Tag Archives: sin

Covenant (part 6) Moses

The Covenant of Grace: with Moses

Immediately I understand that categorizing the covenant made with Moses (and Israel) as part of the covenant of grace, is not commonly understood or accepted. Arguments against this placement will usually cite Paul’s various Law vs. Gospel distinction passages. I admit these and yet like to clarify that Paul is not against the Law, as if it were evil, but wherever Paul or any NT writer, in shorthand, condemns the “Law”, they are in fact only ever condemning the incorrect use of the Law, as if it were meant to be a system of righteousness, which it is not, cannot be, and was never given to be such a system.

Visible/Physical elements: Moses, the people of Israel, the Ten Commandments, promises and curses.

Scenario: a seed of Abraham had become a physical blessing to many nations, as Joseph rose to fame and power in Egypt and saved many from starvation. A new Pharaoh rises who hates and is threatened by Israel and so imposed a harsh bondage upon them, whereas the people cry out to God for deliverance. Moses comes on scene as a deliverer figure fulfilling Gen. 15:13, Ex. 2:23-24. Via the power of God represented by and communicating through Moses, the people are set free from Egypt and journey towards the land originally promised to Abraham.

It’s important to note that, as the New Testament teaches (Gal. 3:17), the covenant of grace/promise via Abraham is still the context in the days of Moses as to why Israel is considered the people of God, why they can call on God, and why He moves to deliver them. The institution of the grace/law covenant with Moses, DOES NOT replace the promises, but only adds the dimension that if you are a child of promise, by faith, given to you as was given to Abraham, then this new heart should function in these “10” ways.

Now, because physically they cannot see everyone’s heart, but yet physically all reside with or are within a household of Abraham/Israel, all the males are to be outwardly circumcised. Now all those outwardly circumcised (regenerate by faith or not) are expected to keep the commandments of God, as expressing their love for God and neighbor in tangible everyday living. To the invisible/spiritual Israel or church they are just living out the faith and love they have received internally. The unsaved or those who do not have faith, but are externally part of physical Israel are still required conditionally to obey the commandments, which because of sin can only offend them and drive them to be “stiff-necked” toward God and others.

So the Ten Commandments, along with all other instituted levitical laws do not replace the covenant of grace, but as it were, enhances it to now say what the people of God’s name and faith actually do. It’s to show the world how their hearts beat differently than others in all matters of tangible daily living. The faith filled Israelites, I think, would rejoice in this, as now elements of their entire day allows them to focus on God. The new commandments are embraced because of the heart they’re given, and not the other way around. Doing the commandments did not and could not make someone a child of grace, faith and promises, except in their external/physical sense. In the modern church we claim a better than type and shadow revelation, stronger witness of the Spirit and freedom in Christ, but our outward and daily walk with God can hardly be said to entirely focus on God. We consider ourselves “good” if we remember to pray before falling asleep.

Taking things just a bit further. You see throughout the rest of the Old Testament this visible/invisible and physical/spiritual context and tensions in how God treats “His people”. Israel is typically in trouble for breaking covenant relationship with God. So God physically punishes them (removing sometimes almost all physical covenant blessing from them), for their breach, but yet invisibly still calls the faithful of them “His people” (because by the promise to Abraham, God will answer against Himself for their breaches) and further promises to restore them.

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The best business advice

As Jesus was teaching/preaching, a man was churning something over and over in his mind that had nothing to do with the sermon at hand, much like some do during modern church services.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.””

Luke 12:13-21

Jesus takes the opportunity to make what was a disruption into a famous teaching moment. This is the best advice I can think of for all business persons.

Materialism distracts us from recognizing that God gives us the increases we receive in life, yet somehow this businessman/farmer was able to look past all that God had done to bring about his abundant crops, and could only see himself and his security in that wealth. Yet the bigger problem was not his lack of space to hold it all, or really that he had to come up with a plan to resolve his storage problem. His biggest issue was that in all his life’s work and planning, he never took time to make God a part of his plans.

It’s the thought that you can always get to God later in life once you’ve taken care of your material needs. The Devil rarely tries to convince people that God’s not real or that there is not pending judgement day. The Devil’s best tactic is to convince people that there is always room to get right with God, tomorrow. Business people have so much going on, that if you could poll all of them in one day, I bet there would be a majority that would similarly say they can always accept God tomorrow. But just like the parable, and the population being what it is, the odds are that a few of those same business people will not make it to tomorrow. Worse still are those materialistic people that business people feed into and off of, stats say there are more of those who are betting on tomorrow but will not see the next sunrise. Further in the New Testament, James hits the nail on the head in the advice he is giving:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

James 4:13-17

To bet on tomorrow is and will be a losing bet for someone today. Don’t let that person be you, work to be rich toward God and seek the Lord while he may be found.

