Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Christian and the Law

The Christian and the Law: by Tim Etherington

This is a great little post explaining a 50000 foot level view of the role of the law in the Christian life. Enjoy.

Tim says:
Recently I taught on Colossians 2:16-17 and we talked about the relationship between the Christian and the law. What I wanted to do was to point out that the issue of the Sabbath is important and is handled in different ways by Bible believing Christians. For me that opened the question of how we understand the relationship between the Christian and the Law. I decided to do some broad overviews. Here’s what I presented.

The law is for Israel not the Church. Israel and the Church are two different entities in God’s program. Israel is under the Law, the Church is under the grace. If something from the Old Testament is not repeated in the New Testament, it is not part of the New Covenant. When Israel rejected Jesus, God turned to the Gentiles to make the Jews jealous. God is not done with Israel; the Church age is a pause or parenthesis in God’s work with Israel after which he will once again deal with Israel. When revival comes to the Jewish people, they will return to the Law but in many ways it will be ceremonial. When Dispensationalism reads Colossians 2:16-17, they see a vindication of their system. The Sabbath is part of the Law and should not be observed by Gentiles.

New Covenant Theology (NCT) isn’t a new version of Covenant Theology, it is a theology that focuses most strongly on the New Covenant. Stresses the supremacy of the New Covenant. The Law was fulfilled in Jesus and we are now under the Law of Christ. Jesus articulated the supersession of the Old Covenant law in the Sermon on the Mount. The Ten Commandments passed away with the Old Covenant. Like Dispensationalism, if a command is not repeated it is not binding so NCT sees Colossians 2:16-17 as an affirmation that the Sabbath is not part of the New Covenant.

Covenant Theology (CT) recognizes that God relates to mankind in covenants. In the garden, Adam and Eve were in covenant with God and they broke it. After the fall, God instituted a new covenant, the Covenant of Grace whereby he promised a savior to humanity. All of the covenants after that were administrations of that Covenant of Grace therefore there is unity between the covenants. What is not repealed or fulfilled in the Law is still binding. The Ten Commandments are part of God’s moral law, the law written on people’s hearts and is therefore applicable always. When CT reason Colossians 2:16-17, they see the Sabbath here not as the weekly Sabbath instituted at creation but in conjunction with the feasts and New Moons. In the ceremonial part of the law, there were additional Sabbaths that went with specific days. Those were a shadow of Christ.

What I said in the end was that whatever comes to us by way of rule or law comes to us through Jesus. So we don’t simply pick up the Sabbath rules from the law of Moses and directly apply them in the New Covenant. There is a Sabbath for God’s people but that doesn’t mean it looks just like it did in all the other covenants.

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