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Excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, August 2

“Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

Ephesians 1:11

Our belief in God’s wisdom supposes and necessitates that he has a settled purpose and plan in the work of salvation. What would creation have been without his design? Is there a fish in the sea, or a fowl in the air, which was left to chance for its formation? Nay, in every bone, joint, and muscle, sinew, gland, and blood-vessel, you mark the presence of a God working everything according to the design of infinite wisdom. And shall God be present in creation, ruling over all, and not in grace? Shall the new creation have the fickle genius of free will to preside over it when divine counsel rules the old creation? Look at Providence! Who knoweth not that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father? Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. God weighs the mountains of our grief in scales, and the hills of our tribulation in balances. And shall there be a God in providence and not in grace? Shall the shell be ordained by wisdom and the kernel be left to blind chance? No; he knows the end from the beginning. He sees in its appointed place, not merely the cornerstone which he has laid in fair colours, in the blood of his dear Son, but he beholds in their ordained position each of the chosen stones taken out of the quarry of nature, and polished by his grace; he sees the whole from corner to cornice, from base to roof, from foundation to pinnacle. He hath in his mind a clear knowledge of every stone which shall be laid in its prepared space, and how vast the edifice shall be, and when the top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings of “Grace! Grace! unto it.” At the last it shall be clearly seen that in every chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as he willed with his own; and that in every part of the work of grace he accomplished his purpose, and glorified his own name.

 

Evening, August 2

“So she gleaned in the field until even.”

Ruth 2:17

Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to gather the ears of corn, so must I go forth into the fields of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the word to gather spiritual food. The gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little: so must I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them. Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise unto salvation. The gleaner keeps her eyes open: if she stumbled among the stubble in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at eventide. I must be watchful in religious exercises lest they become unprofitable to me; I fear I have lost much already—O that I may rightly estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence. The gleaner stoops for all she finds, and so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul-saving word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner; down, master pride, thou art a vile robber, not to be endured for a moment. What the gleaner gathers she holds: if she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but scant; she is as careful to retain as to obtain, and so at last her gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing! Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth? A hungry belly makes the gleaner wise; if there be no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table; she labours under the sense of necessity, and hence her tread is nimble and her grasp is firm; I have even a greater necessity, Lord, help me to feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous a reward to diligence.

 

This work is published in the public domain.  

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5 Encouragements for the Spiritual Desert Wanderer

In your daily “quiet times,” do you ever feel like Moses and the Israelites just wandering around the desert waiting for Promise Land?  

You might think that having graduated seminary means that my daily time with the Lord in the morning is full of His Shekinah Glory every time I open my Bible and close my eyes in prayer. 

Let me assure you, it’s not. In fact, if anything, having been in seminary made my times with the Lord dryer and more difficult. I did not expect that this was going to happen in seminary. Yet, I found myself in quite the barren spiritual desert 6 months ago and I had been wandering for a long time. Knowing (some) Greek didn’t help. Knowing the cultural background and context of the text didn’t help. Honestly, it made it worse. I couldn’t just enjoy God’s Word for what it is: His Word! The Bible had become another textbook I had to read. 

Can you relate to this at all? Maybe it’s not because of seminary, but have you ever felt like the Bible was something that you “had to read” and not something that you have the joy and privilege of reading? Have you ever felt like you were in a spiritual desert and your Bible reading and prayer weren’t helping? Are you in that desert now? 

Whether you have been, you are, (or will be someday), in a similar place, let me give you five encouragements that I pray bless you in those times: 

1. You’re not alone. I can’t say for certain, but I think that ALL Christians go through this at some point in their journey with the Lord. Take heart! The spiritual desert you find yourself in has been traveled before and others have made it through. Therefore, you will too. But… 

2. Just because you don’t “feel” close to God in your Bible and prayer time doesn’t mean that you should abandon it. I know many people who simply stop reading and praying during desert times and you know what? It doesn’t help. What would happen if I stopped talking to my wife every time I didn’t “feel” love towards her? If I did this, waiting for the morning where all of a sudden the lights came on, I’d be in the dark for a long time waiting to “feel” love for her. How do I “feel” love for my wife? I spend time with her. I talk to her. I share my heart with her. Spending more time, not less, stirs my affections for her. I believe that’s how it is with God. It’s a relationship after all, right? To put it another way: a sailboat won’t move unless the wind blows the sails. Therefore, raise the sails of your spiritual life (read and pray) and wait for the wind (the Spirit) to blow.  

