I frequently hear Christians make comments about, or refer to, the Ten Commandments as still being applicable to our lives today. It usually comes in one of two lines of thought. One says that we are obliged to obey all of the Ten Commandments except for the Sabbath Day commandment. The other says that we are obliged to obey all of them, including the Sabbath Day commandment. I don’t believe we are under obligation to any of them. This post is a brief treatment of this premise.
There are three things, in my opinion, that need to be understood when dealing with this issue.
First is that the Mosaic covenant—the Mosaic Law—must be taken as a unit and cannot be divided up into parts. I know that many have divided the Law into several categories for the sake of studying it—moral laws, ceremonial laws, dietary laws, etc.—and that’s helpful for the sake of studying the law, but the Bible itself does not divide the law like that. In fact, the Bible says that if you violate any single part of the law (any single law), then you are guilty of the entire law. Never was there an option of being declared innocent in this part or that part of the law; a person was either a law breaker or he was not a law breaker. As it turned out, everyone was a law breaker. (Gal 3:10; Gal 5:3; James 2:10-11; also look at 2Cor 3:6-13 which specifically talks about the Ten Commandments fading away.)
The second thing that we need to know is that God’s moral law is not the same as the Mosaic Law. God’s moral law was included in the Mosaic Law, but the Mosaic Law also included civil laws, criminal laws, sanitary laws, etc. God’s moral law existed before Moses went up onto Mt. Sinai and still exists today. The Ten Commandments are part of the Mosaic Law, not God’s moral law, even though there are similarities. We know it was part of the Mosaic Law because it was given to Moses along with the rest of the Mosaic Law. The Ten Commandments did not exist prior to the Mosaic Law and, I’m suggesting, it doesn’t exist after the Mosaic Law was replaced by the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-33).
The third thing is that the law is tied to a priesthood. The Mosaic Law was tied to the Levitical priesthood that the Law describes. It was a priesthood with a very exclusive membership. There was another priesthood that the Bible describes, however. We’ll look at that next. I think it’s important to remember that a particular Law and its priesthood cannot be separated from one another.
Let’s take a look at 3 passages about a guy named Melchizedek.
Genesis 14 is about a war that takes place between 9 kings, 4 kings against 5 (note that Melchizedek was not one of those 9 kings). During the war, Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and a bunch of people get taken captive along with their possessions. Abraham gathers together 318 of his trained men and he was able to retrieve all of the people and property that had been taken captive. Then…
“After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram in the Valley of Shaveh (known as the King’s Valley). Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.) He blessed Abram, saying,
“‘Blessed be Abram by the Most High God,
Creator of heaven and earth.
Worthy of praise is the Most High God,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.’
Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.”
Look also at Psalm 110:4, a prophetic psalm about Jesus.
“The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,’You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
We know nothing more about Melchizedek. This is the only thing in any historical document, biblical or otherwise, about this person. Keep in mind also, that the only recognized priesthood in Judaism was the Levitical priesthood. If you remember, Levi was one of the sons of Jacob (the grandson of Abraham), and one of the tribes of Israel. The tribe of Levi did not get an inheritance in the promised land, because they were to be the priests of God for the people; Aaron was the first priest. No one else could be a priest besides a Levite, and no one else could perform any of the priestly duties. The priesthood were the keepers of the law.
Now, let’s spend some time in Hebrews 7. The author of Hebrews has been spending the previous 6 chapters trying to convince his readers (primarily Jews) that Jesus is better than the old way of Judaism. Chapters 4 and 5 talk about Jesus being our high priest. This presented a problem for some people because Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, but from the tribe of Judah; he was not eligible to be a priest. The author of Hebrews is reminding the readers that there is another priestly order that is not of Levi: the order of Melchizedek.
The priests in Israel held the office of priest only temporarily because they eventually died. Since nothing is known about Melchizedek besides what we’ve read in Genesis 14 and the 110th psalm, the author of Hebrews says that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, he has neither beginning of days nor end of life but is like the son of God, and he remains a priest for all time.” He then goes on to show more of how much better the priestly order of Melchizedek is than the order of Levi by saying that Levi was below Abraham, but Melchizedek was superior to Abraham.
Then we come to Heb 7:11-12.
“So if perfection had in fact been possible through the Levitical priesthood – for on that basis the people received the law – what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in Aaron’s order? For when the priesthood changes, a change in the law must come as well.”
Please note that last phrase: Since Jesus is part of a different priesthood, a change in the law must come as well.
