The Word and the Church

godfreyDr. Robert Godfrey in an article entitled “The Word-less ‘Church’” writes:

Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?

What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.

What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.

Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)

First, he calls us to be educated by the Word, which will lead us on to ever-richer wisdom by “teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul is reminding us that the Word must be taught and applied to us as a part of it dwelling richly in us. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must be growing in the Word.

It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from the Word. We must be growing in a knowledge of the will of God for us: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). Knowing the will of God will make us wise and in that wisdom we will be renewed in the image of our Creator, an image so damaged by sin: “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10).

This wisdom will also reorder our priorities and purposes, from that which is worldly to that which is heavenly: “The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5). When that Word dwells in us richly we can be confident that we know the full will of God: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (1:25). From the Bible we know all that we need for salvation and godliness.

Second, Paul calls us to expressing the Word from ever-renewed hearts in our “singing.” Interestingly, Paul connects the Word dwelling in us richly with singing. He reminds us that singing is an invaluable means of placing the truth of God deep in our minds and hearts. I have known of elderly Christians far gone with Alzheimer’s disease who can still sing songs of praise to God. Singing also helps connect truth to our emotions. It helps us experience the encouragement and assurance of our faith: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2–3).

The importance of singing, of course, makes the content of our songs vital. If we sing shallow, repetitive songs, we will not be hiding much of the Word in our hearts. But if we sing the Word itself in its fullness and richness, we will be making ourselves rich indeed. We need to remember that God has given us a book of songs, the Psalter, to help us in our singing.

Third, Paul calls us to remember the effect of the Word to make us a people with ever-ready “thanksgiving.” Three times in Colossians 3:15–17 Paul calls us to thankfulness. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly, we will be led on to lives of gratitude. As we learn and contemplate all that God has done for us in creation, providence, and redemption, we will be filled with thanksgiving. As we recall His promises of forgiveness, renewal, preservation, and glory, we will live as a truly thankful people.

We need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly today more than ever. Then churches may escape being a mess and become the radiant body of Christ as God intended.

The Old Testament Canon

“The Bible of the Jews is the exact same content material as that which we refer to as the Old Testament in our Protestant Bibles today, the only difference being the way in which the books are numbered and gathered (the 24 Jewish books correspond exactly to our 39). It is the same content Jesus affirmed.

The Apostle Paul, as a first century Jew, was entirely familiar with the books the Hebrews recognized as holy Scripture. Rather than suggesting that “Israel got the book contents mostly right” or “there were one or two books that should have been recognized but were not” – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he wrote in very clear terms, “the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.” (Rom 3:2). Studies of canonicity concerning both the Old and New Testaments, rather than filling our minds with doubt and skepticism actually do the opposite. We can have great assurance that the books we have in our Bibles are the exact ones that God in His sure, guiding providence, intended us to have.” – John Samson

WHAT BOOKS MADE UP THE OLD TESTAMENT CANON?

In an excerpt from an article in Credo Magazine entitled “How did we get the Old Testament” Paul G. Wegner writes:

It is sometimes difficult for us to realize that our Bible did not come to us as one book but rather as a collection of books written over about fifteen hundred years. These books are called the TaNaK, referring to Torah (Law), Nebi′im (Prophets), and Kethubim (Writings), and are divided as follows:

LAW (Torah)

Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy

PROPHETS (Nebi’im)

The Former Prophets: Joshua Judges Samuel Kings

The Latter Prophets: Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel The Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets)

WRITINGS (Kethubim)

Poetic Books: Psalms Job Proverbs

Five Scrolls (Megilloth): Ruth Song of Solomon Ecclesiastes Lamentations Esther

Historical Books: Daniel Ezra-Nehemiah Chronicles

This three-fold division of the Old Testament can be traced as far back as the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus dated to about 132 B.C. When addressing his disciples, Jesus used similar terminology for the Old Testament: “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). The designation “Psalms” here most likely refers to the entire third section of the Old Testament since it is the first and largest book of that part.

