Q. In “Another Dispensation?” you said, “The primary difference between Law and Grace was that before the cross a believer was required to express his or her faith by keeping the Law.” [last sentence]. What do you mean by “keeping the Law” ? James 2:10 says – “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
A. What I meant was that all believers since Adam have been saved by faith. Those who were saved before the cross had faith in the Redeemer who was coming, and for those who were saved after the cross it was faith in the Redeemer who has come.
During the Dispensation of Law, which came before the cross, believers expressed their faith by keeping the Mosaic Law, a system of behavior governed by 613 laws built around the 10 commandments. Keeping the Mosaic Law was required but it didn’t save them. It was done as evidence of their faith. It also kept them in good standing with the Lord and brought them great blessing (Deut. 7:12-15). Keeping the Mosaic Law in the absence of faith actually angered the Lord. (Isaiah 66:1-4)
James 2:10 is a warning to those would try to keep the Law in an effort to earn their own salvation instead of relying on the Lord. He was saying if you’re going to keep the Law better make sure you keep all of it all the time, because the Lord can’t overlook anything and you won’t get a 2nd chance.