Monday, November 29, 2021

Unity in the local church

The evening message at Heritage Baptist was to encourage unity within the local body of Christ. So many petty things divide saints, we need to be reminded who we are and what our Lord commands and equips us to do.

The audio for this sermon is here.

Four Characteristics of the local church

I was blessed to preach recently at Heritage Baptist in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The morning sermon was on the nature of the local assembly of saints:

1. The identity of that assembly.

2. The structure of that assembly.

3. The function of that assembly.

4. The rule governing that assembly.

The audio of the sermon is here.

If we do not get our identity right, we will not get any of the other points right.

May the Lord be glorified and His people equipped.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A Plea for Liberty of Conscience

In 1614, a poor Englishman published the earliest comprehensive apologetic for liberty of conscience known to be in print. 

This small book has been updated in grammar, vocabulary, and structure to be easier and more native for 21st century readers.

With nearly 300 footnotes, this is not merely one man's flight of fancy. It is a well written defense of a doctrine too many have lost sight of, drifting into being a disciple of the preacher or of thinking they have no responsibility to the fellowship to which they belong.

Pick up and read!

Leonard Busher's Religion's Peace



Saturday, November 6, 2021

Baptists and the Fifth Monarchy

Editor's Preface

The Lord Jesus was clear - His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Yet Christians have been overly focused on worldly things since Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross. Theonomic Reconstructionists believe Mosaic Law is to be forcibly imposed upon society, apparently oblivious to the covenant structure in Scripture which applies law given within a covenant to those in that covenant. Man does not have the authority to extract laws from a covenant without express warrant from Scripture.

But man tends to make his own rules, trying to redeem culture and make the world ready for Christ's return; putting himself in place of God. Every time this agenda is pursued, men claiming Christ use force of arms to gain support for their cause.

Baptists and our fore-runners have consistently resisted such movements, seeing the overlapping division God has instituted between His kingdom and the state. We participate in state affairs but we do not conflate the state with the spiritual kingdom to which we belong.

Louise Fargo Brown has written one of the best accounts of the political turmoil in 17th century England, with dozens of footnotes per chapter. It is not a difficult read, though it may be difficult to accept for those who think it our charge to claim the culture and country for God.

I think Christians are better prepared to live for Christ in our own time if we have some understanding of how they lived in our history. As the history of Israel was preserved, in part, so we would not sin like they did (1 Corinthians 10).We should be eager to learn from history outside the Bible for the same reason.

It is my prayer that my brothers and sisters in Christ will learn from those who have gone before and walk as wise children in this dark time.

For the kingdom of God and not that of man, I am your fellow sojourner and servant in Christ,

Stuart L. Brogden 

Buy here: Baptists and the Fifth Monarchy



Sunday, October 31, 2021

An Exposition on the book of Revelation

 Hansard Knollys lived from 1598 - 1691 and served as a Baptist elder for the last 50 years of his life, having been convinced from Scripture that infant baptism was a fable.

He was on of the signatories of the 1646 LBC and his Exposition of the Book of Revelation was published shortly before his death, in 1688.

The Resurrection Defined and Defended

 


Thursday, October 7, 2021

John 17 - Jesus prays for His disciples

In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, those disciples who walked with Him in His days of the flesh, and for all who would follow the teaching. We should learn how to pray by learning from the Lord.

Here's a short message giving the context of John 17 and describing how Christ Jesus prayed.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Overlooked Sabbath law

 Numbers 28:3-10 (HCSB)  And say to them: This is the fire offering you are to present to the LORD: “Each day present two unblemished year-old male lambs as a regular burnt offering.  Offer one lamb in the morning and the other lamb at twilight,  along with two quarts of fine flour for a grain offering mixed with a quart of olive oil from crushed olives.  It is a regular burnt offering established at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a fire offering to the LORD.  The drink offering is to be a quart with each lamb. Pour out the offering of beer to the LORD in the sanctuary area.  Offer the second lamb at twilight, along with the same kind of grain offering and drink offering as in the morning. It is a fire offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.  “On the Sabbath day present two unblemished year-old male lambs, four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering.  It is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.

In Terrance O'Hare's excellent book The Sabbath Complete, he notes (pages 92-94) this requirement for priestly work on the weekly Sabbath that serves as a type that is grounded in the 7th day sacrifice of animals by YHWH to provide clothing for the first sinners, pointing to the provision for sinners to be covered by the blood of the Lamb Who was to come. O'Hare observes, "A Sabbath without sacrifices amounts to a presumptuous mockery of the symbolism inherent it observance. The inconsistency of Sabbatarianism is greatest at this juncture. Sabbatarians agree that Christ fulfilled the sacrificial duties of the Sabbath and that continuing to offer bloody sacrifices denigrates the sacrificial act of Jesus Christ upon the cross. Yet they state that His death did nothing to the remaining Sabbath laws. Like modern Jews without the temple, Sabbatarians think their "mitvahs" are enough to present the Sabbath to God."

