David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: law Page 1 of 2

Jesus, the Giver, Fulfiller and Lover of the Law

“The Gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all of their hearts.” – J. Gresham Machen

If Jesus is (right now) and was (during His earthly ministry) a perfect lover of the law of God, a lover of the commandments of God (and He is, as He is the One who gave the law to Moses on the mountain, since it is a very reflection of His character and nature), just as the same love of God’s laws and rules is laid out in multiple places in the Psalms, but very clearly and repeatedly in Psalm 119, for example; and if Jesus is speaking to the churches in the early church in the beginning of Revelation banning them from “sexual immorality,” because it does indeed displease Him; does it not follow that just because a particular sin or issue isn’t spoken of directly in the words of Jesus, recorded in the gospels, that there is enough evidence to surmise that yes, indeed, Jesus was opposed to every form of sexuality that doesn’t conform to the pattern instated in the very beginning, man and woman in covenant marriage, in Genesis, re-iterated by none other than Jesus Himself?

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The Embodiment and Fulfiller of the Law

The law, religious piety and practice have fallen on hard times these days in the church. The modern day status quo stance of many professing evangelicals seems to be something of, “I’m free in Jesus to do what makes me happy while not hurting anyone else and to follow the way of Jesus as he outlined in the Sermon on the Mount,” etc. etc. This may be the kind of stance red-letter-only Christians tend to possess. However there’s a big problem with this.

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His Delight is in the Law of the Lord

‘…his delight is in the law of the LORD…’ (Psalm 1:2)

Though this certainly means delighting in his word as a whole, this verse gives specific reference to the law. The blessed one of God, the one in God’s favor, delights in the commandments of God and doing them, for it is to this he has been saved. For the one blessed of God, no longer is obedience a burdensome task of trying to find acceptance with Him (justification) since that has already been obtained through Christ and His work through faith, granted as a gift. Christ has provided the righteousness necessary to stand in the Father’s presence, out of His sheer mercy. But now, having been accepted, obedience stems from the joy of the believers heart, because of God’s work on his behalf. The one in God’s favor delights in obedience out of the overflow of His heart.

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Crescendo of Exuberance – The Gospel and Worship

worshipThe whole point of worship is looking outside ourselves to another, namely Christ. When you’re caught up in the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, you’re caught up to something outside yourself, its particular heights and depths, its colors, its sheer size. You’re not thinking about yourself or what you’re going to get out of it as a means to an end, emotionally speaking. You’re simply caught up in that object in itself. Now the effect of being caught up to an object so beautiful is emotion. Standing on the top of Long’s Peak causes me to weep, not because I went there for the emotional high, so to speak, but because it is awesome in itself. Emotion and the experience of it is the result though, not the end. Emotion happens naturally because the object of your focus is so incredible.

So it is with worship of God, particularly in a worship service, but even more generally in our daily lives. To the degree we’re enraptured by, or caught up in, the truth (doctrine) of who Christ is and what He’s done on our behalf, and to the extent we encounter Jesus himself in prayer in our daily lives is the extent to which we’ll be rightly emotive in our response at our worship services, I’m convinced. Music aids in that, but it is not an end unto itself (as most of us know), nor is it primary in kindling those emotions. Now music can be extremely encouraging of that goal when good or distracting if it’s bad and therefore should be done with excellence, absolutely. But my concern for the church is larger than the production of things: people can seem unresponsive in worship services because we’re not caught up in the excitement of the truth of the drama of the gospel and encountering the person of Christ in our lives. When we sing “God is good,” yes that’s absolutely true. But how is God good? What is it that makes Him so amazing and good? The job of the pastor and worship leader is to create these categories of thought as it pertains to the gospel. Being caught up in who He is and what He’s done, explained in a literary manner, with awesome music and a sermon centered on the Person of Christ? That’s a recipe for worship that’s honoring to the Lord, that looks outside ourselves to Another. There’s joy there, there’s excellence in music, which translates into some form of a response, which could be sitting down and weeping, or standing with arms lifted, or in some cases not showing emotion and yet exploding with joy inwardly.

This is where the hymns come in, as an example, particularly the more theological hymns. Sure, there are some dreadfully bad hymns, both musically and lyrically. But why are the hymns so great? Let’s take In Christ Alone, a modern hymn. The whole song, verse by verse, is a progressive explanation of the gospel, with a final crescendo of exuberance in our hearts at what God has done. That sings, that produces joy. Love Constrained to Obedience is about Christ fulfilling the law on our behalf, turning our duty into joyful choice now, something we desire to do out of love for the One who saved us. How Deep the Father’s Love is about the depth of His love, literally the theological nature of it, what composes it, its characteristics, its properties. Revelation Song is deeply theological and really just quoting Scripture to a great degree. Before the Throne of God is all about imputed righteousness, how Christ is our advocate, our high priest, how the Father sees us as He sees His own Son! When we think on these things in depth and combine that with the experience of prayer in our lives, it produces a something that wells up within us of love to God and sets our hearts ablaze with joy … and thus a response.

