If One Uses It Lawfully: The Law of Moses and the Christian Life (May 2018, Wipf and Stock.)
The place of the Ten Commandments in the Christian life is a perennial question. As part of the redemption we have in Christ, we are free from condemnation, but are we free from obligation to the law?
If One Uses It Lawfully engages the question of the place of the Ten Commandments in the New Covenant and presents a position that while the Decalogue is not inconsistent with God’s will for his people today, it is not coextensive with it. The believer is pointed to the Lord Jesus as the true pattern we follow. The law cannot be our rule of life because it belongs to a previous era of salvation history. Morever, as Paul indicates, no one keeps the law, nor can keep it. By seeing how the apostle presents freedom from the law as the Christian position, we embrace our position with the risen Christ.
“Christians believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is the same God who gave his law to Israel. But the relationship between the old revelation and the new has been a matter of controversy since the early church, and to this day Christians disagree on what role (if any!) the Mosaic law is meant to play in the life of the believer. Matthew Ferris’s If One Uses It Lawfully argues forcefully for the view that, while Christians are indeed called to holy living, the path to sanctification does not lie in conforming with the law’s commandments. The author has read widely and thought much about his subject, and there can be few readers who will not learn something new or find something challenging in his work.”
-Stephen Westerholm, author of Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics
“The role of the Mosaic law in the Christian’s life is a topic that confronts any serious student of the Scriptures. In If One Uses It Lawfully, Matthew Ferris has provided his readers with a helpful critique of one of the most common positions regarding the Mosaic law and the Christian. With an exegetically-robust and historically conversant argument, Ferris demonstrates the weaknesses of what he calls the “rule of life” view, the position that argues the Ten Commandments are the rule of life for modern Christians. Yet, Ferris’s book goes beyond just critique; he also offers a positive, Christ-centered explanation of how Christians live as a people under the headship of Christ and by the power of the Spirit. Ferris’s work is a welcome and unique contribution to the field of biblical-theological study on the Mosaic law and its function in the Christian’s life.”
-James M. Todd III, Associate Professor, College of the Ozarks and author of Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Covenant Laws for the New Covenant Community.
“I have always been struck (and a wee bit terrified) by the Apostle Paul’s warning that “the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” (1 Timothy 1:8) The disconcerting truth is that an improper use of the Law makes it “ungood.” If something so central to Scripture as the Law can be mishandled in such a devastating way, we better make sure we don’t mess it up. That’s why I am so thankful for If One Uses It Lawfully. Instead of following the historic trend of avoiding legalism and licentiousness with the opposing errors of over and under-emphasizing the Law, Matthew Ferris “looks intently in the perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25) and finds its ultimate purpose in Jesus. In a clear and immensely biblical way, Ferris leads his reader to not only understand the Law, but also to love it and comprehend its place in their life.”
Noel Jesse Heikkinen
Pastor, Riverview Church; Author, Unchained: If Jesus Has Set Us Free, Why Don’t We Feel Free; US Midwest Network Director, Acts 29
Evangelicalism has always been an eclectic movement, picking and choosing what helps to advance the gospel, with the lodestar of scripture as the ultimate authority for doctrine and practice. In recent years, some evangelicals have begun to look to other traditions, not simply to inform their worship, but as alternate sources of authority.
Evangelicals Adrift examines some of the evidence put forth for a connection between the early church and the sacramental churches of today.
- How were the early churches led?
- Is there such a distinction between clergy and laity in the New Testament?
- Did the Church give us the Canon of Scripture?
- Is the Church required for salvation?
- Can rites and rituals really effect what they symbolize?
When the Church is placed as the conduit of grace between the believer and God, this is the essence of the sacramental principle. Many converts accept Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox claims of continuity with the earliest church, without a more thorough investigation into the history of how the church developed. A closer look into the evidence tells a very different story.This book argues for a careful analysis of exactly what evangelicals give up when they allow other sources of authority alongside scripture, and for a reengagement with the Bible as the sole ground of authority for the Christian life.
What others have said:
“Religious conversion among Catholics and Protestants has generated a deluge of whitewater on the Tiber River. Some enjoy the thrill. Others drown. In the face of this tumult, Matt Ferris has written Evangelicals Adrift as a life preserver. Anyone considering conversion to Rome will find in these pages questions and arguments worth consideration.”
– Chris Castaldo, PhD. Lead Pastor, New Covenant Church, Naperville, Illinois. Author, Talking with Catholics about the Gospel.
“Matt Ferris has done us a great service with this hard-hitting and courageous book. Alarmed by the trend of evangelicals leaving their faith for the sacramentalism of Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, Matt carefully and passionately lays out the key differences between these two approaches to God and to religious knowledge. May Evangelicals Adrift spark renewed conversation, reflection, prayer, and – most of all – Bible reading.”
– Stan Guthrie, author, God’s Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book and All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us.