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“There is One Law”
“As the sin offering is, so is the trespass offering: there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith shall have it.” (Leviticus 7:7)
“There is one law.” — Obviously, Moses here tells us that the sin offering and the trespass offering are one law. He is also, obviously, telling us that all that he has said from the opening chapter of Leviticus to this point is one law. This declaration of God, “there is one law,” reaches further still. I have not counted them myself, but I am told by those who have, that God gave the children of Israel 613 distinct laws by his servant Moses — 613 specific commandments — 613 detailed, meticulous regulations of life and worship.
Men divide those commandments into sections, trying to fit God into their own little box. Men speak of “the moral law,” “the ten commandments,” “the Levitical law,” “the ceremonial law,” “the dietary laws,” and “the civil law.” But God says, with regard to all the sacrifices and all the laws given to Israel, “there is one law.”
The whole law of God given in the Old Testament Scriptures is one in purpose, usefulness, and message. The law’s purpose, its’ usefulness is to make known to us our need of Christ as our only, sin-atoning sacrifice, by whom alone sinners can approach the holy Lord God and be accepted (Romans 3:19-26). The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, to shut us up to Christ. It has no other lawful purpose, no other lawful function, and no other lawful usefulness.
The Lord God told Moses and the children of Israel that all he had revealed concerning the sacrifices to this point was one law. All that has been stated in the preceding six chapters and all that is stated in this seventh chapter of Leviticus is intended by God to point us to Christ, teaching us to trust him alone as our Savior. The message contained in this statement is of immense importance. — “There is one law.”
Many religious people have a foolish and deadly enchantment with the law of God. In many houses of worship the Ten Commandments are written out in large, bold letters and hung upon a wall, in some conspicuous place for all to read. There are some churches where every Sunday the congregation mournfully chants, “Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep thy law.” Some are even so foolish as to enter into a covenant for their children, and vow before God that, “They shall keep God’s holy commandments, and walk in them all the days of their lives.” The pulpit, which should proclaim freedom and liberty in Christ, lays a heavy yoke of bondage upon men, which they cannot bear. Men and women are taught from their youth up to groan under the yoke of the law and to labor after righteousness where it can never be found. If I had my way, wherever there is a plague hanging with the Ten Commandments, I would hang another, larger plague, inscribed with these words: — “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.”
The law of God, including the Ten Commandments, was never intended by God to produce righteousness of any kind, to justify sinners, or to be a rule of life for God’s people in this world. The law was given to convince us of our sin, to condemn us for sin, and to show us our need of a substitute. But it was never intended to be a means of attaining righteousness. Just the opposite is true. The law was given to convince us of the impossibility of attaining righteousness by our own works. — “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). Will men never learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Preachers make a mixture of the law and the gospel and serve out the deadly poison with such regularity that the people are so stupefied that they do not know the difference. In most places, for every ounce of gospel preached there is a pound of law! That will never do. If the message of the pulpit is not all gospel, all mercy, all grace, there is no soundness in it.
I want to turn you entirely away from yourself, and so lift up the Lord Jesus Christ before you in his redemptive, saving glory that you cannot help looking to him alone and trusting him alone to save you. I do not ask you to produce any obedience whatsoever to the law of God. I am calling upon you to trust the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner’s substitute. I do not set before you the commandments of the law, which you can never perform, and by which you must be condemned. Rather, I set before you the blessed commandment of the gospel.
In 1st John 3:23, God the Holy Ghost gives us the one law to which the whole law of God points, the one law that must be obeyed by us.
“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
This is what God the Holy Ghost calls “the commandment of the everlasting God.” This is the one commandment we must obey. And if you obey this commandment you will live forever. Obedience to this commandment is called “the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26).
The one thing God requires of every sinner is faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you who read these pages to be saved by the grace of God. And I know that the only way you can be saved is by obeying this commandment of God. You must believe on his Son, Jesus Christ.
In order to be saved we must believe on the Son of God. That faith which saves the soul is believing on a Person, depending upon Jesus Christ for eternal life. We are not saved by believing certain religious dogma, no matter how true and orthodox the dogma is. We are not saved by believing certain facts about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, no matter how accurately those facts may be perceived. We are saved by believing a Person. Saving faith is not consent to a proposition, but commitment to a Person. Specifically, John tells us three things we must believe about the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. We must believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son. — “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son.” No one will ever trust Christ as his Lord and Savior until he is convinced in his heart that Christ is God. Those who deny the Godhood of our Savior are infidels. Their religion is blasphemy. Jesus Christ our Savior is God (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 3:16). No one but God himself can forgive us of our sins and save us.
2. We must believe that he who is God the eternal Son is also “Jesus,” the Savior. — Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man that he might save men. Because of his great love for sinners, the Son of God came into this world as a real man to save us (2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Timothy 1:15). He who is the sinner’s substitute must be both God and man in one glorious Person. Only man could suffer. Only God could satisfy.
