Now then, why do you think that John MacArthur wrote "The Gospel According to Jesus?" It is simple. He wanted to demonstrate that the gospel involves law obedience as well. He will deny that but it is ridiculous for him to try to do so. That indeed was his purpose. It was to convince people that the one who is truly saved will, in fact, supernaturally try to obey the Law. That is a sad error. That is in fact, the "leaven of the Pharisees." The gospel was not meant to allow the Christian to obey the law supernaturally. The gospel was meant to cause the believer/Christian to supernaturally love God. It is a supernatural love for God that is trans-formative in nature. Believing the gospel creates a true love for God based upon His grace. 1Jn 4:10 NLT "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." The unconditional grace of God, apart from any act of law obedience is the source of the transformation. John MacArthur's error only produces fear ultimately. 1Jn 4:18 NLT "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love." The only way that one can experience this perfect love is by believing the gospel as Paul explained it in 1Co 15 & 2Co 5. The minute that law obedience is attached as a proof of conversion it changes to a law based righteousness.
In the previous blog post we saw that the gospel according to Paul was one of total, unconditional grace that does not focus on sin. Rather, it focuses on the supernatural way that God removed sin from the equation. We wondered why current Christian doctrine focuses so much on sin and law. It stems from a basic misunderstanding of the scripture interpretation. This is the reason that Christian doctrine is so far of the mark, wallowing in the mud bog of error. In this post we can answer the question that so many have. If you are right about the gospel and unconditional grace, why then is there so much that appears to be law in the New Testament writings? Most evangelicals cannot get past the law passages. and we have to answer that question satisfactorily.
Let me restate the question again at the beginning of this paragraph: If we are indeed not under law and instead under grace, why is there so much ink in the New Testament writings that appears to be law? The reason is very simple. The New Testament writings were not written directly to us. They were written to an audience that was in the middle of transition from the Jew only Old Covenant to the all inclusive New Covenant. They were written during a transition period that runs from John the Baptist to the destruction of the temple. Law was very important in the Old Covenant economy as it acted as a teacher, or tutor that was preparing the way for, and pointing the way to Christ Jesus. To emphasize the nature of this transition period look at Hebrews nine. Heb 9:7-8 NLT "But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for His own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (8) By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use." All of the New Testament was written before the destruction of the temple while the Old Covenant limped along side of the New Covenant. The believers both Jew and Gentile were being shown a new and better way, but during the transition period there was an already/not yet mixture of the Old and New Covenants.
To facilitate the new and better way, the better covenant, based on better promises, Jesus and his first century followers redefined the phrase "word of God" from the Old Covenant definition of Torah to the new covenant definition of gospel. So in the gospel according to Paul, the word of God was the gospel. If you read Romans 10:17 in its context, you will have to admit that Paul was speaking of faith coming by hearing the gospel. Paul went on to define specifically the "word of truth." It is not the scripture per se, but rather the gospel. He gives the definition in Ephesians 1:13 in which he says "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation."
It is obvious that Jesus and his first century followers were redefining "word of God" from Torah to gospel to make sure that everyone understood that the scripture had a redemptive gospel focus and not an Old Covenant "law centered" focus. In fact, the early church fathers in the second century forward went back to calling the scripture "the word of God" with an interpretive method that was similar to the Pharisees. In fact, current evangelical scripture interpretation is "the leaven of the Pharisees." This is precisely what Jesus warned his first century followers to beware of and watch out for.
So then, it is by an erroneous way of interpreting scripture that evangelical doctrine has nullified grace by making law more important than grace in the day to day lives of believers, when in fact, the gospel plan, the mystery that was revealed in Paul's day is just the opposite. I hope you take time to read part one if you have not done so as they are important to be read as a unit. This is what makes the gospel according to Paul so critical and of first importance in proper understanding of the correct Christian doctrine.