We Need Both Rules and Relationship with God

Jen Wilkin: Perhaps you have heard the statement “Christianity isn’t about rules, it’s about relationship.” It is an idea that has enjoyed popularity in recent decades, as evangelistic messages increasingly emphasized a personal relationship with God, one made possible through the grace that forgives our sins against God’s law. In many ways, this evangelistic approach seeks to solve the PR problem I have noted. It trades the grumpy Old Testament God of the law for the compassionate New Testament God of grace. Thus, law and grace have come to be pitted against one another as enemies, when in fact, they are friends. The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New have been placed in opposition, when in fact, they are one and the same. God does not change. His justice and compassion have always coexisted, and so have his law and his grace. Herein lies our forgetfulness. Rather than seeing the sin of lawlessness as the

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Preach the Gospel . . . and the Law

By Eric Beach: Over the last decade, the term “gospel centered” has grown in popularity among parishioners, pastors, and publishers. While I commend many of the gospel-centered resources available today, some purveyors of a “gospel-centered” message unintentionally end up neglecting the entirety of the Bible’s teaching on both the law and the gospel. From the earliest days of the Protestant Reformation, the magisterial reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin recognized that Scripture contains both the law of God (his commands) and the gospel of God (his promises of salvation). They, and many of their heirs, saw this paradigm as important for understanding and applying Scripture rightly. As a result, the Lutheran and Reformed traditions understood the vital importance of teaching the law and the gospel to both non-Christians and Christians. Today, teachers who emphasize the gospel and functionally deemphasize the law can generate a number of unintended pastoral problems. TEACH CHRISTIANS HOW TO OBEY First, “gospel centered” preaching that functionally excludes “law

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The Ten Pleasures

David Murray: The Ten Commandments are framed mainly in the negative: “Thou shalt not.” But each negative also implies a positive, and each prohibition of vice enjoins a pleasure in virtue. So, here’s my attempt to re-frame the 10 commandments as 10 pleasures to pursue. 1. Enjoy the pleasure of knowing, worshipping and serving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 2. Enjoy the pleasure of worshipping God in ways that He approves, loves, rewards, and responds to. 3. Enjoy the pleasure of speaking and singing about God’s beautiful persons, names, attributes, and acts. 4. Enjoy the pleasure of six days working in God’s calling for you and then enjoy the freedom of one full day off work to worship God and rest. 5. Enjoy the pleasure of loving and following the leaders God has placed in your life for your temporal and eternal good. 6. Enjoy the pleasure of healthy attitudes and activities that will improve the

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Why don’t we follow all of the Old Testament laws?

J.D. Greear: It’s pretty common these days for people to dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they follow some of the rules in the Bible and ignore others.” The challenge usually sounds something like this: “When the Bible talks about certain sexual behaviors as sin, you quote that; but when it says not to eat shellfish or that you should execute people for breaking the Sabbath, you just ignore it. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what suits you best?” I’ve found that this objection carries a lot of weight, and not just with non-Christians. Many Christians have a hard time answering it … which is why we just secretly hope it never comes up. One of the most helpful ways to think about this is to look at the types of laws there are in the Old Testament. The 16th-century Reformer John Calvin saw that the NT seemed to treat the OT laws in three ways. There were Civil Laws,

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