* This is the first article of a five part series. *
For centuries, theologians have debated whether or not the Old Testament’s laws given to the Israelites by God should still be followed. Some claim that Jesus’ death on the cross completely did away with all of God’s laws while others state that Jesus’ death fulfilled the sacrificial laws and that the ten commandments still apply. The most commonly known Jewish sacrificial law is to kill a perfect lamb. In explanation, Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD wrote, “The sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed to the coming death of the promised messiah.”
These two thoughts prompt the question of which group is correct. Protestant reformer, Martin Luther rallied the cry of sola scriptura, which means scripture alone in Latin. As Luther taught, when unsure of scholarly claims, the best course of action is to turn to the word of God and study for oneself. Don’t ever take anyone else’s word for it!
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus states, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Notice how Jesus uses the word fulfill. According to Webster’s the word fulfill means to “put into effect, to meet the requirements of.” Simply put, Jesus came to meet and put into effect the requirements of the law as the Bible says. Many Christian scholars agree that Jesus’ death fulfilled the sacrificial laws that the Jews were required to take part in.
In her book God’s Amazing Grace, Ellen G. White wrote, “The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone, is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’ Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked.”
Even after His death, Jesus still obeyed and respected His Father’s law. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus clearly tells His disciples to teach the world about Him and to obey everything that He had taught to them.
As Christians, we obey God’s commandments and laws not because we are afraid that lightening will strike us from the sky if we don’t. Instead, we obey His commands because we love Jesus! It is our delight to follow the will of the Father. Obeying God’s word is not punishment, but a privilege! Jesus died for our sins, the greatest gift that has ever been or will ever be given. Our gratitude and thankfulness can be demonstrated through a relationship with Him. As we come to know our Savior more, we will understand His love and purpose, including His law, even more. Jesus is the answer to every sinner’s plight, to every lost person’s cry, and to every Christian’s joy. God gave us the law not to hurt us, but because He loves us! Why wouldn’t we want to obey such a loving and kind heavenly Father?