Friday, June 21, 2013

Hebrews, James, Peter, John, Revelation on the Law

 Hebrews - The unknown author takes us into the writings of the law and the prophets including the Psalms in a most blessed way. Many themes run through the book, but this one stands out  -  " better than, more than ". Christ is shown to surpass the law and Moses. He goes on to show the glorious height of the great shepherd in heaven itself. The writer quotes extensively from the Old Testament to show the surpassing glories of the Son of God.
    I could spend a long time in Hebrews( maybe later), but I pass over to James. This is one of the earliest NT writings  and because of its emphasis on works to accompany faith, is disregarded by some. But wait, James might have commanded us to keep the law of Moses, but rather he refers to the "royal law of liberty" - liberty from the burden of Mosaic law (Acts15) and traditional law, to the "Law of Christ"(Gal.6)  . Put into context, this letter is a brilliant restatement of the teachings of Jesus, and the emphasis on works is just like the Lord's exposure of the hypocrisy in the empty 'faith'  the Pharisees, scribes etc. Please note how little of the law of Moses is mentioned in James, considering that he was surrounded by Christian Jews of the circumcision persuasion.

Peter was the Apostle to the circumcision. In his letters, he speaks as one sent by the Lord Jesus. His exhortations are very much linked to the history of the Israelite people, but instead of turning the people back to law keeping, he shows again and again the Old testament incidents are fulfilled in Christ eg 1.18,19 Redemption is by the blood of the Lamb. In regard to practical sanctification, he gives commands eg 2.1- 'put away malice'. The flow of instructions continue, frequently interrupted with references to Christ. He appeals often to the Old Testament to illustrate his point eg  Sarah. lastly he presents his own chequered experience as a good reason to exhort the elders.
Any references to the keeping of the law, the Sabbath and synagogue services are distinctly missing.

       In his second epistle, he makes no obvious reference to the law of Moses, but does present the significance of Old Testament prophecy as the 'more sure word'.In Ch 3.2 he brings together the prophecies and the commandments of the Lord and Saviour through the apostles. In 3.16 he put the teachings of  the apostle Paul among the ' other scriptures'. How significant.

      1 John presents plenty about commandments, but not the commandments through Moses! Rather the commandments from the Lord Jesus.  Ch2.2- the measure of our sanctification is linked to the way that Jesus 'walked'. How blessed  we are to have four Gospel records of the work and walk and words of the Master. Ch 2.14 'the word of God' may well have broad inclusions, so as to include the Old testament, but the understanding of truth is connected with the anointing f the Holy Spirit 2.27.
    Sin is described as lawlessness ( so law is recognised), but John traces sin to it's source - the devil -showing that if we practise sin we are falling under the spell of the evil one.  By contrast, John presents the Christian life as 'walking according to His commandments' - this being a true expression of love. 2 John 6.
In third John, he uses another word in sanctification - "Imitate". Peter also presented Christ as an example and that we should 'walk in His steps'.

  The world around us and the flesh within us will make every excuse not to live this way, but still the call is clear.

   The book of Revelation presents the man Christ Jesus in glory executing judgements on all created beings. most of the book is based on an understanding of the Old Testament. The real triumph is that the one "whom they pierced" will gather unto Himself a redeemed people, with whom He will enjoy the new heavens and new earth. His word will be enough,  His will best, Himself the light of all!

John McKee  - conclusion next time

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