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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
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.
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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.
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[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.
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Thursday, January 05, 2012
What if?
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. - Matthew 5:18 [ESV]

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. - Luke 21:33 [ESV]

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. - Hebrews 8:13 [ESV]

The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. - Luke 16:16 [ESV]

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. - Matthew 5:17 [ESV]

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. - Romans 10:4 [ESV]

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24 [ESV]

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. - Hebrews 10:1 [ESV]

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. - James 2:10 [ESV]

Anyone who has ever understood the purpose of an engagement ring can understand the notion of a promise to one day make a better promise. That is what an engagement ring is, it is a promise to one day make another (better) promise. It says I am committed to seeing the second promise established.

Now no one, when asking another person to marry them, will get on bended knee and say, "I promise you, if you accept this promise, that I will give you a better one later" - no, the question is simply, will you marry me? If the answer is yes, the engagement ring is given, and it represents not only the promise to wed, and the acceptance of that promise, but a promise of exclusivity. When the ring is donned, the promise is in effect.

Once the wedding has taken place, the engagement ring no longer has the same role it previously had; that role has been overcome by the wedding band which represents a more substantial promise. The engagment ring is still worn along side the wedding band, but it is the wedding promise that is in effect. The exclusivity of the engagement promise, while no longer in effect, has been replaced with a greater promise of exclusivity: the marriage vow.

You probably are able to leap ahead of me, but in case you were wondering what engagement rings and what not have to do with the verses quoted above, I am writing today about the relationship between the promises of God, and the expectations those promises warranted.

I am sometimes pressed to explain to those younger in the faith, what role the law of Moses is supposed to play in the life of the believer. New converts are typically zealous to be good Christians, but aren't sure what they need to do to be good Christians. For this reason many a new believer has become convinced (and subsequently has taught others of the same) that keeping the ten commandments is part of what God expects from a believer.

I plan to explain how that is off, but in doing so I don't want to be misunderstood. If a person keeps the ten commandments that God gave to the Israelites on Sinai, that person's life will certainly look far more righteous than the life of someone who is not keeping those commandments. In fact, that was a major reason why many of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees rejected Christ. They were already "righteous" in their own eyes because they were keeping the letter of the law, at least according to their interpretation of the law.

The Apostle Paul taught that the law cannot be kept by a sinful man. That the purpose of the law was to prove this to the individual. The law's purpose was to bring us to the realization that we are sinful, and in need of a Saviour; that is, that we need Christ.

Here is where some people go way out to lunch. Becoming a Christian doesn't mean that Jesus now empowers you to keep the laws of Moses, thus generating legitimate personal righteousness of your own. Paul was not teaching us to seek after "a righteousness of [his] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" (c.f. Philippians 3:9). No, Paul did not believe that Christ empowered Him to keep the law of Moses; Paul wasn't looking to its keeping as a means of righteousness, nor was He looking to Christ as the power by which He could obtain personal righteousness through the law. Paul was relying entirely on a righteousness that was not His own at all, but that was His through His union with Christ by faith.

Christ was the only one who ever kept the law. If anything the law was there to show us who the Christ was, for only the Christ has ever kept it. I think this is part of what is meant when Paul says that the law was our schoolmaster, bringing us to Christ. It doesn't bring us to any other man, but only to Him who kept the law perfectly. The law then served to identify the Christ.

But I am digressing a bit. The new believer sees the law and assumes that in keeping the law, he will be pleasing to God, and because the Holy Spirit dwells within Him, the notion of being pleasing to God is a driving motivation; so the new believer falls easy prey to a works righteousness mindset, and the law of Moses, and the ten commandments in particular, are the rungs on the ladder this one endeavors to climb.

But how many new believers are gung-ho to sacrifice cattle or sheep? How many give up pork and shellfish? How many get circumcized? How many pay tithes to the Jewish Priesthood? I tell you, very few, if any, and those who do, pick and choose what they will keep and what they will throw away. But when it comes to the ten commandments, things change. Those who would never bother to pay the temple tax are ready to obey the ten commandments without reservation, even though James tells us plainly that the law is a whole, that keeping the ten commandments counts for nothing if in doing so you fail to keep the rest of the law. In other words, Christianity is either Judaism plus Christianity, or it is just Christianity; you can't have it both ways.

Now some might will object at this point (if not sooner), because the I am, in effect saying, that the command "You shall not commit murder" is no longer in effect. They will take offense because it is clear to any and all that God does not now condone murder.

Here is the lesson of the engagement ring again. The promise of exclusivity that was bound in the engagement, is replaced by a better promise of exclusivity in marriage. In the same way, the commands given to Moses on Sinai, commandments which if you kept them meant you were upholding your part of the bargain, and could thus depend upon God to keep His end of the bargain - that promise was replaced by a better promise.

You are still not allowed to commit murder, as a Christian. Not because God commanded the Israelites, in order to maintain their end of the bargain, had to refrain from murdering -- but because you belong to Christ and are therefore commanded to love your enemy/neighbor/brother etc. That might not seem any better than the first promise, but it is better because this promise cannot be anulled by our failure to uphold our end of the bargain.

You see, Christ upheld and upholds the bargain. It is His righteousness, and not our own upon which this covenant depends - and the moment God raised Christ from the dead, the matter was sealed and settled. He kept "our" end of the deal - securing for us an unbreakable (by us, and the things we do) covenant.

Typically when someone asks me if they should keep the Sabbath or not, I don't jump on them with the whole spiel, my answer for such a question is typically brief, and involves quoting such passages as Colossians 2:16-17 (Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.), since that deals with the concept directly.

But such a question, because it betrays an ignorance of the covenants of God and how they pertain to the church, often draws me into the underlaying concepts that are confusing the one asking the question.

One way I approach the topic is by asking what would be different if instead of sending Moses to provide us with a system that was to the shadow of Christ's substance, God had simply sent Christ instead.

Christ would not issue ten new commandments from Sinai, there would be no laws of seperation, no ritual uncleanness, no animal sacrifices, no priesthood, no temple, no national Israel... All of these things were shadows. So what would Christianity look like without them? Or more pointedly, would would be different?

I can tell you what would be different; people wouldn't be trying to keep the ten commandments (which wouldn't exist), they would instead be keeping the commandments of Christ.

Now, if a person is convinced that he must keep the Sabbath, or new moon festivals or even get circumcized, I will not charge the person with sin if they pursue such shadows in their ignorance. If a believer is blinded in this way, and imagines that what he does is spiritually significant or required, and so in his confusion he responds from a good heart, I say he or she has done well. But I don't believe that ignorance is proper, or that we should allow ignorance to continue or thrive.

Imagine that you sit down to a meal with another believer who informs you as you are eating, that the beef you are munching down is sacred, having been sacrificed earlier that day in worship to God. I tell you, I might pause for a moment in thought, then continue eating, and change the subject to the sacrifice of Christ, and how every other sacrifice pointed to Christ, and how this meat which we were eating, was no more sacred than any other meat - perhaps even less sacred because in sacrificing the animal, it was a tacit accusation that Christ's sacrifice was insufficient.

The point is, that the law of Moses served a purpose, it was a placeholder tied to a covenant that has been surpassed by the new covenant in Christ's blood. Israel's heart of stone (the ten commandments) was replaced with a heart of flesh (Christ) when He ushered in the new covenant. We are no longer under the law, but under grace. If I refrain from murder, it is not because the law says, "you shall not murder" it is because Christ has said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (c.f. John 13:34). No one who is obeying Christ's command can commit murder. If I refrain from coveting it is not because the ten commandments tell me not to covet it is because Christ said, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (c.f. Luke 12:15). If I refrain from paying the temple tax, it is not because there is no longer a temple, it is because Christ commanded nothing concerning the temple tax.

Had there been no Moses, Christianity would not call me to imitate what never was, but here is the thing: Christianity does not call anyone to imitate what was. We are not called to an amended form of Judaism, where Christianity is just the latest patch sewn into the old cloak of Judaism, we are called to a new covenant, a covenant that was foreshadowed by, but not a continuation of, the old.

The knowledge of this should make us more holy, and not less - for we will not imagine, as some unfortunate souls presently do, that law keeping has anything to do with righteousness. Do you want to do the work of God? Then believe in Him whom God sent. His Spirit will indwell you, and you will be inclined by that same Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to God. You will learn how to please God, not by obeying the voice of Moses, but by obeying the word of Christ.

One closing note: Moses spoke, as did all the prophets, the words of Christ. I don't suggest that Moses was supplying Israel with anything less than exactly what Christ commanded for them. What I do suggest is we are no longer in the engagement phase of our relationship, but in the marriage itself - and while some of what was true of our engagement is likewise true in the marriage, they are not one and the same thing. Moses was the shadow, Christ the substance - we are not married to the shadow, but are married to the Substance; it behooves us therefore to be discerning in our worship, to ensure that we do not confuse the keeping of the old covenant laws with the keeping of the new covenant commands. We are not under the old covenant if we are in Christ, even if there is a great deal of overlap between the commandments of Christ and the laws of Moses.

This was a difficult thing, even for many Jews to grasp (hence the Judaizers etc.), it may not be something you fully get (today), but it ought to be something you think about.

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posted by Daniel @ 8:28 AM  
10 Comments:
  • At 10:59 AM, January 05, 2012, Blogger Jim said…

    Amen brother, excellent truths presented here. This understanding can only be ours by revelation, and must be kept by a walk of faith.

    I think you could probably flesh out the details of this covenant in a few more posts!

     
  • At 11:08 AM, January 05, 2012, Blogger Daniel said…

    There is a lot to hash out there for many people. I think, and perhaps I simply a grand pessimist, but I think that a lot of people are confused because there are so few people teaching who are not likewise confused. It could just be that no one teaching these things? I couldn't say for sure, but it is definitely prickly stuff for some.

     
  • At 7:30 PM, January 05, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Phew! If that's "hastily written" for you, I'd love to see the long-labored-over expose.

    Seriously though, this is the kind of post that grabs me by the heart and moves me further in my walk. It is taking me so long, it seems, in my Christian living to get to the point of your post - and I'm still not "there."

    Yet, I'm beginning to "get it" - as it were, albeit slowly. I appreciate your laboring this point. Many of us out here need it.

    A few Scriptures came to mind as I was reading your post:

    1. Re: honoring the Sabbath, I think more of Paul's admonition to not neglect the assembling of the brethren. (Hebrews 10:25)

    2. Re: A brother's desire to keep the Law, as several Messianic Jewish acquaintances of mine may do (some Law, obviously not all) - I think of Romans 14 - receiving the weaker brother and not causing such a one to stumble. Also, the word escapes me now, but there's a term for practices or issues not found in Scripture but that people tend to want to do or practice, but that the Bible is silent on - these are the kinds of things that I would think I need to be silent on unless asked directly by a brother about them.

    Thank you for providing much food for thought – and nourishment.

     
  • At 8:59 PM, January 05, 2012, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon,

    Thanks for taking the time to read the post.

    You mention the NT command not to forsake the gathering together in relation to the Sabbath. I should mention that although the Israelites did begin to gather on the Sabbath, this was not what the law of the Sabbath commanded. The law of the Sabbath was about setting the seventh day aside as a holy day of rest (from work). There are two common misnomers associated with the Sabbath, the first is as you have alluded to, that being the notion that there is a command for the Jews to congregate on the Sabbath, and the second is the notion that the Sabbath was Sunday, or alternately that Sunday has become the "new" Sabbath.

    The command in Hebrews is not a command to gather on Sundays, though many a brow beating pastor has preached otherwise. It is in fact an admonishment to keep yourself from becoming isolated spiritually speaking. Each member in the body of Christ has been given gifts of the Holy Spirit by which God intends that believer to minister to the body. For some it is a preaching/teaching, for some it is prayer, for some, hospitality, etc. You can't minister to the body if you isolate yourself. Getting together on Sunday is awesome, and convenient, and it gives those whom God has placed over us for oversight a chance to speak with us and exercise their stewardship. Failure to show up, robs those who will answer for our souls of the opportunity to minister to us. etc.

    But that has nothing to do with keeping the biblical Sabbath.

    On point two, I agree. One cannot force the work of the Holy Spirit on anyone. If a truth is exposited, and someone doesn't get it, I am not going to insist they act as if they do, or go against their own conscience because "I get it". Yet if they see the truth for truth, and hold to the lie, only then will I step it up.

    I am glad the article was helpful.

     
  • At 6:59 AM, January 06, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel -

    Why do you think the Sabbath is so misunderstood in our day? I haven't really heard preachers in the pulpit expound upon the Sabbath as much as I have noticed it's a "cultural" practice to meet as we do in church and also the format of the service. It's just what's come to be and therefore perhaps the Scripture ("keep the Sabbath holy") has been imposed on the practice?

    Re: Sunday versus Friday sundown through Saturday sundown, I've heard mention of this from people familiar with Seventh Day Adventist practices, but I haven't looked into that myself. Of course, Messianic Jews keep Friday-Saturday practice. I don't know that there's a necessary distinction, but I keep with our current church practices of Sunday. I'm not sure it really matters, except for the point as you made of being part of a believing body locally for accountability and to also for sharpening iron.

     
  • At 6:57 PM, January 08, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel -

    If you would indulge me further, I have a sincere question - silly though it may sound.

    What's your take on euphemistic phrases (aka a "minced oath," or so I read recently on a blog and linked article on them)?

    I had long ago dropped the phrase, "Oh my gosh" and "Oh my goodness," having linked them to softer versions of taking God's name in vain. That’s easy to see.

    Recently, however, I read a blog and linked article detailing what I had previously thought to be innocuous expressions, such as "Drats." Even that had its root in “God rot it.”

    I don't want to be legalistic about it, but it does tie in somewhat to your post topic, as we aren't bound by that commandment if Christ fulfilled it, and yet I don't want to take the Lord's name in vain even in "softer" forms.

    Am I overworking this issue for myself? It's hard to remove "drats" from my vocabulary, but I'm attempting to, even though I previously had no such association with the Lord tied to that - but now I do. Sigh.

