ALERT: Eyes fixed/Ears opened!

My response to a conversation held elsewhere (Might as well face it you’re addicted to Law):

Thank you for the response…I truly appreciate the concern with the imperatives, and trust that you understand that NT imperatives are not the OT Law. For, we have died to the Law and are married to another, Christ, that we might might bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Rom 7:4) who brings us along in the way of Christ — not back to the external code (Rom 7:6) — in order that the *righteous requirement* of the Law might be fulfilled in us, again, by the Spirit (Rom 8:4).

Indeed, what I’ve said “sounds spiritual” because it is biblical, Christian. Our focus is solely upon Christ (The Indicative) and such focus is the sole means whereby the Holy Spirit produces fruit (the imperatives). With eyes fixed upon Jesus our ears are opened to the calling of the Holy Spirit, who works in us the works of God.

We are called to rest upon Christ who is our Rest. To behold and live. This is the way of the New Covenant, which is Christ himself, our Covenant (Isaiah 42:649:82Cor 3:1-18).

The NC imperatives are altogether Christological, not Law, no less commands but more than mere commands. They depict for us the likeness of Christ, both for and in us. They define what the Spirit of Christ is doing in us who believe this is how God works.

2Cor 4:6-7 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

We are not missing the call to action, but grasp the New Covenant cause of action…the effectual and finished work of Jesus Christ. Imperatives that become unhinged from this Gospel-context end up as Law-like things doing what the Law does best (Rom 7.7-25)…inciting the Flesh to do works that have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power (2Tim 3:5).

The Spirit of God has been given us, not as a spirit of fear (as to how well we are performing), but as the Spirit of power and love and self-control (2Tim 1:7). This is how the Gospel has come to those who hear it rightly, not only as a word, but as an effectual work of God that will cause us to delight in loving God and neighbor (1Thes 1:5). Against such, there is no external code in force (Gal 5:23), but the Rule of the Spirit inwardly (Ezek. 36:25-27).

Beholding is becoming.

DRIVEN: By what?

Video of interest:

Truly, I respect and appreciate where these three brothers are coming from on the whole, however, they demonstrate quite well the concern raised in a few of my previous posts (actually the last, third, and fourth to last posts).  More about that in a moment.

Again, there’s much here to be appreciated.  They do a fine job in this video and the other ones they’ve posted at Vimeo.  There’s a great deal of clarity on what the-Gospel-proper is and isn’t, striving to keep the root distinct from the fruit.  And yet, the concern is with comments regarding the “moral law” and its relationship to the Gospel.

There’s this assumption that’s made, what some would describe as a “third use” of the Law.  That, the Gospel itself calls us (believers) to “keep the Law.”  Beginning right around the 4:27 mark, the discussion takes an interesting turn.  The idea of “balance” is espoused, that the Bible puts forth the Gospel but then gives us commands (Law) so that we can see what the fruit of the Gospel looks like.  This conversation goes further to say that, the commands don’t change, the moral law of God doesn’t change…but now because of the Gospel, you now have the Holy Spirit in you and empowering you to now live like Jesus was living…but God’s law is unchanging.  The Law  remains the tracks that the Gospel now pushes us along.  Preach the commands, but also the Gospel so that by it people can obey the commands.