The Jewish nation considered only thirty-nine books to be canonical (the Protestant canon reflects this as well).

The early Christian church, whose roots were in the Jewish nation, initially used the same canon (cf. Rom. 1:2) and read it in light of Christ’s coming. Indeed, New Testament writers quote from almost every Old Testament book. Jesus seemed clear about what constituted the Old Testament canon, stating in Luke 11:49- 51:

For this reason also the wisdom of God said, “I will send unto them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that this generation may be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation” (cf. Matt. 23:34-36)

The Jewish nation will be held responsible for killing God’s prophets and rejecting their message. But Jesus puts a limit on the revelation for which they will be held responsible, namely from the blood of righteous Abel (Gen. 4) to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24). Notice that means he does not hold them responsible for revelation past 2 Chronicles which is the last book in the Hebrew Old Testament. Thus Jesus appears to hold to the same canon, even in the same order, as the Jewish nation.

Later the New Testament books were added to the Old Testament to constitute the Christian canon. Jesus recognized the authority of the Hebrew Old Testament and taught his disciples to reverence it. Jesus often condemned the teachings of the Jewish scribes and Pharisees, and used the Old Testament to point out errors in their teaching.

Paul D. Wegner (Ph.D. Kings College, University of London) is Professor of Old Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible and A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism: Its History, Methods, and Results

What do we know about the Coptic Church?

coptic-church-insideThe Coptic Church has both Christological (concerning the person of Christ) as well as soteriological (concerning salvation) issues. In an article entitled “The Coptic Church and Chalcedon” Kevin DeYoung writes concerning the Christological issue:

On February 14, twenty-one Egyptian Christians were brutally beheaded by Muslim radicals working for the Islamic State in Lybia. The Coptic Orthodox Church announced yesterday that the twenty-one victims will be inserted into the Coptic Synaxarium (the Oriental Church’s official list of martyrs) and commemorated in the church calendar as martyrs and saints. Christians of every denominational and doctrinal stripe have expressed outrage, sadness, and a sense of unity with their fallen brethren.

Which leads to an important question: how should we view the Coptic Orthodox Church?

This isn’t a bad question, provided we approach it in the right way. Let’s set aside the issue of what the twenty-one martyrs understood about monophysitism. That’s not unimportant, but as far as I know the information is unattainable. Besides, what is most needed at this point is prayer for the persecuted church and sympathy for the suffering. Thinking about these men who died because of their allegiance to Christ, men who belonged to one of the oldest church communions in the world, and men who called upon Jesus as they were murdered on the beach—trying to determine whether these men were actually Christians seems like remarkably poor form.

And yet, perhaps now is an appropriate time to consider more broadly and think more carefully about why some consider the Coptic Orthodox Church to be, well, unorthodox. While participating in a panel discussion at Ligonier last week, one of the first questions we were asked was about the twenty-one Coptic martyrs and the heresy of monophysitism (yes, it’s that kind of conference). So let’s step back and try to understand the history and theology behind what may be the oldest (formal) split in the church.

Two Natures, Without Division

To tell the story properly, we have to start with a man by the name of Nestorius. Nestorius was born sometime after 351 and died sometime before 451. He was the patriarch of Constantinople. His teaching was condemned by the third ecumenical council at Ephesus in 431. It’s unclear whether Nestorius was actually a Nestorian. What is clear is that Nestorius was not very careful in his theology and did not acquit himself very well when he was put on the spot to defend his views. Continue reading

Concerning Theonomy

LondonBaptistCFThe 1689 London Baptist Confession sets forth a three-fold division of the Law

Moral

19.2. The same Law that was first written in the heart of man, (Rom. 2:14-15) continued to be a perfect rule of Righteousness after the fall; & was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in (Deut. 10.4) Ten Commandments and written in two Tables; the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six our duty to man.

19.5. The moral Law doth for ever bind all, (Rom. 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12) as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the (James 2:10-11) authority of God the Creator; who gave it: Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, (Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31) but much strengthen this obligation.

