3 Qualities of the 10 Commandments

The last few posts have given us a good foundation from which we may begin to understand the purpose and use of the commandments. If you haven’t read those posts, I recommend going back and checking them out before reading on.

The 3 Qualities

Now as we begin to discuss the first of the Ten Commandments, we need to keep in mind three things that come with every commandment:

  1. The Requirement of the Command
  2. The Blessing of the Command
  3. The Perversion of the Command

The Requirement

The most natural thing to understand about the commandments is that they require something of us. It becomes our duty to please God in a particular way.

Now, if you remember some of my previous posts on Law & Gospel you are probably objecting “I thought we do not have to do anything?”. You would be correct in a sense. As we go through the Commandments you will find, as you likely already know, that it is impossible for us to keep any one of these commands perfectly. That is because it is not our place to be keeping them. As the Anglican theologian Richard Sibbes once said:

God knoweth we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requireth no more than he giveth, and giveth what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth.

That is to say, God gives us the ability to fulfill all that He requires of us, and He does this through the faith He grants us. So whenever you hear God say “Thou shalt…” the Christian would rightly respond “I will, by God’s help”. Anything else is simply nothing at all.

The Blessing

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul; to keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his ordinances, all that I charge you today, that it may be well with you?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (LXX2012)

A less obvious quality of the Commandments are the blessings which come with them. Every command brings with it a promise of God. Not a promise to help us fulfill the command as mentioned above. But a promised aid in our life.

When parents require their children to do their homework, this is certainly a command. But it is also a blessing. It brings with it the lessons of hard work, discipline, and education. In this way, each commandment brings with it a unique gift from our Blessed Lord.

The Perversion

You son of the devil, full of all deceit and all cunning, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Acts 13:10 (WEB)

Finally, every command brings with it a perversion of Satan. Satan cannot create anything, for God created all things and He made them good. To get around this, Satan perverts the good things God gives us into terrible hateful things.

We, humans, have no need to learn the art of perverting the commands. We are already very gifted at this. But it is important to recognize the perversion because often the perversion hides the very blessing that would free us from Satan’s grasp at that moment. This he desperately seeks to hide from us. We must see past his illusion into the bright beautiful truth of God’s blessing.

Conclusion

Now that we have a good grasp of the three ways in which each of the commandments are used we are well prepared for the next blog post where we will dive into the first commandment.

Try using these categories and think of some of the ways you have personally seen a commandment used in one of these three ways. Then let me know in the comments below or through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

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3 Ways The Law Applies To Christians Today

Last week, we talked about how the doctrines of Law and Gospel have been horribly misused in the Church today. In order to help prevent further misunderstanding, and to prepare for our upcoming discussion on the Ten Commandments I would like to briefly cover the three uses for the Law today.

The Three Uses of the Law

We know now what the Law is, the teaching of what is pleasing to God and the rebuking of sin. This is a very necessary doctrine and most certainly has its place in the Christian Church. We can also know from the preaching of Jesus Christ, particularly from His Sermon on the Mount, that none of us can perfectly keep this Law. So how are we to use it correctly?

The three ways to use the Law are:

    1. To maintain external discipline in society

The Law serves to show us how to establish a just society. To outlaw and to punish justly certain crimes such as murder, theft, and rape(Deut. 16:20). It also serves to teach how to guard certain rights such as private property, right to justice, fair treatment for poor and rich alike (Isaiah 1:17). We are under no obligation to implement these laws exactly as they are found in Scripture. Only to learn from them the true definition of a just society.

    2. To reveal to us our sin

The second use is as a mirror. The Law reveals to us our sin. Showing us just how sick we truly are and how deep the infection goes (Romans 7:7). Without the Law, we could easily convince ourselves that we are relatively good people deserving of some good in this world and a comfortable place in the next. However, the Law will show us that we are eviler than we ever dreamed in our darkest nightmares. The mobs that run the streets would look like an old lady’s tea party compared to the wretchedness in our hearts (Romans 7:18-20).

The Law reveals this to us that we may be properly prepared for the Gospel. When a person has come to the revelation above, they are ready for the Gospel.

