Friday, January 20, 2012


A dear blogging brother, Paul Burleson, has recently published a comment arising from a conference where he taught on Paul’s first letter to the  Corinthians. In his comment he says,

Have you ever noticed that Paul NEVER mentions the Law of Moses in this letter we call 1st Corinthians? He's certainly having to deal with problems in the church that are grievous in nature such as drunkenness, arguing over who had been the greatest pastor, [ Paul, Peter, or Apollos] suing one another in courts of law and then there was that immoral situation they were not dealing with at all, and proud they were not as if it were a badge of honor that they were permissive.
In fact, the ONLY time Paul used the Law of Moses in his arguments for pure living was when he challenged the legalists who needed to be shown that even the law itself could not be kept in an effort to be holy. He NEVER used the law of Moses, even the ten commandments, as a standard to hold up for New Covenant behavior.”

That observation, in itself is extremely important, but he goes on to point out something very important for many today who forget that the genuine follower of Christ IS NOT FIGHTING AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, as he says,

 “ …………that Paul was willing to engage the culture of his day and wasn't angry toward it or did not rail against it as if it were some kind of witchcraft at work against the gospel. He recognized its weaknesses and its inability to speak to the deepest problems and need of the human race, namely dealing with the fallen and hopeless nature of the human condition, but had no real answers. The wisdom of God seen in the gospel does have answers, however. Paul thought so at least. I do too.

I hadn’t long read Paul’s thoughts when I came across this from Ed Trefezger’s blog, This Mystery, where he writes:
I’ve been fol­low­ing Tul­lian Tchividjian’s pas­sion­ate advo­cacy of the suf­fi­ciency of the gospel and the dis­cus­sions he’s had with oth­ers who want to drive peo­ple to law for sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Two peo­ple at our church have brought up Tchividjian’s lat­est book,Jesus + Noth­ing = Every­thing, so I thought it was about time I read it. This snip­pet is from a sec­tion of the book sub­ti­tled, “The Great­est Threat”:
The Bible makes it clear that the gospel’s pre­mier enemy is one we often call “legal­ism.” I like to call it per­for­man­cism. Still another way of view­ing it, espe­cially in its most com­mon man­i­fes­ta­tion in Chris­tians, is moral­ism. Strictly speak­ing, those three terms — legalism, performancism, and moral­ism — aren’t pre­cisely iden­ti­cal in what they refer to. But there’s so much over­lap and inter­con­nec­tion between them that we’ll basi­cally look at them here as one thing.
And what really is that one thing?
Well, it shows up when we fail to believe the gospel. It shows up when behav­ioral oblig­a­tions are divorced from gospel dec­la­ra­tions, when imper­a­tives are dis­con­nected from gospel indica­tives. Legal­ism hap­pens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.
Our per­for­man­cism leads to pride when we suc­ceed and to despair when we fail. But ulti­mately it leads to slav­ery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to estab­lish our own iden­tity instead of rest­ing in Jesus and what he accom­plished to estab­lish it for us. In all its forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and there­fore enslaving.
Tchivid­jian, Tul­lian.Jesus + Noth­ing = Every­thing. Wheaton, IL: Cross­way, 2011. Print. (p. 45–46)”

How good it is to read the work of those who know that Jesus + Noth­ing = Every­thing, and, as a consequence, have no desire to drive people back to the prison from which Christ set them free!

By the way! If you want a good read, look at Ed's "Completed by the Spirit"!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Heart and a New Covenant

Recently, I experienced an event which was, to say the least, life changing. No! I’m not writing about the new birth, which was also, most definitely, life changing, entailing a changed heart attitude. 

I am alluding to  heart surgery requiring a triple by-pass. The heart that beat in my chest 5 weeks ago is now substantially altered, with three grafts made from a vein in my right leg supplying blood to the required parts. During these weeks I’ve been given a new lease on life, experienced the prayer fellowship of brethren world-wide, and an assurance of the Lord’s presence, of His being “with me” such as I have never known previously. I was given a peace which I would have loved to give to many who were worried about my condition.

I’m not sure why, but whilst thinking of these events, I’m drawn to think of things such as new wine skins, and the fact that new wine was never placed in old wine skins, simply because the old skins could not contain the pressure of the new wine, and would burst.

The old veins around my heart could not do the work required of them, and despite having led a life conducive to good heart health, other factors such as heredity came into play. My paternal grandfather died from a heart attack, my father had a heart attack and eventually died from the consequences. My mother suffered similarly.

I consider that, to all intents and purposes, because I had no damage to my heart muscles, I now have a new heart, reconditioned with sound blood vessels, but not simply patched up, like an old wine skin.

The New Covenant is very much like these new blood vessels. It is NEW, not the Old Covenant patched up.  It is new because of the New Covenant Person (Isaiah 42:6) who is the New law written on the heart by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

Here is the riches of the glory of  this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Christ dwelling in us by His Spirit is our New Covenant Law.  (Jer. 31-34)

Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Covenant and then as our New Covenant Person He revealed what was hidden in the Old Covenant types and shadows in the light of His person and ministry . He did not come to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfill them, to meet all the requirements and expectations of the Old Covenant as it was given to Moses  (Matt. 5:17) Hence His cry from the cross, "It is finished!"

He made concrete, and gave reality, to what the Old Covenant foreshadowed, and could never achieve (Heb.8:7).

It foreshadowed a people who would  function by the power of  the Holy Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and who are directed and caused by the Spirit to be lovers of Christ, and of each other. 

This is the evidence of a changed heart which Jesus spoke of to the old  Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3:3). This is a radical life change. It is New wine requiring New wine skins to contain the absolute newness and power of a life motivated by love towards the One who took our covenant place before the justice of God, and our brethren. 

You and I are "in Christ", if we are as Jesus soke to Nicodemus, "born again", and as such we are a "new creation " as Paul told the Galatians in 6:15. Our relationship with God through this "new birth" involves much more than"becoming a Christian" or "joining a church." 

We are spiritually new, the spiritual offspring of the Father, born as a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor.5:17). We are part of a new humanity that is only marking time in this world as we know it.  In Christ we have been baptized into one body by one Spirit, which is not governed by man's laws of organization, but by the life and nature of the New Covenant Person who created it. 

Our hope of righteousness puts no weight in personal acts of piety but in the changed heart that has been placed within you. And, as I was promised as a young man, "He who began the work in you will finish it to the praise of His glory".

Our very existence as God's children, is in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Our citizenship is in heaven, ". . . we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). As the book of Hebrews, makes clear, we have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem and to the heavenly assembly, the church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12: 22-24). The New Covenant requires a circumcision made without hands (Colossians 2:11) and a new heart in the Spirit (Romans 2:29), not the flesh.