We can see from this passage (and the rest of the chapter) that the Mosaic Law was imperfect, weak, and useless. “On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” And “Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. And the others who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them…. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”
The Mosaic Law accomplished its purpose of demonstrating that no one was ever able to keep it and live up to the perfect standards of God. Therefore, it brought sin and death.
On the flip side of that coin, the new covenant in Christ is infinitely better as we saw in Hebrews 7. Why would we ever want to cling to the old law? In Romans 8:2-4, Paul says that we have been set free from what he calls “the law of sin and death.”
The Christian should never be put back under this old law. Take a look at Acts 15; Rom 5:10; 6:14; 7:1-2; 2Cor 3:6-18; and the entire book of Galatians.
One last thing I want to mention is that there are several positive remarks that Paul makes about the Mosaic Law, but he was not saying that the Mosaic Law is to be in operation for those under the new Law of Christ, and I’d bring another apologetic to deal with that in another post if necessary.
I know that there are a lot of very godly people who still feel that the Ten Commandments are required today, but I have to ask why. Based on Scripture, why would anyone want to live under a law that no one was ever able to keep, especially since we have something so much better now? The Mosaic Law is like a doctor that only gives a diagnosis, but no cure. We see the perfect standard of God and we see that we don’t measure up. The diagnosis is that we are cursed. Only Christ has the cure. Christ has set us free from the law. There’s no need to remain under the old law.
The first post in this series was an introduction to worldviews. It gave a couple definitions of the term worldview, it discussed who has them (everyone), and then spoke of why they’re important. Now, I’d like to look at each of the five broad questions that provide the framework for all worldviews.
As we discussed, a worldview is a collection of beliefs that can be boiled down to what one thinks about the questions of origins, identity, meaning, morality, and destiny.
The first question is one of origins: Where did everything come from?
When we look around at the world, when we gaze up at the clouds in the daytime or at the stars at night, when we think about why or how the physical world came to be, these are thoughts in the area of origins. When we think about the origins of the universe, there are only two possibilities.
- The universe came into being at some point in the past as an effect of some other action or occurrence.
- The universe is eternal in nature and therefore was always here. It had no beginning and it had no cause.
It seems to me that it takes only a brief moment of reflection to decide that option #2 is very unlikely. In fact, everything we know about science, logic, and even the scientific method cries against the idea that the physical universe had no beginning.
Albert Einstein said that his Theory of Relativity shows that the universe is not eternal as he’d previously thought. He said that his theory proved that the universe is not a cause, but one big effect, and that something brought it into existence.
By the way, Einstein disliked this conclusion, and that led him to introduce what he called a “fudge factor” that allowed for an eternal universe. The problem is his fudge factor required a division by zero in his calculations. As we all know, dividing by zero is bad math. Einstein later admitted the error, calling it “the greatest blunder of [his] life.” After confirming further research that showed that the universe is expanding just like his theory predicted, he conceded the fact that the universe is not eternal. He’s then quoted as saying that he “wanted to know how God created the world.”
So, the universe had a beginning, according to logical reflection and scientific confirmation. When we think about this, the first basic question that we have to ask is “Why is there something here (the universe) instead of nothing here?” Everything we know about how reality works points to the fact that effects have causes. In fact, the entire enterprise of the scientific method would not work without the basic truth that effects have causes. The beginning of the universe is an effect, so, like all effects, it had a cause.
So, what caused the universe? Since causes cannot come after their effects, natural forces (those forces that are part of the natural universe) cannot account for the existence of the universe; there must be something outside of nature to do the job. By the way, that’s what the word “supernatural” means: something outside of nature.
The next question is: What or who created the universe? As we’ll see, whatever or whoever created the universe had to have been extremely complex, exceedingly powerful, highly intelligent, and eternal in nature. Let’s take each of these in turn.
The universe is a very complex place. From astrophysics to microbiology, and from the most complicated branches of chemistry to the most advanced mathematics, the complexity of the universe is evident everywhere. Given the extremely complex nature of the universe, we can conclude that whatever or whoever created the universe must have been extremely complex itself.
Given the sheer vastness of the universe in its scope and size, we have to conclude that the creator of the universe is exceedingly powerful. We often marvel at the creative power of the world’s greatest architects, or the creative power that has allowed us to put a man on the moon or build the space station. We often gaze in wonder at the pyramids in Egypt or the Colosseum in Rome or the Great Wall of China. But considering the creative power that was necessary to create the universe, the creativity of the human race is almost nothing. Anything we create is done by taking raw materials and applying what we’ve learned of physics, earth sciences, engineering, and other trades, and forming those raw materials into the creation. The creator of the universe had no raw materials to begin with. The creator of the universe created it out of nothing, or so it would seem. We’ve created things that seem large to us, but the creator of the universe … well, created the universe. I can’t even begin to grasp such power in my wildest imagination.
