THE ENTIRE BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON LINE AT:
A brief summary appears below:
PART I: INTRODUCTION
This book is dedicated to the study of what the Bible has to say about all of life including government, family, the arts, education, science, communication, economics, and the role of the church. We want to rediscover a faith that influences our thinking and actions in every arena of living.
In history, Christians have thought and acted in ways that influenced the communities and nations in which they lived. Much of that influence was positive, affecting things like the development of public education, workers rights, economic development, the concept of a free press, help for the victimized and disenfranchised. We believe that this kind of influence is lacking in Christian life today, and we would like to discover why. Martin Luther is noted as having said that a gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is not the Gospel at all. We want to discover the biblical thinking that will address the issues of the 21st Century in an effective and redemptive way. There is a reason the Christian faith has become weak and ineffectual in dealing with issues of politics, economics, beauty, the family, and daily issues of life. We want to discover what has gone wrong, but more importantly, we want to rediscover the biblical basis that led generations of believers to influence their times.
We are searching, and we invite you to join the search. I have put the challenge of these questions on every continent of the world to presidents, members of cabinets, leaders in politics, business, and church. It seems to be striking a chord of need. In order to facilitate getting the message out and bringing multinational, multicultural thinking and faith to the process, we have begun this work. Our goal is to help bring vital relevant, effective Christian thought and action back into the 21st Century. We are on a journey with more questions than answers; we invite your companionship and contribution…
What the Bible has to say on limiting personal debt, eliminating poverty, avoiding national debt. and addressing legitimate needs of the poor.
Five basic principles of government from nine verses in Deuteronomy.
- Government is ordained by God and essential to the life of a nation.
- Government gets its authority from the people.
- The character of a political leader is important and to be weighed by the people in their choices.
- Government is to be representative of all people.
- One of governments primary purposes is to provide a source of just resolution to disputes and conflicts of the people.
A Christian Understanding of Education.
..From Genesis through the book of Revelation, God reinforces the concept that knowledge is demonstrated in action, faith in works, learning in growth, wisdom in love. There is no scriptural basis for a blind leap of faith. Existentialism says you cannot know, you can only experience. Jesus refused to leap off the temple at Satans temptation. Jesus understood that you could know the will of God without taking the leap…
Education and Government
…The authority of education began to move consistently from parent- and teacher-based local organizations towards a national association for education. This shift in authority from family to government was far more strategic and dangerous than outlawing prayer meetings. God gave no authority to governments over our children. God gave that authority to parents. Governments are created by God to deal with the masses. By design, that is their function. Education, by its nature, is an individual process. Like social issues of poverty and drugs, if you ask the government to deal with it, you will have the most expensive and least effective programs. The government will design a program that attempts to deal with everyone in the same way…much like a prison system. But social problems, drugs, and education are individual problems that can only be solved effectively by addressing the individual. God designed the family to deal with individuals. Parents can delegate their authority to a public school system, but if they abdicate their support or if their role is ignored or even denied by the institution, those schools have very little legitimate authority over the children.
The same is true when parents abdicate responsibility for their childs education to a Christian school. God does not give the church the responsibility to train children. He gives that responsibility to parents…
A Christian Understanding of Communications
The Medium Is Not The Message
…Christians were ecstatic when Gutenberg first invented movable type. Printing could now put inexpensive Bibles in the hands of believers. The use of this technological innovation by the church was such a revolution that Christian publishing still outnumbers all other uses in the industry. As newspapers evolved, Christians were in the forefront. The Salvation Army produced the first feature-length movie. Christian communicators have such passion for the use of radio that Christians today own more radio licenses worldwide than any other single group.
