This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Category: Theology (page 1 of 5)

The law of Christ is not a set of laws

law-books-291676_1280The fol­low­ing is adapted and expanded from a por­tion of my July 28, 2009 pre­sen­ta­tion, “I Did Not Come To Abol­ish” given at the New Covenant The­ol­ogy Think Tank in Evans, N.Y.

Despite its brief men­tion and a lack of a far-reaching or biblically-explicit con­text to sup­port the notion, there have been whole the­olo­gies and there have been whole NCT doc­trines built around a sys­tem­atic, rather than an exeget­i­cal and bib­li­cal the­ol­ogy approach to “the Law of Christ.”

Covenant The­olo­gians would typ­i­cally refer to it as iden­ti­cal to the moral law or Ten Com­mand­ments, and would con­sider as the impri­matur, “I have not come to abol­ish the Law,” full stop. Con­tinue reading


17 “Do not think that I have come to abol­ish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abol­ish them but to ful­fill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accom­plished. (ESV)

How to disagree agreeably

This video from The Gospel Coali­tion with Tim Keller, Matt Chan­dler and Michael Hor­ton was pub­lished in 2011, but reposted by TGC on Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015 on Facebook.

I wish I had found it ear­lier. It sums up the issue I have with a newly-published book. I’ve been debat­ing whether or not to review it.

This sums up what the author did not do: “Be able to describe the other person’s posi­tion in a way that they would under­stand it before you earn the right to cri­tique it.”

Per­haps that’s enough of a review.

A picture of a New Covenant church

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about what an NCT church should look like in prac­tice. A friend has just writ­ten a beau­ti­ful post on what a New Covenant church should be like at his blog Incur­able God Loverhttp://incurablegodlover.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/church-new-covenant-style/

All_In_the_Family_CastChurch New Covenant style is a lov­ing, learn­ing, and ordered mess; just like any fam­ily. Your fam­ily is a mess, but there is (or should be) some sem­blance of nat­ural sym­me­try and order evi­dent in your daily lives. Fam­ily mem­bers don’t quit on each other, at least they shouldn’t. When some­one gets upset, they aren’t look­ing to leave and go down the street and become part of another fam­ily. Such an idea is ludi­crous. No, they learn how to work through their prob­lems and in that problem-solving they learn how to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter and know and under­stand each other bet­ter. Doing church New Covenant style is like that.

Amen, brother.

Why just one day in seven?

sign-44353_640I came across this blog post recently: Seven Good Rea­sons to Stop Break­ing the Sab­bath Right Now

The author writes: “If you are con­sumed with sec­u­lar activ­i­ties and unwill­ing to devote merely one day a week to God, you have every rea­son to be con­cerned with the state of your soul.”

I’d reply: If you are will­ing merely to devote one day a week to God, you have every rea­son to be con­cerned with the state of your soul.

The sab­bath rest of the New Covenant is Christ Him­self, “for who­ever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” ( ESV)


10 for who­ever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (ESV)

They got it right the first time

From the First Lon­don Bap­tist Con­fes­sion, 1646:

CoFThe preach­ing of the gospel to the con­ver­sion of sin­ners, is absolutely free; no way requir­ing as absolutely nec­es­sary, any qual­i­fi­ca­tions, prepa­ra­tions, or ter­rors of the law, or pre­ced­ing min­istry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sin­ner and ungodly, to receive Christ cru­ci­fied, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Sav­ior for such sin­ners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.

Prepa­ra­tionism, the notion — among some Puri­tans, but exist­ing to this day — that an unre­pen­tant sin­ner needs to be beaten down by the law before hear­ing and receiv­ing the gospel, is destruc­tive. It can breed a lack of assur­ance by those who believe they were not chas­tened enough by the law or a false assur­ance in those who were made to feel guilty but who did not hear and believe.

The New Tes­ta­ment doesn’t preach the law. It preaches Christ and Him crucified.

A new blog: Unveiled

I highly com­mend a new blog by my friend Todd Braye, a pas­tor who dis­cov­ered the beauty and new­ness of the New Covenant while preach­ing faith­fully through Galatians.

His blog is Unveiled: Resources for the New Covenant Church (http://tbraye.wordpress.com). I par­tic­u­larly appre­ci­ate his series “Towards Evan­gel­i­cal Revival.” Todd’s first two in the series are on “the dead ortho­doxy of smug con­tent­ment” in which he quotes Dr. D. Mar­tyn Lloyd-Jones extensively.