3. I’ve been using John Piper’s IOUS acronym daily for the last 5 months and it has helped a ton: 

  • I—Incline “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36) 
  • O—Open “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18) 
  • U—Unite “Unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) 
  • S—Satisfy “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14) 

4. Repent. Is there sin in your life that you need to repent of? Could there be some sin that is stifling your walk with God? I don’t know. Only you and God know. But if there is, then I urge you to repent and turn from your sin. Often, this is all it takes.  

5. Beg God to grow your affections for Him. Ask Him to give you the desire to even want to read and pray. Pray this daily, even if you’re in a good spot. This is a request our heavenly Father wants to answer. 

There’s more to be said here, but I’ll leave it at those five encouragements for now.

Everyone is different and everyone’s walk with the Lord is different. I’ve just laid out what I have learned and what has helped me. If this doesn’t encourage you, then go find someone whose Bible-Prayer life is one you want to have for yourself ask them how they do it. Then, go and do the same! 

It’s okay to be in a spiritual desert. It’s not okay to stay there.  

Here’s the really good news though… spiritual desert or not, if you’re in Christ, then Jesus loves you just the same. So take heart, beloved brother or sister.  

 

Gabriel Pech is married to Hannah and they have 3 beautiful children. They have been members at FCC since April 2017. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with his M.Div. in May, 2018. The Pech family now lives in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where they are missionaries to the 80,000+ Americans/military members and their families who are stationed there.  

 

 

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Excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, April 24

“And because of all this we make a sure covenant.”

Nehemiah 9:38

There are many occasions in our experience when we may very rightly, and with benefit, renew our covenant with God. After recovery from sickness when, like Hezekiah, we have had a new term of years added to our life, we may fitly do it. After any deliverance from trouble, when our joys bud forth anew, let us again visit the foot of the cross, and renew our consecration. Especially, let us do this after any sin which has grieved the Holy Spirit, or brought dishonour upon the cause of God; let us then look to that blood which can make us whiter than snow, and again offer ourselves unto the Lord. We should not only let our troubles confirm our dedication to God, but our prosperity should do the same. If we ever meet with occasions which deserve to be called “crowning mercies” then, surely, if he hath crowned us, we ought also to crown our God; let us bring forth anew all the jewels of the divine regalia which have been stored in the jewel-closet of our heart, and let our God sit upon the throne of our love, arrayed in royal apparel. If we would learn to profit by our prosperity, we should not need so much adversity. If we would gather from a kiss all the good it might confer upon us, we should not so often smart under the rod. Have we lately received some blessing which we little expected? Has the Lord put our feet in a large room? Can we sing of mercies multiplied? Then this is the day to put our hand upon the horns of the altar, and say, “Bind me here, my God; bind me here with cords, even forever.” Inasmuch as we need the fulfilment of new promises from God, let us offer renewed prayers that our old vows may not be dishonoured. Let us this morning make with him a sure covenant, because of the pains of Jesus which for the last month we have been considering with gratitude.

~

Evening, April 24

“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

Song of Solomon 2:12

Sweet is the season of spring: the long and dreary winter helps us appreciate its genial warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights. After periods of depression of spirit, it is delightful to behold again the light of the Sun of Righteousness; then our slumbering graces rise from their lethargy, like the crocus and the daffodil from their beds of earth; then is our heart made merry with delicious notes of gratitude, far more melodious than the warbling of birds–and the comforting assurance of peace, infinitely more delightful than the turtle’s note, is heard within the soul. Now is the time for the soul to seek communion with her Beloved; now must she rise from her native sordidness, and come away from her old associations. If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favourable, we shall be blameworthy: times of refreshing ought not to pass over us unimproved. When Jesus himself visits us in tenderness, and entreats us to arise, can we be so base as to refuse his request? He has himself risen that he may draw us after him: he now by his Holy Spirit has revived us that we may, in newness of life, ascend into the heavenlies, and hold communion with himself. Let our wintry state suffice us for coldness and indifference; when the Lord creates a spring within, let our sap flow with vigour, and our branch blossom with high resolve. O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from thee. Oh! the long and dreary winter, when wilt thou bring it to an end? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul! quicken thou me! restore me, and have mercy on me! This very night I would earnestly implore the Lord to take pity upon his servant, and send me a happy revival of spiritual life!