With the emergence of television, computers, and the Internet, however, the Christian thinking on media changed dramatically. Rather than seeing new technology as an opportunity for making the truth known in new ways, it was seen as a threat and, perhaps, evil in and of itself because of its potential to carry destructive messages. This shift in the view of communication has resulted in an absence of any significant contribution to these media. The early leaders in the film industry were self- governing and religious leaders were automatically included in review boards. The Christian leaders pulled out of this secular arena, rather than being asked to leave by the film industry. As God gives us the greatest communication technologies in the history of man, there is little vision or passion for the use of these new media…
Arts and Entertainment
The Disciplines Of The Arts
Like science, God rules the arts by laws that govern each discipline; laws of aesthetics, harmony, rhythm, dissonance, color, form, design, positive and negative space. Whether dance, sculpture, painting, writing, or composing, every artist and performer understands that there are principles upon which their discipline is built. Mastering those fundamentals is foundational to their skill. Genius, then, is making those same fundamentals disappear in artistic expression. Unredeemed people create beautiful things because they are created in the image of God. They just do not realize the source of their talent or discipline or their love of beauty. They do not know the gift-giver, but their gift still celebrates God. They are unaware of whom to be grateful to. Whether or not they know God does not make their creation more or less beautiful. Nor do Jew’s lyrics make it more beautiful. Beauty has intrinsic value as an extension of Gods character and nature.
So much of what is called Christian music and art today is mediocre at best. Perhaps this is because we think the only thing that matters is whether it talks about God. It is important to present the message of Christ. However, it is not only absurd, it is dangerous to think that the only thing important about a surgeon is his love of God, that his technical skill in surgery is unimportant. The heart of the individual and the discipline of a craft are two different things and Jesus is Lord of them both. As one who believes in the Creator God, you and I are to value skill as well as right standing with God. We are to celebrate beauty for beautys sake because He is the Lord of Beauty, the Creator of all skill, and we are to seek the artists right relationship to Christ, the creator of his gift.2
There are no tribes, nations, or cultures without art, music, and sport. Beauty, song, and celebration are all pre-human. They were expressed in God before we existed and they still reveal Him. We dont have to justify the love of sport or art by turning it into an opportunity to talk to the person next to us in the stands about God. We may or may not find that appropriate. Its okay to enjoy talent and God-given gifting for their innate value. It is worship of the Creator, the gift-giver and a celebration of who He is!
If We Are Going To Disciple All Nations
The rebuilding of our Christian minds will take time, effort, and the conviction that we cannot fulfill His vision without it. As I finish writing this volume, I go on to study government from Genesis to Revelation. I pray you are already preparing for what you will apply your own study to. In this third section I would like to move beyond the domains to other areas of thinking that need to be reformed. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the reoccurring needs I see in a decade of teaching this material.
If we are to finish the task of reaching and teaching all nations, we are going to need a bigger picture of who Christ is. Today we love Him. The first apostles were stunned by Him. We are going to need God to change our concept and definition of nations to His. Otherwise we will fight for the traditions of men rather than the will of God. We must become aware of the ever-present dangers that accompany any power. The Kingdom strategy is always a servant strategy. We will have to embrace, and even love and seek, radical change as a lifestyle.
Welcome to the 21st Century!
The Lord Of All!
Christ created all things! All things in heaven and on earth! He created everything, invisible and visible! All things were created for Him and He ranks as commanding officer of all things! Are you getting the point? He is supreme in everything! What does this mean? This means there is no such thing as a secular and a sacred world. All things belong to Christ. This means the temporal things of life are not less important than the eternal things of life… because all things belong to Christ. This means the gospel is not about salvation alone and how Christ saves us. The message is also about Gods reconciling power in every area of our lives, families, communities, and nations. What has the cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, reconciled? Everything! Everything on earth and everything in heaven. Christ has made peace with every part of His creation through Jesus. He is not at war with any part of it. My little brain barely knows how to think about this Jesus.
What Paul is saying to us in Colossians is that Jesus is Lord of everything. He is Lord of the so-called spiritual and the material world. He is Lord of salvation and all social concerns. He is supreme over the eternal and the temporal. He is King of heaven and of earth. Because He is Lord of all, there is no such thing as the secular. Because all things were created by Him and for Him, they all belong to Him. He is the rightful heir to all that is; and He has shed His blood to see it all reconciled.
