The Ten Commandments, Pt. 3

Scripture: Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 14:15, Hebrews 8:6-8
If we are saved by grace, is there a need for the law? Was it not done away with? What does the Bible mean when it speaks about the old and new covenants? Was there a different system of salvation between the Old and New Testaments? The Bible teaches all are saved by grace through faith. Salvation means Jesus takes possession of our hearts and lives out His life within us.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts, Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hello, friend, and welcome again to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw, with me is Gary Gibbs. and on Bible Talk we talk about the Bible and what the Bible has to say to us today.

Lately, Gary, we've been talking about the Ten Commandments. We've discovered God wants us to keep the Ten Commandments for sure, but keeping the Ten Commandments is not what merits us salvation. Let's start off by talking about how a person is saved and how the Ten Commandments fits into that.

Gary Gibbs: Well, John, we're definitely saved only by God's grace. The Bible says in the book of Romans 3, that we are all sinners. We've all sinned, we've all fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore we deserve sin's wage, which is death.

John: So, if we are saved by grace, what's the law got to do with this? Because last time on Bible Talk we found out that Paul said we are not under the law but we are under grace.

Gary: No, the law gives us a knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20, it points out that we're sinners, it points out that we are condemned to death, and it points us to our Savior. And we go to Jesus and it's there that we receive salvation by grace. So the law doesn't save us, but it points us to Jesus.

John: And in Jesus we find... Well what does Jesus do for us then?

Gary: Well he does a number of things. One is that he cancels the debt of our past sin. Somebody has to pay the penalty of that past sin, and that penalty is death. So he pays that past penalty, but he does something even more than that. He changes our heart. He gives us new motives and desires.

I like this text here in Ezekiel 36:26. It is also part of the New Covenant, you read about this in the book of Hebrews 8: "A new heart will also I give you. A new spirit will I put within you. I'll take away the stony heart out of your flesh, I'll give you a heart of flesh." And verse 27, after the heart changed, John, he says, "I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, you shall keep my judgments and do them."

John: So God is promising us a new experience as he works in us by his grace. And when that grace is operating in your life, it's going to call forth a certain response.

Gary: It's going to call forth love and obedience. Jesus said in John 14:6, "If you love me, keep my commandments."

John: Now, that'd be verse 15.

Gary: Verse 15, thank you. So, Jesus actually changes us, he gives us a new heart where we love to do his will. And then we want to obey him.

John: Now, this is fine, but there's going to be a body of people who hear all this and say, "Yeah, but you're missing the point. The point is that we are not under that system any more, because we are living under the New Covenant."

How does the New Covenant impact this? Or could I say, "Does the New Covenant do away with any obligation to obey God and keep his commandments?"

Gary: Well, John, when you start talking about the law of God, there are a number of teachings out there, unfortunately so, within the Christian church. That actually have the influence of canceling the law of God. We talked about some of these teachings in our last program.

Since we are under grace, we are not under law. God's grace cancels God's law. This one that you mentioned today, we are under the New Covenant and not under the Old Covenant, presupposed that under the New Covenant we don't have to obey God. That people are saved one way under the Old Covenant, they are saved a new way under the New Covenant.

John: Well some will say that the New Covenant is the New Testament, the Old Covenant, Ten Commandments, that existed under the Old Covenant way back then, so if the Ten Commandments was Old Testament, Old Covenant, why surely there is a new way of salvation for us today. You're going to hear that.

Gary: Yeah, but John, let me ask you, how were people saved, then, in the Old Testament, if there was a different way to be saved in the Old Testament than in the new? How were they saved in the Old Testament?

John: I know and a lot of people are going to say, "Back then, God gave them the law, they obeyed the law. If they obeyed, they were saved."

Gary: OK, and then how were they saved in the New Testament?

John: Well others will say, "All you do today, just believe on Jesus and you're saved."

Gary: Now John, can you imagine these two people, an Old Testament person and a New Testament person, meeting in heaven there on the streets of gold. They walk up to each other and they start a conversation. And one man, the New Testament Christian says to the Old Testament believer, he says, "Hey, how were you saved?"

And the man says, "Well, I obeyed all of Gods laws, you know, I kept all the holy days, I killed sacrifices, I was careful about everything. Kept all of God's laws and I had enough points in my favor that I am in heaven today." Then he turns and he responds to the New Testament Christian, "Well, hey, how did you get here?"

And he says, "I didn't have to do a thing except believe in Jesus Christ as my savior, and that's how I got here." Now how do you think, John, that Old Testament is going to feel right then.

John: There'd be a little bit of... It seems like there's some inequity between those two systems of salvation.

Gary: I think he'd would say, "I need to go have a talk with God."

John: So what you are saying then, is that the Old Testament believer and the New Testament Christian were not saved under different methods of dispensations.

Gary: Jesus says there is only one way to salvation and John 14:6, he says, "I am the way the truth and the light. No man comes to the Father, but by me."

John: But how is that possible for the Old Testament believer? Jesus hadn't come along for hundreds or even thousands of years after the lives of some of these people. So how can somebody back then under the Old Covenant be saved through Jesus Christ?

Gary: Well, you know, in the very beginning, the very beginning of sin, there in the Garden of Eden, God gave the promise of the redeemer. And from Genesis 3, what is it? Verse 15 I believe it is, talks about the seed of the woman who will bruise the head of the serpent. From the very beginning God gave promises of a coming redeemer, a coming savior.

