This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Category: Law (page 2 of 4)

Completed by the Spirit Part 20: A Pattern of Indicative-Powered Imperatives

This is the 20th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we noted from the writ­ings of Thomas Schreiner in our pre­vi­ous install­ment, Paul doesn’t give us com­mands, or imper­a­tives, in the form of laws, but rather as based in the indica­tive — that is, in our posi­tion in Christ. Paul exhorts us to be who we now are.

In addi­tion to those pre­vi­ous exam­ples, we can also look to Paul’s let­ters to the Eph­esians and Colos­sians for imper­a­tives grounded in the indicative.

: [1] I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk,” (imper­a­tive), “in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, [2] with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, [3] eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (indica­tive).

Con­tinue reading


4:1 I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 19: Imperatives Rooted in the Indicative

This is the 19th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

We cer­tainly are given imper­a­tives — com­mands — in the New Tes­ta­ment. Indeed, many imper­a­tives are included in Paul’s epistles.

But it is vitally impor­tant to under­stand that Paul’s imper­a­tives are not in the form of laws, but are imper­a­tives that are depen­dent upon the indica­tive of the gospel.

Pro­fes­sor and the­olo­gian Thomas Schreiner explains:

Paul’s exhor­ta­tions do not fall prey to legal­ism, for they are rooted in his gospel and the promises of God. Another way of say­ing this is that the imper­a­tive (God’s com­mand) is rooted in the indica­tive (what God has done for believ­ers in Christ). Believ­ers are saved, redeemed, rec­on­ciled, and jus­ti­fied even now, and yet we have seen that each of these bless­ings is fun­da­men­tally esc­a­ha­to­log­i­cal. Believ­ers are already redeemed, and yet they await final redemp­tion. Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion belongs to believ­ers by faith, and yet they await the hope of right­eous­ness on the last day (). Believ­ers would not need any eth­i­cal exhor­ta­tions if they were already per­fected. But in the inter­val between the “already” and the “not yet,” eth­i­cal exhor­ta­tion is needed. If the pri­or­ity of the indica­tive is lost, then the grace of the Pauline gospel is under­mined. The imper­a­tive must always flow from the indica­tive. On the other hand, the indica­tive must must not swal­low up the imper­a­tive so that the lat­ter dis­ap­pears. The imper­a­tives do not com­pro­mise Paul’s gospel. They should not be con­strued as law opposed to gospel. The imper­a­tives are part and par­cel of the gospel as long as they are woven into the story line of the Pauline gospel and flow from the indica­tive of what God has accom­plished for us in Christ.[1]

Con­tinue reading


For through the Spirit, by faith, we our­selves eagerly wait for the hope of right­eous­ness. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 18: If We Have the Spirit, Why Do We Need Instruction?

This is the 18th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Why?If sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is the work of the Holy Spirit in us,  why do believ­ers — who have received the Spirit — still need instruc­tion and exhortation?

First, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that believ­ers are still imper­fect this side of glory. As we have seen, the incar­nate Christ as God-Man was the pro­to­type of the believer given the Holy Spirit.

But unlike us, the incar­nate Jesus’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Holy Spirit was perfect.

In Christ, the Spirit’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion was com­plete. Con­tinue reading

Completed by the Spirit Part 17: The Gospel Brings About All Aspects of Our Salvation

This is the 17th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Discipline of Grace cover

The Dis­ci­pline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Paul’s repeated expla­na­tions of the gospel and his dox­olo­gies to Christ are not given because the peo­ple to whom he writes do not have Christ — or don’t know Him — but because they do know him. Paul writes to the Romans words that echo those we saw last time from :

[14] I myself am sat­is­fied about you, my broth­ers, that you your­selves are full of good­ness, filled with all knowl­edge and able to instruct one another. [15] But on some points I have writ­ten to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God [16] to be a min­is­ter of Christ Jesus to the Gen­tiles in the priestly ser­vice of the gospel of God, so that the offer­ing of the Gen­tiles may be accept­able, sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Spirit. ()

Paul is bring­ing the words and truth of Christ to remem­brance, because it is the gospel of Christ that brings about all aspects of sal­va­tion: jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and glorification.

But that’s not new infor­ma­tion to these saints. Con­tinue reading


Now con­cern­ing broth­erly love you have no need for any­one to write to you, for you your­selves have been taught by God to love one another, (ESV)


14 I myself am sat­is­fied about you, my broth­ers, that you your­selves are full of good­ness, filled with all knowl­edge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have writ­ten to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a min­is­ter of Christ Jesus to the Gen­tiles in the priestly ser­vice of the gospel of God, so that the offer­ing of the Gen­tiles may be accept­able, sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 16: Exhorted in our Union With Christ

This is the 16th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Abraham Kuyper

Abra­ham Kuyper

The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote in . It is, accord­ing to Abra­ham Kuyper, a “mys­ti­cal union with Immanuel.”[1]

Our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is achieved by God through our union with Christ. “He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it” ().