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Covenant (part 4) Noah

Continuing our review of the covenants from the visible/invisible distinctions.

Covenant of Grace: with Noah

Visible/Physical elements: Noah’s ark, flood, rainbow.

Invisible/Spiritual: God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Scenario: Those not within the covenant of God’s grace are seen as continuously evil and so according to the covenant of works, they are to be wiped out via the means of the flood. Noah found favor before God and so via mercy, grace, and faith he is to build a boat (ark) that will shelter him, his family, and the animal population. The flood serves a two fold purpose, it preserved Noah while cleansing the world. Just as in the final judgement as fire is said to destroy all things, we are told our spiritual good will remain (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

The covenant is expressed in two parts. First that Noah and family will come through the flood, and then after they are delivered, Noah and all the earth are given a covenant promise that God would never again flood the entire earth. New commands are given that they can eat anything moving or plant life, but that mankind will be at odds with the animal kingdom. Man, as seen in grace, is reissued the command to be fruitful and multiply.

So via our visible/invisible distinction we can say that the visible deliverance and destruction are a one to one comparison to their invisible subjects (Noah in an estate of grace and the destroyed as in their estate of sin and judgement under the covenant of works). Yet we can also say that although His entire family is saved outwardly it is not a sign of the entire family’s righteousness. Ham will later be cursed by Noah and in a manner cut off from his family. So those within a visible family can contain both spiritually/invisibly saved and unsaved persons, although outwardly it would appear they are all part of God’s family.

The NT, in 1 Peter 3:18-22, calls us to compare Noah’s ark to baptism. Within the context of this section we are to understand that Noah was not exactly a type of Christ, because whereas Noah was safe above the flood in the ark, Christ had to be killed in/by the “flood” (wrath of God) for our sins. In the spiritual conquering death, Jesus satisfies the spiritual/invisible judgement of the flood, which is why our spiritual baptism (symbolized in our visible/physical baptism) is identification with Him via the Holy Spirit, as already conquered death, so we say we have eternal life “in Him”. Whereas the flood could only cleanse the earth of people polluted and guilty of sin, Christ actually dealt with the pollution and guilt of sin, such that we can be identified as back in covenant relationship with God.

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Covenant (part 2)

As discussed in part one, all that is happening in scripture is because covenant relationship with God (law and love in harmony) has been broken by man and God is at work as the only one who can restore it.

Covenant of Works/Life: At creation, God’s relationship with Adam and his posterity whereby Adam was required, in his free estate, to obey and follow God, expressly evident in the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Law is always present as God’s Holy character whereby Adam’s transgression is both a breach of legal precept and a personal offense. Because Adam despised the very heart of God in his disobedience, in the fall he lost his heart for God (and by consequence, a proper heart for man) in favor of his own self-determining pleasures.

Covenant of Grace: God eternal and triune relationship with His people (the church/elect in all ages), as they are united to Christ by grace, through faith. God’s Holy character will once again be written on/in the hearts (of flesh) of His people (not mere precepts), as regenerate and baptized by the Holy Spirit, in time. The relationship between God and His people is healed/redeemed by God. The legal breach and personal offense from Adam is satisfied by Jesus’ blood. The Cov. of Works requirement of perfect obedience and love is fulfilled in Jesus’ life. By substitution and mediation our guilt is credited to Christ and His righteousness is credited to us. This is the only means of salvation in both testaments of Scripture.

Covenant with Noah: God promises not to destroy the world by water again. The rainbow is given as a sign of remembrance. As a further clarification of the Cov. of Grace, those who find grace in God’s eyes are adopted and saved through even the most destructive circumstances of divine justice. Although Noah is said to walk with God, he is not credited for this as his own work, but it is instead a clear fruit of his already being a regenerate child of God, who follows God’s instruction and promises by the faith given to him.

Covenant with Abraham: A further clarification of the Cov. Of Grace, whereas the promises of inheritance, a son/linage, to be a blessing to nations and that God will be his God, are given to Abraham (and to his seed, by faith), but God assumes the responsibility of both parties to the covenant. The character of law and love, that man cannot live up to perfectly, God will absorb in Himself, yet God awards relationship to Abraham as if he had been perfect. By grace God promised all He did to Abraham, and yet God assumes the role of covenant breaker indicating Abraham (man) cannot possibly atone or pay the debt due for disobedience. In one sense the covenant is between God alone, as Christ is ultimately the Seed of Abraham in scope. In another sense the promises are clearly with man as to follow and believe that God will accomplish through time and flesh, His promises. Christ is clearly then the only one, as the God/Man, who satisfies both aspects of this covenant shadow in one person.

