Contrasts Between Law and Grace
By Warren Litzman
I am often asked why modern religion does not preach the Christ-life. There are probably many reasons, but one of the most important is that ministries and theologians so commingle the Scriptures that the basic truths of grace are nullified. I have long felt that our mission is to present the liberating secret of Christ as the believer’s life until it is identified by those hungry to know what has been missing in their lives. The Christ-life message is not a subsidiary, not an adjunct or add-on message. It is the entire basis for Paul’s message of grace where the central theme is the believer’s in-Christ position. Paul rarely speaks of any subject that is not based on, or controlled by, the term "in Christ," which he liberally uses at least 146 times in his epistles.
You may wonder how anyone could so easily miss the in-Christ message when it is so prominently stated by Paul. However, the history of modern Christianity shows that it has so commingled the Scriptures of grace with Scriptures of law so that churches do not have a true gospel. In fact, many of the new Bible versions being published today have cut out nearly all of the "in Christ" statements.
A major problem in modern religion that has greatly affected the true gospel of grace is the rise of the so-called "kingdom message." This is a gospel based primarily on the Old Testament prophecies and greatly ignores the final gospel based on Paul’s revelation. It is a gospel that belongs to Israel and primarily has to do with Israel’s past and future. It is a gospel devoid of pure grace and essentially based on Israel’s laws. It attracts believers because it emphasizes human works and earthly benefits and promises healing and prosperity if you do enough self-works. It promotes the same signs and wonders Israel had in the Scripture and the same works as done by Jesus of Nazareth. In reality, it promises more than it can produce.
While these things can be a blessing to people, their greatest harm is that the law gospel—the gospel of circumcision (Gal. 2:7)—is denying them the greater blessing of knowing the Christ living in them, their spiritual life. This may be an answer to many who ask me why so many preachers constantly preach out of the Old Testament.
The comminglers of law and grace are unable to separate Israel and the Body-of-Christ Church. The entire plan of God for Israel was to establish God’s kingdom on Earth through them. This would be done in the Millennium when there would be a restoration of Eden and a putting down of Satan’s power with God’s triumphant chosen people, Israel. To this day, Israel has never qualified, by accepting their Messiah, to be a part of this plan and has been set aside by God (Acts 28:28) until Christ’s second coming.
The Church of Jesus Christ has never been included in this plan, for the plan centers in Israel and has to do with Israel’s past and future. Four-fifths of the Bible is given to this plan. This leaves only one-fifth of the Scriptures dealing with grace and God’s plan for the born-again believer. It is for this reason I urge all believers to find their place in Christ as is stated in these grace Scriptures, which include parts of John’s gospel, all of Paul’s epistles, and parts of Peter’s and John’s epistles. To know who they are in Christ, believers should be firmly grounded in these Scriptures first, and then go to the rest of the Bible to see how it all happened. By not doing this, most born-again believers do not know who they are in Christ, and are being denied the full gospel, which is Paul’s gospel of uncircumcision.
By not concentrating on the grace scriptures, today’s believer is being swallowed up by the modern kingdom message that is set on correcting the Earth and making man something within himself. It basically is a message saying that the modern church has supplanted Israel and taken over her promises and covenants. Even though many of these believers are born again and have Christ in them, man’s self-works of getting his own faith and power have made Christ’s Cross of no effect in their lives and ignores the Christ in them. In self-effort, you always work for the lesser blessings instead of what is yours in Christ.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul gave an admonition that the Scriptures must be "rightly divided" for a believer to be unashamed in understanding the Word (2 Tim. 2:15). Today those words given by Paul seem to be far-fetched, idle words to modern scholars and Bible translators. You cannot imagine how often preachers dance around this subject and never hit it with this verse. There are as many reasons for this as there are human doctrines. Two reasons the growing believer should watch out for, lest they fall into modern religion’s most common pitfalls, are:
1. Modern believers do not want to give up their commingling of Scriptures and subjects. When God speaks to people in four-fifths of the Bible, He is dealing with the dispensation (era) in which they live, and not to believers who base their relationship with their heavenly Father on the finished work of the Cross. Each dispensation has its own message. There were five dispensations before Christ, and each one had God’s specific purpose that no other dispensation had. More importantly, none of the past dealings of God in other dispensations have anything in them that is commensurate with, or comparable to, the "in Christ" truth. For believers today to mix these all up by saying there is only one gospel, is to clearly ignore the truth. There were two gospels in Paul’s day, and four are mentioned in the New Testament. Unless the Scriptures are rightly divided, a believer will never come to know who he is in Christ.
2. Most modern believers do not understand the importance of separating Israel from the Church. Two errors have evolved from commingling. One is that many believe Israel is part of the New Testament Church, and what started on the Day of Pentecost is merely a continuation of the past plan of God. To believe this ignores one of the prime purposes of the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that the Holy Spirit will baptize or place believers "into one body." This is Christ’s body, and the Church consists of many members all placed in one body, constituting Christ alive on this earth. The Church is believers. There is only one Church, but many buildings. The buildings never constitute the Church.
The Church is based on Paul’s revelation of the in-Christ position. No one in the Old Testament knew anything about it. The new Body of Christ includes Jews as well as Gentiles, but when either of these accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior they no longer retain their previous race. They become an entirely new race of people—the new creation race—birthed by a new Father (2 Cor. 5:17).
Finally, there are at least three major distinctions to be seen when the teachings of grace are contrasted with the teachings of the kingdom.
First, the kingdom message (gospel of circumcision) is earthly, extended beyond the present age into the future. By contrast, the teachings of grace relate primarily to Heaven.
Second, the two gospels may be identified by the use of words such as righteousness and peace that relate to the kingdom, in contrast to the words believe and grace that relate to the Christ-life message. Righteousness and peace are keywords of a do-er religion. Human righteousness demands heavy law preaching, and human effort is seen in no greater way than when believers attempt to bring about peace without relying on the Christ in them. The Christ-life message is clear; all one needs to do to please God is to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is accomplished solely by grace.
Third, the kingdom teaching in the Gospels is based on obedience (self-works), in contrast to grace which is related to faith and the finished work of Calvary.
This is a new day of awakening believers to the great mystery, which is Christ in you the hope of glory. All around the world hungry and open-hearted believers are being taught these blessed truths by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2: 7–10). I am so blessed of my Father to be one of them.