Ceremonial

19.3. Besides this Law commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel Ceremonial Laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, (Heb. 10.1; Col. 2:17) prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions (1 Cor. 5:7) of moral duties, all which Ceremonial Laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only Law-giver who was furnished with power from the Father, for that end, (Col. 2:14, 16-17; Eph. 2:14, 16) abrogated and taken away.

Judicial

19.4. To them also he gave sundry judicial Laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by vertue of that institution; their general (1 Cor. 9:8-10) equity onely, being of moral use.

Theonomists acknowledge only a two-fold division of the Law. See Sam Waldron’s “Theonomy: A Reformed Baptist Assessment“ [3 hour 12 minute readout] . Here is a snippet:

Is the Theonomic view of the Mosaic “Judicial Law” consistent with the Reformed tradition?

This is a pressing question for Theonomists. On the one hand, in asserting “the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail” they appear to teach the binding obligation of the “judicial law” of Moses on society today. On the other hand, the divines of the Westminster Assembly and Calvin, their mentor, clearly teach the “expiration” of the judicial law of Moses and deny that it is as such binding on nations today. The critical statement in the Westminster Confession of Faith is found in 19:4. Having clearly distinguished the moral, ceremonial, and judicial law, the Confession states, “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” Calvin elaborates on this very point in his Institutes. His statements are so similar to that of the Confession that it is probable that here as in so many other places he had a formative impact on the Confession.

“I will briefly remark, however, by the way, what laws it may piously use before God, and be rightly governed by among men. And even this I would have preferred passing over in silence, if I did not know that it is a point on which many persons run into dangerous errors. For some deny that a state is well constituted, which neglects the polity of Moses, and is governed by the common laws of the nations. the dangerous and seditious nature of this opinion I leave to the examination of others; it will be sufficient for me to have evinced it to be false and foolish. Now, it is necessary to observe that common distinction, which distributes all the laws of God promulgated by Moses into moral, ceremonial, and judicial; and these different kinds of laws are to be distinctly examined, that we may ascertain what belongs to us, and what does not. . . .

What I have said will be more clearly understood, if in all laws we properly consider these two things-the constitution of the law and its equity, on the reason of which the constitution itself is founded and rests. Equity, being natural, is the same to all mankind; and consequently all laws, on every subject ought to have the same equity for their end. Particular enactments and regulations being connected with circumstances, and partly dependent upon them, may be different in different cases without any impropriety, provided they are all equally directed to the same object of equity. . . . Whatever laws shall be framed according to that rule, directed to that object, and limited to that end, there is no reason why we should censure them, however, they may differ from the Jewish law or from each other. The law of god forbids theft. What punishment was enacted for thieves, among the Jews, may be seen in the book of Exodus. The most ancient laws of other nations punished by theft by requiring a compensation of double the value. Subsequent laws made a distinction between open and secret theft. Some proceeded to banishment, some to flagellation, and some to the punishment of death. False witness was punished, among the Jews, with the same punishment as such testimony would have caused to be inflicted on the person against whom it was given; in some countries it was punished with infamy, in others with hanging, in others with crucifixion. All laws agree in punishing murder with death, though in several different forms. The punishment of adulterers in different countries have been attended with different degrees of severity. Yet we see how, amidst this diversity, they are all directed to the same end. For they all agree in denouncing punishment against those crimes which are condemned by the eternal law of God; such as murderers, thefts, adulteries, false testimonies, though there is not a uniformity in the mode of punishment; and, indeed, this is neither necessary, nor even expedient. . . . For the objection made by some, that it is an insult to the law of God given by Moses, when it is abrogated, and other laws preferred to it, is without any foundation; for neither are other laws preferred to it, when they are more approved, not on a simple comparison, but on account of the circumstances of time, place, and nation; nor do we abrogate that which was never given to us. For the Lord gave not that law by the hand of Moses to be promulgated among all nations, and to be universally binding; but after having taken the Jewish nation into his special charge, patronage, and protection, he was pleased to become, in peculiar manner, their legislator, and, as became a wise legislator, in all the laws which he gave them, he had a special regard to their peculiar circumstances.”

