Not under the Law, seriously, no really I mean it

Testimony time around the campfire

I once set off a fire alarm at church camp but that’s not important right now. I’m always interested to see how expositors handle the issue of the Law, especially the Decalogue. About six years ago I preached through Exodus 2o which personally brought enormous clarity to me on many issues. I became convinced that as an expositor I cannot strip the commands of their penalties, stipulations, and context and still remain faithful to the text. The Law is a unit that stands or falls together and squinting my eyes while trying to read through and around Leviticus won’t help. Most of the sermons that I have read or heard tend to run to so-called modern day applications without dealing adequately with the meaning and resulting purpose of the Law. This series was a watershed for me and the more I studied the issue the more I saw in Scripture how Jesus really is the fulfillment of the Law (Matt 5:17). Furthermore, this wonderful truth doesn’t require me to cross my fingers behind my back.

In short, with apologies to my Truly Reformed brothers who are praying for my conversion, I generally agree with Doug Moo who wrote that “the entire Mosaic law comes to fulfillment in Christ, and this fulfillment means that this law is no longer a direct and immediate source of, or judge of, the conduct of God’s people” (“Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses,” in Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. Wayne Strickland, 319-76, 2nd ed. [Zondervan, 1996], 343. I have friends who respond to such quotes like an out of control patient with turrets syndrome. Outwardly they say “that doesn’t square with the Bestminster Official Catechism of Orthodox Reformed Belief” but inwardly they’re probably thinking “you’re a filthy antinomian, away with you.” By the way, hurling the charge of antinomianism does not close the case.

A test case

Next time this subject comes up among your circle of preacher buddies ask this question: “how should we understand Exodus 20:8-11?” Some are “all in” (e.g. seventh day adventists) but they conveniently cross their fingers on the “you will die if you violate this command” part (e.g., Ex 31:15). The next group responds with a “that’s an easy one” glimmer in their eye and remind you that the Law is divided into three parts: ceremonial, civil, and moral, the moral being the only part we are still under in some mysterious way. After you ask your friend to show this neat division in Scripture he quickly gets a call and has to visit someone in the hospital.

I recently received a review copy of Al Mohler’s new book Words from the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the 10 Commandments. Immediately I turned to chapter four wherein Mohler works through the sabbath question in relation to Ex 20. He does a good job of summarizing the various applications of this particular command. Option 1 is to observe the sabbath on the seventh day, option 2 is observe the sabbath on the first day, and then he offers a third option which is participate in worship on “The Lord’s Day” (87-90). Most folks I know would fall under Mohler’s third option where the Lord’s Day (Sunday) replaces the Sabbath because the Sabbath has been transformed by its fulfillment in Christ. However there’s something unsettling about this “option.” Here’s how Mohler concludes:

Are there things we ought not to do on the Lord’s Day? Certainly there are. Anything that would detract from our worship should not be done on the Lord’s Day. Anything that would rob the Lord’s Day of priority of worship should not be done. Anything that would be on our minds when we are worshipping, as if we can only get done with this in order to go do that, is a matter of sin, no matter what it is.

While most evangelicals and Chick-fil-A employees would nod in agreement there’s still something that doesn’t square here. How is this conclusion justified in light of passages like Romans 6:14, 14:3-4; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 7-9; James 1:25 just to name a few? I’m not bringing this up because I’m against meeting on Sunday’s for congregational worship but the difference between “we do” and “we must do” is a massive theological issue that directly points to how we truly understand what Christ has indeed accomplished for us on the cross. What say you?

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53 responses to this post.

  1. In one of my favorite new series of books i just came across this one.

    The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (Nac Studies in Bible & Theology) by Jason C. Meyer

    I look fwd to reading it.

  2. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I would agree with you concerning Mohler’s 3rd option. I’ve always found it fascinating that we as followers of Christ, redeemed from the Law, would still flirt with it. The issue of the Sabbath being the chief example. How can we read Colossians 2:16 and NOT see this issue clearly? I’m comfortable observing Sunday as a time of communal worship. However, when it is pushed to the point that it is, as it was point, a “must do,” then I become a little uncomfortable.

  3. Caleb,

    I saw that too. I just read a great new paper by Rod Decker called “The Law, the New Covenant, and the Christian: Studies in Hebrews 7-10”. He has a fair amount of interaction with Meyer’s book.

    PSL

  4. typo: as it was PUT, not point :)

  5. Posted by Jerry Wragg on October 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Paul –
    Just preached on this last Sunday Eve. Too much material to cover in this comment, but I do hold that none of the three options given by Mohler are biblically defensible. I dealt with the Sabbath question, and then summarized the history of the church’s transition to the Lord’s Day (without belaboring the gory details of every nuanced battle over the issue). You’re right about most people not dealing with texts like Romans 14, et.al. You’ll have to listen to my message (sorry, bro) to hear what I said at the end to our church family about Lord’s Day activity and responsibility.

    Jerry

  6. Posted by Jerry Wragg on October 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    By the way, I dealt with the Sabbath question over the course of TWO Sunday’s, actually (because I was dealing with the 7th day of creation in Gen 2).

