Israel In Ancient Egypt

Using the latest archaelogical evidence from the stables of Rameses ll to little-known ancient Egyptian texts, Egyptologist and Bible Archaeologist show that Israel did infact exist and had a presence in ancient Egypt. This is the 2003 documenary „Who Was Moses?” VIDEO by spamagee590

Reclame

Eric Ludy – The Ancient War Cry

Photo credit biblewalks.com – Valley of Elah where David battled Goliath

1 Samuel 17 2:And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together,
and pitched by the valley of Elah,
and set the battle in array against the Philistines.

Where’s our war cry?

We don’t even know that we’re at war! We don’t understand that we’re in hostile territory. This isn’t a time of peace. It’s against the principalities and the powers that are puppeteering the people. And we are in a position to see souls set free!

This has been the ancient war cry throughout all the generations of the Hebrew nations. Rak Chazak! Where does it come from? Chazak, this is the Hebrew: the rock like „oomph” of the spiritually zealous heart. The game face of a mighty man. Tenacity of soul, the gritting of the teeth of the Spirit inspired warrior. And the bearing of those teeth to the enemy. Chazak is possessing a resolute and growling resolve for the glory of God. A flush of spiritual fervor. A tensing of all of a soldier’s muscles. There’s a Chazak.

We don’t have that spiritually. We should. We don’t. Because we don’t know what we’re engaged with. Did you know that we have the armory of heaven? That you have everything you need for life and godliness to push the enemy forces back? And so, when you hear Chazak, your knuckles spiritually should immediately turn white. And you should find yourself gritting your spiritual teeth with a belligerence against the enemy. He goes down! There are souls that must be saved!

The Hebrew statement is Rak Chazak. However, in the Bible, where it came from it’s Chazak Amats. The other word that goes with it, Amats, it’s heavenly audacity. It’s rushing headlong into the most hazardous and impossible battles without pausing to consider the impossibilities.

Who had Amats in the Bible?

  • David against Goliath? That’s some serious Amats. He’s rushing headlong against Goliath. „David, you might think about this for a minute.” „No, I am not weighing the impossibilities. This is for my God!” It’s a confidence in victory, even before the field is taken. It’s lambs moving with liquid ferocity straight into the lion’s lair.
  • How about the three that overheard him in the cave of Adullam? All for a cup of cool water  from the well of Bethlehem. Those guys had Amats. They go running out, break through a garrison of Philistines to grab a cup of cool water, and then bring it back through the garrison. They’re being hunted by the Philistines the whole time, trying not to spill a cup of water. That’s Amats.

Mere men and women on earth are being eaten up by the enemy.

However, we’re not just mere men and women of this earth. We are redeemed. We are bought with a price. And we’ve been changed into the body of Christ. Amats means swift-footed, all believing, super conquering, prevailing faith in the Lord of battles. What happens to the world, if Christians once again get Chazak and Amats? Do you know what the apostles had after Pentecost? Something came into them. What was it? You can say it very simply as Chazak and Amats – the Spirit of God. He came in to win. He came in to turn this world on its head.

Moses’s last gasp, this is his great speech before the promised land, which he never got to enter into, and he’s laying out the ground rules for the kingdom that is about to be established across that Jordan river. „Be strong, and of good courage. Fear not, nor be afraid of them. For the Lord, thy God, He it is that does go with thee. He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, „Chazak! Amats!” Be strong and of good courage! For thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord has sworn unto their fathers to give them. And thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

What’s happening there? The men and women of God are coming in to take what was purchased.. The promise. You are surrounded by 31 hostile empires. You know, that’s what they were headed into: 31 empires on the other side of that Jordan river. 31!

This is where we are at, as the church of Jesus Christ. Yet, we are there without a war cry. Let’s understand that we are out to win for the glory of Jesus Christ. And, even if we die, we win. It doesn’t matter what happens to our bodies. We obey… God wins. Now, suddenly we’re crossing. Joshua is the same name for Jesus in the New Testament, by the way. Yeshua- this is the Savior, the Man of Salvation, who is coming to bring us into the inheritance. Be strong and of good courage, for unto this people shall thou divide for an inheritance, the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage. Rak Chazak! Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest. Rak Chazak, Israel! Rak Chazak, men and women of God almighty. And all the powers of earth and hell that come against your soul, and all the powers of earth and hell that are puppeteering the lost masses, you hit them square in the teeth, and you show love to this world. To anyone who would spit in your face, you serve them and you love them in return, and say, „Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” Rak Chazak, Israel!

Video by  setapartlife

Matt Chandler – Marveling at the Majesty of God

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.01.48 PMBeing in 2013 is such a gift from God is we have all this history to look back on and to marvel that God has just consistently has done exactly what He said He would do. In Genesis 12, we know our Bibles, the world is fallen, it is broken. I mean, the very fabric of what God created now torn asunder. Death, disease, the world has grown dark, and in the middle of it God calls a man named Abram. And in Genesis chapter 12:1 we read: „Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So now, we’ve got this faint whisper of a promise, that all that has gone wrong will be made right. That God is calling Abram from Kush. The first Jew is an Iraqi, let that mingle around in your head a bit. God calls Abram and says: Through you, I am going to create a people and through that people I’m going to bless all people on earth. So that, from the very beginning, the promise is that what God is up to is global. It is making right what has gone wrong and then at the testing of Abraham, in Genesis 22, he puts his son Isaac on the altar, and then we read in Genesis 22:15-18:

 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possessthe gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So there we have it, once again God’s plan, through Abraham, in the founding of the covenant community of faith is that the nations would be glad, the nations would be blessed, and that all that went wrong would be set right in this plan of God’s.

And throughout the Old Testament we see this repeatedly, God’s heart for the nations, on Mt. Sinai when the Lord told Moses, this is in Exodus 19:5-6  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me akingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 

So what’s gonna be the role of Israel when it comes to the rest of the world? We will serve as priests, we will be the ones that herald the good news of what God is going to do, of what God is going to accomplish at the crossing of the Jordan river- Joshua 4:24 God crosses Israel into the promised land. And He did this that all the peoples of the world might know. At the founding of the Temple, in 1 Kings 8:43 we read „so that all the peoples of the earth might know your name”. Just a cursory reading of the Psalms would have the Psalmist repeatedly saying „the nations, and the great glorious day of the Lord, perpetually painting this picture of the nations gathering around God to make much of God.”

And again, even in the prophets, we see this confirmed yet again, one of my favorites, in Isaiah 45:44 „Turn to me and besaved, you ends of the earth„. And then, we have the incarnation: God in the flesh dwells among us, and He does not deviate off of His plan to redeem and rescue from the nations. In John chapter 10:15-16 „Just as the Father knows Me, and  I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep, I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice„.  So there will be one flock and one shepherd. So, Jesus does not deviate off this Old Testament  declaration that the nations will be glad, that the nations will worship our God, that there is, when it’s all said and done, one group of people that God is drawing unto Himself- sons of God, adopted sons of God. So, you have sons of Adam and sons of Christ, and so Christ is not deviating off of this declaration.

In fact, even in Matthew 28:18-20, if you go up to verse 16, you find some hope for you, if you tend to struggle and wrestle with doubts, because the Bible says upon that mountain they worshipped Him, but some doubted. I’ve always marveled at that. You have the resurrection with Christ ascending into glory , and there are those even on the hill, at that time saying, „I don’t know, just not quite sure”. But what we read, starting in verse 18 is „And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Now „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  You can just stop right there, because whatever comes next is happening. So now, at this point, it doesn’t matter what is coming next. It doesn’t matter what He says, what the command is, what He’s gonna order for us to do, it’s happening. Why? Because „All authority”. Where? Everywhere. Has been given to whom? „Me,” Christ says and then the command, „19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Remember what the disciples do, they gather in the upper room, they’re praying and waiting for the helper to come? And in Acts chapter 2, the Helper comes and now we’ve got ourselves a completely different ballgame than what we watched with the disciples when they were following Christ. In fact, if you’re really paying attention, the only one who really kind of nails who Jesus is in the Gospels is the demons. Everyone else kind of gets it wrong.

What’s the word on the street? Who do people say that I am? Well, some say that you’re John the Baptist, others say that you’re Elijah. But who do you say that I am. Only Peter gets it right. And the demons cry out „I know who you are, the Holy One of God. You have come to destroy us before the appointed time.” I mean, no dualism in the New Testament when it comes to kingdoms and conflict. No arguments with Christ. No demons say „Make me”. Just ferocious, God besot powerful declaration. When the Holy Spirit falls at Pentecost, Peter stands up and gives the most unseeker friendly sermon in the history of Christianity. And thousands are added to our numbers that day. And we see the Gospel begin to grow, but at this point it’s predominantly, if not entirely a Jewish faith, and then we get Acts chapter 10 & 11, Cornelius of the Italian cohort, a man who has rejected Roman paganism, believes there is one God, not quite sure who that one God is. He’s praying, giving alms, taking care of the poor and he is visited by an angel with very detailed instructions. Simon the tanner in Jaffa, another Simon Peter staying at his house saying, „Go get ‘em and bring him to you”. Simultaneously, around that same time Peter is up on the roof: „Kill, eat,” Peter’s not gonna be fooled again, „Not gonna get me this time. I would never touch that stuff”. „Wrong answer again, Peter”. Can it be unclean if I made it? Kill and eat.

And so, about that time there’s a knock at the door and the soldiers from the Italian cohort grab Peter and bring him to Cornelius where they have, what I believe to be, one of the most awkward exchanges that you find in the Scriptures, where Peter then shows up at Cornelius’s house  and then reminds Cornelius that a Jew shouldn’t even be in this house because he is a Gentile. Cornelius  unpacks why he sent for Peter, „Look, I was praying, angels showed up…” Then Peter says, „This can only be about one thing”. In that moment, Peter shares the Gospel with Cornelius’s household and they believe, they’re filled with the Holy Spirit, they speak in tongues, they’re baptized. In fact, Peter’s got a little inner turmoil here. „What should we do?” They baptize Cornelius  and his household and Peter runs back to report . And the church does what it usually does. It gathers together to vote whether God’s allowed to save the Gentiles. So they get together and they talk about, „Can God do what He just did?” Peter testifies, „All I did was share the Gospel, this one’s not on me”. And then, really, from that moment on, starting in Acts 15 you begin to watch the promise. And here’s what I’m saying, 2013 is such a sweet year to be  in because starting in Acts 15, you have Paul and Barnabas separate and go in different directions and it just takes off.

Acts 15 is the Council at Jerusalem, 42 A.D. Mark goes to Egypt and  49 A.D. Paul heads to Turkey. In 51 A.D. Paul heads to Greece, in 52 A.D. the apostle Thomas heads to India. In 54 A.D. Paul heads on his third missionary journey. In 174 A.D., the first Christians are reported in Austria. In 280, the first rural churches emerge in Northern Italy. Now this is significant because Christianity in the first century was predominantly an urban religion. It wasn’t out in the rural areas, and so it wasn’t really until 280 A.D. that we began to see rural churches emerging. Stark says that by 350 A.D., 31.7 million people, roughly 53% of the Roman empire confessed Christ as Lord. So there’s a lot of debate as to who made Christianity? Did Constantine make Christianity or did Christianity make Constantine? In 432 A.D. Patrick heads to Ireland. In 596 A.D. Gregory the Great sends Augustine and a team of missionaries to what is now England to reintroduce the Gospel. The missionaries resettle in Canterbury, and within a year baptize 10,000. In 635 A.D., the first Christian missionaries arrive in China. 740 A.D., Irish monks reach Iceland. In 900 A.D. missionaries reach Norway. By 1200 A.D. the Bible is now available in 22 different languages and in 1498 the first Christians are reported in Kenya. In 1554  there are 1500 converts to Christianity  in what is now known as Thailand. In 1630 an attempt is made  in the El Paso, Texas area  to establish a mission among the Mason Indians. In 1743 David Brainerd starts missions to the North American Indians. In 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention Missionary Organization is founded. In 1853 a group of at least 17 people immigrated to America, accompanied by a group of Danish Baptists, arriving in New York, and later settling in Chicago. On March 5th, 1853 F.O.Nielsen planted the first American Baptist Church in Minneapolis, which was the first church to be planted in the territory of Minnesota, before it became a state in 1858 on this side of the Mississippi River. In 1871, 22 Swedish Christians, who branched off from the First American Baptist Church in Minneapolis  planted the first Swedish Baptist Church known today as Bethlehem Baptist Church. The reason for this new church plant was to take the Gospel to a rapidly growing number of Swedish immigrants in Minneapolis. (Chandler goes through the succession of churches that leads up to Bethlehem)(17:00)

You and me, friend, God had us in mind when He pulled Abram aside and said, „I’m gonna fix this”.  And really, at every place along the way, according to Ephesians 1, according to Romans 8, God was coming to rescue me and you. And we are caught up in something so much bigger than most of us can get our heads around and all over the world today, what I just did was such a cursory sad attempt at a linear attacking of our history, but I find it to be marvelous, even in its smallness. In fact, if present trends continue, by 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa, 640 million in South America, and 460 million in Asia. This is what you and I are caught up in, this is our history. This is what’s happening right now, on this day, all over the world. Men and women have gathered, they have preached the Scriptures, they have taken holy communion and they have rejoiced in the God of their salvation. And our family is much bigger than this, and God is at work and He is moving and He is saving. There’s no such thing as a closed country, anybody picking up on this- there’s a lot of Iranian pastors being arrested this year? Seems like God’s doing some pretty good work in a country that doesn’t have any work.

And yet, still, so much to do. You see, you and I, we find our lives playing out in what the reformers call the narrow space, what we call the already, but not yet. See, the prophet Isaiah speaks of this day that’s coming for you and me, friend, where the desert blooms with roses. Where the mountaintops produce sweet wine. Where the wolf will lay down with the lamb and they will dine together. And then, the clarity on that, the next verse is ‘and the lion will chew hay like the oxen.’ And the apostle Paul says these weak frail bodies of ours will be replaced. That what is perishable will be imperishable, we’ll be raised in honor and you get this picture from the word of God of a renewed world with renewed bodies, reigning and ruling alongside the king of glory, having no ceiling on our worship. See, there have been times when I have heard the Word of God proclaimed, we begun to sing to God and I have felt all my emotions hindered, I felt like I hit a ceiling, that either my legs got tired or my voice couldn’t get loud enough. I felt like I was gonna explode, and in my heart I couldn’t be contained, in this gangly body God gave me. And Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 God’s gonna fix that for me. And God’s gonna fix that for you. And there’ll be a day, unfettered with the constraints of this mortal body. We will make much of Jesus together.

But today, we’re in the space between, today we’re in the space ‘already, but not yet’. So you exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things, for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ.

R.C. Sproul – on the Ubiquity of God’s Glory in Creation

photo from – http://farm1.static.flickr.com/

In Isaiah, chapter 6, when he was having his vision, on the occasion of his call to be a prophet, we recall the song of the angels in the presence of God, in which they sing- Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. And what else did the song contain? „For the whole earth is full of His glory”.  So, do you see the antithesis? Do you see the collision? Between the radical secularism of people like Jean Paul Sartre and the teaching of the Scripture? The teaching of the Scripture is not that the holy and the sacred is in some hidden realm, some esoteric sphere where only the most brilliant, elite thinker can penetrate to find a slight glimpse of the Holy. On the contrary, the whole earth is filled with the glory of God.

So, why then, do we have this sense of the profane? Well, Calvin answered that question this way. He said, „The whole of creation is a glorious theatre- screaming, as it were, manifesting so clearly the holiness of God.” But we were blind to it. But, that blindness is a willful blindness. We are, like human beings, walking in this glorious theatre wearing blindfolds. Blindfolds that we have put on our own eyes, lest we see the holy and the sacred, because there is nothing more terrifying to sinful creatures than to be exposed to the Holy. Moses sees the bush that is burning and is not consumed, and we’re told in the narrative that he turns aside to look at it. And, as he turns aside, looking in the direction of that bush, he’s not satisfied to observe it from a distance. He begins to walk towards the bush and approach it. As he is approaching it, suddenly, the voice comes out of the bush, calling to him, saying, „Moses, Moses, stop right there. Don’t come any closer. Don’t draw near. Instead, take your shoes off your feet, because the ground you are standing on is holy ground.”

It’s not just a game: Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed

Assassin’s Creed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since there are so many young men (not just children)  who are intense gamers, I thought this clip mgiht be of interest to you. As of Feb. 2012, the game Assassin’s Creed has sold over 38 million copies. If you don’t see it in your young person’s possession, they may be playing it online. Read these excerpts and make the time to watch this 9 minute video, and you will see the allure of the game, incredible 3d graphics and action, a storyline to tie the action together, and you will se why the game can be so alluring. Here are a few snippets from the clip below:

It will not be shocking (although still surprising) that a video game attacks the Bible quite openly, and declares that contains lies, and that events such as creation, the parting of the red sea, the turning of water into wine by Jesus, the entire word of God – never happened, that it is a lie. It does so by calling one of the weapons used throughout the game, called a „piece of Eden”, by showing at the end that this weapon is the Bible, that is used to control people. The game implies that everything in the Bible, that we hold to be true is just a lie.

Assassin's Creed: Lineage

Assassin’s Creed: Lineage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The game goes even further, when it shows ancient pictures of Moses holding the „piece of Eden”, and Jesus on the cross holding the „piece of Eden”. Implying thus that Moses and Jesus held to and taught lies (the Bible, or the Word of God). The game implies that Jesus deceived His followers using this weapon.

Does the Bible brainwash people? Romans 15:4 „For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Isaiah 1:18 the Lord said, „Come, let us reason together”. A brainwashed person can’t study, reason, and learn. A brainwashed person doesn’t have the patience and comfort that the Scriptures give, and therefore they don’t have the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.

Now a real shocking part comes when one of the villains is doing physical combat with the Catholic Pope, and the game (Assassin’s Creed 1- see at about the 5th minute in this clip) portrays the pope through dialogue where the Pope’s character calls the Bible a book full of lies.

Just when you thoght it couldn’t get any worse, the game mocks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and later on in the game the main character kills preachers and priests whom he deems are deceived by the „pieces of Eden”, i.e. the Bible.

Then here’s some dialogue from the conclusion of one of the versions:

There is no book to give you the answers, to show you the path. Choose your own way. Do not follow me, or anyone else.

Here now is the clip from the documentary:

This is a scene from the upcoming documentary, „It’s Not Just a Game”. This project is being directed by Carl Kerby Jr and will discuss how the Bible is being portrayed in the world of video games. Please visit rforh.com for more information and you can sign up for  their newsletter to get sneak peaks from this project.

It’s Not Just a Game: Assassins Creed (Pilot) from Reasons for Hope on Vimeo.

A W Pink – The Law and the Saint (Part 3)

READ Part 1 here

READ Part 2 here

Arthur and Vera pink July 20, 1928 (via amazon.com)

The Positive Side
   What is the relation of the Law (the Ten Commandments) to Christians?
   In our previous chapter we pointed out how that three radically
   different answers have been returned to this question. The first, that
   sinners become saints by obeying the Law. This is Legalism pure and
   simple. It is heresy of the most dangerous kind. All who really believe
   and act on it as the ground of their acceptance by God, will perish
   eternally. Second, others say that the Law is not binding on Christians
   because it has been abolished. This is, we are fully assured, a serious
   error. It arises from a mistaken interpretation of certain passages in
   the Epistles. The inevitable tendency of such an error is toward
   Antinomianism, the "turning of the grace of God into lasciviousness"
   (Jude 4). Third, others affirm, and the writer is among the number,
   that the Ten Commandments are an expression of the unchanging character
   and will of God: that they are a moral standard of conduct which we
   disregard at our peril: that they are, and will ever be, binding upon
   every Christian.

   In our last chapter we sought to prepare the way for the present one.
   There, we dealt with the negative side; here, we shall treat of the
   positive. In the former, we sought to give the true meaning of the
   principal passages in the New Testament appealed to by those who deny
   that the Ten Commandments are now binding on Christians. In the present
   chapter, we shall endeavor to expound some of the many passages in the
   New Testament which affirm that the Ten Commandments are now binding on
   Christians. We, therefore, invite the reader's most diligent and
   prayerful attention to the scriptures cited and our comments upon them.

   1. "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am
   not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till
   heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from
   the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of
   these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called
   the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach
   them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.
   5:17-19). It might appear to the disciples of Christ that their Master
   intended to set aside Moses and the Prophets, and introduce an entirely
   new standard of morality. It was true indeed that He would expose the
   error of depending on the work of the Law for acceptance with God (as
   Moses and the prophets had done before Him); but it was no part of His
   design to set aside the Law itself. He was about to correct various
   corruptions, which obtained among the Jews, hence He is careful to
   preface what He has to say by cautioning them not to misconstrue His
   designs. So far from having any intention of repudiating Moses, He most
   emphatically asserts: first, that He had not come to destroy the Law;
   second, that He had come to "fulfill" it; third, that the Law is of
   perpetual obligation; fourth, that whoso breaks one of the least of the
   Law's commandments and teaches other so to do, shall suffer loss;
   fifth, that he who kept the Law and taught men to respect and obey it
   should be rewarded.

