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The Rev. David W. Hall (PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is married to Ann, and they are parents of three grown children. He has served as the Senior Pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA) since 2003. After completion of his undergraduate studies, Pastor Hall studied at Swiss L’Abri and then enrolled at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating in 1980. In addition to pastoring, David Hall is the author or editor of over 20 books and numerous essays.

Column: First Truths from the First Gospel by David Hall

Christ's Love for the Law

August 22, 2014 •

Read Matthew 5:17-20

The first verses in this chapter examined the Christian’s character as described by the Beatitudes. Following that, we saw what the influence of Christian would be. In these present verses, we proceed to a different subject—the Christian and the Law. Jesus wanted to make it clear that he loved God’s law.  His love for it compared with David’s and that of other saints in the Old Testament. Some who call themselves Gospel Christians are sub-par in this respect and could benefit by reviewing what our Savior thought of the Law.

However, after verse 16, Christ seems to change subjects abruptly. In verses 17-48 (for the next 31 verses), he addresses the true application of God’s law to the Christian’s life. Jesus had already been accused by his opponents of being a destructive revisionist or an iconoclast. In these next verses, Jesus undertakes to correct that misapprehension. He asserts publicly that he is not against God’s law but in harmony with it. In fact, he applies it with more depth than the Pharisees dreamed of. Jesus understood God’s law to be positive and helpful, even if occasionally painful. He knew that it contained the spirituality that Christians should desire.

This subject is very important for us today. Living in our humanistic culture, there is probably no more hated word than ‘law’ (unless it’s pre-destination)! To our world apart from Christ, the ultimate priority is to live free from any constraint, allowed to authenticate oneself with one’s own choices. Many people in our age work as hard as they can for unbridled freedom. They detest it when a Christian or anyone else tells them that they are outside of the law. The choices of modern people may be severely restricted by the concept of “law.”

Law in our culture is seen largely as an evil, an unnatural imposition against natural liberty or as a hindrance to human autonomy. To hear many people speak, it is as if they want to run native all the time devoid of any restraint. Many of our contemporaries think that “Law” is merely the arbitrary coercion of the will of the stronger onto the weaker. Thus law is oppressive and to be overthrown. But Jesus does not view law as such—at least not God’s Law. He knew its real purpose was to be a blessing, a guideline reflecting the character and nature of God. Thus, it was not to be feared. Jesus understood the Law perfectly—for he co-authored it. Don’t forget that Christ is not one who came later to criticize the Law—for he gave it! And to him, as Author of that Law, we must turn for proper application of it.

As modern Christians, we are tempted to be conformed to this world’s opinion. But if we do we’ll be rebelling against God’s law. We need to be instructed and reminded that the Law of the Lord is perfect. David wrote in Psalm 19: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul . . . The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes . . . They are more precious than gold . . .” Does our gospel spirituality value the Law less than David?

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