All of us either do now or have once accepted such notions as soundly biblical, but this thinking implies the following faulty conclusions:
  1. The Gospel is not a proclamation: of Jesus having fulfilled the Law, that we might be ruled by His Holy Spirit, with eyes fastened on the person and work of Christ, not on our performance, but in confidence that God is the promise keeper in making a people for his name’s sake, again through their beholding Christ’s glory revealed in the Gospel, New Covenant, by faith.
  2. But, the Gospel ends up being a new means to an old scheme, Law-keeping.
  3. Lastly, in effect, we’re being told that we must not hold too closely to notions like: Christ is the end of the Law; that the Law has been abolished; that the Spirit is supplied by faith and not works of the Law, or by a works-of-the-Law focus; that as those who are of the free woman (Jerusalem above) and not the slave woman (present Jerusalem; Sinai) we walk by faith (seeing Christ’s righteousness) not sight (seeing our righteousness); or, only faith working through love (a love that is revealed on the cross, and manifest by the Holy Spirit) counts for anything.
       What’s missing?  The understanding that Christ’s fulfilling the Law in/by himself for us, brings the code-function of the Law in the life of God’s people to an end.  The Law once functioned (as code) among God’s people as a means whereby they maintained a place in the Land, under the protection of the Lord.  What’s also missing is that the Law continues to function as a revelation of Jesus Christ, formerly as a shadowy revealing of God, but now as a substantive revealing of God when the Law is read in light of the Gospel, and thereby we see the face of Jesus Christ.  We see his face most clearly in the Gospel, New Covenant, and because of that are able to make out the Face in what was once mystery and shadowy, Old Covenant, The Law.  A face, that we behold, and are changed by in doing so, not by our doing in order to be changed.
       What are we left with then, that we might be conformed to His image?  The Holy Spirit!  Not a “moral Law” but an abiding Ruler of/in the heart, again the Holy Spirit.  This is God’s promise fulfilled in/thru Jesus, that the Spirit would one day be given, on account of what Christ has done for us, that Christ’s image might be manifest by His Spirit in us, making us to glorify Him and seek the good of our neighbor.  This is the New Covenant, new context.
       In short, the Christ-event changed everything; yes, even the role of the law-code with it’s demands; and yes, even us, who are now children of the Jerusalem above, the free woman, who are free in the Spirit unto God and neighbor.
       The Gospel changes everything…the whole context, vertically and horizontally, internally and externally, temporally and eternally.

SLIPPING: Need Chains?

Where the Gospel “seems” to lose traction – failing to “improve” our lives – we are apt to apply the chains of the Law in some form.

However, the believer’s traction, in whatever degree God causes it, is never apart from the Gospel itself.  In our beholding the person and work of Christ, the treads of the Gospel grip upon our lives, causing our minds and hearts to genuinely love God and neighbor.

The treads of the Spirit leave the marks of the Gospel.  So, let’s hang those Law-chains where they belong…upon the Cross.

NCT: Christ Over All Things

A must read:  Chad Bresson: What is New Covenant Theology

Excellent; excellent!

I trust this will prove to be something of a catalyst in aiding people to think seriously about the NEWNESS of the NC in Christ.

Appreciate the labor! May the Lord continue to bless, providing us a clearer vision of God’s face in Christ Jesus. He continues to rend the veil that we might behold, believe and be-formed.

BOOK REVIEW: The Naked Gospel


[The following is my own book review. mjm]

Please, listen closely to all reviews that deem this book as faulty! And, note well, how, what Farley is teaching bears upon the criticisms by others about this book.  Some will say: “The book is off-track!” This is exactly right…The Naked Gospel is far from the garden-variety preaching/teaching we all have been subject to within much of the church.

The Gospel remains a stumbling block for all those who would seek life apart from and not in Christ Jesus, himself.

Our default mode: LAW!

Thank you, Andrew, for laboring to bring to light the Truth of the Gospel…Jesus is Our righteousness, Our life, Our rest, Our Lord! And as Lord…he literally RULES in the lives of those who believe (take Him at his word, that, He is Life!).

I have lived long enough (within the realm of works-righteousness) and alongside others who do the same to see the truth of Scripture confirmed that man is incurably self-righteous (even when it appears “godly”).

Chief Problem: IDOLATRY!

As Christians, we exercise some of the most blatant forms of IDOLATRY. That is, mingling grace (God’s image-making) and works (Our image-making). Failing to give up on our own “image-making” project (fashioning ourselves into God’s image), while missing how it is that God in Christ (the expresses image of God) goes about making us into His image.

Every IMPERATIVE of Scripture is FULFILLED in Christ.
Ultimately, every IMPERATIVE of Scripture is DESCRIPTIVE of the work of Christ “for” and “in” us.

Man is innately most comfortable in his own image-making…being as God.

