Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reply to Pastor Chris


Thanks for the information and thanks for all the good things you said about my writings. I try be as honest with God’s Word as possible because I have an active conscience and have to sleep with myself.

You gave Chris my chapter on Matthew. I noticed that he did not comment on a single thing I wrote in that chapter about looking at the text itself and then the chapter to see the context.

You said, “Rather than looking at the whole position he resorted to an ad-hominem argument that you are just a "Dispensationalist" and "Dispensationalism" is just a plague and a scourge on the land and basically that "Dispensationalists" serve Satan and are lawless.”

It would have been pleasing to both of us if he had instead refuted what I wrote about Matthew 23:23 word for word. I sense that he is unable to do that.

You asked “Do you have any pointers on how to respond to his fallacious arguments or do you think as I do that it is probably just a waste of precious time?”

I will respond as always. I never run away from this kind of discussion. It is the tithe-teachers who run from me and my understanding of God’s Word. Even most dispensationalists do not agree with me. A lot do and that is worth it all to me.
Chris: This is the typical Dispensation argument. They read into what is not said.

Russ: Be more specific. What did I read into that is not said? I took the verse and applied fundamental principles of interpretation used in every school of hermeneutics. The verse itself said that (1) it is addressed to “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites” and not to the Church and (2) it is discussing “matters of the law: instead of the New Covenant. (3) Mt 23:2-3 tells us that Jesus commanded his Jewish disciples to obey the scribes and Pharisees because “they sit in Moses seat.” (4) It was illegal for Jesus to tell his Jewish disciples to tithe to himself. (5) It was also illegal for Jesus to tell his Gentile disciples to tithe. What error did I make in my application of simple contextual hermeneutics?

Chris: In the New Testament when the apostle Paul refers to the Law he does not make a distinction between the moral, civil and ceremonial law. He simply speaks of the law.

Russ: If Chris is stating what he thinks I believe, I agree. I have taken Paul’s writings and have looked up every time he uses the word “law.” In almost every instance Paul does not use the word “law” to refer to the Ten Commandments. For example in Romans 3 Paul quotes Isaiah and Psalms and calls it “law.”

Chris: The part of the Law that is fulfilled is the types or the shadows that were fulfilled in the Substance in Christ Jesus.

Russ: Again, is Chris stating what he thinks I believe? Dispensationalists teach that the entire Old Covenant Law was only commanded to national Israel and Israel was commanded not to share it with the Gentiles. We teach that Gentiles never were under any part of the literal OT Law as a covenant. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the righteousness of the whole law. It is covenant theology which wrongly separates the Law into three segments and rejects the ceremonial law. We say that no Jew would do that. It was either all or none as a covenant. Mt 5:17 and 19.

Chris: As for civil laws, we are commanded to obey magistrates and the rules that are over us, Romans 13.

Russ: Dispensationalists teach that the whole law ended at Calvary as a covenant. Most people have not read the whole law. It is the civil law, the judgments, which commands parents to kill disobedient children, adulterers, witches and homosexuals. The civil judicial law dealt with major sins which were presumptive, high handed, willful and premeditated. Yet Covenant Theology which teaches that the OT civil judicial law is still in full effect but the ceremonial law has been abolished.

Chris: However there are those that teach we are not to obey them because the civil law was put away and the governments are to be subjected to the church.

Russ: Dispensationalists teach that we are not to obey any of the civil judicial laws which were given only to OT Israel. Gentiles never were under any of that Law. We do NOT teach disobedience to normal civil judicial law of the city, county, state and federal government. That is absurd.

Chris: I do not buy either of those dispensational positions. The law is the Law. I do not wish to use any language that is not Biblical.

Russ: What does he mean by “the law is the law”? This is super-simplistic. There is a huge difference between the Old Covenant law in its commandments, ceremonial statutes and civil judgment AND normal civil law. He does not understand dispensationalism.

Chris: Secondly if the Mosaic Law as he calls it is fulfilled, then what are we to do with the arguments the apostle Paul draws from Deuteronomy 25:4? He quotes the so called Mosaic Law in 1 Corinthians 9:9 and again in 1 Timothy 5:18.

Russ: What does he do with the part of the Law which commanded killing disobedient children in Ex 21:15, 17? What did the USA do with English Law after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776? Answer: God took the eternal moral part of the Old Covenant law and repeated it to the church in the New Covenant after Calvary in terms of grace and faith. The USA took the best part of English law and repeated it in terms of the US Constitution after 1776.

Chris: He wrote in the Timothy passage, "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." What Scriptures is he speaking of? The Law. Deuteronomy is the Book of the 2nd law. They are the Scriptures and we are not to take away from them or add unto them.

Russ: They are the Scriptures which were given only to national Israel which excluded us Gentiles. The eternal moral principles of the OT Law were repeated after Calvary.

The context of “the laborer is worthy of his reward is found in Matthew 10:1-10 and Luke 10:1-10. Like Billy Graham and other modern evangelists, Jesus told those canvassing for him to live off the people among whom they were serving. These are not tithing texts. Read them. If anything they taught gospel workers to live in poverty!

Chris: Secondly when He says our Lord never paid a tithe, this is an argument from silence. But if He didn't so what, as the tithe is the Lord's. Tithes are to be given to Him.

