- - Endorsed
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- - Contested
|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| The Law...
|In 1646, a group of Covenant Theologians (reformed Christians) penned what we now call the "Westminster Confession of Faith" - and for many reformed Christians, it is a document that is (in practice at least) as binding as scripture.
Originally theologians would defend orthodoxy against heresy by examining scripture directly to see what the truth of the matter was. The result from such examination was that a precept or 'apology' was deduced to answer a given heresy. Eventually however, this same system of apology was used to answer questions that no one was asking. At some point doctrine was no longer being derived directly and entirely from scripture, but as it were, it was being derived from previous precepts either partially, or entirely.
In the book of Isaiah this very practice (using a theological house of cards as the rule of conduct rather than scripture directly) was recorded as the reason why Israel was going astray - because they began to regard the word of the Lord as being equivalent to their own system of theology - supposing to mine truth out of their own theology - they began to build line upon line, and precept upon precept - that is, they stepped of the straight and narrow the moment they began to pile it high.
Not that Covenant Theology has the market cornered on this sort of error. Certainly Dispensationalism follows the same error, and accordingly it derives its own clever, but extra-biblical conclusions as well.
Yet my point isn't to focus on the flaws of our various theological frameworks - I am sure there are enough theological zealots on the internet already - yet an awareness of this sort of thing is an important foundation for the topic I wish to discuss.
(Pastor) Brad Williams, in examining the twenty second chapter of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, notes that according to this document, Sunday is supposed to supplant Saturday as the Sabbath - and to be appropriately observed by the born again believer.
The document is really just a rehash of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, with references to infant baptism modified so that they reflect instead a believer baptism position. Here and there, the document is otherwise enhanced to add clarifying or qualifying statements and whatnot. It isn't the scope of this essay to highlight the differences - but rather we begin by noting that the 1689 LBCF is mostly just a revamped 1646 WCF.
Now, I mentioned Covenant Theology to this end - the idea that:
1] Sunday now replaces Saturday as the Sabbath, and come to us through theological presumption and not scripture directly.
2] The Christian must obey the law of the Sabbath
It is hardly worth taking my word for anything, so I will post the places in the WCF and in the LBCF where they cite the following verses to "prove" that Sunday is now the Sabbath:
|WCF 1646 - 21:7||LBCF 1689 - 22:7|
|As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[Exodus 20:8,10-11; Isaiah 56:2,4,6-7] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,[Genesis 2:2-3; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 20:7] which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day,[Revelation 1:10] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[Exodus 20:8,10;Matthew 5:17-18]|| As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he has particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him,[Exodus 20:8] which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's Day[1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10]: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished. |
Examine the cited verses, you will -not- conclude from them that Sunday replaces Saturday as the Sabbath. But, if you regard these verses without a firm understanding of the remainder of scripture - I suppose you might conclude that Christians are still required to keep the Sabbath (Saturday) holy.
That would be because of the quotation in Matthew 5:17-18 where Jesus, speaking to Jews about Jewish things says, "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." (NASB).
I might point out, that Jesus Christ is the only one who could and did fulfill the law. That is, Christ lived under the law - satisfying its demands; He did not come to abolish it - He came to keep it! Clearly, not one letter or stroke would pass from the Law until all was accomplished. That is why on the cross, when all was accomplished - that is, when Jesus kept the law perfectly throughout His earthly life - He said, "it is accomplished"
Now, you should be asking, "What about the heavens and the earth passing away? - Doesn't that imply a continuing of the law??"
Yet, when we understand the reference to the heavens and the earth passing away as a literal reference, we are left with the idea that nothing in the law will ever be annulled - not one jot or serif.
Think that through for a second. If we understand this to mean that nothing in the law will ever be annulled so long as the earth and sky continue to exist - then we have a bible that contradicts itself don't we? If it indeed means -that- then we most certainly have contradiction in scripture. But it cannot mean that since the Gentiles didn't have to get circumcised in order to become Christians. That is, if not one jot or tittle was going to fall from the law then certainly the law of circumcision would have to be kept - but we see in Acts 15 that this was not the case.
We are left therefore to understand the reference to the earth and sky as either hyperbole or metaphor. In the case of hyperbole the thrust would be the enduring character of the law - that is, that unless Christ fulfilled it, heaven and earth would pass away and the law would still continue unkept. In the case of metaphor, heaven and earth could represent the Alpha and Omega Himself, that is "until the Christ passed away..."
Personally I read it as an hyperbole.
Now, if you can't (or won't) see the reference to the earth and sky (heavens) as less than literal you are going to have some serious problems later on in the new testament scriptures. Remember Peter's three-fold vision on the rooftop? Surely "not one jot or title" includes the dietary portion of the law - a portion that was done away with long before the earth and sky "were no more."
I leave you to deal with it, don't take my word for it, but decide (prayerfully) for yourself if I am way out in la-la land. In the meantime I will continue.
Paul tells us that the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. I would explain that a bit further. The law not only brought our unrighteousness to light - showing us our need of a Savior - but it also identified the Christ to us - Him being the only One to have perfectly kept the law). The Law both condemns us, and identifies the One Who would redeem us.
So looking at the verses in Matthew 5, Christ wasn't saying that the law would be binding upon mankind foever, rather He was saying the law would continue until it was fulfilled - and with that great cry, "it is finished/completed/fulfilled/accomplished" it was.