For those who can’t readily swallow naked (non-sugar-coated!) Gospel-Truth (even as a Believer!)…there remains a degree of blindness and deafness to the REALITIES of Christ as fulfillment of all shadows (The Law). We become what we behold! Blind, deaf, and dumb? Or, seeing, hearing, and praising?

Farley’s work here is a great beginning to our continuing to unpack the essence of Christ crucified and risen, the New Creation.

FAITH: Thru the Spirit by Faith

God’s ways work God’s way:

Spirit of God is received by hearing with faith (Gal.3.2);

Spirit of God is supplied by hearing with faith (Gal.3.5);

Spirit of God is received by faith (Gal.3.14);

through the Spirit of God, by faith, we remain focused upon Christ (Gal.5.5);

in this way God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Gal.4.6);

and it is by this very Spirit we will be made to walk (Gal.5.16),

bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5.22).

So then, by faith, we both live by and walk by the Spirit (Gal.5.25).

Or, as Paul says elsewhere, it is by faith in Christ that the righteous shall live (Gal.3.11).

Having begun (justification) in the Spirit, we continue (sanctification) in the Spirit, and finish (glorification) in the Spirit (Gal.3.3).

Whereas, the Law (striving by/under it) isn’t of faith (Gal.3.12)!!!

DOGMATISM: Flesh-beat-en(-ing)

A thought or two regarding Fundamentalism.

A leading characteristic of Fundamentalism would be Dogmatism.  This is really nothing more than a Letter-driven (as opposed to Spirit-driven (Gospel-based and -contextualized)) approach.  Instead of a ‘faith’ in Christ orientation, the Dogmatist’s way is generally one rooted in ‘fear’ – though lip service is paid to the Gospel.  The latter has a way of *driving* sheep (the believer, the local church) this-way-and-that, whereas the former sees the Gospel ministry as one of *guiding* the sheep in the Way (in faith toward Christ…for all of salvation…sanctification included). 

Here’s what I’m getting at… anything that is said/done in the name of Christ that isn’t consciously and intentionally – rooted and grounded in the Gospel – is something other than a Gospel ministry, no matter how “moral”/”biblical” it sounds.  Ours is not to be “biblical” but “Christian” and I think we can be found standing in the former without possessing the latter necessarily.  We are not then to be found in Moses seat (Mt.23.2).  Subscription to “biblical norms” does not mean one is clinging in faith to Christ for each and every aspect of salvation…including His growing us up grace and knowledge of Him (i.e., sanctification, godliness). 

Paul puts it this way…there are those of us who “have the form (appearance) of godliness, but essentially deny its power” (2Tim.3.5).  For godliness is not ours to strive after as some commodity on the shelf that is just there for our taking, but the very working of God in us a faith and love, that, consistently beholds Christ’s righteousness/godliness (1Tim.1.4), and are thereby sovereignly and progressively brought into the likeness of His Image (2Cor.3.18).  In this way, Paul thought of Christ as our sanctification (1Cor.1.30).  The Gospel itself (the truth about Christ’s incarnation, righteousness, death, resurrection, and ascension…His doing not ours) is the only thing whereby God brings about the peaceable fruits of righteousness among His people (Phil.1.11; Col.1.6).

In other words, the Flesh can strive in form and yet never connect to the Source…Christ crucified and risen (Rom.8.3-15).  How we answer the following betrays our actual stance toward God and our brother:  “Are disciples of Christ made by 1) inputting the right commands, or are they 2) fashioned by beholding (Christ’s glory in the scandal of the Cross) and thereby found living in the Way?”

As I’ve said before…fundamentalism is readily found wherever people are finding their hope to be in their law-keeping and not Christ’s (even where we don’t do this in regards to justification, but more so sanctification). This is true of even we who claim to embrace the doctrines of grace.  A sounder grasp of the relationship of the Law/Gospel (particularly what the two have to do with Christ himself) genuinely and lastingly keeps things in a Christian perspective.

Just two cents worth.

