Not Under Law

 

I was perusing the web a couple of days ago when I came across a sight that boasted this statement:

The Law of Christ is the law we are under in the New Covenant era.

I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I read that. I haven’t seen that or heard that in a while and it took me by surprise. It’s what I used to believe. Ten years ago, I would have been shaking my head in hearty agreement with this statement. But today, it saddens me. I saddens me because it takes away from the cross of Jesus. It saddens me because it exchanges one moral code (Moses) for another one – a newer one – and it reduces Jesus to little more than a new law-giver, not much unlike Moses. It saddens me because it misses the point of grace entirely. It saddens me because not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, it gives one permission to tie heavy burdens on the backs of those who embrace the idea, believing it to be true. It saddens me because having zealously believed that myself all those years ago, I know those who hold to that belief can’t see the fallacy of it while they’re in it.

To insist that a believer today is under law, any law, goes against the New Testament. Twice in the letter to the Romans, Paul states that a believer is not under law (Romans 6:14, 15). The lack of the Continue reading “Not Under Law”

Flirting With Moses

Let’s talk a little more about our propensity to flirt with Moses. We seem to like to get close enough to Moses to feel like we’ve accomplished something without getting so close that we can’t safely pull back. We like to bring parts of Moses and the Old Covenant into the New – those parts we deem necessary as motivation to guilt others into doing what we think they should be doing. We undervalue grace and overvalue law in that way. So let’s talk about it.

This is an abbreviated version of a longer podcast episode that’s posted on my Ekklesia Podcast. By abbreviated I mean I left in only those parts that talk about the Old and New Covenants as it relates to this blog.

Enjoy!


Photo Credit:
Ben White

A High View of God’s Law

I spent years as a Christian preoccupied with God’s law. Not Moses, but New Testament law. What was commonly termed the law of Christ. I came to the realization in the mid-90s that the Old Covenant was no more and the law of that covenant, the law given to Israel through Moses, was non-binding on the conscience of a believer today. But that didn’t stop me from adopting a new moral code from the New Testament and becoming convinced that my obedience to that code was the test for the genuineness of my faith. I think I understood grace on paper only. The burning question each day was how is my obedience. As I spent countless hours, days, months, and years muscling my way through my sanctification, certain that my obedience was THE barometer for knowing I was a believer and knowing God was pleased with me, I assumed I had a high view of God’s law. After all, I was pulling it off, or so I thought. I was at least doing it better than most of those around me. Or so I thought.

But then I discovered through severe trials that a preoccupation with God’s law doesn’t mean one has a high view of God’s law. Quite the opposite. I found out the hard way that my preoccupation with God’s law actually resulted in my having a very low view of it for the simple reason that I thought I could pull it off. I thought God’s holy standard was attainable by my Continue reading “A High View of God’s Law”

Our Love Affair With The Ten Commandments

We have an ongoing affection and preoccupation with the Ten Commandments. Some cheer and applaud statements like that. This is particularly true of Reformed groups and those tending toward legalism and a legalistic view of the Christian life. Many times, those are the same groups.  But I have a different opinion. I think our preoccupation with the Ten Commandments is not only unhealthy, but has no place reigning in the conscience of a believer today.

Let’s interact for the next few minutes with an on-line devotional hosted by Ligonier Ministries entitled, Teaching the Law. The article begins with a quote from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah:

They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:8)

The devotional goes on to state the following claim:

God, in fact, wants the Ten Commandments “preached pointedly,” as question 115 of the Heidelberg Catechism explains. The answer to this question tells us why our Creator desires for His people to understand His statutes.

One thing I’ve come to realize about those who adhere to Covenant or Reformed Theology is their tendency to cite their creeds and catechisms as authoritative as though they were on par with Scripture. They would never admit to that or say it that way, but that’s been my observation. This is one example.  The first piece of evidence provided to us is that God wants the Ten Commandments “preached pointedly” because the Heidelberg Catechism says so. To Ligonier’s credit, they do turn to Scripture after citing the catechism:

First, let us consider the biblical evidence that God wants church leaders to preach and teach His commandments. Today’s passage, for example, records Ezra’s reading of the Mosaic law to the Israelites after they returned from exile. The author clearly approves of this act, as well as the Levites’ explanation of God’s rules to Israel (Neh. 8:1–12). In reading the commandments, Ezra and the Levites fulfilled the command to preach and teach regularly the Mosaic law (Deut. 31:9–13).

I believe this statement is misleading because Nehemiah 8 makes no mention of the Ten Commandments. In fact, the entire Continue reading “Our Love Affair With The Ten Commandments”

A Greater Than Moses

In this post I want to share a podcast episode from my Ekklesia podcast. Ekklesia is a transliteration of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “church” in our Bibles. It’s a podcast I started in order to think out loud about some of the differences I see between many of our institutional churches and the church Jesus is planting. In this episode, I talk about the church’s preoccupation with Moses, the Ten Commandments, and the Old Covenant. We bring elements of Moses and the Old Covenant into the New Covenant and make them binding truths on believers today.

IMPORTANT:  My views on the Law of Moses being abolished have changed since recording this episode. I no longer believe that. I believe that as believers, we have died to the Law, the Law has not died. We are not under the Law, and Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe. I decided to post the episode here anyway because of the other topics I discussed.

Push ‘play’ and join me as we talk about Jesus’ superiority over Moses and the priority of the New Covenant over the Old. You’ll find the Ekklesia podcast on-line at https://ekklesiapodcast.wordpress.com/

Enjoy!

One Of These Covenants Is Not Like The Other

This post serves as an introduction to this web site. The things I say here are introductory and foundational to what’s ahead and I’ll be building on them in future posts. The Bible’s narrative is centered around two major covenants. Most of the events and stories in the Bible’s historic narrative took place during one or the other of these two covenants. These aren’t the only covenants mentioned in Scripture but they occupy the majority of its historic real estate. The first of the two is the covenant God made with the ancient nation of Israel (Exodus 19:5). The New Testament calls this covenant the Old Covenant.

The second is the covenant that began with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The New Testament calls this covenant the New Covenant. The Old Covenant ended when the New Covenant began (Hebrews 8:13). There is no point in time where these two covenants ran simultaneously side-by-side. They are incompatible with one another and served different purposes or as Mike Kapler puts it, they are out of sync with each other. These differences in purpose are what we will be Continue reading “One Of These Covenants Is Not Like The Other”