Culture The Decalogue The Law of Moses

What Does it Mean to Keep the Sabbath?

Among the Ten Commandments, none has been treated with more flexibility than the Fourth.   One encounters a whole range of views on the Sabbath command, and what people believe their obligation is toward it.  Since it is one of the Ten Commandments, it makes a good test case whether those who insist Christians must keep the Ten are actually doing so. The first question is, what is the Sabbath Day? Many point to the…

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Life in Christ The Decalogue The Law of Moses

Fulfilling the Law or Keeping It—What’s the Difference?

No single verse of Scripture gives a complete picture of the Christian’s relationship to the law. One has to read the whole of the New Testament to come up with a coherent picture of how the law of Moses may (or may not) relate to the believer in Christ. But without question, the apostle Paul has more to say about the law than any other writer, and one of the things he’s careful to say…

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The Decalogue The Law of Moses

A Fool’s Errand: Law-keeping and Christlikeness

Michael F. Bird of Ridley College in Australia recently quipped that Galatians should be printed in all capital letters since he’s fairly sure that Paul screamed the words of the letter to the poor sot who acted as his scribe. Bird’s remark is humorous because, as with most zingers, it contains a fair bit of truth. In no other letter is Paul’s tone quite as strident and severe, as he anathemizes those who preach a…

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The Decalogue The Law of Moses

Rethinking the Third Use of the Law

Is Commandment Without Consequence Still Law?  How Christians should regard the Mosaic law is still a point of contention among believers of various traditions. One of the rare points of agreement between Reformed believers and those on the Arminian side is the Third Use of the Law. Indeed, both Wesley and Calvin affirmed very similar positions on this. They both believed the law to be a guide and standard for believers in their Christian lives.  But…

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Life in Christ The Decalogue

Sanctification: What is it?

Error seems to travel in pairs, and when we come to the topic of sanctification, this is also the case. One error says that we must do more in order to be more. The Roman Catholic teaching on justification suffers from this misunderstanding. That is, as I perform more good, I become more justified. Justification is poured into me, little by little throughout my life, provided I keep doing. There are Protestant variations on this…

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The Decalogue The Law of Moses

The Law and Its Fulfillment in Matthew 5

Does Jesus bind his followers to keep the law?   The question of the applicability of the Mosaic law in all its forms to the Christian life is a perennial one. Discussions never get very far before someone will quote Matthew 5:17-18 as a proof for the continuing authority of the law for us. But they do so without considering where this would lead. The passage reads: “Do not think that I have come to…

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Old Testament The Decalogue

Is a Threefold Division of Law Valid?

Making sense of the Mosaic Law in the current age is not an easy task. While there are many opinions, one that is more common across several different traditions is to treat the law in a threefold way. That is, the commands of the Old Testament are grouped together into moral, civil, and ceremonial. One can see that the law prohibiting the eating of shellfish or fish lacking scales (Lev 11:10) is a ceremonial law,…

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Old Testament The Decalogue

Is it for Oxen that God is Concerned? Using the Law Wisely

The way we understand the law of Moses in the Christian life is a perennial topic. The current dust-up with Andy Stanley’s view that the Old Testament is not relevant for Christan faith has complicated this. While Stanley has made statements that proclaim the Christian’s freedom from the Mosaic Law, a position that is demonstrable from the New Testament, he has confused the issue with his views on the Old Testament itself. In their critiques…

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Canon of Scripture The Decalogue

A Canon within the Canon? Making sense of the Law in the New Testament

Proof texting has some value in certain situations, but if we want a comprehensive treatment of a doctrine throughout Scripture, it requires something more. If we limit the evidence on a doctrine to one book, one part of Scripture, or one writer, we will not have the whole story. The Red Letter Christians exemplify this, essentially saying that what Jesus said is more important than what one reads elsewhere in Scripture. Even if not overtly…

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Life in Christ The Decalogue

Is the Law Our Tutor?

One of the common assumptions about the law of Moses is that it is our tutor or schoolmaster. That is, the law leads us to Christ. For this reason, it remains useful to us. In Galatians 3, Paul explains the temporary nature of the law, and contrasts it with the promise to Abraham. The promise given to Abraham was by faith, and came prior to the law, by 430 years. But the natural question in…

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