What I desire to see more of in my own life, as well as the larger church, is that we’re all becoming more gospel-centric, meaning marinading ourselves, our teaching and our music in these truths. Let every sermon point there as an application for the motivation unto obedience and worship, as opposed to being motivated by law. Let every song drip it. How does Christ fulfill the law for us? How is His obedience transferred to our account? Why is that amazing? How does that truth apply Wednesday afternoon? How can we take that application into our music? How does Jesus’s blood appease God’s wrath? Resurrection? On and on. These are themes that cause us to well up with joy. And joy is the end goal of the gospel. Joy in the face of Christ, seen in Scripture, experienced through the Spirit.

Greg Koukl: The Myth of Non-Moral Legislation

On the myth that morality can’t be legislated. This is all I will say about the decisions today:

“Aristotle said, ‘Law rests upon the necessary foundation of morality.’ Therefore, if your law does not reflect a moral rationale, then your law is an illicit law. Some people say you cannot legislate morality. If Aristotle is right, then morality is the only thing you can legislate. If power is simply used to secure the benefits of a select few rather than the common good, this is an illicit use of law.”

http://old.westerfunk.net/archives/theology/President%20Speech%20-%20Greg%20Koukl/
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

Moral Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair from Veritas [3] on Vimeo.

Nationally Renowned Law Scholar Jonathan Turley on Surveillance, Civil Liberties and Privacy Issues

Before going into this, it should be noted Christ is the sovereign King who rules all governments by the power of His word, including ours. These things are not happening in a vaccuum apart from Him. With that noted, it is also important to note that Christ has given us means and tools at our disposal to influence and change government for the benefit of all. Benjamin Franklin had this to say when asked what kind of government was being formed. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Our freedoms are being eroded right before our eyes as the nation is enthralled with the likes of the Kardashian’s, obsessed with football, or we have just stuck our heads in the sand either willfully or through pure ignorance. This is no different than the Roman population being distracted with circuses, gladiatorial sport and bread before the empire succumbed to the Visigoths sacking Rome in the fifth century. This entire clip is worth watching for every American, left right, Democrat, Republican, whoever. One smart man.

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. ” – Ariel Durant

The Holiness of God

Having come to the close of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) in my Scripture reading, the holiness of God has been made clear. I don’t see how you could miss it. When postmoderns in our day reject the “nonsense” of the laws and sacrifices contained within these five books, I can’t help but think that their underlying rejection is the holiness of God Himself who set these out as definitively appropriate. What we call absurd laws and statutes in our intellectually “sophisticated” society, God plainly and clearly set forth as right and true. If we reject and rebel against what He instituted, is it not Him we are rejecting ultimately, the Giver of those laws and statutes?

As I have been reading these passages this time, I have been struck by God’s absolute otherness, separateness from us. Surely He has condescended and made Himself known to us in Christ. But this in no way negates His transcendence. These five books make this abundantly clear. In order for God to be favorable toward us, a sacrifice had to take place over and over again that covered or took the place of us in punishment, pointing to the final sacrifice of Christ upon the cross for our sins who bore our punishment once and for all. When we anthropomorphize God and make Him like us (apart from how He has revealed Himself and condescened to us in Christ), we do a great disservice to the clear proclamation of His holiness in Scripture.

It is this very holiness which caused many of those holy saints in the Old Testament to fall on their faces in terror at His presence. And to think how glibly we approach Him in our worship many times. The God of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament. We must always keep that in mind when we read through any passage of the time during and after Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

The Soap Opera of the Old Testament

When we read Scripture and particularly the Old Testament, it is so easy to automatically view those heroes of the faith, those glowing golden embossed characters we have all read about as kids as if they did no wrong. Sadly, a lot of times, we carry those portrayals with us into adulthood. Sure they made “mistakes,” the thinking goes, but they are people who kept their act together 99% of the time and are worthy of imitation as a result. And unfortunately, this is where we think the teaching stops.

The natural result of this thinking and its resultant teaching is that the historical characters of the Scriptures merely become our models for how to live, people we should imitate in faith and good works. Now of course, to a certain extent that is true. Yet, is that all there is to these narratives? I thought the Bible was a book about God and His works? Does this not apply to every square inch of Scripture including every single narrative?

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Instructions For How to Live? Or Promises of Redemption?

Is the Old Testament just a bunch of stories and instruction for what we should and shouldn’t do? Or is it one big story compiled of smaller stories, that all make up an unfolding drama of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, in which God reveals hints and pictures that all point to the grand climax of this story: the perfect, law-fulling life, sacrificial death and hope filled resurrection, ascension and return of Christ? I would argue the latter. For instance, the writer of Hebrews says of Moses:

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. – Hebrews 11:24-26

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Comment on Monergism.com Concerning the Will

“Many today build a theology around the idea which assumes that God’s commands to us in the Bible somehow imply our moral ability to keep them … but we soon forget that Romans 3:20 declares that ‘…through the law comes knowledge of sin.’ In other words, the commands exist to reveal our moral inability, not our ability. This inability also includes God’s command of all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, an impossible act of natural will apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit uniting us to Christ. Only the quicking grace of Jesus Christ applied by the Spirit can turn our heart of stone to flesh and illumine the Text in such a way (to open blind eyes and deaf ears) wherein we and able to see Christ’s beauty and excellency. Those who are unregenerate cannot see Christ’s excellency and thus have no capacity to love what is spiritual and so are not partly but wholly dependent on God to translate them from darkness to light. This means that man’s affections are in complete bondage to sin until Christ sets them free … and if the will is in bondage, it is not free. It chooses, not by coersion but by necessity to sin.”

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