Saturday, December 23, 2017

Freed From The Law?

One morning, while I was listening to a Christian radio station, I heard that the hymn "Freed From The Law, Oh Happy Condition" was the next piece that would be played. I was not familiar with this hymn, but I thought the title was bizarre. What!! We're freed from the law!! I guess it is perfectly acceptable to commit murder, theft, adultery, and even idolatry now that Yeshua came and freed us from the law!

Obviously, since I am a born again believer, I know that this was not the intent of the song. I know that "the law" the hymn writer was speaking of was the dreaded Mosaic law? Let's examine this issue a little closer.

This song reminded me of the days when some parenting advice was extremely permissive. Children were left to their own devices and allowed to figure out right from wrong on their own. Obviously, these children grew up to be spoiled and damaged. They didn't respect authority, nor did they even have a sense that anyone cared enough to train and discipline them. Human beings need law and order in their lives for proper development. From this alone, I found fault with the title of the hymn. Without law, no one is in a happy condition!

Oh, but the Mosaic law has been replaced by the "law of Christ," some would say (1 Cor. 9:21). But what is the law of Christ?

Galatians 6:2 (KJV)
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

According to Galatians, the law of Christ is to carry one another's burdens. While this sentiment is all well and good, it doesn't give us any concrete definable laws that show us how we are to bear one another's burdens. states that "most Bible teachers understand the law of Christ to be what Christ stated were the greatest commandments in Mark 12:28-31, 'Which commandment is the most important of all?' Jesus answered, 'The most important is, "'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.'" If the law of Christ is indeed the two commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor, these commandments existed in the Old Testament. is quoting from Deuteronomy. Therefore, it would seem that the law of Christ is not something new, but rather the same law as the Mosaic law (actually it's God's law, not Moses'). Reducing the entire Mosaic law to two commandments was to convey a summary, not a statement that there were only two commandments. Mark 12:31 even states that there are other commandments (see above).

Well, some would say that the "ceremonial law" (as opposed to the moral law that still exists) has been fulfilled by Yeshua and therefore we don't have to obey that anymore. However, searching through the Bible for a definition of "ceremonial law" is fruitless. When the law is spoken of, there is never any differentiation.

1 John 3:4 (KJV)
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

We have been conditioned into believing that part of the law is no longer applicable to us. Yet, the verse that is used to show that Yeshua fulfilled the law doesn't even mean what Christianity has come to accept.

Matthew 5:17 (KJV)
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

If the Mosaic law was fulfilled by Yeshua and no longer needs to be obeyed, then how about Galatians 6:2 (see above)? It says that if we bear one another's burdens we fulfill the law of Christ. If "fulfill" means it has been finished and no longer needs to be done, I guess that once we carry someone's burden, the law of Christ is fulfilled and we don't have to worry about doing it ever again! Oh, happy condition!

No, Yeshua did fulfill God's law. He obeyed it! That's all! That doesn't mean that we don't have to obey the law ourselves. Because otherwise, we ignore the guidance that God gave His people. We would then be a spoiled and damaged people. We would be left to our own devices to try to figure out what God wanted and what was pleasing to Him. To be in a happy condition we need concrete laws and commandments. He didn't leave us unloved; He gave us His laws (all of them)!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Israel and The Church

There are two main views regarding the relationship between Israel and the Church. They are Replacement Theology and Dispensationalism. Replacement Theology is defined by Matt Slick posting on the CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) website as "the teaching that the Christian church has replaced national Israel regarding the plan, purpose, and promises of God." In other words, Israel has lost its "chosen people" status and it no longer has any future place in God's redemptive plan. Dispensationalism is defined also by Matt Slick as "an approach to biblical interpretation which states that God uses different means of working with people (Israel and the Church) during different periods of history." In this perspective, God still has a plan for Israel, but Israel and the Church are two separate entities. However, neither of these approaches satisfies the Biblical record completely.

I would like to posit a very different view that I hope will one day pervade the Christian church.

Isaiah 2:1-4 (KJV) 
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

This passage is describing earth at the end of the ages, as seen in a vision by the prophet Isaiah. The nations will be judged and there will no longer be any war. God's temple will be established on Mount Zion and many people will suggest going up to the mountain, to the temple of Israel, to be taught God's ways, so that they would walk in His paths. For surely, the Torah of the Lord goes forth from Jerusalem. Any attempt at suggesting this passage should be taken in an allegorical way defies the plain meaning of the text. There is no reason to believe that it means anything except what it flat out says. This passage and so many others in the Bible reflect the same understanding, that Israel will always be God's chosen people. The church has not replaced Israel.

Paul also confirms this in Romans.

Romans 11:1 (KJV)
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

He also wrote:

Romans 9:6 (KJV)
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Paul was saying that Israel can really mean two separate entities. The first is that Israel exists as a nation or an ethnicity. However, Paul went on to say that not all Israel (the national or ethnic identity) is Israel (another Israel?).

Romans 11:17 (KJV)
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Paul spoke here about Gentiles being grafted into Israel. He can't be speaking about national or ethnic Israel because when we are born again, we don't become Jewish first. We stay as Gentiles. Yet, we are grafted into Israel. What Israel? This Israel consists of the believers. Consequently, the Dispensationalists keep Israel and the church as separate groups. Paul's definition of the Israel contradicts this. The believing remnant of Israel and the Gentiles that have been grafted in comprise Paul's second definition of Israel. Basically, if you are a believer in Yeshua, you are a part of Israel.

It is my hope that in time, we will understand that there is only one group of believers and they are called Israel. This is not to say that Israel as a nation or as an ethnicity doesn't have a place in God's plans, but the sharp divide between Israel and the church is equally misguided.