Having been to Seminary myself and having studied Greek and Hebrew and having 10,000 hits daily on my blog I wanted to inform you that I think you’re quite wrong about the ongoing validity of God’s law. Here are a slew of NT Scriptures that prove you wrong and prove that the Law indeed as come to an end for the Christian.
Do you honestly believe we are to follow all 613 commandments given? Wouldn’t that mean that not only do we have to stone our children and homosexuals, but would also mean we’d still be doing sacrifices. Or unable to eat things like pork, when we see in Acts that this too is untrue. The OT law is no longer applicable to the modern day Christian in the way you are saying it is.
Thank you for your to the point letter. I will seek to respond to your Scripture references in this post, dealing with what you offered as I go. Do keep in mind that our differences can be accounted for by the fact that you are a Dispensationalist and I am a Biblical Christian (Covenant – Reformed). Of course our differences are sharp. Indeed, they are so sharp, given your implicit and explicit antinomianism, that I would counsel you to re-examine whether or not you are serving the same Christ as the one who walks through the Scripture. Our disagreements are most serious then.
Keep in mind that the word “law” is used at least 8 different ways in the book of Romans alone. You just can’t assume that it is being the used the same way every time. You also have to read the whole of Scripture in its whole context. The whole idea that Christians are done with the law is overturned repeatedly in Scripture. For example,
Acts 24:14 (NKJV) – St. Paul speaking,
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”
Acts 25:8 – while he answered for himself, “Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
For example, Paul can say in Romans 7 that “the Law is Holy, just and good.” Hardly an indictment of the Law.
In Romans 3 we hear Paul say,
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.
Further, if we had no relation to the law it would not be possible to even have a definition of sin. If we were done with the law it would be not be possible to sin since there would be no standard by which sin could be measured. Are you contending William that you are no longer a sinner? In order to put off sin we must have law to define sin.
You cite Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
You seemingly seem to be saying that since we are under grace we have no relationship to the law. That is an unfortunate reading on your part.
When the Holy Spirit says “we are not under law but grace,” the context demands us to read that as “we are not under law as a means of Justification (i.e. — earning God’s favor) but we are under God’s grace as the means of bing freely Justified. It doesn’t mean we no longer have a relation to the law. St. Paul assumes everywhere that we have a new relation to the law because we are in Christ. It is why St. Paul can say that the Law is “Holy, Just, and Good.”
You cite Romans 7:4 — “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
Again, you seemingly conclude from this that the law has no standing in the Christian’s life today. Again that is unfortunate “reasoning” on your part William.
You see, we are dead to the law as a means to earns God’s favor. We do not obey the law in ordr to have life, but having life we obey the law with a evangelical obedience (as opposed to a “legal obedience.”) Indeed we could not even know what fruit is without the law as a standard to adjudicate for us what defines fruit and what doesn’t.
You cite, Romans 7:6 — “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Seemingly you think that this proves that this proves your thesis that the Law has no place in the Christians life.
The question must be asked, “in what sense are we delivered from the law,” and the answer clearly is that we are delivered from the condemnation of the law. However, as delivered from the condemnation of the law we now have a positive relation to God’s law as a guide to life. You see we are serving in newness of Spirit because the Spirit is the person who makes us delight in God’s law. Paul can even say there that “7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man..” The problem is NOT the law William. The problem is who we are in Adam. But who we are in Christ rejoices in God’s law.
Next you cite Galatians 5:18, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
However, what Gal. 5:18 gives us the idea that we are indeed “under the spirit” but what is being contrasted there vis a vis being “under the law” is the idea of being under the law as a means to gain Salvation. However, all because we are under the Spirit that does not mean we have no relationship with the law. If we had no relationship to the law we could never know what sin is. Indeed sin can not exist where there is no law.
You keep confusing the relationship of the Christian to the law as a Christian (2nd and 3rd uses of the law) and the relationship that someone who is dead in sin has to the law (1st use of the law).
Next you appeal to Galatians 3:24, “We are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Again … the point here is NOT that we have no relation to the law but rather that the Law pointed and lead to Christ. The problem that Paul is dealing with there is that there are people who desire to use the law unlawfully as a pole vault to spring into heaven. Paul is saying there that that is not the work of the law. It is faith alone in Christ alone that gives us peace with God. However, in Chapter 6 St. Paul gives a list of sins and says that those who practice those sins shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Now, how could they know what those sins are if they did not have a relation to the law? How did St. Paul know that those sins listed in Galatians 6 were sins if He were not implicitly appealing to the Law as the standard that defines those sins?
The puritans had a saying you desperately need to keep in mind William.
“The law sends us to Christ for justification and Christ sends us back to the law for sanctification.”
Now of course our relation to the law is no longer “legal” but “evangelical” which is to say we obey out of a grateful response for our full Redemption and not in order to curry an uncertain Redemption.
Your continued insistence that we have no relation to the law is pure antinomianism and not in the least Christian.
Next you quote Ii Corinthians 3:11, “For if that which is done away with was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.”
