MY LIFE

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“Lord, depart from me because I am a sinful man!” What is a sinful man? A sinful man is a person who lives life in the way he or she wants to without regard to anything the Lord wants. In other words, that “want to” is contrary to the Lord’s way. In my view, it’s not any more complicated than that. A sinful person is not one who necessarily lives life in an overly vile way, but one who lives life in a different way than the Lord’s. For the Christian, presumably the life one has chosen to live is expressed  by Paul himself: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20, ASV).

Think about what Paul is saying. First, his life without Christ is now dead; second, the life he has chosen to live is the life of Christ; third, he understands what it is Jesus did for him and for all those who love Him, therefore he chose to serve the Almighty. If we do not embrace the life of Jesus as Paul expressed it here, we are only kidding (or deceiving) ourselves that all is well. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter, “Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate” (2 Cor. 13:5). How are you living your life? RT

 

BAPTISM AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS

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In the context of our congregation, the biblical teaching of baptism for the remission of sins is not a teaching that troubles any of us (at least, with regard to what I am aware). The other day I was talking to a Baptist preacher, a man with whom I am very impressed; he was saying to me that he has trouble over the idea of someone making a decision for the Lord, then instantly dying without being baptized, how that person would not be pleasing to the Lord. I understand the nature of the problem as he posed it and I understand how some will use a similar scenario to speak against the Lord command of baptism in water as essential. Though I understand, those who think along this line are mistaken. How do I know? The scriptures teach that baptism is directly connected to the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16). Since this is so, consider: any command of God directly connected to the forgiveness of sins is a command essential for a person to obey in order to be saved; baptism is a command of God connected to the forgiveness of sins; therefore, baptism is a command of God for a person to obey in order to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). RT

 

Jesus, Growing in Grace

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It does not take much wisdom to understand the importance of growing up physically; with one’s physical growth there is to be growth in the maturation of one’s mind. In life, one who is retarded in growth due to circumstances outside their control generates compassion from many people; vulnerabilities and the innocent can be preyed upon.

When Jesus was but a little boy, he would have experienced the same things other little boys would have enjoyed. Perhaps he played in the dirt, got muddy, had a messy room (so to speak). With Jesus, just as with other little boys, he grew both physically, mentally and emotionally. With him, however, there was something different than other little boys experienced. Sometimes we have difficulty putting our arms around the fact that he was similar to us because he was so different. Yet, though different, the Scripture says, “And as Jesus grew older He gained in both wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52, Weymouth English Translation).

Whatever difference there might have been in Jesus in comparison with other children his age, the fact is, he had parents dedicated to the Lord’s will in their own lives. Jesus’ education would have been, like it should be in our case, was at home from his parent tutelage. He grew into a mature young man in a dark world of sin. Jesus saw all that was about him; by the age of twelve, he had a clear sense, more than his parents did, of what his mission would be. He asked them a question when they came looking for him, thinking something might have happened to him that was terribly horrifying.  “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, New English Translation or NET).

As Jesus was in his Father’s house, we are to be also. It’s not a physical structure that is in view, but the Lord’s church. Because of obedience to the holy will of God, the Lord took each of those who obey his will from the realm of darkness and placed them in the realm of light; the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8, ESV). This expression pertains to growth in the Lord; just a few verses later, Paul said, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (5:17).

There is a natural process in growth, if the body is given what it needs. If not, then growth is stunted, it is retarded and in short-order withers. This applies to one’s physical well-being and it also applies to one’s mental faculties, but even more so, in our context, to one’s spiritual health. If one does not grow in the Lord’s grace, then the one who does not grow is not prepared spiritually.

In the long ago, Jeremiah struggled greatly in handling the oppressive spirit of the people. The Lord understood, but the Lord’s understanding was expressed in an exhortation that was to generate in Jeremiah the proper response of preparing himself for the struggle ahead. “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5, ESV).

To grow as the Lord would have his saints grow takes effort, but it also takes desire. Within your heart you need to instill the Lord’s word because it is the Lord you seek to please. One can’t please the Lord without knowledge. Thus, to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, one needs to learn his will and make specific applications to living a holy life.  RT

 

Modus Ponens (Calvinism and Free Will)

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A recent discussion I had with a brother in the Lord who accepts the false teaching of limited atonement, a portion of Calvinism. In our discussion (last week of Mark) he gave not a single bit of attention to either one of these arguments. Instead, he dismissed them with a wave of the hand by saying “you need to use things like syllogisms to try and make your point but in the end you have zero scriptural support for your point.”