Now, it isn't that the moment Christ died, history erased the law out of the Jewish bible. We still have "the Law" recorded in our bibles today - and that same law continues to identify us as sinners, and Jesus as the Christ. That same "law" continues to profit us by instructing us in what righteousness looks like.
Stepping out of our box for a second, we know that men were unrighteous before the law - remember Cain? Cain murdered Abel, but there was no written law to break was there? No. There wasn't. Yet Cain sinned didn't he? Yes he did. We see therefore that sin isn't produced by the law - rather the law simply identifies sin to us. The better we understand the law, the greater a sinner we understand ourselves to be. This was the law's purpose - not to produce righteousness, but to show men that they are not righteous.
Okay, that is all Christianity 101. We all (should) know this.
But what role does the law play today?
This is where Brad's pondering on the Sabbath comes in. The WCF and consequently the LBCF promote the idea that Sunday is now the Sabbath - and that the faithful must remember the (new) Sabbath to keep it holy. That is, if you mow your lawn on Sunday evening (before the sun goes down) you should be disciplined by the church:
Brother, I want you to know that I love you, and that the only reason I mention this is because I want you to enjoy unbroken fellowship with both God and those in the congregation - I know that you mowed your lawn on Sunday evening, and you need to repent of your lawlessness and sin. Your wicked rebellion is not only hurting your own walk with our Lord, but you are a spot in the congregation that holds the rest of us from God's blessings. Please dear brother, tell me that you will repent of this evil - let's overcome this together - I am here for you...
How far do we take the Sabbath thing? Well, it depends on what your thoughts are on the law.
In Romans 10 we read about the error of those zealous Jews who were trying to establish themselves in righteousness by keeping the law - their error was that they weren't subjecting themselves to God's righteousness - here Paul explains that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Now, those of you who are astute enough, might remember the scene in the book of Acts (chapter 21) where Paul comes back to Jerusalem. Here he is warned that the Jews will know of his arrival, and it is anticipated that they are going to make a big stink about Paul, since Paul was being painted by these Jerusalem Jews as teaching those other Jews (those (non-converted Jews) who live amongst the Gentiles) that they need no longer circumcise their sons or walk according to the law of God. In anticipation of this, the advice given to Paul was that he demonstrate the falseness of that accusation by showing that he himself (Paul) still "kept the law" by purifying himself according to the law and presenting himself in the temple etc.
I say, the astute amongst you may reason - that if Paul kept the law - we ought to as well. And there is some merit in such a notion if taken out of the context of the rest of scripture. But we see Paul's own testimony on the matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
So, while the astute might reason that Paul kept the law, we see that Paul himself explains why he "kept the law" - because if he didn't keep the law, he wouldn't be able to speak freely in synogogs, or enter into the houses of Jews, etc. He wanted to maintain a ministry amongst his brethren - something he makes no secret of elsewhere in scripture.
So what of all this then?
The bottom line is that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Not that we are free to do whatever we want - but that the law is no longer the standard by which we live. Our new standard is obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit - who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
The reason we do not observe the Sabbath (Saturday) is because the Spirit of God didn't require it of the early church, nor does He require it of us today. The reason the Spirit of God doesn't want us to imitate the OT Sabbath is because the OT Sabbath pictures (not a day of the week, but) the rest we read about in Hebrews chapter four - "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
There are many in the church who dice up the law into a keep and throw away pile. These are the laws we keep (let's call them moral), and these are the laws that we can dispense with (ceremonial and dietary). But the compartmentalizing of the law goes against the idea that the law is a whole and against the idea that the one who keeps the law must keep it all as a whole. This sort of position is disingenuous (at best), and more than this - practically speaking there is no uniformity from church to church with regards to what is kept and what is thrown away. This is because the division between the keep and throw away laws is a matter of opinion, and being arbitrary in nature is therefore open to debate.
Scripture on the other hand, is plain on the matter - if you are going to keep any of the law (such as circumcision) you bind yourself to keeping -all- of it. To pick and choose some portion - no matter how vague or exacting your criteria might be - is extrabiblical at best.
If you accept that you are no longer under the law - you must accept the whole enchilada - that is, you are no longer subject to any of it.
What shall we say then? If we are not under the law are we free to sin? God forbid!
Those who are in the Spirit are motivated by God to obey God, and through doing so the Spirit of God peels away the hardened layers of disobedience in their heart, so that they become more and more willing to obey God. Put another way, God begins to sanctify them - to change them from glory to glory into the very image of Christ: the very thing the law could never do.
posted by Daniel @
It was this thought process presented to me through which I finally 'knew that I knew' God's love for me - A gift I cannot earn by good behaviour.
We often mentally agree with that statement, but then feel compelled to keep some set of laws acceptable within whatever church community we belong to.
You're right - we cannot pick and choose which law we have to keep and which law we don't have to.
We are not sanctified in our flesh but in our hearts. Jesus was quite clear it is what comes out of our hearts that is the real problem.
We are actually called to a more righteous standard. We can't simply 'not kill' - we cannot hate(resentment, anger etc), we can't just 'not steal' - we cannot covet, we can't just 'honour God on the Sabbath' but must honour Him every day, etc. etc.
Only a totally surrendered life of repentance can lead us even close to the standard of Christlikeness we are called to as New Testiment Believers.
My 2 cents worth!
Daniel, I happen to agree with you on Sunday not being the Sabbath, but I do have a question on what you said here:
"There are many in the church who dice up the law into a keep and throw away pile. These are the laws we keep (let's call them moral), and these are the laws that we can dispense with (ceremonial and dietary). But the compartmentalizing of the law goes against the idea that the law is a whole and against the idea that the one who keeps the law must keep it all as a whole."