Also see Dr. Waldron’s three-part lecture series “Theonomy: A Reformed Baptist Assessment

I. Introductory Considerations

II. A Critique of Theonomic Eschatology

III. A Critique of Theonomic Ethics

Dr. Sam Waldron has also put together a lengthy discourse on the subject “Theonomy, A Reformed Baptist Perspective.” He writes:

Section 1: Introductory Considerations

I. A General Description of “Theonomy”

A. Major Sources

1. Rousas J. Rushdoony

Theonomy, or as it is also called, Christian Reconstruction, has for its father R. J. Rushdoony and his prolific pen. Among his many books the ones which are most important here are first and foremost, The Institutes of Biblical Law, and his brief treatment entitled, The Meaning of Postmillennialism: God’s Plan for Victory. Rushdoony ascribes to Cornelius Van Til the greatest influence by far upon his thinking.(1) Rushdoony is the master influence in three Theonomic organs: The Chalcedon Foundation, “The Journal of Reconstruction,” and a newsletter entitled “The Chalcedon Report.”

2. Greg Bahnsen

It is probably due to Mr. Bahnsen that Christian Reconstructionism owes the name, Theonomy. His Theonomy in Christian Ethics with a foreword by Rushdoony is perhaps the single most influential and controversial of the Theonomic literature. He is also well-known for his book, Homosexuality: A Biblical View. This book illustrates what is best in the Theonomic perspective. Mr. Bahnsen is now an Orthodox Presbyterian Church minister in California. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and formerly the Professor of Apologetics at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Mississippi. Though a fine apologete in the presuppositional school of thought, he was dismissed from RTS in a dispute over Theonomy. The Covenant Tape Ministry distributes tapes of his teaching.

3. Gary North

Gary North was formerly editor of the “Journal of Christian Reconstruction.” He is the editor of numerous works including, The Theology of Christian Resistance, The Tactics of Christian Resistance. He is the author of a popularization of Christian Reconstruction entitled, Unconditional Surrender: God’s Program for Victory, as well as Backward Christian Soldiersand volume 1 of an economic commentary on the Bible entitled The Dominion Covenant: Genesis. He also contributed to The Failure of the American Baptist Culture edited by James B. Jordan.

Section 1: Introductory Considerations

I. A General Description of “Theonomy”

A. Major Sources

1. Rousas J. Rushdoony

Theonomy, or as it is also called, Christian Reconstruction, has for its father R. J. Rushdoony and his prolific pen. Among his many books the ones which are most important here are first and foremost, The Institutes of Biblical Law, and his brief treatment entitled, The Meaning of Postmillennialism: God’s Plan for Victory. Rushdoony ascribes to Cornelius Van Til the greatest influence by far upon his thinking.(1) Rushdoony is the master influence in three Theonomic organs: The Chalcedon Foundation, “The Journal of Reconstruction,” and a newsletter entitled “The Chalcedon Report.”

2. Greg Bahnsen

It is probably due to Mr. Bahnsen that Christian Reconstructionism owes the name, Theonomy. His Theonomy in Christian Ethics with a foreword by Rushdoony is perhaps the single most influential and controversial of the Theonomic literature. He is also well-known for his book, Homosexuality: A Biblical View. This book illustrates what is best in the Theonomic perspective. Mr. Bahnsen is now an Orthodox Presbyterian Church minister in California. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and formerly the Professor of Apologetics at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Mississippi. Though a fine apologete in the presuppositional school of thought, he was dismissed from RTS in a dispute over Theonomy. The Covenant Tape Ministry distributes tapes of his teaching.