The great existence-altering event that hap­pens in our sal­va­tion is our union with Christ through His Spirit.

Paul writes in : “I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me.”

To the Romans, he writes:

[3] Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? [4] We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life. [5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his ().

Con­tinue reading


27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gen­tiles are the riches of the glory of this mys­tery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (ESV)


23 Now may the God of peace him­self sanc­tify you com­pletely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blame­less at the com­ing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it. (ESV)


20 I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me. (ESV)


Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 15: Producing Fruit, Not Inspecting Fruit

This is the 15th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

While we have seen that the law is inef­fec­tual against sin, and (as Paul argues) that the law pro­motes sin in sin­ful flesh, and while we have just seen that it is love that ful­fills the two tables of the law, we then must ask, “What, accord­ing to Paul, pro­duces growth in holi­ness?” And that brings us to the great antithe­sis between the Spirit and the flesh that Paul expounds in . Let’s empha­size once again that Paul is writ­ing to the church. He is not writ­ing a trea­tise solely on jus­ti­fi­ca­tion by faith. He reminds the Gala­tians, as we noted above, “You were run­ning well!” These are believ­ers that Paul is cau­tion­ing against turn­ing from the Spirit.

[16] But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not grat­ify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. ()

While the strug­gling man of may or may not be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the unre­gen­er­ate man fac­ing despair in try­ing to obey the law, the man addressed by Paul is one who fights the Chris­t­ian fight, the war between the flesh and the Spirit.  Con­tinue reading


5:1 For free­dom Christ has set us free; stand firm there­fore, and do not sub­mit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept cir­cum­ci­sion, Christ will be of no advan­tage to you. I tes­tify again to every man who accepts cir­cum­ci­sion that he is oblig­ated to keep the whole law. You are sev­ered from Christ, you who would be jus­ti­fied by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we our­selves eagerly wait for the hope of right­eous­ness. For in Christ Jesus nei­ther cir­cum­ci­sion nor uncir­cum­ci­sion counts for any­thing, but only faith work­ing through love.

You were run­ning well. Who hin­dered you from obey­ing the truth? This per­sua­sion is not from him who calls you. A lit­tle leaven leav­ens the whole lump. 10 I have con­fi­dence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is trou­bling you will bear the penalty, who­ever he is. 11 But if I, broth­ers, still preach cir­cum­ci­sion, why am I still being per­se­cuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unset­tle you would emas­cu­late themselves!

13 For you were called to free­dom, broth­ers. Only do not use your free­dom as an oppor­tu­nity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is ful­filled in one word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not con­sumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not grat­ify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evi­dent: sex­ual immoral­ity, impu­rity, sen­su­al­ity, 20 idol­a­try, sor­cery, enmity, strife, jeal­ousy, fits of anger, rival­ries, dis­sen­sions, divi­sions, 21 envy, drunk­en­ness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the king­dom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kind­ness, good­ness, faith­ful­ness, 23 gen­tle­ness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have cru­ci­fied the flesh with its pas­sions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become con­ceited, pro­vok­ing one another, envy­ing one another. (ESV)


16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not grat­ify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (ESV)


7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speak­ing to those who know the law—that the law is bind­ing on a per­son only as long as he lives? For a mar­ried woman is bound by law to her hus­band while he lives, but if her hus­band dies she is released from the law of mar­riage. Accord­ingly, she will be called an adul­ter­ess if she lives with another man while her hus­band is alive. But if her hus­band dies, she is free from that law, and if she mar­ries another man she is not an adulteress.

Like­wise, my broth­ers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were liv­ing in the flesh, our sin­ful pas­sions, aroused by the law, were at work in our mem­bers to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, pro­duc­ing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the com­mand­ment might become sin­ful beyond mea­sure. 14 For we know that the law is spir­i­tual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not under­stand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that noth­ing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the abil­ity to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my mem­bers another law wag­ing war against the law of my mind and mak­ing me cap­tive to the law of sin that dwells in my mem­bers. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)

The Enfleshment of the Law in the Word Made Flesh

Chad Richard Bresson

Pas­tor Chad Richard Bres­son at the 2011 Bun­yan Conference

At last week’s Earth Stove Soci­ety think tank, Chad Richard Bres­son pre­sented a paper enti­tled, “The Incar­na­tion of the Abstract: New Covenant The­ol­ogy and the Enflesh­ment of the Law.”

Chad asks the ques­tion, “What does the Pri­or­ity of Jesus have to do with New Covenant ethics?” He lists five implications:

1.      That the Law is a Per­son means the Law of the New Covenant is not encoded in exter­nal imper­a­tives or principles.

