Sunday, April 26, 2009

Applying the Law of Moses

It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. I went to North Carolina for almost a week for Awana Summit. God really blessed the trip. Christina received a gold medal for a sign language fine arts thing she did. Jonathan received silver for his piano piece. Christina also got silver for Bible Quiz. Overall, the Lord really blessed. It was a whole lot of fun. I got to see many old friends and met several new friends.

We have been studying the law at church... actually, just getting into it. Today was kind of an overview of how to study the law and I found it extremely helpful and I think you will as well.

The law (first five books of the Old Testament) tends to be quite unstudied even by those of us that have grown up in the church. We know that all scripture is inspired and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), but we find it hard to apply the Old Testament law. We know we should obey the commandments to not steal, not murder, not covet, etc., but how about those other sacrifices and feasts and everything? Can we just pick and choose what we think applies and what we think doesn't apply? Is some of God's Word void now? The New Testament makes it clear that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in the person hood of Christ. Let's take a look at how these things apply.

God's Word is anything but void! You might be shocked, but all of scripture applies to today. No, I'm not saying go find a lamb and slaughter it, but the principles apply completely. We can't throw out any of scripture, but rather look for the principles in it. How do we know if we should obey it as written... "thou shalt not covet" for example... or if we should apply the principle of the instructions for a sacrifice for example? Sometimes the principles are at surface level such as "love your neighbor as yourself", other times it is buried deep and it takes much work to find the application for it. The principles in the Old Testament law will be clearly reflected and supported elsewhere in Scripture, including the New Testament. This is how we know if the principle is on the surface level or if we need to dig down deep to find it. Regardless, it all applies. We can't just go read Leviticus and expect to get everything from it by reading a chapter for five or ten minutes. It takes work... hard work. Practically speaking, we should look for:

1. What did this mean for the people in those days?
2. How did this help them love God?
3. How did this help them love others?
4. How does this apply to me now?

I would encourage everyone to read and study the Old Testament law and to dig deep and find out how it applies now... and then apply it! There are likely to be many things that Christians debate about within these texts, but we are encouraged by Paul to not make these matters of worthless arguments. There is nothing wrong with discussing these things, in fact, I'd encourage you to do so, but there is a point where things that are not completely clear can cause division. This ought not be the case. You might be interested in reading Acts 15 to see how the early church dealt with some of these issues. We are no longer under the requirements of the Old Testament law, but it still has application to the here and now!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Gospel According to 1 John 3

I went out with some guys today and played paintball in the hills... so much fun! :) Please don't ask me why it is fun to shoot each other with little plastic balls flying at 280 feet per second... but it is incredibly fun. It's actually not fun to play without getting hit either. It really doesn't make a lot of sense to think about, but I guess I shouldn't over-think it. :) I have been memorizing 1 John 3 along with a bunch of other people. I'd encourage you to do the same. If you shoot me an email, I'll get you a copy of the schedule. Anyway, it has been a great blessing to me over the last several days. I am up to verse 6 right now.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Over the last several days, as I have been memorizing and meditating on these words, there have been several things that have jumped out at me. First of all, the amazing love that He has poured on us through Him dying to take our punishment so that we could be called children of God. It caused me to think about the concept of the world not knowing me. Can I truly say that the world doesn't know me? When I am around others, do they feel the need to face who Christ is and what He has done, or am I just another person walking on the globe? Now that we have received the blessing of knowing Him and being called His child, when He is fully revealed, we will have no desire to be anything but exactly like He is. When we see Him in complete righteousness, there will be no higher calling than to be just like Him. Okay, well that is a ways down the road... but what about now? Has He not revealed Himself to us? Has He not given us the hope of His coming? Because of this great hope, it ought to push us on toward full purity because He is pure and we ought to desire nothing less than complete purity. Another thing that hit me hard was that we take sin so lightly. We see "little sins" and "big sins"... and as long as we stay with the "little sins", we are okay. Not true! Sin is living as if God's law doesn't exist. It's saying, God... I know you don't want me to do this, but I'm doing it. The opposite of sin is abiding in Him. He says that if we abide in Him that we cannot sin. If we sin, we are living as if we have never known Him at all! Is that really the picture that we want to give the world? Let me tell you... that is the picture the world has of Christians. They see us living like people that have never even known Him, so why should they follow our example? I realize there are no perfect people and that this is not a valid excuse for rejecting Him... but we must do our part in making His name glorious through our words and actions.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

To Die For

Over the last few days, I have been thinking quite a bit about what is worth living for and what is worth dying for. I watched the video of a memorial service of a young man who was literally sharing the truth of God's Word until the moment he died. He obviously lived a life passionate about God and eternity. He was not scared of death, but rather scared for those who didn't know Him when they died. As Christians, we ought to live with this same mindset. I think of our calling in Matthew 10:27-28.
What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The death of the body is not something to be feared. The death of our soul and the souls of others for eternity is something we ought to fear. I want to live a life of urgency for the souls of others. I saw a truck flip over on the freeway the other day. Thankfully, the girl got out okay... but life can end at any moment. Our next breath is not guaranteed to us! I was thinking about what my memorial service might be like someday (which is kind of weird in that I think Christ will come again in my lifetime), but anyway... I hear so often that people want to be honored for their love and service to the Lord at their memorial service. While this is great... I don't want to be the one honored at my memorial service. I want people to look at my life and see what an awesome God that I had the privilege of serving. I don't want them to see the service that I have done as me, but as God's work of grace in my heart. He alone is worthy of all of our praise.