The Message Is The Kingdom
This means when we preach salvation alone we are missing the majority of Gods kingdom message. Salvation is essential. There is no other way into the Kingdom of God. But salvation is the entry into the Kingdom; it is not the goal or the Kingdom itself. By making it the goal we have lost most of Gods message. We cannot bear fruit in every good work because with salvation alone we cannot grow in the knowledge of God in the rest of life. We cannot be strengthened with all power because we do not have the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Therefore, we are the largest church in history, but the weakest church when it comes to actually influencing the lives, communities, and nations we have reached.
We must destroy the split thinking we have been taught and take up again the gospel of the Kingdom. Then, and only then, will not only our words, but our actions and influence bear witness to the absolute supremacy of Christ and His message. How do we do this? How do we restore our Christian minds? How do we get the gospel of the Kingdom back?
We Need Gods View Of Nations
Paul Grasps Gods Heart For The Nations
I believe that Paul is the primary architect and author of the New Testament because He understood nations from Gods perspective. Some of the apostles wanted Christianity to be a subset of Jewish culture. Paul contests them and says that the Good News of Christ is not to be a subset of any culture. It is Gods message for all nations and is to be expressed in and through their languages and cultures in their own way. If Paul had not won this argument you and I would be singing Jewish songs and dancing Jewish dances. But Paul did win, and so won the right for the diversity of God to be revealed through all peoples in all times.
Nations, Tribes, And Peoples Are Eternal
In Revelation we are given a picture of Gods throne and the throng standing before Him. How are they gathered? By denominations? No. By families? No. By nations! Nationhood is eternal. It is part of the New Jerusalem. Multiculturalism is celebrated for all time. Nations express the very diversity of God and His nature. In the new earth we come in all our national glory, laying our treasures of justice, health, wisdom, love, beauty and wealth before His feet, declaring Him the source of all that we have that is good. The Kings bring the glory of their nations before the throne.11
We Need A Biblical View of Vocations
Work Is Worship
If we are to reveal the Kingdom in all its glory, we need Gods perspective on vocations and work. A large part of how we know and enjoy Him forever is in fulfilling the work He created us to do. We reveal God, in part, through the work of our hands. Just as God reveals Himself through His creation, our work reveals who we are, what we believe, and whom and what we worship. One of the most demeaning experiences for human beings is believing they have nothing to contribute or having their contribution devalued or denied. God gave six days to the worship of work and one to rest.
In our focus on evangelism, missions, traditional church ministry, and the secular versus sacred dichotomy we have nearly lost the theology of the laity, or a Godly perspective of work outside of the institution of the church. When I first came to missions in the early 70s we lamented the funeral services churches often had for those laying down their lives for missions. We thought missionary service was the greatest calling on earth. We thought God had released us into what He had made us to do. Today, in ministry circles, we tend to have our own kind of funeral services for those poor souls who are going back into secular work, just getting a job. Having broken the blindness to the call of God in missions we, in missions, developed a new blindness to the call of God to the rest of society.
Tom Marshall estimated that perhaps 20 percent of Gods people are called into the ecclesiastical work of the Church. The other 80 percent are called into other vocations to serve Gods Kingdom. Over the last century we have devalued work outside the church to the point that much of the body of Christ feels they did not get the good gifts like preaching or evangelism. They sit in pews around the world wishing they could really serve God. Our vision for a businessperson is to make money for missions or the church building program. Leaders might serve as church treasurer. Our goal for teachers is the church Sunday school program. Communicators? Well, we have church newsletters and bulletin boards that need preparing. Artists, musicians, and entertainers are always needed in worship and outreach programs. They might help create worship banners too. Scientists, technicians? Those are tough ones. Fix the church plumbing or buses? Do the engineering for our construction program? Political leaders and lawyers really stretch the imagination for service. The result of this thinking is that most of Gods people go to work five or six days a week to make money and wait for Sunday when they can do something for God. How tragic! No wonder we are a church that lacks influence. Once we walk outside the doors of the sanctuary we have no idea what we are to do for the Kingdom of God. What we have lost is a theology of work and Gods purposes in all giftings. If we are to regain the historic influence of believers in their communities we will have to regain Gods view of all the vocations.
Who Secularized What?