2.      The Law Incar­nate has placed a Per­son, the Holy Spirit, within the believer as the law writ­ten on the heart. That’s the upshot of ’s under­stand­ing of . The law writ­ten on the heart should not be iden­ti­fied in its typ­i­cal form, but its Anti­typ­i­cal… a Per­son, liv­ing and breath­ing life into and through the New Covenant mem­ber. The entire law “cat­e­gory”, as it moves from Old Tes­ta­ment to New, lands on a per­son. The tra­jec­tory of the ful­fill­ment of the law does not land on a new set of rules or prin­ci­ples, or even a sum­ma­rized list of the law of Christ. The Law as a type has its end in Christ. The law as a type fades away into obliv­ion because all types do… it has become a person

3.      Abro­ga­tion of the law and a denial of third use is a given. The law, like any other type of the Old Tes­ta­ment, has ful­filled its prophetic and rev­e­la­tory role and is gone and done now that the Anti­Type has filled up its intended mean­ing to the fullest.

4.      Imper­a­tives have a role to play in the New Covenant, but they can­not eclipse the Indica­tive, a Per­son, from whence they come. It’s not a mat­ter of bal­ance, as some have sug­gested. The New Tes­ta­ment doesn’t not speak of, explic­itly or implic­itly, a so-called bal­ance between the Indica­tive and imper­a­tive. In fact, see­ing the New Tes­ta­ment as hav­ing a heavy empha­sis on the imper­a­tives says more about the pre­sup­po­si­tions of the inter­preter than it does about proper hermeneutics.

5.      An Incar­nate Law does not mean that com­mands in the New Covenant are not impor­tant. It does not mean that obe­di­ence is not impor­tant. It sim­ply means the grounds for the dis­cus­sion have changed. Obe­di­ence to com­mands is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the inward obedience-causing law writ­ten on the heart.

Chad has more at his blog, The Vossed World, includ­ing a link to his paper on Scribd.


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the min­istry of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the min­istry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the min­istry of con­dem­na­tion, the min­istry of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that sur­passes it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is per­ma­nent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the out­come of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hard­ened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day when­ever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is free­dom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glory of the Lord, are being trans­formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)


31:1 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

Thus says the Lord:
“The peo­ple who sur­vived the sword
found grace in the wilder­ness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an ever­last­ing love;
there­fore I have con­tin­ued my faith­ful­ness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O vir­gin Israel!
Again you shall adorn your­self with tam­bourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the mer­ry­mak­ers.
Again you shall plant vine­yards
on the moun­tains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watch­men will call
in the hill coun­try of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with glad­ness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
pro­claim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your peo­ple,
the rem­nant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north coun­try
and gather them from the far­thest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the preg­nant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great com­pany, they shall return here.
With weep­ing they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stum­ble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coast­lands far away;
say, ‘He who scat­tered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shep­herd keeps his flock.’
11 For the Lord has ran­somed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radi­ant over the good­ness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered gar­den,
and they shall lan­guish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourn­ing into joy;
I will com­fort them, and give them glad­ness for sor­row.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abun­dance,
and my peo­ple shall be sat­is­fied with my good­ness,
declares the Lord.”

15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamen­ta­tion and bit­ter weep­ing.
Rachel is weep­ing for her chil­dren;
she refuses to be com­forted for her chil­dren,
because they are no more.”

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weep­ing,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your chil­dren shall come back to their own coun­try.
18 I have heard Ephraim griev­ing,
‘You have dis­ci­plined me, and I was dis­ci­plined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
19 For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was con­founded,
because I bore the dis­grace of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my dar­ling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remem­ber him still.
There­fore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.

21 “Set up road mark­ers for your­self;
make your­self guide­posts;
con­sider well the high­way,
the road by which you went.
Return, O vir­gin Israel,
return to these your cities.
22 How long will you waver,
O faith­less daugh­ter?
For the Lord has cre­ated a new thing on the earth:
a woman encir­cles a man.”

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:

“‘The Lord bless you, O habi­ta­tion of right­eous­ness,
O holy hill!’

24 And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farm­ers and those who wan­der with their flocks. 25 For I will sat­isfy the weary soul, and every lan­guish­ing soul I will replenish.”

26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleas­ant to me.

