Grace and Truth
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The Sharia of Christ in the GOSPEL
He who reads the Koranic texts about Christ the son of Mary (about 100 verses) finds strange words, which Muhammad claims to be said by Christ, such as the statement: “Fear Allah and obey me” (Sura Al Imran 3:50). Every Muslim who reads this exciting verse during his recitation of the Qur’an should submit to the son of Mary and obey him! According to the Islamic understanding, this verse signifies that Christ has declared his own law with the commandments and legal instructions as a foundation for his spiritual people. His law is also essential for everyone with regard to his return on the Day of Judgment.
When we are asked: “What is the law of Christ? And how many of his commands and legal instructions are mentioned in his Gospel?” we usually admit ashamedly that we only know a small number of his commandments. Yet, he who penetrates deeply into the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of the Revelation will soon find that the New Testament contains about 1000 commandments of Jesus, in addition to legislative instructions which form together the basis for his new law. The mystery of this new law is the love of Christ, his patience, kindness, joy and power. His commandments are similar to a mother’s advices to her children that they may not be harmed or go astray. The end and the meaning of the law of Jesus are but love! He who loves Him concerns himself with his orders and advices, for they are the best way to live in the spiritual kingdom of God. Without keeping his love commandments we will find neither peace in the church, nor spiritual power in spreading the word.
Jesus and the Law of Moses
Jesus declared his new law, not in opposition to the Law of Moses, but he confirmed the eternal greatness and endurance of the Torah and the Prophets:
17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)
In his teaching, Jesus mentioned many commandments of the Torah, and he confirmed these books in his statements. The commandments of God to Moses and the Prophets was the law in his Holy Book, which he kept by heart. He lived from the word of God, as he answered Satan:
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
His love and respect for the word of God did not prevent Jesus to adjust the incomplete or wrong understanding of the texts of the revelation; therefore, he said: “You have heard that it was said…But I say to you” By such statements, he introduced himself as the revealing and reforming Lord. No one is entitled of changing, renewing, or filling the revealed word of God with different meaning except God himself. Christ did not only accept the Law of Moses, but he also fulfilled it with his words and deeds, with his life and death and with his resurrection from the dead. He has deepened and developed the Law of Moses into his own new law.
Works and Intentions
One of the essential differences between the Law of Moses, the Code of Hammurabi, and the law of Islam on one hand, and the spiritual law of Christ on the other hand is that Jesus did not only condemn evil acts, but he wants also to change his followers’ minds. He who thinks that his thoughts are free, is deceived, for Jesus asks of us love, humility, reconciliation, faith, hope, and kindness more than the actual works resulting from such an attitude. Jesus intends to change our hard hearts and insert the spirit of his self-sacrifice in them, as he said:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
Jesus made his own love a measure of our love. This unique declaration means that Jesus himself is our law! As he loved and served all men, we should love and act in his power and his guidance. This principle requires a change in our mind and a revolution in our heart. The selfish must be changed into a servant and helper of the needy. A director should be renewed and become as kind as a loving father. If we look at families, offices, factories, churches, or schools we find that the love of Jesus intends to change all of our thoughts and acts, the innermost attitudes, the works of the individuals, and even the atmosphere in rooms. Therefore, he who wants to understand the law of Christ, and to put it into practice, should put his own intentions, and his heart desires completely at the disposal and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Righteousness by Good Deeds, or by Grace only?
The Apostle Paul taught us, as king David had already confessed, that none is righteous compared with the holiness of God. We are all imperfect, going astray, and reprobates. There is none who does good, no, not one. All our good deeds appear to God as a worn dress. He who wishes to be justified before God on the basis of his own works is already condemned! Humanism has blinded the multitudes to their reprobate and poor situation. There is no other salvation but through the unique sacrifice of atonement by Christ on the cross. Whoever seeks another righteousness deceives himself and ends up in despair. Only the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all our sin.
The crucified Christ justified us freely by his grace that the spirit of his love can dwell in us as his eternal life. This spirit, the life from God, and his love prompt us to good deeds. We do not serve the Lord in order that we may be justified, since we have already been justified by his grace. Thus, we serve him thankfully. The law of Christ adjusts our worship to God, and our services to men, as Paul the apostle to the Gentiles admitted: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) James, on his part added: “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) These verses intimate that good deeds are fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are indispensable. However, the law of Christ does not only aim on our righteousness by faith in the crucified Christ, who is raised from the dead, but it also wants to establish in us the fruits of his sufferings.
Sanctification without inner Tension
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews assures us that “without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Thus the blood of Jesus Christ remains our final comfort. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) The Holy Spirit is the warrant of the glory to come, which we will inherit in Christ (Ephesians 1:14).
In consequence of that, we can from right now come to the Father, and will be inserted into the spiritual body of Christ. The more we are drawn near to God, the more our inherited sins, our proud thoughts, and our oversensitive selfishness are uncovered. True saints are alerted of their sinful nature, because they stand in the light of God. They remain broken in their egoism and proud attitude, because they live by his grace. He, who thinks himself as having obtained a higher degree of sanctification than Christ's cross offers us, is at the danger of turning into a hypocrite clothed in false sanctification. The more the Holy Spirit molds us, the more we are broken in our selfishness, living from the grace of Christ alone. The new law of Jesus brushes away our alleged sanctity with a hard brush, so that nothing remains of our own sanctity and imagined honor except that which the grace of Christ has established in us.
This short introduction seeks to help in understanding the meaning and the aim of the new law of Christ. These commandments appear as foolishness with the unbelievers who cannot comprehend these laws and advices, and think that it is impossible to apply them. However, they too are invited, for example through the beatitudes, into the kind law of Christ. The secret of this new law is neither unprofitable obligation, nor impossible obedience to its commandments, but the power of the Holy Spirit in the grace of Christ will enable us to live in peace with God, and pushes us to please him through continuous services.
Guidelines for Using this Book
You will find that some verses from the New Testament occur more than one time below, because their contents support different subjects. You will also find under the commandments and instructions of Jesus those ones which appear in the Holy Bible in the declared or in the implied imperative mood. We added to this category also expressions like "must" or "have to" which imply an order. In each verse that we cite we have highlighted the actual command or law by printing it in boldface.
As to Jesus’ statements concerning the Law of Moses--which consist of 613 commandments--, concerning Jewish precepts added to the Law of Moses, or concerning some Roman laws--which are against the instructions of Christ and the law of his kingdom--, we put such statements side by side with His clear instructions.
The law of Jesus, including His legal instructions and advices, cannot but wrestle with all the other earthly and religious laws, and even with the new human rights, for the commandments of the kingdom of heaven seek the sanctification of human commands and desire to overcome earthly laws. This is why we pray: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)