3. Believing that Jesus is both God and man, we must trust him as the Christ. — The title “Christ” means “Anointed One.” He is the one ordained, anointed, and sent of the Father into this world on an errand of mercy. God sent his Son into this world, not to make it possible for sinners to save themselves, but that he might save sinners. It is his responsibility as the Christ of God to bring many sons to glory. We must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, having come into this world to save sinners, has fully accomplished his mission.
Faith trusts the righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:19). His obedience to the law as a man fully satisfies the requirements of the law for all his people.
Faith trusts the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12). We heartily rejoice in the doctrine of the atonement, limited, effectual, blood atonement. Christ, by dying in the room, place, and stead of sinful men, bore the terror and curse of the law until justice itself was satisfied and demanded no more. Faith sees and relies upon the fact that Christ, by his one great sacrifice for sin, has put away all the sins of his people (Hebrews 9:26; 1 John 1:9).
Faith trusts the intercession of Christ (Hebrews 7:25). We rest our souls upon the fact that God our Father will not and cannot refuse the prayer of his Son (John 17:20).
Faith is something more than simply believing the truthfulness of these things. Faith is acting upon God’s revelation. Faith is trusting Christ, relying upon him. Faith is looking to Christ for the healing of our souls, just as the children of Israel looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness for the healing of their bodies (John 3:14-16).
In order to be saved you must believe on the Son of God. But be sure you understand that faith in Christ is the gift of God. Faith in Christ is not hereditary. Faith in Christ cannot be produced by human logic or religious atmosphere. Faith in Christ is not the result of providential judgment or even the terror of eternal damnation. Saving faith, true, heart faith in Christ is produced in the hearts of sinners by the gracious operation of God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:10; 2:8-9; Colossians 2:12).
No sinner will ever trust Christ until he hears the gospel preached in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:13-17). No one will ever trust the Lord Jesus Christ until he is regenerated, born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-7). And no sinner will ever trust the Son of God until he is revealed in his heart by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:6). Faith in Christ is produced by the revelation of Christ in the heart. As soon as a person sees Christ he trusts Christ.
You must believe on Christ. Faith in Christ is the gift of God. And there are no pre-requisites, conditions, or qualifications we must meet before we can trust Christ.
Self-righteousness is like the pesky mole. Drive it out of one hole, and it will quickly find another. We have perhaps driven it out of the den of good works as a ground of hope before God. But it has found another hiding place. These dens of darkness have many names: — “fitness for faith,” — “conditions of conversion,” — “suitability for salvation,” — and “qualifications for grace.”
No matter what name you use, it is the same. The reasoning is this: “Salvation is by grace alone. It is not what you do, but what Christ has done that saves you. But, before you can trust Christ and be saved, you must be terrified with conviction, or you must weep and mourn over your sin, or you must desire holiness, or you must repent, or you must long after Christ, or you must come to see yourself as a lost sinner, or you must see and understand the doctrine of the gospel.”
That kind of doctrine may sound good to many; but it is only a round-a-bout way of preaching works salvation and mixing law and grace. Anything that is placed between the sinner and Christ as a condition or qualification for faith is works.
The gospel of Christ is addressed to sinners as sinners. — “This is his commandment, that we should believe on his Son Jesus Christ.” There are no qualifications or conditions to be met. Christ died for sinners. God saves sinners. The gospel is for sinners ¾ Not awakened sinners ¾ Not sensible sinners ¾ Not convicted sinners ¾ Not lost sinners ¾ Not repentant sinners ¾ Just sinners!
The moment a man places any condition or qualification of any kind upon the sinner before he can trust Christ and be saved, he ceases to preach a gospel of pure grace.
You might ask, “What can be wrong with using whatever means we can to make men know their desperately sinful condition, and thereby making them sense their need of Christ?” Here are seven evils of preaching conditional faith:
1. Conditional faith reverses God’s order. — Repentance, conviction of sin, and lamentation over sin are not pre-requisites for coming to Christ and trusting him. These things do not precede faith. They are the results of faith (Zechariah 12:10; John 16:7-14).
2. Conditional faith makes our experience, rather than the finished work of Christ, the basis of our hope before God.
3. Conditional faith keeps people from trusting Christ. — Conditional faith provides sinners with a place of refuge short of Christ himself. They find hope in their feelings, their experience, or their knowledge.
4. Conditional faith gives sinners some ground of boasting before God. — How quick we are to boast in ourselves! I have heard and read the testimonies of men which spoke much, much more of their “process of conversion,” and their feelings, and their experience than of Christ, his redemption, and the grace of God in him.
5. Conditional faith forbids any real assurance for God’s elect. — If true faith in Christ comes only after repentance, conviction of sin, a great sense of sin, or any other condition, then I must always be plagued with questions like these. — Have I repented enough? — Have I been convicted enough? — Did I really sense my sinfulness enough? — Did I know enough?