27 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to over­throw, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:

“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But every­one shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

31 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their hus­band, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my peo­ple. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neigh­bor and each his brother, say­ing, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the great­est, declares the Lord. For I will for­give their iniq­uity, and I will remem­ber their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the off­spring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”

37 Thus says the Lord:
“If the heav­ens above can be mea­sured,
and the foun­da­tions of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the off­spring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”

38 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Cor­ner Gate. 39 And the mea­sur­ing line shall go out far­ther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole val­ley of the dead bod­ies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the cor­ner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be uprooted or over­thrown any­more for­ever.” (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 14: The Very Stuff of New Covenant Ethics

This is the 14th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

In our last install­ment in this series, we noted that love is a God-given, Spirit-provided qual­ity that impels actions in the believer and that it is that same Spirit-provided love that forms the out­work­ing of the New Covenant ethic.

Love In Hard Places by D. A. Carson

Love In Hard Places by D. A. Carson

We’ll con­tinue and wrap up our look at love with a rather long quo­ta­tion from D. A. Car­son, in which he sum­ma­rizes Paul’s view on love as it relates to those two loves – God and neigh­bor – which have their expo­si­tion in the two tables of the Old Covenant:

Sim­i­larly, Paul insists that what is ful­filled in one word, viz. , the com­mand to love one’s neigh­bor as one­self, is the entire sec­ond table of the Deca­logue: love is the ful­fill­ment of the law (). Despite argu­ments to the con­trary, the dou­ble com­mand to love is not some sort of deep prin­ci­ple from which all the other com­mand­ments of Scrip­ture can be deduced; nor is it a hermeneu­ti­cal grid to weed out the laws of the old covenant that no longer have to be obeyed while bless­ing those that are still oper­a­tive; nor is it offered as a kind of reduc­tion­is­tic sub­sti­tute for all the Old Tes­ta­ment laws. In some ways, the twin laws of love, love for God and love for neigh­bor, inte­grate all the other laws. They estab­lish the proper motives for all the other imper­a­tives, viz. lov­ing God and lov­ing one’s neighbor.

But the “ful­fill­ment” lan­guage sug­gests some­thing more. All the laws of the old rev­e­la­tion, indeed all the old covenant Scrip­tures, con­spire to antic­i­pate some­thing more, to point to some­thing beyond them­selves. They point to the com­ing of the king­dom, the gospel of the king­dom; they point to a time when life prop­erly lived in God’s uni­verse can be summed up by obe­di­ence to the com­mand­ment to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength and by the com­mand­ment to love your neigh­bor as your­self.[1]

Con­tinue reading


18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own peo­ple, but you shall love your neigh­bor as your­self: I am the Lord. (ESV)


Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. For the com­mand­ments, “You shall not com­mit adul­tery, You shall not mur­der, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other com­mand­ment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neigh­bor; there­fore love is the ful­fill­ing of the law. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 13: Love Poured Into Us

This is the 13th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Water pouring from pitcher into a glassLove is a repeated theme for Paul.

While we have seen pre­vi­ously in this series that love ful­fills the law and that God’s love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit, let’s look at how Paul describes that love. In , Paul writes:

[1] If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clang­ing cym­bal. [2] And if I have prophetic pow­ers, and under­stand all mys­ter­ies and all knowl­edge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove moun­tains, but have not love, I am noth­ing. [3] If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

First, let’s note that in accor­dance with love being some­thing poured into us by the Holy Spirit, that love is not some­thing that would be described by Paul as “prac­ti­cal benev­o­lence. In fact, he cau­tions, “If I give away all I have … but have not love, I gain noth­ing.” Love is not the result of our actions; rather it is a God-given, Spirit-provided qual­ity that impels actions in the believer.

It is that same Spirit-provided love that forms the out­work­ing of the New Covenant ethic.

Con­tinue reading


13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clang­ing cym­bal. And if I have prophetic pow­ers, and under­stand all mys­ter­ies and all knowl­edge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove moun­tains, but have not love, I am noth­ing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arro­gant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irri­ta­ble or resent­ful; it does not rejoice at wrong­do­ing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophe­cies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowl­edge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we proph­esy in part, 10 but when the per­fect comes, the par­tial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I rea­soned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up child­ish ways. 12 For now we see in a mir­ror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the great­est of these is love. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 12: Love is the Fulfilling of the Law

This is the 12th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Love graffiti on red garage doorIf an exter­nal code is the antithe­sis of a life in the Spirit (as we noted in our last install­ment), what is the expres­sion of a life in the Spirit? Love. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” ().

That love, that love from God via the Holy Spirit given to dwell in us is, as Paul tells us, the ful­fill­ing of the law:

[8] Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. [9] For the com­mand­ments, “You shall not com­mit adul­tery, You shall not mur­der, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other com­mand­ment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” [10] Love does no wrong to a neigh­bor; there­fore love is the ful­fill­ing of the law. ()

Con­tinue reading


and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)


Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. For the com­mand­ments, “You shall not com­mit adul­tery, You shall not mur­der, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other com­mand­ment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neigh­bor; there­fore love is the ful­fill­ing of the law. (ESV)

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