3. Gary North

Gary North was formerly editor of the “Journal of Christian Reconstruction.” He is the editor of numerous works including, The Theology of Christian Resistance, The Tactics of Christian Resistance. He is the author of a popularization of Christian Reconstruction entitled, Unconditional Surrender: God’s Program for Victory, as well as Backward Christian Soldiersand volume 1 of an economic commentary on the Bible entitled The Dominion Covenant: Genesis. He also contributed to The Failure of the American Baptist Culture edited by James B. Jordan

B. Major Tenets

The Christian Reconstructionists have themselves defined the major tenets of their system. They are presuppositional apologetics, predestination, their view of the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail, and postmillennialism. North writes,

Mr. Clapp lists three key doctrines of the Reconstructionists: presuppositional apologetics, biblical law, and postmillennialism. He left out one crucial doctrine: predestination. These were the four that David Chilton and I listed in our essay. “Apologetics and Strategy” in Christianity and Civilization 3 (1983).(2)

As we come to a preliminary assessment of Theonomy, we will comment further on these self-confessed distinctives of Christian Reconstruction. Continue reading

Exposing the Text

Bible377Derek Thomas, in an article entitled “The Necessity of Expository Preaching” writes:

According to the legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, the best thing he ever did was to discover the “fundamentalist” teacher Jack Grout, who taught him the basics that he has followed ever since. Great preachers, like great golfers, follow basic rules. The more they practice these rules, the better they become.

One such rule, put succinctly in English prose that now sounds dated, but which is as needful now as when it was first penned, comes from the Directory for the Publick Worship of God, written in 1645 by the Westminster Assembly of Divines. When raising a point from the text, the directory says, preachers are to ensure that “it be a truth contained in or grounded on that text, that the hearers may discern how God teacheth it from thence.” In other words, preaching must enable those who hear it to understand their Bibles.

In laying down this principle, the divines were following the first book on homiletics to be produced by the English Reformation, William Perkins’ The Arte of Prophecying (1617), which included this instruction: “The Word of God alone is to be preached, in its perfection and inner consistency. Scripture is the exclusive subject of preaching, the only field in which the preacher is to labour.

As incredible as it seems, Perkins found it necessary to underline the fact that preachers are to preach the Bible and the Bible alone. As Paul urged Timothy, the preacher’s task is to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Earlier, Paul had assured the Corinthians that he and his companions were not “like so many, peddlers of God’s Word” (2 Cor. 2:17). The word Paul employs here, kapeleuô, is rendered variously as “peddle,” “corrupt,” or “deal deceitfully”; the New Living Translation renders the verse, “we are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—who preach just to make money.” This word comes from the world of ancient tavern-keeping. It suggests the practice of “blending, adulterating, and giving bad measure.” Paul was concerned for purity and honesty in handling the Scriptures.

He charged young Timothy again to present himself to God “as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The word that is translated in many versions as “to handle” or “to divide” actually means “to cut” (orthotomeo). Timothy was to drive a straight path through the Word of God and not deviate to the left or to the right. He was to “preach the word,” meaning not only that he was to preach from the Bible, but that he was to expound the particular passage he was preaching on because Scripture, as Paul reminds Timothy, is “breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Expository preaching is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of the God-breathed nature of Scripture. The idea is not so much that God breathed into the Scriptures, but that the Scriptures are the product of His breathing out. Independent of what we may feel about the Bible as we read it, Scripture maintains a “breath of God” quality. Thus, the preacher is to make God’s Word known and make it understandable. He is to limit himself to it without adding or subtracting. As Alec Motyer has written: “An expository ministry is the proper response to a God-breathed Scripture. Central to it all is that concern which the word ‘exposition’ itself enshrines: a display of what is there.”

Such word-focused ministry, based on divinely given Scripture (as Paul makes plain to the church at Ephesus), fulfills four goals all at once: it builds up the church in faith and knowledge; it brings believers to maturity marked by spiritual stability; it produces a people whose lives are full of integrity; and it equips the church for service so that each member is engaged in ministry to others (Eph. 4:12-16).

An excerpt from Derek Thomas’ contribution in Feed My Sheep.

The Ten Commandments Today

rick_phillipsIn an article entitled “The Ten Commandments as God’s Moral Law” Rick Phillips writes:

Many Christian commenters today are expressing concern about antinomian tendencies in the church. We are especially seeing attempts to downplay the role of God’s law as a guide to Christian living (the so-called third use of the law). One question that comes into play is whether or not the Ten Commandments should be thought of as a uniquely and eternally binding statement of God’s moral law. Or, in contrast, are the Ten Commandments just part of the diverse “Mosaic corpus” intended only to govern the lives of a particular ancient Near Eastern people and thus “more or less inapplicable outside that world” (so David Dorsey).

I confess that the dismissing of the Ten Commandments as a guide to Christian living alarms me greatly, especially when this position is taken up by purportedly Reformed Christians. Moreover, the premises for this maneuver seem remarkably weak to me. In short, the Ten Commandments are first declared indistinguishable from the over various rules and precepts of the Mosaic corpus, such as the one regulating what to do when an axe head flies off, and then, second, the Ten Commandments are relegated to the governance of merely a single ancient cultural and religious setting with little or not significance for Christians today. It would be hard to find a shift with more profound implications not only for Christian doctrine but also for our approach to daily living as followers of Christ. In a time when the church is continually feeling pressure to conform to the world, it is hard to imagine a posture that would be more damaging to the faith and witness of believers today.

In addressing this concern, I would like to offer four arguments for why the Ten Commandments should be seen as separate and distinct from the other rules and regulations of the Mosaic economy, and why the Ten Commandments do set forth the universally binding moral law of God that is intended to serve as a guide for the lives of believers of all times, including today.

1. The way that Ten Commandments were given informs us of their special and eternal significance.
Unlike the various rules and regulations that fill the pages of Exodus through Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses directly by God, having been written by the finger of God on tablets of stone (Ex. 24:12; 32:16). It is hard to imagine how God could have made a more suggestive statement regarding the timeless character of these ten priorities. The setting in which the Ten Commandments were given – atop Mount Sinai amidst clouds of storm and fire (Ex. 20:18) – also indicates the sacred status attached to this code of laws. To dismiss this significance of way God gave the Ten Commandments thus seems not only strange but also irreverent.

2. The way that the Ten Commandments were recorded in the Pentateuch shows their primary role in expressing God’s moral will.
In addition to how the Ten Commandments were given, we should consider how they were recorded within the Pentateuch. The book of Exodus sees Israel departing from Egypt, passing through the parted waters of the Red Sea, and then finally arriving at their destination at Mount Sinai. Exodus 20 then presents the Ten Commandments as a literary apex in the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. They go up to God’s mountain, they receive God’s law, and then Israel departs from the mountain of God. It is true that many other rules and laws are given, but none occupy the literary high ground given to the Ten Commandments. The same can be said about the priority of placement given to the Ten Commandments in the book of Deuteronomy, where it is given as the chief covenant demand set before Israel by the Lord.

3. The way that the tablets of the Ten Commandments were stored in the ark of the covenant associates their moral demands with the very character of God.
No one can deny that the Mosaic covenant including scores of different rules and commands, some dealing with the cultic life of the tabernacle and others regulating life within the nation. As the New Testament shows, these various rules (respectively, the ceremonial law and the civil law) are tied to the religious-cultural setting of Old Testament Israel. In contrast, the unique place given to the Ten Commandments was shown by the way its tablets were physically stored. Moses’ attitude toward this eternal moral law was seen in that he placed its tablets within the ark of the covenant (Dt. 10:5; Heb. 9:4). The ark of the covenant was the footstool of God and the special place of the glorious divine presence on earth. It is difficult to see how Moses could have given more special prominence to this particular legal code, assigning it not merely to the cultural setting of ancient Israel but also to the very person and character of God.

4. The way that the Ten Commandments were confirmed in the New Testament proves their abiding relevance and authority over the lives of Christians in the new covenant age.
While the above arguments are sufficient, I believe, to prove the eternally binding character of the Ten Commandments as the moral law of God, the question as to their applicability in the new covenant age is shown by the New Testament itself. Consider the following:

a. When Jesus was asked to summarize the law of God, he did so in terms of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments (Lk. 10:26-27). Clearly, our Lord distinguished the Ten Commandments as an abiding expression of God’s will, set on a higher pedestal than the miscellaneous rules of the Mosaic corpus.

b. The new covenant is set forth not as a repudiation but as the fulfillment of the old (Mosaic) covenant. Thus Hebrews 8:10 repeats Jeremiah 31:33 where God promises to “put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts.” The point of this statement is not that Christians are freed from the binding rule of the Ten Commandments but that the eternal moral law given through Moses would be placed within us by the inscribing work of the Holy Spirit. In short, the law that Christians are to internalize is the same law that was externalized on the tablets of the Ten Commandments given to Moses.

c. All Ten Commandments are explicitly confirmed in the New Testament, showing that unlike the other Mosaic rules this moral law transcends the ancient cultural-religious context of Israel. This is disputed by those who would marginalize the Ten Commandments, but consider the following brief list, to which many more instances could be added:

1C: Mt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8; Mt. 6:24
2C: Acts 15:20; Acts 17:29-30
3C: Mt. 6:9; Mt. 15:8-9
4C: Mt. 24:20; Acts 16:13; Heb. 4:9
5C: Mt. 15:3-4; Eph. 6:1-3
6C: Mk. 10:19; Rom. 13:9
7C: Mk. 10:11-12; 1 Cor. 6:9
8C: Mk. 10:19; Eph. 4:28
9C: Mt. 15:19-20; Eph. 4:25
10C: Rom. 7:7; Eph. 5:3

I understand and appreciate the concerns of fellow Christians against the perils of legalism in stifling the spirituality of Christians. But this legitimate concern not only should not marginalize the Ten Commandments but it must not. When we consider the way the Ten Commandments were given, recorded, stored, and confirmed in the New Testament, we ought to extol the beauty and value of God’s moral law together with both David and Paul, those spiritual giants of the old and new covenants. We should affirm David when he sang, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). And we should agree with Paul when far from setting aside the Ten Commandments, he placed them at the very height of Christian spirituality, declaring, “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

The Bible and Science

Science confirms the Bible (1:30:13):

The Top 10 Questions about Genesis (58:45):

Do you believe in the Bible? Then what about carbon dating? Do you believe in the Global Flood? Then how did Noah get all of the animals on the Ark? Are you a Christian–then what do you do about all of the ‘Ape Men?’ In this fast-paced video lecture, Ken Ham gives answers to these and other commonly asked questions that skeptics lodge concerning Genesis and Creation, such as ‘Where did Cain get his wife’ and ‘Where did all of the races originate?’

What does it take to be justified?

Acts 15:1-35: The first church council at Jerusalem convened to establish what exactly Gentile converts to Christianity should do to be saved, while Judaizers insisted upon circumcision and adherence to the law of Moses. The very Gospel was at stake.

Our New Spouse

Ray Ortlund writes:

“A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage… and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another.” Romans 7:2-4

We were married to Mr. Law. He was a good man, in his way, but he did not understand our weakness. He came home every evening and asked, “So, how was your day? Did you do what I told you to? Did you make the kids behave? Did you waste any time? Did you complete everything I put on your To Do list?” So many demands and expectations. And hard as we tried, we couldn’t be perfect. We could never satisfy him. We forgot things that were important to him. We let the children misbehave. We failed in other ways. It was a miserable marriage, because Mr. Law always pointed out our failings. And the worst of it was, he was always right! But his remedy was always the same: Do better tomorrow. We didn’t, because we couldn’t.

Then Mr. Law died. And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace. Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day. Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, “I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And our hearts melt. We don’t understand such love. We expect him to despise us and reject us and humiliate us, but he treats us so well. We are so glad to belong to him now and forever, and we long to be “fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:10)!

Being married to Mr. Law never changed us. But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows.

