and OT people got saved, how do we explain this? The Scriptures talk about faith existing in the OT era that actual connected men in that era with NT salvation. So there is a basis for salvation in the OT era that is connected to NT theology.

    And this is what I was focused upon. What was it, in the OT, that connected faith to NT salvation? I've always heard, in Protestant circles, that faith is not linked to law at all, and so is simply belief that Christ would come. But that isn't logical to me, because men in the OT didn't focus upon the coming of Messiah for their righteousness. Rather, they focused upon a righteousness of faith without a clear knowledge of who Messiah would even be!

    So I'm trying to identify what this righteousness of faith is. And I do believe there is a distinction in the time before Christ in which strict attention to the Law was distinguished from something more--an attention to the Law coupled with a covenant relationship with God. In other words, those who strictly focused on keeping the Law without a relationship with God were those who lacked the righteousness of faith.

    And so, I was trying to identify, biblically, what this relationship with God was called, which connected the Law to faith. And I believe it is the language of "covenant." When Israel kept covenant with God, and followed the Law as well, they maintained a genuine relationship with God that enabled them to connect, by faith, to NT salvation.

    I would like to add one more thing that I think is really important to consider. Jesus gave all his teaching during his earthly ministry *while the Law was still in effect!* This means that the language of the OT provides an adequate explanation of what saving faith is during the OT era! Even though the cross had not yet happened, and atonement had not yet been won, the basis of faith for salvation was already present in the language of the OT. And so, I'm trying to pinpoint that OT language that Jesus used to explain what salvation really was under the system of Law.

    In Matt 22 and 25 we have two examples of how men, under the OT system, were forbidden entry into what is symbolic of God's Kingdom. We have to assume that others were allowed entry, or were "saved" by their faith.

    Matt 22.11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless."

    Matt 25.10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut."


    In both these situations we don't have the language of actual relationship. But I believe the oil and the clothes were symbols of what God requires for a relationship. The clothes represent divine covering of our guilt, and the oil represents God in us, giving us light. These things represent our relationship with God, and go much farther than simply adhering to law.

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    So if the basis of salvation is NT Theology, and OT people got saved, how do we explain this? The Scriptures talk about faith existing in the OT era that actual connected men in that era with NT salvation. So there is a basis for salvation in the OT era that is connected to NT theology.
    Jesus said Abraham saw His day and rejoiced. David, who was under the law (Abraham was not), said in Psalm 51 that burnt offerings were not what God was after... rather He was after a broken and contrite heart.

    Ps 51:16 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.

    So even a man under the law, recognized that the law was incomplete. He knew that offering the sacrifices under the law were not what God was looking for.

    I posted this in another thread and it is worth posting again here:

    1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

    The writer talks about things concerning Christ but uses the word "what" to describe those things. What was it? From the beginning, it has always, always, always been about personal fellowship with God. In the beginning, God would meet with man in the cool of the day. He personally related to them.

    When Peter was to deny Jesus, look what Jesus said to him.

    John 13:38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
    John 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

    Jesus said to Peter "you will deny me Peter. But do not let this trouble your heart. I am going to prepare a place for you so that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus was dying so that sin would not separate us from Him. He wanted Peter to be with Him. That's fellowship.

    As we walk with Him in obedience, we get closer and closer to Him emotionally and spiritually. This is how Jesus describes it:

    John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

    He begins to disclose Himself to us. He opens His heart to us and we become more intimate with Him. What's fascinating about our walk is how faithful He is. We are not faithful, but we share all our heart with Him early. He however, only shares a little bit with us. He tells us of His great love for us. He tells us about ourselves. He walks with us and grows us up. Then as we grow in obedience, He finally begins to open up to us and share His heart with us. That's different than what happens in the early stages.

    And this is what I was focused upon. What was it, in the OT, that connected faith to NT salvation? I've always heard, in Protestant circles, that faith is not linked to law at all, and so is simply belief that Christ would come. But that isn't logical to me, because men in the OT didn't focus upon the coming of Messiah for their righteousness. Rather, they focused upon a righteousness of faith without a clear knowledge of who Messiah would even be!
    I think the people in the OT did focus on Jesus. But they didn't understand all that meant. Abraham saw Jesus. He prophesied to his son Isaac and said "God will provide a Lamb". When they got to the top of the mountain, there was a ram. Not a lamb. A ram. Abraham knew and spoke about the Lamb that was to come.

    David, as I quoted above, did not trust in the OT law. He trusted in God directly and surrended himself to God. Did David keep the law? Sure, but he saw past the law to what the law pointed to. So did Moses. He learned of atonement, and quickly offered himself as atonement for Israel after they committed idolatry. But God had Another in mind for that job.

    So I'm trying to identify what this righteousness of faith is. And I do believe there is a distinction in the time before Christ in which strict attention to the Law was distinguished from something more--an attention to the Law coupled with a covenant relationship with God. In other words, those who strictly focused on keeping the Law without a relationship with God were those who lacked the righteousness of faith.
    It has always been about relationship from the beginning. Salvation has always come the exact same way. Trusting God. Righteousness is granted to us when we believe (i.e. entrust ourselves to) God. The law teaches us about God but has never saved anyone nor made anyone righteous. God is the only one who can make someone righteous. God can grant righteousness. We can put it on and we can take it off. Job said he put on righteousness like a robe and helped those in need.