Anyone who turns against formal logic does so because formal logic turns against him.

He said I didn’t use Scripture. You have to be the judge of that.

1) If Scripture teaches God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, then any teaching which teaches God chooses only some to be saved (those He desires; limited atonement) is a false teaching.

2) The Scripture teaches that God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4; 4:10).

3) Thus, any teaching which teaches God chooses only some to be saved (those he desires, to whom He limits His atonement) is a false teaching.

Or another argument from our discussion:

1) Since it is the case God wants none to perish (1 Ti,. 2:4), and

2) Since it is the case that whoever calls on the name of God shall be saved (Acts 2:21),

3) Then it is the case anyone (or whosoever) calls on the Lord’s name can be and will be saved (Rom. 10:12-13)

Colossians 2:14-15 and the Sabbath

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I offer this in syllogistic form, it’s called modus ponens (if / then argument). This means, if the first half of premise #1 (represented by the letter “P”) is sustained, then the second half of premise #1 (represented by the letter “Q”) will be shown to be true.

Summary remarks of Paul’s point in Colossians 2:1-17 (I am offering no argument in these summary remarks). In Christ are hidden all the wisdom and treasures of God (2:1-5), with gratitude and being firmly rooted in the Lord Jesus walk in accordance with His will (2:6-7), wisdom is found in Christ not the philosophies of man (2:8-10), circumcision (directly connected with Abraham and Law of Moses) under Christ does not correspond to a fleshly matter (2:9-11), instead, circumcision under the authority of Christ is in baptism (2:11-12), those dead in sin were made alive in Christ having canceled the debt made in decrees that were against people, nailed to the Cross (2:13-14), those decrees that were nailed to the Cross are directly connected to the Law of Moses (2:14-17).

My Argument in syllogistic form:

  1. If that which was nailed to the cross includes festive days, the sabbath and decrees of a general nature, this can only be identified with the Law of Moses, then the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross.
  2. The festive days, sabbath and decrees of a general nature are identified with the Law of Moses.
  3. Therefore, that which Paul identifies by these terms was the Law of Moses and it was nailed to the Cross.

EVIDENCE to support premise #2 (or the first half or premise #1). The general tone of Paul’s remarks in the New Testament is on the topic of the Law of Moses being dismissed by God as a system or standard by which to measure man, declaring him righteous or not. Paul said the following: “Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: and by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39, ASV). Peter says the same in Acts 15:10, speaking against those who would hang the Law of Moses around someone as a yoke. In Romans 3:20-31, Paul demonstrates the same when he said no one could be justified by the Law (Law of Moses) because it was not designed by God to justify a single person, illustrated by Abraham being justified long before the Law of Moses was revealed to the Israelite nation. The Law of Moses was designed by God to point one to Jesus so one is justified by faith, that is the Law of Christ, the New Covenant (Heb. 7:19-22; Gal. 3:24-27).

Lutheran Scholar, Marvin Vincent, wrote: “The law with its decrees was abolished in Christ’s death, as if crucified with Him.”

The hypothetical syllogism of modus ponens (P implies Q, P is affirmed, therefore, Q is demanded) is sustained.

 

 

Expressions & Impressions

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Are you approachable? It is likely each of us can say, “Yes, I am approachable. Why do you ask?” It was not long ago that I heard a sister say to the preacher, “You’re approachable.” This is an interesting remark. Is the case that some in the congregation, perhaps Bible class teachers, other saints, elders are not? Perhaps. On the other hand, maybe all that was meant is the preacher is approachable and easy to talk to.

Are you judgmental? Some time back, a good way in fact, I heard a person say of an elder, “He is judgmental!” The context of that remark had to do with “Let us not approach him lest we be given a judgmental lecture about how we have done this or that wrong.” The idea behind the word “judgmental” is negative in just about every use of the word. We all have a standard by which we live and judge. Most of the time the standard is of our own making, but the standard by which we live and judge is to be the Lord’s. Then, putting that into practice, we form our opinions along with our experiences into a firm decree by which we live. When that decree by which I live is compelled on another person without them asking for it, I become judgmental. I have learned long ago this is a recipe for separation.