  7. Jerry,

    Thanks for leaving us hanging. This reminds me of a well-known scholar who kept answering everyone’s questions with “go read my book on such and such.” Seriously, I look forward to listening to your sermon. Thanks for the heads up.

    Those who want to jump in further to the issue should see From Sabbath to Lord’s Day (ed. D. A. Carson). Their conclusions:

    Negatively the authors deny:
    (1) that the NT unambiguously develops a transfer theology from Sabbath to Sunday
    (2) that the OT links the Sabbath command to a creation ordinance, thus making it a permanent norm
    (3) that Sunday observance arose in the second century rather than in the apostolic Church
    (4) that the NT develops patterns of continuity and discontinuity to the OT law on the basis of the paradigm: moral/civil/ceremonial distinctions.

    Positively they affirm:
    (1) Sunday worship arose in the NT period
    (2) Sunday worship was not perceived as the Sabbath in NT times.

  8. I saw that new Meyer/NAC publication about the end of the law. I was curious to get anyone’s thoughts on it. I have been pleasantly pleased with all the books put out by NAC, especially Future Israel by Horner and the Holy Spirit in the OT and NT by Hamilton.

  9. Posted by Matthew Olmstead on October 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Kevin Bauder argues for a “soft” Sabbatarianism that sees the Sabbath principle going back to the creation week, on the creation order.

    . . . sort of makes the Exodus 20 question moot.

    • Matthew,

      I guess one of the problems with that position is the unproven assumption that Ex. 20:9-10 is describing the exact same thing as Gen. 2:2-3. In fact, you won’t find anyone rebuked for not keeping the Sabbath prior to the Mosaic Covenant. I would find rare agreement with von Rad but he makes a healthy observation that “the divine rest is not . . . made normative for the rhythm of human life . . . nothing is said here [i.e., Gen. 2] of the Sabbath law, and Israel learns of it only at Mount Sinai.” In Genesis 2 there is no religious feast day, institution or direct commandment given that the seventh day should be kept in any way. Therefore I would surmise that Genesis 2 does not teach a “creation ordinance” for all humanity. However, the institution of the Sabbath for the people of Israel did find its structure in the creation account. By the way the word Sabbath does not even appear in Genesis 2:2-3. The first occurrence is not until Exod. 16:22-30 where it is introduced but not instituted (just before the Sinai event).

      Thanks for the feedback,
      PSL

      • Posted by Matthew Olmstead on October 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm

        Well, I don’t know if that assumption is there—I certainly don’t hold it. That’s why it’s a “soft” Sabbatarianism—it’s not obeying a command as much as it is following a principle of rest. Perhaps it should be a small ‘s’ so as to avoid a mistaken attachment to the Sinai Code.

  10. Matthew,

    Thanks for the clarification. Maybe he should use a subscript “s”. In principle Bauder’s position would seem to be the same as Mohler’s.

    I’m sure others have this worked out better than I do but my brain gets tied in knots when folks try to show me an “abiding principle of rest” for Christians today that means something other than the present spiritual rest that comes through faith in Christ (e.g., Heb 4:3).

    Thanks again for your interaction here. Iron sharpens iron.

    PSL

  11. Posted by Jerry Wragg on October 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Paul –
    Didn’t intend to leave you “hanging.” I have no book, my sermons are not widely heard, and my pedigree has been the subject of much humor in seminary hallways…but, I only wanted to agree with you on those stubborn texts regarding a new covenant approach to festivals, holy days, etc.

    Resting,

    Jerry

  12. Posted by Scott Christensen on October 2, 2009 at 9:49 am

    What do we do with a passage like Rom. 13:8-10?

    • Scott,

      Great question. Here’s how I understand the passage.

      Clearly Paul has stated prior that we are not under law as a rule for obedience (Rom 6:14-18). We did not come to faith in Christ through obedience to the law nor do we stay in through obedience to the law (6:16-17; cf. 8:3).

      At the same time this does not mean that Paul is anti-law. This is why I pointed out that the charge of “anitnomianism” doesn’t hold up. If Jesus is the full and final fulfillment of the law then obeying Christ will be in essence keeping/upholding/fulfilling the law. The love command (Lev 19:18) taught by Jesus and here in Rom 13 is upheld by Paul (see also James 2:8-13). The love command is the ultimate aim and purpose of the law. Later in Gal 5:14 Paul says the whole law is fulfilled in this command. So the expression that shows we are in Christ is our love for others which is Paul’s point in Rom 13:8-10.

      But what about Paul saying we “fulfill” the law in 13:8,10? Back in chapter 8 Paul speaks of the law being fulfilled in us (8:4) but it’s not because of something we have done. It is because the law was met and fulfilled in God sending His Son (8:3). The result is that we are not under condemnation (8:1) and we now walk by the Spirit (8:6, 9-11). So Paul is not saying something contradictory in 13:8,10 but that we “fulfill’ the law because we are in Christ. What is interesting in Rom 13 is that Paul is demonstrating that Christian love should extend even to those who are our oppressors (in this case the Roman government). This is a radical exhortation!

      What are your thoughts?

