I have spent a lot of keystrokes demonstrating that Jesus and his first century followers who wrote the New Testament redefined the term word of God to mean Jesus or the gospel, and established a solely redemptive purpose to scripture. So what? What is my point you may ask? I will try to articulate the importance of this understanding and what it actually means to the believer and his or her faith and practice.
First let me say that the solely redemptive purpose eliminates the rulebook, and the legalistic constitutional reading of scripture. This is by far the prime method of reading among evangelicals, and it is the one that produces fear in the heart and mind of the saint. When one looks at the law as the exact standard of righteousness, the standard that one is expected to live up to and strive for, it cannot help but create fear in the heart and mind of the saint; Especially the one who realizes that they in no way, shape or form, measure up to the standard.
When one sees the scripture as the word of God in totality, there is no possible way to escape the legalistic and constitutional reading of scripture. In this scenario, the law always trumps grace. This sums up evangelical theology. In the long run, law always trumps grace. However, when one shifts paradigms to the redemptive view that Jesus and his followers taught. You find out that grace always trumps law. James, the most legalistically understood apostle… the one who told the Jewish converts that they establish their faith by their works… made this statement. It is a declarative statement that must be a redemptive decree. ” Mercy triumphs over judgment. ” (James 2:13) Yes, grace rules!
When one adopts the solely redemptive view of scripture, and sees Jesus and the gospel as the word of God, then, grace suddenly trumps law every time. Why do evangelical preachers continue to preach as though law trumps grace in the end? It is because of their definition of the word of God. They see it as the entire bible, and thereby cannot escape the idea that in the end law trumps grace; especially if it looks like one is misusing grace. They use the scripture to prove the point and it is always the final word. Here is an example of what I mean:
Heb 10:28-29 “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
Anyone who uses this verse to prove that law trumps grace in the end does so from sheer ignorance. If you read Hebrews, and do not take into account the historical context, you can come up with some really scary verses, in what otherwise is one of the most redemptively declarative books of the New Testament. One must understand that the book of Hebrews was written to Jews, who because of persecution, are in danger of returning to Judaism without Christ. All of the *impossible to repent* passages are directed at the fact, that if Jesus is not who he says he is, and, if his sacrifice is not sufficient once for all, then they are in really bad shape because without him there is no repentance at all. Temple sacrifices will not do the trick. The blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer is not sufficient for anything. In fact, these are the dead works that one must have their consciences cleansed from. It is definitely not teaching that law trumps grace, and evangelical preachers who use it that way ought to be ashamed of themselves.