Saturday, February 11, 2006

Antinomianism


I am working on a short post of a passage I was thinking on previously, Matthew 12. However, late last night and for several months I have been running across blogs in which there are many Christians who seem to see no purpose at all in the Law. Many will claim that they sound Antinomian, but not to call them that. I am curious how my brothers view this subject. Mainly I am trying to understand the position in regards to passages such as Romans 3:31 and the letter to the Galatians.

Most of the time this particular view comes up in discussions concerning the fourth of the ten commandments. However, my primary concern is this: When the gospel is given, why is it good news? What is the bad news that makes the gospel of grace such good news? How is sin defined? If we call men to repent of their sins and put their faith in God, what would that entail? If we sin, by what standard do we know that we have sinned? It seems to be a pretty important issue as far as I'm concerned.

I am not advocating obedience to the Law as justification before God. The Scripture is clearly against that. It seems the real sticking point of the discussion lies within whether or not those who have been born again are enabled by the Spirit of God to submit to His Law out of love, not obligation.

Spurgeon put it quite well,
I am rather fond of being called an Antinomian, for this reason, that the term generally applied to those who hold truth very firmly and will not let it go. But I should not be fond of being an Antinomian. We are not against the law of God. We believe it is no longer binding on us as the covenant of salvation; but we have nothing to say against the law of God. "The law is holy; we are carnal, sold under sin." None shall charge us truthfully with being Antinomians. We do quarrel with Antinomians; but as for some poor souls, who are so inconsistent as to say the law is not binding, and yet try to keep it with all their might, we do not quarrel with them! they will never do much mischief; but we think they might learn to distinguish between the law as a covenant of life and a direction after we have obtained life.
Well, we do love good works. Do you ask, of what use are they? I reply, first: Good works are useful as evidences of grace. The Antinomian says,—But I do not require evidences; I can live without them. This is unreasonable. Do you see yonder clock? That is the evidence of the time of day. The hour would be precisely the same if we had not that evidence. Still, we find the clock of great use. So we say, good works are the best evidence of spiritual life in the soul. Is it not written, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren?" Loving the brethren is a good work. Again, "If any man abide in me, he shall bring forth fruit." Fruits of righteousness are good works, and they are evidence that we abide in Christ. If I am living in sin day by day, what right have I to conclude I am a child of God? A man comes to this chapel, and while he hears the gospel, he exclaims, "What delicious truth! what heavenly doctrine!" Yet when he leaves the place, you may see him enter one public-house for another, and get intoxicated. Has this man any right to think himself an heir of heaven? The man who comes to God's house, and drinks "wine on the lees, well refined," and then goes away and drinks the cup and enjoys the company of the ungodly, gives no evidence that he is a partaker of divine grace. He says, "I do not like good works." Of course he does not. "I know I shall not be saved by good works." Of this we are certain, for he has none to be saved by. Many are ready enough to say,

"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;"

who believe they are children of God, because, though they have no good works as evidence, they think they have faith. Ah, sir! you have faith, and there is another gentleman quite as respectable as you are, who has faith; I shall not tell you his name this morning, but he is better than you are, for it is said, "He believes and trembles," while you sit unmoved by the most powerful appeals. Yes you who think you are children of God while you live in sin, you are in the most dreadful error. There is no delusion, if you except the delusion of the Pharisee, which is more dreadful than the delusion of a man, who thinks that sin and grace can reign together. The Christian has sins of heart, over which he groans and laments, but as regards his outward life, he is kept, so that the evil one touches him not; the Lord keeps him under the shadow of his wing; he doth not, except in some falls, allow him to turn out of the way. Works are the evidence of our faith; by faith our souls are justified before God; by works our faith is justified before ourselves and fellow-men.