  13. Posted by Scott Christensen on October 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Paul,
    Those are very similar to my own thoughts. I really love Rom. 8:1-4. I think it is the key summation of the implications of justification that Paul had been arguing thus far in Romans. I especially love verse 2, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ.” To unpack all that that phrase captures is a remarkable task. It encompasses so much of what the Christian life is all about. I think Rom. 13:8-10 is meaningless without our understanding of 8:1-4.

  14. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Faith upholds the law. Romans 3:31

    Those saved from sin and its bondage, serve God, righteousness and the law of God. Romans 6:13, 18, 19, 7:25

    The law is not served to obtain righteousness, but because righteousness has been obtained by faith in Jesus Christ.

    Romans 14 – what is being dealt with by Paul? Over & over it has to do with foods, wine, eating and drinking, and a very minor dealing with a day or days, associated with eating and drinking. This has led many to consider this passage as dealing with the Jews and their days.

    There is a Lord’s day. Look at its construction. Same as the Lord’s supper. Those that eat and drink are to do all to the glory of God. Yet, there is a supper which they are to set apart in a special manner. There is also a Lord’s day, different from all other days. The Lord owns it. Remember, He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

    The problem with the law was not with the law/covenant. The problem was with the sinfulness of men. They turned that meant for faith into works. Romans 9:30-33 Those who are made partakers of the new covenant have the law written on their minds and on their hearts. It is not a new law, but a new creature. Jer. 31:31-34 (Hebrews)

    Israel was a type and shadow of the true Israel in Christ who fulfill the righteousness of the law because they are given a new heart and and a new spirit, but not a new law.

  15. I have had endless arguments about this, mostly from the wrong side. I now agree that we are not under the law in any way, but that leaves me with a question I can’t answer to my satisfaction: How, then, do I define sin? Concisely, if you please!

    • David,

      Thanks for the great question. How’s this for concise? Sin is the violation, transgression, falling short, and failure to honor God as He has revealed Himself to all mankind by the image of God (Rom. 1:18-21). Sin did not become transgression when codified at Sinai but when it entered the world through one man and spread through all creation (Rom. 5:12; cf. 3:9, 23). I would say more but it would move me beyond concise and into another post.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  16. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Sin is the transgression of the law. What law? You ought to walk as the Lord Jesus walked? What law did He fulfill? 1John 3:4, 2:6

    In preaching the sermon on the mount what law did Jesus expect His disciples to fulfill? The law and the prophets Matt. 7:12

    Jesus did not destroy the law, but expected His disciples to teach and fulfill its moral requirements Matt. 5:19-20

    This is not done in our own power, but by those who have been born again and are led by the Spirit of God.

    Those who say Jesus did away with the moral requirements of the decalogue contradict Jesus’ statement in Matt. 5:17

    Rick

    • Rick,

      I may misunderstand your point here but I would question a couple of assumptions you made. No one here has made the argument that Jesus came to “destroy the law.” In fact He upholds, fulfills, and demonstrates the perfections of the God’s law in every way (Matt 5:17). As I noted in the original post, because of this, the law is no longer a direct and immediate source of, or judge of, the conduct of God’s people.

      You statements also assume that there is a “moral” division to the law that is not present in other “non-moral” laws. You need to demonstrate that the Bible teaches a “moral” law that stands in distinction to the other law. Would you say that Ex. 20:12 is a “moral” law and Lev. 20:9 is not? If so, why is one abiding legislation and the other not? Both are priestly-civil contexts which are given to bless and regulate life in the theocratic life of Israel.

      Thanks for comments.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  17. Posted by James Sizemore on October 5, 2009 at 11:22 am

    This is a great discussion…one thing that hasn’t been addressed is how the term “Law” is viewed in a somewhat restrictive way because as Christians we have been “programed” to think only of the negative or legal ramifications of the term. Torah is presented as 1) a system that was introduced by Moses that was based on works (offerings) for right standing with God 2) in a more general sense it is “instruction” that covered every major area of life. These instructions were given to enhance life on this side of heaven. We can still be saved but may find ourselves missing out on various aspects of the abundant life Christ spoke of. As evangelicals we tend to lump these together without making a difference.
    Christ has become the perfect offering and there is nothing that I can do to work or earn that salvation He purchased for us on Calvary.
    However, we can neglect to trust Christ as our “rest” or sabbath and live a “saved” life riddled with fear, worry and anxiety (sound like any 21st Century Christians that you know). Of course I don’t acknowledge a certain “day” but there is a proven principle of physical, mental and spiritual restoration that will enhance our life today. This is NOT a requirement for salvation but a benefit of salvation.

    • Posted by Mary on October 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm

      I think the concept of rest is at the core of this in many ways. Bernard of Clairvoux introduced multiple levels of love.

      I love me for me
      I love you (or God) for me
      I love you (or God) for you (or God)
      I love me for you (or God)

      At the higher levels, whatever we are doing is for the benefit of the other, not for our direct benefit. Yet the actions we take can be focused on ourselves or the other. To keep “S”abbath is to love ourselves for benefit of the other. In modern terms, this is putting on our own oxygen mask before trying to put on the mask of others sitting next to us.

      If I am a field that has sat fallow for a while, I yield more fruit than a tired, worn-out field that has been used daily again and again and again until there is nothing left.