Public Domain, Published on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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For the Purpose of Godliness

This is the phrase that is included in each chapter title of Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.  I can almost hear mouse clicks all over the city as readers of this blog attempt to exit out after reading the word “discipline” – the “D word.” For some reason, we Reformed believers can mistakenly equate discipline with legalism. In his book, Whitney shows how the spiritual disciplines are far from being legalistic, restrictive or binding, but rather the means to unparalleled spiritual liberty. If you will think about the excitement of achieving a difficult goal, whether becoming proficient on a musical instrument, losing weight, running a marathon, or – you fill in the blank – you know that it took discipline to achieve that goal.

If you are a new believer seeking guidance in your new walk with Christ, or a seasoned saint feeling a little stale in your pilgrimage,  Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life can be a means of grace in your life to give you direction and refreshment in your journey with your Lord and Savior.

Donald Whitney’s key verse for Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is 1 Timothy 4:7, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” This verse is the theme of the entire book. In other words, the spiritual disciplines are means, not ends. The end – that is, the purpose of practicing the disciplines – is godliness. Whitney defines godliness as both closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ, a conformity that is both inward and outward, a growing conformity to both the heart of Christ and the life of Christ.

Whitney assures us that we stand before God only in the righteousness that has been bought by another: Jesus Christ. All who come to God trusting in the Person and work of Jesus Christ to make them right with God are given the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all those in whom He resides to have new, holy hungers they never had before. They hunger, for example, for the Word of God, which before salvation may have seemed boring or irrelevant. Perhaps for that reason, Bible Intake is the first of the spiritual disciplines exposited by Dr. Whitney in his book.

Whitney limits himself to those disciplines that are Biblical, that is, to practices taught or modeled in the Bible. He skillfully unpacks ten spiritual disciplines, where they can be found in the Scriptures, and how they can be practiced experientially for the purpose of godliness.

I will confess that I am currently NOT practicing all ten of the disciplines as outlined by Donald Whitney, but I found the book very helpful in reminding me of the benefits of spiritual disciplines and redirecting my focus to my purpose in life until He comes or I go home.

My prayer for myself and for my brothers and sisters at Faith Community Church is that we will discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness for HIS glory and HIS alone. Amen.

 

Tina Bush

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Women Looking on From a Distance

Mark 15:40 describes this heartbreaking scene in one short sentence.

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

“Looking on from a distance.” How do you explain it? These women had followed Christ from Galilee. Mark 41 says they ministered to Him. But in this dark and horrible hour, they were not at the foot of the cross to offer comfort, but watching from a distance.

We can only speculate about the reason. Perhaps they feared to make His suffering worse as He watched theirs. Perhaps they could not bear to witness His face in such pain, and could not bear to leave while He still suffered. In this tension, perhaps they chose to watch from a distance. Or maybe they had a flicker of hope that He would come down off the cross to take up the reigns of the earthly kingdom, and they wanted to be there to see it.  Matthew 27:55 and Luke 23:49 tell us that they stood with many other women followers and acquaintances of Jesus, but the Bible singles out these three for our observation.

I think I know these women.

Mary Magdalene was delivered from great darkness – the Bible says that she had seven demons.  As in the passage above, her name is nearly always listed first among the women. This may mean she either was a leader among women or greatly esteemed among all the followers, or both. Mary Magdalene was likely unmarried and childless, free to travel with and grateful to serve Jesus unfettered. She had left everything for He who delivered her.  I’ve met a woman like her at Faith.

Mary the mother of James and Joses came with her sons to follow Jesus. We know little about her background. Her older son, known as James the less, was one of the twelve. Like her son, she was unobtrusive in her service.  She may have been one of those people to whom Pastor Tim referred to in his recent sermon, the one working behind the scenes for the common good; the one whom God will honor. I’ve met a woman like her at Faith.

Salome was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John, whom Jesus called “The sons of thunder.” I think they might have inherited that trait from their mom. She certainly wasn’t shy about asking Jesus for places of honor in the kingdom for her two sons. Some scholars think that Salome might have been the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. If this is true, it might explain her boldness a little.  I imagine Salome as that woman with a plan, the one who constantly has to remind herself that she isn’t in charge and that she shouldn’t try to manipulate others. She loves greatly and sometimes expresses it poorly. She acts the part of everyone’s mom, and was probably equally endearing and annoying. I’ve met a woman like her at Faith.

