Paul told the Romans “the Law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Yet four times in three epistles he wrote, “We are not under law but under grace.” Christians read these seemingly conflicting statements and are easily confused. They wonder if anyone can understand how the law and the Old Testament relates to their faith.
Some take the easy way out and all but ignore the Old Testament calling it legalism. They prefer to concentrate on and enjoy the magnificent grace of God that comes with salvation. This limits their understanding of the Scriptures and indeed, restricts spiritual growth. Confusion further abounds because just about every denomination has a different interpretation of the law and the relationship between the testaments.
Lester Stephenson proposes a different approach rooted in Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Those two verses call for Christians to look anew at the law and the rest of the Old Testament. Not one part of the law or what the prophets wrote will pass away until Jesus has completely fulfilled it. Stephenson stresses that Christians must recognize the importance of the Bible that Jesus and the apostles used. Each time Jesus and the apostles used the phrase, “it is written” they were using an Old Testament passage to illustrate a New Testament principle.
In A Biblicist View of Law and Gospel, Stephenson advocates a biblicist view based on careful Bible study to explain how Christians are to view the law and the way the testaments fit together as an inspired whole.
“God has given Lester a special gift for understanding and communicating the Bible message. Whether he communicates through writing or teaching, the message of truth is clear. In this book, he has fleshed out important truths of God’s word in a thorough, systematic, and yet practical fashion. The reader will be blessed through this writing and will come away with a better understanding of God’s work through God’s word.”
—David J. Whitcomb,
Teaching pastor at Community Baptist Church
“A Biblicist View of Law and Gospel treats a most controversial theological subject thoroughly and scripturally. It underscores the value of Old Testament Law as a gracious revealer of divine character and an expose of human depravity as prerequisite to the gospel. The work provides a helpful critique of the two extremes that have plagued Christendom—legalism and antinomianism.”
—Gerald Priest, Ph.D.
Former professor of historical theology, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary