There is No Rest Under Law

The audio below is a link to our continuing conversation on The Grace Cafe Podcast dealing with the Law and the 10 Commandments.

Let’s talk about the good things law steals from us, not the least of which is the ability to rest and enjoy the secure relationship we have in Jesus. Law pushes us on to always be doing more and the doing is never finished. Religion requires us to jump through hoops to be pleasing to God, but God tells us the striving is over and we can rest in the finished work of the cross.

In this episode 25 of The Grace Cafe Podcast, we continue our conversation about the 10 Commandments, law, and grace, and the good things law won’t let us enjoy, including our friendships and relationships with others. Pull up a chair and your favorite beverage and join us as we explore the many ways law is opposed to rest.

Enjoy!


Photo Credit:
Sid Leigh

The Toxicity of the Law

In a recent episode of The Grace Cafe Podcast, we talked about the toxicity of the Law. Join our conversation as we talk about the 10 Commandments, the Old Covenant Law of Moses, and the toxic byproducts of thinking we have to keep that law. When we hear about the Law, our minds usually race to the 10 Commandments, but the Law is much bigger than those 10 words. The Law encompasses 613 commands and the 10 Commandments are merely a summary statement and representation of the Law on its entirety.

Are the 10 Commandments binding on the conscience of a believer today? Are we to be pursuing obedience to the 10 Commandments or is the Holy Spirit doing something different in our lives today? The book of Exodus in the Old Testament calls the 10 Commandments the words of the Covenant, meaning the 10 Commandments belong to the Old Covenant, not the New Covenant. They are not a stand-alone document for every age. Let’s talk about it. This podcast episode is the first of several dealing with this subject.

Enjoy!


Photo Credit:
Scott Rodgerson

What Does “Doers of the Word” Mean in James?

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:22-24)

What do you suppose James meant when he said “be doers of the word?” The most common answer seems to be that he meant obedience to the Bible. This common view states that what James meant was do what the Bible says to do. Obey Scripture. Ligonier Ministries suggests this is the proper interpretation by saying,

“We read in verse 22 that we are to ‘be doers of the word and not hearers only.’ When we look at the Word of God we must look at it with an eye to putting the Word into practice in our lives. Listening to the Word and knowing what it says is not enough if our lives are not changed as a result. For if we only hear the Word of God and never put it into practice, we have deceived ourselves (v. 22).”

This raises a couple of questions in my mind. First, James was probably one of the earliest New Testament letters written which means that the canon of Scripture that we often refer to as the Word of God didn’t exist yet. If James’ letter was among the earliest of the New Testament letters, his was one of the first of many more to follow. Did James mean “be doers of the Bible” before there was a Bible? I doubt it. Or because there was no Bible yet, maybe he meant “be doers of the Old Covenant Law.” I doubt that too. The recipients of his letter were Jewish and familiar with the Old Covenant law of Moses and its requirements for perfect obedience. They had lived under that obligation all their lives. They didn’t need to be told something they already knew so well. I doubt James would say “be doers of the Law” to a group of people who already knew that requirement.

Second, and closely related, James didn’t say “be doers of the Word of God.” He simply said “be doers of the word (λόγος).” λόγος in the New Testament is a diverse word with different meanings, depending on context. For example, λόγος is used to identify Jesus (John 1:1), something God said (2 Peter 3:5), and the message of the gospel, often used synonymously with the phrase “the word of God” by both Paul and Peter:

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. …. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thess. 2:9, 13 emphasis mine)

“… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God… And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:23, 25 emphasis mine)

I think that is what James means here. He’s not making a sweeping reference to the Bible and our obedience to it. He’s referencing the gospel. We see this in the context one verse earlier when he said,

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)

This begs the question, what is the “implanted word” James is referring to? Is it the Bible? Has the Bible been implanted in my soul, resulting in my salvation? Has the Bible saved my soul? Don’t get me wrong. I love the Bible but that’s not what James’ means. He’s talking about the gospel in the same way Paul and Peter did in the passages I cited above. In verse 18 James said,

“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18)

Verse 18 sets the context for us. The “word of truth” which “brought us forth” is the same “word” in verse 22. What brought us new life in Jesus? The Bible or the gospel? Not the Bible. When James says be doers of the word and not hearers only, he means act on the gospel – believe it and be saved, don’t just hear it and walk away. Believe the gospel. Act on it. Be a doer, not just a hearer. Believe. I think we’ve misunderstood this passage and used it to put false guilt and shame on others.

“Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” (John 6:28-29)

-Mike


Photo Credit:
jesse orrico

Clash of the Covenants: A Book Review

Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee by Michael C. Kapler (2018)

It’s not an easy task to find a good read on the differences between the Old and New Covenants that isn’t influenced or tarnished by denominational, traditional, or religious  bias and preconceptions. But I finally found one in Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through the Grace Guarantee by Michael C. Kapler.

In my opinion, Kapler successfully (and brilliantly) illustrates the dangers involved in failing to recognize that the Old and New Covenants don’t mix, were never intended to be mixed, and the Old Covenant has been done away by the New and the Law of Moses has no role in a believer’s life today. He does this in a warm, informal, and easy-to-read style that draws us in and keeps our attention. For example, he accurately notes, “… a mixed concoction of the two covenants together will lead to a diluted message of what was accomplished for us at the cross.” He goes on to add, “Quite often the starting point for covenant confusion is not realizing the Old was made obsolete, removed completely, and replaced with something New.”

Clash of the Covenants is organized into three main parts:

  • Part 1: Covenant Confusion
  • Part 2: Covenants Collide
  • Part 3: Covenant Conclusion

In each section, the author gives us examples which clearly illustrate his point. Here are a few short quotes to give you the flavor of the book and to whet your appetite for more of the same:

“The Mosaic law could not bring forgiveness of sins, life, or freedom and was never meant to be mixed with what could bring us these blessings.”

“Christians have been on a works treadmill for centuries by mistakenly trying to abide in the works of that law, or a modernized version of it. Since the law was against us, the result was bearing fruit for death instead of fruit for God. But Paul’s good news for his Jewish friends who had been bound to the law is they were now released or freed from it.”

“Religion has taught the covenants as though they were two ships that are in sync, but this mixture becomes more like a sinking ship that leaves people in doubt and fending for themselves while being driven and tossed by the wind and the waves.”

As you read this book you’ll find Clash of the Covenants gives us a refreshing grace-centered conversation about topics such as the Law, the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, The Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness of sin, confession of sin, repentance, tithing, and the new heart, all from a grace-centered, New Covenant point of view.

In my Amazon review of Clash of the Covenants, I called it refreshing and the best-kept secret on Amazon. That was after reading the Kindle version in 2017. Now that the paperback version is available, I am thrilled to see it gaining in popularity. This book is a must read because it puts redemptive history in perspective by recognizing the glory of the New Covenant over the Old and pointing us to Jesus and the grace of God alone. In Kapler’s words, “God is not your parole officer, He broke you out of prison.”

Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through the Grace Guarantee, Copyright 2018, Michael C. Kapler. 230 pages.

About the Author

Michael C. Kapler works in the communications industry and has a 20 year background in Christian radio. Since 2005, he has co-hosted the Growing in Grace Podcast, along with Joel Bueseke. This is one of our favorite podcasts!


My wife and I interviewed Mike and Joel on our Grace Cafe Podcast in March of 2018. For your convenience, here’s that interview:

-Mike