Again, not too long ago, I heard a brother say that when something was introduced into his mind, say some failings or struggle that belongs to a particular saint, the brother who is told this information – told because there is a desire to receive help to overcome – the brother told now can’t get the impression from the mind. Consequently, whenever the struggling one presents him or herself to the preacher, the impression made is the only image seen. The preacher now has to get over the hurdle to be of any help, while the one needing help does not realize the extra height that needs to be scaled.

Have you come across a saint who mumbles much, says nothing in the mumbling worth hearing, but is judgmental in the saying of it? I have. Rather disappointing. Murmuring/mumbling destroyed the nation of Israel (1 Cor. 10:9-10) and it destroys the saint who engages in the same.

This goes a long way to solving all of the above: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Each of us should put it into practice. RT

The Sixth Command – Murder

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     You shall not kill. The Hebrew word for “kill” is a word modern translations render “murder.” The Hebrew word can be used in contexts where one is killed intentionally or unintentionally. In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus develops what we are to understand. The command “thou shalt not kill” is a moral failing that begins in the heart before it shows itself in criminal activity.

Consider some numbing information: some in Western society are supportive of the moral failing associated with euthanasia, otherwise known “mercy” killings. If the outcry surrounding abortion is any indication, the current outcry surrounding “mercy” killings will soon die down (pun intended). It’s a shame that so many people now recognize such killings as part of our lives. In Holland, euthanasia has been in practice for decades. In December 1998 the British Medical Journal reported that in 1995 there were 900 cases of non-voluntary euthanasia victims.

The Dred Scott case of the Supreme Court in 1857 said slaves were not legal persons. The Supreme Court, in 1973, said in effect that children in the womb are not either. It was two lawyers who defended Norma McCorvey’s right to kill her child. These lawyers, it is said, had no interest in Norma as a person (surely, they did not have any interest in any child that would be in the womb either!).  They just wanted to challenge the law prohibiting killing of the innocent in all 50 states. They got their wish when in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Satan’s work.

Some argue, in their lack of moral wisdom, the child in the womb is not viable; it may be life, but not viable life. This is man’s attempt to justify an action the Lord will never accept. “Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13, ASV, emphasis added, RT).

The shame of it all is associated with people who have become hardened to the moral failings of society. We all have our own political interests. They are varied. We ought not to think, however, our varied political interests are an acceptable approach to the Lord as we vote one political philosophy, relegating the Lord’s holiness and virtue out of our public sector under the banner of “separation of church and state.” When a person votes into office a man or woman who compromises the Lord’s way, this is a contribution to the slaughter of the innocent. The attorneys who defended the killing of the innocent to the Supreme Court will give an account to the Lord, as those who ruled against moral virtue back in 1857. Why do we think it will be any different with our individual votes?

Capital punishment does not fall under the Lord’s prohibition, as can be seen throughout the Scriptures. Capital cases are not related to the innocent, but to the guilty. Capital cases are seen for the following crimes/sins: striking or cursing a parent; blasphemy; sabbath breaking; witchcraft and false pretensions to prophecy; adultery; unchastity (of various sorts); rape; incest; abducting people for slavery; idolatry; false witnessing; murder (N-ISBE, volume 3, pp.1052-1053).

APPLICATION. The principle of this command, in a New Testament context, is our obligation to the Lord as far greater than any obligation given to man, including the political arena as well. It is a moral outrage that any Christian would support what is inherently evil! We will answer for it. One violates the Scripture because of where the heart is. RT

 

WHAT KIND OF MAN?

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What kind of man is Jesus? He was no ordinary man, that is for sure. Yet, He came to this earth to endure the life ordinary men must live. Ordinary men are both those who are dressed in rags and those dressed in the finest of clothing, to say nothing of those in between. Jesus was no ordinary man, but He became ordinary for you and me.

Isn’t it good that He did? For certain! When there is one of us that struggles with sin, never thinking we are going to be able to overcome, is it not good that to Him each can turn? When there is one of us that struggles with the weight of the world against us (as we view the world), is it not good that to Him one can turn and see that He, too, struggled? When there is one of us that is lonely beyond measure, is it not good that to Him one can turn and find comfort and companion as each reflect on His time in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Jesus was able to sleep in a boat when the Sea around Him was tumultuous; the disciples were greatly afraid, even awakening Jesus to ask Him if He cared. Jesus cared, and in His answer to those who awoke Him He asked, “Where is your faith?” Seems a strange question, I suppose, but in fact it’s not strange at all. Perhaps in this question, the answers to man’s greatest struggles are found.