    2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    The righteousness we earn, our righteousness is as filthy rags.

    What I am getting at is we are righteous and we are holy whether we live like it or not! Sanctification though is an entirely different matter.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Re: The Law or Relationship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    Jesus said Abraham saw His day and rejoiced. David, who was under the law (Abraham was not), said in Psalm 51 that burnt offerings were not what God was after... rather He was after a broken and contrite heart.

    Ps 51:16 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.

    So even a man under the law, recognized that the law was incomplete. He knew that offering the sacrifices under the law were not what God was looking for.

    I posted this in another thread and it is worth posting again here:

    1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

    The writer talks about things concerning Christ but uses the word "what" to describe those things. What was it? From the beginning, it has always, always, always been about personal fellowship with God. In the beginning, God would meet with man in the cool of the day. He personally related to them.

    When Peter was to deny Jesus, look what Jesus said to him.

    John 13:38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
    John 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

    Jesus said to Peter "you will deny me Peter. But do not let this trouble your heart. I am going to prepare a place for you so that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus was dying so that sin would not separate us from Him. He wanted Peter to be with Him. That's fellowship.

    As we walk with Him in obedience, we get closer and closer to Him emotionally and spiritually. This is how Jesus describes it:

    John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

    He begins to disclose Himself to us. He opens His heart to us and we become more intimate with Him. What's fascinating about our walk is how faithful He is. We are not faithful, but we share all our heart with Him early. He however, only shares a little bit with us. He tells us of His great love for us. He tells us about ourselves. He walks with us and grows us up. Then as we grow in obedience, He finally begins to open up to us and share His heart with us. That's different than what happens in the early stages.



    I think the people in the OT did focus on Jesus. But they didn't understand all that meant. Abraham saw Jesus. He prophesied to his son Isaac and said "God will provide a Lamb". When they got to the top of the mountain, there was a ram. Not a lamb. A ram. Abraham knew and spoke about the Lamb that was to come.

    David, as I quoted above, did not trust in the OT law. He trusted in God directly and surrended himself to God. Did David keep the law? Sure, but he saw past the law to what the law pointed to. So did Moses. He learned of atonement, and quickly offered himself as atonement for Israel after they committed idolatry. But God had Another in mind for that job.



    It has always been about relationship from the beginning. Salvation has always come the exact same way. Trusting God. Righteousness is granted to us when we believe (i.e. entrust ourselves to) God. The law teaches us about God but has never saved anyone nor made anyone righteous. God is the only one who can make someone righteous. God can grant righteousness. We can put it on and we can take it off. Job said he put on righteousness like a robe and helped those in need.

    2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    The righteousness we earn, our righteousness is as filthy rags.

    What I am getting at is we are righteous and we are holy whether we live like it or not! Sanctification though is an entirely different matter.
    The Law has "never saved anyone nor made anyone righteous?" That could so easily be misconstrued, and that's why I generate these kinds of posts. The Law indeed could not save Israel for eternity, but it most certainly could save Israel from hostile pagan attacks...

    Deut 28.10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you.

    The Law never made man righteous sufficient for his salvation, but it certainly made him righteous...

    Psal 119.1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

    So, if indeed the Law made righteous, and brought salvation, what are you getting at? I believe you're talking about how the Law was unable to *complete salvation and righteousness.* That is, it could not bring about eternal life, but could only begin the process leading to that.

    I personally believe that the Law was designed to establish faith as the basis for eventual salvation. As such, it began the process of righteousness, and brought temporary forms of national salvation, to preserve this process. So far from the Law being a failure in Israel's history, it was a success even though it could not complete the process of salvation. It was a failure only in the sense that it could not itself bring about eternal salvation.

    When Paul speaks in terms of a dichotomy between Salvation and Law, he is, I believe, largely talking about the inability of the Law to, on its own, accomplish eternal life. If the Law was followed *apart from faith,* then the Law was opposed to salvation.

    And this is because the Law, when properly followed by faith, anticipated something beyond mere temporal salvation and temporal righteousness. More, faith anticipated a complete removal of sin as the thing which had destroyed Man's hope for the Tree of Life.

    Apart from faith, the Law only pursued temporary forms of salvation and righteousness, which could never save man over the long run. Eternal life could not be had by the Law, unless reference was made to faith expressing itself *through the Law.*

    My point here is that faith did indeed express itself through the Law, leading, appropriately, to eternal life. The Law did not accomplish this apart from faith. Rather, faith accomplished this, by expressing itself through the Law.

    Actual salvation was completed apart from the Law, because the Law was based on flawed, sinful men. That is, flawed priests administered the temple law, and flawed Israel observed the Law.

    Eternal salvation had to come through Jesus, because as God he alone could forgive all sin. And as a perfect man only he could provide a sinless offering to God on our behalf, atoning for our sins.

    Now, through his Spirit we may live as he did, being forgiven by the grace of God. Having been forgiven and given a basis of eternal righteousness we can live in regular communion with God, which has always been the basis for spiritual life, righteousness, and blessing.

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