LAW: More of it = Less

Been reading through the excerpt (Intro/Chp.1) of Mike Horton’s upcoming book:  Gospel-Driven Life.  Typical-Horton stuff.  I like it!  Putting the Gospel where it belongs…at the life-center for the disciple/church.  And yet! (no surprise for those who know me), 5 pages into Chapter 1, there’s this age-old way of seeing the Law (Third Use) as ‘a-guide-for-life.’  
I understand that this is the ‘majority view’ among reformed men.  Problem is…I don’t think Scripture bears this witness (see Rom.8).  

 “Only the radical news concerning Jesus Christ can distract us from all the trivial pursuits and transform us from the inside out. Only the gospel can cause such a radical reevaluation of our core identity that we’re willing, like Paul, to throw away what we thought was a great resume in exchange for being found in Christ. In fact, once the gospel reconfigures our whole take on reality, it even opens us up to God’s law again as the concrete expression of God’s moral will for our relationship to him and to each other. No longer condemning us, it guides us.”  (emph. mine, mjm)

Gospel: Wherein We Behold Christ’s Present Glory

Gerhardus Vos once preached:


“In the Judaistic controversy which shook the early church, forces and tendencies were at work deeply rooted in the sinful human heart.  In modernized apparel they confront us still to the present day. There are still abroad forms of Christless gospel. There prevails still a subtle form of legalism which would rob the Savior of his crown of glory, earned by the cross, and would make of him a second Moses, offering us the stones of the law instead of the life-bread of the gospel. Let us pray that it may be given to the church to repudiate and cast out this error with the resoluteness of Paul. Let us pray that the gospel of Christ might be preached by Christ’s servants and thus be what it was to Paul and his converts, a mirror of vision and transfiguration after the image of the Lord.”

Continuity: of Fulfillment (from Law to Gospel)

Just pondering this evening…


1) The matter of getting the Law right: grasping Paul’s covenantal understanding of both the Law and Gospel – Rom.2&7; Gal.4; and 2Cor.3.


2) Unfortunately, we can get the Gospel right only to again find our mingling it with the Law, due to our missing the *continuity of fulfillment* between the two covenants in Christ.


3) Denying this continuity: we are left seeing Christ’s person and work in obscurity (i.e., the typical tertius usus legis, etc.).

Aeons: Flesh/Spirit

Gordon Fee once wrote:

“The flesh-Spirit contrast in Paul never appears in a context in which the issue has to do with ‘how to live the Christian life’; rather, it appears in this case in an argument with those who have entered into the new eschatological life of the Spirit, but who are being seduced to return to the old aeon, to live on the basis of Torah observance, which for Paul is finally but another form of life ‘according to the flesh’ (cf. Gal. 3:3; 5:17-18; Phil. 3:3-6).”

Law: Where it Ends

Luther once wrote:

“It is no small matter then to understand rightly what the law is, and what is the true use and office thereof… we reject not the law and works, as our adversaries do falsely accuse us… we say that the law is good and profitable, but in his own proper use: which is first to bridle civil transgressions [Rom.2.14-15], and then to reveal and to increase spiritual transgressions [Rom.5.20; Gal.3.19].

“Wherefore the law is also a light, which sheweth and revealeth, not the grace of God, not righteousness and life; but sin,death, the wrath and judgement of God… the law, when it is in his true sense, doth nothing else but reveal sin, engender wrath, accuse and terrify men, so that it bringeth them to the very brink of desperation. This is the proper use of the law, and here it hath an end, and it ought to go no further.

Just do it!

John Piper once preached:

What Then Shall Those Who Are Justified Do with the Law of Moses?

Read it and meditate on it as those who are dead to it as the ground of your justification and the power of your sanctification. Read it and meditate on it as those for whom Christ is your righteousness and Christ is your sanctification. Which means read and mediate on it to know Christ better and to treasure him more. Christ and the Father are one (John 10:30; 14:9). So to know the God of the Old Testament is to know Christ. The more you see his glory and treasure his worth, the more you will be changed into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), and love the way he loved – which is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

I say it again. What shall you do with the law – you who are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law? Read it and meditate on it to know more deeply than you have ever known, the justice and mercy of God in Christ, your righteousness and your life.