Covenant with Moses: Keep the covenant and be unto God a holy nation/people of priests. The dynamic of the mosaic covenant is that as God moves from identifying with individuals and families, they will now take on more of a national role in the world. They will be God’s people by name and as identified with a multitude of ceremonies and laws meant to indicate that because God lives among them, they must by Holy in all areas and ways of life. This external visual, is never meant to replace or augment the standing promises of God and walking with Him by faith. Yet over time the externals of the nation replace any heart felt zeal for God and the people continuously fall away, yet a remnant of faithful persons always remain, yet as always saved according to the Cov. of Grace. The mosaic covenant is usually incorrectly associated with the Covenant of Works, but as Paul indicates it is good if one uses it correctly. Law can never be removed from the character of God and thus to be in relationship with Him, there must be a spirit of love for God and His law always within us (holiness and righteousness). Yet people go wrong when they think the law keeping can result in or force their way into relationship.

Old Covenant (OC): A summary name for the Covenant of Grace as administered during the OT time period (Gen. 3:15), until the inauguration of the New Covenant. This Covenant was able to save by grace granting faith in the shadows of the messiah to come. It is still a work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, new birth yet the life and work of Christ is veiled in symbols, ceremonies and types.

New Covenant: A summary name for the Covenant of Grace as administered from the resurrection of Christ until His second coming. Greater revelation and fulfillment of all the promises and previously associated types and shadows in the Old Covenant. By way of Jesus’ fulfillment of all things from the OC and the greater work of the Spirit and the clarity of the message of salvation, it’s deemed “greater” than the OC, but it is still the same Cov. Of Grace.

#CovenantReformation

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Covenant (part 1)

God expresses His relationships in the form of covenants. The ceremony or elements involved in cutting a covenant serve to illustrate, by way of God’s condensation to man, what spiritually already exists to God and not the creation of relationship, as if no relationship and/or obligation was already in place.

In covenant both love and law are held in harmony, as parallel to God’s character (not mere feelings as somehow separate from His precepts, but united). Thus it is our obligation to conform to His character of love as expressed in commands from the heart.

Covenant is then both a relational and legal term, whereas more “weight” is assigned to God and His word, above that of our feelings and opinions, in care that we do not offend His character and to joyously seek to reflect His character.

Because covenants are part of God’s character and the relationship of us to His holiness, they are always present, expressing mans standing before God, and so is the constant context of Scripture.

The variety of covenants encountered in scripture are but one of two covenants, one of works and one of grace. Each signifies who the people of God are, and how they are to be identified. All other covenants clarify elements already present in these two covenants by way of pointing out continuities or discontinuities between the two.

#CovenantReformation

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Trinity (Sunday School Lessons)

For friends and family that have asked, I’ve set a link to my church’s web page where you can find my lessons and other lessons from our gifted teachers. 

http://www.mcopc.org/sunday_school.php

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Modesty

Modesty is a taboo topic because it sounds restrictive to a world that wants the most options with the least amount of limitations. Least of all, no one wants to be told how to dress. So why is the Bible so counter cultural on this point? Is it just that old of a book or when God states we are to be modest (1 Cor. 12:23, 1 Tim. 2:9, and other passages about not uncovering the nakedness of someone) , that there are really good, meaningful and loving advice behind the restriction?

Sorry I don’t have time to develop this into a fuller blog post, but just wanted to bullet my points.

Modesty protects you and others from being emotionally harmed by a false sense and portrayal of intimacy.

Modesty prevents having to maintain anything or anyone gained through being revealing.

Modesty now conceals that which fades later.

Modesty helps others like you for who you are holistically.

Modesty to God is of the heart, not just a fashion choice or quantity of fabric.

Modesty is a restraint to not let our eyes and thoughts go farther than they ought, or wrongly invite the eyes and thoughts of others to go farther then they ought.

Modesty has others in mind, not wishing to lead others astray.

Modesty hides from all what is rightly preserved for one.

Modesty protects you from greedily wanting the affection of those who are not yours.

Modesty forces a relationship to be based on the whole person and not just someone’s looks.

Modesty is an issue for all ages and both genders.

To use immodesty to say you have to attract a mate is to supersede God’s ability to find you one.

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