All credit to Mars Hill.com
How ‘Love God And Others’ Is A Backward Gospel
Sometimes you hear people say that the gospel message is “Love God, love others.” It sounds nice, but it’s all backward. “Love God and love others” is not a summary of the gospel—it’s a summary of the law.
God revealed his ethical requirements to his people in the Old Testament law, which contains over 600 commands. These are summed up in the Ten Commandments, which God revealed through Moses to his people after the Exodus from Egypt. They are found inExodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21:
1. Do not have any other gods.
2. Do not make for yourself idols.
3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Do not kill.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not bear false witness.
10. Do not covet.
The first four commands (or the “first tablet” of the Law) are about how we are to relate to God. The next six (the “second tablet”) are about how we are to act toward each other. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments in this way in Matthew 22:37–40: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [Deut. 6:5]. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself[Lev. 19:18]. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
As Paul Zahl writes,
The law is a true thing, an accurate summary or description of what it means to be happy and fulfilled, especially in relation to one’s neighbors. If we were able and willing to follow it, the law would be the answer to humanity’s problems. . . . The Bible declares the law to be good and right (1 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 3:31; Rom. 7:12–16) but then with one great persuasive insight deprives the law of any lasting capacity to do us any good (Rom. 7:24–25).
WE ARE UNABLE TO FULFILL THE LAW
God’s law is good. The problem is us: our sinful hearts don’t love God or others as we should. Even worse, the law only points out the problems with us; it doesn’t and can’t generate within us the ability to obey….