The Value Of The Old Testament

“Jesus exalted the law of God, and made its importance more evident even than it had been before. In a word, ‘He magnified the law and made it honorable’ (Isaiah 42:21). …

“Let us beware of despising the Old Testament under any pretense whatever. Let us never listen to those who bid us throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the embryo of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud. The New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade. The New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. …

“Let us, for another thing, beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments. Let us not suppose for a moment that it is set aside by the Gospel, or that Christians have nothing to do with it. The coming of Christ did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breadth. If anything, it exalted and raised their authority (Romans 3:31). …

“In the last place, let us beware of supposing that the Gospel has lowered the standard of personal holiness, and that the Christian is not intended to be as strict and particular about his daily life as the Jew. … The more light we have, the more we ought to love God. The more clearly we see our own complete and full forgiveness in Christ, the more heartily we ought to work for His glory. …

“Jesus shows us that the law, as expounded by Him, was a far more spiritual and heart-searching rule than most of the Jews supposed.” —J.C. Ryle, in Expository Thoughts On The Gospels

10 Quotes From “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of 49 sermons from Eugene Peterson. Check out my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that caught my attention.

“The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence—congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.”

“Science and religion are opposites, the way your thumb and forefinger are opposites: if you are going to get a grip on things, you need them both.”

“Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.”

“Naming an event a miracle doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It means we can’t anticipate it. It means we can’t reproduce it. We cannot control it. There is more going on then we can comprehend.”

“There are people today who mistakenly look at those [Ten] Commandments as restrictive, not realizing that for those who first heard them—and for those who hear them still, in faith—they provide for and preserve the values of the free life. The reality and truth of God is protected from commercialization and manipulation. Human life is honored. The dignity of work is protected. Close personal relationships are preserved. Truth is respected. Each of the commands articulates a reality and a value that protects a free life.”

“Aaron made a god, a golden calf. At that moment Aaron quit being their pastor and became their accomplice. There are some people who are always looking for a religion that makes no demands and offers only rewards, a religion that dazzles and entertains, a religion in which there is no waiting and no emptiness. And they can usually find someone like Aaron who will help them make it up, some sort of golden calf religion.”

“Acts of love cannot be canned and then used off the shelf. Every act of love requires creative and personal giving, responding, and serving appropriate to—context specific to—both the person doing the loving and the person being loved.”

“Our habit is to talk about God, not to Him. We love discussing God. The psalms resist these discussions. They are not provided to teach us about God but to train us in responding to Him.”

“The Christian life is not, in the first place, something we do. It consists of the healthy and mature formation of our lives by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Christian living goes off the rails badly when it is conceived as a program or routine that we engage in or skills that we master.”

“In prayer we do not act. God does. In prayer we do not develop a technology that sets the gears and pulleys of miracle in motion. We participate in God’s action. ‘Not my will but Yours.’”

Book Reviews From 2014

Good Coveting

Covet GodIf we simply state the last of the Ten Commandments like this—You shall not covet—we have missed the true intention of that commandment. You see, God created us to covet. The issue is not if we will covet, but what we will covet.

The word covet means (1) long for greatly, (2) take pleasure in, or (3) find desirable. Throughout the Old Testament this word is used twice as many times in the positive sense as in the negative. The Bible, in fact, encourages us to covet after a deeper relationship with God; to covet God’s ways; to covet our spouse … to covet all of the good and moral things God created for us.

The tenth commandment prohibits us from coveting immorally.

If we restate the first commandment like this—I am the Lord your God. You shall covet a relationship with Me alone—then we will immediately be able to obey all of the other commandments. But if we break the tenth commandment by coveting things other than God, we are liable to break every commandment.

Check this out:

  • Adam & Eve—their immoral coveting led to violating commandments 1, 5 and 8.
  • Achan—his immoral coveting led to violating commandments 2, 8 and 6.
  • David—his immoral coveting led to violating commandments 7, 8, 9 and 6.
  • Judas Iscariot—his immoral coveting led to violating commandments 1, 9, 3 and 6.

Augustine said, “I call the love to God the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God.” Coveting God is good!

We were made to covet Him. satan wants us to covet our neighbor’s house, spouse, lifestyle, and possessions, but if we listen to him, we will end up miserable.

God coveting = good coveting!

The 10 Commandments In The New Testament

I have heard far too many people say, “The laws of the Old Testament were for ‘back then.’ We live in the New Testament era, so those laws don’t apply to us any longer.” This is a blatant disregard of facts.

Not only are every single one of the Ten Commandments reiterated in the New Testament, they are also amplified. Consider this example: Under the Old Testament law, as long as I hadn’t slept with someone other than my wife I hadn’t broken the 7th commandment (do not commit adultery). Jesus not only reiterated that 7th commandment, but He amplified it to say my lustful thoughts toward someone not my wife made me a violator of that commandment.

