Currently I am reading through the Old Testament book of Exodus … for those not familiar with this book it has the account of God setting the people of Israel free from Egyptian captivity along with their journey through the desert during their exodus from Egypt. During this exodus, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and also all the detailed instructions for building the tabernacle, dressing and consecrating the priests, the necessary sacrifices, etc. Then in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy God continues to provide all His laws to the Hebrews. Ultimately there ended up being, by most all scholarly accounts, 613 unique and different laws. Moses is credited as God’s author for the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy. These five books were know as the Torah … or the written Law (yes, on top of all that there is an oral law – which is basically a commentary/explanation of the Torah). Enough background … and as complex as all those laws seem to us today, we need to remember how the Law worked in the scheme of God’s plan preparing the way for Jesus …
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 (ESV)
For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for IN Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:18-26 (ESV)
When Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “Teacher, what is the great commandment in the Law?” note how he condensed the Law vs. answering the specific question (a question meant to entrap Him) posed by the lawyer …
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)
On these two commandments depends ALL the Law (or the Torah – the 613 commandments) and the Prophets …
In sending Jesus to earth, God was working with a specific purpose in mind …
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29 (ESV)
Now note what the apostle John was inspired to write …
And this is his (God’s) commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides IN God, and God IN him. And by this we know that he abides IN us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:23-24 (ESV)
This is God’s commandment:
- Believe IN the name of his Son Jesus Christ (and believe here is the action verb for faith).
- Love one another as Jesus commanded us … “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 (ESV)
Please note these other confirmations that John gives the follower of Christ Jesus …
- We keep His commandments
- We abide IN God
- God abides IN us
- The above three are confirmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives
Remember it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates and renews …
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
Reread that again and again … and consider the roles of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our salvation … phrases that prick my heart …
- The goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior (yes, it says God!)
- According to His own mercy
- The washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
- A Holy Spirit, God poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior
- Justified by God’s grace
- We might become joint heirs according to the hope of eternal life
WOW! WOW! and WOW!
(If that passage, Titus 3:4-7, is new to you and you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and you’d like to find out more, please let me know.)
So God’s commands condensed …
By the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, believe IN the name of Christ Jesus and love one another as Jesus loved His disciples and loves you and me.
Thank you Lord Jesus!