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 Sermon on

The Law and the Gospel

By Brian Pepper

What  the most important question in all the world? In Matthew 19:16 we read, "And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

I don’t know of any more important question than that do you? What can I do to be saved? How can I be sure of eternal life?

No friends, I don’t know of any more important question than that, do you? "What can I do to be saved? How can I be sure of eternal life?

That rich young man is very earnest, he is anxious to know the answer. It is a matter of life and death.

The Law of God

And right from the Saviour's lips there came the wonderful reply. Verse 17 says, "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."

Did you get that clearly? St Paul in Hebrews 5:9, puts it in much the same way. "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him."

Yes it is faith and obedience. That is why God loved Abraham. He had the faith to obey Him in everything. God loves people like that. The rich young man was quite taken back. He was quite surprised. "Keep the commandments," why, he had been doing that since he was a boy.

So he asked Jesus "which". In other words, "Where have I been slipping Lord?" Jesus answered in verses 18,19, "Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Jesus put His finger on the trouble. The young man had been letting down in his relationship to his fellow man.

You see the law of God is divided into two parts. The first half tells us what God requires of us. The second, how we are to treat our fellowmen.

Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” God says, Give Me your heart, your soul, your mind.

And in John 14:15 He says, "If ye love He, keep my commandments."

God asks us to love Him with our heart, soul and mind. And when we do this we will keep His commandments to show our love.

Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself

In Matthew 22:39 Jesus said, "...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

This where that young man fell down. He had been following the letter of the law. That is made plain by the way he answered Jesus.

Matthew 19:20 latter half, "...All these things have 1 kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"

"Why Lord I have been putting God first in my life; I have not bowed down to idols, or worshipped them; I have been very careful how I have used your Name; The Sabbath I have kept in a very careful manner; I have honoured my mother and father. Yes Lord, "All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?"

Give What You Have to the Poor

And now Jesus puts forward the acid test. Matthew 19:21 says, "…If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.”

Jesus touched him on a very sensitive point. He was avaricious. He was trying to get everything he could out of life at the expense of his fellowmen. He began to flush for Jesus was touching a very sensitive spot indeed.

But I want to tell you that the question of disposing his property to benefit the poor was not the main thing. Some people stop right here. I have heard quite a number of preachers making quite a point of the fact "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor."

I think that it is a very good thing to give to the poor; we certainly should help those who are needy. But although it is a good lesson and one we need to give heed to, it is not the main thing that Jesus wanted to convey in this wonderful statement to the rich young man. I think that what follows is the primary lesson.

Let Nothing Come Between Us and God 

Matthew 19:21 says, “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” 

That is the most important thing. Whatever it is that stands between you and following Jesus, that is the thing that He says to get rid of. If it is riches, get rid of it. That is, if it is standing between you and following Jesus. If it is your social standing, for your soul’s sake, forget it all. If it is the clubs that you belong to; all the activities that stand between you and a closer personal walk with your Saviour then away with it. Let absolutely nothing stand between you and your Saviour.

There are a lot of individuals who are allowing this or that to hold them back; a loved one, or a friend, or opposition, the pleasures of this world.

Salvation: Obedience and Faith

This matter of salvation can easily be summed up. It is very simple.
1. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments,
2. "Come and follow Me."

It is a matter of two principles standing side by side: obedience and faith. They are just like two oars to a boat. You need both to keep you on a steady course.

You know it is rather unfortunate that there are many individuals, especially Christians who have the mistaken idea that salvation through Christ on Calvary applies only to those on this side of the Cross

Salvation Only Through Jesus Christ  

They seem to forget that there are two arms to the Cross; one reaching toward the Old Testament and one reaching toward the New Testament.

The arms of the Cross extend to the whole wide world. Christ, my friend, is the Saviour of the whole world. Jesus Christ is not just the Saviour of the Christians: He is the Saviour of the Jews; He is the Saviour of the Gentiles; He is the one Lord of all, for the Bible says very plainly that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

Jesus Christ is the one and only Saviour of this entire world. And we must never forget that. They did not have another Saviour in the Old Testament times. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is the way to eternal life.

In Revelation 13:8 He is called "...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Jesus Christ was actually offered, His blood was given as a sacrifice. His life was given as a guarantee way back in the very beginning of the history of this world of ours.

Sin Inherited from Adam

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were doomed to die. Now that is the very next point I want to come to, for it is very important. In Romans 5:12, we read, "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death hath passed upon all men, for all have sinned."

Now with that text I want to read this the 18th verse, "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  

We are told that the wages of sin is death. Now what was it that we inherited through Adam? Yes, what was it life or death? Death, it came upon all men. Through the sin of one, it says death came upon all men, for that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And that is just exactly what the Bible says.