Where is your faith? My faith is in my inability to do as I know I should and to do as I know I want to. Is that not the problem? My faith is in me, or not in me (if you will). Because one’s faith is in self, the eyes of focus have been taken off Jesus. Yet the Holy Spirit exhorts that we are keep our eyes tuned straight ahead. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2, ASV).

Reflecting on the examples in Hebrews 11, the Holy Spirit said we should also reflect on them. One reflects best, in this circumstance, when one’s eyes are taken off oneself and places it on something else, namely, those who have walked ahead of us. We should also make a conscience decision to lay aside the weight that easily sets us back. How does one do that? To begin, get on your knees, then (second) remove your eyes off the object that tempts you; thirdly, most importantly, let each of us look unto Jesus. Not only because He is there to help us, but also because He is the author of salvation. This means we have come to understand that there is nothing in me that can make things right, but I can turn to Him who is the essence of right and know that He already made things right. What He requires of me is trust and obedience (cf. Luke 6:46).

Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God’s throne. What kind of man is Jesus? He is no ordinary man; He can tame the Sea, He can heal a demon-possessed person, He can overcome the academics of His day, He is the one who values one human soul over a heard of life-stock, He can tell a lonely and sinful woman to “sin no more.” He is the Lord!

While people fear the unknown and the world of demons, the demons fear the Author of Life.

Jesus is the man!

 

The Fifth Commandment – Honor Your Father and Mother

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“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

It has been said many times that when one considers the Ten Commandments, it is not long before one notices the “geometric” approach taken by the Lord. In other words, the first four commands have a vertical approach to life, that is, in relationship to God, and the last 6 commands are focused on a horizontal approach, that is in relationship to one’s neighbor. Take note how this compares with the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40, when Jesus said the two great commands are to love God with all of one’s being and to love one’s neighbor as one loves (takes care of) self.

The family is the basic community-unit of society. To break it down further, the basic unit of society is the individual, but the single person connects with one of the opposite sex in marriage (not otherwise) and forms the family. The dictionary defines a family as a “group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head” (dictionary, p. 660). Though not a narrowly defined matter, it is a starting point for a conversation to begin. There are two perspectives to consider when seeking how one should understand the word “family.” First, the perspective of God; second, the perspective of the community as set forth by man. From God’s perspective, the family is established in matrimony. From this family comes children. The following words teaches us where it all begins:

And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:21-25, ASV).  

With children coming forth from the mother and father, the parents are to instruct their children in God’s way. From the Lord’s perspective, if the children refused to submit the authority of the parents, there was severe punishment forthcoming. From parents comes wisdom that helps the youth to get along in life much better than if they did not have instructions in wisdom. If children are thieves, the Holy Spirit speaks of them as worthless (Proverbs 28:24). The negative qualities that are in children currently (perhaps) and in those who have grown up exist because, in part, parents have failed the children in upbringing. The children will learn if the parents compel it; the children will adjust to the correction if the punishment has meat to it, so to speak. As a parent, you are not your child’s best friend, you’re are a parent, a role of authority and responsibility. Whatever may be said about a “best friend” application in the rearing years of the child, the primary role of a parent is to nurture, teach, and correct so the child will be productive in his/her adult years, but more importantly, so the child will walk in the Lord’s ways. Parents are to be understanding of the children and they are to discipline as required (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13). As much as possible parents should stay away from, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

There is no way a child can honor parents when the chosen life to live is contrary to the guidance of their parents, just like there is no way to honor God when people choose to live life contrary to His holy way.

What it means to honor your parents then? The English word “honor” conveys the idea of respect, deference, esteem and give precedence to them over others. This is best understood by asking the question, “Do we honor the Lord?” We do this not only because of who He is but also on account of His love. To honor one’s parent/parents is to respect, defer, esteem and give precedence to them over others as one would do so to the Lord. Some parent/child relationships are scarred from earlier years, thus there may not be a direct emotional connection between the two. As much as is in you (those struggling with this), honor your parents because you want to please the Lord.