   "I am not come to destroy the Law"--the Prophets simply expounded the
   Law, and rebuked Israel for their failure to keep it, and forwarned
   them of the consequences of continued disobedience. "I am not come to
   destroy the Law." Nothing could be more explicit. The word "destroy"
   here means "to dissolve or overthrow". When, then, our Lord said that
   He had not come to destroy the Law He gave us to understand that it was
   not the purpose of His mission to repeal or annul the Ten Commandments:
   that he had not come to free men from their obligations to them. And if
   He did not "destroy" the Law, then no one had destroyed it; and if no
   one has destroyed it, then the Law still stands with all its Divine
   authority; and if the Law still abides as the unchanging expression of
   God's character and will, then every human creature is under lasting
   obligation to obey it; and if every human creature, then the Christian!

   Second, the Son of God went on to say "I am not come to destroy, but to
   fulfill". The word "fulfill" here means "to fill up, to complete".
   Christ "fulfilled" the Law in three ways: first, by rendering personal
   obedience to its precepts. God's Law was within His heart (Psa. 40:8),
   and in thought, word and deed, He perfectly met its requirements; and
   thus by His obedience He magnified the Law and made it honorable (Isa.
   42:21). Second, by suffering (at the Cross) its death-penalty on behalf
   of His people who had transgressed it. Third, by exhibiting its fulness
   and spirituality and by amplifying its contents. Thus did Christ, our
   Exemplar, "fulfill the Law."

   So far from Christ having repealed the Law, He expressly affirmed,
   "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass
   from the Law, till all be fulfilled." In these words He announces the
   perpetuity of the Law. So long as heaven and earth shall last, the Law
   will endure, and by necessary implication, the lasting obligations of
   all men to fulfill it.

   But this is not all that our Lord here said. With omniscient foresight
   He anticipated what Mr. Mead has aptly termed "The Modern Outcry
   against the Law", and proceeds to solemnly warn against it. He said,
   "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and
   shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
   heaven".

   2. "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we
   establish the Law" (Rom. 3:31). In the previous part of the chapter the
   apostle had proven that "there is none righteous, no not one" (v. 10);
   second, he had declared "By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh
   be justified" (v. 2); then in vv. 21-26 he had set forth the Divine way
   of salvation--"through faith in Christ's blood". In v.28, he sums up
   his argument by affirming "a man is justified by faith without the
   deeds of the Law". In vv. 29, 30 he proves that this is true for Jew
   and Gentile alike. Then, in v.31, he anticipates an objection: What
   about the Law, then? This was a very pertinent question. Twice had he
   said that justification was apart from the deeds of the Law. If, then,
   the Law served no purpose in effecting the salvation of sinners, has it
   no office at all? If we are saved "through faith" is the Law useless?
   Are we to understand you to mean (Paul) that the Law has been annulled?
   Not at all, is the apostle's answer: "We establish the Law."

   What did the apostle mean when he said "we establish the Law"? He meant
   that, as saved men, Christians are under additional obligations to obey
   the Law, for they are now furnished with new and more powerful motives
   to serve God. Righteousness imputed to the believer produces in the
   justified one a kind and an extent of obedience which could not
   otherwise have been obtained. So far from rendering void or nullifying
   the authority and use of the Law, it sustains and confirms them. Our
   moral obligation to God and our neighbor has not been weakened, but
   strengthened. Below we offer one or two brief excerpts from other
   expositors.

   "Does not the doctrine of faith evacuate the Old Testament of its
   meaning, and does it not make law void, and lead to disregard of it?
   Does it not open the door to license of living? To this the apostle
   replies, that it certainly does not; but that, on the contrary, the
   Gospel puts law on a proper basis and establishes it on its foundation
   as a revelation of God's will" (Dr. Griffith-Thomas).

   "We cancel law, then, by this faith of ours? We open the door, then, to
   moral license? We abolish code and precept, then, when we ask not for
   conduct, but for faith? Away with the thought; nay, we establish law;
   we go the very way to give a new sacredness to its every command, and
   to disclose a new power for the fulfillment of them all. But how this
   is, and is to be, the later argument is to show" (Dr. Handley Moule).

   "Objection. If man is justified by faith without works, does not that
   do away with law entirely, i.e. teach lawlessness? Answer:By no means.
   It establishes the law. When a man is saved by grace, that does not
   make him lawless. There is a power within him which does not destroy,
   but it strengthens the law, and causes him to keep it, not through
   fear, but through love of God" (H. S. Miller, M.A.).

   3. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man...with the
   mind I myself serve the Law of God" (Rom 7:22-25). In this chapter the
   apostle does two things: first, he shows what is not and what is the
   Law's relation to the believer--judicially, the believer is emancipated
   from the curse or penalty of the Law (7:1-6); morally, the believer is
   under bonds to obey the Law (vv. 22, 25). Secondly, he guards against a
   false inference being drawn from what he had taught in chapter 6. In
   6:1-11 he sets forth the believer's identification with Christ as "dead
   to sin" (vv. 2, 7, etc.). Then, from v. 11 onwards, he shows the effect
   this truth should have upon the believer's walk. In chapter 7 he
   follows the same order of thought. In 7:1-6 he treats of the believer's
   identification with Christ as "dead to the law" (see vv. 4 and 6).
   Then, from v. 7 onwards he describes the experiences of the Christian.
   Thus the first half of Rom. 6 and the first half of Rom. 7 deal with
   the believer's standing, whereas the second half of each chapter treats
   of the believer's state; but with this difference: the second half of
   Rom. 6 reveals what our state ought to be, whereas the second half of
   Rom. 7 (vv. 13-25) shows what our state actually is. [6]

   The controversy which has raged over Rom. 7 is largely the fruitage of
   the Perfectionism of Wesley and his followers. That brethren, whom we
   have cause to respect, should have adopted this error in a modified
   form, only shows how widespread today is the spirit of Laodiceanism. To
   talk of "getting out of Rom. 7 into Rom. 8" is excuseless folly. Rom. 7
   and 8 both apply with undiminished force and pertinence to every
   believer on earth today. The second half of Rom. 7 describes the
   conflict of the two natures in the child of God: it simply sets forth
   in detail what is summarized in Gal. 5:17. Rom. 7:14, 15, 18, 19, 21
   are far short of the standard set before him--we mean God's standard,
   not that of the so-called "victorious life" teachers. If any Christian
   reader is ready to say that Rom. 7:19 does not describe his life, we
   say in all kindness, that he is sadly deceived. We do not mean by this
   that every Christian breaks the laws of men, or that he is an overt
   transgressor of the laws of God. But we do mean that his life is far,
   far below the level of the life our Saviour lived here on earth. We do
   mean that there is much of "the flesh" still evident in every
   Christian--not the least in those who make such loud boastings of their
   spiritual attainments. We do mean that every Christian has urgent need
   to daily pray for the forgiveness of his daily sins (Luke 11:4), for
   "in many things we all stumble" (James 3:2, R.V.).

   The second half of Rom. 7, then, is describing the state of the
   Christian, i.e. the conflict between the two natures within him. In v.
   14 the apostle declares, "We know that the Law is spiritual". How
   different is this language from the disparaging way that many now refer
   to God's Law! In v. 22 he exclaims, "I delight in the Law of God after
   the inward man". How far removed is this from the delusion that the Law
   has been abolished, and that it no longer serves any purpose for the
   Christian! The apostle Paul did not ignore the Law, still less did he
   regard it as an enemy. The new nature within him delighted in it: so,
   too, did the Psalmist, see Psa. 119:72, 97, 140. But the old nature was
   still within him too, warring against the new, and bringing him into
   captivity to the law of sin, so that he cried, "O wretched man that I
   am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (v.24)--and we
   sincerely pity every professing Christian who does not echo this cry.
   Next the apostle thanks God that he shall be delivered yet "through
   Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 25), not "by the power of the Holy Spirit"
   note! The deliverance is future, at the return of Christ, see Phil.
   3:20, etc. Finally, and mark that this comes after he had spoken of the
   promised "deliverance", he sums up his dual experience by saying, "So
   then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh
   the law of sin". Could anything be plainer? Instead of affirming that
   the Law had nothing to do with him as a Christian, nor he with it, he
   expressly declared that he served "the Law of God". This is sufficient
   for us. Let others refuse to "serve" the Law of God at their peril.

   4. "For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the
   flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for
   sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the Law
   might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the
   spirit" (Rom. 8:3, 4). This throws light on Rom. 3:31, showing us, in
   part, how "the Law is established". The reference here is to the new
   nature. The believer now has a heart that loves God, and therefore does
   it "delight in the Law of God". And it is ever at the heart that God
   looks, though, of course, He takes note of our actions too. But in
   heart the believer "fulfills" the holy requirements of God's Law,
   inasmuch as his innermost desire is to serve, please, and glorify the
   Law-giver. The righteous requirements of the Law are "fulfilled" in us
   because we now obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17).

   5. "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. For this, Thou shalt
not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou
shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any
other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his
neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Rom. 13:8-10).
   Here again, the apostle, so far from lending the slightest
   encouragement to the strange delusion that the Ten Commandments have
   become obsolete to Christians, actually quotes five of them, and then
   declares, "Love is the fulfilling of the Law". Love is not a
   substitution for Law-obedience, but it is that which prompts the
   believer to render obedience to it.Note carefully, it is not "love is
   the abrogating of the Law", but "love is the fulfilling of the Law".
   "The whole Law is grounded on love to God and love to man. This cannot
   be violated without the breach of Law; and if there is love, it will
   influence us to the observance of all God's commandments" (Haldane).
   Love is the fulfilling of the Law because love is what the Law demands.
   The prohibitions of the Law are not unreasonable restraints on
   Christian liberty, but the just and wise requirements of love. We may
   add that the above is another passage which serves to explain Rom.
   3:31, for it supplies a practical exemplification of the way in which
   the Gospel establishes the Law as the expression of the Divine will,
   which love alone can fulfill.



   6. "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant
unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a
Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law; as
under the Law, that i might gain them that are under the Law; to them
that are without Law, as without Law, (being not without Law to God,
but under the Law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without
Law" (1 Cor. 9:19-22). The central thought of this passage is how the
   apostle forewent his Christian liberty for the sake of the Gospel.
   Though "free" from all, he nevertheless, made himself "the servant" of
   all. To the unconverted Jews he "became a Jew;" Acts 16:3 supplies an
   illustration. To those who deemed themselves to be yet under the
   ceremonial law, he acted accordingly: Acts 21:26 supplies an example of
   this. To them without Law: that is, Gentiles without the ceremonial
   law, he abstained from the use of all ceremonies as they did: cf. Gal.
   2:3. Yet, he did not act as "without Law to God", but instead, as
   "under the Law to Christ"; that is, as still under the moral Law of
   God. He never counted himself free from that, nor would he do anything
   contrary to the eternal Law of righteousness. To be "under Law to God",
   is, without question, to be under the God. Therefore, to be under the
   Law of Christ, is to be under the Law of God, for the Law was not
   abrogated but reinforced by Christ. This text, then, gives a plain and
   decisive answer to the question, How the believer is under the Law of
   God, namely, as he is "under the Law to Christ", belonging to Christ,
   as he does, by redemption.

   7. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not
liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself" (Gal. 5:13, 14). Here the apostle first
   reminds the Galatian saints (and us) that they had been called unto
   "liberty", i.e., from the curse of the moral Law (3:13). Second, he
   defines the bounds of that liberty, and shows that it must not
   deteriorate to fleshly license, but that it is bounded by the
   requirements of the unchanging moral Law of God, which requires that we
   love our neighbor as ourselves. Third, he repeats here, what he had
   said in Rom. 13:8-10, namely, that love is the fulfilling of the Law.
   The new commandment of love to our brethren is comprehended in the old
   commandment of love to our neighbor, hence the former is enforced by an
   appeal to the latter.

   "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty
   for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal.
   5:13). We quote here part of the late Dr. George Bishop's comments on
   this verse: "The apostle here emphasizes a danger. The believer before
   believing, relied upon his works to save him. After believing, seeing
   he is in no way saved by his works, he is in danger of despising good
   works and minifying their value. At first he was an Arminian living by
   law; now he is in danger of becoming an Antinomian and flinging away
   the law altogether."

   "But the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just, and good. It
   is God's standard--the eternal Norm. Fulfilled by Christ for us, it
   still remains the swerveless and unerring rule of righteousness. We are
   without the law for salvation, but not without the law for obedience.
   Angels are under the law doing God's commandments, hearkening to the
   voice of His word' (Psa. 103:20). The law then is immutable--its reign
   universal and without exception. The law! It is the transcript of the
   Divine perfection: the standard of eternal justice: the joy and rapture
   of all holy beings. The law! We are above it for salvation, but under
   it, or rather in it and it in us, as a principle of holiness" (Grace in
   Galatians).

   8. "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour
thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth"
(Eph. 6:1-3). Once more we have a direct quotation from the tables of
   stone as the regulator of the Christian conscience. First, the apostle
   bids children obey their parents in the Lord. Second, he enforces this
   by an appeal to the fifth commandment in the Decalogue. What a proof
   this is that the Christian is under the Law (for the apostle is writing
   to Christians), under it "to Christ". Third, not only does the apostle
   here quote the fifth commandment, but he reminds us that there is a
   promise annexed to it, a promise concerning the prolongation of earthly
   life. How this refutes those who declare that our blessings are all
   spiritual and heavenly )Eph. 1:3). Let the ones who are constantly
   criticizing those who press on the children of God the scriptures which
   have to do with our earthly walk, and who term this a "coming down from
   our position in the heavenlies" weigh carefully Eph. 6:2, 3 and also 1
   Tim. 4:8--"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is
   profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and
   of that which is to come"; and let them also study 1 Pet. 3:10. In the
   administration of His government, God acts upon immutable principles.
   [7]

   9. "But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully" (1 Tim.
1:8). The Law is used unlawfully, when sinners rest on their imperfect
   obedience to it as the ground of their acceptance by God. So, too,
   believers use it unlawfully, when they obey its precepts out of servile
   fear. But used lawfully, the Law is good. This could never have been
   said if the Law is an enemy to be shunned. Nor could it have been said
   if it has been repealed for the Christian. In that case, the apostle
   would have said, "The Law is not binding upon us". But he did not so
   say. Instead, he declared "The Law if good". He said more than that, he
   affirmed, "We know that the Law is good". It is not a debateable point,
   rather is it one that has been Divinely settled for us. But the Law is
   only "good" if a man (Greek, any one) use it lawfully. To use the Law
   lawfully is to regard it as the unchanging expression of the Will of
   God, and therefore to "delight" in it. To use the Law lawfully is to
   receive it as the corrector of our conduct. To use the Law lawfully is
   to "fulfill" it in love.

   10. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah...this is
the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those
days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write
them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to
Me a people" (Heb. 8:8, 10). Let it be carefully noted that this
   passage unmistakably demonstrates two things: first, it proves
   conclusively that the Law has not been "abolished"! Second, it proves
   that the Law does have a use and value for those that are saved, for it
   is saved Israel that is here in view! Nor is there any possible room
   for doubt as to whether or not this applies to Gentile Christians now.

   The passage just quoted refers to "the new covenant". Is the new
   covenant restricted to Israel? Emphatically no. Did not our Saviour say
   at the Holy Supper, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is
   poured out for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28, R.V.)? Was
   Christ's blood of the new covenant limited to Israel? Certainly not.
   Note how the apostle quotes our Lord's words when writing to the
   Corinthians, see 1 Cor. 11:25. So, too, in 2 Cor. 3:6 the apostle Paul
   declares that God has made us (not is going to make us) "ministers of
   the new covenant". This is proof positive that Christians are under the
   new covenant. The new covenant is made with all that Christ died for,
   and therefore Heb. 8:8-10 assures us that God puts His laws into the
   minds and writes them upon the hearts of every one of His redeemed.

   But so anxious are some to grasp at everything which they imagine
   favors their contention that in no sense are believers under the Law,
   this passage is sometimes appealed to in support. It is argued that
   since God has now (by regeneration) written the Law on the believer's
   heart, He no longer needs any outward commandments to rule and direct
   him. Inward principle, it is said, will now move him spontaneously, so
   that all need for external law is removed. This error was so ably
   exposed fifty years ago by Dr. Martin, we transcribe a part of his
   refutation:

     How was it with our first parents? If ever outward law, categorical
     and imperative, might have been dispensed with, it might in Adam's
     case. In all the compass of his nature, there was nothing adverse to
     the law of God. He was a law unto himself. He was the moral law unto
     himself; loving God with all his heart, and his neighbour as
     himself, in all things content, in nothing coveting. Was imperative,
     authoritative, sovereign commandment therefore utterly unnecessary?
     Did God see it to be needless to say to him, Thou shalt, or, Thou
     shalt not? It was the very thing that infinite wisdom saw he needed.
     And therefore did He give commandment--Thou shalt not eat of it'.

     How was it with the last Adam? All God's law was in His heart
     operating there, an inward principle of grace; He surely, if any,
     might have dispensed with strict, imperative, authoritative law and
     commandment. I delight to do Thy will, O God; Thy law also is within
     My heart'. Was no commandment, therefore, laid upon--no
     obedience-statute ordained--unto Him? Or did He complain if there
     was? Nay; I hear Him specially rejoicing in it. Every word He
     uttered, every work He did, was by commandment: My Father which sent
     me, He gave Me commandment what I should say and what I should do;
     as He gave me commandment therefore, so I speak'.

     And shall His members, though the regenerating Spirit dwells in
     them, claim an exemption from what the Son was not exempt? Shall
     believers, because the Spirit puts the law into their hearts, claim
     a right to act merely at the dictate of inward gracious principle,
     untrammeled, uncontrolled by outward peremptory statute? I appeal to
     Paul in the seventh chapter of the Romans, where he says: The law is
     holy', and adds, as if to show that it was no inward actuating law
     of the heart, but God's outward commanding law to the will: the law
     is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good'. And I
     appeal to the sweet singer of Israel, as I find him in the 119th
     Psalm, which is throughout the breathing of a heart in which the law
     of God is written, owning himself with joy as under peremptory
     external law: Thou hast commanded us to keep Thy precepts
     diligently'.

   11. "If ye fulfill the royal Law according to the scripture, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well" (James 2:8). The immediate
   purpose of the apostle was to correct an evil--common in all climes and
   ages--of which his brethren were guilty. They had paid deference to the
   wealthy, and shown them greater respect than the poor who attended
   their assembly (see preceding verses). They had, in fact, "despised the
   poor" (v.6). The result was that the worthy name of Christ had been
   "blasphemed" (v.7). Now it is striking to observe the method followed
   and the ground of appeal made by the apostle James in correcting this
   evil.

   First, he says, "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the
   scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if
   ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the Law
   as transgressors" (vv. 8, 9). He shows that in despising the poor they
   had transgressed the Law, for the Law says, "Thou shalt love thy
   neighbour as thyself". Here then, if proof positive that the Law was
   binding upon those to whom James wrote, for it is impossible for one
   who is in every sense "dead to the Law" to be a "transgressor" of it.
   And here, it is probable that some will raise the quibble that the
   Epistle of James is Jewish. True, the Epistle is addressed to the
   twelve tribes scattered abroad. Yet it cannot be gainsaid that the
   apostle was writing to men of faith (1:3); men who had been
   regenerated--"begotten" (1:18); men who were called by the worthy name
   of Christ (2:7), and therefore Christians. And it is to them the
   apostle here appeals to the Law!--another conclusive proof that the Law
   has not been abolished.

   The apostle here terms the Law, "the royal Law". This was to empathize
   its authority, and to remind his regenerated brethren that the
   slightest deflection from it was rebellion. The royal Law also calls
   attention to the supreme dignity of its Author. This royal Law, we
   learn, is transcribed in the Scriptures--the reference here was, of
   course, to the Old Testament Scriptures.

   Next, the apostle says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and
   yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not
   commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no
   adultery, yet if thou kill, thou are become a transgressor of the Law"
   (vv. 10, 11). His purpose is evident. He presses on those to whom he
   writes that, he who fails to love his neighbour is just as much and
   just as truly a transgressor of the Law as the man who is guilty of
   adultery or murder, for he has rebelled against the authority of the
   One who gave the whole Law. In this quotation of the 6th and 7th
   commandments all doubt is removed as to what "Law" is in view in this
   passage.

   Finally, the apostle says, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall
   be judged by the Law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without
   mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment"
   (vv. 12, 13). This is solemn and urgently needs pressing upon the
   Lord's people today: Christians are going to be "judged by the Law"!
   The Law is God's unchanging standard of conduct for all; and all alike,
   saints and sinners, are going to be weighed in its balances; not of
   course, in order to determine their eternal destiny, but to settle the
   apportionment of reward and punishment. It should be obvious to all
   that the very word "reward" implies obedience to the Law! Let it be
   repeated, though, that this judgment for Christians has nothing
   whatever to do with their salvation. Instead, it is to determine the
   measure of reward which they shall enjoy in Heaven. Should any object
   against the idea of any future judgment (not punishment but judgment)
   for Christians, we would ask them to carefully ponder 1 Cor. 11:31, 32:
   2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:30--in each case the Greek word is the same as here
   in James 2:12.

