08
Jul
10

LOVE IS STRONGER THAN LAW

    On a plane trip awhile back, I got into a conversation about spiritual matters with the person sitting next to me.  Once he found out that I believed that I didn’t have to do anything to work myself back into God’s favor but that Jesus did everything for me, he responded with the well-worn argument:  “If you tell people they don’t have to do anything, then people will just run amuck in sin.”

     My response caught him off-guard.  Earlier I had noticed the wedding ring on his finger and from our previous small talk I had learned he was on a business trip.  So, in response, I asked him:  “Does that mean that tonight you are going to hire a prostitute to come to your motel room?  There’s no way that your wife will ever find out.”  Before he became too upset with me, I quickly continued:  “I don’t think you are going to do that.  But I was just applying your logic to your relationship between you and your wife.  Love is stronger than law.  I love Jesus for all that he has done for me.  The last thing I want to do is hurt the person who rescued me.  Love is stronger than law.”

     That man, at least, saw my point, albeit somewhat reluctantly.  And even though some might consider my illustration crude, I think it makes my point.  Just as offensive as it was to that man for me to even suggest that I could assume that he would be unfaithful to his wife because there was no “law” restraining him, so also it is offensive to Christians to suggest that because we don’t think that we have to do anything to be saved, that then we will feel no restraint in sinning.

     With minor variations, that is what many Mormons have told me.  Spencer W. Kimball made this point in his book, Miracle of Forgiveness.  After describing the teaching that man is saved alone by the grace of God and that belief alone in Jesus is all that is needed as “one of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan”, he goes on to say:  “It could give license for sin.” (p.207)

     But that is not what genuine faith produces.  Faith creates a tremendous love in people – a love that doesn’t want to go against God.  In fact, I would submit that people who believe that they are saved alone by the grace of God are more restrained.   They are more restrained because love is stronger than law.

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30 Responses to “LOVE IS STRONGER THAN LAW”


  1. 1 faithoffathers
    July 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Mark,

    Why don’t we get rid of all our laws and just teach love and peace?

    I agree that love produces obedience. I don’t think LDS would argue with that.
    After all, did not Christ say “If ye love, me keep my commandments.”

    I submit that it is impossible to love God without obeying the commandments. Yes- I know that none of us do that perfectly. But the greater the love, the greater the level of obedience.

    If I or other people are not saved (in the respect you use the word), what reason do we have to obey God?

    I think your analogy above using the issue of marital fidelity involves many confounding issues you don’t mention. There indeed are many influences besides love that keep a person from commiting adultery. In some states and countries, there are actually laws against it. There are also concerns about children of the marriage, fiancial consequences, fear of breaking God’s law, social consequences, and even health issues. It is not as simple as you make it.

    I whole-heartedly agree with Spencer Kimball when he said that the idea that one merely needs to believe in Jesus is one of the most outrageous doctrines that originates from the devil. While it may not directly result in you believing you can sin with lisence, it is a logical conclusion that certainly can and does result in law-breaking behavior in some people.

    God commands His children to obey His commandments. And their salvation and reward is dependent upon their obedience. To contradict this is to tear down the most fundamental basis of any religion.

    I agree that our works do not save us. But we cannot be saved without them.

    fof

  2. 2 markcares
    July 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    FOF:
    I was specifically addressing the way many Mormons respond to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone and showing the fallacy of their response. Loving God because he gives me eternal life in his presence as a gift! motivates me to try and please him more than any law would.
    We still need laws because 1) not everybody has the love the Bible talks about, namely agape love; and 2) none of us has perfect love. But 1 Timothy 1:9 still applies: “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient. . .” (Yhis is not talking about the ceremonial law of Moses but all law.)
    In heaven there will be no laws because there will be perfect love and thus perfect obedience to God. The angels in heaven obey God, not because they have a series of laws, but because they are perfected in their holiness. But again, these are difficult topics to discuss with Mormons because Mormonisn’s teaching on angels and heaven is so diffeent that it is difficult to find common ground.
    I’m sorry that you agree with Spencer Kimball. His statement cheapens the work of Christ and blasphemes God. It is too late for him to realize his error and he will spend eternity regretting it. I sincerely pray that you see the errors of your ways before it is too late. Please see that Jesus has done everything for you!
    Mark

  3. 3 faithoffathers
    July 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Mark,

    I understand what you were attempting to address in your comments. I pointed out that the very analogy you used actually agrees with our side of the argument- love without obligation, law, or duty is not the only motive in being faithful- to a wife or to God.