6. Conditional faith offers no immediate hope to perishing sinners. — The gospel says, “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The gospel says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” But preachers of conditional faith say, “After you feel your sin, believe. After your heart is melted, harden not your heart. If you really know your lost condition and your guilt, come to Christ.”
Illustrations: The Thief
7. Conditional faith promotes an arrogant and judgmental attitude toward the people of God. — If believers must meet certain standards and pre-requisites in order for their faith to be true faith, we must make our acceptance of a brother dependent upon his experience, rather than upon his faith in Christ. And the only standard by which we may judge another man’s experience is our own.
M’Cheyne rightly said, “We must not close with Christ because we feel him, but because God has said it, and we must take God’s Word even in the dark.” Spurgeon wrote, “All that is of nature’s spinning must be unraveled, and everything that getteth into Christ’s place, however dear to thee, and however precious in itself, must be broken in pieces, and like the dust of the golden calf, must be scattered upon the water, and thou wilt be made to sorrowfully drink of it, because thou madest it thy trust.”
God commands us to trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. ¾ “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son.” The basis, the motive, and the reason for our faith is not our deep conviction of sin, our great remorse over guilt, or our fear of eternal ruin. Stop looking for those things, and look to Christ. — I must believe because God said, “Believe.”
If God commands you to do something, you are responsible to do it. An invitation may be accepted or rejected without fear of offending. A command must be obeyed. And if God commands you to do something, you can be assured that you have the right and privilege of doing it. You may come to Christ. You may trust Christ. You may believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, because God himself commands you to do so.
The greatest evil you can commit in this world is to disobey the commandment of the gospel. If you refuse to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you spit in God’s face and call him a liar (1 John 5:10). You are saying, “God almighty is a liar. I do not need a Savior. The blood of Christ cannot wash away sin. God will not save sinners.”
By faith in Christ we fulfil the law of God. The whole purpose of God’s law is to drive sinners to Christ. — “There is one law,” one not ten, one not 613. “There is one law!” — When we trust Christ, we fulfil the law’s purpose (Galatians 3:24-25). The whole requirement of the law is fulfilled in that sinner who trusts Christ’s blood and righteousness (Romans 3:31; 8:4; John 6:29). The law requires righteousness. The law requires satisfaction (Exodus 13:2, 13). Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we fulfill the law, bringing to God the righteousness and satisfaction demanded by the law (2 Corinthians 5:21).
 I love the story C. H. Spurgeon frequently told about a man called “Happy Jack.” — “There was once a poor man, a huckster, who used to go round the country villages selling little goods. This poor creature, in going round on his jouneys heard some old woman singing the little ditty:
‘I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.’
Jack recalled that. ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘that just suits me.’ So he began to hum it himself as he went round on his huckstering expeditions and, by God's good grace, that little ditty burnt its way into poor Jack's heart.
After some time he became a converted man, gave up his swearing and drinking, and began regularly to attend the church services. At last he determined that he would join the church; so he went to the minister.
The minister said. ‘Well, friend, what can you say for yourself?’ ‘Not much,’ he said, ‘Only this: I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, But Jesus Christ is my all in all.’ ‘Well,’ said the minister, ‘you must tell me more than that.’ ‘No,’ said Jack, ‘I can't, for that is my confession of faith, and that is all I know.’ ‘Well, friend,’ said the minister, ‘I can't refuse you church fellowship, but you will have to come before the church meeting, and the members will have to see you and judge you.’
Jack accordingly went to the church meeting, and there sat some good old-fashioned deacons, some of whom began to see whether they could find fault with him. He stood up, and on being requested to state his experience, simply said:
‘I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.’
One old deacon said, ‘Is that all you have to say?’ ‘Yes,’ says Jack, ‘that's all.’
The minister said, ‘You may ask my friend here some questions if you like.’ So one says, ‘Brother Jack, have you not many doubts and fears?’ ‘No,’ said Jack, ‘I never can doubt but that `I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all,' for I know I am; and I cannot doubt that `Jesus Christ is my all in all' for He says He is, and how can I doubt that?’ ‘Well,’ said another, ‘but sometimes I lose my evidences and my graces, and then I get very sad.’ ‘Oh,’ said Jack, ‘I never lose anything, for in the first place `I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all' — no one can rob me if I am nothing at all — and in the second place, `Jesus Christ is my all in all,' — and who can rob Him? He is in Heaven; I never get richer or poorer, for I am always nothing, but I always have everything.’
Then another began to question him thus: ‘But my dear friend Jack, don't you sometimes doubt whether you are a child of God?’ ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I don't quite understand you; but I can tell you I never doubt but that `I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all,' and that `Jesus Christ is my all in all.'‘
Always after that in the villages they used to call him ‘Happy Jack,’ for he was always happy; and the reason was that you could not drive him from that simple standing point, ‘There is nothing in me: I believe in Christ; I deserve punishment; I am lost in myself, but I trust in Him who came into the world to save sinners, and I know He will not let me perish.’”