Secondly, we think good works are the witnesses or testimony to other people of the truth of what we believe. Every Christian was sent into the world to be a preacher; and just like every other creature that God has made, he will always be preaching about his Lord. Doth not the whole world preach God? Do not the stars, while they shine, look down from heaven and say there is a God? Do not the winds chaunt God's name in their mighty howling? Do not the waves murmur it upon the shore, or thunder it in the storms? Do not the floods and the fields, the skies and the plains, the mountains and the valleys, the streamlets and the rivers, all speak for God? Assuredly they do; and a new-born creature—the man created in Christ—must preach Jesus Christ wherever he goes. This is the use of good works. He will preach, not with his mouth always, but with his life. The use of good works is, that they are a Christian's sermon. A sermon is not what a man says, but what he does. You who practice are preaching; it is not preaching and practising, but practising is preaching. The sermon that is preached by the mouth is soon forgotten, but what we preach by our lives is never forgotten. There is nothing like faithful practice and holy living, if we would preach to the world. The reason why Christianity does not advance with a mightier stride, is simply this:—that professors are in a large measure a disgrace to religion, and many of those who are joined to the church have no more godliness than those who are out of it. If I preached such a contradictory sermon on a Sunday as some of you have preached the most part of your lives, you would go out and say, "We will not go again till he can be a little more consistent with himself." There is a difference in the very tone of the voice of some people when they are in the chapel engaged in prayer, and when they are in the workshop; you would hardly think them the same persons. Out upon your inconsistency! Professors, take heed lest your inconsistencies should blot your evidence, and some of you should be found manifesting, not inconsistency, but a most fearful consistency, because living in sin and iniquity, and therefore being consistent with yourselves in hypocrisy.
In the third place, good works are of us to a Christian as an adornment. You will all remember that passage in the Scriptures, which tells us how a woman should adorn herself. "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." The adornment of good works, the adornment in which we hope to enter heaven, is the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; but the adornment of a Christian here below, is his holiness, his piety, his consistency. If some people had a little more piety, they would not require such a showy dress; if they had a little more godliness, to set them off, they would have no need whatever to be always decorating themselves. The best ear-rings that a woman can wear, are the ear-rings of hearing the Word with attention. The very best ring that we can have upon our finger is the ring which the father puts upon the finger of the prodigal son, when he is brought back; and the very best dress we can ever wear, is a garment wrought by the Holy Spirit, the garment of a consistent conduct. But it is marvellous, while many are taking all the trouble they can to array this poor body, they have very few ornaments for their soul; they forgot to dress the soul. Oh! no; they are too late at chapel, all because of that other pin, which they might have left out. They come here just when the service is beginning, because, forsooth, they have so much to put on, they could not be expected to be here in time. And there are Christian men and Christian women, who forget what God has written in his word, which is as true now as ever it was, that Christian women should array themselves with modesty. It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley's rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, "I wish you would leave that alone!" Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man's soul, honesty to every man's conscience and honesty to myself demands, that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, ye may dress yourselves up till ye shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the word will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."
IV. Thus have I told you the use of good works. Now just a moment or two to tell you that the religion which we profess in this place, and which we preach, is CALCULATED TO PRODUCE GOOD WORKS IN THE CHILD OF GOD.
Some say that what is called Calvinism, which is an alias for the true gospel, is calculated to lead men into sin. Now, we will refute that, just by reminding them, that the holiest people in the world have been those who professed the doctrine which we hold. If you ask who in the dark ages were the great moral lights of the world, the answer will be, such as Athanasius, Ambrose, Chrysostom; and then coming lower still, such men as Wickliffe, Jerome of Prague, and Calvin; and every one of these held the doctrines which we love to proclaim. And just let me remind you, there never were better men in the world than the Puritans, and every one of them held fast the truth we love. I happened to find in a book the other day a statement which pleased me so much, that I thought I would read it to you. The writer says, "The Puritans were the most resolved Protestants in the nation; zealous Calvinists; warm and affectionate preachers. They were the most pious and devout people in the land; men of prayer in secret and in public, as well as in their families. Their manner of devotion was fervent and solemn, depending on the assistance of the Divine Spirit. They had a profound reverence for the holy name of God, and were great enemies not only to profane swearing, but to foolish talking and jesting. They were strict observers of the Lord's day, spending the whole of it in public and private devotion and charity. It was the distinguishing mark of a Puritan, in these times, to see him going to church twice a day, with his Bible under his arm; and while others were at plays and interludes, at revels, or walking in the fields, or at the diversions of bowling, fencing, &c., on the eve of the Sabbath, these with their families were employed in reading the Scriptures, singing psalms, repeating sermons, catechising their children, and prayer. Nor was this the work only of the Lord's day, but they had their hours of family devotion in the week days; they were circumspect, as to all excess in eating and drinking, apparel, and lawful diversions; being frugal, industrious, exact in their dealings, and solicitous to give every one his own." That is a noble testimony to puritanic truth and the power of the gospel. But I have one, which I think will please you, in another part of the book. A learned Infidel says of the modern Calvinists and Jansenists, that "When compared with their antagonists, they have excelled, in no small degree, in the most rigid and respectable virtues; that they have been an honor to their own age, and the best model for imitation to every age succeeding." Only think of an infidel speaking like that. I think it was an infidel that said, "Go the Arminians to hear about good works; but go to the Calvinists to see them exhibited." And even Dr. Priestly, who was a Unitarian, admits that, "They who hold the doctrines of grace, have less apparent conformity to the world, and more of a principle of real religion, than his own followers: and that they who, from a principle of religion, ascribe more to God and less to man than others, have the greatest elevation of piety." --from Spurgeon.Org

For those who may visit and don't know what Antinomianism is, wilkipedia gives a pretty thorough defintion here.

20 comments:

Bhedr said...

I understand what you are saying. i have no quarrel with you:-)

I don't think you place yourself under the Law.

Btw,

I'd like to apologize in the past for giving out such tough rehtoric in making arguments for grace and misrepresenting you. I know how taunting it can be as I have learned my lesson talking with others.

Also on the KJV stuff:-)

Tim said...

Thanks Brian,

No sweat man. Apology accepted. I thought nothing of it, really:)

Bhedr said...

Cool, thanks for the forgiveness.

Daniel said...

I personally don't believe that we are under the Mosaic Law. This was a covenant with the nation of Israel. Passages like Romans 3:31 point out that Christ is the fulfillment of the Torah. Everything is completed in Christ. This passage doesn't mean that we are under the Torah as a Covenant.

However, the church is under the Law of Christ. This is a part of the New Covenant.

Antinomianism is the belief that we are not under any sort of moral code. This is clearly wrong. The belief that we are not under the Mosaic Law should not be labelled as antinomianism.

Tim said...

I agree Daniel. My point was that when the issue of the fourth commandment came up, there are those, as you a have pointed out, rightly see not being under the Old Covenant Law, but then there are those who come completely out from under any law, including what is found in the New Testament. I'm sorry, if I wasn't clear on that.

DOGpreacher said...

Hello Tim,

I will be back to comment later when I have time. Thanks for the e-mail, I will write/call shortly. Great topic.

As we look at this topic, let us not dismiss it so lightly. At times we only see what we have been conditioned to see.

Let us not be afraid to take our presuppositions (oh yes...we all have them)and hold them out & up for examination by the "whole counsel" of the Word of God on the given subject.

Mankind was NEVER justified by the keeping of the law. Men of old were saved the same way they are now...by the grace of God, through the faith that He gave them to believe.

grateful for grace,
Gregg

Gordan said...

Tim,

I'm wondering how it is that Christians see a significant difference between the Mosaic Law and a so-called, though only ever loosely defined, "law of Christ."

Who gave the Mosaic Law? Have his standards of morality changed? Did not Jesus endorse the Mosaic Law with the strongest possible sorts of terms?

Certainly, Christians would all agree that no keeping of any law on our part is what justifies us; but having gotten past the part about justification, what substantive difference is there between the Mosaic Law and the nebulous New Covenant law of Christ? Isn't the New Testament "law" merely Moses, minus all the particular trappings of the Jewish cultus that prefigured Christ? If not, then what is different?

Tim said...

Gordon,

Those are good questions and that was why I posted this. I am curious to find out. Though I agree with Daniel that we are not under the Old Covenant and the of Law per se, just as you pointed out with those things picturing Christ, I still don't know that I buy into the fact that there are those who don't see the commands that God gave as valid commands. After all who gave those commands? God did. Exodus 20 tells us that God spoke all these things. It appears that it was Christ Himself in the dispensing of the Law. Again, I am with you in seeing that the Law does not justify. Yet, I don't see a problem in idenitifying that the Spirit of God produces in us holy living which would not be contrary to the Law.

Gordan said...

Tim, If I understand you, I think we are on exactly the same page.

I am saying that I frankly am at a loss to explain why so many Christians (as you stated in your original post) seem to have developed a negative view of God's laws, and have even tried to contrast one statement of them (through Moses) with other statements of them (through Christ and the apostles).

Why there should be such aversion to the thought of converted Christians using the unified moral strictures of the Bible as a guide to holy living escapes me.

Tim said...

That's my thought as well. Although I have had one individual describe for me his particular view and I was able to understand him, I still don't know that I buy into its validity.

His argument was that Jesus' words concerning adultery were more powerful than that found in the Old Testament (given at Sinai). However, what is striking to me is that though there was specifically 10 given at Sinai, and then expounded upon throughout Deuteronomy, they forget that the first five books are referred to as "the Law" or the Torah. Therefore, when Jesus quoted He often quoted the entirety of the Torah, more time than any He used Deuteronomy.

Chad said...

Tim,
I appreciate all of the honesty on this post. It is apparent that you and some of the others here continue to have questions regarding the nature and structure of the covenants, and the history and function of the law of Moses, as related to the law of Christ. I certainly have not arrived, but I feel that I could give you some answers to the questions you are having. If you are interested in this discussion taking place on your blog, maybe you could post the comments from the challies site between the two of us.

Tim said...

Chad,

Hey thanks for dropping in. I will try and post your comments, since you were describing your position. I was simply trying to understand it. I think you handled things well and I appreciate your demeanor in your explanation. I will try to put them up this evening.

Tim said...

Chad has asked me to post the comments that were made on challies.com. I simply started the ball rolling as I came aboard with some questions and Chad proceeded to share his view with me, while I simply asked some clarifying questions. So, I will post these for you to read and see if you might have questions for Chad. Once again, thanks Chad for your input:)

Tim said:I thought I might ask a few questions in regards to this lively discussion:

Someone said, "Christ Himself said that all Ten could be summed up in two commandments: 1) love God (1-4), and 2) love your neighbor (5-6)." Then they proceeded to say that the law is not needed because now we see the law of love. I might remind you that when the law was given it was based on love. Remember, Deuteronomy 6? You are to LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. It seems sort of amorphic to me to just say love God and love your neighbor if those things cannot be defined. However, I think Christ did define them. Was He bringing a different law in Matthew 5-7 or was He simply bringing people back to the original intent? Point is: Can we define love for God? Can we define love for our neighbor? Of course. The Spirit of God enables the children of God to obey God. If men were called to repent, what were they called to repent of? Sin. How do men know what sin is? Paul said that he would not have known sin, except by the law. Therefore, if someone is called to repentance and that repentance is from sin and towards God, how is it verified?

Also, Paul closes Romans 3 after speaking about the fact that all are sinners and condemned by the Law, he asks, "Do we then make void the law through faith? CERTAINLY NOT! On the Contrary, we esteem the Law."