    It is a knee-jerk, shallow argument that any belief that expects anything from God’s children cheapens the work of Christ. It is neither scriptural, logical, nor reasonable.

    If nothing is expected of us, or if we do nothing toward our own salvation, yet God saves some people and sends others to hell, than God is a respecter of person and the whole gospel is beyond our comprehension.

    I disagree that there is no law in heaven. There may not be policemen or officials whose work it is to enforce law, but there is certainly law in heaven. The difference is that those who live in heaven will have the law written in their hearts- they will desire to keep the law- it will be their nature because they have become accustomed to living the law. And that is what makes the whole idea of salvation independent of works so silly- our natures cannot be changed without our effort to change our own behavior.

    At the last supper, Jesus said in his great prayer “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4

    That was before His atoning sacrifice. So why do you not also apply the same logic to that statement that you apply to His statement on the cross “it is finished.”

    The doctrine that says Jesus’ statement on the cross means we have nothing to do for our salvation is so bankrupt of logic, it turns rationale thought on its head.

    fof

  4. 4 Brian
    July 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you so much for your ministry. Years ago I purchased your book, “Speaking the Truth In Love to Mormons.” It is an excellent book, and helped me to better understand what LDS people believe. It also provided helpful suggestions for sharing the Good News with them. I have many friends who are LDS, and have been encouraged to share God’s love with them using some of the approaches you detailed. Thank you, Mark.

    I was thinking about your book recently, and decided to search for your name. What I found was this fine collection of articles you’ve written. While reading this article about your conversation with a fellow airplane passenger, I was struck by the objection he raised: “People will just run amuck in sin.”

    It reminded me of something Dr. D. James Kennedy said in a sermon entitled “The Land of Beginning Again.” In it, he recounted a time he spoke with a young man about God’s grace. The young man exclaimed, “You mean I can just go and sin as much as I want? Do anything that I want?”

    Dr. Kennedy said that the young man was actually making a remarkable confession. For if the young man had his way, he would sin, and sin, and sin some more. Dr. Kennedy said the young man was saying, in effect, “My heart is depraved.” Which of course is how the Bible describes the human heart: deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

    Dr. Kennedy then spoke of how God had changed him the very day he had knelt and invited Jesus Christ into his life. God had changed his “wanter.” To his astonishment he found he wanted things he had never wanted before, and the things he had always wanted, he no longer did.

    He had been created anew. His heart had been transformed by God. Just as you and millions of other Christians have experienced throughout the ages.

    Thanks, Mark, for your ministry to the LDS people. I have family members involved with the LDS religion, My prayer for them is that one day, they may be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and adopted into the only family that lasts forever: God’s family.

  5. 5 jon
    July 10, 2010 at 3:29 am

    I had the pleasure of being at a youth retreat at a hotel. One of my duties as chaperon for the boys was to be the enforcer … Enforce the law that stated:
    1. Boys on floor 2, girls on 3. (4 teens per room)
    2. In the assigned room by 10:30, quite by 11:00
    3. No Exceptions
    4. If in doubt….see #3

    10:30 meant 10:30, not 10:30 and 15 seconds. The doors were to be closed and remain closed @ 10:30. True to form after 10:30, heads would peak out the door to see if “the enforcer” was there. The boy broke the law and he knew it….he quickly ducked back in.

    What if the law was that if one kid broke the law, the others in the room are also in trouble…or the entire floor….or even worse both floors?

    The point is there is no love in the law. No suger-coating it, the law, by design, is either a curse or be cursed. As Galatians 3:10 declares:

    All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

    God’s law has “no exceptions”. No cursed person or the object that brings such curse can exist in the heart or in heaven, especially in the presence of a perfect God who demands such.

  6. 6 markcares
    July 10, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks Briua for the kind words. I think sometimes we all need to be reminded of how powerful God’s Word is and that it can do great things. Keep on planting the seeds with your relatives and pray that the Holy Spirit moves them to faith.

  7. 7 JesusLover
    July 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Mark – this was the best post on this subject that I have read – thanks so much for listening to God in all you write here!

    FoF – you wrote: “If I or other people are not saved (in the respect you use the word), what reason do we have to obey God?” For myself – I want to obey God because I am grateful for all that He has done for me and also because I know that He knows me best and that obeying Him out of love results not only in a deeper relationship with Him and myself but also a better life. Living a life following man-made rules is never as satisfying as that of following God.