      To not care for myself, is to fail in being a steward of the resource that I have most authority and responsibility over. I also agree that to continuously do for myself (much as Adam and Eve felt they could think for themselves) instead of trusting that God will provide does demonstrate an excessive case of pride.

      I have no complaint against those who reach towards the spirit of the law (which teaches dependence upon God, humility and effective stewardship all in one practice – now, that is a nice trifecta!) However, if you are going to quibble as to how many steps I can take, or pounds I can lift, or which day I must observe, I will quibble about that!

      Also, as to whether it becomes worship or just rest seem like a hair splitting question. Both in reasonable amounts build us up and emphasize our submissive, dependent relationship to God. Either in excess can become an idol in their own right and thus lead us astray in yet another area.

  18. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Torah was not presented as a system of works but a system of faith. Israel made the mistake of turning a system of faith into a system of works. Romans 9:30-33
    Romans 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

    “as it were by the work of the law”. It was never given to obtain righteousness by works. It was given to obtain righteousness by faith. This is why Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. That does not mean it is the end of the law, because Paul elsewhere states that those who are saved by grace fulfill the law through love.

    Moses was not saved by works but by faith. Hebrews 11.

    In the midst of the Law:
    Exodus 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (same in Deut. 5:10)

    Mercy means obtaining righteousness by faith as all the elect receive, by God’s compassion & mercy. Romans 9:15

    Moses was saved by grace through faith. God shewed mercy. Moses loved God because God first loved Moses. Moses kept the commandments not as a means of obtaining righteousness but because God had showed him mercy and love. Moses’ heart was circumcised (a new heart & a new spirit) therefore Moses kept the Lord’s statutes.

    Those with uncircumcised hearts turn the law into a system of works, as Israel did which Paul explicitly states in Romans 9:30-33.

    Rick

  19. Moses’ Law is an indivisible unit. Its sections can be outlined — civil, priestly, and so forth — but they aren’t separate interlocking pieces like Legos. I think it’s significant that it’s always called the Law (singular).

    Paul assumes this in Galatians 5. His point there is “In for a penny, in for a pound”. If you undergo circumcision, then you’re all in. You’d better keep every last jot and tittle, because you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Law you keep, like it’s a Chinese buffet. The same principle applies to Sabbath. If you have to keep the Fourth Commandment, even if you dress it up in Christian clothing, then you have to keep all the rest of the 630-odd commandments as well. Circumcision and Sabbath were both covenantal signs. You could be executed or banished for failing to keep either.

    Paul in 1st Corinthians 9 says that he is not under Moses’ Law, but is under Christ’s law. So when he adapted to Jewish tradition as part of his evangelistic work, he never forgot that he was not subject to Moses’ Law. He was merely adapting culturally in order to remove possible offense. When he adapted to Gentile customs (which someone under Moses Law would never be free to do), he never forgot that he was still accountable to Christ’s law.

    I believe that Christ’s law is comprised of all commandments given to the church in the New Testament, whether coming from the Gospels or the Epistles. The Epistles work as a sieve through which we run the Old Covenant material, or a lens through which we look at it. The apostles tell us which portions of the Old Testament law carry over and are fitted into the New Covenant framework. But whenever that happens, they aren’t Old Covenant laws anymore, because the covenantal foundation is so different.

    The New Testament assumes that the people to whom its commandments are directed are all regenerate, justified, and inheritors of eternal life. The Old Covenant never takes that stance. The historical bases of the Old Covenant law are Creation and the Exodus. So the self-revelation of God put forward in the Law is that of Creator and Covenant-King of the nation. The New Covenant is founded in the shed blood of the Savior, according to Jesus’ re-definition of the Passover meal. The Old Covenant prophesied the future coming of an atoning substitute, in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that God would undo sin’s curse with the counteractive blessing. But God is Creator and King in the Old Covenant law, not savior from sin.

    Regarding the Fourth Commandment:

    1. It was never a creation ordinance, since the word “ordinance” means that a law has been given. There is no record in Genesis that a sabbath law was ever uttered by God to men. The hallowing of the seventh day was performed by God. Where is there any data that shows God giving special revelation to human beings about when to worship Him? Evidently they did worship Him: Cain and Abel brought God offerings, and the sons of Seth began to call upon the name of the Lord. But the testimony of Genesis is extraordinarily skimpy about the liturgical practices of the patriarchs.

    2. The rationale for the Sabbath given to Israel was always their national rescue from Egyptian bondage. The same God who rested on the seventh day was also the one true God, in contrast to the worthless Egyptian deities. He gave them rest from their lives of misery by saving them from their slavemasters. But we aren’t Jews, and none of us were redeemed from Egypt. The historical basis for the Fourth Commandment doesn’t apply to anyone but Jews. In the Old Testament, Gentiles were expected to respect it (e.g., Jerusalem’s gates were supposed to stay closed to commerce during the sabbath, and Nehemiah shooed pesky merchants away from hanging around the walls), but they weren’t expected to keep it. When you read Amos, God judges the surrounding nations for a host of moral outrages. But never does God judge a Gentile, or a Gentile nation, for not keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath was exclusively for the Jews, and signified their national deliverance from Egypt. We’re not Jews, and God didn’t nationally deliver us from Egypt

    3. Colossians 2 is clear that none of the sabbaths (plural) apply to us. There was more than one sabbath. Romans 14 is clear that we can keep the Sabbath if we want to, just as we could have refrained from eating meats offered up to idols in the temple meat-markets, if we want to. But the criteria is now “if we want to.”

