Coming to Jesus, one more time, and it will not be the last
by Joseph Franks
On every page of Scripture, Law and Gospel can be found.
The category “Law” represents the good will of God. Sometimes it is written on stone, sometimes on parchment, sometimes on the hearts of men, but it represents the holy directives of the sovereign God. Law represents God’s rules. It is his command. It is man’s duty, and it comes most often in imperative statements such as “do this” or “abstain from this.”
The Law, though being good and holy, instructs, humiliates, and crushes the one who understands it clearly. (1st use) The Law of God is a beautiful standard to behold, and it is a most worthy objective for which to aim, but it is an impossible mark to reach or standard to keep. The Law is a true mirror. It is one that never lies, and it shows all those born of Adam their true, rebellious, ugly, and condemned selves.
Yet, for some, this ends up being very good news. The Law, properly understood, brings one to an end of self-righteousness and self-justification. When the Holy Spirit causes one to use the Law rightly, it makes that one incredibly thirsty for the divine substitute who came to earth to live and die in the place of lawless sinners. This is good news. This is “Gospel.” It represents all God has done — in the past, present, and future — to bestow mercy and grace upon undeserving recipients. The Gospel is God’s unconditional love. It is God’s irrevocable promise to bless lawless folk.
As a result of the Gospel, the Christian finds himself filled and fruited with the Holy Spirit. The result of this is a newfound love and appreciation for the Law of God. The Spirit-filled Christian finds himself developing a keen interest in organizing his society around the wise counsel of God. (2nd use) He also recognizes the consequences and loving discipline that happens when men despise God’s good Law. (2nd use) And as the Holy Spirit leads the believer in progressive sanctification, more and more, from the inside out, the lover of Christ finds himself longing to be ethically pure after the model of Jesus. (3rd use) It is his joy, his delight, his act of worship. Yes, a consequence of the Gospel is a love of the Law.
However, let us not think the first usage of the Law ends after one comes to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. On every day that the Christian arises and reads the sacred text, he is freshly slain by the standard of God. Every time the worshiper goes before the throne in contemplative prayer, the honest disciple is freshly reminded of God’s standard and his own substandard works. In every worship service, in each reading or every sermon, the Christian is forced again to admit that though he is fully justified and positionally sanctified, he is yet a wretched sinner who does not love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He has been rescued from the curse of the Law, but he has not been rescued from the piercing and accusing gaze of the law. The Law puts him back in his place again. The standard of Jesus proves he still has a long way to go. The Law keeps the honest, introspective, and tender believer humble and thirsty.
Therefore, what should the humbled Christian sinner do? As he reads his imperatives he should consider the indicatives. As he reads the Law he should seek out the Gospel. As he hears command after command, he should look for God’s precious promises. The wise Christian, understanding all that God has done, is doing, and will do for him, should read the Bible through Gospel glasses. He must come back to the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, over and over again. He should come to Jesus, one more time, knowing it will not be his last.