Posts tagged ‘Law’

Brother can you paradigm?

What is a paradigm? Is it a geometric shape? Is it 20 cents? No, none of those are correct. What makes a paradigm important is that, whether you know it or not, everyone has one. Websites Dictionary defines a paradigm this way:
“: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind”
In basic terms, our paradigm is the framework our minds use to interpret what we see and how we think about a subject.

All religious organizations, including churches have a shared paradigm among their members. In fact, many Christian churches began as a group of people who held to a common paradigm that differed from the groups they were formerly members of. When Martin Luther introduced the concepts of sola fide and sola scriptura (faith alone for salvation and scripture alone for authority) it was such a huge paradigm shift that it birthed the Reformation!

One paradigm that became prominent in the early 19th Century during the Restoration Movement was the view that we should “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” That is a very worthy and useful paradigm to have. What it eventually grew into was a view that we should view as divine commandments the things that the New Testament commands (good so far). But it also grew to say that all New Testament examples were reflective of the only way something was to be done (getting legalistic here) and that the silence of the New Testament was no longer a place for silence, but of commands given by omission (hazardous). No longer were we to be silent about things not mentioned, as if examples would be found for every single thing the believers were to do, but whole books would be written about things being sinful if not Divinely authorized. This was a misunderstanding of what it meant to “do all things in the name of The Lord” in Colossians 3:17. By superimposing the word “authority” for “name” the argument is made that only those things specifically authorized may be done. The problem with this is that there is a Greek word for authority, and it is not the word Paul was inspired to use in this verse! To change it to authority is to alter the scriptures, and you don’t want to go there! What is meant by “in the name” in this verse is explained by the verse itself (ah, context).

And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NET)

In its proper context, the verse is saying that when we do good and righteous works, we are to give thanks and praise to God the Father through Jesus Christ. That is what is meant by doing it “in His name”!

The “authorized” interpretation is not in context, but is a pretext. Such a view presupposes that God replaced a fully detailed code of law with another fully detailed code of law. Such is not the case. (Inaccurate paradigm) The New Covenant was one that has overarching principles in it, and that would be written upon our hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3) The principle here is that the way we live out the New Covenant individually and corporately is that all doctrine is derived from Scripture, and is practiced in love in any way we can do so without violating those doctrines, as the culture and situation warrant.

The concept of binding, exclusive examples also unwittingly makes us followers of the First Century Christians instead of followers of Christ. Never does the New Testament say that everything the Apostles and the First Century Church did was recorded for us. They were, in all likelihood, practicing the Apostle’s doctrine in ways appropriate to their time and situation that we will never know about. In fact, according to John, we don’t know every single thing that Jesus did! (John 21:25) But we DO know that whatever He did was never in violation to what He had taught!

We are living a double standard when we call sinners to come to the freedom we have in Christ and then subject them to a lifetime of combing through the New Testament to make sure every single thing they do is specifically authorized by a New Testament prooftext. Jesus didn’t come down and die so that He could subject us again to a new legal code and turn us into lawyers. On the contrary, our walk should be one that sets us free to follow ever more intimately that One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ.

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:2-6 NKJV)

So let us follow the Spirit of the law, instead of placing a restriction that God has not placed upon us. Practice our faith in love, and in whatever way is necessary that does not violate the doctrines of Christ and the apostles he taught, giving thanks to God the Father through Him!

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Doctrinal Perfection

Does God Require Doctrinal Perfection? The Mosaic Law was perfect, but it could not be perfectly kept by fallen humans. In fact, Jesus Christ was the only one to ever keep it. But it still served a useful purpose in that it convicts of sin and brings us to the foot of the cross with the realization that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Jesus died and freed us from the law of sin and death that was against us, nailing it to the cross.

But did He in effect transfer us from a Law that demanded moral perfection into a new law that requires doctrinal perfection? I don’t believe He did. But let me also quickly state that I am not saying that false teaching has no consequences, or that we are free to disregard the teaching of Scripture. Jesus himself said that is we love Him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:15)

What we need to focus on is that all of the commandments and doctrine of the New Testament points in one direction — Jesus. Jesus not only taught the truth, He is the truth! (John 14:6). Correct doctrine and practices are a means to an end, not the final goal. For too long we have scoured the scriptures to find what is allowed and what is not. While I am all for a diligent study of the Bible, trying to extract a legal code from the New Testament instead of reading it to draw closer to our Savior and to know Him better is to misuse Scripture. Israel used to be under a “letter of the law” covenant where perfect performance was demanded and nothing specifically authorized was permitted. But we are under a new covenant that changes our hearts instead of just our actions. Where there is no specificity, we follow the spirit of the law.
Paul described it this way in his second letter to the church at Corinth:

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:2-6 NASB)

We no longer are under a system where anything not specifically authorized is a sin. Again, we are not free to violate specific commandments, because that is sin.

We do not earn salvation by our perfect interpretation of the Bible, any more than we earn it by our good works. It’s not that doctrine doesn’t matter. But we do need to make a distinction between what is essential, and what honest Christians can read and still end up coming to differing conclusions on. Plus, who of us has never had an erroneous idea that was later disproven by something we read or by a deeper understanding? There has to be room to grow in the truth as we grow closer to Christ.

In fact, if we make doctrinal perfection a condition of salvation, we are not trusting in the finished work of Christ, but instead are placing faith in our ability to properly interpret the Bible. No fallen man will ever have a mind so perfect that he will achieve perfect doctrine. And keep this in mind as well. On our best, most mentally alert day, dripping in spiritual anointing, and seeing more clearly than we ever have before, we still “see through a glass darkly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

If you want to read about some messed up churches, both in doctrine and practice, read about Corinth, or some of the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. There were definite consequences to their error, but at no point does Jesus say they have lost their salvation. They were expected to change in the light of the truth Jesus was speaking to them or they would die out as congregations.

So in the end, what shall we do? I would say to be firm on that which is plainly commanded (like what must I do to be saved, and who Jesus Christ is, the Gospel, etc) and where there is no specific directive, or just one example of a way a thing may be done, follow the spirit of the law without violating other principles of the Word. Avoid the works of the flesh, and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. Realize that we are all at differing levels of understanding and that as long as we love the truth and draw closer to Jesus, we will finish the journey to our eternal home.

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It’s All About Jesus

When attorneys are preparing a case for court, one of the things they normally do is to find witnesses to the event in question. A believable witness under oath is a powerful weapon they can use to prove their case. In addition, written testimony may be presented in the form of sworn statements. If someone wants to investigate Jesus of Nazareth, where can they find witnesses, since He lived so long ago? That testimony is found in the Scriptures, and in the First Century it was found in the Old Testament.

When New Testament writers refer to “the Scriptures” they are usually talking about the Law (or Torah), the Prophets (major and minor), and the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, etc). S why do I mention this? Because Jesus was talking about these Scripture when He said this:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (John 5:39 NASB).

And later, after the resurrection, Jesus used those Scriptures to open their minds to comprehend what they had witnessed a few days before.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 KJV)

Phillip, and the road with the Ethiopian eunuch started in Isaiah chapter 53 and “preached Jesus unto him”, which resulted in salvation (Acts 8).
There is also a reason that the Apostle Paul was able to go into synagogues every Sabbath and prove from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

So why doesn’t everyone see the references to Jesus in the Old Testament? Mostly, it is because they don’t realize that He is in there! Just like some optical illusions, once you know where and how to look, the references to Christ become clear. For those who refuse to believe, they can’t find Jesus for the same reason a burglar can’t find a policeman. God only rewards those who “diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

What we as disciples of Jesus Christ need to do is to take a fresh look at the Old Testament. For one, it provides the context for the New Testament. But it also contains types and shadows that not only deepen the meaning of many passages in the New Testament, but also give us a glimpse into how the message would have made sense to those first Jewish believers who left all to follow Jesus.

Along with that, as you are reading, meditate and pray, and look for things that hint about, or downright shout about Jesus. I doing so we can gain a fresh appreciation for the depth and congruity of Scripture. Jesus is the Word made flesh who dwelt among us (John 1:12) and He still desires to take us deeper into the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that can only be found in Him (Colossians 2:3). And may The Lord open our eyes to discover great and marvelous things in His Word!

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