    4. The adventist teaching (meaning, Ellen G. White) that we will undergo investigatory judgment as to our fitness for everlasting life based on whether we kept the Fourth Commandment, is heretical. It falls under the condemnation of Galatians 1:8-9.

  20. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 10:30 am

    God Himself divides the law into ceremonial and moral in Isaiah 1.

    Israel is keeping the ceremonial aspects of the law but not the moral aspects of the law. God loathes their ceremonial offering while they do not give Him heart obedience to His moral requirements.

    Hebrews reveals the ceremonial aspects have been fulfilled in Christ. However, it does not ever set aside the moral requirements.

    The Sabbath is not ceremonial. The sabbaths were ceremonial along with the new moons, and other feasts. However the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was not made for Israel. Israel is commanded to remember the Sabbath. They are punished in the wilderness in Exodus 16 before it is given to them on Sinai, where it is brought to their remembrance. For God to punish those in Exodus 16, it must already be in force and be a law. Thus they are told to remember.

    What law is given to Israel at Sinai? Is it a moral code only for Israel?
    Not so says Paul. Romans 2 indicates that the Gentiles also possess the work of the law in their heart. What law Paul? The law which was given to Israel explicitly, the law at Sinai.

    God calls Israel to remembrance of that which existed from the beginning, not ceremonial, because when the Sabbath was created there was not any sin, therefore no need for ceremony pointing forward to Christ. Therefore, the Sabbath is not ceremonial and not set aside in Christ. Christ, as Lord of the Sabbath is able to change the day founded in a new creation, based on the day of His resurrection.

    That given to Israel is given for our learning. A Sabbath command founded upon creation, and a Sabbath command founded upon deliverance. Exod. 20 & Deut. 5

    A new creation delivered from their sin has a day, the Lord’s Day. Not my day, not your day, but the Lord’s Day. He owns one day particularly, though He owns all of time, every day.

    The commands are given again in 1Timothy. The order is that of the Decalogue (see In Defense of the Decalogue – Richard Barcelos). Profane in 1Timothy 1:9.
    What is profaned? God’s name and the Sabbath. The order highlights a Sabbath reference. Who is the law for? Sinners. Paul is chief sinner. 1:15 Who is the law for? Christians! The law is according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. 1:11

    It is not given as a means of righteousness, but it is given to God’s people, the spiritual Israel of which Israel after the flesh was a type.

    Rick

    • Rick,

      If you could please answer my questions from your first comment then I think it would help further the discussion here. Specifically, would you say that Ex. 20:12 is a “moral” law and Lev. 20:9 is not? If so, why is one abiding legislation and the other not? Both are priestly-civil contexts which are given to bless and regulate life in the theocratic life of Israel. Simply, why is Ex 20:12 “binding” today and Lev 20:9 not (assuming you’re not a reconstructionist)? What in the text allows one to strip the commands of their stipulations and penalties and still claim an “upholding” of the law?

      Nevertheless, I’m not sure I follow your reasoning here. Are you saying that there is only a two-part division of the law and not three (as before)? Are you also saying that this said division did not arise until the time of Isaiah’s writing (around 800yrs later)? Could you be more specific as to what in the text of Isaiah 1 demonstrates a tri-part division of the law? I am unfamiliar with this particular claim.

      I think your continuing to make a wrong assumption about my saying that the Law is fulfilled in Christ. Saying this does not put me into a contradiction with Paul in 1 Tim 1:8ff. Again, no one has argued that the law is abolished, that it is not good or that it is unprofitable. I think I have made this clear in the post and the comments.

      Paul

  21. Rick and others,

    Allow me to pose another question: Which laws are you upholding today? Specifically, which command in the Decalogue would you say you have or are keeping in the way that was intended? Looking forward to your answers.

    Thanks,
    Paul

    • Posted by Mary on October 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

      Paul:

      You ask which command someone is keeping in the way it was intended. I have to ask: Intended by whom?

      Jesus fulfilled the law instead of doing away with it and yet he violated Sabbath by threshing grain based upon the way the Pharisees “intended” the law to be read. I have to ask if there was any more agreement on the letter of the Law in Jesus’s time than there is today?

      The Sabbath was made for man rather than man for the Sabbath. If you can explain what Jesus “intended” with that comment, perhaps that same intention could be applied here.

      Stepping back to the “meta” level here are we being Pharisees by splitting hairs so minutely on this question?

  22. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I keep none of the laws. Christ is my only hope. However, that does not remove my responsibility to be obedient. It only causes me to cry out to Him for mercy and power through the Spirit.

