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WHY NOT ANOTHER LEVITICUS

May 4, 2009

(Post 3 of 3)
Is there something to be learned by Your choice to communicate Your new covenant in narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle? Why not a list? Why not another Leviticus?

ntlevLaw is still doing its thing but through Christ…

  • You have supplied an answer for our breaking of it.
  • You have liberated us from its consequences.
  • You have freed us from the law of sin and death.
  • You have made us righteous in spite of our unrighteousness.
  • Sin no longer separates the believer from You.
  • The blood of the cross is perpetually cleansing us when we sin.
  • Your judgment is turned away by His atoning sacrifice.

As we lovingly serve You our desire is to grow in our knowledge of You and what You want us to be and do. Our sincere yet incomplete efforts and knowledge are offered as a statement of our love for You but these efforts will always be imperfect and in need of growth. That’s the point! We will never be judged righteous by obedience! We will only be made righteous through the blood of Christ.

We were not able to keep the old covenant list and we couldn’t keep a new covenant list if we had one so why create another delineated list, a New Testament Leviticus, for us to disobey?

Instead You’ve given us narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle containing Your will for us.

  • You look for us to show our love for You and others as a result of knowing gospel’s story.
  • You observe our motives more than our grasp of Your law of liberty.
  • You patiently observe our sincere yet imperfect efforts through the sacrifice of Christ.
  • You watch our hearts for the things that matter while we respond to you in love.
  • You tell us to strive for perfection while also telling us to trust Jesus in our imperfections
  • You tell us not to live in sin while forgiving the sin we commit
  • You give us law to obey and examples to follow within the narrative while emphasizing that Jesus is the liberator of the disobedient.
  • You tell us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God while reminding us that God is love and perfect love cast out fear.

Our effort to obey Your will is not in vain, it’s simply and absolutely inadequate as a means of creating righteous.

As You have explained, You remain true to Your nature of righteousness and justice while at the same time being merciful to us through the atoning death of Christ.

21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Rom 3:21-26

In Christ, the believer experiences a righteousness of God apart form law.
In Christ, the believer experiences a righteousness of God through faith in Him.
In Christ, the believer is freely justified by God’s grace.
In Christ, the believer is justified through the redemption that came by Him.
In Christ, the believer is justified by the atoning sacrifice of Christ through faith in His blood.
In Christ, God is just because of the atoning sacrifice of His blood.
In Christ, God is the justifier because of the atoning sacrifice of His blood


Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

The law of liberty is a unique law:

  • Our breaking of it has been assumed and its judgments have been paid for those who believe in Christ.
  • The law of liberty is law whose penalty has been paid
  • The law of liberty is imperfectly obeyed while trusting the perfection of Christ
  • Our attempts to obey the law of liberty are the expression of hearts of gratitude and love for what You have done in Your story.

I think there is something to be learned by Your choice to communicate Your new covenant in narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle? Why not a list? Why not another Leviticus?

Jesus is the star of the new covenant story, not us!

  • In the new covenant the work of Jesus trumps our work
  • In the new covenant, through Christ liberty trumps law
  • In the new covenant, through Christ grace trumps guilt
  • In the new covenant, through Christ love trumps imperfection


 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Gal 2:19-2

23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Gal 3:23-25

WHY NOT ANOTHER LEVITICUS?

April 28, 2009

(Post 2 of 3)
Is there something to be learned by Your choice to communicate Your new covenant in narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle? Why not a list? Why not another Leviticus?

In the old covenant it appears that You’ve told “Law’s Story”. You’ve described life with a Leviticus or a list. The moral of that story is that “it doesn’t work because man will always disobey.” As I watch the rest of the story unfold in the new covenant it’s “Liberty’s Story” You tell. The moral of this story seems to be that “Christ makes it work.”

 Lord, that brings me to what I think is an anchoring point for the answer to the question I’ve asked. It’s something Jesus said in what we call the Sermon on the Mount:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
                                                                                              Matthew 5:17-20 

 So, Jesus didn’t come to destroy the list. In fact I’ve found nothing that leads me to the conclusion that You are adverse to law, or commands in any way. In fact the opposite is true. For example here is a list of things You said when you were here:

  • Break least command = least in the kingdom (Matthew 5:19)
  • Teach someone to break least command = least in the kingdom (Matthew 5:19)
  • We are not to break Your command for the sake of our created tradition (Matthew 15:3ff; Mark 7:6ff)
  • A person who wants to enter life is told to obey the commandments (Matthew 19:17ff; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20ff)
  • The greatest commandments are the commands to totally love God and love neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36ff; Mark 12:28ff)
  • The apostles were given a charge to teach others to obey the commands they had been commanded to obey (Matthew 28:20)
  • Jesus obeyed the commands from His Father (John 1:31)
  • Jesus spoke the commands of His Father which lead to eternal life (John 12:9-50)
  • The charge of Jesus to love one another as He has love us is called a command (John 13:34; 15:12, 17)
  • If you love Jesus you obey His commands (John 14:15-21)
  • We obey Jesus’ commands and remain in His Love (John 15:10)
  • Jesus obeys His Father’s commands and remain in His love (John 15:10)
  • We are Jesus’ friend if we do what He commands (John 15:14)
  • And much more of the same as the story of the church is told.

