Monday, October 30, 2006

The Foundation of the Law

Have you ever noticed that the Ten Commandments start in verse 3 of Exodus 20? Any view that we take of the Law and its application to the modern church has to take into account the foundation of the Law found in Exodus 20:1-2. I see three points here.

God Spoke
One of the fantastic claims of scripture is the hundreds of times that the Bible claims to be the direct revelation of the God of Heaven. We know from Paul that "all the writings are given" by God. But whenever the scripture bothers to point out or set out a specific passage as being from God that it deserves our special attention. So apart from any restatement of these commands in the New Testament there is something of importance here.

I am the Lord, thy God
All the following remarks are predicated on God's identity as the self-existent, immutable, creator God. He identifies this specifically with His personal nature by emphasizing that He is our God. He is not some aloof prime mover. This is a God who loves His people and He is revealing Himself to them so that they might love Him.

I have brought you out
His interest in the well-being of His people is reiterated by His deliverance from slavery. God could have very well given the law while the people were in Egypt. He could have used that to determine who really had a heart for Him and delivered only them. But He delivered all the people and even a significant number of Egyptians that followed them out and then He revealed Himself in His law.

No wonder David exclaims:
O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes! Then I will not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise you with uprightness of heart, when I have learned your righteous judgments.

The Law shows our need of the Grace of God and God's Grace empowers us to keep His Law out of love for Him.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Education Matters

I have already posted once today so I will not belabor this. There is an excellent post about Classical Education. I believe passionately that this methodology is the best way to prepare ourselves to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

The Wonder of God's Law

I have been a bit hung up on this whole Law of God thing for a while. Thankfully this is a small blog so I don't have to worry about losing readership, advertising revenue, etc! This is just how I am. My mind locks on something for a while and I mull it over. Anyway, Dan Philips had another of his magisterial posts this week that launched me even more down this path. So on with it….

The Wonder of God's Law. I have been in Psalm 119 this week and the thing that jumps out as you read is that David is very hung up on the Law. Now, you can try and wiggle around and equate this to the extant Bible of his day and there is some good in that. But in the end, you have to admit that what David was overwhelmed with and what he was spending his time looking at and what he was pondering day and night was the Law. He didn't have the Pastoral Epistles or the Prophets.

So why do we spend so little time even looking at God's Law? Let alone marveling and meditating. Why can many evangelicals not even name the main commandments let alone tell what they mean and provide application to modern life. Is our view of the all-sufficiency of all scripture really that deficient?

My thinking was also stirred by Phil Johnson's testimony and how he used 1 John 2:3-6 to minister to kids who had grown up in Christian homes without showing any sign of regeneration.

And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith He abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

Now, what commandments are these? Jesus, always kept God's law in practice and principle and thus was able to stand up as a second Adam and be a perfect substitute for us. The point is that just as He upheld God's standard of righteousness we should also strive to keeps God's law. Not to earn salvation! That is impossible and foolish. Christ already has done all the earning! We strive to keep the Law of God because the founding principle of the Law is to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. And this keeping of the Law merges us into the Law of Grace and allows us to proclaim the gospel to the world by demonstrating that we know and love the One True God.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Application of the Law of God

In my last post I talked about the Operation of the Law of God. That brought some comments about the Application of the Law of God. So how applicable are the principles of the Ten Commandments to 21st century Christians?

There are several problems with this question. First, many people have a view of the Law that Moses brought to the people that holds that people were saved by keeping the Law. Then Christ came and provided a new way to come to God. The problem with this view is that it establishes a paradox where some are saved by faith while in the past people were saved by their own work and merit. Hebrews however, clearly shows that all the OT saints came to God in faith.

Second, and more important, there are those who want to comb through the NT to find which of the Ten Commandments are reiterated and thus still applicable to us today. My first thought is that they all are because Jesus told the Pharisees that the Commandments where summed up by, "Love God; love others," and that all the scriptures "hang on this." If we understand that this rubric: love God; love others, is the Law in a nutshell then all the law is still applicable. My next answer to this thought is that if the Law is principial and if God is immutable why is there even any question as to whether there is any application to us? Of course there is! God is not changeable and so the principles by which we relate to Him will not change either.

Now I had some comment about the specific example I used from Commandment IV which gives us the Sabatical Principle. I used this because I think it is the one of the most glaring examples of how the Evangelical Church in America is turning away from God. Our whole view of the Lord's Day is off. Christians rarely ever even call Sunday "The Lord's Day" any more. To many it is just a random day that someone chose and decided to have church on. So therefore if we want to have church Saturday evening and then hit the lake all day Sunday that is fine too. The idea that God desires that we take 14% of our week and set it aside to worship Him is lost on most who call themselves Christians. And the concept that observing the Lord's Day might require some sacrifice of preparation is really not on the radar screens.

So the point is that God gave us His Law to teach us what He is like; to inform us of our duty toward the God who has reached out to us in mercy and showered us with grace; and to elucidate how far short of His Glory we have fallen. The Law is wrapped up in the Gospel. It marks out our deadness; and delineates Christ's perfect righteousness. Then we can appreciate our Lord as we see Him spill His own blood. Then we are driven to cry out, "Wash me Savior, or I die!." And how can we go on making excuses for not keeping the Law? We do not keep the law out of any need to earn God's favor because we have already seen that it was an impossible task! We keep the covenant out of our deep love and respect for the One who turned away His just and righteous wrath from us toward His own Son!

We do not need to put the Ten Commandments in the public schools or fret about them being removed from the county courthouse, but they should be present in our homes and in our churches. The Ten Commandments will not fix our society beyond convicting people of their innate inability to please God, however, for those who are part of the Kingdom that is coming, they are indispensable.