Years ago, there was a popular country song called “I Loved Her First.” It was about a young woman getting married. The song is from the perspective of the woman’s father. He reminds the groom that the father loved the girl first.
I also remember years ago that someone in a Bible study said everything we read about in the NT was addressed, at least in seed form, in the teachings of the Lord. Even if Jesus did not address something specifically, or if it had not been revealed during the life of the Lord, the concept is found in His words.
I was reminded of that recently while studying the Book of Romans. In Rom 3:8, Paul says, “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.” Paul mentions here that some people accused him of teaching that God’s people could do evil. They slandered him in that way. They said that Paul did not think it was important to live righteously.
Of course, this is what can be expected if somebody preaches a gospel of grace. If we say that a person receives eternal life completely free and cannot lose that life no matter how he or she lives after receiving it, there will be many who say that we are saying a person can live however he wishes. People who say such things do not understand the motivation that grace gives us to live godly lives. They also do not understand the free offer of eternal life.
Of course, those of us in the Free Grace movement are constantly accused of the same thing. We can take comfort in the fact that we have the Apostle Paul in our company. In fact, if people do not accuse us of these things, we are doing something wrong. Clearly, Paul also preached a Free Grace gospel of eternal life!
Since everywhere he went he preached that gospel to Jews, we can rest assured many of those Jews concluded that Paul was saying that the Law of Moses, with all of its commandments, was not important. In fact, they would have concluded that Paul’s preaching was an attempt to do away with the Law completely.
Recently I noticed that Jesus Himself encountered the same thing. He mentions it in the Sermon on the Mount. He comments, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Jesus was a righteous living Jewish man! How could anyone come to the conclusion that He had come to destroy the Law or the Prophets? How could anyone conclude that He was teaching that the commandments of God were not important and that He had come to do away with them?
Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews. We know from the Gospel of John that before Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He had already told people how to receive eternal life. It was by faith in Him alone (John 2:23-25; 3:16). The Jews who heard such a message would naturally wonder what place the Law of Moses played in receiving eternal life. Many of them thought that such life was earned through obedience to the Law. Jesus was teaching that was not the case. The natural conclusion for many was that Jesus had come to do away with the Law.
Jesus also preached a Free Grace gospel. He did it before Paul. He did it before we did. When we preach that the commandments have no role in eternal salvation, either before, during, or after faith, we will be accused of promoting lawlessness. We just need to remember: Jesus said it first.