The near complete disconnect between the Reformed confessions teaching on the weekly Sabbath and the biblical description and requirements for that day is profound. These documents claim the continuing practice of the weekly Sabbath but have introduced a faux-Sabbath built not on Scripture, but upon man's imagination.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Gospel in Romans

A few years ago I taught through the book of Romans. My notes from that teaching have been edited and put into a book which is a practical, shorter commentary on Romans. 

Here's a comment from the preacher/author who wrote the Foreword:

"I've just completed writing a forward to a commentary on Romans. I can honestly say my soul was immensely edified. I read it twice. I don't always agree with everything I read, but this work will bless you, and I am honored to have had a first look. When it is published, it's Scriptural soundness will fill your heart with surprise and overwhelming delight. It will show you more of the goodness and grace of God, and His Word will become to your heart increasingly precious."

Available on Amazon:

The Gospel in Romans



Bread and Water - Exodus 16 & 17.

 


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Safety in the Flood

God doesn't yank His people out of trouble, He preserves them in the midst of trouble.

How the flood narrative relates to redemptive history and shows us the judgment of God on the unbelieving world and His saving grace provided for His own.




Friday, September 3, 2021

The Temple Myth

 by Stuart Brogden

Many think David was commanded by God to build a temple. What sayest Scripture? Let's look at several places where building the Temple is discussed.

2 Samuel 7:4-7 (HCSB) But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: “Go to My servant David and say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you to build a house for Me to live in? From the time I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today I have not lived in a house; instead, I have been moving around with a tent as My dwelling. In all My journeys with all the Israelites, have I ever asked anyone among the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel: Why havent you built Me a house of cedar?’

2 Samuel 7:11b-16 (HCSB) “‘The LORD declares to you: The LORD Himself will make a house for you. When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. But My faithful love will never leave him as I removed it from Saul; I removed him from your way.  Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”

In the first passage above, YHWH asks the rhetorical question, "Why haven't you built Me a house?" The clear implication of verses 4 - 7 is that YHWH never asked for a permanent house; He had commanded the tabernacle be constructed. In verses 11-16 YHWH declares that He will make a house, not mere man. He grounds this in the promise of the Messiah, who will be a son of David; His kingdom will be forever.

Many get sidetracked by the second part of verse 14: When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. How could this be true of the Son? While Jesus had no sin, God made Him Who knew no sin to BE SIN for us (2 Cor 5:12); in 1 Peter 2:24 we see that Jesus bore our sins in His body. Peter also told us, He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed,  to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28)

It was the Father's plan that His Son would build His house and that the Son would be punished as if He had done wrong, punished by the blows of men.

But there's more. In 1 Chronicles 22, David makes preparations to build the temple, saying in verse 5, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly great and famous and glorious in all the lands." Then this:

1 Chronicles 22:6-10 (HCSB) Then he summoned his son Solomon and instructed him to build a house for the LORD God of Israel. “My son,” David said to Solomon, “It was in my heart to build a house for the name of Yahweh my God, but the word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You are not to build a house for My name because you have shed so much blood on the ground before Me.  But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign.  He is the one who will build a house for My name. He will be My son, and I will be his father. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

Nowhere in Scripture do we see hint of God telling David what he tells Solomon here. What we see here is a misapplication of what Nathan told David in 2 Samuel 7, with David declaring Solomon is the son promised to build the house for God, whose kingdom will never end. One thing Nathan told David that makes it impossible for Solomon to be the son is When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. Solomon was an adult when David died - the son spoken of would come from David's lineage after David rested with his fathers in the grave.

David, a man after God's own heart, was still only a man. His fatherly affection and his heartfelt desire to build a glorious temple for the glorious God blinded him to the truth. David changed some of what Nathan had told him and David added to what Nathan had told him; and David told Solomon things that did not apply to him.

It is clear that God commanded the infant nation of Israel to build the tabernacle, using material plundered from the Egyptians (Ex 25:1-6 & Ex 12:33-35); He gave them explicit instructions for every detail of the tabernacle (Ex 25 - 28). This was because the tabernacle - not the stone temple - was patterned after the heavenly things (Heb 8:1-5). In 1 Chron 3 - 5:1 we see the details of the temple Solomon built; no record that God gave instruction to him for this building. It would appear that David and Solomon, like most Jews, had an earthly view of the kingdom and missed the glorious view of the eternal, spiritual kingdom that Abraham searched for and found, that was revealed to Isaiah.