Before I respond to this can you expand a bit more on what you mean?
In Mal 2:9 we read God's criticism of the priests: "Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law" - when God says, "partiality in the law" he is talking about the way the priests were allowing divorce for less than biblical reasons - that is, they were holding up the parts of the law that they wanted to uphold, but they were letting fall the parts that they didn't want to uphold.
In James 2:10 we see, "For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" - this passage shows that the law is a whole unit.
We read in Galatians 3:10 a quote from Deuteronomy - "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" - that is, the curse falls upon anyone who fails to keep all the law (as opposed to failing to keep some chosen peices of the law).
Likewise in Galatians 5:3 when Paul says, "And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law." we understand that he is saying the very thing I said - if you are going to keep one law - you have to keep them all, the premise being the immutability of the law.
These texts only begin to paint the full picture there are certainly other texts that support the idea - but these ones ought to be clear enough for most people.
My point was to contrast what scripture says about keeping the law, with the practice of some who suggest that the law can be separated arbitrarily into components - some to be discarded, and some to be kept.
Let me know if that explained it.
Daniel, do you not believe that there are some laws that were given to Israel that were meant only for them under the Old Covenant?
Also, you say on the one hand that we are not subject to the law, but on the other hand, we are not free to sin. What defines sin?
Did God Himself not seperate it into components when He gave the 10 commandments seperately? Or wrote the law on the hearts of the Gentiles? Or held people accoutable to a law before the comming of Moses then added the ceremonal components?
I have always seen the law in scripture as something that has been around since the beginning, but not codified until Moses came, and then had a seperate cerminal component added to remedy the inadquacy of the people who could not obtain perfection by this law and point towards Christ. The cermonial aspect then since Christ has come has been done away with, but the moral precepts that have been around since before Moses is still something Christians should stive towards with the understanding we will never reach it.
David, I want to be careful that I maintain the right perspective as I answer you.
When the Northern tribes were taken into exile, and the people who came to settle their land found lions to be a problem - Levites were sent to teach these non-Jews about the "God of the land" in the hope that they might appease him.
These Samaritan Gentiles may have learned about the law, and lived in a sort of obedience to the that law - but this effort did not make them Jews. It is important for us to remember that these Samaritans weren't Jewish proselytes, they were Gentiles observing a form of the law - a distinction that did not go unnoticed in Judah - where those "Samaritans" were -not- regarded as part of national Israel.
Those Gentiles who wanted to become Jews could do so however, and when they did, the whole of the law was applied to them.
The point is that the "law" was given to Israel - whether you were born or proselyted into Israel did not matter - the law (all of it) applied to you.
To answer your question, "do you not believe that there are some laws that were given to Israel that were meant only for them under the Old Covenant?" - I believe that the law was given to the Jewish people and not to the Gentiles - such that it was only through Israel (a picture of Christ) that you could come to God. The law is not divided into "what was given to the Jew" and "what was given to mankind" - rather, all the law was for the Jew, and only for the Jew - but anyone could become a Jew.
To answer your second question - knowledge of sin came through the law. But sin is still sin even if one is ignorant that they are sinning.
When we talk about being "under the law" we are talking not only about the root cause of our practical righteousness (as opposed to Christ perfect and imputed righteousness), but we are also talking about the sure knowledge that we are condemned as transgressors, because the law identifies us as such.
When I say that we are no longer under the law, I am saying that  the law no longer condemns those who are in Christ - because Chirst having kept the law perfectly imputes that righteousness to those who are in Christ; and  the law, while being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness so that a believer may become spiritually mature and thereby equipped for every good work; yet it is not our obedience to the law that dictates our conduct, but our obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit.
One might ask - what does obedience to the Holy Spirit look like? Good question - the answer is quite simple - look at Jesus: everything Christ did on earth, He did in perfect obedience to the Spirit whom He obeyed.
When a person understands that even though Jesus was God almighty, yet he truly emptied Himself by voluntarily continuing to set aside all divine prerogative - living a human life as a human - entirely in the strength of the Holy Spirit - then we begin to see what is expected of us - and we begin to understand why Christ calls us brethren - we are expected to live as He lived.
Sin happens anytime you put your own desires before those of the Holy Spirit - and obey your own will against the will of God.
Let me know if that clears it up.
I know that some people think that God delivered the law to everyone via the Jews, and from that perspective we think of Israel as the messenger - but as common as that notion is, I think it is flawed - God chose to save through Israel such that any who wanted to be saved could be saved by joining themselves to Israel - and that paints the delivery of the law in a way that sidesteps (what I presume would be) the follow-up question - that being that if I admit that there were some laws were for everyone, and some were only for Israel - wouldn't I be making the very distinction that I say cannot be made?
I have always seen the law in scripture as something that has been around since the beginning, but not codified until Moses came
I would word it differently:
The law, though codified on Sinai, reflects no temporal invention of God - as though it came into being with Moses - rather the eternal image of righteousness was codified as a series of precepts delivered to man for the purpose of illustrating man's condemnation
Not that the law has been around since Adam, but that God's righteous standard (which the law codifies) has "been around" since before Adam.
I think up to this part we are in perfect agreement.
and then had a seperate cerimonial component added to remedy the inadequacy of the people who could not obtain perfection by this law and point towards Christ
I think we all agree as well that the sacrificial system was indeed a 'placeholder' for the coming Messiah. I have trouble with the way you have described it ("remedy for inadequacy") - because the sacrificial system didn't 'redeem' their 'inadequacies' at all, but pointed (as you mentioned) to the One who would redeem them from their sins - Jesus Christ.