Brutal Pictures?

babyat12weeksSherry Pierce, a long time advocate of the unborn writes a weekly e-mail to people encouraging them in their outreach and ministry on behalf of the unborn. In part of her communication this week she wrote:

My friends, thank you for your prayers, they are so vital and instrumental. These are brutal slayings that are happening at Planned Parenthood. This is not healthcare. That’s why we show the awful pictures. We hate seeing them too…but that is what is happening inside. We can’t deny it, nor should we hide it. Babies are dying!

They are now trying to deny the holocaust, to try and say it never happened…but the pictures are proof.

A dear friend said, “We don’t show pictures of beautiful Jewish people to depict the holocaust. We show the pictures of their broken battered bodies…that’s the holocaust, and we can see beautiful babies in the grocery store… but that is not what abortion is.”

She’s right! Don’t get me wrong, we have some beautiful baby pictures out there too, but abortion needs to be exposed for what it is—HEINOUS MURDER of the smallest most vulnerable people group—the unborn.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

I have long ago repented to the Lord for one time being pro choice (death) in certain circumstances. Later I had to repent of my wishy washy pro life stance that is so prevalent today. I had fallen for the lie…..

All you need is love…wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…all you need is love, love, love is all you need.

You’ve heard the song, in fact it may be playing in your head now…sorry. It seems to be the call of many in the pro-life movement. In fact, as I said… at one time (God forgive me) I believed some of this same rhetoric that says, “Ultimately it’s a woman’s choice and you can’t tell her what to do. We just love on her, show her the love of Jesus, and educate her about her ‘options’ then let her know that we are here for her, and will support her no matter what she decides.”

To that I say….HOGWASH!!!!

The love of Jesus???? Where’s the part about go and sin no more?

As Christians our love must be without hypocrisy. We CAN…SHOULD… and are COMMANDED to tell her what to do… OBEY GOD…DO NOT MURDER YOUR BABY, GOD COMMANDS YOU NOT TO MURDER!

We should be preachers of righteousness. We should love by telling the truth. WE WILL HELP YOU!! GOD HAS PROVIDED A WAY OF ESCAPE BUT YOU MUST NOT DO THIS!

The difference is we can’t MAKE her do anything. But we can certainly tell her what she should do, and what the consequences are. We should educate her….through the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Therefore there are only 2 OPTIONS—Parenting, or Adoption. Abortion is NOT an option, it is an EVIL. It is SIN! We will not support you in that. Abortion is murder—God commands you not to murder…that’s real education.

Please my friends, be in prayer. We need to be bold. We need to tell the truth. We must do it in love…but it must be done. If we don’t tell them the truth, then it really is hate speech. I know that sounds hard.

We need to get it through our heads that the world is not going to love us…They hated Jesus and if we follow Him and look like Him they will hate us too. He told us they would. So why are we trying so hard for them not to?

These are mommies and daddies who have arrived at the killing place to kill their children…it IS a matter of life and death. We don’t change our message to appear more loving. The truth is the most loving thing we can share. We don’t take away the graphic images to appear more loving—we need to expose what they are about to do, we don’t tell mommies and daddies killing their babies that we will support them no matter what they decide in order to appear more loving. We don’t need to, nor should we… apologize for the holiness of God.

Would you do that if your child or someone else confided in you that they were thinking of raping someone, or murdering a person who stood in the way of them achieving their dreams?….Well I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll be praying for you sweetie (hug them), and I will support you no matter what you decide. Oh by the way if you do go through with it, there is help available for you afterwards.

RIDICULOUS!!! You can see that it is ridiculous. It paves the road to destruction with sloppy agape and helps her justify her sin.

This is not about a woman’s body, her choice. There is another person’s little body inside her body… that is not her body, not her choice.

I don’t fear ISIS. I FEAR that we have no FEAR OF GOD in this country and that many of us who claim to know CHRIST have more fear of man than we have of GOD.

And I said; “Oh my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. (Ezra 9:6)

Oh LORD, please help us to follow hard and wholeheartedly after You. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Help us to be bold and courageous, to love You more than our very own lives, to speak the truth, no matter the cost, and trust You with the results. Forgive us for our apathy and complacency. Strengthen us in this battle for life and souls and be glorified I pray!