But there's more. In 2 Chronicles 7, after Solomon has built the temple and dedicated it, YHWH consumed the sacrifices offered and His glory filled the temple. YHWH appeared to Solomon in a dream, telling him that He had chosen that place as a temple of sacrifice; that His eyes, heart, and name would be there forever (verses 1, 12, 16). YHWH then tells Solomon, As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and ordinances, I will establish your royal throne, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man ruling in Israel (verses 17, 18), and However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them,  then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples (verses 19, 20).  

Please note: YHWH keeping His name in the temple forever was conditional upon Solomon keeping His statutes and commands. God condescended to honor Solomon and identify with the temple if Solomon was faithful. Solomon did not keep YHWH's statutes and commands, he did turn away and abandon them. 1 Kings 11 reveals Solomon loved many foreign women that YHWH had told him not to do (verses 1, 2); he followed other gods, was not completely devoted to YHWH, and he built high places and altars for many idols (verses 4 - 8). The LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the LORD had commanded. Then the LORD said to Solomon, “Since you have done this and did not keep My covenant and My statutes, which I commanded you, I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant." (verses 9 - 11)

Solomon did as national Israel had done - broken YHWH's statutes and commands. YHWH tells Solomon the kingdom will be TORN from him and given to his servant - which would be Jeroboam and ultimately Jesus. There is no natural son of David who fits the bill Nathan announced to David, who would be pleasing to the Father in all He did. When Jesus came, He said His food was to do the Father's will (John 4:34); in John 6:38 He said He came from heaven to do His Father's will. And in Matt 7:21 we read that those who do the Father's will are the ones who inherit heaven; And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40). Jesus said to the leaders of Israel, "See, your house has been left to you desolate." (Matt 23:38) The kingdom that will truly last forever is the kingdom Jesus was announcing throughout His earthly ministry, the kingdom which rules the New Covenant. This rule is among us as inaugurated; will be consummated when He returns to judge the nations, gather His people, and make all things new.

The temple Jesus is building is what Peter spoke of: Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Coming to Him, a living stonerejected by men but chosen and valuable to God you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:2-5) Paul likewise spoke: So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22) Like His kingdom, His temple is spiritual, not temporal and carnal.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Not Under Law!

Not Under Law

Reading Zanchius' Absolute Predestination, he observes that Abram didn't think ill of God's command to slay his son (Gen 22), though mankind knew such an act was evil (Gen 4). Abram knew the expressed will of God was better than the prohibition against taking a life without cause. Similar to the order to plunder Egypt (Ex 3) contrasted with the word to not steal (Ex 20). Is God of two minds? Perish the thought. His purpose and plan are often hidden from us, but ever being worked out to bring Him glory and do good for His own.

We read time and again how Jesus came to do the Father's will - echoing Abram! In John 4:34 Jesus said His food was to do the Father's will; in John 6:38 He said He came from heaven to do His Father's will. And in Matt 7:21 we read that those who do the Father's will are the ones who inherit heaven; For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:38-40). God desires mercy, not the sacrifices demanded by the law. The One Who made a pleasing sacrifice on our account gives us His righteousness and provides mercy, day-by-day.  As our call to worship reminds us, Moses was faithful as a servant in the house but Jesus is a Son over His own house. When Peter asked Him about paying the temple tax (Matt 17:24-27), Jesus said strangers pay the tax but the sons are free. God the Father was not subject to the Mosaic Law; the Son is Lord over His house and is free. All the sons and daughters are free! When Jesus began His public ministry, He was showing people a better way, revealing a covenant built on better promises. He did not lead people to the Old Covenant, He led people away from it as it was being brought to its end. He left the Old Covenant to show us the way to the New.

We also read of God violating laws of nature that He established, making the sun stand still (Joshua 10:13) and giving life to that which was dead (John 11). He cured leprosy with dirty water (2 Kings 5).

God is not bound the laws He gives man!