These women-who-are-like-us watched from a distance. Tell me, sister, are you also watching someone from a distance? Are you straining to see or hear from an estranged child? Are you watching someone you love heading down a destructive path as they reject your advice and comfort? Are you watching helplessly and praying constantly for a parent or sibling tortured by addiction or depression?

Jesus sees.

These very women are the first ones to receive the good news of the resurrection. Jesus personally comforted Mary Magdalene outside the tomb.  He sent angels to the others. The great news that angels longed to look into came first to the women who watched, who followed His body to the tomb, and who returned to minister to Him even in death. Those heartbroken women who had served Jesus did not escape His gaze. They watched in agony from a distance. He came to them personally.

Praying today for the heartbroken men and women at Faith, that Jesus may comfort you personally, up close, through His Word and Spirit.

 

Susan Verstraete is the church secretary at Faith Community Church. She and her husband have two grown sons, Patrick and Christopher.

Posted in: Bible study, Women's Ministry

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Goals for 2018

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of
God”

~Christ Jesus

I am not a big fan of resolutions but I do have some goals for the New Year. One of them
is to increase my intake of Scripture. I want to utilize the technology at my fingertips and
listen to Scripture with earbuds and blue tooth speakers. And I just want to read it more.
I came across a very simple plan in which the New Testament could be read in 30 days.
Basically, if I read 8 chapters a day, I could cover the entire New Testament. That is not
an unreasonable investment of time – four chapters in the morning; four chapters in the
evening. So that will be my goal for the coming year – consuming many more spiritual
calories. As I read, I just want to listen to the Scriptures. I want to lay down my
presuppositions – and all that I think I know about the text – and read it as much as
possible like it is the first time. I want to listen to the Word of God.

1 – Matthew 1-8
2 – Matthew 9-15
3 – Matthew 16-23
4 – Matthew 24-28
5 – Mark 1-7
6 – Mark 8-13
7 – Mark 14 – Luke 2
8 – Luke 3-8
9 – Luke 9-13
10 – Luke 14-21
11 – Luke 22 – John 2
12 – John 3-8
13 – John 9-15
14 – John 16 – Acts 1
15 – Acts 2-8
16 – Acts 9-15
17 – Acts 16-21
18 – Acts 22 – Romans 1
19 – Romans 2-10
20 – Romans 11- 1 Corinthians 6
21 – 1 Corinthians 7-15
22 – 1 Corinthians 16 – 2 Corinthians 12
23 – 2 Corinthians 13 – Ephesians 4
24 – Ephesians 5 – Colossians 4
25 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 1 Timothy 6
26 – 2 Timothy 1 – Hebrews 6
27 – Hebrews 7 – James 2
28 – James 3 – 1 John 1
29 – 1 John 2 – Revelation 4
30 – Revelation 5-22

 

 Dr. Timothy Juhnke is the Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church. In addition, Tim also serves as President of Faith Christian Academy, a Classical Christian school in Kansas City. He and his wife, Lori, have four grown sons and three precious granddaughters.

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Hungering for Righteousness

Adventurer Aleksander Gamme had traveled 86 days in the bitter cold. He had been hungry for weeks, walking for 10 hours every day over the frozen landscape, and had lost about 55 pounds.

As he traveled toward the South Pole weeks earlier, he buried fuel and a little gear every 200 kilometers to lighten his load, marking each spot with a flag. Then, as he retraced his steps on the return trip, he dug up each cache to see what he might find.

There’s a video of his discovery of the last cache, and I have watched it over and over. At first, he is calm, finding useful items buried like zinc ointment and power cables.

Suddenly he screams with joy! He cannot stop shouting in delight – he has stumbled on sheer bliss in the form of a bag of cheese doodles. As he screams and laughs, he suddenly freezes – everything is silent for a moment as he stares into the distance. He says, in wonderment, “Can this be real?” His delight is unfathomable – more than he can take in. Then he goes back to unpacking his bag, screaming and laughing with pleasure, even rolling in the snow as he pulls out some candy and a second bag of cheese doodles. As the scene fades to black, he is lying in the snow, clutching his treasures to his chest and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

When was the last time you were that happy?

