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A Higher Law より高い律法

Following on from last week.
Different laws. God’s laws supersede the laws of the world.神の律法は世の律法に取って代わります。
We saw this with the illustration of the triangle – once we introduce a higher dimension, the laws of the lower dimension no longer apply.

The world’s laws say that it doesn’t matter how you ‘sow’ your life, as long as you get rich, get famous, become “successful” or look good, then, essentially the ends justify the means.

But we saw that God’s laws supersede the laws of the world.
The Bible says that “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galations 6:7

If you sow in lies, you’ll reap in deceit.
If you sow in bitterness, you’ll reap in bitterness.
If you sow in anger, you’ll reap in anger.
If you sow in selfishness, you’ll reap in loneliness.
If you sow in doubt, you’ll reap in confusion.
If you sow in materialism, you’ll reap in emptiness.
If you sow in smut, you’ll reap in smut.
The same is true the other way around:
If you sown in kindness, you’ll reap in kindness.
If you sow in gladness, you’ll reap in gladness.
The same for holiness, love and so on.

This is a principle that is profoundly true. これはきわめて真実な原理です。
God’s principles are different from those of the world. 神の原理は世の原理とは違っています。

But if we don’t know the God of the Bible and we don’t know His gospel, these principles can lead to ‘The Shoganai Principle’ of fatalism.
This would suggest that
if you have sown in bitterness, you will now and forevermore reap the fruits of bitterness
if you have sown in materialism, you will now and forevermore reap the fruits of emptiness
if you have sown in smut, you will now and forevermore reap the fruits of smut
and so on.

Yet even spiritual laws can be superseded. And we should be glad that they are. The law of reaping has been superseded by the law of grace.

Bono summed this up beautifully (although initially using worldly concepts) in an interview with Michka Assayas in 2005.

Bono: It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. …. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

As Bono pointed out, ‘an eye for an eye’ is a good law – it was necessary and ‘fair’ to make sure that punishments were appropriate for the crime committed but this law is superseded by the higher law of love which Jesus taught.

Matthew 5:38-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

It’s not only an eye for an eye. In fact the whole Old Testament law, which is good, has now been superseded – found its real fulfillment – in Christ.

Hebrews 8:13 “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

And so the law of grace supersedes the law of reaping what has been sown.

What is grace? It is tied in very closely with love and forgiveness.
Mercy – we don’t get what [punishment] we deserve
Grace – we get what [blessings] we don’t deserve

And so grace is, not surprisingly, very popular.

Yet even something as beautiful as grace can appear outrageous, scandalous, even infuriating, at first.

Parable of the workers. Eg from eikaiwa – paying the same for teaching 6 hours & 1 hour

Phillip Yancey talks about “God’s atrocious maths”.
The lost sheep. What if 13 get eaten while he’s looking for the one lost sheep?

We also see this in the prodigal son and the older brother.
The older brother felt ripped off by the father’s mercy and grace toward his younger son, even though he enjoyed all the blessings of his father uninterrupted.

We ask that question ourselves at times with regards to salvation: Is it fair that someone who has lived an evil, sinful life should on their deathbed, after a life of handing out abuse and pain, be granted the same salvation as someone who has dedicated their whole lives to God, remaining chaste, teaching Sunday School, sacrificing their time, effort and money to help others? Is this right? It’s easy to become indignant.

Jim Cymbala asks the question, “What should I do when a man comes into my office and confesses to being a pedaphile? I want to punish him. I want to grab him by the scruff of his coat and hurl him out onto the street. I want to pass judgement on him…” There are appropriate and necessary legal responses there but as ministers we are agents of God’s grace, however repugnant we feel the recipients might be.

The greatest men of the Bible fit this bill. They were not worthy of grace. Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and a murderer, Paul persecuted the church and approved of the killing of many early Christians. They were despicable people. Yet once regenerate and under God’s grace [they became truly great people] Moses became one of the greatest prophets in history. David was known to be “a man after God’s own heart” (if you don’t know grace, this is chilling in the light of what he had done) and Paul became a ‘super-apostle’.

Grace, like mercy, is unfair in the way that it works.
Grace, like mercy, is unfair in a way that works in our favour.

Sometimes we worry deep down that God in His judgements is not fair, We read the book of Joshua, we see God’s judgements, we read about the final judgement to come and there is the thought, the fear that God might not be fair in His judgements and that ‘bad’ people might literally get away with murder while ‘good’ people might end up very harshly done by.
Yet grace, like mercy, isunfair in a way that works in our favour.

In fact the whole gospel is known quite rightly as the gospel of grace, because by it, all people – sinful, repugnant, despicable people – are pardoned, reborn and purified by grace.

Rom 3:22-24
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

The Gospel of grace:

C.S. Lewis – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Deep Magic from the dawn of time
superseded by
Deeper magic from before the dawn of time

This is grace.

The Bible: The punishment for sin is blood: life for life
superseded by
Forgiveness through the atoning blood of an innocent party in another’s place. That innocent party is Jesus Christ.

This is grace.

Supporting scripture:
“When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:19-22
superseded by
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph 2:13

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

This is grace.

Let’s rejoice in the knowledge that, no matter what we’ve done, who we’ve been, how old we are, how hard-hearted we’ve been, how ashamed we feel, how guilty we are, how undeserving we believe ourselves to be, having given our lives to Christ, we are under His grace to live new lives, to be great for God, to enjoy His love.