And Old Testament believers look forward to salvation, they look forward to the cross. We look back to the cross, but both of us find our salvation in the cross. Let me give you a text in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews three and four cover this quite thoroughly. We don't have time to cover all the text here, but in Hebrews 4, it's referring to Old Testaments Christians and New Testament Christians. Both had the Gospel preached to them.

Let me read it to you here, Hebrews 4:2, "For unto us" -- that's the New Testament believers -- "was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them," talking about the Old Testament believers. So you see, the Gospel was preached to the Old Testament people, just like it's preached to us in the sense that they looked forward to the cross, we look back to the cross.

John: How can you say they heard the Gospel? The Gospel is the good news of grace through faith, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Where do you read in the Old Testament about people being saved by grace?

Gary: Well, there are a number of examples of that. Noah found grace, Genesis 6.8. Exodus 33.17, Moses found grace in God's sight. Over and over again, the stories of the Old Testament illustrate salvation by grace.

Now, this is especially true as you look at the sacrificial system. You see what happened in the sacrifice of the Old Testament was a teaching of the Gospel. When a person sin, they were to bring a sacrifice, and they were to kill that sacrifice, and shed its blood. That provided forgiveness for them.

But it only provided forgiveness, inasmuch as by faith, this person realized that one day God would have to send his son to die for them. So it taught them, somebody had to die for their sin; an innocent substitute would do that, that point and forward to the coming of the redeemer that he would die for their sins. So in that sense, they were saved by grace, looking forward to the cross.

John: Now, we are under the New Covenant now. And the Bible says it's a New Covenant and it's established on better promises; a whole different deal here. How does that measure with the experience of the children of Israel and the covenant they were under, the differences as it relates to how we relate to God's law?

Gary: Well, the Bible definitely says that the Old Covenant was faulty, that the Old Covenant did not provide salvation. And some people make the mistake of just assuming the Old Covenant then meant everything in the Old Testament. That's a wrong conclusion because as we've already seen, the Old Testament teaches the Gospel.

John: So the Old Covenant, you cannot say, is the Old Testament?

Gary: A covenant is an agreement between two individuals or two people. And so the Old Covenant was an agreement between God and the Israelites when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. And there was a problem with that covenant. Let me read it to you out of the New Testament book of Hebrews 8:7. It says, if that first covenant -- that's the Old Covenant, John -- had been faultless, then there would have been no place for the Second Covenant, which is the New Covenant.

Now, notice where the fault was with the Old Covenant. Verse 8, for finding fault with them -- he's referring to the Israelites -- for finding fault with them, he said, "Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I'll make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Now, the fault with the Israelites was they made a poor promise. And you see that here in Hebrews eight as well, back in verse 6, it says that the New Covenant is established upon better promises.

John: Well, what was the promise that the Israelites made, Gary, that was so poor that covenant had to be established; a new covenant on better promises?

Gary: We have to go back to Exodus 19. And this is right before God gives the Ten Commandments law. And he's called the people out of Israel, out of Egypt, I should say.

He's helped them cross over the Red Seas, destroyed their enemies. And then he says in verse five of Exodus 19, "If you will obey voice indeed and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me, above all people; for all the earth is mine. You will be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Now, when the people hear the words of God, in verse eight it says, they respond that "All that the Lord has spoken will we do."

John: Now, shouldn't that be what anybody would say, "God says here's what I want you to do." Surely, that's an appropriate response. "OK, God, you said it, I'm going to do it."

Gary: It is an appropriate response. But it has to be co-joined with humility. We have to realize that in our selves, we cannot keep such a promise. And that's where the Israelites fail.

When God came to Abraham in Genesis 17 and said essentially the same thing; "Walk before me, be a holy person and a holy nation, " Abraham's response was quite different than the Israelites. You remember what he did?

John: No, you tell me, what did Abraham do?

Gary: He actually fell on his face, the Bible says, and he didn't even say a word. Now, Abraham was an obedient man. Abraham followed the Lord. But he realized that in and of himself, he could not be obedient to God. So he fell in humility.

And then God said, since you have the right response, I'm going to empower you, and you're going to live for me. And God established the covenant with Abraham.

John: So the children of Israel should really have said "Everything the Lord has said, we will do by only..."

Gary: By your grace.

John: Only by your grace.

Gary: That's the only way to do it.

John: So when God gives us the Ten Commandments today, he doesn't say "Do this if you want to be saved, Jesus has said, "salvation comes by grace through faith." But when you've been saved, that means Jesus has taken possession of your heart; it's going to be a natural thing for you to follow these principles of the God of Heaven.

Gary: That is so true. And so as we look at the two covenants, it's important for us to remember. There has only been one saving covenant. And that is the New Covenant. It's a covenant God made with Abraham; it's a covenant he makes with us.

In Hebrews 8, it says that this New Covenant is, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I'll be to them the God, and they shall be to me, a people.

So it's when God comes to us and he says, here's what I want you to do, and we say, Lord, I can't do that on my own. But I will surrender my life to you, I'll give you my heart, and I'll let you work in my heart, to will and to do of your good pleasure.

That's the New Covenant, that's what he wanted to make with the Israelites in the Old Testament. But they refused to do that. Instead, they made a promise; we'll do it on our own strength and maybe fail, time and time again.

John: There need be no failing for you, Christian friend, if you open your heart to Jesus and say, "Jesus, come into my heart, and let your will be done."

There's more to talk about on this subject. We'll do it again next time. Don't miss it; join us here on "Bible Talk."

John: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible Study Guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed, and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know.

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