Someone also said that Jesus "worked" on the Sabbath. I know MacArthur says that Jesus "broke" the Sabbath. However, I would simply point out the difference in His work. His work was not for sustenance. His work was not for His own personal gain. Here is the big difference I see with the position Dr. MacArthur holds and that of Dr. Chantry. I have never heard one good thing concerning the command regarding the Sabbath from Dr. MacArthur. All of his commentaries contain what the established religious leadership had developed, not what Scripture spoke of in regards to setting aside one day in seven. Dr. Chantry's view simply goes back to what the Sabbath was and does not try to erect the straw man that the Pharisees erected. Jesus constantly tore that down.

As far as Galatians is concerned, is Paul not clearly addressing the idea that one must have faith AND keep the Law to attain justification? I haven't heard those comments here. I have simply heard sincere believers who claim to have faith, who simply want to be obedient, not to attain justification. They simply are looking to demonstrate their love for God and for their fellow man. If all the talk of works plays into this I might want to pose this question as well: Was Moses justified? Was David justified? What about Isaiah? Ezekiel? Jeremiah? Daniel? Were they justified by faith in Christ or by the works of the Law? Clearly, just like anyone in the New Testament they were justified by faith, not works and all because of God's grace. Yet, did they flinch against ANY of the commandments? I don't recall there being any problem with doing that.

Do I believe Christ fulfilled the Law? Absolutely. If He didn't we are all in serious trouble, because we are still in our sins. However, I believe He fulfilled the commandments regarding adultery, stealing, murder, lying, coveting and the others, but I still desire to obey those commands because He first loved me and I love Him in return. His love was demonstrated. I believe mine is as well.

One final thing, and I don't really expect to hear much of it, but how many of you regard the command found in Acts 15:20 as valid, "we write to them (Gentiles) to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood." I am primarily concerned with abstaining from things strangled and from blood. I am extremely curious, since this is New Testament and given by apostolic authority to the Gentiles, how many of you will have those rare steaks or eat animals which have been strangled or partake of blood? Is this also done away with, or is it addressed elsewhere?

By the way, my comments are not meant to be argumenative or condescending. I know that sometimes gets lost in written dialogue. I genuinely bring these up for discussion.

Chad said: Tim,

What is the difference between the 10th commandment, of the '10' and say, the 8th commandment? I am going somewhere with this . . .

Also, regarding the Acts 15 jerusalem council, and accepting an early date for Galatians, it seems pretty clear that the issue was not just offense to jewish Christians, but also, the safety of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem in connection with Peter's fear fo the circumcision party and the delegation from James. (Witherington's commentary 'Grace in Galatia' is very good here.) It is not a stretch, as I see it, to read all four prohibitions of the Jerusalem coucil as referring to pagan practices concerning worship (cf. 1 Cor.), meat market, etc. All things pertaining, especially in Gentile lands, to the uncleanliness and idolatry within the temple.

So, like you I see it difficult to remove all theological or moral reference here whatsoever. And as such, I understand it to coincide with Paul's teaching to theThessolonians and the corinthians regarding their association with pagan temples. For example, it is ok to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols privately in your own home, but it is not ok to do so in the pagan temple, where such 'porneia' was practiced along with the actual sacrifices to idols, etc. It is clear teh James' concern is primarily one of witness. (15:21 - Moses is read in every city on the Sabbath)

Finally, it will be difficult to identify in a 1=1 equation the commands given in the letter fo the JC and any specific OT passage. Scholars are pretty much in agreement that there are no known parallels to a selection of these 4 commands from teh Law of Moses which are made to be binding on Gentiles.

Tim said: Chad,

Thanks for the question, though I am not sure what to say. What is the difference between 8 and 10? Do you mean that one specifically deals with the intents of the heart, while the other deals with the outward expression of those intentions? That can also be related to number 6, 7, and 9. Is that what you mean? If so, I recall a study of the 10 commandments and if the argument would be this is what Jesus was doing was getting at the heart, I would agree, but is that different than what the OT taught? The OT taught that at the root of all violations of the 10, was the heart.

Looking forward to where this leads:)

Chad said: What I mean is that the difference between the 10th commandment, and say the 8th, etc. is that it explicitly deals with the heart. Now, you keep saying that the 8th commandment prohibits hatred in all forms directed at people. Yet nowhere in the 10 commandments is this stated. You want to make them say that because you have already committed to the view that the 10 comandments must be the unchanging moral law of God. Therefore, if anyone (esp. Christ) later mentions any of these commandments in context of moral law, that person must be simply expounding on the meaning which was already understood to be contained within the 10 commandments themselves.

I am giong to try to show you that this is not the case, and that such a view is untenable.

Allow me some room as I make my case.

This may take a few posts.

1) Let's look at the relationship fo the 10 commandments to the rest of the Old Cov. I say that they are foundational, and that the other laws are explanations, clarifications, and expansions upon the principles and laws laid down in the 10. Sort of like a constitution. All other laws are built upon, or have their legality within the confines of, the 10 commandments. This is important, to understand.

None of the commands of Moses violates the 10 commandments. God did not command one thing on Mt. Sinai and another with Moses in the tent of meeting. The 10 comm. are the foundation of the O.C. Paul says in 2 Cor. 3 that they are essentially tied in with the O.C. Also, in the OT we find Exod. 34:28 says, "So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."

In Deut. 9:9, 11 we read "When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water . . . And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." Again in Deut. 9:15, "So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands."