    Rick

    • Rick,

      I’m not trying to be difficult or parse your words but I think this is the crux of the issue. By obedient what do you mean (keep?)? Let me rephrase the question then:
      Which laws are you obeying today? Specifically, which command in the Decalogue would you say you have or are obeying in the way that was intended?

      thanks again,
      PSL

  23. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    The law that is binding is the one that is written on my heart. Which law is written on my heart? The one that was written on tables of stone has been written on the fleshly tables of my heart. 2Cor. 3:3 As a Gentile I had the work of the law written on my heart (conscience), but now as a child of Abraham, I have the law written on my mind and on my heart. Jer. 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:10, 10:16

    This was given to Israel & Judah. Who is a true Jew? Who is true Israel? New Testament reveals believers in Christ as the children of Abraham, and that Jews are children of the devil unless they believe in Christ. Believers are made partakers of the commonwealth of Israel. Ephesians 2 by the blood and cross of Jesus Christ.

    What was the covenant that Israel broke Jer. 31:31. The covenant written on tables of stone. Exod. 19:5 What did the people hear by God’s voice? The law given at Sinai. After this, the people did not want to hear directly from God and asked Moses to act a mediator between them and God. The rest was given to Moses in the mount. What law is written on the mind and heart of God’s people? Same law. Jeremiah does not speak of a new law. This reveals that God regards it separately from the ceremonial and civil laws.

    Ezekiel does not speak of a new law. What is spoken of is a new heart and new spirit to keep the law. Who are those that receive the new heart & new spirit? Those circumcises in heart by the Holy Spirit. Romans 2:29

    What law does Paul expect the Christian to obey & serve? The same one that is holy, just, right and spiritual. Romans 7 The one with the commandment “thou shalt not covet” in it. What law is that? The law given to Moses. Romans 5:12-14 The law Paul is speaking about throughout Romans. The oracles given to Israel which the true Israel is receiving as a blessing, for which reason Paul must explain what has happened to Israel after the flesh.

    Rick

  24. Rick,

    You have posted five comments since I asked my question. I enjoy the interaction but I get the feeling that you’re ignoring my original question. Thanks again.

    [My question] “Specifically, would you say that Ex. 20:12 is a “moral” law and Lev. 20:9 is not? If so, why is one abiding legislation and the other not? Both are priestly-civil contexts which are given to bless and regulate life in the theocratic life of Israel. Simply, why is Ex 20:12 “binding” today and Lev 20:9 not (assuming you’re not a reconstructionist)? What in the text allows one to strip the commands of their stipulations and penalties and still claim an “upholding” or “obeying” of the law?”

    Paul

  25. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Paul

    I have been answering your question.

    Specifically, it is binding because as one of God’s people in the New Covenant, it is the law written on my heart and mind.

    It is binding upon all mankind, but as a priest in Christ, only those who are in Christ have the power to keep the law, by the Spirit.

    By the law every mouth is closed before God. Romans 3:19-20 However those in the faith uphold the same law. Faith does not void the law.

    Rick

    • Rick,

      I don’t think you have. In fact you have walked all around it. I’ll ask another way.

      Obviously, you believe that the Decalogue is “moral law.” Do you see the same for passages like Leviticus 20 or does that fall into another category? If so how are you making distinctions between categories?

      Let’s try this: what happens when a new covenant believer doesn’t obey Lev 20:9 (I’m only using this verse as an example)? Should the disobedient covenant member be put to death?

      Thanks again for the interaction.

      Paul

  26. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Paul

    I with Paul, uphold the law of God with my mind. I serve the law with my mind & heart, though I do not keep it perfectly. Thanks be to God for Christ Jesus our Lord who delivers me from this body of death that serves the law of sin & death.

    What law is that? That is the law which is good, holy, just, perfect, spiritual, which includes the command “thou shalt not covet” which is pointing to the Decalogue. Romans 7

    Rick

  27. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Paul

    Exod. 20:12 and Leviticus 20:9 are the same law. Application and details are given after Sinai. Luther says that the remainder of the Bible is an exposition of the Torah.

    Moral law is not limited to the Decalogue. The Decalogue is a summary of moral law, just as Jesus’ summary is in Matthew 22:37-39. The summary is not the whole. The details are given elsewhere.

    What is no longer applicable is the ceremonial and civil aspects of that law. All the details of what it means to love God and neighbour are still applicable.

    David also makes a difference between ceremonial and moral in Psalm51:16-19
    Sacrifices & offerings are nothing apart from obedience. With obedience the sacrifice is accepted.

    Jesus says something similar in Matt. 7:21-23 There are those who claim Him emphatically as sacrifice “Lord, Lord”, but are lawless, as if they had not been given a law to keep. What law is Jesus expecting His disciples to fulfill? The law and the prophets, as they are led, filled, taught and guided by the Holy Spirit. Matt. 7:7-12

    I am sorry I did not answer your question before. I hope this answers it.

    Rick

  28. Posted by James Sizemore on October 7, 2009 at 8:20 am

    wow…preachers can be as bad as politicians about talking for 10 minutes and saying nothing…but i love preachers:)

  29. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Paul

    I have a question for you.

    How is it that Paul quotes regularly from the law without qualifying which parts are still valid for the Church? How can Paul quote regularly from the law if it was only intended for Israel after the flesh?

