“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
John Wesley makes some excellent points in this sermon that are relevant today. We live in a world that is not interested in keeping laws, we are very good at pointing to others and where they are not keeping to the law but as for us – sure we keep “the important ones.”
If I were to quote from the Bible about “The Law” I would use Psalm 119 and its little sibling Psalm 19. I would talk of light and lamp, of perfection and God’s will. But Wesley covering four huge topics in one sermon starts in Romans and stays for the main firmly in the New Testament.
There are churches who never use the Old Testament, a friend of mine in the States, (we are bound by George) and whom I actually physically know, I have cried in her parlour, buckets, one day. She left our church to go to a “Bible believing church” but she never reads the Old Testament, she has thrown it out of the window with the bath water and is not concerned with the Law of old.
Today I must take a photo of “Covenant” for a UMC/ Rethink church project and as I am known as the “Rainbow Girl” I of course thought of rainbows and moonbows. But God’s covenant is now so much more than a spectrum in the sky, it is in the blood shed by Christ.
Don’t get me wrong I am not leaving the signs and wonders God has strewn across the sky just for me, and I will see more of that I am sure. But as we grow, as aim for Christlikeness the life we had is gone and the new is here and each day we grow, we move closer to the Lord, we come more and more under his discipline. We embrace the Law!
Embrace the Law! What am I talking about?
Wesley argues that God’s Law is as old as his nature. He contends that we cannot know God’s Law merely by learning it by rote, or hearing it over and over again we cannot comprehend the height and depth, and length, and breadth of it. God alone can reveal this by his Spirit. Do you hear the undertone here?
What word is coming to you now?
Is it LAW?
Why had God given us the Law?
If we look at the law of God from another angle; it is supreme, unchangeable reason; it is unalterable rectitude, it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created.
The law of God is a copy or image of the eternal mind, a transcript of His divine nature: it is a child of the everlasting Father, the brightest outpouring of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most high. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer. It is chaste, spotless, eternally and essentially holy, and it leads us to pure, clean, unpolluted worship of God.
We need the Law to help us resolve our sin, but not just the Law, the fulfilment of the Law, we need Jesus in our lives to transform us daily, to do this thing we call Christianity in the ordinary everydayness of our lives and allow his super-extra-ordinariness to transform us.
We are called to not only be transformed by a renewing of our mind but by a transformation of spirit and melting of heart. And we can not do this in our own strength.
It is only through the work of the Spirit and our openness to that work in us that we can embrace the Law.
Because to embrace the Law is to embrace life and to embrace love. I was listening to a video (I know the word is watch but I didn’t watch it I only listened to it) about Why is Christlikeness important, the speakers were church leaders from various denominations and they were clear it is a call placed on our lives to be more and more like Jesus BUT not one person said anything about the Bible, the Law or the Fruit of the Spirit.
To me these are some of the essential ingredients in growth. First Scripture – we must read, meditate, think, listen with our hearts daily the word of God. Secondly the Spirit convicts us on our faith journey in his own time about areas of our life that need more work, this conviction is using the Law to show us our sin and thirdly if we are becoming more and more like Christ – the evidence is in the Fruit of the Spirit in our everydayness, our ordinariness, our normal.
Wesley concludes his sermon by looking briefly at the uses of the Law:
- to convince the world of sin – quick and powerful, full of life and energy, “and sharper than any two edged sword.”
- to slay the sinner – to help a person see themselves as they truly are – “wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.”
- to love us – It is the spirit of love which, by this painful means, tears away our confidence in the flesh, which leaves us no broken reed whereon to trust, and so constrains the sinner, stripped of all, to cry out in the bitterness of his soul, or groan in the depth of his heart,
I give up every plea beside, —
Lord, I am damn’d; but Thou hast died.
- to keep us alive – we are to be alive in Christ and Christ alive in us but if we are actively sinning we are on the broad path that leads to perdition
- to keep us growing – “O what love have I unto thy law! all the day long is my study in it;” he sees daily, in that divine mirror, more and more of his own sinfulness. He sees more and more clearly, that he is still a sinner in all things, — that neither his heart nor his ways are right before God; and that every moment sends him to Christ.
Wesley is all about new believers but more than that he is all about discipling people. It is about growth in everyone not just the new believer but those who are a long time in the faith, those who teach and pastor, those in leadership;
Closer and closer let us cleave
To his beloved Embrace;
Expect his fullness to receive,
And grace to answer grace.