    I know it may sound petty or silly, but it's a genuine concern of mine. See, I can read in your post that I may be "working" this issue too much - trying to achieve a righteousness of my own, but that's really not my heart in this. I just don't want to misuse the Lord's name, even in euphemism.

     
  • At 12:27 PM, January 10, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,

    Are you really busy or is there perhaps another reason you aren't answering my questions?

     
  • At 2:43 PM, January 10, 2012, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon,

    Sorry about not jumping on this sooner. I am not avoiding anything, rather I don't normally check my email on Sunday, and I had Monday off, so I noticed the notification today, along with a lot of other email, some of which was more pressing.

    Now onto the Christian and minced oaths.

    I see two issues in tension; the first has to do with unwholesome communication in general, and the other has to do with being irreverent in particular.

    To the first issue, two verses come to mind:

    Colossians 4:6 - "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." [ESV]

    and Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

    I was driving with my family one day on an unfamiliar route. I made a mistake on a left turn, and suddenly the oncoming traffic honked at me as they had to brake on account of my error. Instead of owning up to my folly, I said something derogative, and gestured with a single finger in the direction of oncoming traffic.

    I never do that, and moments afterwards, I wondered who was I? Where did that come from? What if I had witnessed to one of those drivers and he recognized me? My actions dishonored Christ within me, and I suddenly felt the weight of this disgrace so forcibly, I wanted to pull over, and curl up into a ball and weep.

    Even had I managed to silence my voice, my gesure spoke volumes. My lack of self control betrayed the fact that I was by no means "in the Spirit", but was suddenly, and entirely, "in the flesh".

    If I had said something pleasant sounding like, "Good Gravy!" that gesture would by no means have been softened; and had I failed to gesture, the intention of my heart would have still been entirely carnal, and even (regretably) hateful.

    The acid test, for me at least, is not what I say, it is whether what I said was said in love. Was it a reflection of God's grace, expressing itself in and through me, or was it the expression of my fallen humanity, unleashed and running amok?

    So on the one hand, you don't even need to mince an oath to "go there" as it were.

    Now, as to the minced oath itself; whenever a person alludes to God, in name or notion, apart from reverence, that person is blaspheming the name of God. Replacing the name (or notion) of God with some phonetically similar word or phrase, may well outwardly sanitize the expression, but the same may not be the case in their inward heart - which may well be masking their own irreverence with by masking it with a superficial facade.

    I know that I am constrained by my love and reverence for God to avoid using a minced oath the very moment I understand some phrase to be one. Not that I am bound by some law, but because I am bound by the love of God to honor His name, and not to dishonor it.

    I cannot speak for others, but my liberty in Christ does not lead me to see how close I can get to dishonoring God without actually (and technically) doing so. I am of the heart that wants to flee as far away from even the hint of such a thing, and I wonder openly at anyone else who names the name of Christ but doesn't feel that way.

    Does that help?

     
  • At 6:41 PM, January 10, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, I think so.

    First of all, thank you for answering, and I apologize if I pushed you to answer while you are pressed upon by other matters. I had concerns that perhaps my queries were too trivial.

    This minced oath business bothers me - because although I previously said words such as "drats" without knowledge - now with the knowledge of its origins, I keep catching myself saying it out of habit; Like you, I don't want anything to escape my lips that takes the Lord's Name in vain.

    You've given me much food for thought, however, as to the heart of the matter.

    I have long been mindful of not wanting to transgress, but moreso based on OT commands and not necessarily the love for my Lord. Which is not to say the love for Him isn't a driving factor at all - certainly it is, but it's never the love I know He commands, He deserves, and of which He is exceedingly worthy.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve confessed to him that I just don’t love Him. I don’t love Him as He should be loved, that is. I’ve asked Him to pour into me the love for Him of which He is worthy. I feel so lacking in that area.

    I think about Him all the time, but that’s not loving Him. I don’t pray as I ought, and I don’t get up and give Him the time of which He is due as I ought. Some days, granted, there are family/children matters pressing that intervene, but even that’s no excuse.

    I digress a bit here, but the point is that the heart of the matter is the heart – and my love, even for my Savior who fulfilled and continues to fulfill loving God as God deserves and requires, well, my love even for Him isn’t what it should be.

    I appreciate that you’ve drawn me back to the point of the minced oath and where it’s coming from. This is why I wanted to avoid saying even “drats” – but it needs to come from a heart of love and not necessarily fear of transgression (which does have its place, I would think).

     
  • At 6:25 AM, January 13, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel -

    There's an excellent article similar to the heart of this post over at the White Horse Inn. Thought you might enjoy reading it, as time permits:

    http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/01/11/union-and-imitation/

    Also, as an aside, your post has me pondering what it was like to be one of the Israelite community - those who did not (could not have?) know(n?) that the Law pointed to Christ. They had to live it out, in failure, for a long time before the revelation of the NT.

     
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