   It should be noted that the apostle here terms the Law by which we
   shall be judged "the Law of liberty". It is, of course, the same as
   "the royal Law" in v. 8. But why term it the Law of liberty? Because
   such it is to the Christian. He obeys it (or should do) not from fear,
   but out of love. The only true "liberty" lies in complete subjection to
   God. There was, too, a peculiar propriety in the apostle James here
   styling the Law of God "the Law of liberty". His brethren had been
   guilty of "respecting persons", showing undue deference to the rich;
   and this was indeed servility of the worst kind. But to "love our
   neighbour" will free us from this.

   12. Other passages in the New Testament which show more directly the
bearing of the Law on believers might be quoted, but we close, by
calling attention to 1 John 2:6: "He that saith he abideth in Him ought
himself also so to walk, even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). This is very
   simple, and yet deeply important. The believer is here exhorted to
   regulate his walk by that of the walk of Christ. How did He walk? We
   answer, in perfect obedience to the Law of God. Gal. 4:4 tells us, "God
   sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law." Psa. 40:8
   declares that God's Law was in His heart. Everything recorded about the
   Saviour in the four Gospels evidences His complete subjection to the
   Law. If, then, the Christian desires to honor and please God, if he
   would walk as Christ walked, then must he regulate his conduct by and
   render obedience to the Ten Commandments. Not that we would for a
   moment insist that the Christian has nothing more than the Ten
   Commandments by which to regulate his conduct. No; Christ came to
   "fulfill" the Law, and as we have intimated, one thing this means is
   that, He has brought out the fulness of its contents, He has brought to
   light its exceeding spirituality, He has shown us (both directly and
   through His apostles) its manifold application. But whatever
   amplification the Law has received in the New Testament, nothing has
   been given by God which in any wise conflicts with what he first
   imprinted on man's moral nature, and afterwards wrote with His own
   finger at Sinai, nothing that in the slightest modifies its authority
   or our obligation to render obedience to it.

   May the Holy Spirit so enlighten our sin-darkened understandings and so
   draw out our hearts unto God, that we shall truthfully say, "The Law of
   Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver...O how
   love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119:72-97).
     __________________________________________________________________

   [6] Vv. 8-12 are more or less in the nature of a parenthesis.   [7] That some obedient children are short-lived no more belies the Word
   of God than that some diligent men are poor, yet Prov. 10:4 says, "The
   hand of the diligent maketh rich:" The truth is, that these promises
   reveal the general purpose of God, but He always reserves to Himself
   the sovereign right to make whom He pleases exceptions to the general
   rule.
 

Related articles

Articole in Limba Romana

 

A W Pink – The Law and the Saint (Part 2)

In this- Part 2 of Pink’s book ‘The Law and the Saint’, Pink expands on this passage:

What is the relation of the Law to the saint? Three answers have been given:

  1. First, that sinners become saints by obeying the Law.
  2. Second, that the Law is a rule of life for believers.
  3. Third, that the Law has nothing whatever to do with believers today.

Those who give the first answer teach that the Law defines what God requires from man, and therefore man must keep it in order to be accepted by God.

Those who give the second answer teach that the Law exhibits a standard of conduct, and that while this Old Testament standard receives amplification in the New, yet the latter does not set aside the former.

Those who give the third answer teach that the Law was a yoke of bondage, grievous to be borne, and that it has been made an end of so far as Christians are concerned.

The first answer is Legalism pure and simple: salvation by works; the second, relates to true Christian liberty; the third, is Antinomianism–lawlessness, a repudiation of God’s governmental authority. The first view prevailed generally through the Medieval Ages, when Popery reigned almost supreme. The second view prevailed generally during the time of the Reformers and
Puritans. The third view has come into prominence during the last century, and now is the popular belief of our day.

(All highlighting and underlining is mine and is primarily used to facilitate easier reading for this lengthy post)

READ Part 1 here

Arthur and Vera pink July 20, 1928 (via amazon.com)

The Negative Side

   What is the relation between the Law and the saint? By the Law we refer
   to the Ten Commandments engraven upon the tables of stone by the finger
   of God; by the saint we mean, the believer living in the present
   dispensation. What, then, is the relation between the Christian living
   today and the Ten Commandments formally proclaimed in the time of
   Moses? It is indeed sad that such a question needs to be raised, and
   that the Divine answer requires to be pressed upon the people of God.
   There was a time when it would not have been easy to find a Christian
   who was ignorant upon this subject; a time when the first thing
   committed to memory by the children of Christian parents was the Ten
   Commandments. But, alas, today it is far otherwise. Now, it is becoming
   increasingly difficult to find those who can give a clear and
   scriptural answer to our opening question. And as to finding children
   who can repeat the Ten Commandments, they are rare indeed.

   The Law and the saint. Present-day teachings on this subject, as on
   almost every other scriptural theme, is conflicting and contradictory.
   There are indeed few Divine doctrines upon which even Christian
   teachers are uniform in their testimony. What differences of opinion
   exist concerning Church-truth and the ordinances! What a variety of
   interpretations of prophecy now confront us! What a lack of harmony
   concerning the doctrine of sanctification. The same confusion prevails
   concerning the relation of the Law to the saint. Just as the Confusion
   of Tongues (Gen. 11) immediately preceded God's call to Abraham (the
   father of us all) to leave his native home and go forth into that land
   which he was to receive for an inheritance (Gen. 12), so there is a
   confusion of tongues in the theological world just before the people of
   God are to be called away from this earth to their heavenly inheritance
   (1 Peter 1:4). That God has a good reason for permitting the present
   confusion of tongues, we doubt not--"For there must be factions among
   you; that they that are approved may be made manifest among you" (1
   Cor. 11:19, R.V.).

   What is the relation of the Law to the saint? Three answers have been
   given. First, that sinners become saints by obeying the Law. Second,
   that the Law is a rule of life for believers. Third, that the Law has
   nothing whatever to do with believers today. Those who give the first
   answer teach that the Law defines what God requires from man, and
   therefore man must keep it in order to be accepted by God. Those who
   give the second answer teach that the Law exhibits a standard of
   conduct, and that while this Old Testament standard receives
   amplification in the New, yet the latter does not set aside the former.
   Those who give the third answer teach that the Law was a yoke of
   bondage, grievous to be borne, and that it has been made an end of so
   far as Christians are concerned. The first answer is Legalism pure and
   simple: salvation by works; the second, relates to true Christian
   liberty; the third, is Antinomianism--lawlessness, a repudiation of
   God's governmental authority. The first view prevailed generally
   through the Medieval Ages, when Popery reigned almost supreme. The
   second view prevailed generally during the time of the Reformers and
   Puritans. The third view has come into prominence during the last
   century, and now is the popular belief of our day.

   How thankful we should be that it is our happy privilege to return from
   the theological bedlam that surrounds us, and enter the quiet sanctuary
   of God's truth; that we may turn away from the conflicting voices of
   men, to hear what God says on the subject. We trust that this is the
   hearty desire of our readers. We cherish the hope that few who have
   read the above paragraphs are so conceited as to suppose they have no
   need to examine or re-examine what the Scriptures teach about the
   relation of the Law to believers. We are persuaded, rather, that the
   reader shares the conviction of the writer, namely, that this is an
   imperative necessity. It is so easy to conclude that our views of
   certain Divine truths have been formed from our own study of what we
   have (correctly or incorrectly) imbibed from human teachers. Our need
   is that of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)--to "Search the Scriptures daily"
   to find out whether or not what we hear and read is in accord with the
   Word of Truth. Moreover, this is sure, "if any man think that he
   knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1 Cor.
   8:2). Therefore it behooves every one of us to definitely look to God
   for light and help, and then reverently turn to His Word for the needed
   instruction.

   Before we present to the reader some of the leading scriptures which
   set forth the relation of the Law to believers of this dispensation, it
   will first be necessary to examine the passages which are appealed to
   by those who affirm that the Law has no relation to the people of God
   living today. Let us then turn to these passages, and without prejudice
   (as far as that is possible) seek to ascertain their true meaning.


   1. "For as many as have sinned without Law shall also perish without
   Law...for when the Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the
   things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a Law unto
   themselves" (Rom. 2:12-14). These verses really have no direct bearing
   on our present theme, inasmuch as they treat of other than saints. Yet,
   as this passage does relate to the wider subject of the Law in general,
   and as it is made use of by those who flatly and hotly deny the Law has
   any relation to believers today, we give it a brief notice.

   It is affirmed by some whom we respect, but from whom on this subject
   we are obliged to differ, that the Law was given to the nation of
   Israel and to none else, and therefore, that neither Gentiles nor
   Christians are under any obligation to keep it. That the Law was
   formally given to Israel at Sinai is freely granted. But does that
   prove it was meant for none other than the descendants of Jacob? Surely
   not. When writing to the saints at Rome (many of whom were Gentiles,
   see 1:13; 11:13; 15:15, 16, etc.) Paul said, "But now we are delivered
   from the Law" (7:6). Again, in 8:7 he declares, "The carnal mind is
   enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither
   indeed can be": mark, it is not "the Jewish mind", but the "carnal
   mind" to Jew and Gentile alike. Now, there would be no point to this
   statement if the mind of man, as man, is not obligated to be in
   subjection to the Law of God. Man's mind is not subject, and because of
   its innate depravity "cannot be"; nevertheless, it ought to be. Once
   more: note how in Eph. 2:2 the wicked are said to be "children of
   disobedience"; this is meaningless if they are not under obligation to
   obey the commandments of God. These scriptures, then, are sufficient to
   establish the fact that Gentiles, as well as Jews, are "under the Law".

   Returning now to Rom. 2:12, 13. The simple meaning of these verses is
   that, the Gentiles never had given to them the two tablets of stone on
   which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, nor were they in possession
   of the Scriptures, wherein those Commandments were recorded. But it
   should be carefully noted that Rom. 2:5 goes on to state these very
   Gentiles "show the work of the Law written on their hearts". On these
   verses Prof. Stifler has well said, "The argument (of v.14) lies in
   this, that Gentiles have what is tantamount to the moral Law". The fact
   that the Gentiles are "a law unto themselves" shows that God gave them
   the equivalent of what He gave the Jews, namely, a standard of right
   and wrong. In the case of the former, it was "written in their hearts",
   in the case of the latter, it was written on tables of stone, and
   afterwards in the Scriptures. "From this it is clear that the moral Law
   given to Israel by Moses was but a transcript, or compendium, of the
   Law which God, in the creation, had stamped upon the moral nature of
   man...The moral Law, therefore, was not altogether new in the time of
   the exodus; nor was it something exclusively for Israel, but was a gift
   for the whole race, and therefore, must be of perpetual validity" (Mr.
   Wm. Mead).

   2. "For ye are not under the Law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). This is
   the favorite verse with those who take the position that the Law has no
   relation to believers of this dispensation. "Not under the Law" is
   explicit, and seems final. What, then, have we to say concerning it?
   This: that like every other verse in the Bible, it must not be divorced
   from its setting, but is to be studied and faithfully interpreted in
   the light of its context. What, then, is the context about? First, what
   is the remote context concerned with? Second, what is the theme of the
   immediate context? By the remote context we mean, the Epistle as a
   whole. This is always the first thing to be weighed in connection with
   the exposition of any passage. Failure here is responsible for the
   great majority of misinterpretations and erroneous applications of
   Scripture. It should be carefully noted that the words "Ye are not
   under the Law" but "under grace" are found not in Hebrews, but in
   Romans. This, of itself, should warn us that "not under Law" needs to
   be understood in a modified sense. If it were true that the Law has
   been abrogated, then the Epistle to the Hebrews would be the one place
   of all others where we should expect to find this taught. The theme of
   Hebrews is, The superiority of Christianity over Judaism. [5] In the
   expansion of this theme the apostle, again and again, shows how the
   prominent things in Judaism are not obsolete--see chapter 7 for the
   changing of the priesthood, from the Aaronic to the Melchizedek order;
   chapters 8 and 9 for the substitution of the new covenant for the old,
   etc. And yet, not a word is said in it that the Law is now supplanted
   by grace.

   "Not under the Law, but under grace" is found in Romans, the great
   theme of which is, The righteousness of God: man's need of God's
   righteousness, how it becomes the believer's, what are the legal
   consequences of this, and the effect it should have on our conduct. The
   prominent feature of the first eight chapters of Romans is that they
   treat of the judicial side of Gospel truth, rather than with the
   experimental and practical. Romans 5 and 6, especially, treat of
   justification and its consequences. In the light of this fact it is not
   difficult to discover the meaning of 6:14. "Ye are not under the Law,
   but under grace" signifies, Ye are under a system of gratuitous
   justification. "The whole previous argument explains this sentence. He
   refers to our acceptance. He goes back to the justification of the
   guilty, without the deeds of the Law', the act of free grace; and
   briefly re-states it thus, that he may take up afresh the position that
   this glorious liberation means not license, but Divine order" (Bishop
   Moule - 1893).

   "Ye are not under the Law but under grace". The contrast is not between
   the Law of Moses and the gospel of Christ, as two economies or
   dispensations, rather is it a contrast between Law and grace as the
   principles of two methods of justification, the one false, the other
   true; the one of human devising, the other of Divine provision. "Under
   Law" means, ruled by Law as a covenant of "works" (Dr.
   Griffith-Thomas). "Law" and "grace" here are parallel with "the Law of
   works" and "the Law of faith" in 3:27! Rom. 6:14 was just as true of
   the Old Testament saints as of New Testament believers. Caleb, Joshua,
   David, Elijah, Daniel were no more "under Law" in the sense that these
   words bear in Rom. 6:14, than Christians are today. Instead, they were
   "under grace" in the matter of their justification, just as truly as we
   are.

   "Not under the Law" does not mean, Not under obligation to obey the
   precepts of the moral Law; but signifies, Not keeping the Law in order
   to be saved. The apostle asserts in this verse that Christians are not
   under the Law, as an actual, effectual adequate means of justification
   or sanctification, and if they are so, their case is utterly hopeless;
   for ruin must inevitably ensue. That this is all that he means is
   apparent from the sequel of his remarks (6:15-8:39). What can be
   plainer, than that the moral Law as precept' is altogether approved and
   recognized by him. See chapter 7:12-14. Nay, so far is the apostle from
   pleading for oblivion or repeal of moral precepts, that he asserts
   directly (8:3, 4) that the Gospel is designed to secure obedience to
   these moral precepts; which the Law was unable to do. It is, then, from
   the Law viewed in this light, and this only, namely, as inadequate to
   effect the justification and secure the obedience of sinners, that the
   apostle declares us to be free.

   "Let no one, then, abuse this declaration by imagining that it in
   anywise affords ground to believe that Christians are freed from
   obligation to obey the precepts of the moral Law. What is the Divine
   Law but a transcript of the Divine will? And are not Christians to be
   conformed to this? Is not all the Law summed up in these two
   declarations: Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart; and thy
   neighbour as thyself'! And are Christians absolved from loving God and
   their neighbour? If not, then this part of the subject stands
   unembarrassed by anything which the apostle has said in our text or
   context" (Prof. Moses Stuart).

   The force of Rom. 6:14 becomes more apparent if we observe what follows
   it. In the very next verse we read, "What then? Shall we sin, because
   we are not under the Law, but under grace? God forbid". This
   anticipates an objection: If we are not under the Law as the ground of
   our justification, then are we to be lawless? The inspired answer is,
   God forbid. Nothing is more self-evidently certain then, that if the
   moral Law is not a rule of life to believers, they are at liberty to
   disregard its precepts. But the apostle rejects this error with the
   utmost abhorrence. We quote here a part of Calvin's comments on Rom.
   6:15: "But we are much deceived if we think, that the righteousness
   which God approves of in His Law is abolished, when the Law is
   abrogated; for the abrogation is by no means to be applied to the
   precepts which teach the right way of living, as Christ confirms and
   sanctions these, and does not abrogate them; but the right view is,
   that nothing is taken away but the curse, to which men without grace
   are subject".

   In what follows, to the end of this chapter, the apostle shows that
   though the believer is "not under Law" as the ground of his
   justification, nevertheless, he is under the Law as a rule of his
   Christian life, that is, he is under obligations to obey its moral
   precepts. In v. 18 (which contains the positive answer to the question
   asked in v. 15) the apostle declares, "being then made free from sin,
   ye became the servants (bond-slaves) of righteousness". Again in v. 22
   he says, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God,
   ye have your fruit unto holiness". Observe carefully, it is not here
   said "servants of Christ", nor "servants of the Father", which would
   bring in quite another thought, but "servants of God", which enforces
   the believer's responsibility to the Law-giver. That this is the
   meaning of Rom 6:18 and 22 is clear from 7:25, where the apostle says,
   "So then with the mind I myself serve THE LAW OF GOD".

   3. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the Law...Now we
   are delivered from the Law" (Rom. 7:4, 6). These statements really call
   for a full exposition of Rom. 7:1-6. but it would occupy too much space
   to give that here. Perhaps we can arrive at the meaning of these two
   verses by a shorter route. They occur in a section of the Epistle which
   treats of the results of Divine righteousness being imputed to the
   believer. Chapter 4 deals with the imputation of this righteousness;
   chapters 5 to 8 give the results. The results (summarized) are as
   follows: 5:1-11 Justification and Reconciliation; 5:12-6:23
   Identification with Christ, the last Adam; 7:1-25 Emancipation from the
   Curse of the Law; 8:1-39 Preservation through time and eternity. Thus
   it will be seen that these chapters deal mainly with the Divine rather
   than the human side of things. "Dead to the Law" in 7:4 is parallel
   with "dead to sin" in 6:2: parallel in this sense, that it is objective
   "death" not subjective; the judicial and not the practical aspect of
   truth which is in view. Observe it is said, we "become dead to the Law
   by the body of Christ", not by a Divine repeal of the Law. In other
   words, we died to the Law vicariously, in the person of our blessed
   Substitute. So, too, we are "delivered from the Law", or as the R. V.
   more accurately puts it "We have been discharged from the Law", because
   we have "died to that wherein we were held". In Christ we "died" to the
   judicial threatenings and ceremonial requirements of the Law.

   "Dead to the Law". "By the term the Law, in this place, is intended
   that Law which is obligatory on both Jews and Gentiles. It is the Law,
   the work of which is written in the hearts of all men; and that Law
   which was given to the Jews in which they rested, 2:17. It is the Law
   taken in the largest extent of the word, including the whole will of
   God in any way manifested to all mankind, whether Jew of Gentile. All
   those whom the apostle is addressing, had been under this Law in their
   unconverted state...To the moral Law exclusively here and throughout
   the rest of the chapter, the apostle refers...Dead to the Law means
   freedom from the power of the Law, as having endured its penalty, and
   satisfied its demands. It has ceased to have a claim on the obedience
   of believers in order to life (better, on believers it has ceased to
   pronounce its curse--A.W.P.), although it still remains their rule of
   duty" (Robert Haldane). On the words, "Now we are delivered from the
   Law", Mr. Haldane says: "Christ hath fulfilled the Law, and suffered
   its penalty for them, and they in consequence are free from its demands
   for the purpose of obtaining life, or that, on account of the breach of
   it, the purpose of obtaining life, or that, on account of the breath of
   it, they should suffer death".

   One further word needs to be said on Rom. 7:4-6. Some insist that the
   whole passage treats only of Jewish believers. But this is certainly a
   mistake. When Paul says in v.1 "I speak to them that know Law"--there
   is no article in the Greek--he reasons on the basis that his readers
   were fully cognizant of the principle that "the Law hath dominion over
   a man so long as he liveth". If Paul was here confining his address to
   Jewish believers, he had said, "I speak to those among you who know the
   Law". When he says "Know ye not, brethren" (v. 1) and "Wherefore, my
   brethren" (v. 4) he is addressing his brethren in Christ as the Jews,
   his brethren by nature, he is careful to so intimate, "My brethren, my
   kinsmen according to the flesh" (9:3)! Finally, it should be carefully
   noted how the apostle uses the pronouns "ye" and "we" interchangeably
   in vv.4 and 5. The emphatic "ye also" in v.4 seems specifically
   designed to show that his illustration in the previous verses, with its
   obvious suggestion of Israel's history, was strictly applicable to all
   Christians.

   "The deliverance from Law in Galatians is that which leads to the son
   ship of all saints, while the deliverance in Romans leads to the union
   of all saints with Christ. But in both they are viewed as all alike
   having been in bondage under Law, and all alike delivered from it. For
   indeed it is the design of the Holy Spirit ever to lead the saints of
   all ages to regard themselves as delivered from a common guilt,
   redeemed from a common curse--the curse of the Law'--rescued from a
   common doom; and all this as the result of the curse being fulfilled in
   the death of Him in whom they all alike died" (Charles Campbell).