Also, something that is rather obvious, but which slips by most people, is that the ark is the 'ark of the covenant', meaning not that it is the ark associated with the Mosaic cov. but rather it is the ark which contains the covenant. The word ark means chest, or coffin, or container. And what was in the ark but the ten commandments. These were the foundational laws of the covenant.

So the 10 commandments are essentially tied to the Mosaic Covenant.

Nowhere does Moses claim that these are eternal truths. They may be eternal moral laws, but Moses does not describe them as such. Moses essentially describes them as the tables of the covenant between he and Israel.

Most people tend to think of the Ten commandments as being mentioned in the Old Cov. as though they were just part of it. But essentially, we are instructed to think of the 10 comm. as being essentially the O.C.

Tim said: ok, I can follow your thinking and I am listening to what you said, but I think the exposition or as you said other laws that were based on the 10 do actually deal with the heart, not just the actions.

Chad said: OK. I am not saying that the other laws necessarily do not deal with matters of the heart. In fact, some of the laws later mentioned by Moses clearly refer to matters of the heart. 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . ." So certainly some of these later commands deal with the heart. What I am saying is that those later commands are not the ‘ten commandments’. They either find their basis and foundation in the ten, such as I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other God before me, or they find their legality from those ten commandments, meaning that they do not contradict the ten commands of the covenant.

But surely we can agree that the ten commandments do not read, "Thou shalt not offer unto God a blemished sacrifice." My point is that the ten commandments themselves do not say that. That is not what was written on the tablets of stone. You have to go to the rest of the law of the covenant to find out what God means, exactly, by “you shall have no other gods before me.”

2) Now to the second point of argument. For this I will use the Sabbath as our example. I do this not for any particularly germane reason, but simply because it is a clear example. What we find in the O.C. is a litany of rules and regulations regarding the keeping of the Sabbath.

All of these are explanations of what God means by saying, "keep the Sabbath" We learn that in the law of the Cov., or the 10 commandments, that would mean ceasing from almost all work on the Sabbath. It would mean preparing meals on Friday to provide for rest on Sunday. It would mean no fires, it would mean not leaving the house for ordinary reasons, a rest from all of that. 'A holy convocation in all your dwellings.' A day of rest unto God. men who disregarded it and gathered on the Sabbath were to be put to death.
All of these things are laws regarding the keeping of the Sabbath. They are explaining and clarifying and defining what was said in the 4th commandment. They are part of the same covenant. They fill up what it means to keep the Sabbath as part of the O.C. Without these clarifications it may not be clear to the people just how he wanted them to keep it, at least when it came to the particulars.

Conversely, to demonstrate the legality of all other commands, that they do not violate the 10 commandments, we could site God’s commands to kill the inhabitants of the land when Israel invades. This is not a violation of the command not to murder. It is also not a violation of the command to take a life for a life. Here, the command is not to murder, but the later commands are not a violation of the foundational covenant. In fact, they actually support it and enforce it.

I am not necessarily advancing the argument here, but merely showing how my first point works.

Can you agree with this as well? I want us to be clear on what we are talking about.

Tim said: Can you explain what you mean when you say "they actually support it and enforce it"?

Chad said: I said in the last post, "It would mean preparing meals on Friday to provide for rest on Sunday."

Obviously this should read, " . . . rest on Saturday."

I just mean that the command to rid the land of its possessors is meant to facilitate pure worship unto God, as the texts make clear. And that the command to take an eye for an eye can be seen not as a violation for murder, but as an actual protection of life. I.E. Death penalty.

Easy enough, but I appreciate your desire to make be be as clear as possible.

OK, good. Now we can start making some progress.

3) I want to consider the command against adultery. Obviously there are things in the rest of the O.C. laws which speak to this issue. (I do not see the 10th commandment as prohibiting lust as a man may wish to have another man's wife for a number of reasons -- just ask John Wesley! whose wife was a disaster to his ministry.)

It is categorically prohibited in the Decalogue: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” In more specific language we read: “And thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor's wife, to defile thyself with her” (Lev 18:20). The penalty is death for both guilty parties: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Lev 20:10). Even a woman betrothed to a husband was subject to the law of adultery. (Deut. 22:23)

Now, we are in agreement that these laws, because they are part of the same covenant, will not violate the ten commandments. In fact, if anything, they clarify for us what was meant by God in those commands of the Old Covenant.

Now we also read Moses tell the people in Deut. 24:1-4:

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

Now, this further clarifies what is allowed, and not allowed in the Covenant documents of the 10 Commandments. Ad we may be certain that nothing in the law of Moses will contradict the meaning of those documents. Again, this is important, because what we have here is God himself interpreting the 7th commandment as it was given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. As it was meant to be understood in the O.C.

4) Next step:
But what do we find in this respect from the lips of Christ?

Matthew 19:1-9:
“Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."

The common Reformed interpretation of this passage is that Christ is here rescuing this piece of Mosaic legislation from the perversion of the Pharisees. And certainly he is doing that. Further, the interpretation goes on, stating that Christ is harking back to the real meaning of the 7th commandment, as the Mosaic law in question essentially deals with the 7th commandment. But I believe that Christ is not doing that at all.