It was against the Mosaic Law for a healthy person to touch one with leprosy (Lev 5:3 - page 127).  Some lepers were healed in the Old Covenant era, but the lepers were not touched. They were not touched when declared clean by the Levitical priests. Jesus was sending a message by touching this man. When Jesus began His kingdom ministry, He was no longer under the Mosaic Law as He was as a minor child, else He would not have touched the man. He was working to show the Jews that their Messiah was greater than Moses, even God in the flesh, bringing a new and better covenant founded on better promises to His spiritual people. In Luke 8:19-56 Jesus touched a dead child and raised her to life; touching the dead was prohibited by the law (Num 19:11). The Mosaic Law forbade spitting on a person: Num 12:14 declares one unclean who has been spit-on; Deut 25:9 refers to spitting in in another's face as a curse on the person. Jesus spit on the ground, made clay to apply to a blind man's eyes to bring healing (John 9:6); He spit on a mute man's tongue to heal him (Mark 7:33); and He spit in a blind man's eyes to heal him (Mark 8:22-25), contrary to Mosaic Law. Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:15, 19), contrary to the Levitical law; He healed a paralytic on the Sabbath (John 5:7-10), for which they wanted to kill Him (John 5:18), for He not only violated their Sabbath, He made Himself equal with God. In Matt 12, Jesus defended His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath, positioning Himself as greater than David (who had eaten bread meant only for priests) and greater than (Lord of/over) the Sabbath. In this instance, He cites Hosea 6:6, "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice." While the law was not full of mercy, it provided no specific exceptions to the weekly Sabbath for acts of mercy. Healing was required in the law but no provision for doing so on the Sabbath was given. Circumcision was required on the 8th day, which sometimes happened on a Sabbath. Jesus pointed out the priests broke the Sabbath to keep the law of circumcision. I think these points of tension were there to lead the Jews to seek guidance from YHWH, but they built up a system of rules that they thought they keep and be pleasing to God. Of old He told them, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."

God is not bound the laws He gives man - He is Lord over both man and law!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sanctification

                                            Sanctification

There are some Christians who teach that saints are totally depraved, with no difference in our being than before we were redeemed. Some of these seem genuinely concerned that we do not hold to infusion of grace into our flesh; and that is a legitimate concern.

It's not our flesh that has been made new by our new life in Christ. It's our soul that has been made alive. The soul of the unregenerate is dead - unable to move his flesh in a way pleasing to God. The saint has a soul that is alive to God, with the Spirit of God willing and making him able to do things that ARE pleasing to God (Phil 2:13). This is what I think we are taught in various places, including Romans 12:1-2 (HCSB) Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Note this: the way we avoid being conformed to this age is by being transformed by the renewing of our minds. The soul of the saint has been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His glorious light (Col 1:13) and we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6). Obviously this is not speaking about our physical being, but our spiritual being.

It should also be obvious that our mind, which is part and parcel of our soul, controls our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We are not told that our flesh gets better with time, but we are told to control our thoughts, words, and deeds; we are not to walk as reprobates do, but as children of God:

Ephesians 5:6-11 (HCSB) Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Dont participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Did you notice: a command to walk as children of light, which will bear fruit of that light which will reveal itself in goodness, righteousness, and truth – which means we can discern what’s pleasing to the Lord. Why would He give us such discernment if we have NO ability to influence our thoughts, words, and deeds? Why tell us NOT to take part in works of darkness if we are depraved and unable to say no to sin?

None of us will be without sin while we inhabit these bodies of death; but none who have been born from above by the Spirit of God are without a Helper who wills and equips us to do that which is pleasing to Him. We have an Intercessor who will make a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13) so that sin will not have dominion over us, but allow us to run away from it, as Joseph did so long ago. This is the consistent teaching of Scripture.

Romans 6:16-23 (HCSB) Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.  I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life!  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That transforming renewal of our minds works its way out in our patterns of what we think, what we speak, and what we do. We have been liberated from sin and enslaved to God, which results in sanctification – the end of which is eternal life. Sort of sounds like sanctification is one of those essential things God works in us that we cannot do without.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (HCSB) Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God.

We work at completing this sanctification by cleansing ourselves from impurities of the flesh and our fleshly desires. We should not think we can cleanse ourselves by our effort and we should not think God will sanctify us no matter what we do; both are ditches we need to avoid. It’s analogous to being so afraid of works righteousness that we do not tell people to repent and believe or being convinced we can save sinners by our clever words. Both are wrong thinking.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (HCSB) For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God. This means one must not transgress against and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification. Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit.

Here is a very specific area of sanctification – sexual purity. Ouch! But look what we’re told: God wills our sanctification so we will know and be able to control our bodies in an honorable way. How anyone can say we are no different from unregenerate people confounds me. There is no teaching of perfectionism, but there is clear teaching that we are to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus so we won’t be led astray by lawless people (2 Pet 3:17 & 18).

Read the qualifications of elders and deacons in 1 Tim 3 and see sanctified life described in action terms: sensible, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, not a drunkard, not quarrelsome or greedy. No different from depraved reprobates?

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 (HCSB) But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, either by our message or by our letter.

