Sunday, January 28, 2018

Are the Ten Commandments Written on Our Hearts?

Sadly many people think that Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see below), and then Hebrew's quoting of it, is referring to the Ten Commandments / the law of Moses, when it doesn't say that at all. And in fact the law of Moses is called "the ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" (2 Cor 3:7-9), and Paul says that the purpose of the law is to shut mouths and make people guilty (Rom 3:19). The passage in Jeremiah says that God will remember their sins no more, which is the opposite of what happened through the law. Paul says that the law is the strength of sin (1 Cor 15:56) and that the law entered so that sin might abound (Rom 5:20).

Because of all this - because the law was "against us" and "contrary to us" (Col 2:14) - Paul writes that the law was "wiped out," "taken out of the way" and "nailed to the cross" (also Col 2:14), and Eph 2:15 says that the law of commandments was "abolished in His (Jesus') flesh." And on top of all this, the very passage in Hebrews in which the passage from Jeremiah is quoted says that it was made obsolete, and it says that the New Covenant is "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers."

So the law written in the hearts is not the law of Moses / the Ten Commandments. That would be God writing the ministry of death, condemnation, guilt and bondage in the hearts of men, and would go against the entire New Covenant! The "laws" that are not according to the Old Covenant are the "law of faith" (Rom 3:27) and the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," which has "made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:2). We know that the law of Moses is "not of faith" (Gal 3:12) and again we know that the law of sin and death (and guilt, bondage and condemnation) is the law of Moses.

So this really is a new Covenant! It really is a "new and living way!" It's nothing like the Old. It doesn't derive anything from the Old. It's new, and the meaning of the Greek word for new in this case is "of a new kind, unprecedented." It's something that has never been before. Be default and by definition it cannot be based upon the Law of Moses / the Ten Commandments. The Old has gone and the New has come!

Jer 31:31-34
31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —  32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Heb 8:7-13
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah —   9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tithing Facts

Tithing facts:

- Abraham tithed not from his income or wealth, but from the spoils of one battle.

- Jacob vowed to give the Lord a tenth of everything. One man's vow doesn't make a principle for everyone to follow.

- Israel's tithes were FOOD. God had told the tribe of Levi that they were forbidden to work for their own food. He commanded the other tribes to provide food for the Levites, in the form of tithes.

- Tithes were not money or income. You will find no scripture that tells anyone to give a tenth of their money in support of anything.

- The storehouse was an actual building in which food was stored, including grain, wine and oil. There were even stalls for livestock and flocks in the storehouses, because the livestock and flocks would be used as FOOD for the Levites. (2 Chronicles 32:28)

- There is absolutely no scripture that says that the New Covenant "church" is now the "storehouse." It is a grossly twisted misuse of the scriptures to say that the church is the storehouse.

- The recipients of the tithes were, again, the LEVITE TRIBE. Not pastors. Not churches. Not ministries.

- Jews today do not tithe. The command to tithe says that the tithes must go to the Levite tribe. They would be going against the command of God if they were to give tithes to anyone else.

- Malachi 3 was not written to Christians. It was written to Jews who had forsaken God's commands to THEM. Malachi 3 has nothing whatsoever to do with life in Christ.

- Why is Abraham's tithe brought up in Hebrews 7? It has nothing whatsoever to do with Christians tithing anything. Rather, the writer was making a point about how Jesus our High Priest is superior to the Levite priesthood. Melchizedek was the one who received the tithe (of the spoils of war) from Abraham, which shows that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. Jesus is "High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek," and so therefore He is greater than Abraham. And since the Levites were in Abraham's bosom when Abraham tithed, then Jesus is also greater than the Levites. And that is the point! Jesus is superior to the Levite priesthood. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christians tithing and everything to do with showing how Jesus is superior to the Old Covenant.

- Christian are never commanded to tithe. New Covenant giving is based upon the cheerful will of the heart, not a command or a law or a rule.

Bottom line: Giving is a wonderful expression of who we are in Christ. Give, give, give to your heart's content. But there is no "percentage" that is a godly amount. YOU have the honor and privilege of deciding in your own heart what you want to give, how much you want to give and who you want to give it to. 2%, 9%, 40%, 83%, 7.34542%, 0.0000123%. Whatever. You don't need anyone to tell you how much to give, what to give or who to give it to. Your heart decides.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why Jesus Taught Law Teachings That Are Not for Christians

Many people believe that as Christians we are to follow all of the words of Jesus.  After all, Jesus is our Savior, so it only makes sense that all the words He spoke were meant for us to follow.  What many don't understand, however, is that many times Jesus was speaking "Old Covenant" talk to those who were under the Old Covenant (Israel), and He wasn't actually always speaking about life in the New Covenant, which had not yet come.  So the question comes up about why Jesus taught the Law/Old Covenant, even right before the New Covenant came to be.

A while back my podcast co-host Mike Kapler and I did a 20-part Growing in Grace series on why Jesus taught two covenants.  You can find the first part here, and then click on "Newer Post" at the bottom left to go on to each subsequent part.  But in the meantime, here is a brief explanation on why many times Jesus wasn't teaching about life in the New Covenant, but rather life under the Old Covenant, even right before the New Covenant was about to be put into effect.

The thing that made the switch turn on for me was this verse: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." (Rom 3:19)

From this verse (and many other verses as well), I began to see that the law's purpose was to stop mouths and to make people guilty. So the law had a very important purpose. It's just not the purpose that many people think! Many think that the law was meant to help people live right, but it actually does the opposite. The law is "the ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" (2 Cor 3:7-9). Through the law, sin abounded/increased! (not decreased) (Rom 5:20). "When the commandment came, sin revived and I died" (Rom 7:9).