Certainly we agree on the outcome of this - that we no longer are required to sacrifice bulls and whatnot. You say that we stop observing the sacrificial system as a matter of logic/principle: since He who was pictured in the sacrificial system has now come the sacrifices no longer serve a purpose, and because they serve no purpose we can ignore them hereafter.
I think that reasoning is pretty typical, and stands strong in our thinking because it is so reasonable.
We agree that Christ was pictured in the sacrificial system. We agree that Christ has come. We agree that it doesn't make sense to propogate a foreshadow after the Person foreshadowed has come. Where we disagree is that you feel that the sacrificial system was dropped because it made sense to drop it, and I feel it was dropped because the law (all of it) was abolished - and after it was abolished He (the Holy Spirit) who replaced the law did not put it into believer's hearts to engage in this sort of foreshadowing any more (presumably for the same reasons you cite - the sacrificial system had served its purpose).
In your scenario 'logic' dictates what must be kept, while in my scenario the Holy Spirit dictates what must be kept. Not that this is some artsy distinction; but that in your scenario men reason out what is orthodox, and in my scenario God dictates what is orthodox. It is the defining distinction between our views.
You reason that the moral precepts have been around since day one, such that we are still responsible to "keep" the moral components of the codified law.
Following your reasoning however, we must examine where Christ Himself demonstrated that it was possible to keep the letter of the law, while breaking the law in one's heart ("you have heard it said... But I say to you...") - so we must admit (if we are honest) that whatever we arbitrarily decide to paint as a "moral component" of our "codified" law will still only dimly reflect the genuine righteousness the laws were penned to codify. That is if the law remains our standard, and the codified standard is demonstrably less than perfect - our standard for righteousness becomes arbitrary. Not exactly the plumb line we were looking for in my opinion.
If however, the codified laws were abolished (as opposed to God's continuing righteous standard) and these same codified laws were replaced as the rule of conduct for our life by the indwelling Holy Spirit - then our righteousness comes through living in the Spirit as opposed to walking (imperfectly) in the law.
Let me suggest to you, that no one was ever called "Christ like" because they obeyed the moral law.
Finally, you make the closing point that we should stive towards keeping the moral laws with the understanding we will never actually keep them.
Are saying that Christ cannot set you free from your sin, or that He won't set you free from your sin?
I am curious what you think Christ has saved you from - my suspicion is that you think you are saved from sin's penalty as opposed to being saved from sin's dominion.
We both say that Christ saved us from sin's dominion - except when you say it, you mean that sin still has dominion over you sometimes...
Daniel, let me rephrase my first question: do you not believe that there are some laws that were given to Israel that were meant only for them under the Old Covenant? God gave laws to Israel under the Old Covenant, such as circumcision and diet, that are specifically nullified under the New Covenant. Prohibitions against murder and adultery still apply. Surely you can see the distinction.
Regarding my second question, I am not implying that keeping any law has any causal relationship to justification or practical sanctification. I am only saying that the law is still the law, and while obedience to the law is no proof of justification or sanctification, sin and obedience are measured by law. Otherwise, what grounds are there for church discipline?
You wrote, "Those who are in the Spirit are motivated by God to obey God..." That's very true, but what is the standard of obedience?
"I am curious what you think Christ has saved you from"
Christ saved me from God's righteuos wrath.
David, the distinction you note is clear enough, I do surely see it; yet I want to be certain that I draw a thick line between identifying a distinction and defining the nature of that same distinction.
You suggest, and this is certainly reasonable, that the reason we no longer observe dietary restrictions and circumcision is because these "laws" are specifically relaxed in the New Testament scriptures. That is fair reasoning, but, if we pursue that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, we are required to keep every OT law that isn't specifically "nullified" in the new testament - not, as you note, as a means of justification, but rather as a matter of sanctification.
David, would you say that was a fair assessment of your position?
Also, you ask about the standard of obedience in the context of church discipline - and here I hope we will see there is a subtle change of venue.
When I speak of the law being abolished I am not suggesting for a moment that it is no longer profitable for instruction in righteousness - rather I am saying that the law no longer has dominion over the new covenant believer - that is, it no longer represents the standard that we are to live to. That isn't to say that the new standard looks much different (practically speaking) - the new standard being divinely enabled obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The venue change is subtle, but plainly stated it is this: I was making the case for personal obedience to God - that this obedience is no longer directed at the keeping of the law, but is directed at keeping oneself "in the Spirit" such that by walking in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
When we discuss church discipline we are talking about dealing with people who are not in fellowship with God's Spirit - that is, people who are not obeying the Spirit of God - either because they are not truly regenerate (they don't have the Spirit) or because they are immature in their faith (they don't obey the Spirit).
In the case of discipline we are not dealing with people who are obeying God - and so we cannot apply to that. Instead we treat them as unbelievers - showing them through the law that they are in the transgression.
The problem with that is that if we ourselves are not in the Spirit - that is, if we are sinning ourselves somewhere, we have no perspective from which to discipline others - we have a beam in our own eye.
If however a man is walking in the light as Christ walked in the light - that is, walking in continuing obedience to the Holy Spirit - he is fit to remove the mote from his brother's eye; That is, by virtue of his being in the Spirit himself, he can rightly handle the law in disciplining the other - he can use the law "lawfully."
