|Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 7:32 am: || |
The most common problem that plagues Christianity today is the mixing of law and grace. It is the attitude that says, "God's grace gives us the ability to obey God's laws."
This is nothing new. The apostle Paul addressed the issue throughout his letters, primarily in the book of Galatians. As a matter of fact, the mixing of law and grace is commonly referred to as Galatianism. Jesus addressed this problem as well and illustrated the damage it causes by comparing it to pouring new wine into old wineskins.
"Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
1. Jesus uses the illustration of the iwne and the wineskins to teach us a spiritual truth. Should new wine be poured into old wineskins? No.
2. What happens if new wine is poured into an old wineskin? The skins will burst.
3. How are both the new wine and the old wineskin preserved? By putting new wine into new wineskins.
4. Can new wine be contained in an old wineskin? No.
5. Let's apply this illustration to law and grace. Can the grace of God be contained within the context of the law? No.
6. What would happen if we tried to mix the two? It would ruin both.
7. Can the purpose of the law and the purpose of grace be maintained if we mix the two? No.
8. How can we preserve the purpose of both law and grace. By not mixing the two.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
1. How did Paul describe the believers in Galatia? Foolish and bewitched.
2. What did he say had happened to them? They have been bewitched.
3. What does it mean to be bewitched? Being deceived.
4. What did Paul portray clearly before the Galatians' eyes? Christ as cricified.
5. Whose efforts or work does Paul's portrayal indicate is important in our salvation - Christ's work on the cross or our obedience to the law? Christ's work on the cross.
6. What question did Paul ask the Galatians concerning how they received the Spirit. Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
7. What is the obvious answer? By believing what they heard.
8. How did you receive the Spirit of Christ - by observing the law or by believing what you heard? Believing what I heard.
9. What part did works of the law play in your receiving the Spirit? None.
10. Even though the Galatians knew they had received the Spirit by believing what they heard, how were they trying to attain their goal of living the Christian life? By human effort.
11. Why is it foolish to think we can live the Christian life through our human efforts? because we are suffering so much for nothing.
12. To hammer home his point, Paul asks the Galatians again, "Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" What is the obvious answer? Because we believe what we have heard.
13. How does Paul's admonition to the Galatians apply to us today? We receive the Spirit by faith in the Message, not by any works of the law.
14. Why is it foolish to mix law and grace. Because we receive the Spirit by faith; works of the law amount to nothing.
15. Can we experience the abundant life that Jesus promised by intermingling law and grace? No!
A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.
1. Yeast is the word Jesus uses to describe the teaching of the Pharisees (see Matthew 16:6-12). They taught that you must obey the law to gain God's acceptance. How much of this teaching will spoil the entirety of grace? Just a little bit.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
1. What astonished Paul about the Galatians? That they were so quickly deserting Christ and turning to a different gospel.
2. Who were they deserting? Christ.
3. How does Christ call us to Himself? By grace.
4. What did Paul say the Galatians were turning to? A different gospel.
5. What did he say about that gospel? It was really no gospel at all.
6. What was happening to the believers of Galatia due to erroneous teaching? They were thrown into confusion.
7. What happens to us when we try to mix law and grace? We get thrown into confusion.
8. What did Paul say these errant teachers were attempting to do? Pervert the gospel of Christ.
9. What should happen to those who preach a gospel other than the one Paul preached? Be eternally condemned.
10. Why do you think Paul felt so strongly about this doctrine of adding works of the law to the grace of Christ? Because it was a perversion of the gospel!
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
1. According to this verse, are grace and works mutually exclusive? Yes.
2. If you try to combine law and grace, what happens to grace? It no longer is grace.
3. What value does grace have if we are trying to work for our salvation? None.
4. Are you intermingling law and grace in your life? No.
5. If so, does the Christian life seem confusing to you and impossible to live? It should!
6. Do you realize that you are ruining the purpose of both law and grace in your life? If not, reread this whole series!
The same grace that saves us is what sustains us in our Christian life. It only takes a little bit of the law, however, to ruin God's purpose in grace. You cannot mix the two. The new wine of grace cannot be contained in the old wineskin of the law.