I want to make a radical proposition. Today, we talk a great deal about the secularization of societies. Christmas, church, Sunday, etc. And it is true, much of culture, even religious culture has been turned into a business venture void of additional meaning. Who is responsible for that secularization process? Many believers sound as though they think the lost, those who do not know God, are to blame. But that cannot be true. They are just lost. They do not know God and do not have the ability to change. They do live in a secular world because their world does not have the living God. Believers, on the other hand, have a choice! We can refuse secularization because God is in the picture. But society is hopelessly secularized when those who know God, when those who are called by His name, take God out of most of life and most of their work. When we as believers have left God out of our jobs, when we only go to work to make money, then the salt has lost all flavor. When the light of the world is dim, it is dark indeed. We, as Christians, are the salt and light. We are the problem and the solution.
Gods View Of The Vocations
When God created the cosmos He gave the human race a very specific and wonderful part in His whole design. We are made by God to steward His material world and to create human culture that reveals the full image of God. His mandate in Genesis 1:28, isnt for us to be farmers, its for us to use our gifts to create according to His image upon each of us. Some of us reveal Jehovah Jireh, God the Provider, through our entrepreneurial and business gifts. Some of us, in our passion for justice and service for others, work to create and serve the community through the justice system. Some of us are literally compelled by God to make life more beautiful, visually and audibly. Our passion is to reveal the God of beauty. Others, who have a passion for truth and knowledge, become communicators and educators. Some who are dying to discover become scientists and explorers, those who go to the ends of the world, cosmos and our reality to learn what God has made. Still more have a passion to reveal the Father God by raising future generations to know and enjoy Him forever. And others desire to help everyone know God better and to be aware of the worship of their lives, families, and work. We seek to reveal the Great High Priest in ministry to the whole body. Our gifts are different, but everyone is gifted to reveal God in their life and talents…
We Need Biblical Strategies: The Servant Model
The Kingdom Of Light: Service Not Control
The Kingdom of Light is service. The Kingdom of Darkness is control. It is that simple! If our discipleship strategies are power-based they will fail. The system of the world is based in power lets take over and make it better. The Kingdom of God is service-based. Had it been better for Jesus to come with earthly trappings of power, He would have. If control from the top worked, all of Eastern Europe would actually be communist. Leaders may serve the people into change, but ultimately, if a nation is not changed on a personal level, it is not discipled. Gods values may be written into the civil statutes of a nation and that will have an effect, but if the culture is to be changed those same values must also be written onto the hearts of the people…
What Happens If We Do Not Lay The Foundation?
What happens when we remove the foundational principles of the Old Testament in our disci- pleship of new Christians? Is it possible that we produce a Rwanda where a church with sixty-plus years of constant revival can participate in tribal genocide? Is it possible that we produce an American church where recent Gallup polls say there is no measurable difference between the lifestyle of the Christian population and that of the non-Christian? Is it possible that this is the reason divorce in the Bible Belt of the U.S.A. now exceeds the divorce rate in the rest of America? Can this be why the average Christian businessman in Korea is no more committed to his word in a contract than the average non-Christian businessman? Could this be why in 80 percent converted Nagaland, 70 percent of the teens in the capital are reported to be drug addicts. Is it possible that this is why modern Christianity makes no measurable difference in the landscape of the societies that surround us? Are we preaching a gospel that, because it is not grounded in the Old Testament teachings, is producing the least in the Kingdom of heaven?
We Do Have Time?
Is it possible that we have bought into an eschatological anxiousness that keeps us from doing the whole work of discipleship? The great reformer Luther was asked what he would do today if he knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow? His reply was that he would plant the fruit tree he had planned yesterday to plant tomorrow, because Jesus said to tarry until He comes.2 The Amplified translation says to occupy (do business with) until I come. A word search in the Greek: tarry (pragmateuomoi: To busy oneself with, to do business, to trade.) Kittles Dictionary: make a profit, to deal with radically, to investigate closely, to render political service, those charged with affairs of State, of intellectual pursuits, of business affairs.
The early reformers of the first millennium and a half of church history didnt just think different things than todays believers, they thought differently about all of life. True repentance is changed thinking and Christ cannot transform us if we do not seek to hold and live out His view about all of life!