   4. "For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one
   that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). Frequently, only the first half of this
   verse is quoted, "Christ is the end of the Law". But this is not all
   that is said here. Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness, that
   is, before God. The context unequivocally settles the scope and
   significance of this expression. Paul had just affirmed that Israel,
   who was ignorant of God's righteousness, had gone about "to establish
   their own righteousness". Once more it isjustification which is in
   view, and not the walk of a believer. Says Dr. Thos. Chalmers: "There
   is one obvious sense in which Christ is the end of the Law, and that is
   when the Law is viewed as a schoolmaster brings us to the conclusion,
   as to its last lesson, that Christ is our only refuge, our only
   righteousness". So also Dr. G. Thomas: "With Christ before us legal
   righteousness is necessarily at an end, and in not submitting to
   Christ, the Jews were refusing to submit to the God who gave them the
   Law".

   5. Another passage frequently appealed to by those who insist on the
   total abrogation of the Law is 2 Cor. 3. Such expressions as "That
   which is done away" (v. 11), and "that which is abolished" (v. 13) are
   regarded as alluding to the Ten Commandments "written and engraven in
   stones" (v. 7). That this is a mistake, is easily proven. For in Rom.
   13:9 and Eph. 6:2 several of the Ten Commandments are quoted and
   enforced. This is quite sufficient to prove that the moral Law is not
   "done away". And such scriptures as Isa. 2:2, 3; Jer. 31:33, etc., make
   it plain that the Law is not "abolished".

   In 2 Cor. 3 (and again and again throughout the Epistle) Paul is
   contending against false "apostles" (note 2:17 and see further 6:1;
   11:3, 4, 13, 22) who, preaching the Law to the exclusion of Christ,
   were seducing the people of God from the blessings of the new covenant.
   Consequently, the apostle is not here treating of the Law as the moral
   standard of conduct for believers, but as that which condemns sinners.
   The inspired penman is pointing out the folly of turning back to the
   Law as the ground of acceptance before God--which was what the false
   apostles insisted on. The method he follows is to draw a series of
   contrasts between the old covenant and the new, showing the
   immeasurable superiority of the latter over the former. He shows that
   apart from Christ, the old covenant was but a ministration of
   condemnation and death; that just as the body without the spirit is
   dead, so the Law without Christ was but a lifeless "letter". 2 Cor. 3,
   then contrasts Christianity with Judaism. That which has been "done
   away" is the old covenant; that which is "abolished" (for the
   Christian) is the ceremonial law.

   6. In the Galatian Epistle there are quite a number of verses which are
   used by those who affirm the Law has no relation to believers
   today--e.g. 2:19; 3:13; 3:23-25; 4:5; 5:18. Now it is impossible to
   understand these verses unless we first see what is the theme and
   character of the Epistle in which they are found. The theme of
   Galatians is the Believer's Emancipation from the Law. The special
   character of the Epistle is that it was written to confirm the faith of
   Christians, who had been troubled and shaken by Judaisers. But a
   careful reading of the Epistle should show the Emancipation here viewed
   is not from the Law as the standard of moral conduct, but from the
   curse or penalty of the Law; and the particular heresy of the Judaisers
   was not that they pressed the Ten Commandments upon the saints as a
   rule of life, but that they insisted the works of the Law must be
   fulfilled before a sinner could be saved. (See Acts 15:1). "The trouble
   at Galatia was legalism and ritualism. Speaking strictly the two are
   one; for the attempt to secure Divine favor through law observance
   leads inevitably to ritualism in its worst form. That the Galatians
   were going over to the ground of law for acceptance with God is evident
   from the whole tenor of the Epistle" (Prof. W. G. Morehead on
   "Galatians"). "The object of the Epistle to the Galatians was to
   restore among them the pure Gospel which they had received, but which
   they had so mingled with human works and ceremonies and a notion of
   their own free will and merits, as to have well-nigh lost it" ("Grace
   in Galatians" by Dr. George S. Bishop).

   The central issue raised in Galatians is not what is the standard of
   conduct for the believer's life, but what is the ground of a sinner's
   salvation. In proof of this assertion note carefully that in Gal. 1:7
   Paul expressly says the Judaisistic troublers were they who "would
   pervert the Gospel of Christ". Again, "That no man is justified by the
   Law in the sight of God is evident", etc. (3:11), shows the trend of
   the argument. Again; "For I testify again to every man that is
   circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole Law" (5:3 and cf 6:15)
   indicates wherein the Judaisers erred. So, "Christ is become of no
   effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are
   fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4) evidences the subject of the Epistle. To
   "fall from grace" means not for a Christian to obey the Ten
   Commandments, but to do the works of the Law (moral and ceremonial) in
   order to be justified. The Law and the Gospel are irreconcilable. Every
   attempt to combine them strikes equally at the majesty of the Law and
   the grace of the Gospel.

   On Gal. 3:25 Dr. George Bishop has this to say: "We are no longer under
   a schoolmaster' i.e., for discipline, for penalty. It does not mean for
   precept. It does not mean that the Ten Commandments are abolished. It
   simply says, You are not saved by keeping the Commandments, nor are you
   lost if you fail. It is Christ who has saved you, and you cannot be
   lost. Now you will obey from the instinct of the new nature and from
   gratitude, for these are holiness'. On 5:13, 14 he says, By love serve
   one another'. Here the Law is brought in as a service. I am among you',
   Saud Hesysm; as One that serveth'--If ye love Me keep My commandments'.
   The New Testament repeats and enforces all the Ten Commandments. They
   were given to be kept, and kept they shall be. Matt. 5:19: For all the
   Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy
   neighbour as thyself'. The Law is fulfilled: the Law was given to be
   fulfilled, not only for us, but in us, who walk not after the flesh but
   after the Spirit. There is danger here of a mistake on either side--for
   if we do not preach faith alone for salvation, no one is saved; but if
   we preach a faith that does not obey, we preach that which nullifies
   the faith which saves us".

   On Gal. 5:18 Dr. John Eadie has this to say: "The Galatians were
   putting themselves in subjection to Law, and ignoring the free
   government of the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is incompatible with
   being under the Law. So the beginning of Gal. 3. To be under the Law is
   thus to acknowledge its claim and to seek to obey it in hope of
   meriting eternal life". To be led by the Spirit is incompatible with
   being under the Law because the Holy Spirit leads a sinner to trust in
   Christ alone for salvation.

   7. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us,
   which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His
   cross" (Col. 2:14). Here it is assumed that the "handwriting of
   ordinances" refers to the Ten Commandments, and, that "which was
   contrary to us", refers to Christians. Such a distortion is quickly
   discovered once this interpretation is exposed to the light. Observe,
   in the first place, that at the beginning of the previous verse the
   apostle refers to Gentile believers--"And you, being dead in your sins
   and the uncircumcision of your flesh", etc. The "us" of v.14 refers,
   then to Jewish believers. But between the "you" and the "us" is a word
   which supplies the key to what follows, namely, the word "together",
   which here, as in Eph. 2:5, 6, points to the spiritual union of
   believing Gentiles with believing Jews. Believing Jews and gentiles
   were "quickened together". And how could that be? Because they were
   "quickened together with Him". Christ acted vicariously, as the
   Representative of all His people, so that when He died they all died
   (judicially); when He was quickened they all were; when He rose again
   they all rose; not merely one part of them did, but all together. But
   in order for Jew and Gentile to enjoy fellowship, in order for them to
   be brought "together", that which had hitherto separated them must be
   made an end of. And it is this which is in view in Col. 2:14. The
   "handwriting of ordinances was against us", i.e. against the Jews, for
   their Divinely-given Law prohibited them for all religious intercourse
   with the Gentiles. But that which had been against the Jews, was taken
   out of the way, being nailed to the Cross. Nor does this interpretation
   stand unsupported: it is indubitably confirmed by a parallel passage.

   It is well-known among students of the Word that the Epistles of
   Ephesians and Colossians are largely complementary and supplementary;
   and it will frequently be found that the one is absolutely
   indispensable to the interpretation of the other. Now in Eph. 2 there
   is a passage which is strictly parallel with this portion of Col. 2. In
   v. 11 the apostle addresses the Gentile saints, who were of the
   Uncircumcision--note the reference to "uncircumsision" in Col. 2:13.
   Then in v. 12 he reminds them of how in their unconverted state they
   had been "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel", etc. But in v. 13 he
   tells them that they had been "made nigh" by the blood of Christ. The
   result of this is stated in v. 14: "For He is our peace who hath made
   both one" (i.e. both believing Jews and believing Gentiles): the "made
   both one" being parallel with the "quickened together" of Col. 2:13.
   Next the apostle tells how this had been made possible: "And hath
   broken down the middle wall of partition" (that had separated Jew from
   Gentile); which is parallel with "and took it out of the way", etc.
   Then the apostle declares, "having abolished in His flesh the enmity,
   the Law of commandments contained in ordinances", which is parallel
   with "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances"! Thus has God most
   graciously made us entirely independent of all human interpretations of
   Col. 2:13, 14, by interpreting it for us in Eph. 2:11-15. How much we
   lose by failing to compare scripture with scripture.

   8. One other verse we must consider, and that is 1 Tim. 1:9: "Knowing
   this, that the Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless
   and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinner", etc. The key to this
   is supplied in the immediate context. In vv. 3 and 4 the apostle bids
   Timothy to "charge some that they preach no other doctrine, neither
   give heed to fables and endless genealogies", etc. It is clear that he
   has in mind those who had been infected by Judaisers. In v. 5 the
   apostle tells his son in the faith what was the "end", of "the
   commandments"--i.e. the moral Law, as is clear from what precedes and
   what follows. The design or aim of that Law which is "holy and just and
   good" (Rom. 7:12) was to direct and advance love to God and men; but
   this love ("charity") can spring only "out of a pure heart and a good
   conscience, and faith unfeigned".

   Next, in vv. 6 and 7 the apostle taxes the Judaisers and those affected
   by them, as having "swerved" from love and faith, turning aside to
   "vain jangling", and setting themselves up as teachers of the Law,
   understanding neither what they said nor affirmed. Then, in v. 8, the
   apostle guards against His readers drawing a false inference from what
   he had just said in v. 7, and so he declares "But we know that the Law
   is good, if a man use it lawfully"; thus amplifying what he had
   affirmed in v. 5. Lest they should think that because he had reflected
   upon the Judaisers, he had also disparaged the Law itself, he added
   this safeguard in v. 8. To "use" the Law "lawfully", is to use it as
   God intended it to be used: not as a means of salvation, but as a
   standard of conduct; not as the ground of our justification, but as the
   director of our obedience to God. The Law is used un-lawfully, not when
   presented as the rule of the believer's life, but when it is opposed to
   Christ!

   Finally, in vv. 9 and 10 the apostle contrasts the design of the Law as
   it respected believers and unbelievers: "The Law is not made for a
   righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient", etc. That is to
   say, the Law as an instrument of terror and condemnation, was not made
   for the righteous but for the wicked. "The Law, threatening,
   compelling, condemning, is not made for a righteous man, because he is
   pushed forward to duty of his own accord, and is no more led by the
   spirit of bondage and fear of punishment" (Turretin). "By the Law is to
   be understood, the moral Law, as it is armed with stings and terrors,
   to restrain rebellious sinners. By the righteous man, is meant, one in
   whom a principle of Divine grace is planted, and who, for the knowledge
   and love of God, chooses the things that are pleasing to Him. As the
   Law has annexed so many severe threatenings to the transgression of it,
   it is evidently directed to the wicked, who will only be compelled by
   fear from the outrageous breaking of it" (Poole's Annotations).

   We have now examined every passage of any importance in the New
   Testament which is used by modern Antinomians. And not one of them has
   a word to say against believers in this dispensation using the Law as
   the standard of their moral conduct. In our next article, we shall
   treat of the positive side of the subject, and show that the children
   of God are obligated to obey the Ten Commandments, not as a condition
   of salvation, but as the director of their obedience to God.

   In this article we have departed from our usual custom, in that we have
   quoted from quite a number of the commentators of the past. This has
   been done, not because we desired to buttress our expositions by an
   appeal to human authorities--though the interpretations of godly men of
   the past are not to be scorned and regarded as obsolete, rather should
   they receive the careful examination which they merit, for it was under
   such teaching was produced Christian conduct that puts to unutterable
   shame the laxity of the present-day Christian walk. No, we have
   appealed to the writings of Christian exegetes of the past that it
   might be seen we have not given a forced and novel interpretation of
   those passages which stood in the way of what we deem to be the truth
   on the subject of the relation of the Law to Christians; but instead,
   an interpretation which, though the result of personal study, is in
   full accord with that given by many, who for piety, scholarship,
   spiritual discernment, and knowledge of the Scriptures, few living
   today are worthy to be compared.
   [5] This theme is developed by showing the superiority of Christ--the
   Center and Life of Christianity--over angels. Adam, Moses, Hoshua,
   Aaron, and the whole Levitical economy.

Related articles

Articole in Limba Romana

R.C. Sproul (3) Holiness and Justice

Watch Part 1 – RC Sproul- The Holiness of God

Watch Part 2 – The Holiness of Christ

From the 2007 Desiring God Conference. For notes or audio file click here – http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/the-holiness

Text – Leviticus 10:1-7

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

10 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,

‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’”

So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp.” So they came forward and carried them still in their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had said. Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “ Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the Lord has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.

My notes from the introduction:

  • Charles Allen once remarked: God had only one Son and He made Him a preacher. After I had taught seminary for a while, I spent 2 years on the staff of a church and went back into education, the Ligonier Study Center and back to the seminary classroom and one night a student came to me with stars in his eyes and he said, „What was it like for you when you were just a preacher?  And I was apoplectic. I said, „What do you mean just a preacher? I said, „Don’t you understand that there is no higher calling on this planet than the pulpit ministry? And I said, „I’m not a preacher because I don’t think I have what it takes to be the shepherd of a flock. The demands are excruciating, the appreciation minimal and there’s nothing that I desire more in the latter years of my life than to try and be an encouragement to pastors, to ministers. Ten years ago, I answered the call to become the minister of preaching and teaching at St. Andrews Chapel in Florida. And I have to tell you, in all the different things that I’ve been involved in my lifetime, this has been the most fun and the greatest joy and delight. There is nothing like the opportunity of having to speak to the same people week in and week out, to preach through whole books of the Bible and to not worry about trying to impress anybody when we’re meeting again on the Lord’s day and we’re coming to the Book, to hear, not my opinions, not my agenda, not the latest pop psychology or current events, BUT TO HEAR A WORD FROM GOD.
  • Before the apostle Paul died and he wrote his final letter to his number 1 student and protege, Timothy; when he got to the end of that letter, explained to Timothy that he was about to be poured out  and he gave his last instructions- he didn’t write to Timothy: Hey Timothy, preach! He said, „TIMOTHY, PREACH THE WORD.” „Preach the Word in season and out of season. That’s what our vocation is. And, we are only as faithful as we are to that task.  (min 4:21)

Notes from DesiringGod.org:

There are a series of passages categorized as „The Hard Sayings”–those sayings that make us say, „How can God do something like this?”

In this passage, sons of Aaron indulged in a little experimentation. They came to the altar and offered unauthorized fire. God’s response was immediate, dramatic, and severe. He executed them on the spot. How do we respond to a story like this?

In the denomination I was ordained in, the P.C.U.S.S.R…er…I mean the P.C.U.S.A., they used curriculum that warned high schoolers not to take the OT literally. They used this text to show that if the stories were literal, then God must have a dark and evil side. It taught that, since we know this is not how God is, these stories must be explicable by natural events, and God didn’t do it.

It is shocking how understated the Bible is sometimes. Two of Aaron’s fall dead and no emotional reaction is recorded. You can imagine Aaron’s response–„I’ve been faithful and is this the thanks I get?” But what is significant is Moses’s reply–„Don’t you remember the commandment: „By all who come near me I will be regarded as holy. I will tolerate nothing less.”

Lots has changed since Moses and Aaron’s conversation, but not the character of God. He has never, and will never, negotiate his holiness.

Another understatement: „And Aaron held his peace.” You better believe it. What else could he do? Was he going to fight with God? Tell him he was overreacting? Ask for some latitude? Is he going to call god silly or inane? Can’t we just play a little? No–Aaron shut his mouth.

Moses has the corpses of Nadab and Abihu carried out of the camp from the tabernacle in the center of the camp. God did not just want these guys killed; he wanted them all the way away, outside the borders, in outer darkness. For heaven’s sake don’t let them lie there in the sanctuary!

Moses told Aaron to not mourn for these men. They are not worthy of being mourned.

It was the Lord who killed Nadab and Abihu. He brought down the fire. It was not a terrestrial accident but the judgment of a holy God.

Consider now the story of Uzzah. The ark of the covenant was being carried in a cart. This was not the way it was designed to be carried. It should have been on the shoulders of priests. When one of the oxen stumbled the ark looked like it was going to fall. Uzzah keeps it from tipping in the mud. God’s reaction was not, „Thank you, Uzzah!” No, God killed Uzzah instantly. Uzzah believed that mud would desecrate the ark, but mud is just dirt and water obeying God. Mud is not evil. God’s law was not meant to keep the ark pure from the earth, but from the dirty touch of a human hand. Uzzah presumed his hands were cleaner than the dirt. God said no.

Now in the New Testament. Ananias and Sapphira lie to the Holy Spirit and die without a second chance.

Sometimes it seems like God boils over in temper tantrums that are inexcusable. From our perspective, we can think the God of the Old Testament was brutal–some kind of a demiurge. Just look what warranted the death sentence in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, God seems to have become more easy-going.

Our view is so distorted. Let’s go back to creation where the list of capital offenses was unending. Any sin was death–„The day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” The slightest sin–the tiniest infraction–the smallest peccadillo–is an act of cosmic treason. Any infraction says to God that we believe that our will trumps his and that we can do whatever we want.

We are so accustomed to grace. Like the Israelites, we need God, ask for grace, receive it, forget it, and go back to sinning–despising God’s holiness without fear of his judgment.

Now to Luke 13. Two disasters: Pilate kills worshipers and mixes the blood with the sacrifices, and the tower of Saloam falls killing 18 innocent bystanders. Question for Jesus: „What’s up with this? Where was God?” But on 9/11, God was in the same place he was in 9/10–sovereign on his throne.

Jesus did not say that these two events happened while God was asleep. Jesus did not say that God was diverted by counting the hairs on someone else’s head.

Jesus gave the same answer regarding each disaster: „You’re asking me the wrong question. If you really wanted to know about the providence of God, you would ask the real question–why didn’t the temple fall on my head? Why wasn’t it my blood.”

We are shocked by justice and presume upon grace.

I’ve been asked every conceivable theological question except, „Why did God save me?” We all harbor the idea that we deserve it. We think that heaven just wouldn’t be heaven without us. This is the greatest lie in the history of the world.

We are no longer amazed by grace and we are shocked–in total consternation–by justice.

The essence of grace is that God is not required to give it to us. If you ever feel like God owes it to you, let a light go off in your mind that reminds you that you have just mixed up grace and justice.

The hand of God holds us over the pit of hell. And you can’t give any reason for God to not drop you into that pit. That was Jesus’ message when he said that unless you repent it will be your blood mingled with the sacrifice.

If on the day of judgment I look at Jesus and he says to me, „I don’t know who you are. Please leave.”–if that happens to me–I’ll be surprised, but I also know this: I would have no ground for complaining about it. He is holy and I am not.

Our only relationship with God is by grace.

By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Moses and Jesus – A Contrast

this is a small excerpt of commentary from www.bible.org  on the passage from Hebrews 3:1-6:

Moses and Jesus Contrasted
Hebrews 3:3-6

3 For he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself! 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’shouseas a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken. 6 But Christ is faithful as a sonover God’s house (Hebrews 3:5-6a, emphasis mine).

Just as Jesus is “higher than the angels” (1:1—2:18), He is also greater than Moses (3:1-6). Our Lord was faithful “to the one who appointed him” (3:2). Moses was faithful “in God’s house” (3:5), and thus he is viewed as being a part of the house in verses 3 and 4. What is this “house”? The “house” is My house(3:5), that is, God’s house. This is a term that is often used in reference to the nation Israel,  and then also to the temple. No doubt here “house” means that Moses was faithful in (or among) the people of God, the Israelites. I say among because the author’s point here is that Moses is a part of the house; the Son, however, is greater than the house. He is the builder of the house. The Creator is always greater than the creation.

Let’s not miss the subtlety of the author here. In verse 1, the reader is exhorted to “take note of Jesus.”In verse 2, Jesus and Moses are compared. In verses 3-6a, Jesus and Moses are contrasted, showing Jesus to be greater than Moses. But in verses 3 and 4, if Jesus is being shown to be Moses, then He is greater because He is the “builder of the house,” but the “builder of the house” is said here to be “God.”Let us not miss the fact that our author is saying that Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is God. He is proclaiming the deity of the Lord Jesus.