Here’s the list of the commandments reiterated and amplified—

10 Commandments In The New Testament

You may download a PDF version of this chart here → 10 Commandments In The New Testament

 

From The Cutting Room Floor: The Love In The Law

Love In The LawWhenever I am working on a series of messages, I always end up with way more material than I could possibly share. But it’s still really good stuff! I remember a movie director once remarking that some of his best and favorite scenes ended up on the cutting room floor during the movie’s editing process. So here are some of the quotes and thoughts I really liked, recovered from “the cutting room floor” as I prepared our Love In The Law series.

“True obedience to God (not just to lists of laws) means more than outward performances which can be tallied in percentages (like 80 percent obeyed). Rather, true obedience is to be so transformed that we delight to do God’s will at multiple levels. We delight in His will as the excellent expression of His wisdom and justice and love. We delight in personal, close communion with Him as our guide, which we would lose, at least for a season, if we acted against His counsel. We delight in His gift of a clean conscience. We delight in the smile of His approval. We delight in God Himself whom we see and know more clearly when we walk in unbroken fellowship and obedience. We delight in the prospect of ongoing assurance and hope, which is jeopardized and weakened if we gradually slip away from Him in callous disobedience.” —John Piper

I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is with in my heart. —Psalm 40:8

“To detect ourselves thus balancing a transgression here, against many observances there, ought at once to startle us into the conviction that the whole principle of our lives must be faulty. Our aim is, not to love God, or to obey Him, but to get to heaven, or at least escape hell, on the cheapest terms.” —Alfred Plummer

“Our will is morally and spiritually flawed. Nevertheless we are responsible to do the commandments of God. The moral corruption that cripples us does not relieve us of our responsibility to do what is right and good to do.” —John Piper

“I call the love to God the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God.” —Augustine

“If thou neglect thy love to thy neighbor, in vain thou professest thy love to God; for by thy love to God, the love to thy neighbor is begotten, and by thy love to thy neighbor, thy love to God is nourished.” —Francis Quarles

“A pennyweight o’ love is worth a pound o’ law.” —Scottish Proverb

It pleased the Lord for the sake of His righteousness to make His law great and glorious. —Isaiah 42:21

12 Quotes From “Keeping The Ten Commandments”

Keeping The Ten CommandmentsJ.I. Packer wrote a very readable, but scholarly, book examining how 21st-century people should live out the biblical Ten Commandments. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes below.

“God’s love gave us the law just as His love gave us the gospel, and as there is no spiritual life for us save through the gospel, which points us to Jesus Christ the Savior, so there is no spiritual health for us save as we seek in Christ’s strength to keep the law and practice the love of God and neighbor for which it calls.”

“Where the law’s moral absolutes are not respected, people cease to respect either themselves or each other; humanity is deformed, and society slides into the killing decadence of mutual exploitation and self-indulgence.”

“The negative form of the Commandments has positive implications. ‘Where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded’ (Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 99). The negative form was needed at Sinai (as in the West today) to curb current lawlessness that threatened both godliness and national life.” 

“Moral permissiveness, supposedly so liberating and fulfilling, is actually wounding and destructive: not only of society (which God’s law protects), but also of the lawless individual, who gets coarsened and reduced as a person every time.”

“Law-keeping is that life for which we were fitted by nature, unfitted by sin, and refitted by grace, the life God loves to see and reward; and for that life liberty is the proper name.”

“The Bible, however, takes promises very seriously; God demands full faithfulness of our vows. Why? Partly because trustworthiness is part of His image, which He wants to see in us; partly because without it society falls apart.”

“We honor God by respecting His image in each other, which means consistently preserving life and furthering each other’s welfare in all possible ways.”

“We have in us capacities for fury, fear, envy, greed, conceit, callousness, and hate that, given the right provocation, could make killers out of us all. … When the fathomless wells of rage and hatred in the normal human heart are tapped, the results are fearful.”

“When you lie to put someone down, it is malice; when you lie to impress, move, and use him, and to keep him from seeing you in a bad light, it is pride.”

“Reformed theologians said that God’s law has three uses or functions: first, to maintain order in society; second, to convince us of sin and drive us to Christ for life; third, to spur us on in obedience, by means of its standards and its sanctions, all of which express God’s own nature.”

“What is God’s ideal? A God-fearing community, marked by common worship (commandments 1, 2, 3) and an accepted rhythm of work and rest (commandment 4), plus an unqualified respect for marriage and the family (commandments 5, 7), for property and owner’s rights (commandments 8, 10), for human life and each man’s claim on our protection (commandment 6), and for truth and honesty in all relationships (commandment 9).”

“When God’s values are ignored, and the only community ideal is permissiveness, where will moral capital come from once the Christian legacy is spent? How can national policy ever rise above material self-interest, pragmatic and unprincipled? How can internal collapse be avoided as sectional interests, unrestrained by any sense of national responsibility, cut each other down? How can an overall reduction, indeed destruction, of happiness be avoided when the revealed way of happiness, the ‘God first, others next, self last’ of the Commandments, is rejected? The prospects are ominous. May God bring us back to Himself and to the social wisdom of His Commandments before it is too late.”

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