Greetings for this new week from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, inviting you to celebrate Christ with us every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. In between worship celebrations we offer Christian education for all ages & plenty of refreshments to tide one over. Join us this week.
Let me begin by apologizing. I just might go a little over the top this week, but I have good reason. It seems nobody wants to deal with the topic of sin and that’s not just bad, that’s dangerous. Case in point, apparently the Ten Commandments are no longer to be followed by Christians in today’s modern church. A pastor, Andy Stanley, at a popular Georgia megachurch (I’ll take their word for its popularity since I don’t get out and around much on Sundays.) called North Point Ministries has declared that “Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of the Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He also added, “Just as his new covenant replaced the old covenant, Jesus’ new commandment replaced all the old commandments.”
For the record, he has a lot of company in several mainline Christian denominations. There are those Christian denominations, including a Lutheran one, that have declared that the Old Testament scriptures no longer apply to Christians. They are merely a collection of old stories, like fairy tales, to entertain children. Pastor Stanley also has the support of many of his various non-denominational colleagues, both mega and a little more modest, that avoid Old Testament stuff like the plague, especially as it pertains to sin because it might upset the crowds (that and impact contributions).
To all this ignoring, dismissing and voiding of the Old Testament by such brilliant minds like Pastor Stanley’s and the church leaders and theologians of mainline Christian denominations like the ELCA and Methodist Church, among others, I say this: God gives us ALL the right to be stupid, but some of us feel the need to abuse that right. Those who dismiss the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments as no longer applying to our Christian faith, fall into the abusive category.
One could say that Pastor Stanley with his mega church crowd are like so many others that I referenced in last week’s blog when I said how many Christians want to believe in God on their terms, not God’s. We want God to fit our definition. Doing away with the Ten Commandments is precisely what I meant. We find their adherence difficult, challenging and impossible causing us to be guilty of sin. Since we don’t like the thought of our sin, we simply eliminate what we believe to be the cause of our sin.
It doesn’t work that way!
The whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, not just the New Testament. Jesus did not come into the world to discard the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, and replace them with the New or Christian Scriptures. The Old Testament is the account of God building the Hebrew people into a holy and chosen nation from which His Messiah would come into the world. The New Testament is the account of the birth and initial growth of the Christian church from which the message of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus would come to the world. What part of that do persons who call themselves Christian, much less pastors, or Christian denominations as a whole fail to grasp?
Dismissing the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, is heresy. It is a false teaching and Jesus warned us the there would be those, including those inside the church, who would serve the forces of evil, the devil, attempting to diminish the influence of God’s Word for us.
The Law serves the invaluable purpose of making us aware of our desperate need of Gospel’s hope in Christ. The law condemns us because we can’t keep it. We need to know that. Without that knowledge, we will not turn to Christ and the salvation only He makes possible in His death and resurrection. The Law opens us to the power of the Gospel.
Our preaching and teaching as Christians in the pews and pastors in the pulpits MUST count on the balance of Law and Gospel for God’s Word to be understood. The Law is to condemn us and the Gospel in Christ is to save. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.
I suggest that these so called authorities on Scripture spend a little more time in God’s Word before they start dismissing portions of it as non-essential. And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Pastor Lee R. Harder