In an interview about the incident, he explained that the joy he experienced was directly related to his hunger. The deprivation before finding the final cache created the perfect storm – all the elements had aligned for this moment of joy. If he had not been starving and exhausted, he would never have experienced this moment of perfect exuberant happiness. A glorious, astounding, delightful bag of cheese doodles would have just been a bag of cheese doodles. I think it is interesting to point out that he was not eating the cheese doodles when he screamed in delight. It was the sure promise that his hunger would be satiated that made him so happy.

In the same way, I believe that some of our deepest experiences of joy in the Christian life may actually occur during suffering as we hunger for a glimpse of God and to see His hand of mercy. When the Bible says, “Happy (literally ‘to be envied’) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6) think about Aleksander Gamme. Our powerlessness, our exhaustion, and our total lack of innate righteousness prepare us for moments of unfathomable joy as Christ – who is our righteousness – is revealed. He is the sure promise of future satisfaction.

Susan Verstraete is the church secretary at FCC.

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Reflections on the Day of the Lord

By Marty Beamer

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Now, I understand that Jefferson was a deist and he said this it was in the context of slavery (which he owned many), but that in no way diminishes the truth of what he said. In fact, the more I reflect on these words, the more I see the truth of God in them.

At the end of Revelation, John says in verse 20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Many Christians have taken this verse, and some others in the New Testament, and saying them often. And I’m afraid they do this without much reflection. I do understand where they are coming from. I see what they see. I see the evil in the world. I have stood at an abortion clinic and seen people go in to kill their child. I have watched the news and I get the Amber Alerts on my phone. I have been to India, Africa, and Brazil and have seen evil that just makes you want to scream out “Come, Lord Jesus!” So don’t hear this as a rebuke because I have very rarely found people who desire the Lord’s return more than me (although I’m sure you’re out there). Instead, hear this as a call to reflect more deeply.

Amos 5:18-20 says,

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It  is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

 When I read this passage it immediately made me think back to what Jefferson said. Do we really know what we are asking when we ask for the Lord to return, for the “day of the Lord?” Because what we must realize is that we are asking for the justice of God. We are asking Him to make all evil in the world right. Yes, we are asking Him to right the wrongs of every death in the abortion clinic, every stolen child, every starving child, every corrupt man. And we rejoice at that!  Justice for that kind of evil makes it easy to desire for the day of the Lord! But, did you also know that you are asking Him to bring justice down on everyone who ever had an evil thought? Or everyone who ever looked lustfully at a woman? Or anyone who dishonored their parents? Or every unkind word you have ever spoken?

When I think of what Jefferson said, my heart breaks and my soul, with him, trembles. I tremble at the justice of God. I tremble at what that means for our country. I tremble at what that means for family members. But where Jefferson stops, I continue. Where his trembling never stopped, mine does because of the blood of Jesus Christ. I do not have to be in a paralyzed fear that God’s justice will awaken on me because it was already roused and poured out fully on Christ. The just demands of God have been met.

So what I am calling for is a balance. Christians should be ones who tremble and, yet, stop trembling. We should know what we ask for when we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” It should make us tremble to think of His justice. Yet, we do not continue in that state because the justice of God has been satisfied by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Let us together cry for the Lord’s return with joy knowing that we have escaped the wrath of God! But, let us never forget what we are asking for when He returns. A somber joy. A trembling assurance.

Marty Beamer is the Assistant Pastor of Faith Community Church

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Role of Old Testament Law to the Church

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By Marty Beamer

The Old Testament has baffled believers for centuries. What do we obey? Is it applicable for us at all? There are some people who think that the Old Testament law has no bearing on people today while others believe that it should be obeyed. The former will quote verses like Galatians 2:16, “… yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” The latter usually take their position based on 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” However, the second group will usually do their best to avoid passages like Leviticus 11:17 “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” So what role should the Old Testament law play in the church today?

