When the subject of the covenant God made with Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) comes up it raises a number of questions. Questions such as, “What was the purpose of the Mosaic covenant?” “What purpose does the Mosaic covenant have for New Testament Christians?” or “How are we to understand the function of the Mosaic covenant in relation to the work of Jesus?” I hope to explore some of these questions and use/recommend the book The Law is Not of Faith Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant to facilitate the discussion.
At the start it should be stated that I do not find that there was an overall consensus on this subject. J.V. Fesko, in his chapter, quotes one of the Westminster Divines Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) speaking to this
“I do not find in any point of divinity, learned men so confused and perplexed (being like Abraham’s ram, hun in a bush of briars and brambles by the head) as here.” (Law is Not of Faith, 25)
In The Select Works of Theodore Beza, Beza discusses how the substance of the Gospel in the New Testament is also found in the Old Testament. The phrase “substance of the Gospel” for Beza is “all that was promised in the Old Testament on the subject of Jesus Christ.” It is everything that pointed to the Rescuer of God’s elect. Thus the substance of the Gospel, rightly understood, is not merely found in certain isolated parts of Scripture but the whole. It’s not as if the Gospel is only in parts of the four Gospels or the epistles rather the fulfillment of Messiah has always been the plan.
Acts 26:22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:
Acts 26:23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Acts 28:23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
Rom 1:2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
I have received a few emails asking what a Reformed liturgy would look like. This is a sample of the liturgy we use for our Sunday morning worship. The selection of songs change as do the texts used in the Greeting, Call, Reading of the Law, Sermon and Words of Institution. The music is there as a sample of the genre of music that is sung.
Welcome and Announcements
Prelude – “All Creatures of Our God and King”
God Calls Us to Worship
Minister: Gal 1:3-5 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Minister: The Lord be with you! (Ruth 2.4)
All: And also with you! (more…)
The Part of the Word of God called “Gospel”: Its authority, why, how and for what end it was written
After we are made aware of the Law the Gospel is made all the brighter. While the Law produces fear, the Gospel produces hope. In the “Select Works of Theodore Beza”, Beza writes that, after we know the Law we “find the use and necessity of the Gospel”. Seeing a necessity and use of the Gospel, Beza makes a primary argument that there is only one Gospel.
To support the argument that there is only one doctrine of salvation that is called the Gospel. Beza argues the Gospel (Good News) was fully announced and declared to the world by Jesus Christ, the Apostles and recorded faithfully by the Evangelists.
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
2 Cor 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Recorded by the Evangelists
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
1 Pet 1:25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
It can be concluded, as Beza argues, that the doctrine of the Gospel was faithfully recorded as a protection against variances of other apparent versions of the Gospel. In support to preservation and recording of the Gospel, Beza makes three more arguments:
- They added nothing of their own as far as substance of the doctrine is concerned:
- They omitted nothing which is necessary for salvation.
- What the Apostles and Evangelists did write, was written in a way for even the simplest person to understand what is necessary for salvation.
It has been asked about the doctrine of Total Depravity, “If we are totally depraved, then how did we come to know of this estate of sin and misery?” Beza, in his works discussing the question “For what ends the Holy Spirit use the preaching of the Law?” is helpful here.
Citing John 9:41, (Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains) Beza reminds the reader that in our fallen estate, corruption reigns in us to such an extent, that we are ignorant of our ignorance. In our fallenness, we are pleased with those things which ought to displease us. We suppress the light of truth that we have as Paul states in Romans:
Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools;
Rom 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
In The Select Works of Theodore Beza, Theodore Beza divides the Word (Books of the Old and New Testament) into two principal parts. One called the “Law” and the other “Gospel”. The Law, for Beza, is a doctrine whose seed is written in our hearts by nature. But this Law is written in the Bible so that we can have a more exact knowledge of it. This list of the two tables (10 Commandments) are a summary of the obedience and perfect righteousness we owe to God and our neighbor. The terms: perpetual life for those who keep the Law perfectly and death for those who do not. (Deut 30:15-20; James 2:10)
While the Law is known to us because it’s written on our hearts by nature, the Gospel is not at all in us by nature. The Gospel is revealed from heaven (Matt 16:17; John 1:13) and “surpasses natural knowledge”. It is through the Gospel that God proclaims to us that he has intended to save us freely by Jesus (Rom 3:20-22) by faith. Jesus must be trusted on for our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30). Through the Gospel proclamation God not only testifies all of this to us, but by his grace he renews us in way that we can embrace those benefits freely offered (1 Cor. 2:4).
I have just returned from two weeks visiting family in Texas and Louisiana. It was trip that went by fast because everyday we were somewhere different. Perhaps you are familiar with these types of vacations that are more exhausting than relaxing. Everyday was a time to play “catch up” with someone. Say goodbyes and pray it wouldn’t be so long till the next time we could sit down with a cup of coffee, beer, etc. Thankfully many of us are on Facebook so we can keep in touch there.
One interesting moment for my household is when we are on vacation and our time away will include a Sunday. If we’re on vacation on the Lord’s Day do we just not go to church? Do we go to a church with different theology? How different can it be? The Lord’s Day in wife’s family was always a day to attend church even if they were on vacation. That was not the case for me when I grew up. I appreciated that my wife’s dad set that example for his children and I wanted to leave my children with that memory as well. So far, every time we have been on vacation, we have found a way to attend a service on the Lord’s Day