    3. To guide Christians (and only Christians) to the knowledge of what pleases God

The third use of the Law applies only to Christians. It reveals to them what things please God. This has no place in the discussion until a person has received their faith and is among the elect of God (Heb. 116). If you are not saved, the Law is nothing to you but threats. For the unregenerate will follow the Law only out of fear. Yet, even their obedience is a sin to God for it comes not through faith. To reject the sacrifice of the Son of God is so horrible, no good deed could erase it. However, the regenerate, the Christian, would follow the Law from pure love, out of a sole desire to please the God they love (Galatians 1:10). It has nothing at all to do with earning or deserving their salvation. That has already been given them freely. It has everything to do with love for their Savior.

Conclusion

Today we have finished up our mini-series on the doctrines of Law and Gospel by covering in brief the three correct ways to use the Law. Next time we will begin our series on the Ten Commandments.

As always I would love to read your comments below or through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

3 Methods To Misapply Law And Gospel

Last week, we introduced the two great doctrines of the Bible, Law, and Gospel. We also very briefly talked about the correct way to make use of these two doctrines. Unfortunately, most Christians today unintentionally confuse these doctrines, causing great harm. Today we will cover three general ways these doctrines are abused.

The Heresy of Confusion

The great heresy that I believe plagues today’s churches is the confusion of these two great doctrines in the following three ways:

  1. The preaching of the Law only apart from the Gospel
  2. The preaching of the Gospel only apart from the Law
  3. The improper mixing of Law and Gospel

Preaching Law Alone

Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! No, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31 WEB

When pastors only preach the Law, that is, only preach what pleases God and rebuke all sin they leave their congregation either in the depths of despair knowing they can never please God. This was the very state of Judas after betraying our Lord. Or, they leave them in the very hand of Satan, having puffed up their pride making them think they could actually please God by keeping perfectly the Law.

Preaching Gospel Alone

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2 WEB

When pastors only preach the Gospel, that is, teaching that Christ has paid for all sins, he leads his congregation into a life of debauchery and sin. For they become comfortable in their failings and believe that because Christ has paid their debt they may continue in their immoral ways for, surely salvation is free.

Confusing Law and Gospel

In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:16b WEB

These two ways of preaching are usually easy to detect and, for the devout Christian, easy to abandon. However, the true danger lies in the improper mixing of the two. For when pastors mix incorrectly these two doctrines you will hear such things as if you are homosexual you will go to hell, if you commit suicide you are lost, if you do not produce good fruit you are not saved, and if you do not repent you are damned. It tells you that if you doubt your salvation look to your own worry and that alone tells you that you are elect.

I am deeply saddened when I think of how many souls have been robbed of the hope of Christ by these lies. How many people have been fed a false Christianity and therefore abandoned the faith because of this heresy. So I will lay out here what the proper use of the Law and the Gospel are. So that we may quickly recognize these lies and also that we may share the truth with those in desperate need of it.

Conclusion

Today we looked at the three general ways that the Law and the Gospel are misused in the Church today. Next week we will conclude our mini-series on Law an Gospel by discussing the three proper uses of the Law in preparation for talking about the final fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the Ten Commandments.

For now, I would love to hear from you. Are there ways you can see where this confusion of Law and Gospel has been used to confuse or hurt you in your Church? Please feel free to share your story and/or opinions in the comments below or to me directly through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

2 Primary Doctrines of the Bible

Since beginning this blog I have attempted to cover, in brief detail, the fundamental building blocks of the Christian faith. However, I skipped over the traditional first section, the Ten Commandments. The reason for doing so is that the Ten Commandments are associated with, what I believe, is the biggest heresy plaguing the Christian Church today. I wanted to put as much focus as I could on the other doctrines that we may be well prepared to take on this heresy.

The true light of the Ten Commandments has been dimmed greatly in recent years, as many take on the role of a pastor without a thorough understanding of the two great doctrines of the Bible. Though the Bible contains many doctrinal, historical, and scientific facts, its primary purpose is to teach us these two great doctrines. These two great doctrines are the Law and the Gospel (2 Corinthians 7:10).

The Law

According to the Formula of Concord, the Law is defined as:

Teaching what is right and pleasing to God, and rebuking everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will. Everything that rebukes sin is, and belongs to, the Law.

(Ep V:3)

The Gospel

The Gospel is also defined in the Formula of Concord as:

The kind of teaching which shows what a person who has not kept the Law (and therefore is condemned by it) is to believe. It teaches that Christ has paid for and made satisfaction for all sins. Christ has gained for an individual – without any of his own merit – forgiveness of sins, righteousness that avails before God, and eternal life.

