Harry and his wife Jeri have been my friends, counselors and mentors for 35 years now. They live in Oceanside, CA. At the tender age of 83, Harry is still ministering in the churches of Christ, functioning as an “Apostle of grace” to those who are now hungry to hear it. There aren’t enough Sundays in the month to meet the demand for his “gospel of grace.” When I realized that this was a perfect accompaniment to my lesson this week, I felt I had to share it as well.
Enjoy – Jan A. Antonsson
NO LONGER UNDER LAW BUT UNDER GRACE
BY: HARRY ROBERT FOX, JR.
MAY 9, 2004
The longer I live, the more convinced I am that the Apostle’s statement in Romans 6:14, that believers in Christ are no longer under law but under grace is of immense importance. It opens our eyes to the radical difference between the two kinds of relationship between God and us which Paul articulates in the third chapter of Galatians: the difference between a bilateral “Covenant” and a unilateral “promise.
The bilateral covenant refers to the kind of relationship God established with Israel through Moses; the unilateral promise refers to the kind of relationship God established with Abraham 430 years earlier. Under the bilateral covenant, God and Israel exchanged obligations, that is, everything God agreed to do for Israel depended upon how well Israel obeyed His commandments. But what God promised to do for Abraham depended only on God Himself (as Paul says so well in Romans 4:20,21: “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
What had God promised? The answer is found in Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:5,6, where God promises to guide Abraham to a land for him to possess and in which to have many descendants, and through one of whom (per Galatians 3:16), God would bless all the families of the earth (Gal. 3:8) The fulfillment of that unilateral promise occurred in Christ through whom God acted redemptively on our behalf, not in response to our obedience, but in spite of our failure to obey. So Paul says in Romans 5:6, 8 & 10, that “while we were helpless (to obey), at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.… (thus) God shows His love for us in that while we were yet (disobedient) sinners, Christ died for us.… (so), while we were enemies (of God), we were reconciled to God by the death of His son.”
When the full import of this stupendous information is assimilated by us, we are filled with so much gratitude for God’s unconditional love and mercy for us (which Paul calls “faith,” that we are energized to become far more obedient to God’s commandments than if we were still relating to Him on the basis of Law. Someone once said that the difference between law and grace is that under law, we work six days and rest on the seventh day, whereas, under grace we are given rest on the first day and work the next six days. There is a “whale of a difference” between these two kinds of work!
Work in response to law is burdensome and inadequate and often leads to “burnout,” while work in response to grace is joyful, “restful.” and productive (as suggested by Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30). Also, work in response to grace is of a finer quality. It knows how to discriminate between what is of primary importance and what is of lesser importance (as noted by Jesus in Matthew 23:23-24).
NO LONGER UNDER LAW BUT UNDER GRACE [Harry R. Fox] 1