Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Struggle with John 14:15

So I am at the point where I want to keep the Law as an expression of love for Jesus, to imitate Jesus, and to obey God's commands (1 John 2:3-6).
Keeping the Law doesn't save you, make you righteous, or to make God "happy" with you (aka you cannot manipulate God through obeying Him).

So I looked at several passages in Romans regarding the Law's proper place in the life of a believer today. Here are my thoughts, then a description of the Law's relationship to the godly one before & since the Messiah came.

Romans 3:19-22- The Law does not save us, it shows us how sinful we are. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus the Christ.
Does this mean we can forget about the Law? (v. 31), No. Of course not. Having faith activates our ability to fulfill the Law.

Romans 4:16- Law =/= save
Romans 6:16- Law shows us HOW to obey God & live right
Romans 7:6- In the context, we must remember that Paul followed the Law. I will write my thoughts in this verse in the description section. This was the tough one.
Romans 7:7- Law shows us what sin is and what right living is
Romans 7:12- Law= holy, right, good, spiritual
Romans 8:4- Follow the Spirit =/= wrath & guilt

Description of the godly one's relationship to the Law before and after Messiah (Romsns 7:6 & other passages)-

The Old Ways, pre-Messiah
Law was a tutor
It was over us
Created an attitude/perspective of work & guilt & can be called the Law of Fear
It was like an anvil hanging over the heads of the people until Messiah would come to redeem them from the weight of conviction.

The Messiah comes
Brings us freedom from the guilty standing & weight of our sin
Changes our relationship & gives us freedom to approach God
Purchases our salvation & fulfills the requirements of the Law, thus He is our propitiation.

The New Ways, since Messiah
Our relationship and attitude is now understanding the Law as a law of love. Because of Messiah's work, we can rest & enjoy living for Him.
The Spirit leads us to understand & follow God's Law.
The Law, Torah, guides us to live holy lives.
The Law still shows us what the mark is. And Jesus is in the center of the Mark.
The Law is good, holy, right, spiritual. It is a path to guide our steps, and be obedient to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

In my mind, the Law shows me how to live & how to express the love I have for Jesus. He followed the Law, Paul did, the early church did, because it is God's fence of holy living.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Should we keep the "613"?

Here are my semi-random thoughts on this from over 3 weeks of exhausting/awesome contemplation on John 14:15 (the Cadet verse), "If you love me, obey my commandments."

My questions:
1. What commandments does Jesus refer to here? Just His teachings? Does this include the 613?
What would His disciples understand this to mean?

Surely, He observed the Mosaic Law (613ish). Surely, His disciples kept the 613. The word for commandments here is entolas, which can refer to either.
In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus teaches the importance of keeping & teaching others the commands of God. In 1 John 2:4, 3:24. So this is important for me to know. Looking at the sentence structure, it can be either. But what did Jesus SPECIFICALLY mean? I wish this were easy, but it isn't. At least for us, in a world +2k years later. There are many filters, cultural differences & mind differences between us & Jesus. May the Spirit of God break through those filters & shine His pure light of truth into our eyes & soul!
When all is boiled down, I believe that He is teaching to keep his teachings, the things He was to teach them. I believe this because Jesus is the "end" or telos of the 613. He completed the purpose of what it was set out to do, and that is that He was finally one who could keep the 613 perfectly & therefore was found worthy of saving souls...THE unblemished lamb, THE perfect, worthy sacrifice. His teachings summarize the intent & purpose of the Law. So to keep His teachings (gospels) is to fulfill the Law, and is enough for us to focus on. See below for thoughts that further develop this.

2. Does keeping the 613 save us or even make God "happier" with us? No, no, no.
3. Do we, as children of God, through faith in Jesus, need to keep the 613?
No. We are free in Christ. When Jesus comes to be our savior, the chains of sin are broken & we are free to live for Him.

Jesus fulfilled the intent of the 613, kept the 613 & taught His students to do the same. However, it also says that Jesus is the "end" or telos of the 613. He completed the purpose of what it was set out to do, and that is that He was finally one who could keep the 613 perfectly & therefore was found worthy of saving souls...THE unblemished lamb, THE perfect, worthy sacrifice.
Scripture teaches that THE commandment that we are to follow is to trust Jesus as our savior, our Messiah, and to love one another (1 John 3:23, Galatians 5:14).

So, do we print off a copy of the 613, then strive to follow them, as a reflection of our deep love to our savior? We can if we want to. Or we can simplify & trust Him for our salvation, and love people (which is hard enough to do as it is).

4. Practically, what about things such as, "Should we keep the Sabbath", one of the 613?
Well, with this, the Sabbath is a shadow of what was to come. Christ is the reality. Therefore, HE is our rest, in which we rest from our work. We CAN keep a Sabbath & I think it is good for us to do so. On it, we rest our bodies, let God be in control, refuse to worry, and enjoy a "chill day". But we are not required too, in order to have God's favor. We have His favor already through Jesus, our propitiation.
I recommend keeping the Sabbath, but if you cannot, then make sure you get a chill day in. And remember that ultimately, we have rest in Jesus.

5. How many of the 613 do I keep by following Galatians 5:14, on a great day?
Well, many we cannot keep because a) some require a temple in Jerusalem, b) some are for the Israelite theocracy, c) I am not a Levite, d) I am not a farmer. I naturally observe the Law for the most part, except for the Sabbath (see #4), I don't have corner tassels on my clothes, and I sometimes I have mixed fabrics in my shirt, and eat pork.
My goal is to keep as many as possible to express my love for Jesus, while not neglecting the greatest commands of loving God & loving people.

6. What was the point of the 613 anyhow?
To show us that we are screwed without a savior saving us. In other words, that YOU and I need saving. To deny this is to be in pride. It is a mirror to show us that we cannot perfectly keep God's standards & that we have all fallen short & are guilty before a holy God. Therefore, we each need salvation. We all need to admit to God that we have fallen short, that we cannot save ourselves & then turn from our former way of living & turn to follow Jesus as our savior and our lord.

7. What about the other physical type laws? Are they done away with?
(examples are mixing fabrics, wearing corner tassels, mixing seed in your field, celebrate the Jewish festivals-seeing that I am ingrafted in, to observe Sukkot) These things Jesus observed, but we don't see Him verbally teaching on this. So do we sin if we do not keep God's commands here? Or is the purpose of the Law fulfilled in Christ & it doesn't matter if we do these things? We can keep them, if it is not too big a burden. Better though, is to understand who God would make these laws/ these laws of love and care. These verses, even these "lesser" laws are useful to equip us to love people.

8. So should we, as believers, ingrafted into the Jewish faith through the Messiah, keep the 613 today? To earn salvation, to keep salvation, to earn God's favor, no. To express love for Jesus, I think this would be awesome and totally acceptable, why not? Jesus kept the Law, so if we want to we can do it as an expression of love toward Jesus also.

Anyhow, I could have said this in the beginning, but I love Jesus, and want to express my love toward Him. I can keep the Law, if I desire to do so, as an expression of love. But more importantly, He wants me to express that love for Jesus by loving & caring for people. Time to love someone.