How do you honor someone who d/n deserve it? An admitted difficulty. Perhaps along this line we can make an application. It’s not the particular people and their behavior (past or current), but the fact you have life. To the degree that you can honor parenting, even when your parents failed you, to that degree you might be able to make sense of what should have been done even though it was not. It’s hard to respect and honor people who live in rebellion to God; nevertheless, because of your love and devotion to the Almighty, honor Him and what He says.

How does a person show any love or honor to parents who abandoned him? How does God show love toward one who not only spit on Jesus, but nailed the pegs into His flesh and watched as He writhed in agony?

The Fourth Commandment – Sabbath

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Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Gospels are filled with the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees over the observance of the Sabbath (cf. John 5). Biblical history has shown the observance of the Sabbath day has been very important to the Israelite community; if one deliberately violated the Sabbath, judicial execution was the penalty (Exodus 31:14). To stay painfully close to the “letter of the law,” the Pharisees “strove to complete a formal code for Sabbath observance.” During one part of their history, Jewish armies refused to take up arms on the Sabbath. According to the Mishna (the Mishna is a collection of Jewish writings, compiled around A.D. 200), there were 39 forms of labor prohibited on the Sabbath. (McClintock-Strong, pp. 190 ff).

Are Christians obligated to observe the Sabbath? No, for two reasons: first, the Sabbath was given to the Israelite nation and no other (Exodus 31:15-17). Notice, it was exclusively to the Israelite nation. Secondly, under the New Covenant, the Old Law (Old Covenant) was nailed to the cross and this includes the specific command of Sabbath observance given to Israel (Colossians 2:14-15; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-12). Thus, when the Lord came, He took with Him to the cross the exclusivity of the entirety of the old Law with Him. The commands, all the commands and ordinances given to Moses to teach the community of Israel were put to death.

And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Col. 2:13-15, ASV).

Some of those commands given by God to Moses transcends covenants; that simply means the positive application, or the negative prohibition always apply to any people regardless of which covenant is in force. In the case of Israel, most of those commands given by God to Moses were narrowly focused for an Israelite application, such as Leviticus 23. Under the New Covenant, there is no exclusivity to an ethnic people like there was under the Old Covenant.

Sometimes there is an objection offered such as the following: “Are you telling me God nailed only the fourth command of the Decalogue to the cross, but left the other nine for a New Testament implementation? Where is that in the New Testament [NT]?”

What this objection entails is this: there is a disconnect in understanding why the Lord would take all but one command from the Ten Words (commandments) and bring them into a NT application, leaving out only the fourth command out. One may understand the significance of “nailing to the cross” the commands/ordinances of Moses, such as in Exodus 22-24 or Leviticus 23, but how can that which is interpreted as God’s moral Law be nailed to the cross?

This is a failure to understand the role of the Law of Moses to an exclusive people. The Sabbath Day was a day to keep holy, to set apart as a day of rest. It is important to notice the sabbath command is not given to any people as the command to be observed previous to what one reads in Exodus 16. Many “Sabbatarians” (people who insist on observing the sabbath day command in a New Testament context) would have you understand the sabbath command goes back to the time of Genesis 1 and 2, but this is false. When the Lord made the seventh day of the week holy, He made it holy but obligated no people, as far as the biblical Record is concerned, to observe a seventh-day rest from work, or anything else. It’s not until one reads Exodus 16, thousands of years after creation, that the Lord enjoined the Israelites to this command. It is not unreasonable for one to interpret the words of Holy Scripture in Genesis 2:1-3 and conclude the seventh day of the work week is holy and set aside for the Lord. It’s not unreasonable to conclude this, but to obligate a person, when the Lord has not done so, is putting more into the biblical text than can be sustained in discussion.

If you look at the reference to Jeremiah 31 from above, you will notice the Lord’s words to Jeremiah are prophetic in nature, saying the New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant, thus the complete putting away of the Old for the New (31:31-32). The value of what we call the Old Covenant is as Paul said in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope” (ASV).

There is a principle for us in “the day of rest” command given to Israel. Many people have negatively influenced themselves and family members with continued secular working on the first day of the week, failing to put any degree of priority on one’s spiritual health or on God’s desire and demand to meet with the saints. It will catch up with those so guilty. RT