What Part Should The Ceremonial Law of Moses Have In The Life of The Believer Today?

March 31, 2018

 

Mr. Fisher, 

 

I have two questions for you. Would you be willing to answer them?  If so, here they are.  If not, that is OK.

 

1. What is the Gospel?  Biblical definition...

 

2. What part do the Mosaic commandments play in the lives of believers today? This would be all the commandments, not just the 10 on the first and second sets of stones.

 

Thank you,

Wes 

 

Hello Wes,

 

Thank you for your question. Normally, I answer questions on a wide variety of issues related to atheism, skepticism and theism. This subject is thus a little bit afield of the work I normally do, which would be in the area of natural, rather than systematic, theology. Nevertheless, I will offer a few of my thoughts. Hope it helps!

 

With regard to your first question, the term "gospel" is used in two different senses in the NT; one narrow, and the other broad. (The protestant reformers made this distinction.)

 

The broad sense of the word includes the entire content of Jesus' preaching and would be inclusive of both it's tender comforting's as well as it's deafening thundering's. But the narrow sense of the word gospel would be solely in keeping with it's natural semantic usance; that of "good news" or "glad tidings."

 

My answer to your question is thus going to presuppose that you are inquiring about the narrow NT usage of the word. Otherwise, your two questions would seem to form a kind of a logical tautology. Thus the gospel is, in this sense, properly speaking, the message of the good news of our salvation, by grace, through faith, not from works, "lest anyone should be boast," as Paul taught.

 

Your second question sounds like it deals with the meaning of Jesus' work at the cross. That is, how do Good Friday and the miracle of Easter impact the meaning of the law of Moses for the believer? (A very timely question.) There are three important points to be made here prior to grasping the answer:

 

  1. The 1st century Jewish interpretation of the Law of Moses is a distortion of it's true, Hebrew meaning. The Pharisaic imperative of legalistic adherence is thus novel to the Hebrew religion at the time of Jesus.

  2. The feasts, which form a central component to the law of Moses, did not have a cleansing effect. In other words, they were not some sort of "sine qua non" for the Hebrew faith, but were rather a prophetic sign, pointing to the salvation which would be brought through Jesus.

  3. The law of Moses never justified anyone, Jew or Gentile, at any time in history.

 

Once these three points become fully appreciated, it's easy to see why Christians don't practice the ceremonial law today. The kind of legalism inherent to both Jewish roots and religion is hostile to the cross, and even to antecedent Hebraic belief. The cross assumes that the whole man abides under a curse. This is implicit to Pauline anthropology. Man is unable of himself to be righteous, even when he asks for it. Only the pronouncement of God can justify. Apart from God, man begs in vain. The feasts therefore tended to be seen as unnecessary for Jews who turned to Jesus. Why constantly plead to be justified? Jesus pleads for you. Why offer blood several times a year at the temple? Jesus offered it for you. The entire system therefore becomes seen as redundant and is eventually viewed as obsolete, not because it ever worked in the first place, but because everything it taught the Hebrew's to seek for had now reached its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. The moral law therefore becomes practiced by Christians solely out of love for God and is never viewed as necessary for justification again—except (according to Paul) by those who opposed the cross. Grace henceforth triumphs decisively, and the law can now return to serving a renewed purpose of teaching the Christian to live a sanctified and holy life.

 

So I hope I have somehow managed to scratch where you're "itching!" Be blessed as you enjoy this Easter season Wes! And grace to you!

 

In the Joy of the Good News,

 

Ben Fischer <><


 

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