Two more elements of contrast are introduced in verses 5 and 6. First, we see that Moses was faithful “as a servant,”while “Christ” was faithful “as a son.” Second, this contrast between “servant” and “son” is underscored by the fact that Moses was a servant “in”all God’s house (verse 5), while Christ is the Son“over”God’s house. I love the story Bible teacher Ray Stedman told about visiting a ranch in Montana. At first, Ray knew only the son of one of the ranch hands. When he visited, they were restricted from the main house, and they rode the old “nags” when they went horseback riding. Then, Ray says, he became friends with the owner’s son. Now it was a whole new experience. They had free run of the ranch and could go wherever they pleased. When they rode horses, they rode the best horses. That’s the difference between a servant and a son.

There is one more observation that I would point out to you. The author began by referring to “Jesus,” then to Him as “God” (verse 4). In verse 6, He is the “Son” and “Christ.” Jesus is the Son, God, and the Christ, that is, the Messiah. Some Jews tended to understand these (and other) titles as referring to different persons. Such is not the case with the author of Hebrews.

How Iffy is Our Faith?
Hebrews 3:6b

We are of his house, if in fact we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope we take pride in (3:6b, emphasis mine).

So the author has shown us that the Lord Jesus Christ is vastly superior to Moses, as great a man as he was. Moses was part of God’s “house,” and he was faithful. And now we are told that we, likewise, are of God’s house, “if we hold firmly to our confidence. . . .” How do we deal with this “if”? Our answer has several parts:

1. “If” statements are not restricted to the Book of Hebrews.The fact is that we find similar statements in many places in the New Testament:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him (Romans 8:9, emphasis mine).

And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17, emphasis mine).

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22, emphasis mine).

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless, indeed, you fail the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5, emphasis mine)

22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant (Colossians 1:22-23, emphasis mine).

1 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, 3 if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness (1 Peter 2:1-3, emphasis mine).

3 Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3, emphasis mine).

Our problem, then, is not unique to Hebrews. If we don’t deal with it here, we will face it elsewhere.

2. The author assumes the best about his readers. That is to say, the author assumes that his readers are fellow believers in Jesus Christ. We saw this by his statements in the first verse of chapter 3. His readers are holy brothers, partners in the heavenly calling, and those who confess Jesus as apostle and high priest. The author’s statements in the rest of the book only confirm the conclusion that he assumes most of his readers are saved.

3. The author does not look at the world through rose-colored glasses.He does assume that most of his readers are believers in Jesus Christ. He does not believe them to be infallible. He understands that the danger of “drifting” is very real and that drawing near is not the path of least resistance. Thus, failure is dealt with as a real possibility.

4. This epistle is written to a church. It may not be a large church, but virtually all the commentators agree that it is written to a church (even if we are not certain where it may be). Whenever a church is addressed, the assumption is made that most of the recipients have a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. But it also means that it is very possible that one or more members of the church addressed may not be saved. Thus the qualifications and the “ifs” that we find in the epistles.

5. The “if texts” are not intended to teach or imply that salvation is by works.The author is simply telling us that those who are truly saved are those who will also persevere to the end. Their faith and trust in Jesus will not fail under pressure. We are encouraged to draw near because we are saved, not to work harder in order to be saved. It is Christ who saves us,  it is Christ through His Spirit who sanctifies us,  and it is Christ who keeps us.  This is precisely why we need to draw near (and stay near) to Him.

6. The “if statements” assume human weaknesses. Only God knows the hearts of men. We know that there will be some who assume that they have gained entrance into heaven who will not be admitted:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus must have been a great shock to the Pharisees who heard it. They assumed the rich man would make it to heaven and that the poor man would join others like him in hell. Just the reverse occurred. Our consolation is that God knows His own:

19 However, God’s solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil” (2 Timothy 2:19).

We do not know with absolute certainty those who are saved and those who are not. Some folks make their relationship with Jesus pretty plain, both by their profession and by their practice. But others leave us scratching our heads. My point here is to say that because we cannot know the hearts of men, we dare not assume all to be saved, even those who are fairly regular attendees at church. Thus, we must always leave room for the possibility that some who hear us may be unsaved and outside the faith. And because of this, it is only proper to include an “if” here and there, to address such folks. That is why I attempt, in nearly every sermon, to give the gospel to my audience. I assume that someone listening to or reading my sermon may be lost and in need of salvation. That is what our author is doing with his “ifs.”

7. The purpose of this epistle is not to create doubt, but to turn our attention to Jesus. Let’s not lose sight of what the Book of Hebrews is all about. It is an epistle that is addressed to a church, made up mainly of true believers. Over time, these believers, like us, can grow cold in their walk with the Lord, cold in their love for Christ and for men, much like the saints in Laodicea:

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 ‘I know your deeds, thatyou are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! 17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! 19 All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! 20 Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me. 21 I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Revelation 3:14-22, emphasis mine).

As our Lord invites the lukewarm Laodiceans to repent and return to intimate fellowship with Him (as symbolized by eating a meal with Him), so the writer to the Book of Hebrews warns his readers of the dangers of drifting, and exhorts them to draw near to Jesus.

The Hebrews were not to look back to Judaism, nor to the Old Covenant, nor even to great men like Moses. They were to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2). The last thing our author wants is for us to look to ourselves; his goal is to get us to look to Jesus. The “if passages” are intended to call our attention to our spiritual condition. And, whether good or bad, the exhortation is the same.

Are you lost in sin, under divine condemnation, and headed for an eternity in hell? Look to Jesus! He is the only solution. He is not only God; He also took on humanity, so that He could die in the sinner’s place, bearing his (or her) punishment. He rose from the dead and is ascended to the right hand of the Father, and in so doing, He restores all who are in Him, by faith, to the glory and dignity that was once ours, before the fall.

Are you drifting from God, negligent about studying His Word, spasmodic about your church attendance and fellowship with the saints, apathetic about the peril of those who are without Jesus? Look to Jesus! He is the One who saves, sanctifies, and keeps. It is abiding in Him that we need.

Are you troubled, in need, fearful, discouraged? Look to Jesus!

Our author does not want us to look to mere men, even those as great as Moses. And he certainly doesn’t want us looking to ourselves, as though we are able to keep our souls. We are to look to Jesus.

The Lord will protect you from all evil;

He will keep your soul (Psalm 121:7, NASB95).

Moses—A Type of Christ

Gleanings In Exodus by A. W. Pink  72 (via Providence Baptist)

„The life of Moses presents a series of striking antitheses. He was the child of a slave, and the son of a king. He was born in a hut, and lived in a palace. He inherited poverty, and enjoyed unlimited wealth. He was the leader of armies, and the keeper of flocks. He was the mightiest of warriors, and the meekest of men. He was educated in the court, and dwelt in the desert. He had the wisdom of Egypt, and the faith of a child. He was fitted for the city, and wandered in the wilderness. He was tempted with the pleasures of sin, and endured the hardships of virtue. He was backward in speech, and talked with God. He had the rod of a shepherd, and the power of the Infinite. He was a fugitive from Pharaoh, and an ambassador from Heaven. He was the giver of the Law, and the forerunner of Grace. He died alone on mount Moab, and appeared with Christ in Judea. No man assisted at his funeral, yet God buried him. The fire has gone out of mount Sinai, but the lightning is still in his Law. His lips are silent, but his voice yet speaks” (Dr. I. M. Haldeman).

But the most striking thing of all in connection with this most remarkable man, is the wonderful way and the many respects in which he was a type of the Lord Jesus In the Introductory article of this series (Jan. 1924) we stated: „In many respects there is a remarkable correspondency between Moses and Christ, and if the Lord permits us to complete this series of articles, we shall, at the close, summarize those correspondencies, and show them to be as numerous and striking as those which engaged our attention when Joseph was before us”—see the last seven chapters in Vol. 2 of our work „Gleanings in Genesis”. We shall now seek to fulfill that promise.

Ere we attempt to set forth some (for we do not profess to exhaust the subject) of these correspondencies, let us first appeal to the Word itself in proof that Moses was a type of Christ. In Deuteronomy 18:15 we find Moses saying, „The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken”. Thus it wilt be seen from these words that we are not trafficking in human imagination when we contemplate Moses as a type of Christ. Such is the plain teaching of Holy Writ.

As we desire to bring to a close these „Gleanings in Exodus” in the current issue, and therefore can devote but one article to our present theme, and as the points to be considered are so numerous, we cannot take up each one separately and comment upon it at length. Rather shall we, with a few exceptions, simply give the references, and ask the reader to look them up for himself.

1. His nationality. Moses was an Israelite (Ex. 2:1, 2). So, according to the flesh, was Christ.

2. His Birth. This occurred when his nation was under the dominion of a hostile power, when they were groaning under the rule of a Gentile king (Ex. 1). So the Jews were in bondage to the Romans when Christ was born (Matthew 2:1 cf. Luke 24: 21).

3. His Person. „In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair to God” (Acts 7:20). How blessedly did he, in this, foreshadow the Beloved of the Father! His estimate of the „fairness” of that Child which lay in Bethlehem’s manger, was evidenced by the sending of the angels to say unto the shepherds, „Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

4. His Infancy. In infancy his life was endangered, imperiled by the reigning king, for Pharaoh had given orders that, „Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river” (Ex. 1:22). How this reminds us of Matthew 2:16: „Then Herod . . . sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof”!

5. His Adoption. Though, previously, he was the child of another, he yet was made the son of Pharaoh’s daughter: „And became her son” (Ex. 2:10). Thus he had a mother, but no father! What anointed eye can fail to see prefigured here the mystery of the Virgin-birth! Christ was the Son of Another, even the Son of God. But, born into this world, He had a mother, but no human father. Yet was He, as it were, adopted by Joseph: see Matthew 1:19-21.

6. His Childhood. This was spent in Egypt. So also was Christ’s: „Behold the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, „Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word” (Matthew 2:13). Thus was fulfilled God’s ancient oracle, „And called My Son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1).

7. His Sympathy for Israel. He was filled with a deep compassion for his suffering kinsmen according to the flesh, and he yearned for their deliverance. Beautifully does this come out in Acts 7:23, 24, „And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren of the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him.” So too Christ was filled with pity toward His enslaved people, and love brought Him here to deliver them.

8. His early knowledge of his Mission. Long years before he actually entered upon his great work, Moses discerned, „how that God by his hand would deliver them” (Acts 7:25). So as a Boy of twelve, Christ said to His perplexed mother, „Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

9. His condescending Grace. Though legally the „son of Pharaoh’s daughter”, yet he regarded the Hebrew slaves as his brethren: „And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren” (Ex. 2:11). So it is with Christ: „He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11).

10. His great Renunciation. „By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11:24-26). What a foreshadowing was this of Him „Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6, 7)! Like Moses, Christ too voluntarily relinquished riches, glory, and a kingly palace.

11. His Rejection by his brethren. „And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?” (Acts 7:26, 27). This is very sad; sadder still is it to read of Christ, „He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). This same line in the typical picture was before us when we considered Joseph. But mark this difference: In the case of Joseph, it was his brethren’s enmity against his person (Gen. 37:4); here with Moses, it was his brethren’s enmity against his mission. Joseph was personally hated; Moses officially refused—”who made thee a ruler and a judge over us”? So it was with Christ. Israel said, „We will not have this Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).

12. His Sojourning among the Gentiles. „But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian” (Ex. 2:15). Following Christ’s rejection by the Jews, we read, „God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).

13. His Seat on the well. Away from his own land, we read of Moses, „And he sat down by a well” (Ex. 2:15). So the only time we read of the Lord Jesus seated by the well, was when He was outside Israel’s borders, in Samaria (John 4:4, 6).

14. His Shepherdhood. „Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” (Ex. 3:1). This is the character which Christ sustains to His elect among the Gentiles: „And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16).

15. His Season of Seclusion. Before he entered upon his real mission, Moses spent many years in obscurity. Who had supposed that this one, there „at the backside of the desert”, was destined to such an honorable future? So it was with the incarnate Son of God. Before He began His public ministry, He was hidden away in despised Nazareth. Who that saw Him there in the carpenter’s shop, dreamed that He was ordained of God to the work of redemption!

16. His Commission from God. He was called of God to emancipate His people from the house of bondage: „Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:10). So Christ was sent forth into this world to „seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

17. His Apostleship. Thus he was God’s apostle unto Israel, for „apostle” signifies one „sent forth”: „Now therefore go” (Ex. 4:12). So Christ was the Sent One of God (John 9:4 etc); yea, in Hebrews 3:1 He is designated „the Apostle”.

18. His Credentials. His commission from God was confirmed by power to work miracles. So also Christ’s mission was authenticated by wondrous signs (Matthew 11:4, 5). It should be noted that Moses is the first one mentioned in the O. T. that performed miracles; so is Christ in the N. T.—John the Baptist performed none (John 10:41).

19. His first Miracles. Moses wrought many wonders, but it is most striking to observe that his first two miraculous signs were power over the serpent, and power over leprosy (Ex. 4:6-9). So after Christ began His public ministry, we read first of His power over Satan (Matthew 4:10, 11), and then His power over leprosy (Matthew 8:3).

20. His Return to his own land. In Exodus 4:19 we read, „And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life”. The antitype of this is found in Matthew 2:19, „An angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life”!

21. His Acceptance by his brethren. This is recorded in Exodus 4:29-31. How different was this from his first appearing before and rejection by the Hebrews (Ex. 2)! How beautifully it prefigured Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah at His second appearing!

22. His powerful Rod. Moses now wielded a rod of mighty power: see Exodus 9:23; 10:13; 14:16. So also it is written of Christ, „Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9).

23. His Announcing solemn Judgments. Again and again he warned Pharaoh and his people of the sore punishment of God if they continued to defy him. So also Christ declared, „Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

24. His deliverance of Israel. Moses perfectly fulfilled his God-given commission and led Israel out of the house of bondage: „The same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer” (Acts 7:35). So Christ affirmed, „If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

25. His Headship. Remarkably is this brought out in 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2, „All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Morea”. So obedient Christians are „baptized unto Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:3).

26. His Leadership of Israel’s Praise. „Then sang Moses and the children of Israel” (Ex. 15:1) Of Christ too it is written, „In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee” (Ps. 22:22).

27. His Authority challenged. This is recorded in Numbers 16:3; the antitype in Matthew 21:23.

28. His person Envied. See Psalm 106:16, and compare Mark 15:10.

29. His person opposed. Though Israel were so deeply indebted to Moses, yet again and again we find them „murmuring” against him: Exodus 15:24, 16:2, etc. For the N. T. parallel see Luke 15:2, John 6:41.

30. His life Threatened. So fiercely did the ungrateful Hebrews oppose Moses that, on one occasion, they were ready to „stone” him (Ex. 17:4). How this brings to mind what we read of in John 8:59, 10:31!

31. His Sorrows. Moses felt keenly the base ingratitude of the people. Mark his plaintive plea as recorded in Numbers 11:11, 14. So too the Lord Jesus suffered from the reproaches of the people: He was „the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”.

32. His unwearied Love. Though misunderstood, envied, and opposed, nothing could alienate the affections of Moses from his people. „Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (Song 8:7). Beautifully is this seen in Exodus 32. After Israel repudiated Jehovah and had worshipped the golden calf, after the Lord has disowned them as His people (Ex. 32:7), Moses supplicates God on their behalf, saying „Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written” (vv. 31:32). How this reminds us of Him who „having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1)!

33. His Forgiving spirit. „And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses… Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us”? (Num. 12:1, 2). But he answered not a word. How this pointed to Him who, ‘when He was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Pet. 2:23). When Miriam was stricken with leprosy because of her revolt against her brother, we are told, „Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee” (Num. 12:13).

34. His Prayerfulness. An example of this has just been before us, but many other instances are recorded. Moses was, pre-eminently, a man of prayer. At every crisis he sought unto the Lord: see Exodus 5:22, 8:12, 9:33, 14:15, 15:25, 17:4, etc. Note how often in Luke’s Gospel Christ is also presented as a Man of prayer.

35. His Meekness. „Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3) cf. Matthew 11:29.

36. His Faithfulness. „Moses verily was faithful in all his house” (Heb. 3:5). So Christ is „The faithful and true Witness” (Rev. 3:14).

37. His providing Israel with water. See Numbers 20:11 and compare John 4:14, 7:37.

38. His Prophetic office. Deuteronomy 18:18 and compare John 7:16, 8:28.

39. His Priestly activities. „Moses and Aaron among His priests” (Ps. 99:6). Illustrations are found in Leviticus 8: „And Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar… and he took all the fat… and burned it upon the altar” (vv. 15, 16 and see 19:23). So Christ, as Priest, „offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).

40. His Kingly rule. „Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. And he was king in Jeshurun” (Deut. 33:4, 5). So Christ is King in Zion, and will yet be over the Jews (Luke 1:32, 33).

41. His Judgeship. „Moses sat to judge the people: and they stood by Moses from the morning until the evening” (Ex. 18:13). Compare 2 Corinthians 5:10.

42. His Leadership. Moses was the head and director of God’s people, as He said to him, „Lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken” (Ex. 32:34). So Christ is called, „The Captain of their salvation” (Heb. 2:10).

43. His Mediation. What a remarkable word was that of Moses to Israel, „I stood between the Lord and you” (Deut. 5:5): „There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

44. His Election. In Psalm 106:23 he is called, „Moses His chosen”. So God says of Christ, „Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect” (Isa. 42:1).

45. His Covenant-engagement. „And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel” (Ex. 34:27): so Christ is denominated, „The Mediator of a better covenant” (Heb. 8:6).

46. His sending forth of the Twelve. „These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land” (Num. 13:16 see previous verses). So Christ sent forth twelve apostles (Matthew 10:5).

47. His Appointing of the Seventy. „And Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people” (Num. 11:24). So Christ selected seventy (Luke 10:1).

48. His Wisdom. „Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Compare Colossians 2:3.

49. His Might. „And was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). Behold the antitype of this in Matthew 113:34: „They were astonished, and said, Whence hath this Man this wisdom, and these mighty works”?

50. His Intercession. „And Moses brought their cause before the Lord” (Num. 27:5). Compare Hebrews 7:25.

Moses with Elijah and Jesus at Transfiguration-Matthew 17:3-4; Mark 9:4-5; Luke 9:30,33.

51. His Intimate Communion with God. „And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Ex. 34:10). So, on earth, Christ was „The only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). It is striking to behold in Exodus 31 to 34 how Moses passed and re-passed between Jehovah in the mount and the camp of the congregation: expressive of his equal access to heaven and earth—compare John 3:13.

52. His Knowledge of God. See Psalm 103:7 and cf. John 5:20.

53. His holy Anger. See Exodus 32:19 and cf. Mark 3:5, etc.

54. His Message. He was the mouthpiece of God: „And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord” (Ex. 24:3). Compare Hebrews 1:2.

55. His Commandments. See Deuteronomy 4:2 and cf. Matthew 28:20.

56. His Written Revelation. See Exodus 31:13 and cf. Revelation 1:1.

57. His Fasting. See Exodus 34:28 and cf. Matthew 4:2.

58. His Transfiguration on the mount. See Exodus 34:29, 35 and cf. Matthew 17:2.

59. His Place Outside the Camp. See Exodus 33:7 and cf. Hebrews 13:13.

60. His Arraigning of the responsible head. See Exodus 32:21 and cf. Revelation 2:12, 13.

61. His Praying for Israel’s Forgiveness. See Numbers 14:19 and cf. Luke 23:34.

62. His Washing his Brethren with Water. „And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water” (Lev. 8:6). Who can fail to see in that a foreshadowing of what is recorded in John 13:5: „After that He poureth water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet”!

63. His Prophecies. See Deuteronomy 28 and 33 and cf. Matthew 24 and Luke 21.

64. His Rewarding God’s servants. See Numbers 7:6, 32:33, 40 and cf. Revelation 22:12.

65. His perfect Obedience. „Thus did Moses according to all that the Lord commanded, so did he” (Ex. 40:16). What a lovely foreshadowing was this of Him who could say, „I have kept My Father’s commandments” (John 16:10)!

66. His erecting the Tabernacle. See Exodus 40:2, and cf. Zechariah 6:12.

67. His Completing of his Work. „So Moses finished the work” (Ex. 40:33). What a blessed prefiguration was this of Him who declared, „I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4).

68. His Blessing of the People. „And Moses blessed them” (Ex. 39:43). So too we read in Luke 24:50, „And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them”.

69. His Anointing of God’s House. „And Moses took the anointing oil (the O. T. emblem of the Holy Spirit), and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein” (Lev. 8:10). Carefully compare Acts 2:1-3, 33.

70. His Unabated Strength. „His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deut. 34:7): compare Matthew 27:50, and note the „loud voice”.

71. His Death was for the benefit of God’s people. „It went ill with Moses for their sakes” (Ps. 106:32); „But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes” (Deut. 3:26). What marvelous foreshadowings of the Cross were these!

72. His Appointing of another Comforter. Moses did not leave his people comfortless, but gave them a successor: see Deuteronomy 31:23 and cf. John 14:16, 18.

73. His giving an Inheritance. „The land which Moses gave you on this side of Jordan” (Josh. 1:14): in Christ believers „have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:11).

