A friend of mine made a meme of me after in a sermon I said, "The balm of the gospel can only be applied to someone wounded by the Law."
Sound bites are always need qualification.
The worst thing you can do is call a Jew lawless. The Rabbis teach that the goyim (nations; i.e., the gentiles) are without Law. Hence, calling a Jew lawless is tantamount to calling him the worst kind of Gentile. Of course, our Lord sunk that whole boat on the Sermon on the Mount!
Anyway, your post made me mindful how over the years we've had people come to the forum and ask (if not in these words) "What is the least I must do?" When people are saved, they see the majesty of our God, I've always thought they should be, like the women in Luke 7, ought to be asking, "Lord, how much can I do for you?"
I have to admit that in my heart, I have sooner asked the former question rather than the latter.
Have you ever read the little novel "In His Steps" by Charles M. Sheldon? It is, of course, fictional, but it speaks to what you've mentioned here about Christ-like living. I also found a great deal of value in "The Practice of the Presence" by a monk known as Brother Lawrence. Neither of these authors would be people with whom I would identify theologically. Nonetheless, their simple words on rightly loving our Saviour have touched me deeply.
"To know this God, who both condescends to share all that we are and makes us share in all that He is in Jesus Christ, is to be lifted up in His Spirit to share in God's own self-knowing and self-loving until we are enabled to apprehend Him in some real measure in Himself beyond anything that we are capable of in ourselves. It is to be lifted out of ourselves, as it were, into God, until we know Him and love Him and enjoy Him in His eternal Reality as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in such a way that the Trinity enters into the fundamental fabric of our thinking of Him and constitutes the basic grammar of our worship and knowledge of the One God." --Thomas F. Torrance from his book "The Ground and Grammar of Theology"
Adien; I want to deal with two areas. You have read the Bible three times correct? Secondly can you love God without loving Gods WORD. Both to me seem like you are missing a huge issue. God sets the rules and His condition's, we don't. We either accept His terms or we face Him with our choice to be again Him and retest Him as Creator and one who loves us or we don't. An ant has no control of if I will step on it or let it live. All the running or stinging me won't change my mind. We are similar to the ant are we not? God has given us a history of how people in the past treated each other, and how they disobeyed God. There are consequences for disobeying, that is in all of life be it our parents as a child or when we don't obey the laws of the road. God has instilled these laws from the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve disobeyed. Cane killed Able and so it goes.
The main issue through all of man kind is SIN. God does all within His power to get man to live for their and our betterment. But we and they have free will, to do as we wish. Wean chose to follow God or to do things our way. Clearly If people lived by the Ten Commandments then there never would have been the killing and the dreadful punishment God brought on those who rejected His laws. Rather than see more babies and children turn out to be anti God people He instructed those tribes to kill those enemies. God does indeed bring calamities to happen upon people and Nations that reject Him and His ways and laws.
The United States has rejected the Laws He has given us and now we too are going to see punishment in the form of natural disaster's or other serious things. We can not say killing babies is good and same sex marriage is good and in reality tell God we will do it our way. We can expect calamity every year from now on.
But sin has been the issue and will always be. However God has a solution for our sin problem. In your reading the Bible three times have you made the connection between Jesus Christ and Sin? Jesus Christ has paid the price for your and my sins. But no one has to accept Jesus payment for their sins.
A person who refuses to Follows Gods plan for their forgiveness of their sins faces God on their own. He will judge us on the Ten Commandments. No one has kept every single one except Jesus Christ. That is because He was a Perfect human God man. Jesus death on the cross was the final blood sacrifice for our sine. As proof that Jesus was God he rose from the Grave ad our Lord and savior. John 3:16 clearly states that God does Love us and will forgive us. But id someone feels God is unfair or they just don't like His Laws and the rules he has set then that's your choice. But who ever makes that personal choice will suffer the punishment for that choice, that is hell in torment for ever everlasting punishment. However if a person has accepted Jesus offer for forgiveness of sins and become a follower of jesus Christ that reward is heaven for ever, everlasting with the Holy Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I have no clue why anyone would reject Jesus Christ. I have no idea why you do not love the record of how man kind has so turned against a God who only wants the very best for us.
I hope this gives you some better insight, and can more fully appreciate the WORD.
"If nothing in providence appears to prevent, I must spend my days in a heathen land. I am a creature of God, and He has an undoubted right to do with me, as seems good in His sight... He has my heart in His hands, and when I am called to face danger, to pass through scenes of terror and distress, He can inspire me with fortitude, and enable me to trust in Him. Jesus is faithful; His promises are precious. Were it not for these considerations, I should sink down with despair." --Ann Hasseltine (Fiancée to a Missionary)
"But when a Man is renewed by Divine Grace, tho there is no force put upon the Will, yet it is made willing, and acts freely, in the day of God's Power: tho the Work is not perfect in any Faculty in the Regenerate, nor will be in this Life." (sic) --Benjamin Keach (1640-1704)
Jonathan Edwards treats of this, as to what feeds the mind, resulting in a choice, of a thing that "seems right." You describe it correctly: that our knowledge (correct or otherwise), our affections (fixed on God or something else), our reason (sound or otherwise), contribute to the choices we make; i.e., the mind in action (the will). Plus there is the world, the flesh, and the devil.
There's a synergistic aspect of our faith: We pursue Him (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:5; Colossians 1:29), because He is the author and finisher of our faith (Psalm 138:8; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 12:2a). To that end we petition Him daily (Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5) that He would grant grace (power) to persevere. This is also why we examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:4) to insure that we are in the faith.
The book of Hebrews treats of this thing that could happen, turning away from Christ, back to the old, comfortable, idols.; a loosening of our grip, like the church in Ephesus.
Thank you for the anecdotes. I've seen the same sort of things (in churches, in prisons, and in friendships). I still pray for many of these who have slipped away into apostasy. Perhaps they will return to our Lord.
"You, being a rational person, will always choose what seems to you to be the right thing, the wise thing, the most advisable thing to do"
This is the fly in the oniment, "what seems to you".
What seems correct,smart and logical to me or you may not seem the same to others and vice versa.
Through years of ministry I have seen people make decision / choices that to me were horrendous, illogical, and totally without merit. Yet they thought it was the correct, most logical and the choice with the most merit.
I have seen people which in my opinion literally destroyed their life yet they were never able to see the problem or that something they did went wrong.
Likewise I have seen people make decisions that I viewed as the worst possible but worked in ways I never thought possible.
I have seen people faithfully and sacrificially serve God for 20 - 25 years or longer only to walk away. To me it makes no sense, I can't understand how it happens but it does. They simply stop presevering something scripture warns against in more than one place.
"There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they're preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, 'you can have a purpose to your life', or that 'you can have meaning to your life', or that 'you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.' All of those things are true, and they're all important, but they don't get to the heart of the Gospel.
"The Gospel is called the 'good news' because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I'm not. And at the end of my life, I'm going to stand before a just and holy God, and I'll be judged. And I'll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn't possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
"The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn't concerned to protect His own integrity. He's a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ's life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you're declared just by God, you're adopted into His family, you're forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity." --RC Sproul