C.I. Scofield writes in Rightly Diving the Word of Truth:
"Law is God prohibiting and requiring; grace is God beseeching and bestowing. Law is a ministry of condemnation; grace, of forgiveness. law curses; grace redeems from the curse. Law kills; grace makes alive. Law shuts every mouth before God; grace opens every mouth to praise Him. Law puts a great and guilty distance between man and God; grace makes guilty man nigh to God. Law says, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth"; grace says, "Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy cheeck, turn to him the other also." Law says, "Hate thine enemy"; grace says, "Love your enemies, bless them that despitefully use you." Law says, do and live; grace says, believe and live. Law never had a missionary; grace is to be preached to every creature. Law utterly condemns the best man; grace freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:43; Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Law is a system of probation; grace, of favor. Law stones an adulteress; grace says, "Neither do I condemn thee:, go and sin no more." Under law the sheep dies for the shepherd; under grace the Shepherd dies for the sheep.
Everywhere the Scriptures present law and grace in sharply contrasted spheres. The mingling of them in much of the current teaching of the day spoils both, for law is robbed of its terror, and grace of its freeness.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 10:04 am: || |
Here is another good study on Grace and the Law bringing up points I had never thought about.
I am enjoying the studies by Gatororeo.
There is a huge difference between God's Word and God's Law. We should not use the two terms interchangeably. At best, it will confuse your listeners. At worst, it will undermine the true faith of Christ. Or, letís put it this way, Godís Law is part of Godís Word, but Godís Word is not synonymous with Godís Law.
The basics: There is a direct connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but they are not equitable. The Old Testament contains the history, the theology, the religion, the covenants and the Law given to Godís chosen nation, Israel. The New Testament contains the fulfillment of some Old Testament prophecy, new prophecy concerning the future, and the arrival of the Messiah promised to Godís chosen nation, Israel. Oh yes, and there is also the introduction of Gentiles into Godís covenant relationship with Godís chosen nation, Israel.
The New Testament is about the outgrowth of the New Covenant, the New Testament in the blood of Christ. It is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31, Godís everlasting love for Israel and Judah culminating in the birth, death and resurrection of Davidís greater Son. It is the proof that God has not cast off His people, Israel and Judah, whom He foreknew and loved despite their rebellion.
Why am I pounding this so pedantically? Well, Iím a pedantic sort of guy. But, we must see the clear demarcation between how God deals with His people in the Mosaic economy and how He deals with them in the New Covenant economy.
Joshua 1:8 deals with the ìbook of the law.î That is the Law of God, handed down to the nation of Israel through their mediator, Moses. It was a list of commands imposed on Israel, whether they wanted them or not. They had no choice in the matter, nor were they consulted to see if they felt that they could achieve them. The Law was handed to them and they were commanded to keep the Law in its entirety, or die under its curse.
But, if we ñ as New Covenant teachers - instruct people using Joshuaís words, to be ìcareful to do everything written in it [the Law]î (Josh. 1:7-8), we run a perilous risk. We are asking them to achieve a personal level of righteousness that will be acceptable to God. If we have learned anything from the Old Testament, it is that not one single person ever achieved righteousness by the Law. But, that was not the Lawís purpose.
ìWherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.î
ìMoreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.î (Rom. 5:20)
ìWherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.î (Rom 7:12-13)
So, what was the purpose of the law? According to Paul, the law was added to Israel to make their sin and rebellion all the more sinful and rebellious. The high standard was set in order to make them realize their inability to achieve personal righteousness. Of course, they missed that point. The steady stream of animal blood flowing from the altar in the Holiest Place was meant to teach the reality that sin requires death and that living creatures had to continually die because Israel continually sinned. Unfortunately, they believed that the animals actually atoned for their sins, not recognizing the type and foreshadow of the one death to come, which would be sufficient payment for all their iniquity. But, the law was imposed on Israel so that their offence would abound. That is the point of the law.
Now, was Joshua correct in telling Israel to concentrate, meditate and perform all the Law? Yes, absolutely. They were under the dispensation of law. God imposed that rule on them and they were absolutely under its authority. Could they perform it? Nope. Could they achieve the righteous standard? Nope. Was that how God planned it? Yep.
The Law was a schoolmaster, a ìpaidagogos,î designed to lead Israel to their Savior.
ìWherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.î (Gal. 3:26)
And, that brings us to a really important point. Is the Law of Moses still in effect and is it still the standard for the Church? The book of Galatians argues adamantly, as do the books of Romans, Colossians and Hebrews, that the Law is no longer in force for the New Testament Church. Faith has come; the law has been taken out of the way. The ordinances of performance - which could only condemn, but never save - were taken out of the way when Christ died and rose again.
ìAnd you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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: And, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.î (Col. 2:13-15)
The Law of Moses was not intended for perfection or sanctification. Paul said that it was ìcontrary to usî and ìagainst us.î Consequently, the Law, which was designed to condemn men, was taken out of the way. It has no more power over us. It cannot condemn us. It is no longer in effect for all those who are in Christ.
ìFor what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.î (Rom. 8:4-5)
Our sanctification is accomplished in Christís own righteousness imputed to our account on the basis of faith. The Law was the perfect standard against which we would be judged and condemned. But, the Law is powerless against the perfect salvation Christ proffers.
ìWho shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.î (Rom. 8:33-34)
There is a popular, albeit anti-Biblical, credo that many churches adhere to. It goes, ìLead men to Christ for justification, and lead them to Moses for sanctification.î But, I am dreadfully concerned about any theology that points the Church of the redeemed back to the Law of Moses when our whole faith rests on Christís finished work, imputed to us, proven in faith, accomplishing righteousness on our behalf.
Thatís dangerous. Hereís why ñ
The Gentile church at Galatia had been infiltrated by Judaizers from James who were trying to impose Israelís Law onto the new Gentile converts. The first line of defense in this theological war was circumcision, the mark of the Abrahamic Covenant, which came to designate the people who were under the Mosaic Covenant. But, Paul countered ñ
ìStand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.î (Gal. 5:1-5)
Now pay attention to those words. Christ made these Gentile people utterly free. Think about it from a historical perspective. Only Israel was ever under the Mosaic Law. God did not impose His law on the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, the Canaanites, the Hivites, the Hittites, or other ì-ites.î Only Israel was under the Law. But, Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came to free them from the obligation of that impossible standard. He came knowing that the Law was designed to condemn them. He knew that they needed someone to attain righteousness on their behalf, or they were all eternally lost. So, He died for their sin and rose for their justification and glorification.
Gentiles were never under the Law. Only Israel was obligated to Moses. How incongruous is it to attempt imposing that Law Covenant onto people who were never under it in the first place? And, how misleading is it to encourage them to accomplish some form of self-induced holiness when such an attempt is not only futile, but it obligates them to the entirety of the law, taking them out from under the protective cover of grace.
Meanwhile, back in Galatia, the Jewish converts from the Jerusalem Church could not extricate themselves from their longstanding traditions and deeply rooted system of religion. And, they thought that the only way Gentiles could be brought into their covenant of salvation via the Jewish Messiah was for them to be equally yoked with the Law. But, Paul cried against them and asked who had ìbewitchedî them that were so quickly turned from the grace that bought them. He said that if they took one single step toward seeking personal justification by the elements of Law ñ in this case, circumcision ñ they were automatically responsible to perform the entirety of the Law and would be judged on the basis of that Law. No one would be saved that way. They were ìfallen from grace.î Only faith can achieve an actual, lasting, God-accepted righteousness.
Paul finally argued against the leaders of the Jerusalem church,
ìNow therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?î (Acts 15:10)
So, I prefer Paulís admonition ñ Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free, and donít be entangled in the yoke of bondage ñ the Law of Moses. To impose the Law on believers is tantamount to tempting God!
Thereís more. Thereís so much more.
Paul cried to the people who were under the law and begged them to understand their freedom. They were free from its ordinances and finally freed, through the infilling of the Spirit, to love God in Spirit and truth, something the Law could never attain.
ìKnow ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 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.î (Rom. 7:1-4)
Paul retained the distinction between Israel and the Gentile world. So, he wrote these particular words to Israel, those who ìknow the law.î And, his conclusion was that when Christ (their Messiah) died, they were free from the Law of Moses and able to marry their new love, Christ. To be in Christ is to be ìdead to the law.î
On another occasion, Paul likened the Old Covenant (the Law) to Abraham in the tent with Hagar, trying to work out Godís declared will in their flesh. But, when the child of promise, Isaac, was born, God told Abraham to put away the bondwoman and her son because they would not share in his inheritance.