    1 Corinthians 9:8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?
    1 Corinthians 14:34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

    Rick

    • Rick,

      As I have pointed out a few times in this thread, the Scripture is clear that the Mosaic law is fulfilled in Christ (Matt 5:17), is not a direct judge of God’s people (Rom 6:14; Gal 5:1), and is now made obsolete by the new covenant (Heb 7:18-22; 8:7-8; 9:1-15). However we should not conclude that the law is not good (1 Tim 1:8) or profitable to the new covenant believer (2 Tim 3:16-17).

      Paul and the other apostles regularly quote from the law for a variety of reasons. The law is quoted because it reveals sinfulness (Rom 3:19-20), reveals the nature of sin (Rom 7:7-13), reveals the holiness of God (1 Pet 1:16), it inhibits sin (1 Tim 1:9), and it guides Israel to the Messiah (Gal 3:23-24; cf. John 1:45).

      Paul

  30. Posted by Rick Kress on October 7, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Paul,

    Do you see Heb. 3:7-4:11 (particularly Heb. 4:4, 9-10)as having any significance for the Sabbath Day issue–even though much of the discussion is concerning the land rest offered to Israel?

    Thanks,
    Rick Kress

    • Rick Kress,

      A major issue for the exegete is the word “rest” which appears in a couple of different forms between Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 (3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 10, 11). The problem is that the writer of Hebrews never defines the word in the context. The writer is quoting from Psalm 95:11 (LXX 94:11) which serving as a background points to a reference to the land of Canaan.

      Israel is clearly held up as a negative example in chapter 4 (vv. 8-11) of entering the rest of God. The point seems to be that new covenant believers are to enter God’s “rest” (4:4-5) which will one day be completed (vs. 1 “a promise remains”) but is now entered through “faith” (4:2-3). The present rest that we enjoy by faith in Christ is a down payment on the full rest that awaits the consummation.

      To the point, there is nothing in the context of this passage which demands that new covenant believers observe a day of rest or the like. A sabbath rest “remains for the people of God” (vs. 9) but this rest is defined in the context as a faith relationship with Christ. I hope this helps. If you have something different I would love to hear it.

      Paul

  31. Posted by Rick Kress on October 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    No, I’m in agreement with your position completely.

    I find it interesting that the writer of Hebrews specifically used the word “Sabbath” in 4:9, and follows it in 4:10 to an allusion to God’s rest in Genesis 2 (which he explicitly referenced in 4:4). Genesis 2:1-3 reveals a time when God was satisfied and pleased with His creation–the work was finished and God was satisfied. Since Hebrews is making the point that Christ is superior to all that his Jewish audience held dear (angels, Moses, etc.), could it be he was saying that Christ is the superior rest–he exceeds not only the rest associated with the Promised Land, but actually brings the perfect rest of God’s original Sabbath. The connection to Genesis 2 alludes to the glorious truth that for those who are in Christ by faith, God is once again satisfied and pleased with His creation.

    The passages you cited earlier clearly reveal that the Sabbath regulations in the Law were for the governing of Israel as a distinct Nation. If it were important that Gentiles keep the Sabbath, you would think that Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council would have mentioned it. Colossians 2 and Romans 14 are clear.

    Let me know your thoughts on the Hebrews musings.
    Thanks,
    Rick

  32. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 7, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Hebrews 4 is a good argument for the perpetuity of a day of rest. After the 1st Creation was finished, there was a day of rest. After this age ends, there shall be a Sabbath. Isaiah 66:23

    It is odd that it is thought that there is not one now based upon the 2nd Creation?

    Those that argue using Romans 14 unintentionally call the Lord Jesus weak. He calls a day His own.

    Rick

    • Rick T.

      “After the 1st Creation was finished, there was a day of rest.” Really? Where?

      Rick, please read the earlier comments where we have already discussed this. I said earlier:

      I guess one of the problems with that position is the unproven assumption that Ex. 20:9-10 is describing the exact same thing as Gen. 2:2-3. In fact, you won’t find anyone rebuked for not keeping the Sabbath prior to the Mosaic Covenant. I would find rare agreement with von Rad but he makes a healthy observation that “the divine rest is not . . . made normative for the rhythm of human life . . . nothing is said here [i.e., Gen. 2] of the Sabbath law, and Israel learns of it only at Mount Sinai.” In Genesis 2 there is no religious feast day, institution or direct commandment given that the seventh day should be kept in any way. Therefore I would surmise that Genesis 2 does not teach a “creation ordinance” for all humanity. However, the institution of the Sabbath for the people of Israel did find its structure in the creation account. By the way the word Sabbath does not even appear in Genesis 2:2-3. The first occurrence is not until Exod. 16:22-30 where it is introduced but not instituted (just before the Sinai event).

      Rick T. writes, “After this age ends, there shall be a Sabbath.”

      So you would disagree with the writer of Hebrews who says there is a rest now and it is by faith in the Messiah? Could you point to anything in Hebrews that shows 1) there is a command to celebrate the Sabbath as it was given in the OT and 2) that this “sabbath” replaces the Jewish Saturday Sabbath and is now a required Sunday observance.

      Rick T. writes, “Those that argue using Romans 14 unintentionally call the Lord Jesus weak. He calls a day His own.”