Let me explain. While it is true that Christ is rescuing this piece of Mosaic legislation from its perversion, it is not true that he is simply doing that. Notice, they said, ‘Moses commanded . . .’ and he says in correction, ‘Moses allowed . . .’ The traditional understanding of the passage gets that right. But look at what he affirms, not just what he denies! (This is amazing to me)

He actually says that Moses allowed this practice. He also affirmed that from the beginning of time God has not allowed it, nor does he in his kingdom. Nevertheless, Moses allowed it. We must be clear on this. “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Wow!

In other words, the Mosaic covenant (i.e. Moses allowed) allowed this action which Christ condemns as adultery. Further, this means that the 7th commandment, as wonderful as it is, cannot contain the prohibition which Christ here gives.

5) At least in this case, it is a wrong practice to poor into the 7th commandment, as given through Moses on Sinai, all biblical teaching regarding adultery.

The 7th commandment, as meant and intended from Sinai, is not the highest teaching regarding adultery. If you want the highest teaching regarding adultery, if you want the true prohibition about this, you go to Christ who lays it down in its highest form.

I have much more here, and will answer the glaring question about Christ’s “have you not read . . .” and his “from the beginning it was not so” But for now, understand that Christ says that Moses allowed the practice. It was not a violation of the covenant which came down from Moses. It was not a violation of the tablets of the Covenant.

Deut. 4:13 “And he declared to you his covenant which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.”

Christ says – “Moses allowed . . . and I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” He condemns the man that Moses does not. And he does so because God does not approve of the practice, nor has he ever. He says, “from the beginning it was not so.” His declaration that they are required to not separate is bound up with the unchanging moral law of God. But this unchanging moral law of God is absolutely not the law that Moses gave. In fact, if we understand Christ’s words correctly, it is most certainly not found in the Old Covenant given to Israel as Mt. Sinai.

To be sure there is some continuity here. Such as the defilement issue. In the OC the man is not allowed to go and remarry the women which he was allowed to put away for an indecency. If he does, he is defiled. In the NC, he is not allowed to put her away for an indecency. If he does he is defiled and a lawbreaker.

I don't understand how you cannot see this. Christ clearly condemns what Moses allows. And in doing so he appeals not only to his own moral authority (i.e. he is the proper judge to determine the will of God and interpret the Scriptures) but he also appeals to the moral law of God which does not change while we are on this earth (i.e. there is no law concerning divorce, etc. in the new heavens and earth).

In other words, he pits the 'law of God' against the law of Moses. And instead of them balancing out on the scale, the 'law of God'tips the scale in its favor, leaving the law of Moses wanting. This does not make the law of Moses evil, or unspiritual, but it does mean that it is not the most good, holy, just, and spiritual form of law that there is.

Now, back to where we started, we will come full circle, and then take off in another direction.

from post 121:
"What I mean is that the difference between the 10th commandment, and say the 8th, etc. is that it explicitly deals with the heart. Now, you keep saying that the 8th commandment prohibits hatred in all forms directed at people. Yet nowhere in the 10 commandments is this stated. You want to make them say that because you have already committed to the view that the 10 comandments must be the unchanging moral law of God. Therefore, if anyone (esp. Christ) later mentions any of these commandments in context of moral law, that person must be simply expounding on the meaning which was already understood to be contained within the 10 commandments themselves.

I am giong to try to show you that this is not the case, and that such a view is untenable."

I believe I have proved my case. The 10 Commandments were/are not the unchanging moral law of God. Or we could say this, whatever God was doing in the giving of the 10 commandments, we can know for certain that he was not giving a set of commands for all people at all time. Essentially, these commands were the basic covenant stipulations between God and the people of Israel. And we now know for certain that at least some of those laws CANNOT be identified with the perfect law of God.

I would entertain the opinion that we should abandon this type of terminology all together, but that is another matter.

once you can see that Christ is not afraid to do this with the law of Moses, then I believe your blinders have been removed, so that you can see what is really happening in the Sermon on the Mount. You can see what really happened in the New Covenant. Also, and perhaps this is the mostimportant thing for any in the reformed camp, you are open to the possibility taht the old and new covenants do not relate to one another as parts 1 and 2 of one covenant of grace. Rather, they relate as type and anti-type.

Gordan said...

Okay, I've waded through all that, and I think I did so while only getting the writers mixed up once or twice.

As a classical, Reformed thinker, I find myself in substantial agreement with most of what is said.

1. I do agree that it is unwarranted to elevate the Ten Commandments to the point where we believe the intention is that they exist as they were forever, with no modification; but then we feel free to change and modify most everything else. There is no textual warrant that I can see for this "special" eternal significance of the ten.

2. However, though I can go along with the very qualified statement that the law of Moses is not be equated with the eternal, moral law of God, I would argue that it is, in fact, a faithful expression of that Law. Moses does not violate God's eternal moral dictates. He may allow some variance (e.g. divorce, for the sake of saving women's lives) but that is not the same as saying that he opposed God in that. Surely God's eternal Law does not demand the blood of bulls and goats, but Moses did not sin in requiring them. There is a difference between a variance and a point of opposition.