ìTell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.î (Gal. 4:21-31)
We are not children of the bondwoman, we are children of the free. And, the two are not to be intermingled. They will hate us for our freedom, but we will bask in it. There are two covenants, and they are opposed to each other. One engendered death, but Christ nailed it to His tree and took it out of the way. The other engendered life, joy, peace, and eternal life. To ask the children of Sarah to act like the children of Hagar is to undermine the whole plan of redemption and salvation by faith in Christ.
If we preach sanctification by the Law, we are instructing people to attempt achieving spiritual cleanliness and personal holiness via an impossible standard. Worse, we are imposing on them a covenant of death.
ìFor when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 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. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.î (Rom. 7:5-11)
Look again at how Paul described the law:
ìthe motions of sins, which were by the lawÖbring forth death.î
ìÖwe are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held.î
"Öthe oldness of the letterÖî
"I had no known sin, but by the law.î
ìÖsin, by occasion of the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.î
ìÖwhen the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.î
ìThe commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.î
ìSin, taking occasion by the commandment the [law], deceived me and by it [the law] slew me.î
I will say this clearly. The law cannot cleanse people. It cannot help them achieve purity, sanctification, or holiness. It can only condemn, and sin uses it as a means to kill us.
Now, from Joshuaís perspective, indeed Israel should never let the law depart from their mouths. That was Godís command concerning Israel. But, this command is never put on the Church. Not once. Instead, you have Paul saying, ìYou who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law????î (Gal. 4:21)
Remember, to do one part of the Law is to be a debtor to perform the whole Law, utterly and completely. But, again, that begs the question: have you heard the law?
The Law, to be completely exercised, includes things like keeping feasts in Jerusalem three times a year. Not many of us making that trip, eh?
Or, we are required to stone disobedient children to death before the elders (Deut. 21:18-21).
Or, when we build houses, weíre to put a ìbattlement,î or flat ridge, around the roof in order to catch anyone who may fall from the roof, so that blood is not spilled (Deut. 22:8). Not a lot of those in the building codes.
Or, how about the rule against wearing garments of diverse sorts, like wool and linen together? (Deut. 22:11) Nobodyís keeping that one, lately. Lots of cotton blends going around.
Or, how about the rule concerning the public display of bloody sheets after the wedding night to prove a womanís virginity? (Deut. 22:13-18)
Or, keeping men with wounded testicles and out-of-wedlock children out of the assembly? (Deut. 23:1-2)
Or, for goodness sake, the rules against lending for usury, or interest, unless heís a stranger to Israel! (Deut. 23:19)
Or, when you come to a neighbors vineyard or standing corn, you could eat your fill, but you could not carry any away. (Deut. 23:24-25)
Or, of course, the ability to divorce any of your several wives by simply giving her a bill of divorcement because she displeased you. (Deut. 24:1-4)
There are lots of such laws. Iím sure you get my point. Are we willing to advocate that New Covenant Christians study and keep all these commands in order to achieve holiness?
Again, it was never the Gentile law. It was never the Churchís law. It is a dead and finished law that went into the grave with Christ. And, when He rose from the dead, He left those ordinances behind, starting the New Covenant of life and righteousness by faith.
There is also a teaching running through the Church world that says that the one things God demands is obedience. But, thatís not true. The Pharisees, the leaders of Israel who were committed to achieving righteousness by obedience to the Law asked, ìWhat shall we do that we might work the works of God?î
Jesus did not say, ìBe obedient to the law.î
ìJesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.î (John 6:30)
God requires faith, without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). Faith can save disobedient children. Obedience cannot save faithless people.
The contrast between the Law and grace is that the Law says, ëDo it and live. Fail to keep it perfectly, constantly, completely, and you die.í
Christís message is not ìDo it and live.î His message is, ìLive. I have done it.î
Christ died to free His people from the yoke of bondage, and we ñ as His representatives ñ should never be encouraging people take back that yoke.
Now, many people confuse the Law with the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are not the whole Law. But, they attempt to impose the Ten Commandments on the Church, as though that is a sufficient substitute for performing the whole Law.
Only nine of the ten commands are repeated in the New Testament. But, they are not even repeated verbatim. Christ adjusts some of them. He was undeniably a Sabbath breaker. He was the Lord of the Sabbath.
