Friday, February 20, 2009

Grace + Law = 0

In my previous post, we examined Jesus' parable in Luke 5:36 about the old garment and the new garment, but Jesus actually continues the parable in Luke 5:37-38 :
37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.

Take note that this is a continuation of the parable of the old garment and new garment, hence Jesus is trying to say the same thing but this time using the analogy of old wine and new wine, and old wineskins and new wineskins.

What is the meaning of the wine and wineskins? Jesus referred to wine as blood in Luke 22:17-20 :
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

This new wine is meant for everyone to receive righteousness through faith in Jesus' blood sacrifice; it is a separate path to God, a separate path from the law - "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:21-22) - this is a totally new covenant, therefore this new wine cannot be poured into old wineskins i.e. the law.

Those who believe in the gospel of grace (i.e. pour the new wine in new wineskin) truly uphold the law because they let the law be the law. That is why Romans 3:31 says "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."

If we insist on pouring the new wine into old wineskins i.e. mixing grace with the law, then the old wineskin will burst and the new wine spilled onto the ground. Both are ruined, the law is no more the law and grace is no more grace, as Romans 11:6 says "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

Christians have no problem believing in the new wine, they just cannot believe in the new wineskin, which is why Jesus didn't bother to warn us not to pour old wine into new wineskins. However, Jesus commented in Luke 5:39 "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' " because the Jews in Jesus' time on earth still believe in the old wine i.e. the blood of bulls and goats. They cannot see or taste the new wine that Jesus will bring until after the cross. Even today, after the cross, many Israelis still say the old wine is better.

But Jesus, right at the start of his earthly ministry, has already declared to the world that the new wine tastes better, nay, the best! John 2:1-11 records the very first miracle by Jesus at a wedding feast where he turned six stone water jars filled with water into wine!

How did this brand new wine taste? "and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." " (John 2:9-10)

Friends, don't waste this best wine by pouring it into old wineskins!


Anonymous said...

So if a person truly believe in Grace, he will automatically uphold the Law and automatically do NOTHING that would contradict the Law. Is that right ?
So conversely, if a person does not demonstrate that he has uphold the Law, the person has not truly accept Grace. Is that correct ?
If a Christian has ever told a lie after he has "accepted" Grace, that would mean that the person has not accepted Grace (in the first place) and his sins are not cleansed.
So I wonder. For the many Christian who has told a lie, would the person still be able to enter heaven (despite his sins are supposedly "cleanse") ?

Thank for enlightening me.

Stanley Wong said...

Dear Anonymous_Feb26_11:13PM,

Firstly, I would appreciate it if you at least sign off your comment with a pseudonym if you do not wish to state your real name.

Secondly, I think you have not understood what I mean when I say those who believe in Grace truly uphold the law. When I say we uphold the law, I mean that we recognize the law for what it is; I don't mean that we obey the law.

We recognize that before Christ came, "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." (Gal 3:24)

Now that Christ has come, "we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (Gal 3:25) The law is no longer relevant now that we are under grace.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, all our sins - past, present, future - have been forgiven. Telling a lie or committing any sin now will not bar you from entering heaven because those sins have already been forgiven, but you yourself will have to deal with the earthly consequences of any sin you commit eg. even if you commit adultery, you can still get to heaven but here on earth you will have to deal with the hurt that you have caused your wife and family.

However, this doesn't mean that we are encouraging sin since all our sins are forgiven. This is because when we accept Christ, we are in Christ and Christ also lives in us, so how can Christ in us be encouraging us to sin?
(for a more detailed discussion, please read