3. I believe that Christ's own declaration that the first two greatest commandments are to love (from the heart) necessarily means that the rest of the law cannot be properly kept in any sense without that internal love of God and neighbor. The Pharisees meticulously kept the outward requirements, and were still covenant-breakers. Unwashed cups, and so forth. This is precisely because their obedience was merely outward. Therefore I agree with the Reformed confessions which said that even the "outward" laws addressed inward, spiritual things as well.

4. It is a stretch to say that what Christ brought in the Sermon on the Mount was a new law, considering His words in Matthew 5:18, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

It takes some serious gymnastics to come away from this refusing to see that "till all be fulfilled" equals, "Till heaven and earth pass." Could he have used any stronger language there, really?

Christ did not make a new law concerning adultery or murder: He merely corrected our definitions of it.

5. I agree, though, that even after saying that, the Lawgiver is free to introduce changes and abrogations as He sees fit. That is my entire beef in this whole discussion: Who decides what laws we're obligated to, and which ones we don't practice any more?

My contention is that the only bulwark against libertinism, license, and full-blown antinomianism is the willingness to let the Lawgiver alone make those determinations.

Therefore I propose this interpretive thumbrule as we go from Old Testament to New:

Any Word of God must be considered eternal and unchangeable (as He is), unless that same God later makes it plain and explicit to us that some part of it was temporary.

6. I do agree that the New Covenant in Christ is better, richer, fuller, freer, than anything that came before. Christ exceeds Moses as the sun exceeds the moon.

But this doesn't mean that when nighttime rolls around we shake our fists up at the moon and mutter curses. It still functions as valid, real, true light in the darkness.

When 2 Timothy 3:15-17 were written, the God-breathed Scriptures in question were the Law and the Prophets. And these are able to do all sorts of wonderful things for us, including help perfect us as New Covenant members. They are not to be despised, not one jot or tittle.

As a Reformed guy, I do see only one covenant of grace throughout the Bible. It merely comes in different administrations. It would be folly to go back and want to live under Moses, and yet also to tell him to pack sand.

7. I depart from most of my Reformed brethren on the Sabbath. Hearkening back to the proposed interpretive thumbrule above, I believe it is explicitly clear that New Covenant believers are not under the Jewish day of rest; and further I think it's not exegetically sustainable to draw a line of equality between the New Covenant Lord's Day and the Sabbath of the Old.

The Lord's Day may well be seen as growing out of the Sabbath, but they are not therefore the same. Just as the Lord's Supper is not the same as Passover, though one clearly emerged from the behind the scaffolding of the other. Not only are there explicit statements supporting this idea, but also a whole host of implied arguments as well (which can be discussed later...)

Hope this adds something.

Gordan

Chad said...

Sorry I have not written anything.

I have been out of pocket for a few days now and will not be posting anyting until Friday or Saturday.

DOGpreacher said...

Gordan,

You are quite correct on point #7!

The 'Lords Day' (Sunday) is not something God (nor Christ, nor apostles) gave as the 'New Covenant' Sabbath.

This is a simple matter to prove. IF it WAS, I am sure Paul would not have told the gentiles who came to him in Acts 13:42-44 that he would preach to them the next Sabbath. He, of course, would simply tell them that there had been a fulfillment of the Sabbath, and instead of 'Judaizing', he would be preaching to them on the NEW Sabbath (or...Lords day)...TOMORROW! Of course he did not do this...ever. Why was his "custom" still to do physical work on days 1-6, and to preach on the Sabbath.

One will not look at what I have just written with a true desire to examine the scriptures, and see if these things are so...UNLESS he does what I recommended concerning his presuppositions on an earlier comment to this post.

With diligence for right division,
The Dogpreacher

Chad said...

The thing to see is that even though the law of Moses is good, holy, just, spiritual(!), that does not mean that the law of Christ is not higher (a new commandment -- love as I have loved). It is so much higher, in fact, that he can contrast the two laws on some points. This is amazing, as both laws were given by God, though for different purposes.
I am not talking about eliminating the law of Moses, or shaking our fist at him.
Truly, we appreciate every type and shadow, they keep us from misunderstanding the reality. We need Moses in that what he wrote helps so greatly in our walk with God. All those things previously written were for our sake. But that does not place us under the covenant law of Moses.
From the book, 'Sabbath in Christ'by Dale Ratzlaff:
"It is vitally important to realize that when we speak of the old covenant, including the ten commandments, being superceded by the new covenant, we are speaking of the old covenant in totality, yet at the same time we are not doing away with any of the moral principles contained within the old covenant . . . The New covenant, on the other hand, offers a much better guide for righteous living in that it operates from basic principles and the Christian has the indwelling Holy Spirit to interpret these principles to specific life situations and to give the power for living the Christ-like life."

"Now, however, life in the Spirit moves us to live beyond the letter of the law to follow the principles taought by Christ which modify and expand the letter of the law to general principles which are on a higher moral plain that old covenant law. Under the new covenant, these principles are written on our heart by the Holy Spirit."
"New covenant morality does not open any door to sin. Rather, it raises the moral bar to new moral heights --- the very righteousness of God. The full acceptance by God provides a much better motivation for righteous living than trying to perfectly keep the letter of the law."
Think of all the times in the NT that believers are motivated to walk in a way that is pleasing to God b/c of what God has done for them. Basically, if this won't motivate you, nothing will. It is the highest form of motivation.