ìFor the son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.î (Mat. 12:8)
He was the new lawgiver for the Church. Having eliminated the need to run to Moses for sanctification, He laid out the new law of love and personal liberty. He was the end of the Law of Moses because He was superior to the Law of Moses.
ìA new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.î (John 13:34)
Iíve always found it interesting that when Jesus was asked which command of God was the greatest, He answered with the first of the Ten, and a command that was buried away in the minutiae of the law.
ìThen one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.î (Matt. 22:35-40)
Jesus went to Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18.
But, again, He saw Himself as above the Law. He redefined it according to His new, better covenant. He said, ìYou have heard it saidÖî and He would quote from Moses. Then, He would say, ìBut, I say unto youÖî and He would lay down His standard.
ìYe have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.î (Mat. 5:19-20)
He did not instruct people to follow the Ten Commandments. He asserted His own standard for His New Covenant people. He went past external actions ñ which were the standard for Moses ñ into the intentions of the heart. No longer could men look righteous on the outside while being ìdead menís bones and all uncleannessî on the inside. The external actions of the Law were undermined by the superior standard of the One who knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
Now, let me ask ñ is the Law holy? Yes, indeed. Is the commandment just? Absolutely. Are the Ten Commandments reflective of Godís will for Israel and a window into the mind of God? Yes, definitely.
But, are the Ten Commandments the standard we are to impose on the conscience of Christians as a means of establishing a personal holiness, in order to make us clean enough to be accepted in Godís presence? No, no, no.
Christ did that for us. We are ìaccepted in the beloved.î We are not accepted because we cleaned up our ìwhite washed sepulchers.î
Okay, fundamental theology 101 ñ
The first tables of stone ñ called the Tables of the Covenant, the physical emblem of Godís exclusive covenant with Israel (Ex. 34:28) ñ were carved out of stone and written on by God (Ex. 32:16). They were Godís commands, created by God and levied by God. But, those commandments were broken. Israel failed to conform to them. Likewise, the first tables of stone were broken when Moses came down from the mountain and saw them worshipping a golden calf (Ex. 32:19).
Now, thatís important. The first Law was broken, and the first tables of stone were broken. But, God did not leave Israel in their miserable estate. Moses went back up onto the mountain and God gave him a new directive. He told Moses to carve tablets out of the rock (Ex. 34:1). God wrote His commands on those stone, carved by the hands of a man, a covenant for Israel (Ex. 34:27-28).
As soon as God handed down His law, embodied in the Tablets of Stone, they were immediately broken over the Children of Israel because of their sin. But, the second Tablets of Stone, cut by a man and written by God, remained intact. The point? The first law was broken because of sin, but the second law, hewn by a man (Christ) was fulfilled and kept entirely.
And, that brings us back to Joshua - What is the point of Joshuaís story?
Briefly, Moses died. Moses was the embodiment of the Law. The Law could not lead Israel into their promised land, flowing with milk and honey. So, Moses was replaced. When Israel marched through the Red Sea, they were all ñ as a nation ñ baptized into Mosesí Law (1Cor. 10:2). But again, the Law could not deliver them.
They needed a new deliverer and a new baptism. So, God raised up Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew contraction of the name of God, Jehovah-oshua, which means ìGod with us,î or ìGod will deliver.î The Greek cognate of that name is ìJesus.î So, when the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary about her impending pregnancy, he said, ìThou shalt call his name Jesus [Jehovah saves/Joshua] for he shall save his people from their sins.î (Mat. 1:21)
Joshua, then, is the type of Christ in the deliverance of Israel to the Promised Land, the type of Heaven. The first generation, though, that was baptized into Moses, died during the forty-year journey in the wilderness. It was the second generation, the ones with the new deliverer, who actually made it all the way home.
But, before they could enter that land, they needed a new baptism. This is great. When they approached the Jordan River, it was at flood stage. Not good for crossing. Starting at Joshua 3:11, it reads -
ìBehold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.î
We have to talk about the ark. The golden box had three things inside it. The first object was the two Tables of Stone that were hewn by Moses and written with the finger of God. The second object was a golden cup with Manna. And, the third item was Aaronís rod that budded (Heb. 9:4).
Now, why were those three things in there? They typify the Trinity, but they all speak of Christ. The intact Law is a type of Godís righteous standard, but it was fulfilled in the finished work of Christ. The rod that budded was a type of resurrection, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, and proven by Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). And, Christ identified Himself with the Bread from Heaven that Israel ate for forty years, the sustenance that brought them to the Promised Land (John 6:31-35). Father, Son and Spirit, all wrapped up in One: Christ.