74. His Death necessary before Israel could enter Canaan. „Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to thee” (Josh. 1:2). „Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

75. His Second Appearing. Moses was one of the two Old Testament characters which returned to this earth in New Testament times (Matthew 17:3)—type of Christ’s second coming to the earth. Our space is already exhausted so we shall leave it with our readers to search the Scriptures for at least twenty-five other points in which Moses foreshadowed our Lord. The subject is well-nigh exhaustless. And a most blessed subject it is, demonstrating anew the Divine authorship of the Bible. May the Lord bless to many this very imperfect attempt to show that „in the volume of the Book” it is written of Christ. (HT) via Providence Baptist Ministry.



Phil Johnson at Shepherd’s Conference 2012 – The Lessons of Grace

Titus 2:11-15

A few highlights from Phil Johnson’s message with extensive notes below the video:

  • But, just as emphatically, I despise the common evangelical tendency to write off as legalistic every call for obedience and every summons to holiness as if grace were a sanction for disobedience and immorality and as if the Gospel gave us license to continue in sin that grace might increase. May it never be, Paul said. How shall we, who are dead to sin, still live in it?
  • …it is a serious blunder, also condemned in the strongest possible terms by the apostle Paul, to imagine that the Gospel disagrees with the moral standards that are set by the law. To think that justification by faith eliminates the need for obedience or to think that the perfect freedom of God’s grace gives license for unholy living. All of those things are errors as profound as legalism. Good works and obedience to God’s commands and encouragements and admonitions to be holy; those things are necessary aspects of the christian life. Not necessary in the way the legalists suggest, to earn favor with God. In fact, our works are worthless, totally impotent for that purpose.
  • But, obedience is the natural and inevitable and essential expression of love for Christ and gratitude for His grace and this is the chief, practical lesson we learn from the principle of grace. Grace compels us to love and good works. Grace constrains us to renounce sin and to pursue righteousness.
  • …the Gospel is more excellent than the law, but the two do not disagree when it comes to the moral standard. Believing the Gospel sets us free from the law’s condemnation, but it does not release us from the moral standard set by the law.
  • But if we properly understand the principles of sola fide, it should make us zealous for good works, earnest in the pursuit of holiness, eager to obey the Lord’s commands. We don’t need to be the least bit hesitant to provoke one another to love and good works. If you are hesitant like that, especially in your preaching… shame on you.
  • Paul’s point is that the vital, practical duties of holiness and obedience are in perfect accord with sound doctrine. And calls to obedience and exhortations to virtue are not inconsistent with the doctrines of grace, much less are they opposed to grace.
  • The distinction between law and grace has nothing to do with the commandments or the moral content of the law. What grace eliminates and overturns are the law’s curses. As far as the moral imperatives of the law are concerned, grace is in full agreement.

Uploaded by by Grace Community Church  at  VIMEO and with thanks to G.Bogdan for alerting us to this message.

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

Phil Johnson at Shepherd’s Conference 2012, posted with vodpod

Notes from Phil Johnson’s message:

Just 3 years ago I spoke from verses 7 and 8 of Titus 2; that’s where Paul tells Titus:

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

That message was titled Sound Words, Sound Doctrine”. It was a plea for purity in doctrine and dignity and soundness in our speech, both words and conduct that are beyond reproach.  That was the example Paul was urging Titus to model for the young men in his flock. In Paul’s time, as now, adolescent males were especially prone to bad language and unhealthy companionships and raunchy jokes and undignified conversation about  indecent subject matter and things like that in a similar vein and those things were undermining the church’s testimony in Crete and it seems that the chief culprits were immature young men. Cretan bad boys. Vulgar talk was then, as it is now, the common tendency of adolescent boys. And not just lewd language but also salacious subject matter and boorish behavior and those are today even, in our culture the main features of typical male adolescent misbehavior.

Unless you’ve been sleepwalking through the past decade, you know that those very same characteristics have become common badges of identity among certain celebrity mega church pastors and their acolytes. My point 3 years ago was that the drift of the evangelical movement is the exact antithesis of what Paul is calling for in this chapter. Worst of all, the problem begins too often in the pulpit.

There has been no end in the media, about evangelical preachers who purposefully use profane language, their sermon series relentlessly exploit risqué, sexually oriented subject matter. They do advertising that is deliberately designed to be suggestive. It is a nationwide problem. Literally, hundreds of churches have been sending out tasteless publicity for sermon series after sermon series on sex.  Honestly, I think it has gotten worst in the last 3 years.

In the current climate of evangelicalism you can’t even whisper a word of disapproval about that without someone, somewhere labeling you as a legalist. If you dare to suggest that Christians should not be trying so hard to please this world’s elite, but instead we ought to cultivate sobriety and godliness and righteousness, a chorus of angry voices will rise up to explain to you that all of this is necessary. It’s what contextualization demands. And it’s the only alternative to the world’s obsession with sex and perversion and so christians need to talk about such things almost non stop in Jesus’ name.

Legalism has become the all purpose evangelical retort to any mention of hones and obedience or good works. And it’s a potent „scare” word and legitimately so. I don’t want to be a legalist. I hate legalism. Legalism as defined in Galatians 5:1 is the error of abandoning our liberty in Christ in order to take on a yoke of legal bondage. To the legalist, good works are necessary to earn God’s favor. And I have no sympathy for those who believe that a person with the weakest conscience or the Bible College with the strictest rules should get to define holiness for everyone. I’m quite happy to let scriptures set the parameters of sanctification. And where scripture is silent, I think we should be too.

The principles of Romans 14 are sufficient to cover questions the scripture doesn’t answer either expressly or by giving us clear principles that may be deduced by good and necessary consequence. Where scripture speaks, in either way, explicitly or implicitly, we need to obey scripture. But, beyond that, we should just shut up. I explore every hint of legalism and I want to make that clear.

But, just as emphatically, I despise the common evangelical tendency to write off as legalistic every call for obedience and every summons to holiness as if grace were a sanction for disobedience and immorality and as if the Gospel gave us license to continue in sin that grace might increase. May it never be, Paul said. How shall we, who are dead to sin, still live in it?

The line of demarcation between Gospel and law is absolutely vital and you will never hear me say otherwise. One of the great advances of the Protestant Reformation came in the way Martin Luther stressed the distinction between law and Gospel. Law is not Gospel and vice versa. And I appreciate those who labor to differentiate between the two. There is hardly any more theological distinction and let me say once more with emphasis: To confound law and Gospel is no small error. It’s an easy error to make and let’s be candid. There seems to be something in the fallen human heart that makes us prone to that kind of error. It’s the error that lies at the heart of every kind of legalism and I think it’s a tendency of every fallen human heart to default towards legalism and it’s right that we should resist that tendency. Galatians 5 urges us to resist that tendency. There is no more deadly blunder in all of theology than to confound law and Gospel.

Some of the strongest words of condemnation anywhere in the New Testament were aimed at those who supplanted Gospel promises with legal demands (Galatians 1:6-9). So are we clear on this? I hate legalism with a holy passion. However, it is a serious blunder also condemned in the strongest possible terms by the apostle Paul, to imagine that the Gospel disagrees with the moral standards that are set by the law. To think that justification by faith eliminates the need for obedience or to think that the perfect freedom of God’s grace gives license for unholy living. All of those things are errors as profound as legalism.

Good works and obedience to God’s commands and encouragements and admonitions to be holy; those things are necessary aspects of the christian life. Not necessary in the way the legalists suggest, to earn favor with God. In fact, our works are worthless, totally impotent for that purpose. But, obedience is the natural and inevitable and essential expression of love for Christ and gratitude for His grace and this is the chief, practical lesson we learn from the principle of grace. Grace compels us to love and good works. Grace constrains us to renounce sin and to pursue righteousness.

Listen, the Gospel is more excellent than the law, but the two do not disagree when it comes to the moral standard. Believing the Gospel sets us free from the law’s condemnation, but it does not release us from the moral standard set by the law.Or, to say it another way, the principle of sola fide, justification by faith alone, that principle is not hostile to good works. The Gospel puts good works in their proper place . But if we properly understand the principles of sola fide, it should make us zealous for good works, earnest in the pursuit of holiness, eager to obey the Lord’s commands. We don’t need to be the least bit hesitant to provoke one another to love and good works. If you are hesitant like that, especially in your preaching, shame on you.

Mai mult

Get Wisdom (4) Life Is Not Trivial

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

by John Piper. You can read the original post here at www.desiringGod.org

Isn’t it the extremely high and the extremely low occasions of life that trigger in us a hunger that life not be so trivial most of the time? Every human being now and then feels a longing that life not dribble away like a leaky faucet. You’ve all tasted the desire that day-to-day life be more than a series of trifles. It can happen when you are reading a poem, when you are kneeling in your closet, when you are standing at the lakeside at sunset. It very often happens at birth and death.

When my mother died in December, 1974, I had to go home and help tend my dad’s injury. I didn’t know what, besides grief, I might feel. But one thing that happened was this: I wrote to Dr. Glenn, chairman of my department at Bethel College and said: „I know you want me to teach an overload in the spring but unless my job depends on it I’d rather not.” The reason I gave was: „When I stand beside my mother’s coffin and then look at my wife and son, the $1,000 extra which I would make teaching the overload simply loses all its attraction because it would rob me of some of the quality time with my family.” In other words, the crisis time of my mother’s death awakened in me a longing that my family life not be trivial.

Why does this happen? I think it’s because at these moments of intense emotion we see life for what it really is. The non-essentials get stripped off and life essential shines for what it really is—and it is not trivial. We see things in the light of eternity, we see the way God sees, and triviality has no place in God’s life.

The world is hungry for people for whom nothing is trivial, people who ooze with life because in everything they see a reflection of eternity—even in a fish and a blade of grass.

Last Thursday Noël and I got away to a lake for the day. Before we went Karsten picked out and read for us Psalm 104 at breakfast. This was a great preparation for a day out of doors. It is a nature psalm and says, for example, „O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom thou hast made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures. Yonder is the sea great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathans which thou didst form to sport in it.”

Well, one of the things I did at this small lake was put bread balls on a little gold hook and pull up a dozen or so fish that were swimming under the dock. They all looked about the same—ordinary little panfish with yellow bellies. Then I pulled up one that really took me by surprise and awakened me. I held it there in my hand after I took the hook out and just looked at it. It had olive-green stripes wiggling backwards from head to tail. Then sprinkled all over were light blue luminous spots. On the back of the gill there was a black protrusion about the size of a fingernail, and right on the tip of this was a deep red dot. I held it there in the sun and turned it back and forth and said: „You know what, little fishy? God thought you up. He thought up the olive stripes and blue dots and the deep red spot on black.” How manifold are his works, in wisdom he has made them all. By the grace of God that little fish that day was not trivial, because Psalm 104 had opened my eyes to see the way God sees.

Another example of seeing reflections of eternity in something commonplace happened to me a few years ago. A student of mine asked me one day with a gleam in her eye, „Have you seen the grass growing up through the new asphalt walkway?” My answer was a sort of yes and no. Yes, I had seen it but, no, it hadn’t struck me as noteworthy. But it had struck her and as we talked I came to feel that it should have struck me. Is it not astonishing that a soft blade of grass can push straight up through solid asphalt? What an amazing thing. When you see things with the eyes of God nothing is trivial.

If that is true of a little fish and blade of grass, how much more true must it be of Jesus and his Word and the worship of his name! Doesn’t it make your heart ache when suddenly you wake up and realize that for some time past you have been going through the motions of devotion and worship as if it were all a very trivial affair? I have an emerging vision for Bethlehem Baptist Church—which I will be sharing along the way, but I can say now that an essential of that vision is that we become a church of people who see with the eyes of God and who see nothing as trivial, especially the Word and worship of God.

Moses said to Israel in DEUTERONOMY 32:46FF.: „Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you but it is your life.” It is no trifle for you, it is your life! O that we might be such a people that when strangers come they will say, „The Word of God and worship is certainly no trifle to that group.” For it is not a trivial thing to hear God speak, it is not trivial to pray to our creator. It is not trivial to sing his praises. My prayer is that God will awaken us ever anew to see life the way he sees it. To see in every little fish and blade of grass and every human face a reflection of eternity. And above all to see in God the source and sum and satisfaction of all our longings, so that we say with the psalmist: Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Amen.

© Desiring God

Burn Out

by Al Baker from the Banner of Truth Trust UK

The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18)

Are you presently living with a sense of hopelessness, a sort of low grade depression where you tend to speak in negative absolutes? For example, do you say, ‘My marriage will never get better. God never answers my prayers. My husband never listens to me. We will never get out of debt. Our ministry is going no where.’ Are you ready to throw in the towel, to check out, to cash in your chips, to say, ‘I have had enough! I am leaving my husband. I am getting out of the ministry.’ Have you entertained the thought of ending your life, of saying, ‘What’s the use? I cannot go on any longer.’ Are you angry, given to outbursts of anger with your spouse or children at the slightest provocation? Are you mired in self-pity, saying things like, ‘My husband does not understand me. My children ignore me. I have nothing to offer anyone.’

If so, then you are probably suffering from what many call burn out or depression. What is this malady? From where does it come? And what is the remedy for it. James is putting forth the characteristics of a good teacher, one who influences others for the sake of righteousness, saying that this heavenly wisdom cascades down from the Triune God like the Tuolome River in Yosemite Park cascades down with great power from ten thousand feet, along the Tuolome River canyon for some twenty miles, bringing refreshing water to the valley. This wisdom flows from a fountainhead that thirsts for holiness. In James 1:4 we are told to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing; and that if anyone lacks wisdom he is to ask God for it. The wisdom of holiness is higher than the wisdom of Solomon who wanted the ‘wisdom of skill’ to govern his people. That was a good start but he did not go far enough, eventually succumbing to the big three obstacles all men face — women, horses (power), and gold and silver (mammon). See Deuteronomy 17:14-17. The wisdom we need is not earthly (inanimate like a rock or tree), natural (literally the Greek word means sensual), or demonic (inspired by the devil and hell), but is heavenly — pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. The seedbed of this heavenly wisdom yields a fruitful garden of righteousness and holiness, the exact opposite of the breeding ground of earthly wisdom which yields bitter jealousy and selfish ambition where nothing can grow, where everything dies.

What is burn out? It is a mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. This is evident in the lives of both Elijah and Jonah. In 1 Kings 19:4ff, after Elijah’s remarkable confrontation with the prophets of Baal, when he prayed down fire from heaven to burn up the water-soaked sacrifice at which the priests of Baal were woefully unsuccessful, he heard of Jezebel’s desire to kill him. He was overwhelmed with this mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion, asking God to take his life. He could not go further. He wanted to quit. He wanted to die. If there were so few who followed God, then life was not worth living. And we see the same thing in Jonah after this racial and religious bigot was angry with God for converting thousands of the pagan people at Nineveh. He sat down in anger, telling God that he too wanted to die. Both evidenced a sense of hopelessness, suicidal tendencies, anger, and self-pity. How about you? Do these characterize your life at this present time?

And second, from where does burn out come? Often it occurs after major accomplishments in one’s life — the birth of a child, a daughter’s wedding, the successful completion of a major project. See both Elijah and Jonah. Often it happens after some major upheaval, good or bad, in one’s life — the death of a spouse or parent, a transfer to another city far from home, taking a new and demanding job.

Tissot-Moses strikes the rock

But burn out always comes when one lives by earthly, natural, or demonic wisdom, that which is a breeding ground for destruction, a seedbed of devastation. Earthly wisdom often seems logical, the right thing to do. God earlier told Moses to strike the rock and water would flow to quench the thirst of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exod. 17:6). So when God later told Moses (Num. 20:8ff) to speak to the rock and the same would happen, he decided to do his own thing and strike it. God judged him, telling Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land because of his rebellion. And when David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem on an ox cart, after its absence for many years, in the midst of great rejoicing, the oxen nearly upset the Ark which was falling off the cart. When Uzzah tried to steady the Ark God struck him dead (2 Sam. 6:1ff). Our ways are not God’s ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8). He chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). Earthly wisdom says, ‘Lay up treasures on earth . . . walk by sight . . . live under the sun.’ It makes sense, doesn’t it, to hoard your wealth for a rainy day, an unexpected setback? But when doing so one can jeopardize the ministry of his church or the immediate need of a missionary. It makes sense to live by what you see, to not trust the unseen God, to work ridiculous hours or to skip church to finish a project, ‘to make things happen.’ It makes sense to live under the sun, as though this is all there is, to hold onto the temporal you can touch, and to neglect the eternal which you cannot hold in your hand. In other words, burn out comes from unrealized and unnecessary earthly expectations. A pastor expects a thriving, larger ministry; a married couple expects a house full of children; a young businessman expects to be on top by the age of forty. This is living by earthly, natural, and demonic wisdom which will bring you down into the valley of despair. It is a seedbed of death that will yield a garden of death and despondency.

Finally, what is the remedy for burn out? Two things are vital. First, you must desire heavenly wisdom. Instead of laying up treasures on earth, lay them up in heaven. Don’t hoard things, use them. Invest them in the eternal kingdom of God. Instead of walking by sight, walk by faith. Believe the promises of God. Take them at face value like a child. God says he will meet your every need in Christ Jesus. He says that he will never leave you nor forsake you. He says that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Believe what he says and act on that belief. And instead of living under the sun like Solomon in parts of Ecclesiastes, live under heaven, living with heaven in full view, getting to the place where the glory of heaven is as real to you as is sitting in a chair in your living room. Solomon’s depressing language is directly related to living under the sun.

We see the benefits of this heavenly wisdom played out in the Apostle Paul who says that he considers the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that awaits us (Rom. 8:17), who says that this momentary light affliction is working in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).

And second, you must fear God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov. 9:10). Fearing God means that you love what he loves and hate what he hates. It means desiring his smile and dreading his frown more than anything. It means seeing God in every circumstance of your life and rejoicing. It means running daily to the river of grace filled with the blood of Jesus and the living water of the Spirit.

I have been ‘in the nineteenth century’ quite a bit lately, reading of the great saints and great movements God at the time. John Milne of Perth, Scotland is one of those men mightily used of God in the Scottish revival of the late 1830’s, early 1840’s.1 In 1847 at the age of forty Milne finally slowed down enough to marry. Within a year a daughter was born to John and his wife, Robina, but she died at eight months. But then God gave them a son, but shortly after his birth, Robina died. And finally a few months later his two year old son died. As Bonar says, ‘During this time Milne was hardly ever out of the furnace.’ As he told to a friend, ‘I am all alone.’ In his grief Milne went on with his life, became a missionary in Calcutta for a few years, remarried, and eventually came back to Perth and remained a faithful pastor until his death at the age of sixty-one.

How do you overcome burn out? It will not come by earthly wisdom. That will only exacerbate your problems. You must seek heavenly wisdom like fine gold or silver. You must fear God.



Notes:

1. One of the better biographies I have read recently is The Life of John Milne of Perth, written by his friend Horatius Bonar and published by the Banner of Truth. I highly recommend it.

Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.

www.christcpc.org

Al Baker’s sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.

A God-Centered Understanding of Sin by Stephen Wittmer

The most important truth about sin is the one least recognized in our day. It is this: all sin is primarily sin against God. Where sin is understood as merely a moral concept rather than mainly a religious one,[1]  where it is seen primarily as a person-to-person problem rather than as primarily ‘theocentric,'[2]  motivation for fighting sin is decreased and confusion about the character of God is increased. While recognizing the ‘horizontal’ (person-to-person) nature of sin, the Bible consistently presents sin as mainly a ‘vertical’ (person-to-God) offence. My purpose in this article is to promote a God-centered understanding of sin by outlining the biblical evidence for the vertical nature of all sin and then reflecting on the manifold pastoral implications of this view. If we are to understand the seriousness of sin and to help ourselves and others think about and fight sin the way we ought to, we must have this God-centered view of sin.

1. The vertical direction of all sin

The claim that sin is mainly a vertical problem is emphatically not the view of our culture. On the contrary, a lack of reference to God when thinking about sin is evident everywhere. Two recent books illustrate this reality. In Morality Without God?, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, a professor of philosophy and legal studies at Dartmouth College, argues that morality has nothing essentially to do with God or religion.[3] We can justifiably hold that there is such a thing as objective morality, and we can determine right and wrong, with no reference to God. The entire project of Sinnott-Armstrong’s book is to divorce morality from God: according to Sinnott-Armstrong, objective morality exists, but God does not. Joseph Epstein’s witty and learned book Envy is also symptomatic of the problem I’m highlighting.[4] Although the book is packed with helpful insights into the sin of envy, not once does Epstein talk about envy as having any kind of vertical component, as having anything to do with God. He treats envy purely from a horizontal perspective, dealing solely with the way it affects our relationships with other people. Therefore, whatever Epstein’s religious beliefs (he implies in the book that he is not ‘in a state of full religious belief’), his book does in practice what Sinnott-Armstrong’s book argues for programmatically. Morality and immorality are understood in both books without reference to God.[5]

Sinnott-Armstrong and Epstein, together with many other people (including many Christians) are living in a kind of moral/ethical ‘Flatland,'[6] with a two-dimensional view of sin. On this view, sin is something you do to another person or something another person does to you. Granted, most Christians recognize that some sins are sins against God, but the sins they think of as falling into this category are usually those aimed directly at injuring God, such as the worship of other gods, idolatry, or taking the Lord’s name in vain. Of course, breaking the first three commandments is sinning against God.[7] But so is breaking any of the Ten Commandments and so are the many sins not mentioned in the Decalogue. The Bible suggests that all sin is sin against God, even when we’re not consciously trying to offend God by our sin; even when, in the moment of our sin, God is the very last one on our minds. In order to present the biblical evidence for the vertical direction of all sin, I will focus on three seemingly horizontal sins: adultery, envy, and despising those less fortunate than ourselves.