And ultimately, what this all did was to point to the need for a Savior. We needed Someone to do for us what the law could not do. Shortly after the above verse from Romans 3:19, Paul gives us the solution: righteousness apart from the law and being justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that is in Jesus. (see Rom 3:21-26).

So what the law did was it served as a tutor to bring people to Christ, so that they might be justified, not by law but by faith. Then once they've come to faith, the tutor's job is done and over with. (see Gal 3:24-25).

So then, getting back to Jesus' Old Covenant ministry of preaching the law, we can see that He did it perfectly and He did it for the very reason that the law was given. He used it to stop mouths (from justifying themselves). He used it to show them how guilty they actually were (according to the law) and how the law actually condemned them and didn't help to justify them. He used it exactly as it was meant to be used: as a tutor to lead them away from justification by works, and to faith in Him.

When Jesus was walking as a man on the earth, the Old Covenant was still in effect. When Jesus died, the New Covenant came into effect. The Old was then made obsolete (Heb 8:13). Jesus had been preaching the Old Covenant as the means of pointing ahead to the New Covenant. Now that we're in the New Covenant, and the Old Covenant has been made obsolete, we don't follow Jesus' Old Covenant teachings! Why follow something that is obsolete, especially when we now have something that is far superior!

I'm hoping this helps anyone struggling with why Jesus taught the Old Covenant, when the New Covenant was about to come into effect.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Speaking in Tongues

I've been asked about speaking in tongues a couple of times recently, and I thought I'd go ahead and post my thoughts publicly.

I think tongues is a wonderful gift, and from what I can tell in the scriptures it's been used differently for different purposes. In the early church, in Acts, speaking in tongues was primarily a supernatural gift used to proclaim God to people who spoke other languages. In Acts 2, the apostles (not all believers) began speaking in tongues, which was a matter of them "speaking the wonderful works of God" in the languages of the other people from other countries who were either living in Jerusalem or visiting there. In Acts 10, the gift was also given to the Gentiles, who were magnifying God in other languages. This wasn’t a "prayer language." It was a practical matter of evangelism, done supernaturally.

Then in 1 Cor 12, 13 and 14, it talks about different uses of tongues in the church. In 1 Cor 14, Paul says, "he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries." Then it says, "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church." So in this case, it doesn't appear to be used for the sake of others, but rather for self-edification. The word "mysteries" means "secrets" or "hidden things."

Self-edification is a good thing. Speaking mysteries, hidden things or secrets to God in the spirit is a good thing. But it's even better, according to Paul, when one prophesies (1 Cor 14:5). But yet they're both wonderful things. The main caution that Paul gives is that since others can't understand what you're saying when you're speaking in tongues, if I may paraphrase Paul, "speak in your own language when around others (the language that they understand), unless there is someone there to interpret your tongues."

Again, speaking of the public use of tongues, Paul says, "If I come to you speaking with tongues," it doesn't profit you. In a gathering, this use of tongues doesn't profit others. However, "if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful." It's great for my spirit to pray. It's a matter of self-edification and speaking hidden things in the spirit, which is good, so I pray in tongues privately. But I pray both in tongues and with my understanding. (1 Cor 14:13-17)

Do I think that everyone must speak in tongues? Do I think that tongues is a necessary evidence of salvation or that someone has the Spirit? Not at all. Not all have the gift, and that’s absolutely the way it’s meant to be. In Acts 2:4 and 19:6, it does indeed say that people were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking with other tongues. But this does not in any way mean or suggest that this is what must happen with all people. In fact, there are other passages that talk about people receiving the Spirit, with no mention at all of tongues. And nowhere in the NT epistles, where the message of salvation is clearly given, is tongues attached to it in any way.

Back to 1 Corinthians. In Chapter 12, Paul is talking about various gifts that God has given to members of the body of Christ for the benefit of all. Tongues is one of these gifts, among many other gifts. Paul asks rhetorically, "Do all speak with tongues?" The implied answer is "No." His point in the chapter as a whole is that the body of Christ is made up of many different parts. Not all members of the body of Christ are the same, and they don't all function in the same way. The gifts are diversely spread throughout the body. Not everyone has the same gifts... and it’s set up that way by God Himself, all for the good of the body as a whole.

God has blessed the body of Christ with the gift of tongues - one gift among many gifts, just as with all the other gifts. The body works well when all the parts aren't doing the same thing, but are doing what they were individually called to do! On top of all this, Paul says there is something even greater than walking in any of the gifts, even the "best" gifts. He is, of course, speaking about love. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." (1 Cor 13:1) No matter what our individual view of "tongues" is, or if we use it in the same way or not... it all means nothing apart from walking in love.


I also posted this as a Facebook note, and there is a good conversation going on about all of this here:

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Answer Is Always B - 8/2/17 - Temporary or Eternal Life

What is the correct wording of John 3:16?

A. "God gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should be given temporary life, until that person sins again, and then that person loses that life until he confesses and repents and starts doing good again, and then he'll be given temporary life until he sins again. And if at the time of his death he happens to have even one sin that he hasn't confessed and repented of, then it's curtains for him and he perishes, but if he did manage to confess and repent, then and only then will he be actually given eternal life."

B. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

C. "Am I only dreaming or is this burning an eternal flame?"