Lacking a genuine, consistent Spiritual walk, we can only discern (with certainty) the obvious errors - and are in danger not only of legalism, but also of hypocrisy too.
The standard of obedience is "utter" obedience. When God tells you to do something you do it, - none of His sheep can pretend that they don't know His voice. Deep down, the genuine believer knows when he or she sins.
Our sin isn't unto condemnation however, but it is unto stagnation, and if persistent eventually unto divine rebuke.
I wish I could say more at this time, but I am off to an engagement - saving just a moment to answer Bryan.
Christ saved me from God's righteuos wrath.
...and what else?
A mere 21 verses into the new testament we find the answer: And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
If salvation is merely from sin's penalty - we have more light than, but are ultimately no better off than, the Jews.
If we are saved from sins power - we must not pretend otherwise - and certainly we have no room to excuse our sin - having been set free from it.
Am I wrong here?
You suggest, and this is certainly reasonable, that the reason we no longer observe dietary restrictions and circumcision is because these "laws" are specifically relaxed in the New Testament scriptures. That is fair reasoning, but, if we pursue that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, we are required to keep every OT law that isn't specifically "nullified" in the new testament - not, as you note, as a means of justification, but rather as a matter of sanctification.
I should have been more thorough in my comments. Not only are there laws that have been declared null, there are those that have been fulfilled, such as blood sacrifices. I'm sure you see that, too.
The laws that remain, yes, we are to keep. Keeping them is a matter of sanctification, but not a cause of sanctification. Our sanctification positionally was accomplished at the cross. Our sanctification practically is being accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word. Our sanctification is evidenced by obedience, but obedience is not necessarily evidence of sanctification.
I'm groping for a way to spell out the reason that the Law is binding on the Christian. It's not for our justification or sanctification. If we love God, we will keep his commandments, but we don't keep his commandment in order to love him. I guess I'm left with, "Do it because he said so," and if you're a Christian, you won't mind. It will be your pleasure to obey.
Sorry, that's not as clear as it ought to be. I guess I won't be writing a systematic theology anytime soon.
David - I believe I grasp the thrust of what you are saying - and I would not describe your position as being contrary to my own so much as I would say that we are out of step with one another.
Everyone who obeys the Spirit of God, in doing so will resemble one who "keeps the law." The law is still profitable for instruction in righteousness - I don't deny that if we are uncertain we can still examine the law to gain an understanding of what righteousness looks like. That being said however, the law no longer has dominion over us - it was a temporary thing that began with Moses, and ended when it was finally fulfilled in Christ. My point is that the Holy Spirit now indwells believers - they have a new creation, the new Israel has a heart of flesh (the Holy Spirit) who has displaced the heart of stone (the law) - and this same indwelling Holy Spirit leads Spirit filled believers in a walk of righteousness. This genuine righteousness - this walking in the Spirit resembles "keeping the law" but it is categorically different, being based on a personal relationship with God, and not an external obedience to the law.
Anyone who walks in the Spirit will fulfill the righteousness that "the law" codified. We must be absolutely clear on this point however - the Law was entirely temporal, and is no longer in effect.
Now, when I say, "no longer in effect" I mean that we are no longer under the law - because if we were we would still be under condemnation. It is a very, very important distinction. I know that you understand on some level that the law no longer has dominion over you - what I am suggesting is just that - that the law no longer rules your affairs, rather the Lawmaker Himself lives within you and dictates to you moment by moment what you ought to do, and to not do.
What I am trying to say is that while the law itself is -not- binding on the Christian; the righteousness of God that was poorly reflected in the law continues to bind the believer through obedience to the indwelling Spirit. There are certainly imperatives given in the NT - I am not suggesting that there are not - I am merely showing (I hope) how the law can be abolished as scripture teaches - yet the believer is required to remain righteous; or perhaps more specifically, I am identifying the Christian's moral compass - not the law, but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
I really appreciate your patience with me David.
Patience with you? I'm trying to be patient with myself until I get it!
Thanks, I do think I see your point, and I agree. It's just finding an adequate way of expressing it that evades me.
Finding an adequate way of expressing it evades me as well. ;-)
Revelation has interesting comments, in 14:12: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Earlier in Rev. 12:17 the dragon goes forth to "make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Again, Rev. 20:4: "...I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the WORD of God..." If John 1:1 is true...that our Messiah IS the WORD of God....well, gotta be a bit careful about all this dividing of the WORD, I think. This to me indicates that our MESSIAH was the ONE speaking from page 1 in Genesis. Gen.2:3 speaks of the 7th day being set aside as a Sabbath of rest. And MANY times over in the rest of scripture, if anything is said about it, it is a repeat of this. Christ clarified some things...it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath and obviously ok to go pick some grain to eat along the road, etc. But I have never seen nor had pointed out to me the verse (not even 1 little verse) where that day was ever changed. All men's reasonings can sometimes get them into a bit of trouble, seems to me. A lot of what you have written here is very excellent and I see your points...but on this one, seems to me, no one has come up with a valid verse to support Sunday worship, or the dismissal of the Sabbath times as set up by the WORD! And frankly, being the standard of truth is established by at least 2 witnesses, there needs to be a total of at least 3 verses to support a change here. Perhaps you can lead me to those verses.