Paul thanks the God for the Colossian church who have faith in God and love the brethren because of the hope which is securely laid up for them in heaven.
What else could Paul mean by saying, "the love of Christ compells us"?
Some of these things have been a contrast between the old cov. laws themselves, and some a contrast with a works mentality. I turst you will discrn what is intended where.
CT

Chad said...

Gordon,
regarding your point 2:
You say that God allowed Moses to permit divorce for the sake of the woman, to save her life.
I assume you mean that if her husband just kicked her out, she would not be able to live, she would essentially be abandoned. And that the certificate of divorce would ensure that she may be able to attach herself to another man. Wouldn't it be better, iff this is all that is going on here, to simply inflict the death penalty upon all men who divorce their wife except for sexual immorality or idolatry? Why make the stipulation only after the divorce and not before?

Chad said...

Gordan,
Regarding your point 4:
Christ brought a new law in his covenant, and this law is to love as he has loved us. He calls it a new commandment, not me. So let's not argue that point.

In the Sermon on the Mount he is laying down principles, not interpreting law. He is showing the principles which were behind the laws. The laws hang on these principles, specifically love for God and neighbor.

The way you have set up this "all the law shall not pass away" scenario, then ALL of the laws shll not pass away, whatsoever, in their Mosaic form, until heaven and earth pass away. I hope you are not wearing any mixed garments. Probably the fact that you are wearing them, nor have a safety 'knee-wall' around your roof, etc. is proff that you don't really believe this.

Certainly, Christ meant, not until heaven and earth pass away. The law is not thrown out by Christians, it is important to us. We are in some sense, 'under it' though as Paul says, 'not under the law'. How can this be? It can be because Christ has fulfilled the law in a prophetic sense. he is the end/goal of the law. He is the grand antitype of all its types, he is the substance of all its shadows, he is the reality of which it is the copy. His is the righteousness of which the law was a dim reflection.

Christians place themselves under the law as revelation, but not as covenant obligation. We are under a new covenant.

If ALL that Christ did in the sermon on the mount was so correct our misunderstandings, then you will have a hard time reconciling his stantements about oaths, etc. with Moses.
It is too simplistic to say that he was clarifying Moses. He does more than that. He takes the laws of Moses and raises them up higher eternal moral principles. Certainly, these principles were always in place, but those principles were not what Moses legislated.

Regarding your point 3:
Certainly the law legislated even these things of the heart. But the point is this:
Suppose you were a Jew who was truly concerned about loving your neighbor. Perhaps you interpret this as being genuine love expressed and a real reaching out to under-priviledged neighbors, etc. Suppose that you have the thought that this may include more people than you currently realize. So you go to the law to find out. And in there are all sorts of things that speak about not practicing usury againt jews, but go ahead and do so for the gentile. You find several laws like this, and so justifiably, you conclude that your 'neighbor' is your fellow Jew. Certainly this was the beef of so many of the prophets, etc. This seems to be a fair reading of the law, and so it is.

Then with this still on your mind, you run across Jesus, a wonderful man of God. You decide to ask him about the matter, and he blows you away. He doesn't interpret the law as to who your neighbor is, instead, he gives you this principle that says you should make yourself a neighbor to everyone you see in need. Don't be kind to your neighbors, MAKE yourself a neighbor to others by being kind to them.

Don't you see the difference here?

Chad said...

Gordon,

regarding your point 5.
Doesn't the NT make very clear that, as far as covenant obligations, the whole entirety of OC law is abrogated and no longer binding? Doesn't it rather appeal to the whole OC as revelation, but not as law? I am unaware of even one instance in which the OC law is cited as law, in its OC form, and made to be binding in its OC fashion. Could you point to one such case?

My point is this: The NT is very clear that the whole OC has passed away. It is also clear that our reading those books that God gave Israel are helpful and profitable. But Also, it never places the Christian under that covenant. They are never under those obligations. Always they are not under law, but in-lawed to Christ. Christians manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and though not under law, do in practice things which are the fulfillment of that law. We have commands from Christ, and these are law for us in some sense, but truly the only 'law' that Christ ever gave was to love as he loved. The Christian has much greater freedom under this law, but also much greater responsibility.

Since they have the Spirit's leading they are not under the law (Gal. 5). Nonetheless, Paul can say in this same context that they ought to be loving, because love fulfills the law. In other words, the good and godly things found in the law are brought over, not as law, but as revelation. For that matter, the whole law is brought over in this way. Paul can talk about laws pertaining to farming methods and apply them to apostolic labor. Obviously, we are looking at the law as a revelation of the character of God, not as a legal code to live by. Imagine, for a moment the apostle Paul doing this. Here is a former pharisee who now feels free to apply those same laws in this way. And he feels that it is right and justifiable to do so!

The reason, I believe, that the reformed camp insists upon the "all laws apply unless specifically rescinded" model, is because it has not done justice to the Christo-centric nature of the Old covenant and testament. Nor has it come to grips with the preparatory, negative, and parenthetical role it plays in salvation history. Further, the NT itself adopts a certain attitude and frame of reference for the old covenant law that once adopted, enables believers to find meaning, and not law in the OC.

CT