    You also wrote: “I whole-heartedly agree with Spencer Kimball when he said that the idea that one merely needs to believe in Jesus is one of the most outrageous doctrines that originates from the devil. While it may not directly result in you believing you can sin with lisence, it is a logical conclusion that certainly can and does result in law-breaking behavior in some people.” See – when I read this – I think the same thing about Mormons. When you have to go through ceremonies or work at things as a condition for temple worthiness – things that are outward duties – I would think that the tendency for some mormons to think would be “I’ve done all this stuff so I am ok” and perhaps miss the inward regeneration that a true saving faith in Christ brings. After all – if the conditions are all external – no one can see the insides except God so one could “follow the rules” and still be spiritually dead.

    Too – I see the same thing in the mormon religion as Spencer Kimball does about biblical salvation – that mormon doctrines all originate from the devil and so I find the beliefs blasphemis and abhorant as they degrade God and perpetuate lies about Jesus. It’s why I never married my mormon b/f – I could not be yoked with an unbeliver and he was utterly shocked that I would consider a mormon an unbeliever but from a biblical standpoint they are.

  8. 8 faithoffathers
    July 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    JesusLover,

    Of course you obey God solely out of gratitude- that is a good thing.

    My point is that Mark, and you also I presume, believe that God saves those whom He will save, and that we have nothing to do with that election and salvation.

    So- what motivation do the “unsaved” have to obey God? None. After all, it will do nobody any good, right?

    One would logically conclude that if one is not saved, there is no reason to attempt obedience to God. Would you agree?

    Now go ahead and try to reconcile that to the teachings of Christ and the Bible. Good luck.

    I will warn you against what I have seen too many evangelical critics do- judge the motives of people. You have absolutely no understanding or basis for judging my heart and what motivates me to obey God, nor anybody else. Before making such a claim, please warn me so I can step away before the lightning strikes.

    Such judges love to say mormons don’t obey as a result of gratitude. What a ridiculous and childish thing to say. I honestly get embarrassed when anybody makes such arrogant, self-righteous pronouncements.

    fof

  9. 9 markcares
    July 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Just wanted to let all know that I won’t be able to participate or check anything on this blog for about nine days.

  10. 10 JesusLover
    July 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    FoF you wrote: “Of course you obey God solely out of gratitude- that is a good thing.

    My point is that Mark, and you also I presume, believe that God saves those whom He will save, and that we have nothing to do with that election and salvation.
    So- what motivation do the “unsaved” have to obey God? None. After all, it will do nobody any good, right?”

    Picture God’s gift of salvation as a package He sends to everyone. Just like a package we get in the mail – if we don’t claim it up at the post office – we don’t own it. Likewise salvation – Jesus finished work on the cross – it’s available to EVERYONE but given only to those that ask for it. That is quite different from what you mistakingly thought I meant. Hope this clears up my meaning for you.

  11. 11 JesusLover
    July 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    FoF you wrote: “I will warn you against what I have seen too many evangelical critics do- judge the motives of people. You have absolutely no understanding or basis for judging my heart and what motivates me to obey God, nor anybody else. Before making such a claim, please warn me so I can step away before the lightning strikes.

    Such judges love to say mormons don’t obey as a result of gratitude. What a ridiculous and childish thing to say. I honestly get embarrassed when anybody makes such arrogant, self-righteous pronouncements.”

    I wasn’t judging anyone. I merely responded to your post about people/evangelicals by saying that I felt the same way about mormons at times as you did about evangelicals.

    You also wrote: “If nothing is expected of us, or if we do nothing toward our own salvation, yet God saves some people and sends others to hell, than God is a respecter of person and the whole gospel is beyond our comprehension.”

    But I agree – God is no respector of persons – because – he offers his gift of salvation to everyone. To those that accept that gift – they go to Heaven after death to live with God and other true believers forever – to those that reject it – or do not “pick up their gift” – they go to outer darkness as mormons call it or hell as the bible states. Everyone has a choice and how they choose determines where they will spend eternity.

  12. 12 faithoffathers
    July 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Jesuslover,

    I think you and Mark must disagree on the election/salvation issue- Mark does not believe we make a choice, at least as I understand him. He would argue that God chooses those people who are predestined to be saved, and that He works through the spirit to change their hearts and leads them to Him. According to Mark, we have absolutely no input into our salvation. All who are not predestined to be saved are damned.

    You sound as if you believe man has a choice and say in the matter. If so, I completely agree with you.

    fof

  13. 13 Echo
    July 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    FOF said: “I think you and Mark must disagree on the election/salvation issue- Mark does not believe we make a choice, at least as I understand him. He would argue that God chooses those people who are predestined to be saved, and that He works through the spirit to change their hearts and leads them to Him. According to Mark, we have absolutely no input into our salvation. All who are not predestined to be saved are damned.”