Another thing we can see and discover about the universe is that it seems very well designed. It seems so specifically designed, in fact, that there are over 100 “constants” in nature that have to be so precisely fine-tuned that the earth could never sustain life otherwise. Take a look at these statements of fine tuning.
- Oxygen Level – On earth, the atmosphere contains 21 percent oxygen. If the oxygen level were 25 percent, fires would spontaneously erupt. If the oxygen level were 15 percent, we would all suffocate.
- Atmospheric Transparency – If the atmosphere were less transparent than it is, not enough solar radiation would reach earth. If it were more transparent, we’d be bombarded with too much solar radiation.
- The Moon’s Gravity – If the moon’s gravity were greater than it is, the ocean tides would be too severe and the rotation of the earth would be too slow. If the moons gravity were less, the result would be tremendous climatic instabilities.
- Centrifugal Forces in our Solar System – The centrifugal force of the planetary movements precisely balance gravitational forces. If they didn’t, nothing would be held in orbit around the sun.
These are just a few of the narrowly-defined constants governing the universe, each of which is necessary for life on earth. This strongly points to a highly intelligent designer. And since we’re talking about a designer that’s intelligent, we’re no longer talking about a “what” but a “who.” “Whats” don’t have intelligence; only “whos” do.
Lastly, we can conclude that whoever created the universe had to have eternally existed, with no beginning. How can we know that? Simple logic will tell us.
As we’ve already determined, the universe had a beginning. Since it had a beginning, it had to have had a “beginner” to begin it. So, you can ask the question “If someone made it, where did that someone come from?” But then you have to ask “Who created the thing that created the thing that created the thing that created the universe?” And on and on it goes in an infinite regress with no end.
The nature of an infinite regress is an illogical one, and one that is not sustainable. To avoid this logical problem, we have to come to the conclusion that whoever created the universe has to have existed with no beginning. Every effect has a cause, and if we take the causes back far enough, eventually we will find something that is eternal—the ultimate cause. It may be hard to wrap the mind around, but this truth is a logical certainty; there’s no way around it.
So, on the question of origins, I think it’s safe to say that there is a complex, powerful, intelligent, eternal being that created it all. Of course, you have to decide for yourself what’s the most reasonable conclusion to make, and that will be the first major part of your more precisely thought-out worldview.
Next time, we’ll get into the second broad worldview question: Identity – Who am I essentially?
Have you ever watched the news on TV or the Internet and thought that there’s too much evil in the world? What is your opinion on abortion? Do you feel that the government should or should not try to implement more control over civilians owning firearms? Was it wrong for President Kennedy to facilitate the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, or for Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, or for SEAL Team Six to kill Osama bin Laden? Did life on this planet begin as a failed alien experiment? Is it OK for people to kill animals for food? Is it OK for people to kill animals for fun? Do you believe in reincarnation? Should human trafficking be stopped?
To bring it a little closer to home, should a thief be allowed to steal your paycheck? Should a police officer be allowed to force his way into your home for lodging and food? What would you think if someone dumped gravel in the gas tank of your car? Does your life have meaning? Is your life valuable? If your boss decided not to pay you, would you feel like you’d been wronged? Would you lie in court to protect a friend who was guilty? What about a friend who was innocent? What will happen to you when you die?
If you have an opinion about any of these questions, then you have a worldview. Your worldview is simply your view of the world, how it really is, and how you think it should be.
Merriam-Webster defines worldview as “the way someone thinks about the world.” It can also be defined as “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world” or “a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group” (source).
Worldviews are powerful. They are so powerful, in fact, that they govern almost every moment of our lives. Our worldview will determine how we behave toward each other, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or strangers in line at the local grocery store. It will also govern how we treat those we consider our enemies. It will even determine how we treat ourselves.
How we see the world will determine how we react to hardships, how we spend our money and time, even how much value we put on self-preservation. Basically, our worldview determines how we act in every situation at every moment of every day. In light of this, the issue of worldview may be the most important issue a person can contemplate in this life.
A person’s worldview develops over time, starting with their first thoughts. Sometimes the worldview that a persons holds is due to the culture in which they were raised. Sometimes it’s because of their religious or political ideology. Sometimes it’s simply narcissism or perceived necessity.
