Saturday, December 6, 2008

58 - More on THE Pilgrimage - LAW - (6)

Much of the contrast of Law and Covenant comes to us in two sections - Galatians 3-5 and Romans 3-5. Obviously there are "principle statement verses" here and there which help - so when we study a subject, we must not violate the principle statements. For instance, when Paul told the Ephesians that "salvation/redemption is NOT OF OURSELVES, it is the GIFT of God" we cannot violate that plain principle statement. When Paul writes that we are "not under law" Romans 6:14; Galatians 3:25; 5:18; but we ARE under grace - what does that mean?

Remember two things Jesus said - "The Sabbath is FOR MAN - not man for the Sabbath"Mark 2:27. He used that phrase to help Pharisees and others realize that commands are supposed to SERVE MAN - not rule over man. Many who try to keep the Sabbath in our day do not receive this teaching of Jesus. The BIGGER concept is that one of NOT being under law - so we don't serve it - but it always serves us - strange concept to many. Sometimes we might say - "Make it PRACTICAL" - which has the idea of "show me how that works in everyday life" - and that is our concept. WE are not under law - law is under us. LAW doesn't rule over us - it serves under us. Traditions, especially in Christ's day, made all laws into a bigger RULER OVER US - and Jesus taught that to be wrong - even before Calvary - and HE used their greatest command RULER - the Sabbath, to illustrate the concept. AND - number two - Jesus taught us that HE desired for US to be UNDER HIM - "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" so we see the concept of protection from HIM - by HIS protection and we can easily see the concept of Covenant and our hiding UNDER Him for protection from all enemies. (I include having His identity in that as well.)

What about UNDER GRACE? Well - no difference really - we have come under His power and identity for our protection - and it is a grace/gift. So - we do need to STAY UNDER (remember-those of Jerusalem WOULD NOT come under His protection) - or we need to allow Jesus to BE Savior and Lord. Most Christians realize that if we stay UNDER Jesus - then we harmonize those verses about not being under LAW - because as we have mentioned, law was intended to bring us TO CHRIST (Galatians 3:19-25). Do you realize what Paul used to explain that? In Galatians 3:26, he wrote "FOR - in Christ Jesus we are all SONS" - that's the goal of coming to Christ - and sons are not related by being UNDER SOME LAW - but by relationship - by DNA. NT didn't have that concept exactly - but it is expressed in the idea of "receiving someone's spirit" or even "partaking in the Divine nature". Romans 8:9 - 17 explains that if we have God's spirit we are SONS - if not - we are not.

What about law? Well - it is UNDER us now - we still fulfill all Law by "loving God and loving neighbor"( Romans 13:9-10 and an application in 15:2) because Jesus said that that concept was the focus of all Law and Prophets, Matthew 22:40. We do then have a structure for order in our world - and we do NOT forget that law is under us - so we don't serve law - but we do need order - just like a Prince doesn't need a law to keep to make him a prince - but even "the Royals" have principles which are part of their human decorum to serve them in reference to each other and humankind in general. If WE don't see that concept, we have to ignore many scriptures - most of which were included in this discussion.

LAW - our servant - so Paul had to ask the question - does that mean we sin as a lifestyle? Answer - we already died to that lifestyle - so that would be foolish to live that way. That seems to be a principle statement - so if we don't understand that principle, we'll misunderstand how to live. So - under grace, how does that lifestyle look like? Well - "led by The Spirit" is the short answer - more about that - next

Monday, December 1, 2008

57 – More on THE Pilgrimage – LAW – (5)

A "not like the Old" New Testament difference in reference to the Old Covenant - is part of a contrast in several sections of NT Scripture. One pretty PLAIN one is in 1 Peter 1. Beginning in verse 18, Peter shares the concept of being ransomed NOT ONLY from sin, but from the FUTILE ways inherited from the Fathers. Another contrast includes the kind of value the ransoming focused upon - the NEW way was on Jesus' blood - which contrasted to silver and gold which perishes. Then Peter begins to unfold the Promise concept which started BEFORE the foundation of the world, verse 20 and at least one facet of which meant us PEOPLE were not involved - except as RECIPIENTS - so that, Peter writes, "your faith and hope are IN GOD". Quite a concept - God designed His Promise so that HE HIMSELF would take all responsibility for our faith and hope.

QUESTION: Does that sound like some kind of NEW LAW? In ANY Law does the source of HOPE AND FAITH reside in the Lawgiver? By definition the source of safety resides in how the law SUBJECTS respond to the concepts of the law!

So - right away, God's structure puts the responsibility on God Himself . . .what in the world? How can this be? I mean - Jesus said all Law must be fulfilled. And - HE did fulfill its demands - and I conclude and claim that HE - JESUS - is KEPT LAW. Then as God offers HIM to US as SAVIOR and Messiah - KING over all and the one to whom is directed ALL preeminence - God's gift to humanity - THEN your faith and hope are in God and His provision. If not - we are left with faith and hope in how well we keep the New Law - which we cannot keep - so we are DOOMED.

How did I resolve this concept - well, the words of Jesus helps - "Come to ME" - is a covenant invitation which offers protection and REST - and Jesus CLAIMED His yoke to be "light" and "easy" - and we can remember the "baby chick" lifestyle - "How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing - but YOU WOULD NOT". "IN CHRIST" offers us the total protection and identity God wishes us to have - HIS OWN protection and identity. One goal of God from early in Hebrew nation was to allow those who are "NOT MY PEOPLE" to become "SONS of the Living GOD" (mentioned by Peter in 1 Peter 2:10) prophesied in Hosea and mentioned by Paul in Romans 9:25ff. In other words - the FOCUS is on RELATIONSHIP. If we see that God ALWAYS had that relationship focus - even before the foundation of the world - check Ephesians 1 - especially verse 5 "HE destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ".

So - Jesus' claim of being THE way, THE truth, THE life - is literal and true - but only IF He is the New covenant in Himself. The big challenge is to understand that "in Christ" means our trust is in His performance on our behalf. So - one of the concepts I had to understand was - what does "in Christ" actually mean. That got me away from a LAW focus and totally engulfed in a Christ focus. Part of that challenge happened when I simply got my concordance out and read all the verses with "in Christ" in them and saw the track that took. Part of that has already happened when I had to translate Colossians (a pretty common task for second year Greek students) and after that to translate Romans (much too huge of a task for any student in one semester).

The whole BOOK of Colossians has the theme of being "in Christ". Most in Christendom know the concept - but do NOT know the actual meaning of how this happens - how can that be? Well - WE threw out Hebrew thought very early in many cases. So - we believe the scriptures but don't always understand what they teach. We are sometimes like the Pharisees in that we search the Scriptures (and many do not - by the way) because we think that IN THEM we have eternal life - but the scriptures teach us about JESUS - but we don't allow HIM to be our focus - because like the Pharisees we focus on ourselves. (So - we are in danger of having a doctrine of demons - not Scripture.) Scriptures focus on JESUS . . .and even the OT scriptures were actually written down for US - but not much study goes on back in Deuteronomy. Result - we know LAW but not covenant - we know words but not their meaning in reference to JESUS. Even the LAW was meant to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3) - and the laws and feasts, etc. are shadows and the SUBSTANCE of those concepts is CHRIST - Colossians 2:17.

Paul claims that the LAW has a focus that is NOT part of the Promise - but was ADDED to the Promise because of transgressions until Christ came. There is a much bigger meaning to LAW in that part of the study - more to come