And Daniel, you always manage to give a person pause to ponder and that I appreciate. I am not the best one to try to debate with anyone...but these are questions that have never been answered for me by those who worship other than on the day set up by God. (And by the way, it is only in the last couple years that we have come to see this ourselves, being born into strong conservative protestant homes, etc.) We know that no matter what we will never acheive 100% in either our lives or our doctrines, but it is best to do our best in taking this test, seems to me. That is where the blood shed by the Messiah will cover us, in the areas we are less than 100%...and by the way, I have never met anyone yet who seemed to 100% do as the Spirit would lead. Yes, we need HIS help...but we all fail in that dept. from time to time too...mercy and grace extended we badly need!! Flawed humans that we are!
seems to me, no one has come up with a valid verse to support Sunday worship, or the dismissal of the Sabbath times as set up by the WORD!
That the church began to congregate on Sunday (immediately) following the resurrection of Christ is a matter of both history and scripture. The verses which make point to a Sunday congregation are 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Acts 20:7 - and (arguably), Revelation 1:10.
That the law has been abolished is recorded in the new testament as well:
Ephesians 2:14-15, "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, "
Col 2:14, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
Romans 7:4-6, "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."
Remember, that everyone who is under the law is under a curse, but according to Romans 8:1 - "there is therefore no condemnstaion for those who are in Christ Jesus"
Romans 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Paul said this of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:20, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law."
- Cont -
In Romans 6:13,14 we read that we are not under the law anymore but under grace.
In Galatians 5:17,18 we read that if we are led by the Spirit we are not under the law,
In Acts 15:4-5 we see the error of the Judaizers described thus: that the Gentiles were being instructed to obey the Laws of Moses...
If you are under the old covenant you are requrired to keep the law, but as we read in Hebrews 8:7-13, that a new covenant was prophesied that would not be like the old covenant - that God would put his laws in our heart.
Think that through. Why put a law in a heart if the law on paper still stands?
I am quite convinced (by these scriptures and others) that the law (all of it) no longer has dominion over me. It isn't some arbitrary thing I have come up with - it is a plain reading of scripture that forces my conclusion.
I would be interested in knowing how verses like these are set aside in order to maintain a Saturday Sabbath?
Three verses...hmmmm, and seeming rather weak ones to me. Acts 20:7...The Jews, even today, gather on Saturday after sundown (their close of Sabbath) to discuss and fellowship together...so that does not seem a change of plan there from the usual customs...other than preaching about Messiah perhaps. And verse 8 in this same chapter would substantiate what I am saying here...from our VERY VERY Western minds we need to try to understand what the Eastern mindset was doing. For Hebrews, the next day began at sunset of the night before from our Western perspective, correct?
I Cor. 16:2 talks of taking up an offering, but says nothing of a service, etc. Even if so, still there is NOTHING negating even their attending a synogogue...
And most definitely Rev. 1:10 is debatable. When the LORD said he was LORD of the Sabbath, then of course the Sabbath Day could be called the LORD's Day. I have heard that word in Rev. is not quite translated correctly either.
SO in my opinion, you gave me NO verses to support the change to Sunday worship in place of the usual Sabbath taught all throughout the OT and practiced by our LORD in the NT! Sorry...gotta find 3 better verses please.
In Eph.2:15 the word ordinance there is translated in the BlueletterBible anyway as "dogma"...and my dictionary says the word dogma means: "a system of principles or tenets, as of a church" and the other meanings noted say essentially the same thing. Now one would hope that every church would have doctrines that are of GOD but we all know that is not true unfortunately. SO to me, this word dogma would mean that what the LORD came to do away with was the systems of doctrines put into place by men, most especially that of the Pharisees,etc...but still valid today, in my opinion. MEN think they are so smart and can change things and God will be happy and pat them on the back like a good dog. I cannot accept that. SO again, a weak verse of support here, in my opinion.
No time for more now...back later.
Elizabeth, the Sabbath certainly ended at sunset on Saturday, and the evening following would have been considered Sunday. We might speculate that if some Jewish congregations are doing it today, that it was common practice, but I should like something more substantial to build upon than speculation. A biblical or historical reference would help make the point.
Now assuming the point were made convincingly, that still doesn't negate the idea that the church met on Sunday - in fact it rather would support it.
An interesting textual note, in some versions of 1 Corinthians 16:2 (Beza's et. al), "the Lord's day" is added to the text. But the idea of taking up an offering without actually congregating is as likely in that context as it would be today. We take our offerings when we meet, we don't drop them off and meet at another time.
Your point doesn't show that the church didn't meet on Sunday, and it likewise doesn't address the conclusion that it did.
I have never suggested, nor do I suggest today, that the Sabbath is now Sunday. My position is that the Sabbath rest is no longer a day of the week, but rest in Christ, and the OT law that required the observance of a day was abolished.
Again, the Revelation 1:10 reference ties into the text through arabic and syrian overlap - something a textual critic would know, but the average person wouldn't look to actual manuscripts for support of the idea (though the support -is- there if such early manuscript evidence is considered. There is certainly no reason for the arabic and syrian texts to include "the Lord's day" in their rendering of 1 Corinthians 16:2 - and inclusions such as this are what we base the inferrence upon. Not that we simply said, "Hey Sunday sounds good!" - but rather, we note that at least in some of the manuscript body the first day of the week is identified as the Lord's day. While these wtnesses (manuscripts) may not be deemed as reliable as the texts from which we typically make our translations today - yet they do offer us some clear indication that the early church did regard Sunday as the Lord's day.
So again, that isn't some fanciful speculation based on after-the-fact tradition, but rather on early manuscript evidence. The Sabbath was never referred to (to the best of my knowledge) as the Sabbath.
