if you like the contents of this post and want to go deeper please do purchase the book.
This weeks biblical reference is Exodus 20. The contents? The Words of God to Israel. (We call them the 10 Commandments)
God commands us to be like Him. (like Jesus) Dr Fountain points out that He does not kill, (I would say murder) steal, lie or behave in ways that are unfaithful. The purpose of the moral law are:
- to demonstrate God’s character so we can emulate it
- to bring clarity, order and fairness into human relationships – love of God and love of neighbor
- to regulate individual and collective behavior
- to promote unner discipline
God did not give the moral law as the means of salvation. We receive salvation by our faith and trust in God that leads us to obedience to him. Grace does not eliminate the moral law of God. True salvation be grace though faith should lead us to obedience of the moral law. This moral law is universal. It is for every person, ethnic group and nation. The Law shows us that we need Christ to save us because no one can keep the law. Nevertheless the law remains intact.
God also gave Israel two other large blocks of laws as part of their distinct culture. The ceremonial laws and civil laws and instructions. The ceremonial were instructions regarding worship, offering and sacrifices and religious feasts in order to bind His people, Israel, to Him. The civil laws and instructions were to establish their culture. How they were to live as individuals and as a people and provided the values on which this behavior was based. These were about family relationships, sexual behaviors, use of the land and property, agriculture, sanitation, food laws and many others. Neither of these laws were universal. Many do not apply to His Church today but we will benefit much from studying the underlying principles on which these instructions were based and applying those principle to our cultural context. The Kingdom of God includes His rule over our cultural values and behavior and shows us that we are accountable to God for our physical, social and economic relationships.
How can we distinguish between the universal laws of God and the particular cultural instructions He gave to His people then?:
- God’s moral law is general and applies at all times to all peoples
- Culture is particular and related to circumstances. The cultural laws and instructions He gave the people of Israel were for them, not for us. However, we need to discern the principles underlying them and discover how to apply those principles to our culture.
- in the NT we find cultural values and directives appropriate for us.
Questions to ask:
- What is the role of the law for us as people of the Kingdom of God?
- What role does God play in shaping culture in the 21st century?
- How much of our church culture comes from God and how much comes from our surrounding culture?
- How can we bring biblical values now into our own culture?