That which is done away with is old covenant .. not the law. The old covenant was a shadow of Christ. It anticpated Christ. In point of fact it even adumbrated Christ. But now that Christ has come it is done away in the sense that with the coming of all that which was in shadow form, now the shadows are no longer necessary. The Old Covenant is referred to a “ministry of condemnation” because in the Sacrifices of the Old Covenant the Believers were constantly reminded of their sin. However, in the New and Better Covenant, Christ — the fulfillment of the Old Covenant sacrifices — is once forever sacrificed, and so Believers, after the crucifixion of Christ, have been given all that was promised and so are part of a more glorious ministration.
BUT once again this not prove that the Christian has no relation to the law.
Even the Lord Christ said
17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.
The Lord Christ even told the Pharisees that they should have kept the law of tithing mint, dill, and cummin. (Their failure was in forgetting the weightier matters of the law) Mt. 23:23.
Your mishandling of Scripture here my friend is significantly flawed.
Next you quote Colossians 2 which in your mind again proves your point that we are done with the law,
Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
Christ took away the handwriting of the law against us in terms of its ability to condemn. That does not mean he took the away the law as a guide to life in its 2nd or 3rd use. There is therefore now condemnation for those in Christ Jesus but the fact that there is no condemnation does not mean there is no requirement to walk in righteousness. Walking in righteousness can not be done apart from a standard. That standard is God’s law.
On to your appeal to Hebrews,
Hebrews 8:10-13 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Hebrews 10:8-10 ” Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
The 1st Hebrews passage you quote proves my point. God writes His law on our hearts What law? The OT Law. That means we still have a relationship to the law. If the OT law is written on our hearts then how could we not have the law as a standard for a guide to life?
In point of fact William, as Christ was the incarnation of God’s law to say we don’t have a relationship with the Law is to say we don’t have a relationship to Christ.
In terms of the 2nd Hebrews passage we must say that what is taken away is the sacrificial system or what we would call the ceremonial usage of the law. This does not mean that the moral law is done away with. How could it be since it is that moral law that is written on our hearts per the Hebrews 8 passage you cite?
Finally you appeal to Romans 10:4, — “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
With this wrong interpretation you’re making a common mistake. The word for end there in the greek is “Teleos.” It does not mean “end” in the sense that the law is ended. It means “goal.” Christ is the goal or purpose of the Law. The Law pointed to Christ and was fulfilled in Christ in terms of its demands for perfection but that does not mean that the law no longer is a matter to delight to us both day and night. (Psalm 1).
Now as to your 2nd paragraph in your letter.
No, I do not believe that post Cross Christians follow all 613 of the OT Laws. Many of those Laws have been fulfilled (not abrogated) in Christ. Hence the Ceremonial law, as it is often referred to is a category of law that we are not answerable to because Christ has fulfilled all that in His death. As such we definitely still do not do sacrifices. Further matters like the prohibition of mixing seed, mixing cloths, and mixing plowing animals, likewise can be seen as past since the essence of those laws were to teach the necessity to remain unmixed from the pagan gentile nations around them. As Christ has come and has now broken down the spiritual dividing wall between Jew and Gentile and has now brought the Gentile nations in those laws lose their metaphor necessity of not being mixed with pagan gentiles, though the general equity of them remain as contained in the idea of being separated unto God (II Cor. 6:14-7:1). Some would argue that the OT dietary laws are also void since the Lord Christ said,
Mt. 15:11 — “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
As that is combined with Acts 10 and the vision where God tells Peter to eat heretofore unclean animals as symbology for Peter to go to the Cornelius the Centurion many Christians come to the conclusion that the OT Dietary laws are void. However, many solid Christians will hold that these dietary laws still do apply.
In terms of stoning … why would we think that somehow that God in the OT was unreasonable but now in the NT he has changed so now that He is reasonable?
Some Christians will insist that these laws are still valid since they were never rescinded in the NT. Those Christians would say that the problem is not with the law that requires stoining but rather the problem is with modern day Christians sensibility that some how that is mean and cruel of God.
Other Christians will argue that the Stoning laws are still valid though they represent a “maximum” penalty that can be applied. For these thoughtful Christians the argument would be that lesser penalties could be applied since “the death penalty is the maximum, not necessarily the mandatory penalty.”
In terms of stoning a miscreant child we must keep in mind that we are not talking about toddlers throwing tantrums. The idea there is likely an adolescent or adult child who has been recklessly disobedient in a long direction. It is interesting that though we have this law, we have exactly zero instances of its application in the Scriptures.
So, you see that the OT civil-judicial law, as it serves as the case law for the 10 commandments, do still apply, sometimes directly via the general equity of those original laws, and sometimes indirectly via the general equity of those case laws.
I hope this answers your writing to me William and lays out some distinctions between Dispensationalism as a theology of discontinuity and Biblical Christianity as a theology of continuity and discontinuity.
As I said earlier, you’re completely misreading the Scripture with this Dispensational scheme and so are firing blanks.
I hope that over the years God grants you grace to rethink these matters.