      I have no idea what you mean by this.

      blessings,
      Paul

  33. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    The word translated rest in Hebrews 4:9 is “a sabbath rest”. There was one since the foundation of the world. There is one yet remaining. Doesn’t make sense that there is not one now. Is the remaining sabbath yet future or a present? It is a present. There remains (now) a sabbath rest. This explains why the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, calls one particular day His day, the Lord’s day.

    By the way, the law was not only given to Israel. Noah knew which animals were clean and which animals were unclean before the law was given to Israel. God tells Noah how many clean and how many unclean of each kind to bring onto the Ark. Genesis 7:2

    Hatred in the heart leads to murder. Genesis 4:6
    Murder of man punishable by death. Genesis 9:6
    Onan, Judah’s son, was told to marry his brother’s wife. Genesis 38:8 This was not “known” until Deuteronomy 25:5-10

    This can be done for many of the commandments later given again to Israel.

    Traces of the ceremonial and moral law are sprinkled throughout Genesis before the law was given to Israel. Israel forgot the law of their ancestors because of their bondage in Egypt for 400 years.

    Remember…remember that given at the beginning of the world.
    Remember…remember that work written on your heart.
    Remember… “my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” which Abraham your father kept.

    Rick

  34. Rick,

    I appreciate the interaction but I’m not sure we are gaining any new ground here in this discussion. You continue to ignore my questions. I will let you have the last word.

    [question] What happens when a new covenant believer doesn’t obey Lev 20:9 (I’m only using this verse as an example)? Should the disobedient covenant member be put to death?

    [question] You said, “After the 1st Creation was finished, there was a day of rest.” Where? Can you point me to this anywhere in Genesis? Furthermore what in Genesis 2 teaches a sabbath rest for all humanity? You seem to gloss over my comment about this even though I have mentioned it twice in this thread [now three times].

    [question] Could you identify anything in Hebrews 4 that shows 1) there is a command to celebrate the Sabbath as it was given in the OT and 2) that this “sabbath” replaces the Jewish Saturday Sabbath and is now a required Sunday observance.

    [new question] Okay so Hebrews 4:9 uses the word σαββατισμός. What’s your point? Nothing inherent in the word itself demands that this refer to a Sunday that has replaced a Jewish Saturday sabbath observance based on Exod 20. I would love for you to show me this elaborate theology in Hebrews 4 or anywhere in Hebrews for that matter. The word must defined by its context. In an earlier comment to Rick Kress I attempted to show that the dominant word in the passage (καταπαύω) is an allusion based on Psalm 95:11 (LXX 94:11). You seem to think that the one usage of σαββατισμός should be the interpretive grid for defining every reference to rest in this passage including καταπαύω.

    Thanks again for the interaction. Blessings to you.

    Paul

  35. Posted by Rick Taillefer on October 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Paul

    I will address the 2nd question on your list for now and return to the others later for the sake of time. Prayer meeting tonight. Praise the Lord.

    Jesus says the Sabbath was made for man. When was the Sabbath made? What man would it have been made for? Since it was made in the creation account, a day of rest, regardless of its being mentioned explicitly later in Genesis, this is what Jesus speaks of.

    Jesus does not say the Sabbath was made for Israel but for man. When was made made? Genesis 1 and more details given in Genesis 2, where the original rest is demonstrated by God. Who was the man that would have witnessed this rest? Adam & Eve were the man that the Sabbath was created for at its inception.

    In Genesis there are recurring mentions of a 7 day cycle. Why if it has no bearing on the Creation week. A seven day cycle and “sabbath” day are known to have existed in cultures before Sinai. Where did this information originate from? I don’t argue from silence. Because there is no explicit mention until Sinai does not invalidate that the Sabbath was created for man, and those there were Adam and Eve.

    If the Sabbath is not restricted to Israel but was made for man, what about man after the Cross? Is he not man like man before the Cross?

    This day of rest, a Creation ordinance, made for man, as Jesus says, therefore means a sabbath rest for all humanity.

    What would the Hebrews have understood by “a sabbath rest”? Would you expect them to understand a spiritual rest (which I do not deny exists in Jesus Christ) or a literal rest on a day? Both spiritual and literal days of rest are spoken of in the context of Hebrews 4. There is a spiritual rest and a literal rest on a day, as God rested in the beginning, and Jesus the Son of God rested on the 1st day of the week at His resurrection in declaration of the New Creation in Christ.

    What day did the apostles keep? Acts 20:7, 1Cor. 16:1-2, Rev. 1:10 The Lord’s Day.

    Romans 14 – the weak brother has days, doesn’t eat meat, or drink wine. The apostles had a day they regularly gathered on. Paul gave it to Corinth and the Churches in Galatia. The Lord Jesus Christ has designated one day out of seven as His day. Wrong application of Romans 14 would include Jesus and the apostles as weak brothers. (hope this helps you understand what I meant earlier – I can elaborate more fully.)

    On another note, to remove the 4th commandment or any of the Decalogue from being the moral guide for the believer, undermines and contradicts Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 5:17.

    Rick

  36. What do you make of this article?
    How should a Christian celebrate the Lord’s Day?
    http://www.givemeananswer.net/knowledgebase/index.php?id=521

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