Be The Good Neighbor
In many cultures, the most important indicator of what kind of person you are and of your value is how you relate to your neighbor. This was also part of the Hebrew or biblical view of the world and the view emphasized throughout scripture and in the teaching of Jesus. He stresses this community perspective by putting our love of God alongside our being a good neighbor. He said that second in priority only to our devotion to God, is how we treat those who live around us. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus summarizes the entire Law and the prophets to mean treating others the way you would like to be treated. In Matthew 22:34-40, He said You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. Loving my neighbor is as important as loving God. If I love God, I will love my neighbor!
Who Is My Neighbor?
In Luke 10:26-27, a religious expert in the law tried to get a limited definition of neighbor. He asked Jesus, and who is my neighbor? In response to this Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan as an illustration. He changes the definition of neighbor from those who live close to me to the one who crosses your path and who is in need. In other words, anyone, everyone.
What happens when the Church switches the biblical emphasis from our responsibility to our neighbor to personal holiness? I believe we create the new monasticism, a spiritual pursuit of God that is completely alienated from social responsibility and action. We create the concept that my personal holiness is completely independent from how I interact with the community God has placed me in. I feel I can love God and have almost nothing to do with the people living around me; I can have national truth without national responsibility; I can actually seek to live with only those who believe as I do so that my life will not be sullied with the messy lives of non-Christians. Our walk with God begins to be evaluated strictly on personal merits alienated from our participation in the life of our community…
God’s Purposes in the Bible
For an entire year I studied the Bible and its Table of Contents from the standpoint of Gods purposes in it. Making the assumption God did inspire each of the books of the Bible, and that the Church Fathers were inspired with the ordering of these same books, and assuming that it is no small miracle that the church has basically agreed on these things for the last 2000 years, then what was Gods strategy and emphasis in the books chosen and the order in which they are placed? This was a mind-blowing study!
First, we have the five books of Moses, the template of Hebrew thought.
Genesis: The origins of the cosmos, individual, family, tribe, and nation, and, of course, sin.
Exodus: Israels current events from Gods perspective and what God is doing with Israel as a community in space and time.
Leviticus: The formation and workings of the priesthood and the tabernacle.
Numbers: The logistics of discipling these people into a nation.
Deuteronomy: The overview of how God wanted Israel to live in every area of life.
These five books, the Pentateuch, laid the foundation for all of the Old Testament and, as we will see, for the New Testament as well.
ALL REFER BACK TO MOSES
Every other book in the Old Testament refers back to these first five books. They evaluate the history and forecast the future of Israel based on what God has lain down in the Law. The rest of the Old Testament relays events and history based on the answer to one simple question: Are we living up to Gods principles in the first five books? Lets look at what God emphasizes in the Table of Contents of the Bible.
How they do in the Promised Land in the first generation of political action.
How the next 13 generations of Judges do in the political arena.
After seven books emphasizing communities and nations, God narrows in on two powerless and poor women who are blessed when they obey in faithfulness.
1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles: Community-Government
The history of the political leaders and how they did or didnt obey Gods law.
That makes eight books for Government, one for Family, one for the Priesthood, twelve books for Community, and one for the Individual. Seeing any pattern yet?
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are a trilogy. They are not in order. Esther is actually first chronologically, Ezra second, and Nehemiah third. They are all exiles in the Capitol city of Sousa. In about 479 B.C. Esther marries King Xerxes and as a result is used of God to save the lives of all the Jewish people in exile. In about 456 B.C., 21 years after Esthers book, Ezra, who is a priest, returns to Jerusalem and rebuilds the temple, but the city is still in chaos and disrepair. He is there 13 years but without success in restoring the community when a letter reaches Nehemiah, part of the Kings palace security guard, telling of the disasters in Jerusalem. Nehemiah is sent by the King with supplies and support to rebuild the wall and restore order and infrastructure to the community. So we have:
Esther: Community-Family and Government
Esther saves the people. Ezra restores the temple and the Law, and Nehemiah rebuilds the government and community economic system all areas emphasized by God as essential parts of Kingdom life.