But thank God, that while sin came upon all men through Adam it says that eternal life and justification also came through the other man Jesus Christ.

Death Sentence for Adam

We are all doomed to die. Adam and Eve marred the picture. God placed them in that beautiful and sinless world. He told them "This is your home." God intended that they should be sinless in a sinless world. He warned them about Satan. He told them to beware of Satan’s deceptions. He cautioned them about the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But Satan slipped in with his most insidious suggestions that God is not particular about little things.

Over and again that dangerous attitude has been passed on from generation to generation that a God of Love will not destroy men and women when they break just a “little commandment.”

Adam and Eve were deceived on that point by the adversary right back there in the Garden of Eden, that God is not particular about little things; and as they took of the forbidden tree; and they ate of it the death sentence was passed upon them.

“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt Die.” Genesis 2:17 Satan expected that Adam and Eve would be killed that very day. He considered that he had succeeded. Now Adam and Eve must die. Now he would be the ruler of this world. It would be his home forever. He had gained it from Adam by his deception and now he would be the prince of this world. So Satan thought. Adam was doomed to die.

Jesus Willing to Die for Adam

Before nightfall that evening, before the setting of the sun, we see the tragic picture in heaven as Jesus the Son of God, steps before the Father. He pleads, “My Father, let Me bear the curse. Let Me die in Adam’s stand.”

Jesus loved Adam dearly for He had created him. You will remember that Adam had been made in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus loved Adam with an everlasting love. He would rather die Himself, even in eternal death, if Adam could live eternally. Now that is real love, isn’t it?

Love that is willing to die in another’s stead and suffer the curse of eternal death if need be.

He risked just that in giving His life. He stepped before the Father and said, "Father, put the curse of sin upon Me, I shall bear the sentence of death for Adam, and I will die in his stead." 

Yes friends, that is why they call Him the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

I will give you another text like that, 2 Timothy 1:9 "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 

Adam was Saved by Grace

And bow I want to ask you a very important question. When was grace given to us through Christ? Before the world began. Then Adam was the very first human to be saved by grace. But though he was saved by grace was he free from the law? No! By breaking the law he came under the law and the sentence of death rested on him.

He was driven from the Garden of Eden because of his disobedience. Eventually he died the first death from which there is no reprieve.

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Yes, he died the first death but through the grace of God after the 1st Resurrection he has life eternal. Yes, grace then came through Jesus Christ in Old Testament times, right back there in Eden. Jesus offered His life and the Father accepted of that sacrifice.

The Father's Decision

Do you think that the Father gave up His Son without a struggle? I tell you that there must have been a terrific struggle when the Father weighed it in the balance? "Shall I give My Son to die?" "Shall My Son bear the ridicule, the reproach of Satan? "Can I let My Son go down to the world and take the abuse of Satan and man?"

Yes friend, God went through a titanic struggle. And after a while the decision was made; "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

And 4,000 years later He was to make good. Exactly what He promised Adam in the cool of the day. On that fateful day Jesus bade His Father goodbye, and came down to this world enshrouded in a dark cloud of sin.

The First Sacrifice

He came walking in the garden as He did so often to visit with ADAM. He called "Adam, Adam, where are you?" Adam was hiding in the shadows, he was filled with terror. He thought the death hour had come; For God had told him "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." He Thought "now I will die." He thought that Jesus had come to kill him.

But what a wonderful Saviour; Jesus had come to save him. When Jesus saw Adam standing there, He called to an animal. The animal came, obeyed His call. 1 can imagine the surprise and horror of Adam as he watches that awful sight, as the sacrifice is made, as the innocent blood is shed. Then the skin is taken from the animal that had done no wrong, and with it clothes are fashioned to cover his own lack.

Then it begins to dawn upon Adam how terrible, how fearful, how deadly are the results of sin. The wages of sin is death. In order that Adam may live, that very day someone else must give his life.

Sacrifices Pointing to the Cross

"Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."

Every one of those sacrifices in the Old Testament times, every one of those meat offerings, and the drink offerings, those yearly Sabbath days, every one of those rituals; pointed forward unerringly to Jesus Christ. Every part of the Old Testament service, was a symbol of the coming Redeemer. They lived in the shadow of the cross, but they were saved by the cross.

Don’t forget that every time they brought a lamb, or they brought a turtle dove for the poor -- and by the way the poor could even bring flour for that matter, that is if they could not afford anything else.

Yes, God even provided that the very poorest could be saved---every time they brought a sacrifice they brought it as a symbol of the coming Redeemer who would come and die in their stead. 4,000 years after that first sacrifice of that first animal that was slain; Jesus gave His life upon Calvary.

That is what He meant when He cried out, "It is finished." He had paid the price; He had cancelled the debt of all those of the Old Testament times. He had paid the price! He had consummated the sacrifice for all time.