Most worldviews have some basis in reality, meaning they reflect the way the world really is to one degree or another. Some worldviews have very little such basis. But since our worldviews govern so strongly how we think, act, react, and move through life, and since they impact not only ourselves but those around us as well—indeed sometimes they have far-reaching impact—it seems that it may be the one most important thing we should strive to get right.
Obviously, people have different worldviews. I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are people in the world who don’t hold the same opinions about the above questions that you do. There are those who feel that beating your wife is OK under some circumstances. There are those who believe that Osama bin Laden was a hero. There are those who truly believe that if you don’t guard your paycheck well enough, they have a right to take it from you. Those who feel differently than you about these things have a different worldview.
So, whose worldview is right? If I believe something about the world that conflicts with what you believe, we can’t both be right about it. If there is real truth to be known, and I believe there is, then it’s reasonable to conclude that the nature of that truth should shape our worldview and therefore govern our lives. That being said, we can change our worldview. As I mentioned above, no one is correct about everything concerning how the world really is, so we should be flexible enough to adjust our worldview as we become convinced that our previous opinions or thoughts on certain things were incorrect. Our goal should be to adjust and correct our own worldviews to match, as closely as possible, the truth of the way the world really is, and then we should allow that to change our behavior.
In this series I’d like to explore what I believe are the major areas of all worldviews. As we go through these, I’m hoping to learn more about my own worldview and how it corresponds to (or contrasts with) reality. Undoubtedly there will be some things that I write with which you’ll disagree. That’s OK, because undoubtedly there will be some things that I write that will be incorrect. Those things that are incorrect are incorrect because I hold an incorrect view on them. I don’t claim to be right in everything I say or write. I will say or write them because I believe they are correct, but I could be wrong. The whole idea of this lifelong exercise is to try to correct faulty thinking, mine included.
So, let’s dive in….
To use terms made popular by others, a worldview basically defines what one thinks about these five broad questions:
- Origins – Where did everything come from?
- Identity – Who am I essentially, at the core?
- Meaning – What is the meaning of life, if there is meaning at all?
- Morality – Where does our sense of right and wrong come from?
- Destiny – What happens to me when I die?
Not every worldview will admit the importance of all of these areas, but they still have to provide an answer to them. A strictly materialistic worldview, for example, will say that the question of Meaning is a meaningless one. But, even for the materialist, the question remains. He may answer it by saying that there is no meaning, but he still must answer it.
So, over the next few posts, we’ll take a look at each of these five areas and see if we can discover how they govern our lives and how a change in worldview would change the way we see the world and the way we behave in it.
Grammar Girl (one of my favorite people) sent out some information on the origins of “Xmas” that I found interesting. Maybe you will too.
Retailers have long been accused of secularizing Christmas by using “Xmas” in signs and advertisements; therefore, I suspect many of you will be surprised to learn that “Xmas” has a religious origin.
In Greek, the letter “chi” is written as an X, and chi is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ.” Greeks sometimes abbreviated “Christ” as “X.” For example, they abbreviated “Christ savior” as “XP.” (“P” is the symbol for the Greek letter “rho,” which is the first letter of the word “savior” in Greek.) The Oxford English Dictionary shows the first known English use of “Xmas” in 1551.
As for appropriateness, “Xmas” may have a religious origin and fit better on signs, but many people — both those who use “Xmas” and those who complain about its use — are unaware of the religious origin. If you choose to use “Xmas,” you should know that some people will be infuriated.
My friend and I are going through Luke one passage at a time, and this morning we discussed Luke 5:1-11 where Peter’s world (and worldview) was turned upside-down with one drop of the nets. It’s a wonderful passage where Jesus provides a graphic and living metaphor of evangelism and missions. Peter, Andrew, James, and John would no longer be catching fish, but people—no longer on the Sea of Galilee, but in a sea of souls.
But the call goes beyond just these few men. We are all called to the same thing. We are all near a sea of souls and we are all called to be fishers of people in these vast seas.
I love Michael Card’s music and his lyrics. He wrote a song called Sea of Souls back in 2003, and I really like the message.
All thru the night of toil and sweat
With empty souls and empty nets
So hopeless I will not forget
That night so dark and cold
Then with the dawn He rose in view
And filled our nets and my soul too
With the fisher king my rendezvous
Upon the sea of souls
Upon the sea of souls
We ride the tides of time
Jesus shouts, “Behold,
You stand beside a sea of souls.”
I left my boats and nets behind
To follow Him so I could find
A way to cast a different line
Upon the sea of souls
Upon the sea of souls
We ride the tides of time
Jesus shouts, “Behold,
You stand beside a sea of souls.”