Again - and this is important. I never, ever, not even once, suggested that we should "change [the Sabbath] to Sunday worship in place of the usual Sabbath " No, no, a thousand times no.
Brad was making that point on his blog. My point was that Sunday is -NOT- the new Sabbath, as the Sabbath has been abolished, and Sunday just happened to be the day the church chose to meet, it being the Lord's day.
A note on the word "nomos" as translated in Ephesians 2:15; It is found 197 times in the NT, and (BlueletterBible aside), it is translated as "law" 197 out of 197 times in most translations of the new testament. I will readily admit that "dogma" can mean this or that - but I would contend that it is a very poor translation of the Greek word, and any exegesis on the text must exposit what was said in the Greek, as opposed to the word choice of English translations. If that makes any sense.
My conviction is that the law (nomos) was most certainly abolished- and along with it the keeping of Saturday as the Sabbath.
I do recall you are not in complete agreement with Brad, thanks for clarifying that some more. I am certainly no expert but it bothers me so to see people such disregard for so many scriptures...I see them as all connected and see no where that negates many that people (who cling solely or nearly so, to the NT) mean what they say...sometimes simply going a bit farther in the chapter or book will tell a person a bit different picture. The passage in Romans 7 is one of those...verses 12, 14, 22, 25 paint a bit different picture it seems to me.
Often I have heard that Christ came to fulfill the law and I don't think many disagree on that...but again, in our language today at least, fulfillment usually does not mean abolish or ended. If it did, well, hmmmmm...maybe that is what is so terribly wrong with marriages today...maybe they take it in the same context.
I believe the MESSIAH came to do away with men's ADDED laws (dogma) NOT the ones HE spoke from the beginning. HE said HIS burden is light. My hubby took several years to compare those "extra" laws that everyone so hates with the rest of scripture, etc...and nearly all of them we were trying to live by anyway. We wonder if people just do not know what those laws say or which ones they would like to disobey? The people we know for the most part have never even sat down to look at them...they simply take the words someone told them and run with it. We are to be BEREANS, correct? I know we won't all agree ever before HE returns...HE will have to set us all straight on one thing or another...but I surely do think that anyplace in scripture that says FOREVER, means exactly that and I for one, am going to do my utmost to obey. Part of loving someone is wanting to please them and certainly we in love ought to WANT to please our CREATOR, REDEEMER, FRIEND, BRIDEGROOM...or so it seems to me. Otherwise, it does not seem like love to me.
You are younger than we are, and by the time you are our ages, believe me a 24 hour period of time to rest, study, pray and try to be in HIS presence would be a great blessing...we wonder if some of the diseases of today might be avoided if we lived such. We do not feel this is any kind of burden...it has enriched and made our lives so MUCH better. We do it out of our LOVE for HIM who saved us! Are we perfect? Of course not...we need lots of mercy and grace!! But we want to be. A lot of places in scripture seem to refer to being an attitude of the heart...such as King David being a man after God's own heart...it was not his behavior at times anyway...it was his readiness to repent seems to me. Keeping the Sabbath allows us time for reflection. IT is a gift!! I have heard it said that if the Sabbath is not a joy...you are not really keeping it. From what we understand it is primarily how one keeps it in one's home...we have no meeting place, but only our home and it is enough. (WE do study with a Bible study group but that is a different night). But so many will never know it because they will never accept it. They will be so fearful of being called a Judiazer...that they will not. Too bad...a great loss!
Another question for you: If God cannot be depended upon to NOT change the things HE said in the OT, well, how do we know HE will not change other things...what other laws might HE throw away from his 10, etc? But then I guess those too are invalid? Seems to me America agrees with that and maybe one reason we are so wicked and doomed for judgment.
I feel the church in general is way too arrogant and think the jews are to be grafted into us, when the contrary was commanded. And if adopted and grafted in, if it is truly like in our human experience, we are to follow the family rules and guidelines. Deut.4:29-31 speaks of the LATTER DAYS which we surely are in or at the threshold of, and promises even then that the LORD will not forget HIS covenant. (And yes, I know HE will have to keep our part too). Look at verse 40...it says FOREVER. Deut.7:9 speaks of this to a 1,000 generations which the math experts in this house say no way there has been that many generations yet! Deut. 11:26ff says the requirements for blessing or cursing. Deut.29:14-15 is very interesting as well...as this is to be for a future people. See verse 29...another forever. I guess forever ended...but I don't know when. Or maybe it was an incorrect translation. It is a problem that we no longer have the original documents. And even if most people were shown them in a language they could understand, I am not so sure it would make a difference to them. People hate to change and it is not easy, granted. Well, Blessings on you and may the LORD open your eyes further! I know you are smart, much smarter than the average bear...and I hope you will keep on thinking "outside the box" as is evident in some things you post!
Elizabeth, I should start by saying Thanks for the discourse on this important subject - I really appreciate your perspective, and your willingness to present it.
Personally I see nothing wrong with keeping Saturday holy - in fact, I believe we ought to keep every day holy to the Lord, and the only reason I would keep Saturday holy would be because I choose to keep all days, in fact all moments holy to the Lord. I believe that the Sabbath of the OT pictures the true rest in the true promised land - that is, the rest in Christ. We labor to enter into that rest, but once we are there, the burden is light, and the yoke is easy - because Christ is carrying the load.
Paul reminds us that some of us regard days, such as yourself, as holy to the Lord, and some regard every day as holy. I think this is describing us no?
