Sunday, August 21, 2016

Patterns for the church among the nations - The law as schoolmaster

Many Christians today make the mistake that, since we are no longer bound by the covenantal construct of the Mosaic Covenant, that the Old Testament is no longer of value to the New Testament Church. Nothing can be further from the truth. In several places in the New Testament we are instructed that the Old Testament contains patterns that have fulfillment in the New Testament. It is through understanding these patterns that your faith can be transformed from a merely personal religion to the faith of a king who is advancing the Kingdom of the King of kings.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is warning the Corinthian church against idolatry. He writes of the pattern of events in the Mosaic narrative, showing how swift judgments came from God upon those who did not follow the law and who did not follow Moses' lead. He writes in vs 6 that " Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." Paul was specifically referring to the events of the Exodus and wanderings in the wilderness, but the Mosaic Covenant expands this pattern to include the whole pattern of events that happen to the Israelites the whole time they are under the Mosaic Covenant. Deuteronomy 28 gives a list of blessings to those who follow the Covenant and curses to those who fail to follow the Covenant. In Colossians 2:16-17 Paul quite explicitly says that the entirety of the law and prophets is a type and shadow that is fulfilled in Christ. Everything in the Old Testament, including those things that are not legally binding today, has an application in Christ.

In Galatians 3:23-24 we are instructed that the law is a schoolmaster:

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:23-24

What does a schoolmaster or school teacher do. They do two things. They impart knowledge and principles. They also train by examples which involves discipline. "Discipline" comes from "disciple- ling." Such teaching often involves hard lessons that involve "making an example." these examples embed principles. The mature, just person - the one who bases his life on faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38), draws out the correct inferences and make correct decisions based on these exemplars.

God ordained Israel to be the body politic for God's people; Making correct inferences from the exemplars of the Old Testament transforms one's faith into faith that advances the Kingdom of God on earth. This does not mean that we are to promote the Mosaic law as legally binding on gentile nations today. Christ has done away with that application. What it does mean is that that child of God will apply these principles within the current cultural and political contexts in which we find ourselves.  As we do this we will find that the Kingdom of God moves forward in our own communities and nations. We will also find that we gain insight into the heart of  God.

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