One of the many themes that I have emphasized over and over in this blog is the fact that Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase word of God to mean gospel. Another theme that is similar but not exactly the same is the fact that Jesus gave the scripture a redemptive focus. The two together make a radical paradigm shift. So, there is a radical paradigm shift… so what?
The main thing that happens is that grace trumps law. God has always been gracious and merciful, slow to anger and eager to forgive. However, Jesus shift in the definition of the term word of God, and his redemptive focus shift, offers the proof that grace trumps law. It changes the focus from law/Torah to grace, forgiveness, and rest in the love of God. It was best stated by the apostle John; (John 1:17 NKJV) “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” What does that mean exactly? Well, the law that was given through Moses was neither grace nor truth. Let me unpack that a little more.
The law was given to show God’s exact standard of righteousness. The greatest commandment, the Shema, (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength; is quite a task indeed. Take a good long at it. Look at the word ALL. That makes it impossible by human effort alone. How many times have I pointed out in this blog that we can say we love God, but if we are fearful of him we cannot really love him, and most definitely, we CANNOT love him with ALL our heart, soul, and strength. We can say that we do but it would be merely bearing false witness.
That is where grace and truth come into play. Grace can produce that love for God based upon unlimited grace. It is the only thing that will produce love for God. Secondly, we must face the truth that it is only in light of God’s grace that we can muster up any love at all for him. As John stated in his epistle, we love him because he first loved us. How did he demonstrate the love you ask? The answer is simple… his grace as shown in Christ Jesus, and his death, burial, and resurrection.
I will return to the original question… Jesus changed the definition of the term word of God and gave scripture a solely redemptive purpose… so what? The answer is that one can never rest in God’s grace as long as they are confronted with the law. If they see the law as the standard for righteousness they will always find that they fall short in some way or another. As long as they always seem to fall short they will continue to fear God. So then, the only thing that frees us up to obey the greatest commandment is unlimited grace. And if we get in a position where we truly love God without fear, we will see the other commandments begin to fall into place in our lives because of our love for God.