Monday, April 04, 2005

The Law

Ok, today is the second day into my start-back day; and it is going pretty well - I guess. I am so tired of messing up EVERYDAY! I mean, what is my problem? Can't I just go just one week sin-free? It is not like I am a new Christian or anything. I have been saved since I was two. You would think that a 'mature' Christian could go two whole days without messing up - or at least not messing up in the same area. *sigh* I know what you are thinking - if I were so mature - I would know that EVERYONE messes up... Even me.

Fortunately, I did study today. I was feeling pretty discouraged this morning. I was trying to read Galatians - but my mind kept wondering off. I was reading it because my uncle told me to when I was trying to find something in the bible that says that Christians are not obligated to follow the letter of the Law.

Ok, I will start from the top. There is this guy at my job who is Jewish- and saved, i.e. a Messianic Jew. Let's call him JC (for Jewish Christian). For those of you who do not know what a Messianic Jew is: a Messianic Jew is a person that is from Jacob's line and believes in Jesus (a.k.a. Yeshua).

So, JC and I were having a discussion on Friday about whether or not Christians are supposed to follow the Law. Now, something in me KNEW this had to be wrong. First of all, I was always taught the opposite. Second of all, there are like a ton of Laws in the Old Testament - I sin enough as it is if this is added to the list - I am going straight to Hell. [No, I am only kidding I know that as long as I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I won't go to hell.] However neither of these reason are enough to disregard his statements. I had to go find proof (that I am right or wrong).

So, what did I do? I called my uncle. My uncle (as far as I am concerned) is a human concordance. Whenever (well, most of the time) I have a question about something - he has already studied it before and can point me to the place in scripture where it is talked about. However, like a concordance, he rarely EVER gives me a straight answer; he only gives me the scripture to read. This can be frustrating at times, but I know it is good for me...

Anyway, my uncle pointed me to two scriptures in Galatians: Gal 2:11-15 and Gal 3:24-25. This is what started my reading in Galatians this morning. However, while I was reading it, my mind was wondering - and I felt guilty about not being able to pay attention. I mean, if you think about it - this is the only thing on earth that God requires every single one of His children to read and study- that gives us direct insight into His will - and I am not even interested?!? WHAT is
my problem?

So when I got to work, I was ready to show JC my new found knowledge. When I showed him the first one: Gal 2:11-15, he said that Cephas (or Peter) never really ate with the Gentiles - then he said that the Gentiles that were Christians ate kosher. I couldn't argue with him [even though he used two arguements that contradicted each other] because it does not say explicitly that Cephas at pig feet and crab legs. We only spent about 5 minutes on those verses.

Then I directed him to Galatians 3:24.

Then he directed me to Romans 3:31. Romans 3:31 in the New American Standard says: 'Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.' So we looked up establish and it means to: abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up). And I was stumped for a minute. But instead of being hard-nosed in my approach (which is what I usually am) - I tried to understand what he was saying, why he was saying it - and why it is wrong (if it is even wrong). Keep in mind - HAVING to follow the Law is the last thing I want to believe. So keeping an open mind was pretty difficult - but it was worth it in the end. Because all scripture is inspired by God - I had to think about Gal 3:24 AND Romans 3:31 at the same time - because one cannot contradict the other. The more I thought about it - the more it made sense (and I was actually interested and paying attention). If the Law was a tutor (or schoolmaster) that we were under in order to get closer to God, then of course it is not nullified. If you think about it, your Algebra teacher was there to show you how to do math - once you learned it - you didn't need her anymore. And it is ridiculous to stay in her class once you've gotten a degree in Math. Although you still follow her teachings (i.e. still follow God), you don't need to stay in her class (follow the letter of the Law). The teacher is good (the law is good) -it is just unnecessary to continue to take the exact same course.

So, although JC didn't agree with me, I felt good in actually coming to a deeper understanding. Now if all of my personal bible studies were like that...


john jenkins said...

A very astute observation. I agree with you completely. As Jesus said to the Pharisees as recorded in Matt. 5:17 says "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to FULFILL." God created those laws for a reason: for us to live by so that we may be acceptable in His sight (live Holy), please him, and live in peace. Hebrew 13:8 says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever", and Jesus Christ IS the Word of God manifested in the flesh (John 1:1). Therefore, God's Word shall always remain the same, even after Heaven and Earth passes away (Matthew 24:35).

Therefore, it would be ignorant to think that faith nullifies the Law. They coexist in a symbiotic relationship. Paul is basically trying to say that since we are now justified by faith and saved through grace (because Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may have eternal life), that we (the Christian Believers who are justified by faith and saved by grace) no longer have to practice the formal, ceremonial customs of the Hebrew faith that the Law prescribed. Because we are no longer justified by the law (of Moses), but by faith. That means the laws that the Hebrews followed about being circumcized (although that is good for hygene, as we have found out over time), eating pork products (although I chose to limit myself on this anyways. A lot of it is nasty! hahaha), and refraining from doing activities on the Sabbath, etc. Nevertheless, we must still follow God's commandments. And I hope this doesn't sound like a huge contradiction, because it really isn't. :)

MHJONES said...

I disagree John. "He came to fulfill the Law" means no such thing.

The Law pointed to the Christ. Jesus is a fulfillment of the law.

And yes, you did conraict yorself. Either we are under the Law or we are not. You cannot have it both ways.

Does the Law offer value? Certainly! The Law is a reflection of the holiness of God. The social law - Ten Commandments and the such - provide us moral standards. That's one of the reason much of pre-Enlightenment law (like our's) is based on (and here's that ugly phrase) Judeao-Christian standards.

The Bible very clearly says that we are NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW. It can't get much clearer than that.