I don’t believe that the New Testament contains a law similar to that found in the Old Testament. Obviously the form isn’t similar; just do some reading in Leviticus, and you’ll see that. I don’t think the intent is similar either. It’s not about, “Do each and every one of these things exactly as written, or you’ll burn in hell.”
So if we’re not looking for ways to get ourselves saved or keep ourselves saved, why bother figuring out what God wants of us? For that matter, why did Paul and Peter and James and John write letters to the churches instructing them on how to live? Why bother? If most things aren’t salvation issues, then they don’t matter at all, do they?
In the article I linked to yesterday, the one about the Gospel Immunization Shot, Greg Boyd uses an illustration that I’ve used in the past: marriage. Can you imagine a marriage where each spouse says, “They won’t divorce me over this, so it doesn’t matter what I do”? That would be a horrible relationship. A good marriage comes about when each partner is looking how to please the other one.
I want to please God. And I know he wants what’s best for me. I know he wants what’s best for his church. For example, I don’t see regular church attendance as a salvation issue. But I do see it as a part of a healthy relationship. I don’t think that a congregation that doesn’t have elders and deacons will be left out of heaven because of it. But I do think that church won’t be what God intended for it to be. And we can go on and on.
I’m going to do my best to learn what God wants for me, what he wants of me, what he wants in his church. I’m going to do my best to practice those things and teach them to others. Not because I don’t believe in grace, but precisely because I do:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Jesus Christ is Lord. Because of that, I want to know what he wants me to do. I’m not afraid that he’s going to reject me at the last day. I just want to please him as much as I can until then. I don’t want him to say of me:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)