The vertical direction of adultery

According to the Bible, adultery is primarily a sin against God. In the course of Abraham’s travels, he twice did a despicable and cowardly thing. Because he was afraid the kings of the countries he was visiting would kill him and take his wife, he told them Sarah was his sister. Consequently, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah in order to make her his wife. But God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him that if he slept with Sarah he would die because Sarah was another man’s wife. Abimelech protested his innocence to God and God agreed that he was in fact innocent: ‘Then God said to [Abimelech] in the dream, „Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her”‘ (Genesis 20.6). According to God, if Abimelech committed adultery with Sarah he would be sinning against God. Other passages offer the same God-centered perspective on the sin of adultery. When the wife of the Egyptian Potiphar tried to seduce Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph, he refused and said, ‘How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’ (Genesis 39.9). According to Joseph, sleeping with his master’s wife would be sinning against God.

King David evidently shared this view. After committing adultery with Bathsheba and ensuring that Bathsheba’s husband Uriah was killed in battle, he wrote Psalm 51. In this Psalm, David cries out to God: ‘Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight’ (Psalm 51.4). For hundreds of years, careful readers of Psalm 51 have been amazed by David’s claim that he sinned only against God. What about Bathsheba? What about Uriah her husband? Surely David sinned against them? Of course he did. David’s selfish pursuit of sexual pleasure and emotional intimacy with another man’s wife was clearly a sin against Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, and against Bathsheba’s parents, and against Bathsheba herself. We know Paul would have thought so, because he said that the command to love other people ‘sums up’ the command not to commit adultery (Romans 13.9). When David says he has sinned ‘only’ against God, he means that by far the greatest offense has been against God.[8] Consequently, all other offenses pale in comparison. Charles Spurgeon saw this clearly: ‘The virus of sin lies in its opposition to God: the Psalmist’s sense of sin towards others rather tended to increase the force of his feeling of sin against God. All his wrong-doing centred, culminated, and came to a climax, at the foot of the divine throne.'[9]

How did David arrive at this God-centered understanding of his sin? He seems to have learned it from God himself, through Nathan the prophet. In 2 Samuel 12, God sends Nathan to confront David for his sins of murder and adultery. Nathan’s message is clearly that David has sinned against Uriah by killing him and taking his wife. But the main thrust of God’s message through Nathan is that David has sinned against God. God says: ‘Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?’ (2 Samuel 12.9). And God says: ‘Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ (2 Samuel 12.10). Nathan says: ‘Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die’ (2 Samuel 12.14). David clearly gets the message. He responds: ‘I have sinned against the Lord’ (2 Samuel 12.13).

The vertical direction of envy

I choose to focus on envy here because (as noted above) Joseph Epstein totally ignores the vertical dimension of envy in his book on the subject. The Old Testament book of Numbers tells the story of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who rebel against Moses as the people of Israel journey through the wilderness (Numbers 16). These three, and at least 250 others, assemble against Moses and Aaron and take exception to the fact that Moses and Aaron have exalted themselves over the rest of Israel by being the only ones (together with Aaron’s priestly sons) who can minister in the tabernacle as priests. As Levites, those who are rebelling want to do more than serve in the tabernacle. They want to be priests. Their sin is envy (cf. Psalm 106.16). They want what Moses and Aaron have. And their case is clearly against Moses and Aaron; the story in fact states that, ‘they assembled themselves against Moses and against Aaron’ (Numbers 16.3).

But that is not how Moses sees it. Moses sees their challenge as being primarily against God: ‘Therefore it is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?’ (Numbers 16.11). Later, the daughters of Zelophehad remember Korah’s sin as a gathering together of the people ‘against the Lord’ (Numbers 27.3). Moses remembers the sin of Dathan and Abiram as contending not only against Moses and Aaron, but ‘against the Lord’ (Numbers 26.9). This story therefore demonstrates that the sin of envy is not merely sin against another person. That is the way we tend to think of it, as purely horizontal. But the Bible suggests that envy is most basically sin against God.

The vertical direction of despising the less fortunate

A third example of the vertical nature of sins we normally consider ‘horizontal’ comes from Proverbs. Proverbs 14.31 says: ‘Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.’ Proverbs 17.5 says: ‘Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.’ Leviticus 6.1-3 suggests, similarly, that deceiving one’s neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or robbing one’s neighbor, or oppressing one’s neighbor, or finding the lost property of one’s neighbor and then lying about it, constitutes a ‘breach of faith against the Lord.’

The vertical direction of other sins

Throughout the Bible, we learn of many other sins that from a human-centered perspective are purely horizontal but from a God-centered perspective have a mainly vertical direction. Dishonoring and deserting one’s parents and living a debauched life is sinning against God (Luke 15.18, 21). Lying to other people is sinning against God (Acts 5.3-4). The many sins of Sodom, among which were both sexual sins (Genesis 19.5) and economic sins (Ezekiel 16.49-50), were sins against the Lord (Genesis 13.13). Undue fear of other people or circumstances is sin against God, as is presumptuous activity that moves forward without God’s blessing (Deuteronomy 1.26-46, esp. 1.41 and 1.43). Grumbling against God’s appointed leaders is in fact grumbling against God himself.[10] Child sacrifice is a sin against God (Leviticus 20.1-5). Slander and deceit are sins against God (Psalm 50.17-22). Covetousness is sin against God (Ephesians 5.5; Colossians 3.5). Sins that fracture the Christian community, such as unaddressed anger, corrupting talk, and bitterness, are sins against God (Ephesians 4.30).[11] Persecuting Christians is a sin against Jesus (Acts 9.4-5), as is a failure to love and serve Christians (Matthew 25.41-46).

2. The reason all sin is sin against God

This raises an important question: why is all sin in fact sin against God? There are many reasons. I’ll offer four. Sin against others offends God because he is their creator and values them, because he is your creator and has instructed you how to live, and because all sin calls God’s character into question.[12] Finally, sin against God’s people offends God because God has redeemed them and they belong to him and are united to him.

God is their creator

First, sin against others offends God because he is their creator. This truth is clearly indicated in Proverbs 14.31, which claims that oppressing a poor man insults his ‘Maker.’ Hurting another person offends and insults God because God made that person and values them. They bear his image. An offense against the creature is therefore an offense against the loving creator, just as a great sculptor is deeply offended if someone defaces or destroys his favorite creation. Proverbs 17.5 repeats this claim; mocking the poor entails insulting ‘his Maker.'[13] Again in this verse, God is identified as the maker of the poor, who bears his image no less than the rich.[14] As Cornelius Plantinga has said, ‘Sin offends God not only because it bereaves or assaults God directly, as in impiety or blasphemy, but also because it bereaves and assaults what God has made.'[15] It is encouraging to see recent evangelical works on ethics that recognize the Godward direction of sin. Walter Kaiser rightly claims that murder is a crime not just against another person but also against God: ‘Murder, then, amounted to the shooting, mugging, or slaughtering of God himself in effigy. Murder is so serious because it is a crime against the majesty of the divine image in each individual. No matter how disgraced or debauched a person may appear, they are not to be equated with disposable litter or seen simply as disheveled wretches of humanity; they are still made in the image of God and carry enormous intrinsic potential and significance.'[16]

The Godward direction of sin includes not only harming the creature but also overly valuing the creature. Why does Paul, in Ephesians 5.5, equate the ‘horizontal’ sin of covetousness (likely to be understood as sexual greed) with the ‘vertical’ sin of idolatry? Because sexual lust, like other kinds of overwhelming desire (e.g. lust for money or power), ‘…places self-gratification or another person at the centre of one’s existence, and thus is the worship of the creature rather than the Creator…'[17]

God is your creator

Sin against others also offends God because God is your creator. Sin inhibits our ability to display God’s image as we were designed by God to do. Moreover, the biblical doctrine of God as creator teaches that God continues to sustain his creation and hold it in existence. In sinning, we misuse and abuse the existence God has given us and in which he sustains us moment by moment. C.S. Lewis expressed these truths clearly: ‘…indeed the only way in which I can make real to myself what theology teaches about the heinousness of sin is to remember that every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us – an energy which, if not thus distorted, would have blossomed into one of those holy acts whereof „God did it” and „I did it” are both true descriptions. We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege.'[18]

As our creator, God has established rules for how we are to interact with our fellow human beings. When we resist those rules, we resist his authority as creator. Therefore, sin offends God.[19] Note that the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ is repeatedly inserted into the legislation about sexual relations in Leviticus 18.1-30.[20] The implication of this repeated phrase is that sexual sin involves God. He is the one who gave the commands and told his people how he wanted them to live (18.4-5, 30).

I cited Leviticus 6.1-3 above. This passage claims that deceiving your neighbor financially or robbing your neighbor or pretending his lost property is your property is actually a breach of faith against the Lord. Why is this the case? We’re given the answer just a few verses earlier in Leviticus. Leviticus 5.17 says: ‘If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done…’ The reason our sins involve God is that sin is a violation of his commandments. He has told us how to live, and we have disobeyed him. If a father tells his little boy not to throw stones at the cat, and the little boy nonetheless throws stones at the cat, the boy’s actions have caused a rift in his relationship with the cat and with his father. In fact, he has sinned against his father even if his aim is bad and he misses the cat.

The same is true with Israel’s sin of fear in Deuteronomy 1.26-46. Israel’s fear of the inhabitants of Canaan is sin against God because it involves disobedience to the command of God (1.26, 41), the casting of aspersions on God’s character (1.27), and failure to trust God (1.32). Moses explains that Israel’s refusal to enter the land was rebellion against the commandment of the Lord and a lack of trust in him.[21] The Godward direction of Israel’s fear is manifest in Deuteronomy 9.24: ‘You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.'[22]

Sin calls God’s character into question

Sin against others offends God because sin is always saying to God that we know better than he how to make ourselves happy. For this reason, sin inevitably calls the truthfulness of God’s plan and promises, and the goodness of his character, into question. It says to God: ‘You’re a liar.’ Therefore sin, in the words of Proverbs 17.5, ‘insults’ God. The case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Numbers 16 illustrates this. In Numbers 16.8-10, Moses explains that Korah’s challenge to Moses and Aaron was in fact a challenging of God himself because it was God, not Moses, who appointed the Levites to their task of serving in the tabernacle and Aaron and his sons to be priests. Therefore, for Korah and the others to assert themselves against Moses and Aaron is to challenge God’s wisdom in placing each person where he wants them. Their challenge against Moses and Aaron is therefore sin against God. In envying Moses and Aaron, they are essentially saying to God, ‘Your allotment of responsibility is deficient. You should have given us more responsibility.’ Consequently, it is God, not Moses or Aaron, who destroys these men and their households by causing the earth to split beneath their feet (Numbers 16.31-35).

Whenever we envy a person who has better looks or a bigger brain than we do, we are saying to God (whether we mean to or not), ‘You should have made me different.’ We are essentially putting ourselves in the place of God, and this is the very heart of sin.[23] All complaining, in fact, moves in this deadly direction. In The Art of Divine Contentment, the Puritan Thomas Watson claims that, ‘murmuring is rising up against God, for thou settest thyself up against God, as though you were wiser than he.'[24] In his sermon on Job 1.21, John Calvin said,

‘As soon as God does not send what we have desired, we dispute against Him, we bring suit, not that we appear to do this, but our manner shows that this is nevertheless our intent. We consider every blow, ‘And why has this happened?’ But from what spirit is this pronounced? From a poisoned heart; as if we said, „The thing should have been otherwise, I see no reason for this.” Meanwhile God will be condemned among us. This is how men exasperate themselves. And in this what do they do? It is as if they accused God of being a tyrant or a hairbrain who asked only to put everything in confusion. Such horrible blasphemy blows out of the mouths of men.'[25]

This is dangerous ground upon which to tread. Isaiah 45.9 pronounces woe upon the one who ‘strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots!'[26] The connection between envy and questioning God’s wisdom and character explains why David’s solution to the sin of envying wrongdoers (Psalm 37.1) is to call for trust and delight in the Lord (Psalm 37.3-4). Trusting in God’s wisdom and provision punctures the power of the sin of envy.

God has redeemed his people

Finally, sin against Christians is sin against God because God has redeemed his people.[27] This reality undergirds Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 8-10. In 1 Corinthians 8.11-13, Paul addresses the issue of whether the Corinthian Christians may eat food offered to idols in the idol temples. Before absolutely prohibiting feasting in temples (which he does in 10.14-22) Paul first focuses on a crucial reason not to eat idol meat in idol temples. One should refrain for the sake of one’s brother, in order not to make him sin against his conscience by doing what he believes to be the wrong thing. Paul says that if this ‘weak’ brother does what he believes is wrong, he is ‘destroyed.’ Importantly, Paul describes this brother as one ‘for whom Christ died’ (8.11). Paul then establishes the seriousness of causing one’s brother to stumble: ‘Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ’ (8.12).[28] This vertical direction of the sin convinces Paul to forgo his own rights for the sake of his brother: ‘Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble’ (8.13).

3. Why a God-centered perspective on sin is so important

The reason it is crucial to have a God-centered perspective on sin is that we’re in a tough fight against a wily enemy. Satan deceives us (John 8.44), sin deceives us (Hebrews 3.13), and we deceive ourselves (Jeremiah 17.9; Ephesians 4.22). In one meeting with a couple who had recently begun attending our church, it became clear that, despite their emphasis that they loved God’s Word and were hungry for robust biblical preaching and teaching, they were unmarried and living together. There was obviously a serious disconnect occurring here between belief and practice: sin was deceiving them and they were deceiving themselves. The measure of sin’s deceitfulness is its power to produce these strange blind spots and juxtapositions in our lives and unfortunately, examples abound. A young John McCain bravely endures many years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, returns home as a war hero, and begins a series of extramarital affairs. The intrepid, trustworthy, larger-than-life Sir Ernest Shackelton carries on an extramarital affair over a long period of time. The Bible is full of stories of men and women with equally terrible blind spots, and if we take a long, honest look at ourselves we will find them in our own lives. We live with these juxtapositions because sin deceives us and we swallow the lie. John Owen wisely said, ‘Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is no mortification of any one perplexing lust to be obtained.'[29]

Like all lies, sin multiplies at an alarming rate, one sin quickly leading to another. Sin rarely travels alone; it prefers to travel in packs. For example, adultery almost always requires deceiving one’s partner. Frank Pittman is onto something when he claims that: ‘The infidelity [of an affair] is not in the sex, necessarily, but in the secrecy. It isn’t whom you lie with. It’s whom you lie to.'[30] Well, of course the infidelity is in both whom you lie with and whom you lie to. The point is, they go together. One leads to the other. Our enemy (sin) is devious and fast-growing. Therefore, we must know it well. We must have a God-centered view of it. If we really grasp this perspective, it will help us enormously. Here are the some of the ways a God-centered view of sin will help us.

A God-centered perspective on sin reveals sin’s lies

We sin more readily against people when we believe they have no chance of repaying our wrongs. One of the (many) reasons it is tempting to be rude toward telemarketers and bad drivers in traffic is that we will likely never see them again. Hence, we’re almost invariably more impatient and less forgiving toward such people, because we believe they can’t pay us back. This deeply mistaken position is revealed for the lie it is by the truth that all sin is sin against God. Because all sin, including so-called ‘horizontal’ sins, has a Godward direction, there is no sin that God does not care about. Every sin must be paid for, either at the cross by Jesus, or in eternity by the sinner. God demands it. When I was a boy my brothers and I put burrs into the hair of the little girl who lived next door. We thought that was very funny, because she couldn’t get back at us. But when she went home and told her mom, who got angry and called our parents, the situation quickly escalated from funny to serious. We will do well to remember that sin angers God and provokes the vengeance of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1.8). God has no further preparations to make for the final judgment; he is ‘ready’ to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4.5).

We’re also more tempted to commit certain sins when we believe they are relatively trivial and insignificant. A white lie is just white. A little cheating on the exam is just a tiny thing. When we come to see that all sin, including the so-called ‘little’ sins, have a Godward direction, we realize that even these sins are actually sins ‘of the deepest dye.'[31] J.I. Packer says, ‘there are no small sins against a great God.'[32] Truly embracing this God-centered perspective will have transformative effects upon our marriages.[33] It will motivate us to wage war against the sins with which we once were willing to make peace. The seventeenth century English pastor John Flavel imagined the voice of temptation as saying: ‘It’s only a small matter, a trifle. Who else would worry about such a trivial thing?’ Flavel suggested what the believer should say in response: ‘Is the majesty of heaven a small matter too? If I commit this sin, I will offend and wrong a great God. Is there any little hell to torment little sinners? Great wrath awaits those the world thinks are little sinners.'[34]

We are also more likely to commit a sin when we believe it will not harm anyone. Envy is a particularly good example of this. Who does envy harm, particularly if you don’t even tell the person you envy that you envy them? And suppose I envy some famous person I will never meet? Where’s the harm in that? Without an understanding of the Godward direction of sin, the resultant harm of such a sin appears minimal or even non-existent. But understanding sin from a God-centered perspective sheds light on this issue by opening our eyes to the reality that all sin grieves God (Ephesians 4.30). Ed Welch writes from this God-centered perspective: ‘Even if our sin does not seem to be hurting another human being, it is still sin. If sin was reduced to hurting others, then we could become morally perfect by isolating ourselves from all people. Sin, however, is not primarily a human-against-human action. It is human-against-God.'[35] The implication of this perspective is that there is no ‘harmless’ sin.

Finally, we are more likely to commit a sin if we are not even aware it is a sin. Unless we understand sin with a view toward how it affects God, we will be deluded into thinking that some sins are not really sinful. Living all of life consciously before God opens up whole new areas that we come to see as no longer value-neutral but rather as matters of holiness or sin. To take two quite distinct examples, we might reflect upon self-harm and time management. The implications of viewing morality from a purely horizontal perspective are seen in the work of Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, who (as I noted above) has written an entire book arguing for objective morality without God. This position has important implications for Sinnott-Armstrong’s understanding of self-harm. He claims it is irrational, not immoral, to cause harm to oneself without an adequate reason.[36] Suicide, for example, is merely irrational. It seems to me that this claim can only be true within a worldview that fails to take the presence of God and his ownership of our persons into account. Writing from within the Christian tradition, Aquinas taught that suicide is not just a failure of one’s duty to self and community, but also a failure of one’s duty to God.[37] When we understand that we are the work of a creator God and that we have a responsibility to the God who has redeemed and indwelt us (1 Corinthians 6.19-20), self-harm is rightly seen as sin against God.

How we choose to use our time is not (as it is perceived in the secular time management books) a value-neutral discussion that boils down to being more productive or less productive. That is only the case if we see our time and how we use it in purely horizontal terms. But when we see time as a gift given to us by God and understand ourselves as responsible to God for how we use it, we come to understand time management as a matter of sin or righteousness. In The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It, Jonathan Edwards manifests a profoundly God-centered view of time management, pressing upon his readers the truth that we are accountable to God for our time and will need to give an account for our poor use of it. Edwards’ vertical perspective is totally missing from most modern discussions of time management. As Walter Henegar notes, procrastination is acceptable in our culture, viewed sometimes even as an endearing personality quirk.[38] C.J. Mahaney nicely summarizes the discovery Henegar came to as he analyzed his own strong propensity toward procrastination: ‘What Mr. Henegar discovered was the simple truth that underlying our procrastination – putting off the most important duties we are called to accomplish – was not so much a busy schedule but a sinful heart.'[39] Procrastination, seen in its vertical dimension, is not just a ‘bad habit’ or a lack of productivity, but rather a sin against God himself.
A God-centered perspective gives us the proper motivation for fighting sin

Why do we fight sin? Sometimes simply because we hate its consequences, or because we’re ashamed of the stigma attached to it, or because we want to experience the thrill of victory in conquering it. These are inadequate reasons. Realizing that all sin is sin against God helps us to fight sin for the right reason – because we know it hurts God, and that is the last thing we want. Jerry Bridges says it well when he explains that our problem ‘is that our attitude towards sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own „victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God.'[40]

A God-centered perspective on sin shows the gospel to be sensible and sweet

The way we view sin is a gospel issue. Thomas Watson wrote, ‘Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.'[41] If we think of sin as merely a horizontal problem, we may begin to believe that our sin is small and our virtue is sizable, and that therefore we’re just about good enough for heaven and not quite bad enough for hell. Realizing the vertical nature of sin disabuses us of that notion because it reveals to us the catastrophic seriousness of sin. The more bitter our sin becomes to us, the more sweet will be the gospel.