We are chosen by God for salvation through sanctification. Not that we are sanctified and then saved, but that just as repentance and faith are separate but inseparable, so is salvation and sanctification. And this sanctification is the work of Spirit through the Word of Truth. And we finish this passage with the exhortation to behave rightly and think rightly, as taught by the apostolic records in Scripture. The Christian’s life IS DIFFERENT than the unregenerate’s life.

I have come to the conclusion that while justification (salvation, redemption) is monergistic, sanctification (perseverance, preservation) is not. But it’s not synergistic, either. That term conveys the notion that both elements or parties are required for the process to function. Even a casual read through the Bible will reveal the fact that God bids us to obey (Galatians 6:9) and enables to do so (Hebrews 13:20 & 21), He commands us to press on for the prize that will not tarnish and sustains us in the doing (Hebrews 12:1 & 2), and reminds us that apart from Him we do nothing (John 15:5). This is the essence of Augustine’s famous prayer that ignited the controversy with Pelagius: “God, command what you will, grant what you command.” The Christian will want to obey God and trust Him to bring it to completion. Yet He also works to conform us to His Son when we rebel and are not careful to walk as children of the light (1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Hebrews 12:3-11; James 1:2-4 & 12). Brothers, this should not be the case, we should not kick the goads; but it is comforting (and convicting) to embrace a God Who is not dependent on us!

So I conclude that God can work to sanctify us without our active participation, yet we cannot work towards growing in likeness to Christ without His active participation (John 15:5). We take 100% responsibility for the sin in our lives, we give God 100% of the credit for the good thoughts, words, and deeds we do. His Spirit in us works so that we pray effectively (Romans 8:26), without Him we can do nothing.

Sanctification. If it’s not part of your life, you need to examine yourself to see if you be in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Captive to the Word of God - version 2

Version 2 of my book is now available in Kindle, paperback, and hardback! Changes from version 1 include a correction on a Scripture reference, modification on the use of "church" to describe the assembly of saints, and an additional appendix explaining how law and covenant do not transfer outside the covenant, the New Covenant has a new law. But though law ends as regulation, it continues as revelation and is useful to the saints, as is all of Scripture.


Available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardback.

 


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Don't Be a Scoffer

Ezekiel is largely a warning to apostate Israel. One proverb they had grown fond of was a cute couplet used to convince themselves that what YHWH's prophets said would not come to pass - judgment would not come upon Israel, they were God's people!

Ezekiel 12:21-25 (HCSB) Again the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you people have about the land of Israel, which goes: The days keep passing by, and every vision fails? Therefore say to them: This is what the Lord GOD says: I will put a stop to this proverb, and they will not use it again in Israel. But say to them: The days draw near, as well as the fulfillment of every vision. For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. But I, Yahweh, will speak whatever message I will speak, and it will be done. It will no longer be delayed. For in your days, rebellious house, I will speak a message and bring it to pass.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.

But judgment DID come, they were taken into Babylon. And that stands as a warning to all who claim Christ today. Do we rightly fear God and seek to walk as Christ has commanded? Or do we scoff at the idea that He is coming?

2 Peter 3:3-7 (HCSB) First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded. But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Current scoffers have much in common with the unbelievers in ancient Israel - they try to convince themselves that all will be delayed for so long that it doesn't really matter.

But the Word of God has the present heavens and earth waiting for the judgment of fire whereupon ungodly people will destroyed.

Are you a scoffer? Plead with God to give you a new heart that longs to submit to Him rather than rebel.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Decalogue contrasted with The Law of Christ

 The Decalogue contrasted with the Law of Christ, examined in Ten Points.

The Decalogue is tied to the Mosaic Covenant.

In four places in Scripture (listed below), the Decalogue is described as the Mosaic Covenant. While it is not the sum total of everything given to ethnic Israel (see Ex 34:32), the Decalogue is certainly the Tablets of Testimony of that covenant (Ex 25:16; 31:18, 32:15, 34:29).

Exodus 34:28 (HCSB) Moses was there with the LORD 40 days and 40 nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets.

Deuteronomy 4:12-13 (HCSB) Then the LORD spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets.

1 Kings 8:20-21 (HCSB) The LORD has fulfilled what He promised. I have taken the place of my father David, and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised. I have built the temple for the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, where the LORD’s covenant is that He made with our ancestors when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 6:10-11 (HCSB) So Yahweh has fulfilled what He promised. I have taken the place of my father David and I sit on the throne of Israel, as Yahweh promised. I have built the temple for the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel. I have put the ark there, where Yahweh’s covenant is that He made with the Israelites.