There was also a ìkappereth,î or covering over the top of the Ark, which is the root of our English word ìatonement.î Christ is the covering, by grace, that makes atonement for us and protects us from the Holy judgment of God, which the elements inside the box would require. Men cannot stand before the thrice-holy God without atonement, a covering.
So, Joshua told the men of Israel, one from each tribe, to prepare to pass over Jordan. But, first the priests had to carry the Ark, the type of Christ, before them.
ìNow therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.î (vs. 12-13)
Thereís a great contrast here, not to be missed. When the Children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, Moses told them to stand still and observe the deliverance of the Lord. He raised Aaronís rod (the one that later budded), and the sea parted before the first Israelite started walking. But, this time it was different. This time God required faith. They had seen his miracles for forty years, eaten His manna, and worn shoes that never wore out. They had to march toward the roaring torrent, confident that God would act or they would drown. And, as soon as the soles of the their feet hit the water, it was abated.
So cool. Faith in action.
ìAnd it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people;î (v. 14)
Now, follow the action. Christ went before them.
ìAnd as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.î (v.15-17)
Then, the ark waited in the middle of the dry passageway, and all the children of Israel, in order to reach the Promised Land, had to pass through the ark. Then, with the Ark still in the middle, they followed Godís command to collect twelve large stones, one for each tribe, to make a memorial of that event.
By the way, about twelve years ago, following the pottery trail through the wilderness from Egypt through Sinai, there were archeological digs at Mt. Ebo that unearthed Joshuaís pillar stones. Itís the oldest Biblical archeological find so far. But, it proves the story. Stones from the middle of the Jordan River were propped up as an altar on the shore.
Anyway, the end of the story is:
ìFor the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.î (Josh 4:10-11)
The Ark of the Lord, the type of Christ, went before the second generation of Israel, leading them into their promised inheritance. It waited in the midst of Jordan, the type of death, as every single one of His people crossed over, safe and secure. And, when the last of them had passed over, the ark passed over, sealing their redemption, finishing the promise to Abraham, and completing the typology of our redemption.
Christ led the way to Heaven, going before us. He will gather His church to Himself at the rapture, standing between Heaven and Earth until each of us is crossed over, and He will come up behind us, securing our eternal promised inheritance.
So, whatís the message of Joshua? Is it to keep the law? We are not Israel. We were never under the Law of Moses. We are free from any law that would condemn us. We are children of salvation, atonement, redemption and freedom.
And, what about our righteousness? We are made righteous by the finished work of our elder brother, who paved the way for our eternal journey. And, do we need to work to be perfect, ìhagios,î separated, holy, sanctified? No, He accomplished that, too ñ
ìFor by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.î (Heb. 10:14)
Whether itís Joshua or Paul, the message is the same. Whatever we need to approach God and find sufficient grace for our standing, we find in Christ and His finished work. The Law of Moses served to condemn Israel, but the Messiah took that law to the grave. Those who are found in Christ not only have their sins forgiven, but their perfection is accomplished, wholly and completely, in His atoning work, covering us and protecting us from anything or anyone that seeks to condemn us.
We cannot work out our own righteousness, and it is both confusing and dangerous to encourage people to clean themselves via the Law, personal performance, or works of the flesh. We are to rest (the New Covenant parallel to the Sabbath) in His finished work.
After all, we are here to preach Christ, my brother. We are not here to give people a false hope or to encourage fleshly effort. We are to live and worship in the Spirit of Truth. Christ is the key. Christ is the truth and the life. Christ is the whole of our message.
Even Joshua would agree.
|Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 8:39 pm: || |
Pheeki, I'd say it's about time to call or visit your mom.........................
|Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 8:12 am: || |
Yes, thanks so much!!!!! I am enjoying reading everything!
|Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 8:13 am: || |
Thanks Pheeki! I've gotten sidetracked in recent days, bu theres still 3 more left to the study. Stay tuned!
|Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 8:26 am: || |
I want to say also I am so thrilled to have everything that I have had come together for me these last 4 1/2 years now complied and documented so I don't have to go to my Bible with all the post-it notes sticking out of it.