Does the Law save us?
Lots of Christians say that the Law doesn’t save us. They hammer the point, mostly made plain by Paul, that salvation is by faith, not by works. Works, it is claimed, is doing something, including doing the Law. Therefore, according to this line of thinking, we shouldn’t follow Laws. The Law doesn’t save us. “It isn’t a salvation issue” as I’ve been told. A few modify this idea with the imaginary designations of civil, ceremonial, and moral and just say we don’t do the first two. Never mind that the Bible doesn’t do this, that everything God says is moral, and that they can’t tell you which commands are “only” civil or ceremonial. They are all linked together. There are other excuses too, but this summarizes the main points. But let’s go with their hammering for a moment.
It is true, of course, that salvation is by grace through faith. It is also true that it is a gift, and cannot be earned. It is received by accepting the finished work of Jesus in the crucifixion and resurrection. His blood pays the debt incurred by our sin. For our sake He who knew no sin was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). We cannot work for this. We can’t follow some rules then demand salvation as wages. That is what Paul is talking about. Merit versus a gift. Wages versus unearned wealth. We are not saved because we behave so well that we deserve it. While we were yet sinners Jesus died for us.
But what would these people say if I asked instead, “Does the Word of God save us?”
That kind of changes the dynamic, doesn’t it? Because in fact it is the Word of God that saves us. “God said let there be light.” He speaks, we accept His Word, and we are saved. By His Word He creates a new heart of flesh in us, and engraves His Word on it through the Spirit. We respond by abiding in that Word, eating and drinking His body and blood (the Word of God) on a daily, minute by minute basis.
Before you get too uptight about my characterization, remember also that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” as John says in John 1:14. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). His Law and His Word are the same thing. The goal of the Law is the Christ (Romans 10:4). We cannot say we abide in His Word, that it is written on our heart of flesh, then get picky about which ones we’ll consent to follow, can we? Does such pickiness really go along with salvation?
The Word of God is life, it is moral, it is in civil laws and ceremonial laws, it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. He does not separate His Word into a sections that we can dismiss on a whim. That attitude is certainly a “salvation issue” in the negative sense.
So answer me, you who say the Law doesn’t save. Does the Word of God save us?