There are two versions of the Decalogue, and they differ in ways not explained by textual variances. Which version is authoritative? Secondly, the Decalogue, being carved in stone tablets and called "the Ten Words" would not fit on stone tablets if all the words found in the Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 versions were counted as these ten words. If you see the Decalogue as God's "Moral Law" how do you derive what that "moral law" is? Which version of the 4th word is authoritative?

Consider Exodus 20:5-6 (ESV) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Is this part of the "moral law" - being smack in the middle of both versions of the Decalogue? How do we conclude what words spoken by Moses were carved in stone? If the Decalogue is the eternal, unchanging moral law of God, why did YHWH repeal the vengeance found in Ex 20:5 in Deuteronomy 24:16? Fathers are not to be put to death for their children or children for their fathers; each person will be put to death for his own sin.

 

The Law of Moses was given to National Israel, alone.

Deuteronomy 5:1-5 (HCSB) Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and follow them carefully. The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. He did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today. The LORD spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain. At that time I was standing between the LORD and you to report the word of the LORD to you, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (HCSB) Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the LORD your God has commanded you. You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the foreigner who lives within your gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

This reissuing of the covenant and law provided the historical context ethnic Israel needed to ground them in their identity with YHWH. They, not others, were His covenant people. This version of the 4th word aligns with the introduction, clearly showing this law was given, as part and parcel of the covenant, to only those who were on Mt Horeb when YHWH gave the law and covenant to the infant nation of Israel. Moses makes it very clear that this law was not given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to them who were on the mountain on that day.   

Nehemiah 9:13-14 (HCSB) You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them impartial ordinances, reliable instructions, and good statutes and commands. You revealed Your holy Sabbath to them, and gave them commands, statutes, and instruction through Your servant Moses.

John 7:19 (HCSB) Didn’t Moses give you the law?

John 8:17 (HCSB) Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid.

Romans 9:4 (HCSB) They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises.

In both Old and New Covenant passages, the law of Moses is described as being given to ethnic Israel; not to the world and not to the saints.

 

The Law of Moses is a unit, not divisible into different categories.

Galatians 3:10 (HCSB) For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.

Galatians 5:3 (HCSB) Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law.

James 2:10 (HCSB) For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.

The law is consistently spoken of as a unit - keeping one point obligates one to keep every point; failing on one point is being guilty of the whole law. Every law given by God is moral, for He is pure morality. The covenant context reveals how and to whom His specific laws are to be kept. Those in Adam are bound to God's Universal Law (called the law of nature or law of conscience by some); those who were in the Mosaic community were bound to the Mosaic Law; those who are in Christ are bound by the Law of Christ. All of these laws have points in common for they all come from God.

 

Why the Law of Moses was given.

Romans 5:20 (HCSB) The law came along to multiply the trespass.

Galatians 3:19 (HCSB) Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.

Galatians 3:22-23 (HCSB) But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.

Romans 7:7 (HCSB) What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet.

Many claim the law was given to restrain sin - I find that taught nowhere in Scripture. It provides the basis for punishing law-breakers, For the law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression. Romans 4:15 (HCSB)

 

The Law of Moses was for a time.

Matthew 11:13 (HCSB) For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John;

Luke 16:16 (HCSB) The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed,

When John came, as the herald of the promised Seed, the Law's prophetic purpose ended.

Romans 7:1 (HCSB) Since I am speaking to those who understand law, brothers, are you unaware that the law has authority over someone as long as he lives?

Romans 7:4 (HCSB) Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, so that you may belong to anotherto Him who was raised from the dead—that we may bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:6 (HCSB) But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.

Galatians 2:19 (HCSB) For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God.

The Jews who were dead to Christ and alive to the law were under that law. Those Jews who were made alive in Christ were put to death in relation to the Law. They serve in the new and better way of the Spirit of God, not in the old letter that brought death. Paul goes so far (in Gal 2) as to say that in order to live for God one must die to the law. This lines up with what he wrote in Romans 7 - and it aligns with other Scripture that says if you live by the law you must do all of it and will be cursed when he does not. Far better to die to the law and be alive in Christ!

Galatians 3:19 (HCSB) Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.

When the promised Seed came, the law as regulation ended - along with its covenant.

Galatians 3:22-26 (HCSB) But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The law was the guardian (not tutor as some translations say - this is a modern definition which was not in use when Paul wrote this passage) for national Israel. The law kept, guarded Israel until the promised Seed came. Since Christ came, the law ceased in that function as well. No longer prophetic, no longer regulation, no longer guardian. Something new has come!

 

The Law of Moses was abolished.

Romans 10:4 (HCSB) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. The law was ended, set aside as law, for all who believe in Christ.

Ephesians 2:15 (HCSB) He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace.  

2 Corinthians 3:11 (HCSB) For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.

Here we see the Mosaic Law, inclusive of the commandments written on stone, was abolished, annulled, ended, set aside, fading away (Strong's G2673 - destroy, abolish). This is not the same word found in Matthew 5:17, which is G2647; they are similar. The law was abolished, destroyed as law (Eph 2, 2 Cor 3) but not destroyed as revelation.

Jesus fulfilled the law, which all throughout Matthew does not mean "confirmed" or "kept" but means filled up, complete; brought to its intended end. The word "fulfilled" (pleroo) is used 16 times in this gospel; by far the preponderance of the appearances of pleroo are 'eschatological.' By this is it meant not that they have reference to the Second Coming, but that from the Old Covenant perspective they represent a future work of God tied to a particular age (i.e. the New Covenant). The fulfillment has to do with how the Old Covenant prophetic word is taken up in the person and work of Christ. One example is: When [Joseph] arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 'Out of Egypt I called My Son.' It is with this fulfillment in particular that we catch a glimpse of Matthew's vision with regard to the profound nature of Christ's fulfillment of prophecy. Throughout this gospel, "fulfillment" is part and parcel of the shadow/fulfillment process found throughout the redemptive story; it is not testimony of Jesus keeping the law.

Keep the law. tēreō (5083): from teros (a watch; perhaps akin to <G2334> (theoreo)); to guard (from loss or injury, properly by keeping the eye upon.

 

Fulfill the law. plēroō (4137): from <G4134> (pleres); to make replete, i.e. (literal) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow). As one author put it: “That which was empty, sketchy, has become filled up, filled out, and thereby glorified.”

 

The New Covenant laws

We in the New Covenant are not without law; but we are not within the Law of Moses. New Covenant passages describe this new law as the Spirit's law of life, the law of Christ, the perfect Law of Liberty, and the Royal law. This law is based on the two great commandments, to love God and neighbor - not as taught by the Mosaic Law but as taught and modeled by the Lord Jesus, in light of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:1-2 (HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Galatians 6:2 (HCSB) Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:21 (HCSB) To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law.

James 1:25 (HCSB) But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good worksthis person will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:8 (HCSB) Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.

This phrase, love your neighbor as yourself, is the second great command, taken from Lev 19:18. It is the other side of the coin which also conveys the greatest command: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, cited from Deuteronomy 6:5. On these two commands, neither taken from the Decalogue, hang the Law and the prophets – all the scripture then in hands of man. This shows us that while the Law of Moses is not our master, certain truths that apply to all of God’s people are found in His books. Jesus draws out two and declares them to be supreme to the Old Covenant, the essence of the New Covenant – love for God and one another; love as defined and portrayed in the Bible, not as our culture as deceitfully defined it these past few centuries.

Contrasting Old and New Covenant laws

As Moses went up into a mountain to get the old Law, so Christ went up into a mountain to give the new Law (Mat 5-7; cf. 2 Cor 3).

John 1:17 (HCSB) for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Just as there is a distinct contrast between law and gospel, here John reveals a distinct contrast between law and grace & truth. The covenant given through Moses was a law-based covenant, with all the criminal sanctions for violations. The covenant made with the blood of Christ is a grace-based covenant, with forgiveness for sin and no legal code hanging over the heads of those within it.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted the ethics of His kingdom with that of the kingdom of Israel, quoting two of the Ten Words exactly, showing how the law of His kingdom is a higher standard not found in the Mosaic Law. "Do not murder" does not teach "love others as I have loved you;" "Do not commit adultery" does not teach "love your wife as Christ loved the church." "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy" was not part of the Decalogue, but it was the way ethnic Israel lived - as they applied the Levitical law (cities of refuge, etc.).

The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that the Jews had the wrong idea of who their neighbors were - they thought only fellow Jews were their neighbors. That parable also showed how they hated their enemies, as the Pharisee crossed to the other side of the street to avoid the unclean person in the ditch. If the injured man had been a Jew, the Pharisee would have helped him; he wasn't a Jew, so he was a "dog" - an outsider and enemy of Israel. Jesus said, "Love your enemies, pray for them;" He was teaching that in His kingdom, everyone you come in contact with is your neighbor and we are to do good to all, especially those in the household of faith.  Different mindset than in the Mosaic community; one based on love rather than a legal code.

Christ teaches those things which Moses did not. How could the Decalogue be our law if Jesus gave us a higher, better law?

Acts 15:5 (HCSB) But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses! Acts 15:10 (HCSB) Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? The light yoke of Christ is light because Christ is the "lead ox" but also because there's a different load being pulled. Not the tablets of stone but the law of Christ. Telling saints they must keep the law of Moses is testing God! This passage is not restricted to justification as the controversy was about justification and how Gentile Christians were to live. The charge from the Pharisees, the discussion, and the letter all reflect this larger scope.