Let me start by addressing those who say that the Old Testament has no bearing on the life of the church. While these people are usually right in stating we are under a different covenant, they are wrong in their application of the covenant. Usually, the book of Galatians is the go-to defense for this position. But a close reading of the book will easily refute this interpretation. Paul never once says in the letter that the law has no bearing on the life of the Believer. What Paul repeatedly says is that the law cannot save a person. Those who take this position are falling into a common fallacy known as the “either-or-fallacy.” Either the law has complete bearing on our life or it has none at all. The problem is that this creates a false dichotomy and places the New Testament against the Old Testament. Paul himself will strongly go against this when he says, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not!” (Gal. 3:21). What these mistaken interpreters fail to realize is that a New Testament faith has its foundations on an Old Testament faith. In fact, I am bold enough to say that there is no New Testament faith without the Old Testament faith because they are one and the same. Those who had faith in the Old Testament looked forward to what God would do, and we look backward to what God has done. To say the Old Testament has no purpose for the life of a New Testament believer is to lay the ax to our very own roots. We need the Old Testament. And, it is just as much the breathed Word of God as the New Testament.

So then, what do we do with the law? If it is the foundation for the faith we hold today and the Word of God, then wouldn’t we be negligent to skip over portions of Scripture? If you answered yes, then how do you read the law and interpret it correctly? Let me try and give you a few principles that might help. These aren’t exhaustive but it might get you started.

First, try to understand the reason God gave the specific law you are looking at. What is going on in Israel’s history when the law is given? What is God’s main concern in giving the law? Almost all of the laws are dealing with how Israel is to live with a holy and perfect God. God demands holiness for those who dwell with Him. The law usually answers the question: What does it take to be His people?

Secondly, understand that the reason behind God giving the law is still applicable today. God still demands holiness to be in His presence. Christians today question what it means to be in communion with a holy God. The difference is that the sacrificial demands have now been met by Jesus. We are holy and beloved before God because the sacrifice has been made! There is nothing we could ever do to be made right with God (the argument of Galatians). But that does not mean we shouldn’t live holy lives. God desires for us to be in communion with Him and still desires for us to live in obedience for that to happen. Sin still breaks that communion. Again, the difference is that we do not go to the temple to sacrifice in order to restore that communion. It has already been restored by Christ!

Finally, let the New Testament help inform your view of the law. The New Testament, specifically the teachings of Jesus, are an extension of the Old Testament law, and consequently, the correct interpretation. If it is said in the New Testament, you can be sure that it has binding implication on your life. For instance, Jesus says adultery is sinful (Matt. 5:27), therefore the Old Testament law is still binding on us. However, the law about not eating pig (Lev. 11:17) is not restated in the New Testament. Instead, Jesus says in Mark 7:19 that it isn’t the food that makes us unclean but what is in the heart. Therefore, the principle of being holy before God stays the same, the practice of being holy before Him looks different.

I hope we will not take the Old Testament law lightly. The New Testament church should honor the law and understand the principles God taught, and still teaches, today. But, we should not be bound to it for our salvation. We are under a different covenant and so the application of the law looks different, but it is still, as Paul said, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” Do not neglect it but profit from it.

Marty Beamer is the Assistant Pastor at Faith Community Church.

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Book Review: Growing a Wise Family

As a Sunday School teacher and as a parent, I can say from personal experience that teaching children from the book of Proverbs is difficult. The book is, without a doubt, full of wisdom that we all want to apply to our own lives and to help our children to absorb.  The problem is the wealth of riches found in such rapid succession. One chapter of Proverbs might touch on twenty different topics we’d like to help the children understand, so a traditional method of reading and discussing scripture a chapter at a time is overwhelming not only but to them , but to us, too.wisefamily

Bryan Coupland’s new book, Growing a Wise Family, helps us to slow down and apply what we are reading in family worship.  The book is made up of 100 devotional talks, each based on a verse from Proverbs. Coupland illustrates the wisdom found in each verse by weaving references from the entire Bible and by using simple illustrations from his life. It is written in a conversational style with pre-teens in mind, but I found that most of the single-page articles would be easily understood by my 1-3rd grade Sunday School class. Coupland has included three discussion questions for each article, with suggested answers to help us guide the conversation.  This book would be an excellent tool for any parent, but seems especially appropriate for someone new to leading family worship.

Bryan Coupland and his wife have been missionaries with New Tribes Missions for 41 years. Each of their three children has contributed a testimonial to the book about the benefits of growing up with family worship in the home and each continues the practice now, in their own homes.

Growing a Wise Family, is available from www.Amazon.com for about $16.00 or for $11.00 plus  postage,  by sending an email order to Bryan Coupland at bryan@ComeRestWithMe.com.

Review by Susan Verstraete, church secretary

Posted in: Bible study, Book Review

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