Our count is now Government ten, Family two, Ecclesiastical order two, fifteen books that emphasize Community and one that emphasizes the Individual.
What Is Job Doing Here?
Job is the oldest book of the Bible to the best of our understanding. He was, perhaps, a contemporary of Abraham. I think most of us see the wisdom of the Church Fathers in not selecting Job as the first book of the Bible. Its theme of suffering and personal warfare is tough stuff for the most mature believer. However, Job is the second book in the scriptures to look at the story of an individual without it being particularly important to the history of the community. Like Ruth, Job is important because of his walk of faith and obedience to God under great duress. Job begins with great power, but is reduced to nothing by a series of attacks and disasters. After seventeen books of God focusing on the principles by which He has made the universe to work, the blessing of knowing and applying these truths to our lives, and the curse of not obeying them, a quite different focus is introduced in Job. For the first time since Genesis, God tells us that there are additional challenges to obedience. We have an enemy and, even having made all the right choices, there may be another explanation for difficult circumstances in our life. We may be experiencing Satans attack! Today, we seem to have reversed this emphasis to everything being a spiritual attack and almost nothing the result of our choices.
The Wisdom Literature
We love the quartet of wisdom literature, perhaps, because each book focuses on the individual. While written by kings these books primarily deal with different dimensions of the believers personal life. What is important in our daily lives? Worship? Wisdom? Work? Family? All of them!
Psalms: Individual and Worship
Proverbs: Individual and Wisdom
Ecclesiastes: Individual and Work
Song of Songs: Individual and the Wedding (Family)
That brings us to ten books focused on Government, three on Family, six on the Individual, and two on the Priesthood or Ecclesiastical order.
Then we come to the 17 prophets. Some authors of these books were priests; some were shepherds, some government officials. However, they all speak to nations or communities as a whole. They all emphasize the cause and effect nature of our choices and the resulting blessing or curse. Each prophet focuses on four major areas of sin no matter what nations they are addressing:
- Idolatry: Ecclesiastical order
- Political Justice: Government
- Immorality: Family and individual
- Economic Injustice: Business and finance
Gods emphasis on the importance of the Ecclesiastical institution, or church, Government, the Individual, and the Family is overwhelming. The focus on the community is almost unanimous and the emphasis on knowing Gods thinking and aligning ourselves with it in how we live is complete.
The New Testament
What do we see in the New Testament? Each Gospel writer emphasizes a different source of authenticity:
Matthew defends Jesus as the messiah by drawing heavily from the Old Testament sources: the ecclesiastical history.
Mark emphasizes Jesus relationship with the material word and His power over it: science.
Luke takes the view of an investigator looking at the testimony of those who were with Jesus: legal.
John uses the personal, eyewitness account of the individual.
The Gospels, like the books of Moses, lay a holistic foundation for the Lordship of Christ. Moses lays a holistic basis for Gods rule over all of Creation and life; the Apostles lay the same foundation for the Lordship of Christ.
Now we come to the book of Acts, which I think could be called The Explosion! If Acts were the only book to guide us in our work, for the Kingdom, we could be quite comfortable with our ministry in the last century. The word about Christ bursts out from the new church and explodes with conversions, gifts of the Holy Spirit, healing, miracles, persecution, public proclamation in Jerusalem and beyond, and the establishing of the church internationally. The explosion begins with the new converts accused of being drunk and ends with some of them in jail. What a roller coaster.
In the books that follow, we begin to see, and deal with, some of the issues within this new international church movement. As the gospel travels out of Jewish territory and begins to encounter the surrounding worldviews, and a shifting emphasis amongst the Jews as well, Romans ask the question, What are we going to do with the Old Testament? 1 Corinthians takes up the question of how the Holy Spirit works. In 2 Corinthians they ask where the authority of this new church comes from.
The next 19 letters reveal a pattern of themes not dissimilar to the Old Testament. In various circumstances, nations, churches, and in individual lives we begin to deal with the drift hazards of the new church. What are some of the major themes of these letters and issues?
- What do we do with the Old Testament and the laws of Moses?