Saved Through the Grace of Christ

Remember this. The cross points two ways: To those in the past and to those in the future who should live in faith believing in the blood of the Lamb.

They looked forward to the cross. We look back to the Cross; that is the only difference. It is the one cross.

We are all saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, for "there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

I think of the way that the Apostle Paul puts it in Romans 4:3, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Abraham was saved by righteousness, not his own but that given him by God.

Every soul that has ever been saved was saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 5 the redeemed are pictured as standing before the throne of God. Those of the Old Testament and those of the New, and this is the song they sing, "For by thy blood thou hast redeemed us from every language, from every kindred and from every tongue, and every people." 

There is No Other Way to Be Saved

They are all redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

There is another thought over in Revelation 15. It pictures the Redeemed in that great crowning service, the coronation service of Jesus Christ before the throne of God. It pictures the redeemed of all the ages, The Old Testament and the New Testament, they are all gathered before the throne of God and they sing, first of all The Song Of Moses and the second half, The Song of The Lamb.

Justice and Mercy meet in the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Law and the Gospel; Obedience and Grace. They meet in one in the person of Jesus Christ, and Him sacrificed upon Calvary's hillside.

They all unite in that one anthem. There is no other way of Salvation.

Can We Hide Behind the Grace of God?

But how often I have heard Christians boast, "But I don’t care about the Law of God. They hide behind Romans 6:14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under grace."

Yes, I have seen a great many Christians hiding behind that text and saying, "See there, that means that since I am saved by grace since I am saved through the atoning blood of Christ, I have nothing to worry about, I don’t have to keep God's commandments at all."

Now I ask you does it say that? You need to read just a little further verse 15, "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

There it is. Sin is the breaking of God's Commandments; the transgression of His law.

And St Paul says, just because you have been saved by the blood does not allow you to trample on God's commandments. In the 14th verse we have this, "Sin shall not have dominion over us."

Sin is not to be our ruler. We are not to be under sin. We are not under the condemnation of the Law when we obey God.

You see when an individual is saved by grace he is under greater obligation than ever before to keep the law of God because Paul says, "What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid."

And he adds this in Romans 3:31, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the law." Yes he says "We establish the Law." The Law is firmer than ever in our lives.

Living Under the Law

I ask you “what is under the law here in this town? Why those who have broken it. They are the ones who are under the law. The law has jailed them.

The man who keeps the Law is the man who is free today. The Law breaker is under the condemnation of the law.

Because we are saved by Grace doesn’t give us a license to sin.

A man has been condemned - condemned to die. He is under the sentence of death. But his friends intervene. They present some new evidence, some special factors involved in this case. As the case is reinvestigated and the new evidence considered it is felt that this man deserves clemency. And so a pardon is issued and the condemned man is saved from the gallows. Now that man has been saved by grace. He is not saved by works or by his goodness. He is doomed to die and being good, being ever so good in that death cell would never save him. That is very obvious.

In other words, after an individual has broken the commandments of God he cannot be good enough to save himself. That is quite clear. The wages of sin is death. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, so we are all under the sentence of death. And there is only one way of salvation through Jesus.

Now the condemned man is pardoned. Yes pardoned, saved, free. He goes out a free man.

Under Greater Obligation to Keep the Law

Now when he gets out he immediately breaks the laws of the land. Do you think that he would remain outside the goal for very long? Of course not! The individual that has been pardoned would be under greater obligation to keep the law than ever.

Even so we too. You and I come under greater obligation to keep the law of God because we are saved by grace.

Friends if you wish to enter into eternal life do what Jesus told that rich young man; keep the commandments and follow me.


The Bible in Song Sermons category is expected to be enlarged over time as hard copy sermon notes are scanned, typed and edited in webpage format. Visit Sermons Page for the complete list of sermons and Bible Commentaries

  PDF Sermon Files
Click image for sample. The Complete Sermon Collection is available at the Store Page. It includes 169 sermons which are listed on the Sermons Page, plus several audio visual sermonettes and a number of incomplete sermons. Original typed sermon notes have been scanned in PDF files on a DVD.


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Easy access to all the uploaded Revelation Bible Commentaries written by Brian Pepper. Also a CD of the complete Book of Revelation consisting of 22 PDF files scanned from original typed documents. These files can be downloaded by Adobe Acrobat to view on computer screen, or printed in booklet or other format.


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Bible in Song Sermons and Commentaries pages have exposed flaws in the "2300 day" prophecy chart most notably used by Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists in their biblical interpretation have favored the tradition of their founding fathers over Scripture and the "divine revelation" of their own prophet Ellen White. Read more.


Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert (USA) ... more testimonials.



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