Law or Grace

Recently I have been reading the writings from some of our early church fathers. These were the leaders of the church in the second and third century. Some were only a generation or two removed from Jesus and His disciples.

In particular I have been reading the letters of Iraeneous, who was the Bishop of Lyons towards the end of the second century. Some reports say that as a young boy he was a disciple of a man named Polycarp who was a direct disciple of the apostle John.

This sort of lineage was very important in Iraeneous' time when it came to solving debates over what the New Covenant included and was about. Since the canon of scripture was still over 100 years away from being decided, the ability to trace your doctrine back to the first apostles was vital, much like we need to trace our doctrine back to scripture.

Iraeneous was doing just this in a letter he wrote to his friend Marcianus around 180AD. This letter, now referred to as the "Proof of the Apostolic Teaching," was written by Iraeneous to show what true Christianity was about, namely our union and intimacy with Jesus.

Below is what Iraeneous had to say when he explained the role of the Law, or more specifically why the Law is not for the Christian. He probably had in mind Paul's letter to the Galatians where in chapter 4 it says that now that faith in Christ has come we no longer need the Law.

"Wherefore also we need not the Law as a child guide. Behold, with the Father we speak, and in His presence we stand, being children in malice, and grown strong in all righteousness and soberness.

For no longer shall the Law say, "Do not commit adultery", to him who has no desire at all for another's wife; and "Thou shall not kill", to him who has put away from himself all anger and enmity; and "Thou shall not covet thy neighbour's field or ox or donkey", to those who have no care at all for earthly things, but store up the heavenly fruits: nor "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth", to him who counts no man his enemy, but all men his neighbours, and therefore cannot stretch out his hand at all for vengeance.

It will not require tithes of him who consecrates all his possessions to God, leaving father and mother and all his kindred, and following the Word of God. And there will be no command to remain idle for one day of rest, to him who perpetually keeps Sabbath, that is to say, who in the temple of God, which is man's body, does service to God, and in every hour works righteousness."

Thanks to our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection we have been given a new heart and the very LIFE of Christ to live now. And it is His LIFE, Jesus living in and through us, which is so much greater than any Law, including the Ten Commandments, which could never overcome sin anyways. And when Jesus lives through us, we live a life that is greater than just moral, we experience a supernatural one.

So instead of relying upon formulas, rules, programs and the like, trust in the power and grace of the Lord Jesus that we might be instruments of righteousness to the world.

Thanks for reading.

In Christ who is our Life,

Ross

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