- What is the function of this Holy Spirit?
- Where does authority come from in this new Church?
- How do you/we know you/we have authority?
- What are the conditions for elders and deacons and the character of a church leader?
- How do we discern false teaching from true?
- Questions of how we live and our position on family, immorality, government, finances, honesty, work and generosity.
- The nature of eternity and life after death.
- Perspectives on persecution and endurance.
- The supremacy and return of Christ.
- The end of time.
You can almost feel the struggle of the New Testament leaders trying to integrate the Old and the New, between the church slipping towards the Law or towards the Spirit. Throughout all these discussions, Christ is presented as the only way to salvation, the Law and the prophets as the teachers of how we should live, and the Spirit as the one who leads us into applying the principles of the Law into daily life. Nowhere do we see one discarded in preference of the other. All of the books are full of the tension from integrating the Old Testament with the New Testament.
What Does Jesus Say About All Of This:
Matthew is the first gospel, I believe, for a reason. Matthew makes an all out effort to link the life and teaching of Jesus with the Old Testament. At least 49 times in 28 chapters Matthew links the teaching and life of Jesus with Moses and the prophets. In Matthew 5, Jesus makes His position clear on the place of the Law.
17 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.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
This is such an amazing passage. Jesus makes it clear that the new messages of forgiveness and salvation on their own are not adequate for discipleship, but rather build on the foundation of the Law and the prophets. In Matthew 13:52, Jesus says, Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teaching as well as the old. In Matthew 5:19 Jesus exhorts that the teaching of the new without the foundations of the old will produce weakness and the least in the Kingdom, but combining the two will produce greatness in the Kingdom of God. Mark 7:8-13 accuses the Pharisees of substituting Gods laws with their own traditions. And in Luke 16:16-17 Jesus challenges the crowds that by preaching the Good News of the Kingdom He does not mean that the law has lost its force; the law is stronger and more lasting than the universe itself.
After Jesus clarifies the place of the Law and the prophets in Matthew 5, He goes on to give six examples of how He builds His teaching on the teaching of Moses:
Do not murder: Jesus affirms the commandment that Thou shalt not kill, but He goes further to build on that law. He says that now that the Spirit is coming we should not even act in anger. In fact, we should go a step farther and be reconciled before we come to worship. In other words, even though we are saved and forgiven we are not to murder and, if we are saved, our standard will be even higher.
Do not commit adultery: Jesus agrees that Moses taught that theywere not to commit adultery, but He is challenging them to an even higher standard of a pure heart.
Divorce: Moses taught them that divorce must be legally carried out, but Jesus is telling them that it must be under the direst circumstances or it is equal to adultery itself.
Be Truthful: Moses taught them to not break an oath; Jesus goes a step farther to say that they are not to break a promise or a verbal commitment.
Righteous vengeance: Moses taught that they should only seek righteous vengeance, but Jesus says to give up the right to personal vengeance altogether.
Love your neighbor: Moses encouraged them to love their neighbor; Jesus says do that and go much farther love your enemy.
God, the Bible and Political Justice
First 5 chapters on line at: http://www.templateinstitute.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=109&Itemid=40
Jesus summarized the whole teaching of the Law in two sentences:
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36″Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 2..
We have a new President in the U.S.
In researching the current book on Governance, I did a study of the political leadership from Abraham to the time of Christ. I listed each leader with the positive and negative contributions that God notes. By the time you have done them all, patriarchs, judges and kings you are convinced of several truths:
- God uses even the bad leaders when His people pray.
- Good leaders do bad things and bad leaders do good things.
- The country sometimes prospers under the bad guys and sometimes falls apart under the leadership of the good guys.
- All the political leaders of Israel had major flaws.
- God is busy in the nation no matter who is leading.
- The influence of the citizens is more influential than the political leaders.
- God does have an opinion on who should lead but even the best is not that good.
- Israel always placed too much emphasis on who was leading politically and not enough on Gods ability to work through any vessel.
Lets remember if God can use you and me, God can use anyone. Pray!
NATIONAL ALLIANCE of CHRISTIAN LEADERS