Saturday, June 14, 2014

How Do We View Gods' Word?

Isa 28:9  "To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? Isa 28:10  For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little."

Mat 4:4  But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

At first glance one might wonder what these two passages have in common.  In fact they both are addressing different attitudes toward the Word of God.  The context of Isaiah 28:9 is that Israel is making fun of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning their sin and coming judgment.  They are basically saying that his words are only fit for children.  If you look at vs. 10 in the Hebrew it visually looks like baby talk and the commentators say that is on purpose.  They are equating the word from the Lord as nursery rhymes suitable only for young children. 

As I was thinking about this passage it dawned on me that I see this attitude all the time, and if I can stereotype for a moment, I see it more often in men unfortunately.  I have known many men who clearly see church as something for women and children.  They have more “manly” things to do like jobs, yard work, hunting and fishing, watching sports on TV as they drink too much and become silly and stupid, you name it, but going to church and listening to someone talk about God for an hour and usually less isn’t for them.  They also have no interest in praying to that God much less singing about him and spending any time around people who love God.  They are much happier and more comfortable hanging around people who are profane or who don’t want to talk about the uncomfortable subject of religion.

They don’t have time for all that so they can do what life is “really” about.  All that preaching and singing isn’t for men.  Well, I am sorry your parents didn’t sing with you when you were young and teach you to pray and to sit still and listen to the Word being read and taught but all that reveals is that you don’t know God!  And it clearly reveals one who will not be happy in Heaven and is not headed to Heaven.

Nothing should be more stupefying to us than a creature who has no time for his Creator and his only Savior.  What kind of world view must one have who thinks he can live life by ignoring the One who gave him that life for the express purpose of glorifying God with it?  It is interesting that in the Isaiah passage they think they can outwit the Lord with their clever words but the Lord says that he will have the last laugh.  When they hear what sounds like babble (baby talk) it will be an unknown language from foreigners that are invading their land and carrying off their families.  Then they will too late understand the futility of rejecting God.

Notice in Matt. 4 that Jesus has a completely different view of the Word of God.  And it isn’t one that the Bible should just be one of many influences in your life but that we are to live by every word that comes from God.  Instead of seeing it as something for the weak minded he says that it is to be the rule of life and not just some of it but every last word.

How different from Adam and us many times for that matter.  Adam was willing to live by those words of God that suited him.  He dressed the garden and ate from all the trees and named the animals but he also wanted to live by his own words or will.  He was not willing to live by every word but by the convenient words and the rest is history.  

Church is where God has ordained that his Word be expounded for us.  To stay away or come when it is convenient is to despise the Lord himself.  In fact, one of the “words” of the Bible is that we are to gather together to preach, pray and sing.  May God cause us to love these things and see the need of them.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What Do We Get With the New Covenant?

Jer 31:33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer 31:34  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

These are familiar words to any Christian who cares about what we are in Jesus Christ.  He told us when he instituted the Lord’s Supper that by his death the New Covenant was established.  This immediately makes it of primary importance to those redeemed by the cross. 

The above verses explain four things that the New Covenant does for Christians.  Two are mostly agreed upon by saints in general but the other two interestingly are not always seen the same by all saints.  This is too bad because of the importance of the subject.  As I said, these are the four effects of the cross obviously foretold in the OT.  Let me give my understanding especially of the two not always agreed upon.

The two that are generally agreed on are the forgiveness of sins and the writing of his law on our hearts.  Most would understand this writing of the law on our hearts as taking place when he gives us a new nature when the Holy Spirit indwells us at conversion.  We are no longer rebels but now love the Lord and love his law or his will for us.  A lot can be said of the different takes on the forgiveness of sins but that is not my point in this article.

This article is mostly about the other two points.  Firstly, in vs. 34 we are told that everyone under the NC will know the Lord, everyone!  Under the OC one was born into the covenant and was circumcised as a baby, if a male, to show that you were in.  In this sense the child had no idea who his God was but it didn’t matter because his father brought him into this covenant by his will when he circumcised him.  We are being told that the NC is not physical and so one doesn’t enter it by the will of man or a physical act, Joh 1:12  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, Joh 1:13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  We enter the kingdom by the will of God as he enables us to repent and believe.  Because of this even if a young person is saved he must understand the gospel and enter through belief.  Someone else can’t do it for him or force him in like in the OT.  If you are saved you know who God is and you know how you were saved.  Someone won’t come along later and explain how you were brought into a relationship with God because it can’t happen apart from your understanding it in the first place.

In this the NC is fundamentally different than the OC because it is a spiritual kingdom not a physical one.  You can’t enter it by moving from one place to another but by spiritual rebirth, not physical birth; it couldn’t be clearer.  And this is why we stand with millions throughout church history who suffered horribly but would not baptize their children and would re-baptize converts who had been sprinkled as babies.  For an unconverted person to be baptized (and eat communion as well) is to act out a lie because they are illustrating something that they have never actually had happen to them.

Paul explains this clearly in Rom 2:27  Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. Rom 2:28  For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. Rom 2:29  But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

The fourth point in Jer. 31 is that he will be our God and we his people, 33.  The end result of forgiven sins is peace with God and a new nature in which we love him and come to know him and all this in turn restores to us the right relationship with him that we were created to have; we are no longer rebels but worshippers.  It isn’t just about us making it to heaven instead of hell even though we don’t really like God, but we “get saved” because being around him is better than burning.  This seems to be the attitude of many professors who don’t have any time for God.  They “become Christians” to get him off their backs so they can get on with worshipping the true love of their lives, themselves. 

So what we have in the NC and why it is so much better than the old one is that by giving us his Spirit we are empowered to love God and serve him as he desires to be served.  The OC which was one of exterior law did not come with power to change a sinner and so was ineffective.  Too many today think that Christianity is merely God forgiving sinners and completely fail to realize that the great promise in the OT concerning the New Covenant was God in us which causes a transformation of life, Col 1:26  the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. Col 1:27  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

Any form of Christianity that doesn’t teach and demand a transformed life isn’t biblical Christianity.