    You are correct in saying that Mark does not believe we make a choice and that we have no input into our salvation. However the rest of your statement is incorrect. Mark does NOT believe in predestination to damnation as you have stated. Mark believes that God wants ALL men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

  14. 14 faithoffathers
    July 13, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Echo,

    I have discussed this quite a few times with Mark. He has told me multiple times that God elects people according to His own criteria. We have nothing to do with it.

    Correct me if I am wrong Mark, if you are around.

    If somebody is not predestined to salvation, and all who are saved are predestined to be such, are those who are not predestined to be saved not in effect predestined to hell?

    fof

  15. 15 Echo
    July 13, 2010 at 2:04 am

    FOF said: “He has told me multiple times that God elects people according to His own criteria. We have nothing to do with it.”

    This is true and is what Mark and I believe. (Mark and I belong to the same denomination-WELS [Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod] and therefore we have the same beliefs)

    However God does not choose people to be damned, he does not predestine people to Hell. He wants all men to be saved as 1 Timothy 2:3-4 states.

    I just wanted to make that correction. Carry on in your conversation with the others.

  16. 16 JesusLover
    July 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    FoF: Perhaps this will make the doctrine of election clearer. You are correct that Mark and others believe that God elects people according to His own criteria and what Echo said is also correct “However God does not choose people to be damned, he does not predestine people to Hell. He wants all men to be saved as 1 Timothy 2:3-4 states.” I am sure that most evangelical denominations believe in election – I am not Lutheran but I certainly have been taught this.

    God is omniscient and omnipresent so He knows ahead of time who will choose Him. His criteria is that people believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved – that we accept that Christ paid for our sins and that we have nothing to do with our own salvation. I know we have talked about this before in this group. Maybe it was you or maybe it was another mormon person who said that choosing Christ in and of itself was a work but Mark responded saying no – that it is God that draws us to Him and this is indeed a biblicial doctrine – that God gives all of us chances and evidence of His existance and salvation and wants us to choose Him but most don’t. He knows who will choose Him because He knows everything about us – but we mere mortals don’t which is why we must witness/share our faith with others – because we don’t know who will choose Christ and who will reject Him.

  17. 17 faithoffathers
    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    If God saves those whom He elects to save, then by default, he elects the non-saved to damnation. You’re jumping into simple semantics.

    Is everyone elected for salvation? It really doesn’t matter if God “wants” all people to be saved if He doesn’t elect all people and if election is required for salvation.

    fof

  18. 18 Echo
    July 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Everyone is elected for salvation because God wants “ALL” men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the UNGODLY , his faith is counted for righteousness.”

    Christ justified the ungodly. All men are “ungodly” because of sin, therefore All men are included in election and are freely justified through faith alone. In Christ, God has chosen us. We have not chosen him (“Without faith it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6 etc.)

    Man alone is responsible for his damnation into Hell because he resists the truth.

    Joseph Smith resisted the truth when he contradicted Romans 4:5 in his writing that “God justifieth NOT the ungodly”. Joseph Smith refused to believe the truth so plainly and clearly written to him and for him for the purpose that he might believe. Joseph Smith is responsible for his own damnation into Hell. Joseph Smith rejected what Jesus has done for him.

  19. 19 faithoffathers
    July 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Echo,

    I again suggest a little humility in condemning others to hell. Although you feel you have the backing of your biblical interpretation, judgement is God’s. You are wholely unqualified to judge Joseph Smith, me, or anybody else.

    You are not in agreement with Mark as it relates to those who are saved. Mark maintains that it is God’s choosing that determines who is saved, and that only those people are elected. He says that we have nothing to do with choosing salvation. Far cry from what you are claimng. By the way, “election” loses its meaning if all people are elected.

    Also, Heb 11:6 doesn’t say what you are claiming. It simply is saying we must have faith to please God. It does not indicate one way or the other who choses us for salvation.

    fof

  20. 20 Echo
    July 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    FOF siad: “I again suggest a little humility in condemning others to hell.”

    Humility speaks the “truth” even though it may potentially hurt the pride of another. The purpose in speaking the truth isn’t to hurt someone but to reach out and help someone out of love for their souls.

    FOF said: “You are wholely unqualified to judge Joseph Smith, me, or anybody else.”

    Your right, I am wholey unqualified to judge Joseph Smith, you, or anybody else. However God is wholey qualified to judge you or Joseph Smith or anybody else. He has judged you and Joseph Smith already when he says to you: “God justified the ungodly” (Romans 4:5) and you refuse to believe it.