 In this I see that You have not abolished all commands to be obeyed and laws to be followed. So, why not a list so I can be sure not to miss or misunderstand anything.

 Lord, I’m thinking the answer might be found in the timing? From Christ’s death until now we’ve lived in a time where “Law’s Impact” on the believer has changed. When we hear the story of Your Son and what You sent Him here to do we hear about “Law’s Power To Condemn Us” being destroyed. In essence it appears that You sent Christ here to make law impotent in the life of those who love You.

 In Christ You have set the believer free of the only power law possesses:

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set
me free from the law of sin and death
.
Rom 8:1ff

 In Christ, the believer doesn’t die when he disobeys Your law or when he sins!

 Lord, I need to think about that a little more but I think I’m getting closer to an answer!

 (to be continued)

WHY NOT ANOTHER LEVITICUS?

April 21, 2009

(Post 1 of 3)
ntlevLord, what am I to learn from Your choice to communicate Your new covenant in narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle? Why not another Leviticus?

What do you have in mind? The new covenant arrangement You’ve set for mankind is obviously a profound and significant arrangement. Its importance is seen in its having been ushered in by the death of Your Son. It obviously must not be taken lightly. It offers to us the highly coveted relationship with You now as well as throughout all eternity. Therefore, there’s a lot riding on our understanding this covenant.

 So I look through your word for the specifics, details; a list if you will. Well, I must say that what I find hasn’t satisfied that search. Instead, what I find is a beautiful story of Your Son having come from heaven to be born of a young virgin. Then, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, He spends three years traveling, training, loving, forgiving, healing, amazing and teaching the masses that gather and especially the twelve. Everyone seems to have some real challenges understanding some of the things He says. This part of the story concludes with Your Son’s death burial and resurrection. The story continues with some amazing accounts of the efforts of the 12 and the dynamic new group of believers who explode onto the scene. Your work through them results in a movement of thousands of believers in Christ who are willing to die if necessary for that belief. But, there is still no list to be found. As I continue, I read the letters written to individuals and congregations where specific issues are discussed by your emissaries. These are letters which communicate some specifics along with a few lists of dos and don’ts but nothing close to a comprehensive list. Then there is the book of Revelation which presents a prophetic picture of the followers of Christ being victorious even though they experience the severest persecution. I must admit I find it a “little” overwhelming trying to get my mind around all of the imagery of this revelation. There is still no list.

I’m not finding what I’m really looking for so…

  • What happens if I read the Bible and miss something?
  • What if I don’t know the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek well enough?
  • What if the local customs of the first century confuse me?
  • What if I add the passage from here to a passage over there and then bring them together with another passage over here and they add up to error?
  • What if my major premise plus my minor premise add up to a false conclusion?
  • What if I enter my Bible study with a false premise I’m unaware of?
  • What if I’ve been taught by imperfect people who have come to some incorrect conclusions?
  • What happens if I trip as I travel from the first century to the 21st with the most important message ever delivered?
  • What happens if my clumsy, yet diligent, sincere search for the right leaves me unprepared for the most profound of consequences?

Is there something to be learned by Your choice to communicate Your new covenant in narrative, poetry, prophesy and epistle? Why not a list?

 (…to be continued)

The Son Came Out Today

April 5, 2009

The sun came out again today, still as bright as ever and still revealing the beautiful and hideous. All day there is the illumination of the awe inspiring splendor of nature as well as the disappointing results of decay. As the sun shines we will also identify the safe places to walk and we will recognize the dangerous places to avoid.

 

Then the sun will set and we will know only what we have seen in the light by the impressions left in our memories. The beauty we recall still remains, only hidden from our view by the darkness and the same is true of the decay. The safe places to walk are also still at our feet but the walk in hazardous because we can no longer distinguish the safe from the dangerous. Oh how I need the sun!

 

The Son came out again today, still as bright as ever and still revealing the beautiful and hideous. All day there is the illumination of the awe inspiring splendor of God’s glory as well as the disappointing results of evil. As the Son shines we will also identify the safe places to walk and we will recognize the dangerous places to avoid.

 

If the Son sets we will know only what we have seen in His light by the impressions left in our memories. The beauty we recall still remains, only hidden from our view by the darkness and the same is true of the decay. The safe places to walk are also still at our feet but the walk is hazardous because we can no longer distinguish the safe from the dangerous. Oh how I need the Son!

 

THE SWEET “PLANT LADY”

March 12, 2009

plantladyI’m currently in that quandary that occurs every year at this time. I’m envious of my neighbor’s lawns. When I see their newly planted trees reaching up to the sky all green and full I’m inspired to give it the ole college try, again. I love their colorful annuals and I really like the manicured lawns edged with tweezers and scissors and lined with red mulch as though everything had been set off with a redwood frame. It’s beautiful!