Russ: This is pure ignorance and is not from silence. There are 16 biblical texts which define the contents of the tithe as only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel. While God owned everything in the OT also, he only accepted legitimate tithes from inside His specific holy land. Tithes could not come from outside God’s holy land. That cannot be disputed.

Chris: Then He said that "the blood of the New Covenant, or testament, sealed and ratified the
New Covenant and ended the Old Covenant or Mosaic Law once for all time.". What does he mean by that?

Russ: I mean exactly what I said. What is wrong with my statement?

Chris: In Hebrews 8 we find that the problem was not with the Old Covenant but rather with the People, verse Heb. 8:7-8. The fault was with "them", the people because they could not keep the law.

Russ: Agreed, but there was still a problem with the Old Covenant which was corrected by the completely NEW New Covenant. There was a problem with English law before 1776. The problem was solved by rejecting all of it and starting over with a new constitution. Chris wants to downplay the differences between the Old and New Covenants.

Chris: The New Covenant took the law from the tables of stone and wrote them upon our heart.

Russ: Super-simplistic. A few paragraphs back he wrote “The law is law.” Now he wants to say “The Law was the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.” The Law was commandments, ceremonial worship statutes and civil judicial judgments –the law is the WHOLE law.

Read Hebrews 8:8-13. The eternal moral will of God which was found within the Law has been written in the hearts of Christians. That means the moral parts of all three portions of the law. While quoting Hebrews 8, verse 13 plainly says “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” The “First Covenant” was the whole law of commandments, statutes and judgments.

Chris: The Law still stands.

Russ: All of the law or just part of the law? The commandments and judgments but not the ceremonial statutes? All of the Ten Commandments or just part of them? Will our children live long “in the land of Israel”? Do we worship on Friday at sunset according to the fourth commandment? Do we own slaves as implied by the fourth commandment?

Chris: Sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4.

Russ: John does not use the word “law” to refer to the Old Covenant Law. Rather he uses the word “law” to refer to the “revealed will of God” or even the “royal law of love.” The Greek says “Sin is lawlessness.”

In John 16:8-9 the standard of righteousness and judgment has changed from the whole Law to Jesus Himself. In John 14:6 Jesus is not merely “a way, a truth, a life” but He is “the way, the truth and the life.” When Psalm 119 said “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I may not sin against thee, “ John says “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
God does not ask the sinner, “What have you done with my law?” Rather God asks the sinner “What have you done with my son?” John 3:16-18.

Chris: No law then no sin!

Russ: There is always law. There is always God’s revelation of Himself to mankind.

Rom 2:14-16 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

The law of conscience and nature was sufficient to condemn Gentiles who were not under the Old Covenant Law. The New Covenant Law is God’s character becoming a part of our “new creation” in Christ. We obey because we have a new nature. Rom 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Chris: When correcting dispensationalists they cry legalism.

Russ: We cry out that you do not understand that the Old Covenant Law was only given to national Israel and that is was in three inseparable parts. The Law was always an indivisible whole and all Jews understand that.

Chris: They are lawless and the devil is called the lawless one.

Russ: The born-again Christian is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17. He has been redeemed and the Holy Spirit has indwelled the believer. The “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Does that sound lawless to you? The new royal law of love is part of our new divine character.

Chris: As for the tithe not being a moral law, is it not immoral to steal? How much more in robbing God! If it was immoral at one time then why is it not immoral now? Did you not say that the moral law stands?

Russ: It was sin for national Israel under the Old Covenant to steal from God by not tithing. It was also sin for national Israel to (1) not give those tithes as holy food from inside Israel, (2) not give those tithes to the Levite servants to the priests, (3) not give the priests a tenth of the tenth, (4) not KILL anybody who dared enter the sanctuary to worship God directly and (5) not forfeit land and property inheritance rights in exchange for the tithe. The tithing statute of Numbers 18 is part of the ceremonial law and even Covenant Theology teaches that the ceremonial law has ended (see Heb 7:5, 12, 18).

Chris: The tithe was practiced before Moses, Genesis 14:20 and 28:22.

Russ: The tithe of Genesis 14 and 28 was from defiled pagan land and was not a true biblical HOLY tithe under the law. The uncircumcised Gentile Abram (not Abraham yet) was obeying the common well-known law of the land which required tithes from spoils of war be given to the local king-priest. If we followed Abram’s example, we would have to give the 90% to the equivalent of the modern king of Sodom.

Chris: And if as they say that the New Testament teaches sacrificial giving, then it supersedes the tithe. What is their problem?

Russ: You only see what you want to see in my statements. You twist God’s Word by (1) redefining the contents of the tithe to include money, (2) changing the recipients and purpose of the tithe, (3) calling the tithe firstfruits and (4) teaching falsely that everybody in the OT was expected to begin their level of giving at 10%. Sacrificial giving means that MANY (not all) should give more than 10% but MANY others are giving sacrificially even though much less than 10%. It is the last part that you will not deal with.

Chris: Dispensationalism is a plague. It is a scourge on the land.

Russ: We are able to support our knowledge of the Bible so well that most theologians from other denominations run from us like scared rabbits.

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