I do not believe, as you do, that the law is binding on the believer - that is, I do not imagine that Christianity is a patch that was sewn into the cloth of Judaism - but rather is an entirely new garment.
The eternal plan of God has not changed, but has followed His will perfectly and entirely - God determined to give a codified reflection of His eternal righteousness to Moses, and that reflection, though imperfect, was the tutor until the promise came. The promise was a new heart, a new way to worship, not powered by sinful self, but by God's indwelling Spirit - a categorical difference.
What you describe is Judaism avec Christ, and to some extent most of what we would call evangelical Christianity is like that.
I certainly respect your position, but I cannot marry it to my understanding of scripture. Perhaps in time, the Lord will undo a lot of what I think I know, and in doing so open my eyes to your position, He is a big God after all.
Thank you, Daniel, for the nice remarks...I do like to chat with you because you are able to be nice even when in disagreement...not many are...that says something too, doesn't it? (And it is very easy to misunderstand the written, missing the voice inflections and facial expressions too...)
I do agree with you that we should keep each and every day holy to the LORD!! He does deserve our every waking moment to be worship of some kind to HIM!! MOST definitely. And quite frankly, who would not enjoy EVERY day kept as Sabbath?...I know one man that LONGS for retirement...and likely he will keep it as much as possible in a Sabbath like way. (He is my hubby)! But we live on this earth and we are supposed to work 6 days a week, correct? If we have a normal living situation, that is about what is required between work and household duties. My hubby actually tends to get less sleep from Fri eve to Sun eve actually as he gets so into his studies as well as chatting with others of like mind on Paltalk plus listening to some teachings...the time just floats entirely by...and there is little time for sleep. I have been married to this man now almost 34 years...trust me...this is a man who used to worship the TV!! I love this man SO MUCH MORE NOW!!! Well, in my opinion, he now loves God as it was supposed to be from the beginning. (I did marry the most spiritual man I could find in our church as well as in our private Christian High School...but we were simply, like everyone else we have ever met, just not taught and shown this lifestyle...and therefore no way could understand the blessings of it. How I wish all our years had been thus...you see, this path saved our marriage too. I know a few manage to not end up as we have, but we are pretty much the norm for people we have known anyway...sadly so).
It is amazing to me since we began this path, how much our eyes seem to be opening when we read scripture...even the stuff most consider dry and boring in the OT. This month I have been in Deut. as I am trying to get through the whole of the Bible again this year because when I have done so, I am blessed. (I have a plan to read it in chronological order this year so as to get that down pat better in my head...both reading OT and NT at the same time).I am amazed at the NEW things that seem to literally be popping out at me. I have pages of questions to discuss with hubby and maybe others and seek answers for! One passage obviously had to be about the MESSIAH (and remembering what HE said that "if you had believed what Moses said of ME, you would have believed ME). And another one that just simply HAS to be a yet future event!! Now I was not taught that Deut. was about anything but the past...but when you start digging in there...well, lots of questions.
I would not describe Christianity as a patch sewn on the garment of Judism either...more so a gorgeous finishing product such as an elegant lace interwoven with gold and silver or perhaps a tapestry type weaving part that encircles the whole. Patched garments only seem to me to describe our old sinful hearts...not the gorgeous garment of the LORD!!
Maybe you know this already, as you seem very well read. I had not heard this until a week ago at our Bible study...but this illustrates how we are learning. The MESSIAH said HE was the way, the truth and the life...everyone knows that verse. Well, there were 3 doors/gates into the Tabernacle and also into the Temple. Their names were the way, the truth and the life..with the life obviously being the HOLY of HOLIES behind the veil...which we all know was ripped from top to bottom by GOD upon the LORD's expiring from this earth. We see the feasts we celebrate in so much the same way...it lends SO MUCH understanding of what we have learned earlier before we came to this path. (Had our middle child, the atheist, been raised with our observing the FEASTs I feel certain she would today be a Believer...because things would have made so much more sense. Actually it may be because of her that we are on this path...part of that being she was the main sufferer when our family went through "church abuse", for lack of a better term. I do not think she will ever darken the door of a church again, but she may be open to a group such as we are in, or maybe a Messianic congregation such as in her town. Plus the fact her fiance is Jewish on his mom's side). God always knows what HE is doing, even when we do not. But those are just little extras that help me feel even more confident about where we are...not everyone will have those or need them. I do want our family circle unbroken in eternity...so I am grateful to have some hope here for my daughter and her fiance. I will say here that we feel some of the feasts should be observed because of the wording that surrounds them in the OT...but some seem optional...and we do not observe most of them. Besides we know we are not in a Torah observant land so it is nearly impossible to do so. Mainly we feel value in what we learn and the practice because 3 of them are going to be at least for the Millenium too. Never hurts to practice.
I suspect you believe that in the OT, the sacrifices paid for sins. What we have learned is that it NEVER paid for sins...it was simply an indication of whether your heart was pure. If you did not have a pure heart before God before the sacrifice was offered, we understand that the offering would not be burnt up...thus everyone knew you had a heart problem. They say the fires under the sacrifices were never hot enough to consume them, but it took supernatural intervention by God for that to happen. The scriptures back up that the heart had to be pure before they were offered too. There is simply an awful lot we have not known...we are terribly illiterate in the things of GOD!! We will not live long enough to learn it all...but we need to try anyway. Besides I love being blessed!!
And blessings on you for allowing this discussion...I will leave it alone now. Will continue reading what you have to say too...