Series - Why They Followed the Law

Why They Followed the Law (Part 3)

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Many dispensationalists are mistaken about the impetus for obeying the Mosaic Law, and they’re mistaken about Paul’s main point in his letter to the Galatian churches.1 These errors compound one another and, like an investment gone mad,2 they produce great confusion among Christians.

I’ll repeat something I wrote in the first installment of this series:

In Galatians, Paul was not arguing against the Old Covenant. He was arguing against the twisted, warped version of the Old Covenant the scribes and Pharisees had been pushing for so long.

Dispensationalists have made many attempts to explain the relationship between Old Covenant saints, the law and Christian life today.3 They often labor mightily to avoid the excesses of Scofield and Chafer, while yet simultaneously upholding a strong discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants. They often focus relentlessly on Paul’s letters (particularly Galatians and Romans), and less on the Old Covenant texts or their continuity with Jesus’ ministry.

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Why They Followed the Law (Part 2)

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God’s people have always followed the law because they love Him, and want to serve Him. That’s the only proper motivation for serving God. Always has been. Always will be. This isn’t a “New Covenant” distinctive, or an “Old Covenant” distinctive. It’s a “believer” distinctive. I’ll explain that in this brief survey.

It Is Moses’ View

Moses, the man himself, told the Israelites God wanted them to fear Him, and do what He said (Deut 10:12). They should love Him, and therefore serve Him with everything they have – keeping His commandments and statutes, which were given for their own good (Deut 10:13).

Why should they do that?

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Why They Followed the Law (Part 1)

Getting the Law Wrong?

The entire book of Galatians is consumed with the problem of what to do with the Old Covenant law. What does “following the law” have to do with personal salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?

A large party of Jewish Christians, most of them likely from Jerusalem and former Pharisees, believed you had to follow the Old Covenant law and repent and believe in Christ (Acts 15:1-5). Luke, in a very understated fashion, observes “Paul and Barnabas had no small discussion and debate with them.” The Apostle has little time for this kind of terrible error. He calls this teaching “a different Gospel,” (Gal 1:6). He speaks of the Galatians “deserting Him who called you,” (Gal 1:5). He said this is a perversion of the Gospel of Christ (Gal 1:7).

Did these Pharisees actually understand the message of the Old Covenant scriptures? Why did God’s people follow the law, anyway?

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