I want a yard like theirs! That brings me to the “Plant Lady.” She is a wonderful lady who has one of those yards I lust for. She is doing her annual cleaning out, adding new and trimming up which leaves her with extra plants she, “hates to throw away;” banana trees, iris plants, and some other things with big green leaves. So I fill the back of my SUV with her generosity and then off to Lowes I go. I buy top soil, “red” mulch and believe it or not I bought 300 pounds of cow poop. That’s right cow poop! Actually, this part was kind of fun. Guys, you know what I mean; isles and isles of saws, shovels, mowers, grills….( I’ve got to stop, I’m getting dizzy.) Now I have everything I’m going to need for the job. I don’t even mind unloading the hundreds of pounds of bagged stuff I’ve bought.

 But, this soon turns into work! It’s at this point that I feel the pains of “Spring Remorse.” That feeling that asks the question, “What have you done stupid?” I realize that I’ve gone too far to turn back. I can’t tell the sweet “Plant Lady” that I want to give her plants back. I can’t tell my sweet wife that I am too much of a sissy to dig a couple of holes and plant a few “little ole” plants. And by this time I have more of my manhood invested than I’m willing to walk away from.

 Well, I’ve made some progress. I spent a half a day digging up grass to make a flowerbed in the back yard. Then, I literally drag my filthy, sweaty, exhausted body into a hot bathtub and collapse into the soothing waters. But while I am lying there I am hearing the voices in my head saying over and over again, “All of this work and you haven’t planted the first plant. What have you done? What have you done? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??????” (Well, that’s a little over the top but I hope it helps for effect.)

 Did I mention that I have planted three trees since I moved here over three years ago and all of them have died? That’s right! Not only is this more work than I ever intended to get into but my guess is that it’s all going to burn up in the hot Mississippi sun. I guess I could quit and forget the whole thing but it just doesn’t seem right.

 Lord, have you ever experienced a “Spiritual Remorse.” Are there times when You consider the incredible amount of hard work and sacrifice You’ve invested in me and asked Yourself, “What have I done?” Do you ever recall the millions and millions of blessings, thousands and thousands of restarts, unlimited sacrifice, endless love, out pouring of your Spirit, disciplining me, challenging, lifting me, reproving me, forgiving, etc. etc. etc. and ask, “What have I done? What have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE??????” Especially when you recall that I often allow the potential of all of this generosity and love to die within me from neglect.

 I’m hoping that this year the “Plant Lady’s” faith in me will not be disappointed. I’m really going to work hard and keep looking for some blooms and green leaves to show You (Lord) for YOUR generosity.  I’ll keep working on the soil.

 Wow, this gardening thing is a lot of hard work isn’t it!

I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN! “SORT OF”

November 25, 2008

ARE WE NUTS!?!?road_to_heaven

Have you heard us talk about heaven like it’s an undesirable option in a list?

WHAT!?!?

Can you believe that we would actually put “Going To Heaven” in a list of other things:

  • There’s the, “I want to see my children grow up first.”
  • Then for those who are older there’s the, “I want to see my grand children grow up first.”
  • There’s also the, “I want to accomplish my dream of __________ then I’ll be ready to go to heaven.”
  • Etc.

YEP, WE’RE NUTS!!!!

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tellI am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 
                                                                                         (Phil. 1:21-24)

IS PAUL NUTS!?!?

NOPE!!!!
Just ready to go to heaven when God is finished with him.

CHOOSING A ROUTE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS

November 17, 2008

signsOur desire for everything to be “black and white” has taken us down a road that is hard to navigate. When we come to the forks in the road we want there to be an arrow pointing in the “correct” direction.

It appears to me that life is very often more a matter of choosing a route for different reasons. For example if I am on my way home and the Colts are going to be on TV playing the Titans in 10 minutes then I need to find the quickest way home. But, if I have just finished a great meal at my favorite restaurant with my favorite lady and the sun is setting in the sky then I need to take a slow drive down Hwy. 90 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and enjoy the moment. Or, if my little grand kids are in the car then I need to randomly drive from place to place looking for things they would like to see like cows, horses and pretty things with lots of color and pizzazz. In each of three scenarios I am going home but the routes are very different and for good reason.

Some would consider rushing home for the Colts Titans game to be foolish and such a misplacing of priorities. Others would correct my waste of money eating out and the total silliness of traveling Hwy 90 down the beach when it would have been much “better” to take I-10. Still others would wonder if I am nuts for not rushing straight home so I could get the noisy kids, who are arguing in the back seat out of the car and sent to the play room where we don’t have to hear them, rather than searching for cows.

It seems to me that there is something in the relationship between God and ourselves that is right with living this way. God has intentionally not given instructions for a hard right or left hand turn at every intersection. There are times when things are measured differently. There are the measurements of choosing between the good, the better of the best. Then there are the choices between the right and the wrong. But, there are also the choices that fall in between the good, the good and the good. There are the decisions that are made because of the need not because of the efficiency, the feeling not because of the accuracy.

Somewhere in there are the things we do to serve and to express love. …the things that are not practical but need to be done. …the things that are not reflections of our knowledge but reflections of our spirit. …the things that are not a reflection of our convictions but rather reflect the joy of our own blessed life.