2 Corinthians 5:14 (HCSB) For Christ’s love compels us. Law keeping is not what gives us love nor the ability to obey; the love of Christ does this.

Romans 8:1-2 (HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Since Paul declared the law chiseled in letters on stone to be "the ministry of death" how can that law be the law of the New Covenant, wherein all is life? How can the Decalogue be for the saints when the Spirit's law of life in Christ has set us free from it?

How can the Decalogue be part of the Law of Christ when it is starkly contrasted with it in 1 Corinthians 9:19-21? For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. Paul described himself as being without - not having - the Law of Moses; he merely behaved as though he was under that law so his freedom would not distract Jews from his gospel. He made clear his true status in verse 21- not under the Law of Moses but under the law of Christ. How could the Law of Moses (its capstone - the Decalogue) be part of or equal to the law of Christ when Paul sets that against one another in several places?

Galatians 3:2-6 (ESV) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith — just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Having been given life by the Spirit, maturing in Christ is NOT by works of law-keeping!

Hebrews 7:11-13, 18, 19 (HCSB) If then, perfection came through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there for another priest to appear, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well. For the One these things are spoken about belonged to a different tribe. ... So the previous command is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable (for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Law is tied to covenant. The Mosaic Law was based on the Mosaic Covenant, administered by the Levitical priesthood. When the New Covenant came, the priesthood changed - and this mandated a change of law as well. The law of the Old Covenant was annulled as law, it was not translated into the New Covenant as law. The Spirit provides a better hope, by which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 10:1 (ESV) For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. The Law of Moses had its purpose in its time. It was unable to save and unable to make perfect anyone as it was mere shadow while the substance is Christ (Col 2:17).

John 15:12 (ESV) This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:17 (ESV) These things I command you, so that you will love one another. This is the Law of Christ - the rule for Christian living is not the Law of Moses, not the "moral Law of God" as the Decalogue is called by man.

Romans 13:8 (HCSB) Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:10 (HCSB) Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

Galatians 5:14 (HCSB) For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

There are some who claim Christians must live under the Decalogue as a rule of life or we will think murder is OK. Christians are indwelt by the Spirit of God and we have been shown that selfish anger at a brother is the same as murder, and we do not un-hinge the Old Testament from our theology. We read about how wicked murder is and see our anger at others is of the same sinful attitude. We read how we are to love one another as Christ loved us and see how great indeed the two Great Commandments are. We are not lawless, we are within the Law of Christ!

 

Great Commission: Teaching them all I have commanded you. Where did Jesus teach that His disciples are to keep the Decalogue? Jesus told His disciples the greatest commandment was to love God - something not taught in the Decalogue. He also told us the second greatest commandment is to love one another as He loved us - something not taught in the Decalogue.

How can the Decalogue be in the law of Christ when it doesn't command or teach us to LOVE? The Decalogue teaches what sin is.

Paul teaches that the Law is good and that it is the ministry of death. The best way to reconcile his statements is to see that the Law serves as revelation from God, and this is very good; it also serves as regulation for those under the law covenant, and this is very heavy. This is clearly seen in Romans 3:21 But now, apart from the law [as regulation], God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets [as revelation].

One rule of hermeneutics that is very helpful.

Law exists in Scripture as Regulation and Revelation. John Owen recognized this, saying, "The law is taken two ways: 1. For the whole revelation of the mind and will of God ... and 2. For the covenant rule of perfect obedience."

Law as regulation is given in context of the covenant to which it belongs. Violations of law bring consequences, which are spelled out in that covenant.

There is no exception to this, in that laws with punishments do not spill out of their covenant.

Since all of God's Word is Revelation, it is good for us if applied properly. This goes for law and narrative.

This is why a principle is seen in more than one law in more than one covenant - it's all from God. Don't confuse that with the papist fable of "trans-covenantal law."

 

Summary

Man is naturally wired for works righteousness. Having a codified list of "Do"s and "Dont"s satisfies our natural desire to prove ourselves. This is not how we, who are dead to the law and alive in Christ, are to live - for love does not keep records of wrongs (1 Cor 13:5). The Mosaic Law was not given as a rule for life for those indwelt by the Spirit of God. Christ has taught us and shown us how to love, He has given us His Spirit and His Word so we would not be left to figure it out on our own. And He has given us to one another so we can practice loving one another in spite of our differences and disagreements. May it please the Lord our God to continue to pour out His love and grace on us so we would shine as lights in this wicked world.