Barry Newman's Blog

August 28, 2009

Freedom (part VII)

Filed under: Ceremonies,Freedom,Gospel,Law,Spirit — barrynewman @ 6:59 am

The Summary

The Law: Its role was to educate, to reveal sin, to curb sinful behaviour and to lead the Jew to Christ.  It has fulfilled its God given role.

The Spirit: The Holy Spirit has been given as the great gift of God to us, his people, we who are in Christ, to transform us, writing righteousness in our minds, bringing forth in us the fruit of love, peace and joy and more.

Ceremonies and Regulations: Once, the observance of certain ceremonies and regulations was necessary but that is not the case now. However, if for instance ceremonial observance is our choice, we must be careful never to imagine that such a manner of living gains merit with God.  It cannot.  We must never boast about our ceremonial behaviour.  Such boasting is vain.

The Gospel: Central to the gospel is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins to rescue us. We need to boast about the cross.  Such boasting is our Lord’s due. By God’s grace we have been saved through faith, trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ alone.  We are freed from the Law.  For freedom, Christ has set us free.

What are we to make of the ceremonies, Baptism and Holy Communion, often referred to as the Sacraments? They are subjects for next week and the following.



  1. “The Law: Its role was to educate, to reveal sin, to curb sinful behaviour and to lead the Jew to Christ. It has fulfilled its God given role.”

    Ummm, “has fulfilled its God-given role.” The Law still serves in the same capacity in our time. Certain political and ceremonial elements have passed, but the core still teaches about sin, depravity and the Gospel, even in the book of Leviticus.

    Comment by D. Philip Veitch — August 29, 2009 @ 5:53 am | Reply

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Perhaps I could have been clearer. My statement was really a summary of a part of what I wrote earlier in the paper. And of course there is a lot to be said in any discussion about the role of the Law. However, my intention was to refer to the Law in the same vein as Paul’s bald statement in Galatians 3: 23–25: “Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was a custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian.” At this point in his argument he uses the first person plural, ostensibly referring to himself and other Jews. (In vv. 26-29 he then switches to the Jews and Gentiles of the Galatian churches by using the second person plural and makes no mention of the Law). While Paul could have said more about the Law at this point, he is here simply indicating that the Law’s essential role as custodian has been fulfilled – the Christ has now come. He is of course not denying the ongoing application of the Law’s deep undergirding (loving God and loving one’s neighbour.) If, in some significant sense, the Law has not fulfilled its role, why does Paul make so little appeal (very occasionally he makes some appeal) to explicit sections of the Law in his letters, particularly for the benefit of his Gentile readers?

      Comment by Barry Newman — August 31, 2009 @ 3:01 am | Reply

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