(Ep V:5)

Preaching of Repentance

As can be seen in many places in the Bible the Gospel often includes the preaching of repentance (see Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21). This is because the term ‘Gospel’ is often used in a general sense. The preaching of repentance properly belongs to the Law. Therefore, preaching the Gospel is often preceded by the preaching of repentance. It serves as a bridge between the Law and the Gospel.

To the Gospel belongs solely the preaching of consolation and comfort. It points away from our own works to those of Jesus Christ and saving faith which God bestows.

The Right use of Law and Gospel

Therefore true Biblical preaching would follow the general pattern below:

  1. Present the Law revealing the great sin that lies within us (which only the Law can reveal):

Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Acts 2:36 WEB (emphasis added)

2. Then give a call to repentance. For God, through His Word will work a sorrow unto repentance.

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Acts 2:37 WEB

3. Finally, bring comfort to their souls, in its proper time, through the Gospel. Pointing only to the work of Christ.

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”

Acts 2:38-39 WEB (empasis added)

Conclusion

Today we have introduced the two great doctrines of Law and Gospel along with a very general introduction to the proper use of these doctrines. In the next blog post, we will look into the abuses of these great doctrines and how they have harmed many Christians today.

Please feel free to comment below or send me a private email through my Contact Page. It is always a pleasure hearing from my readers.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

3 Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Communion – Part 3

Sacrament of the Altar

Today we continue our series on the Sacrament of the Altar. Last week, we discussed the second way of getting the most out of communion by keeping in mind what benefits we receive. This week we will talk about the third way, that is who is to receive communion. But first, let’s review the passage of scripture we are studying:

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it and broke it. He gave it to the disciples and said, `Take this bread and eat it. It is my body.’ He also took a cup. He thanked God for it. Then he gave it to the disciples and said, `All of you drink from this. This is my blood. My blood is the blood of the new agreement. It is given so that many people will be forgiven for the wrong things they did.

Matthew 26:26-28 WEB

Who is to Receive it?

St. Hilary, otherwise known as the Hammer of the Arians, who lived in the fourth century said, “if anyone has not committed a sin for which he can rightly be out of the congregation and be considered no Christian, he ought not to stay away from the sacrament, lest he should deprive himself of life“.

The command of Christ says “As often as you drink it”. This does not mean that we partake whenever we feel we are weak. But that we are to take it every opportunity that we are given. For as long as we are within this unglorified body, as long as we are within this world we will have the devil constantly bombarding us trying to destroy our faith. Martin Luther of blessed memory said, “No one will live so well that he will not have many daily weaknesses in flesh and blood”.

Now, many good Christians avoid the sacrament because they believe they must rightly prepare themselves for the honor of receiving it. This many times leads them to go for months if not years without this blessed gift. This stems from a very genuine love for Jesus but is a misguided expression of love. We do not abstain from medicine when we are sick so that we may be well enough to take it. Therefore, as long as we have faith enough to trust that what Jesus says is true:

  • That the Sacrament is His body
  • That He forgives my sins
  • That He gives this free gift particularly to me

then we are to approach the holy table and on bended knee receive the one Who died for us. That we may live to Him and be His light in this dark world.

But be warned. Those who willfully stay away from this glorious gift bring just as much judgment on themselves as the one who takes it unworthily. For Christ gave us this gift to be used for the healing of souls. For us to spurn such a gift and say we will have nothing of it is to spurn the very sacrifice of Christ Himself. One who willfully avoids this gift can in no wise be called Christian.

But, he who with weak faith, of his own will, and for his own benefit, comes on his knees before the Throne of his King and receives this medicine may be assured that it will bring him to salvation, into the warm embrace of his Savior. Where no one may pluck him out.

Conclusion

Today we wrapped up our series on the Sacrament of the Altar with the third way we can appreciate communion. So many good Christians willingly deprive themselves of this necessity because they do not think they are worthy. Yet our worthiness is a free gift from Jesus Christ so that we may be ever strengthened to walk in the Christian way. How does knowing Jesus’ desire for you to receive His body and blood for your good encourage not to abandon hope in the valley of temptation?

I would love to hear from all of my readers either in the comments below or through email on my Contact Page. Also feel free to share a link to this post on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else where content is shared.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.