This blog post is my response to a friend’s email.
Your words highlight the issue of “antinomianism”. Antinomianism simply means “against (anti)”-”law (nomos)-in the context of this discussion
-against God’s law, which Jesus said He did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. This fulfillment finds its target in the New Covenant. The Old Testament uses the words “New Covenant” only one time. That place is Jeremiah 31, where the prophet tells us there would come a day when God would write His Law upon the hearts of His people. The New Covenant, far from releasing Christians from God’s Law, writes it upon our hearts, so that we have more than an outward/external law. Those in Christ, have God’s Law written upon their hearts. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. When we walk in love, we fulfill the Law (Romans 13:10). But the Law is never set aside, not even for the Christian. It is always there as the abiding standard of righteousness.
I like how you pointed out that God is teaching us to love the Law of God, to embrace it as the standard for righteousness – that standard is summed up in “Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself”. When we do not walk in love, the external Law is there to remind us, and to show us, that we have drifted from the Path, the Way, as it is called several times in Acts. The external Law reminds us that God is in the process of writing His Law upon our hearts, and indeed it is, even now, written upon the heart of the new man; but many things cloud God’s perfect Law. Therefore the Apostle tells us to lay aside the old self, and to put on the new (Ephesians 4:24). The experience of God’s Law written on our (Christian’s) hearts is a life-long experience; that experience is the process of sanctification, which will not be complete until the day “when we see Him we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).
You said well, that the Law convicts you (me also) of sin, and causes you (us) to come to Jesus for forgiveness and sanctification (1 John 1:9, forgiveness and cleansing). This process should be daily, as the old Puritans have told us, that we are called to live in a state of continual repentance-Not a morbid and continual introspection, but a glad and free enjoyment of Christ who came to set us free by knowing the truth, “Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17), and “Your Law is truth” (Psalm 119:142). Always we must recognize that we are not completely sanctified (we fall short of God’s required perfection), and so being ready to confess our sins on a moment by moment basis, we also receive moment by moment cleansing with further sanctification; all this from our High Priest Who having offered one time, atonement for all our sins, ever lives to make intercession for us.
Another thing you brought up is truly worthy of diligent consideration-The issue of properly educating our Christian children (any child in a Christian family). I believe this is, if not the most debilitating practice among American Christians, is certainly in the top two or three. The Body of Christ can never be what God intends so long as 85% of us give our children to the government school system (AKA “public school”). The government school system claims to be neutral when it comes to education and “values”. This is clearly not so (as you said, there is no neutrality). The government school system, rather than building Christian children up in the faith, systematically destroys the faith of God’s tender plants, so much so, that 80%+ of Christian children schooled by the government school system leave the Church within a few years of graduating high school (these statistics come from an official (organizational) report of the Southern Baptists).
Clearly, rather than be silent concerning the error of our brothers and sisters in regard to the schooling of Christian children, we are compelled by the Lord to call them to a greater obedience; to call them to a great exodus out of the government school system that wars so successfully against the Body of Christ by destroying or severely compromising the faith of each succeeding generation. As has been said, the Bible never says, “Thou shalt not give thy children to the American government school system”. But clearly, the Bible does tell us to raise them in the “fear and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6), and that we are to be training them into the God’s worldview “day and night” (Deuteronomy 6), to love the Law of the Lord (Psalm 119:97, 113, 163, 165), and to obey Him (Psalm 78). A Jewish child once asked his father, “When can I study the philosophies of the Greeks?” His father responded, “God tells us to meditate on His Law day and night. If you can find a time other than day and night to study pagan philosophies, that is the time you may use to do so.” Perhaps this illustration is extreme, but it does bring to our attention the fact that God call US, Christians, not the government, to train our children for life. This education can come from Christian schooling, Christian tutoring, Christian homeschooling, or any other template of Christian education that inculcates the Christian worldview into Christian children. Surely we who are Christian parents will are responsible for this-surely we will be called to give account of this area of life which is one of the most significant aspects of Christian living-passing our faith to the next generation.
Mike, Thanks for stirring us up to “love and good deeds”! (Hebrews 10:24).
((Mike’s email to which I responded by the above paragraphs is reprinted below))
I invite you to read the official ICCP topic: The Education of Christian Children.
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Below is the email to which I have above responded:
Friends&Family, some thoughts from the week since past Lords Day.
“Whatever happened to standards” ive heard some folks say. Standards are something to strive toward. Standards, are kind of a tricky thing because they can stir up a number of emotions based on how they are or have been used, sort of like “law” and “gospel”. The one who receives either (law/gospel) in the grace of God, sees them both as good news, the one who doesn’t, sees them both as bad, oppressive, unreasonable, condemning. This principle has been a good prayer guide for me, helping me delight in the law of God, receiving His gospel grace when I fail. I don’t want to despise the Law of God doing my own thing. Failing more often than I like, I continue to ask forgiveness, and Jesus is good to forgive and restore.
GOD has standards, and we need to receive them in the grace of the one who gives them. Of course, Im assuming that if Paul gives an instruction for the way we should conduct ourselves, that we can assume it is a biblical standard. Ignoring Gods standards because they dont fit whats going on in the community/culture, reveals where our loyalties lay. Having a “relay for life” bake sale during Lords Day worship time, reveals where supporters think their help comes from. Where is our allegiance, and where does it belong.
For a Christian, we don’t have the latitude to make decisions based on what seems right for us, when there is a biblical standard to guide us. Ignorance is one thing, and willful dismissal is another, and its the church’s job to help the flock make wise decisions based on biblical standards.
I heartily agreed with Pastor xxx in his mothers day sermon, that a Christian should not make decisions (like tithing, in his example) from purely practical reasons. This approach is good, so lets spread it around a little more, push it into a few corners, after all were not pragmatists, were Christians. When we read verses like Titus 2:5, it may seem unpractical at first for a woman that has a family to be a keeper at home instead of having a career. When our property taxes are taken and given to a secular school system, it would seem practical to send our Christian children there, but the Bible tells us our Christian children should receive a uniquely Christian education founded squarely on the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as neutrality, and indoctrination into a religion is always happening, just which one, is the question. The author of this article does an excellent job of describing the relationship between culture, religion, and how they interact.