If sins are merely horizontal, the gospel is not only less sweet – it is not even sensible. The gospel is the good news that God freely rescues us from eternal punishment and destines us for eternal life in his presence, in a new heavens and new earth. But the biblical doctrine of an eternal hell makes no sense if sin is merely a human-to-human offense. Clark Pinnock offers the following objection to the doctrine of eternal punishment: ‘It just does not make sense to say that a God of love will torture people forever for sins done in the context of a finite life.'[42] Pinnock would be correct concerning the injustice of a punishment that lasts ‘forever’ for sins committed in a ‘finite’ life, except for the fact that each of these sins offend an infinitely precious God. The seriousness of sin is a function of the worth and value of the one who is sinned against.[43] Because all sin is against God, all sin is infinitely serious. For this reason, hell is just.[44]

A few years ago, my wife and I visited one of Berlin’s most famous art museums. Failing to notice a line on the floor that ran around the perimeter of each room about two feet from the wall, I enjoyed getting close up to the paintings, observing how the paint had been applied and studying the brush strokes. As I stood a few inches from one of the paintings, I had one of those sudden, crazy impulses one sometimes get in art museums: what would happen if I raised my elbow and drove my elbow straight through the painting? Thankfully, I resisted the impulse! Eventually one of the museum attendants pointed to the line on the floor and told me I had to stand behind it. The paintings were so valuable that they didn’t want me to get within two feet of them, let alone put my elbow through one.

The penalty for destroying a Bruegel or a Rembrandt or a Monet at this art gallery is greater than the penalty for destroying a postcard of the same painting being sold in the museum shop. Suppose I jab a scissors through a Rembrandt. I may be physically tackled by the attendant and I will surely face months of litigation, a significant financial penalty, and perhaps time in prison. But now suppose I jab a scissors through the postcard of the same painting in the museum gift shop. I will almost certainly not be tackled (unless the gift shop attendant is overly zealous). Rather, I will owe a couple Euro to the shop and I may not be welcome there anymore. Why the drastic difference in penalties? It’s the same painting. The difference is that the original is more valuable than a postcard of the original. The seriousness of an offense is related to the worth of the one (or the thing) offended. In most societies around the world, the penalty for damaging a flower is less than that for cruelty to animals. And the penalty for cruelty to animals is less than that for child abuse. Why? Because a puppy is more valuable than a flower, and a baby is more valuable than a puppy. In fact, the penalty for injuring a human being is greater than the penalty for killing a flower because human beings are considered so much more valuable than flowers.

Humans are in serious trouble because we have offended God, and there is no being in the universe more valuable than God. In the terms of our analogy, we have pierced not the postcard but the painting. God is a being who is valuable in every way. He is the most valuable being in the universe. And God is the one whom humans have offended. That is why our sin against him is so desperately serious. This was all seen and said by Jonathan Edwards in his remarkable sermon, ‘The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners.'[45] Edwards has nuanced my view of why sin against God is infinitely serious by introducing the important concept of obligation. According to Edwards, ‘The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to obey him.’ The degree of obligation toward a being is in turn proportionate to that being’s ‘loveliness, honorableness, and authority.’ God is infinitely lovely, infinitely excellent, infinitely beautiful. Therefore, I owe him total allegiance. Therefore, sin against him is infinitely evil[46] and deserving of infinite punishment.[47] In the course of the sermon, Edwards applies the truth that, ‘It is just that God eternally cast off and destroy sinners’ in order to produce conviction in his hearers. But at the end of his sermon he briefly addresses the ‘godly.’ They should see afresh the ‘freeness and wonderfulness of the grace of God towards them.'[48] This should lead to praise of God and to humility: ‘You shall never open your mouth in boasting, or self-justification; but lie the lower before God for his mercy to you.’

The truth of the Godward direction of sin, in other words, makes the gospel both sensible and sweet. This truth should stagger us all over again with the grace of God in our lives. When we realize the greatness of our sin, the fact that we deserve eternal punishment and separation from God in hell, we come to see the glory of the gospel, the declaration that God offers us free pardon. We enter into relationship with him through no merit of our own. Instead of hell, we get heaven. David Wells says this forcefully and beautifully in The Courage to Be Protestant:

‘Without the holiness of God, sin has no meaning and grace has no point. God’s holiness gives to the one its definition and to the other its greatness. Without the holiness of God, sin is merely human failure, but not failure before God….Without the holiness of God, grace is no longer grace because it does not arise from the dark clouds of his judgment that covered the cross. Without God’s holiness, grace would be nothing more than sentimental benevolence. It is this holiness that shows the graciousness of grace, its character as unmerited, because it also shows us the offensiveness of sin.'[49]

4. Conclusion: the hope offered by a God-centered perspective on sin

The realization that all our sin is chiefly sin against God is both sobering and hope-giving. It is sobering because, as we have seen, it means there are no ‘small’ sins. All sin is sin against God and therefore infinitely serious. But it is also hope-giving, because God is merciful. This is the positive side to our sinning against God. When offered a choice, David chose to fall into the merciful hand of God rather than the hands of men (2 Samuel 24.14). The reason God has mercy on his people is precisely because he is God and not a man (Hosea 11.8-9).

I pointed above to 2 Samuel 12, where Nathan confronts David with the Godward direction of his sins of murder and adultery. There is a poignant moment at the very end of their exchange. David recognizes the vertical dimension of his sin: ‘David said to Nathan, „I have sinned against the Lord”‘ (2 Samuel 12.13). Nathan then responds to David with an assurance of the remarkable mercy of the Lord: ‘And Nathan said to David, „The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die”‘ (2 Samuel 12.13). The God we offend is the very God who forgives.[50] A significant part of developing a God-centered understanding of sin is relating to God as the one who forgives our sin and helps us battle against it. William Arnot has seen this clearly: ‘The difference between an unconverted and a converted man is not that one has sins and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.'[51]

Sin, as Jonathan Edwards observed, is like a sickness of the eyes that confuses us as to the true colors of things, or like a sickness that affects our ability to taste, so that we can’t distinguish good, wholesome food from bad food. Sin ruins our ability to discern spiritual things.[52] Consequently, in our fight against sin, we must shine the clear light of biblical truth upon both it and ourselves. Truly understanding our enemy is an important step in winning victory over it. I hope this article will be useful as one part of the process of understanding and battling the enemy. The gospel fruit of a God-centered perspective on sin should be not dismay but rather delight in the finished work of Christ and greater determination in the battle against sin. Soren Kierkegaard once prayed: ‘Father in heaven! Hold not our sins up against us but hold us up against our sins, so that the thought of thee, when it wakens, should not remind us of what we have committed but of what thou didst forgive, not of how we went astray but of how thou didst save us!'[53]

Stephen Witmer (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) has lectured in New Testament at the University of Cambridge and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is now the pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in Pepperell, Massachusetts. He has written Divine Instruction in Early Christianity (2008) and has published articles in several journals, including New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum, and Themelios.

A God-Centered Understanding of Sin
Article by Stephen Witmer  June 2010

Exodus Decoded – History Channel Documentary

an excellent documentary (via)

The Exodus Decoded is a 2006 History Channel documentary created by Israeli-Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and the producer/director James Cameron. The documentary explores evidence for the Biblical account of the Exodus. Its claims and methods were widely criticized both by Biblical scholars and by mainstream scientists.

Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BC, during the reign of pharaoh Ahmose I, and that it coincided with the Minoan eruption. In the documentary, the plagues that ravaged Egypt in the Bible are explained as having resulted from that eruption and a related limnic eruption in the Nile Delta. While much of Jacobovici’s archaeological evidence for the Exodus comes from Egypt, some comes from Mycenae on mainland Greece, such as a gold ornament that somewhat resembles the Ark of the Covenant.

The documentary makes extensive use of computer animation and visual effects made by Gravity Visual Effects, Inc., based in Toronto. It runs for 90 minutes and was first aired in Canada on April 16, (Easter Day) 2006 (Discovery Channel Canada). Shown in the US on August 20, 2006 (History Channel US), UK on December 23, 2006 (Discovery Channel UK) and Spain on December 25, 2006 (Cuatro). (via) Wikipedia.

After you watch the documentary- For another perspective (the comments made on site are more interesting to me than the article’s argumentation) read a review from Biblearchaeology.org

Wikipedia also has a good summation of Jacobovici’s Egyptian and Mycenaean arguments and some critical analysis gathered from reviews of archaeologists and Biblical scholars.
All in all, (and although this documentary is based on Jacobovici’s studies and theories) still an outstanding documentary that takes you through the Moses and Jacobean age, confirms what the Bible claims, and is a worthwhile video to watch.

VIDEO by Igor Martins

Did Moses really write Genesis? Russell Grigg

Creation Ministries International via Apologetics315

A deadly hypothesis denying that Moses had anything to do with Genesis, based on spurious scholarship, is still widely being taught to future Christian leaders.

by Russell Grigg

Egyptian ruins

Egyptian ruins. Internal evidences in the text of the Pentateuch indicate that the author was familiar with Egyptian customs, as would be expected of Moses.

Nearly all liberal Bible colleges and seminaries, and sadly some which profess conservative evangelical doctrine, approvingly teach the ‘documentary hypothesis’, also known as the ‘JEDP hypothesis’.

What is the documentary hypothesis?

This is the liberal/critical view which denies that Moses wrote Genesis to Deuteronomy. It teaches that various anonymous authors compiled these five books (plus other portions of the Old Testament) from centuries of oral tradition, up to 900 years after Moses lived (if, in this view, he even existed). These hypothetical narrators are designated as follows:

  • J (standing for what the documentary hypothesists would term Jahwist) supposedly lived about 900–850 BC. He/she/they allegedly gathered the myths and legends of Babylon and other nations, and added them to the ‘camp-fire stories’ of the Hebrews, producing those biblical passages where the Hebrew letters YHWH (‘Jehovah’) are used as the name of God.
  • E (standing for Elohist) supposedly lived about 750–700 BC in the northern kingdom (Israel), and wrote those passages where ’Elohim is used as the word for God.
  • D supposedly wrote most of Deuteronomy, probably the book found in the temple in Jerusalem in 621 BC. (2 Kings 22:8).
  • P supposedly represents a Priest (or priests) who lived during the exile in Babylon and allegedly composed a code of holiness for the people.
  • Various editors R (from German Redakteur) supposedly put it all together.

The idea of multiple authorship of these books was first proposed by Jean Astruc in Paris in 1753. However, the foremost exponent was Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), who ‘restated the Documentary Hypothesis … in terms of the evolutionary view of history which was prevalent in philosophical circles at the time’.1,2 He claimed that those parts of the Old Testament that dealt with sophisticated doctrine (one God, the Ten Commandments, the tabernacle, etc.) were not truth revealed by the living God, but were ideas that evolved from lower stages of thinking, including polytheism, animism, ancestor worship, etc.3 Hence the ‘need’ to find or fabricate later authors. One of the main arguments was that writing had supposedly not been invented yet at the time of Moses.

Thus the documentary hypothesis undermines the authenticity of the Genesis Creation/Fall/Flood accounts, as well as the whole patriarchal history of Israel. It presupposes that the whole of the Old Testament is one gigantic literary fraud, and calls into question not only the integrity of Moses, but also the trustworthiness/divinity of Jesus (see point 5 below). No wonder the critics have embraced it so warmly!

Was Moses J, E, D, P, or R?

Answer: He was none of the above. Rather, Moses himself was both writer and editor of the Pentateuch, and these five books were composed by him in about 1400 BC , not by unknowns at the time of the Exile. This does not mean that Moses did not use other written sources available to him (see later), or that he wrote the last few verses of Deuteronomy 34 that record his death. Talmudic (Rabbinic Jewish) tradition has always been that these were added, under divine inspiration, by Joshua.

There is no external evidence at all in support of J, E, D, P, or R. What were their names? What else did these alleged literary savants write? History, both Hebrew and secular, knows nothing of them. They exist only in the fertile imaginations of the inventors of the documentary hypothesis.

Evidence for Moses authorship of the Pentateuch

Clay tabletsClay tablets like this were ideal for long-term written records. Far from ‘Flintstones’ clumsiness, these could be held in one hand.
Patriarchal records may have been carried on the Ark, later used by Moses in compiling Genesis (under inspiration).

The evidence that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, often referred to in the Bible as ‘the Law’ (Hebrew torah), is overwhelming:

  1. Contrary to the views of Wellhausen and others, archaeological research has established that writing was indeed well known in Moses’ day. The JEDP hypothesis falsely assumes that the Iraelites waited until many centuries after the foundation of their nation before committing any of their history or laws to written form, even though their neighbours kept written records of their own history and religion from before the time of Moses.4
  2. The author is obviously an eyewitness of the Exodus from Egypt, familiar with the geography,5 flora and fauna of the region;6 he uses several Egyptian words,7 and refers to customs that go back to the second millennium BC.8
  3. The Pentateuch claims in many places that Moses was the writer, e.g. Exodus 17:14; 24:4–7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24.
  4. Many times in the rest of the Old Testament, Moses is said to have been the writer, e.g. Joshua 1:7–8; 8:32–34; Judges 3:4; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Ezra 6:18; Nehemiah 8:1; 13:1; Daniel 9:11–13.
  5. In the New Testament, Jesus frequently spoke of Moses’ writings or the Law of Moses, e.g. Matthew 8:4; 19:7–8; Mark 7:10; 12:26; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:46–47; 7:19. Jesus said that those who ‘hear not [i.e. reject] Moses’ would not be persuaded ‘though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). Thus we see that those churches and seminaries which reject the historicity of Moses’ writings often also reject the literal bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Other New Testament speakers/writers said the same thing, e.g. John 1:17; Acts 6:14; 13:39; 15:5; 1 Corinthians 9:9; 2 Corinthians 3:15; Hebrews 10:28.

Does this mean that Moses wrote Genesis without reference to any previous information? Not necessarily. Genesis comprises narratives of historical events that occurred before Moses was born. Moses may very well have had access to patriarchal records and/or reliable oral traditions of these events. In that case, such records would certainly have been preserved by being written (probably on clay tablets) and handed down from father to son via the line of
Adam-Seth-Noah-Shem-Abraham-Isaac-Jacob, etc.

There are 11 verses in Genesis which read, ‘These are (or ‘This is the book of’) the generations of …’ The Hebrew word toledoth translated ‘generations’ can also mean ‘origins’, ‘history’, or even ‘family history’, and each verse comes either before or after a description of historical events that involved the person named.9 The most likely explanation is that Adam, Noah, Shem, etc. each wrote an account of the events that occurred either right before or during his lifetime, and Moses, under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit, selected, compiled, and edited these to produce Genesis in its present cohesive form.10

Genesis does not show a progress from idolatry to monotheism, as Wellhausen’s evolutionism requires. Rather, the Bible begins with an original revelation of God, which was later rejected to the point that the Hebrew nation itself descended into idolatry and so was given over to captivity by God.

What about the different words used for God?

Let us consider this in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. The word ’Elohim is used for God 25 times in Genesis 1:1–2:4a.11 It has the idea of an awesome and faithful Being, having creative and governing power, majesty and omnipotence, who is above the material world He created. It is a lofty title (= ‘God’) and is the appropriate word for Moses to have used for the first factual report of God’s creative activities.12

In Genesis chapter 2 from verse 4, the Hebrew uses the letters YHWH to refer to God. Sometimes translated ‘Jehovah’, it is more often translated ‘LORD’ (in small capitals), and is the most commonly used term for God in the Old Testament (6,823 times). It means ‘the One who always was, now is, and ever shall be’ and is the deeply personal name of God. It is therefore used in His personal and covenant relationships with people. Genesis 2:4b ff is the detailed account of how God made Adam and Eve, and of the setting He prepared for them.13 Here they were meant to live and work in loving covenantal fellowship with Him14 and with each other. It was entirely appropriate therefore that Moses should have used YHWH in writing this section of Genesis. In Genesis 2, YHWH is joined to ‘Elohim to form the compound name YHWH-’Elohim (= the Lord God). This identifies the covenant God YHWH as being one and the same as ’Elohim, the almighty creator. There is no logical reason (particularly any based on the term used for God) to ascribe this account to any other author(s).

The same principles apply in the rest of Genesis and throughout the Old Testament.

The JEDP system is self-contradictory, as its proponents need to break verses into sections and even credit parts of sentences (that use more than one term for God) to different writers. Such a hotchpotch would be unique in ancient Middle Eastern literature.

The ‘scholarship’ used to promote the documentary hypothesis would be laughed out of court if applied to any other ancient book!

Computer agrees: Genesis had only one author

The following quote comes from Omni magazine of August 1982:

‘After feeding the 20,000 Hebrew words of Genesis into a computer at Technion University in Israel, researchers found many sentences that ended in verbs and numerous words of six characters or more. Because these idiosyncratic patterns appear again and again, says project director Yehuda Radday, it seems likely that a sole author was responsible. Their exhaustive computer analysis conducted in Israel suggested an 82 percent probability that the book has just one author.’

Conclusion

Ultimately, the author of Genesis was God, working through Moses. This does not mean that God used Moses as a ‘typewriter’. Rather, God prepared Moses for his task from the day he was born. When the time came, Moses had all the necessary data, and was infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit as to what he included and what he left out. This is consistent with known history, and with the claims and principles of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21).

On the other hand there is no historical evidence, and no spiritual or theological basis whatsoever for the deceptive JEDP hypothesis. Its teaching is completely false; the ‘scholarship’ that promotes it is totally spurious. Propped up by the theory of evolution, it exists solely to undermine the authority of the Word of God.

Related articles

References and notes

  1. Josh McDowell, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Here’s Life Publishers, 1981, p. 45. Return to text.
  2. Notable exponents of Wellhausenism were Samuel R. Driver in England (1891), and Charles A. Briggs in the USA (1893). Since Wellhausen’s time, other liberal critics have ‘found’ up to 40 alleged contributors to the Pentateuch, including an Edomite source S and a Canaanite source K — there are almost as many subdivisions as there have been ‘experts’ finding sources! Return to text.
  3. Adapted from Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave, Moody Press, Chicago, 1990, pp. 89 ff. Return to text.
  4. Adapted from Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, Michigan, 1982, pp. 51–52. Return to text.
  5. In Genesis 13:10 the Jordan valley is compared with ‘the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar’—appropriate only for readers unfamiliar with the Jordan Valley in Palestine but acquainted with Egypt. Hence written near the time of the Exodus from Egypt, not many centuries later. Return to text.
  6. The crop sequence in Exodus 9:31–32 is Egyptian, not Palestinian. The trees and animals referred to are mostly indigenous to Egypt or the Sinai Peninsula, not Palestine, e.g. the acacia tree, used for the tabernacle furniture, is native to Egypt and Sinai, but is hardly found in Canaan, except around the Dead Sea. The skins prescribed for the outer covering of the tabernacle in Exodus 26:14 (Hebrew tachash), were most likely those of the dugong or sea cow (Zool. Sirenia)—found in the sea adjacent to Egypt and Sinai but foreign to Palestine. See ref. 4, p. 46 ff. Return to text.
  7. More Egyptian loan words are found in the Pentateuch than anywhere else in the Bible, as would be expected if the author was Moses ‘learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians’ (Acts 7:22). The very name ‘Moses’ is Egyptian not Hebrew (Exodus 2:10). Return to text.
  8. There is no mention in the Pentateuch of the temple, or that Jerusalem would be its future location — the only centre of worship mentioned was the tabernacle, a tent. Return to text.
  9. Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2. The first of these, ‘These are the generations of the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 2:4), does not mention a human name, as no man was present during Creation Week until day six. The information was probably revealed by God to Adam, who then recorded it (ref. 10). Return to text.
  10. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 22–30; also Prof. Dr. F.N. Lee, personal communication, April 1998. Return to text.
  11. ’Elohim is a Hebrew plural form meaning ‘two or more’. In Genesis 1:1 it occurs with the verb ‘created’ (Hebrew bara’) in the singular form. It is thus a plural noun with a singular meaning, suggesting the uni-plurality of the Godhead. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is thus foreshadowed in the Bible right from the very first verse. See also the use of the word ‘us’ in Genesis 1:26 and 11:7. Return to text.
  12. Note that the power of God associated with the use of this word is seen much more clearly in His having created the vast contents of space, as well as the astounding complexities and minutiae of life on Earth, in the short timespan of Creation Week, rather than in any long-drawn-out evolutionary timetable. See C.V. Taylor, The First 100 Words, The Good Book Co., Gosford, NSW, Australia, p. 3, 1996. Return to text.
  13. There is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2. In Matthew 19:3–6, Jesus quoted from both accounts together, 1:27 and 2:24, showing them to be equally authoritative and fully supplementary. See also D. Batten, ‘Genesis Contradictions?Creation 18(4):44–45, 1996; R.M. Grigg, ‘Should Genesis be taken literally?Creation 16(1):38–41, 1993. Return to text.
  14. Cf. Hosea 6:7: ‘But they like men [Hebrew: literally ‘like Adam’ or ‘in Adam’] have transgressed the covenant …’ Return to text.

(Also available in Greek)

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari