Posts tagged ‘New Covenant’

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!


Doctrines and Practices

Many things changed after the American Revolution. New freedoms were enjoyed, and citizens had to become accustomed to a republic instead of the monarchy they had all lived under in the past. It wasn’t that there had been a change in kings. It was a totally different type of government now. The same is true of what has happened now that the Mosaic Law is fulfilled in Christ. We have been set free form a law that could only condemn, but could not redeem. We moved from a law that was laid out line by line and specified everything that could and could not be done.

One thing that is different is that now, instead of having to commit a sinful act, we only have to want to do it in our hearts in order to be guilty before God. So it is not that this new law is easier. It is just different because it gets to the root of sin — our hearts.
The Hebrew writer refers to it when he quotes Jeremiah 31:33-34:

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:15-18 ESV)

Before, the law had to spell everything out compel obedience. Now, the Spirit has put the New Law in our hearts. Whenever we take in the words of Scripture, especially if we commit them to memory, we are busy putting those laws in our hearts. As a result, our minds and hearts are transformed.

According to Jesus, the Mosaic Law was in force until John the Baptist. Now we are under Kingdom Law.

“The law and the prophets were in force until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urged to enter it. (Luke 16:16 NET)

Now, instead of being ruled by the letter of the law, we must keep the spirit of the law. The Apostle Paul put it this way to the Corinthians:

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6 NET)

Here is a good place to define the terms “doctrine” and “practice”. All doctrine must be founded in the Word of God. We are not to go beyond what God has revealed, but must be able to back up what we teach to be truth with chapter and verse.
But practices are different. They are the things we do to live out the truth in our lives. Practices must be done with doctrine in mind. For instance, if a practice violates doctrine, it is sin. But if a practice can be done without violating what has been revealed, and does not violate our conscience, the we are free do do it, keeping in mind that we are not to violate the spirit of the law either.

Here is an example. The Bible clearly says that the Lords Supper was eaten using unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine. To use anything else wild violate what the Bible says those elements symbolize. So using cookies and Pepsi would violate the spirit of the law and would be sinful. In the other hand, we make partake of those same elements indoors, outdoors, left handed, right handed, with red grape juice, purple grape juice, in one cup or many cups because none of those things violate the intent of the commandment. We do not need to wring our hands because we have no clear direction on those kinds of exact details. Neither to we have to find an example for everything we do. If it is not contrary to doctrine, and is not unwise (it’s not stupid), won’t create the appearance of evil, and will not cause a brother or sister to stumble, then go ahead.

Another example is in giving. What is important is that we give, not whether or not we use a check or cash. Either one is fine because they didn’t have checks 2000 years ago, so no direction is given about the exact type of funds to be given. We just give as we have determined in our hearts, and do so cheerfully because that’s what the Word says to do. Instead of looking at the exact amount we give, as was done with the tithe under the Old Law, God looks upon our hearts and the motive behind our giving. In a way, it’s easier and harder at the same time.

I have seen the pendulum swing both ways. A group of Christians starts off wanting to follow Jesus by the New Testament alone. And things go well for awhile, until some will start wanting a chapter and verse for every single thing that is done, when sometimes there is none. They end up missing the forest for the trees as they sink into focusing on the minutia and lose there first love. Take it to it’s conclusion, and you won’t have a church building, since none are authorized in the New Testament and none existed for the first 300 years of church history.
But then the opposite happens. A group splits off and declares that they are fee of such legalism and cat aside all restraint. Not only do they stop searching the Scriptures to find it what to do, they stop paying attention to the scriptures for what to believe as well. And as the baby swirls down the drain with the bath water, the sink into lawlessness and are worse off than when they began.

The key is in finding balance. We teach doctrine from the Word and only the Word, and are only open to practices that do not violate doctrine. That will end needless debate on things of little importance so we can focus on teaching the truth of God’s Word in its purity and simplicity. We will not be arguing over the arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic, but will be focused on getting people to the lifeboats before they are forever lost.


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