Our entire purpose for being here as followers of Christ is to cast our nets and our lines into the seas that are around us. As his ambassadors, our King has placed us in various seas of souls, and he’s done so with the expectation that we’ll be casting our nets and lines. The catch is up to him, but the casting is our responsibility, our task, our great privilege.
God said and it was so
Immense power to command and go
Light from darkness He proclaimed
Plants and earth and life He made.
God declared and made it be
His will set forth for all to see
Creative power displayed in might
He made the day and also the night.
God before time created it
Put man on Earth for stewardship
He declared good all that was made
All glory to Him throughout displayed.
– Debi Martin
There are currently several studies going on in the life of my wife and me of ancient history as recorded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Our church is going through this section of scripture as an adult Sunday School class, the small group to which we belong is also going through it, and Debi has just joined a BSF class and they are going through the same section of the Bible. They are all just getting started, so the events in the first two chapters are in focus right now.
As anyone who has studied the Bible knows, there are minor controversies within orthodox Christianity surrounding the purpose and meaning of these two chapters. None of these controversies includes any major doctrine of the faith, of course, so they are not high on the scale of importance as far as I’m concerned. The outcome of these discussions has no bearing at all on how we are to live our lives as Christians day-to-day. That being said, I wanted to blog briefly about my views on these two chapters.
The main focus of the discussions mentioned above is whether or not Genesis chapter 1 is a play-by-play of how God created the earth. There are basically two camps in this debate, though there are several variations in each camp. One camp will contend that the six days mentioned in chapter 1 should be taken to mean that God created the earth in the six literal days as they are laid out. Basically, the creation looked like this.
Day 1 – God created light and separated light from darkness.
Day 2 – God created the sky.
Day 3 – God separated water from dry ground to create seas and land. He also created vegetation on this day.
Day 4 – God created the sun, moon, and stars to measure time and to separate light from darkness.
Day 5 – God created sea creatures and birds.
Day 6 – God created land animals. Then God created mankind after his image.
The other camp claims that the account in Genesis 1 is not a literal play-by-play of how God created the earth. Rather, this account is meant to be an easy way for an illiterate people to memorize the fact that there is nothing that exists on earth that was not created by God. Some have said that Genesis 1 is Hebrew poetry which further points to it not being literal, but there are problems with this claim—scholars of Hebrew language say that there are very few elements of Hebrew poetry present in this chapter. That notwithstanding, there are fewer problems with this camp’s theory than the other.
I agree with the claims of this second camp, and I’ll explain why.
The historical context of the writing of this account is soon after the nation of Israel was led out of Egypt by Moses. Moses most likely wrote this during the early years of the wilderness wandering beginning with Numbers chapters 13 & 14. These people had lived their entire lives as slaves in Egypt. They were illiterate for the most part and oral tradition is all they had regarding recorded history. So, in my opinion, God had Moses write the creation account in a way that would be very easy to remember. The main point of the account is that God created everything. Though it would have been easier to just stop chapter 1 after the first verse, I believe God wanted to stress that he created everything; name something in nature and God created it.
If you take the creation account as described by the first camp above, I believe you run into some problems.
First, you can see in day 1 that God created light and he separated the light from the darkness. But on day 4, God created the sun and the moon to separate the light from the darkness. So, when was light separated from darkness, in day 1 or day 4?
Secondly, when chapter 2 is added to the discussion, there are two points of order that seem to disagree with chapter 1′s account. According to chapter 1, plants were created on day 3 and mankind on day 6. But Genesis 2:5-9 seems to indicate that man was created before the plants.
Now no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. Springs would well up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food. (Now the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard.)
This passage seems to say that (1)there were no plants, (2)God created man, (3)he created the Garden of Eden, (4)then he created the trees in the garden.
Another point of order is land animals, birds, and man. Which came first? According to chapter 1, you have to say that animals were created before man (both on day 6) if you agree with the first camp above, as well as the birds (created on day 5). But chapter 2 says that man was created before animals. Take a look at Gen 2:18-22.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam no companion who corresponded to him was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
This passage seems to say that (1)God says he’ll make a companion for Adam, (2)God created the animals of the ground and the birds, (3)he brought them to Adam to name them but none were suitable as a companion, (4)then God created Eve as the companion for Adam.
It is my opinion that the account in Genesis 1 is much more interested in why God created the earth than how. Here is my opinion of the main point of chapter 1 regarding why God created the earth.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.
I believe that the main point of Gen 1 is that God created everything and that he did it for his most prized creation: mankind. It’s written in the way it is because it’s easy to remember.