to this publication
October 14, 2003.
ONE OF THE saddest things in the world today is the divided condition of
those claiming to follow Jesus Christ. How tragic that those who
believe in Jesus should be divided into hundreds of different bodies,
all teaching conflicting, contradictory doctrines, wearing many
different names. Oneness has always been important to God. Jesus
prayed for His followers to be one in John 17, but also recognized that
it would not be so. Matthew 7:21 proclaims, "Not every one that saith
unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Divided along every
line imaginable, would-be followers of Jesus, while honest and sincere,
have fostered an environment of mass confusion in the religious
community. Many in search of Jesus today are like children in December,
thinking that the jolly, red-suited fat man they saw at the grocery
store is the same man simultaneously at the mall! While bearing similar
looks, they are not the same.
Surely no one believes that the lines of separation which caused all the
different religious bodies are drawn by God. Does anyone believe that
division and confusion in the religious world is what Jesus prayed for
when He prayed that all believers "be one" (John 17:20,21)? Surely
there are no rational people who can argue that the command to "all
speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that
ye be perlectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment" ( 1 Corinthians 1: 10) is being carried out in
denominationalism today. Surely there are no honest souls who believe
that the one Holy Spirit delivered different doctrines and practices for
Christians to please God. The Apostles spoke in foreign languages "as
the Spirit gave them utterance"(Acts 2:4) and, by inspiration of God,
they recorded for us "all things that pertain unto life and Godliness"
(2 Peter 1 :3). But the Bible is not responsible for the confusion that
abounds in the religious community.
Misunderstanding the Bible is what leads so many good people into
religious error. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, "For God is not the author
of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." Paul
writes to the young evangelist Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 encouraging
him, and all Christians a1ike, to "rightly divide the word of truth."
This passage inherently suggests that the dividing of scriptures, "the
word of truth," can be done incorrectly. Long ago God lamented the
terrible condition of society and asserted that He had a "controversy"
with the people. The malady which caused God's people to "perish" in
Hosea was a "1ack of knowledge." God would pronounce the same sickness
on religious people today, as the masses (including their preachers and
leaders) have no idea how to place correct divisions in the word of God.
If Christians wish to be pleasing to God, a ready answer must be at hand
to guide honest hearts who are confused.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
A monument of The Ten Commandments of the Law of Moses weighing 5,280
pounds resides in the rotunda of Alabama's State Supreme Court judicial
building in Montgomery. It is the fulfillment of a promise made by
Judge Roy Moore that if elected Chief Justice to the state Supreme
Court, he would take the Ten Commandments with him. Much controversy
surrounded Judge Moore when he defied the several attempts of
authorities to make him remove a wooden replica of the traditional
"stone tablets" which hung on his chamber walls in the Etowah County
Circuit Court. Roy Moore is a man of his word - he kept his promise by
"taking the Ten Commandments to Montgomery" in the form of the afore
mentioned two and a half ton block of granite. The ACLU (American Civil
Liberties Union) weighed in with a suit in protest of Moore's monument
and the controversy revived.
While seeming to be a respectable, honest man, our Chief Justice is
sadly confused about what law of God is binding today. He shows honesty
in keeping his word. He is to be respected for doing so, knowing it
might cause himself personal and political harm. It is always honorable
for a man to stand for his faith despite the hardship it brings. But
sadly, Judge Roy Moore, along with many other honest but misled
religious people, does not "rightly divide the word of truth," and has
not yet learned that the Law delivered to Moses (including its Ten
Commandments) was nailed to the rugged cross of Christ. Colossians 2:14
affirms that Jesus in His death was, "Blotting out the handwriting of
ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it
out of the way, nailing it to his cross." It is declared in Jeremiah
31:31-34, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not
according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that
I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my
covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the
LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of
Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their
inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and
they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his
neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they
shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,
saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember
their sin no more."
THE OLD LAW WAS FULFILLED BY CHRIST
Hebrews 8:6-10 states, "But now hath he obtained a more excellent
ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant [New
Testament], which was established upon better promises. For if that
first covenant [Old Testament] had been faultless, then should no place
have been sought for the second [NT]. For finding fault with them, he
saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant [NT] with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not
according to the covenant [OT] that I made with their fathers in the day
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
because they continued not in my covenant [OT], and I regarded them not,
saith the Lord. For this is the covenant [NT] that I will make with the
house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws
into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a
God, and they shall be to me a people:"
The sacrifices for their sins which God required of His people under the
Law of Moses pointed forward to the day when their sins would finally be
forgiven. We are told that each time a Levitical priest offered a blood
sacrifice it was "a figure for the time then present" but that it "could
not make him that did the service perfect." Even though there was a
remembrance of sins each year, these sacrifices pointed forward to the
great day when Christ by His blood, would fulfill the figure and sins
would be forgiven.
The inspired record continues, "But Christ being come an high priest of
good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made
with hands... Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own
blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal
redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the
ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying
of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the
eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause
he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the
redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament,
they whicn are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance"
The divinely inspired writer of Hebrews makes plain the distinction
between the Old Law or Testament [OT] and the New Law or Testament [NT].
We may also call these "Laws" or "Testaments" two covenants. A covenant
is an agreement between two parties, both sides having responsibilities
to carry out. God always kept His promises and never let His people
down. When the people of God obeyed his commands, they were blessed
exceedingly. However, mankind is imperfect and failed to keep God's
commands on many occasions and suffered the consequences.
MAN COULD NOT KEEP THE LAW
The Old Law demanded obedience but none could live up to its demands -
none, that is, save Jesus Christ who lived the Law perfectly (Hebrews
4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). Upon His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus took
away the Old Law with its "handwriting of ordinances that was against
us" (Colossians 2: 14), and established a new and better way. Those who
try to hang onto the old, make the death of Jesus and everything it
meant absolutely useless. Furthermore, the apostle Paul explains in our
next passage that not only is it possiDle for one to fall again into an
unsaved condition, but also that one of the quickest ways to fall is to
nullify the cross of Christ. The cross is made of no effect, the blood
of Jesus is shed in vain for one who tries to keep the Old Law.
We read in Galatians 5:1-4, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the
yoke or bondage [clearly the Old Testament, the Law of Moses]. Behold, I
Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you
nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised that he is
a debtor to do the whole law [again, the Old Testament]. Christ is
become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law;
ye are fallen from grace." Some had been teaching that in order to
please God Christian men were to keep the ordinance of circumcision.
But, to all others who might be persuaded to keep this rite, Paul would
say, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing nor
uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love... but a new creature.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy,
and upon the Israel of God. (Gal. 5:6; 6:15,16).
[PART II NEXT TIME, LORD WILLING].