    FOF said: “You are not in agreement with Mark as it relates to those who are saved. Mark maintains that it is God’s choosing that determines who is saved, and that only those people are elected. He says that we have nothing to do with choosing salvation.”

    I also maintain that it is God’s choosing and that we have nothing to do with choosing salvation as I have stated in post 13, 15 and 18.

  21. 21 Paula
    July 16, 2010 at 1:47 am

    FoF, you are running into the differing understanding of election that exists between the Reformed and Lutheran branches of Christianity. We do consider each other Christian brethren. But Lutherans do not see Scripture supporting the doctrine of double predestination. Many Reformed do not either, but explain it differently than Lutherans, and other Reformed do believe in double predestination (election unto salvation/eternity with Heavenly Father) and also election to go to outer darkness.

    And then there are those that believe God only knows who WILL choose him, and elects on that basis. That is called Arminianism. That is where it gets iffy for us, because it adds some credit of man into the salvation process.

    Now, all of this is really irrelevant. The doctrine of election is for the believer’s comfort and assurance, it is not for evangelizing. We evangelize and spread the good news because it is by hearing the good news that God CREATES faith in the heart of an unbeliever. And since we do not know whom He is going to call, we preach the gospel to all. I pray that the news of his free gift will create faith in your heart, and a trust in only Christ’s righteousness and blood to avail for you … not your own. God will not share his glory for anyone’s being saved FROM our natural destination which is outer darkness. He saves to the uttermost those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. It is not up to you to become perfect. You and I have already screwed that up and cannot fix it.

    to Echo you said “I again suggest a little humility in condemning others to hell.”

    Now, I seem to recall you being upset when someone appeared to be judging someone else’s motives… how do you know Echo wasn’t doing that with humility?

  22. 22 faithoffathers
    July 17, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Echo,

    You demonstrate the very type of judgement I alluded to. Of course you have your reasons and rationalization, just as the rest of us do when we are self-righteous and judgmental of others.

    And of course you have scriptures that make you feel you are judging correctly.

    I maintain that such a position is dangerous and naive.

    Your statement that we have nothing to do with choosing salvation leads us back to my initial point- if we have nothing to do with choosing salvation, why should a person be motivated to follow God? If what you are saying is true, and if none of our behavior and works affect salvation, why should any “unsaved” person ever try to follow God? Or simply seek God? After all, none of that will ever have any impact on our eternal destiny. Correct?

    Your positions put you in a very awkward theological corner.

    fof

  23. 23 Echo
    July 17, 2010 at 5:43 am

    FOF said: “Your statement that we have nothing to do with choosing salvation leads us back to my initial point- if we have nothing to do with choosing salvation, why should a person be motivated to follow God? If what you are saying is true, and if none of our behavior and works affect salvation, why should any “unsaved” person ever try to follow God? Or simply seek God? After all, none of that will ever have any impact on our eternal destiny. Correct?”

    How many unsaved people “seek God” according to the verses below?

    Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,not even one.”

  24. 24 gloria
    July 18, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    FANTASTIC post Mark & excellent example.

    My heart’s desire is to serve, love & obey the ONE who purchased my freedom… grace does not lead us to desire to sin but to turn away from it.

    Jesus is so amazing,

  25. 25 faithoffathers
    July 19, 2010 at 1:01 am

    You folks do realize that if we have no choice in the matter of our salvation, this life loses all rational purpose and reason?

    Why does God not simply send us either to hell or heaven from the moment of our creation?

    This will likely be similarly dismissed with some verse that superficially addresses the purpose of life. But the underlying lack of answers from the EV is glaring.

    fof

  26. 26 JesusLover
    July 19, 2010 at 1:39 am

    FoF: Our choice is to heed the voice of God when He calls to us! Do you hear Him calling? Or will you choose to ignore Him and keep going on the path that you are walking?

  27. 27 faithoffathers
    July 19, 2010 at 1:46 am

    jesuslover,

    What if He never “calls.” Where is our choice?

    fof

  28. 28 JesusLover
    July 19, 2010 at 1:55 am

    FoF – Romans 1:20 says: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”.

  29. 29 Echo
    July 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    FOF said: “You folks do realize that if we have no choice in the matter of our salvation, this life loses all rational purpose and reason?”

    No it doesn’t because God has chosen us! He has justified the ungodly! Believe it!

    What kind of rational purpose and reason does life have if God only values us for what we do? However if God values us for who we are rather than for what we do, then life has rational purpose and reason.


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