Why a series on “matters of life and death” for our world today? Remember: previously we noted that Moses had commanded the people of Israel to “choose life.” What did he mean by that admonition? Ever since the days of Creation, men and women have been presented with a choice between life and death. In Genesis Chapter 2, the Lord God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the “breath of life” and man became a “living soul.” But God told Adam that if he were to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “thou shalt surely die.”
When man disbelieved and disobeyed God, he brought upon himself the curse of death. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
But God has not left man in his sinful and dying condition without hope. He offers life to sinful humanity by giving us two marvelous gifts: His written Word and His living Word.
God offers life by giving us His written Word
The giving of the Word of God was itself an act of grace, even in the Old Testament. We live in a day when the Law of God is hated, rejected, or discounted by many. But the psalmist testified in Psalm 119:97, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Paul, in Romans 7:12 wrote, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
But the written Law of God was limited in its power. It could give the knowledge of sin. It could define the pathway of righteousness. It could point out the necessity of a blood atonement. It could even promise and describe the coming Messiah and Savior. But the Law could not save. Paul stated very clearly in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. . . .” In Galatians 3:24, he explained, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
God offers life by giving us His living Word
In describing the incarnation of Jesus, the Apostle John says in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . . .” This gift of Jesus, the living Word, was the ultimate gift of life! Jesus told Nicodemus, a teacher of the Law, in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Once a person trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, he possesses life eternal. The Apostle John gives us this assurance, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (I John 5:11).
When a man’s heart has been transformed by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is able to receive and understand the written Law of God with gratitude and joy. He does not embrace the living Word and discard the written Word. Rather, the living Word draws and enables him to love and obey God’s written Word. A transformed heart obeys the Law of God, not out of obligation or compulsion, but by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Paul gave testimony to this fact in Romans 8:4 when he wrote, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Jesus said of Himself as the Good Shepherd, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In the same context, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” A follower of Christ can never know the abundant life of blessing and joy when he is habitually disregarding the written Word of God. This truth is echoed by Paul in Romans 8:6, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
If we earnestly desire this “life and peace,” we must give careful heed to learning, obeying, and teaching the written Word of God to our children. This diligent attention is not seeking to perfect ourselves by the Law of God. Rather, it is receiving with gratitude the commandments and instructions that are given to believers for our good. As a sheep hears the voice of its shepherd, as a son obeys the commands of his loving father, so we should rejoice to hear and obey the commandments of our gracious God Who has manifested His love to us. Our hope and prayer are that, as you follow along with the Matters of Life and Death series, you and your family will experience the blessing of “choosing life.” There is great joy in the abundant life that comes through knowing, loving, and cheerfully receiving both the written Word and the living Word!
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