The New Covenant commission of Psalm 67

WorldAt the begin­ning, when God cre­ated the heav­ens and the earth, it was so that He could demon­strate His glory. Indeed, begins, “The heav­ens declare the glory of God, and the sky above pro­claims his handiwork.”

reminds us that all of this cre­ation was by Christ — by Him, through Him and for Him — and declares that Jesus “upholds the uni­verse by the word of his power.”

As Abra­ham Kuyper wrote, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a sin­gle square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sov­er­eign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’”

All cre­ation is here out of God’s great joy in His glory and His desire to make it known through His Son. Con­tinue reading


19:1 The heav­ens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above pro­claims his hand­i­work.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowl­edge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bride­groom leav­ing his cham­ber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its ris­ing is from the end of the heav­ens,
and its cir­cuit to the end of them,
and there is noth­ing hid­den from its heat.

The law of the Lord is per­fect,
reviv­ing the soul;
the tes­ti­mony of the Lord is sure,
mak­ing wise the sim­ple;
the pre­cepts of the Lord are right,
rejoic­ing the heart;
the com­mand­ment of the Lord is pure,
enlight­en­ing the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
endur­ing for­ever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and right­eous alto­gether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drip­pings of the hon­ey­comb.
11 More­over, by them is your ser­vant warned;
in keep­ing them there is great reward.

12 Who can dis­cern his errors?
Declare me inno­cent from hid­den faults.
13 Keep back your ser­vant also from pre­sump­tu­ous sins;
let them not have domin­ion over me!
Then I shall be blame­less,
and inno­cent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the med­i­ta­tion of my heart
be accept­able in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)


16 For by him all things were cre­ated, in heaven and on earth, vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble, whether thrones or domin­ions or rulers or authorities—all things were cre­ated through him and for him. (ESV)


He is the radi­ance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the uni­verse by the word of his power. After mak­ing purifi­ca­tion for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (ESV)

Fulfilling the Law of Christ: Applying NCT in church life

burdenOver the past sev­eral years, I’ve seen, read, and par­tic­i­pated in a lot of dis­cus­sions about what laws or com­mand­ments we need to fol­low in the New Covenant, what a Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy of the New Covenant should be, or what the escha­tol­ogy of NCT adher­ents should be. (That last one is a par­tic­u­larly volatile one at the moment, with some amills want­ing to kick out the premills.)

In other words, there’s a lot of con­ver­sa­tion about NCT orthodoxy.

But what about NCT orthopraxy?

What should a church that teaches New Covenant The­ol­ogy look like? What are its hall­marks? Con­tinue reading

My friend, the ‘God-soaked geek’

No doubt many of you have seen this video from Desir­ing God about their start through the efforts of my friend Moe Berg­eron. John Piper called him a “God-soaked geek” in a tweet pro­mot­ing this video.

As Dr. Piper wrote, “For decades, Moe was a fac­tory worker and bi-vocational pas­tor on the rugged spir­i­tual soil of New Eng­land. He was one of the first to believe in the power and poten­tial of com­put­ers ‘talk­ing’ to each other, and he may have been the first that dared to dream about a rad­i­cal new way to freely spread the gospel.”

Be sure to visit the site Moe edits: Christ My Covenant and also Piper’s Notes, the orig­i­nal online archive of John Piper.

‘And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites …’

I’ve had the plea­sure this school year of teach­ing the 7-12th grade Sun­day school class at my church in a study through Matthew’s Gospel. We’ve got a really bright bunch of teens who are very good at think­ing deeply about the impli­ca­tions and appli­ca­tions of the text.

We had some espe­cially engag­ing dis­cus­sions in , which begins in : “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” We talked about how we should be giv­ing, pray­ing and fast­ing in a way such that we guard against doing it in a way so as to be seen by others.

How strik­ing is the warn­ing of . Yet daily I see pas­tors (and those who aspire to be pas­tors copy­ing those chatty pas­tors) post­ing 140-character per­sonal prayers. Are they not doing the social media equiv­a­lent of stand­ing and pray­ing “in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers” ()? So that they can be re-Tweeted or like-buttoned?

Why do those need to be on Twit­ter or Face­book? Is it so that they are seen by others?

Encour­ag­ing oth­ers to pray using social media is prob­a­bly just fine. Using social media so that your prayers can be seen by oth­ers? I think Scrip­ture coun­sels against that.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Don’t let that be you.


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trum­pet before you, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gen­tiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hal­lowed be your name.

10 Your king­dom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and for­give us our debts,
as we also have for­given our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temp­ta­tion,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, your heav­enly Father will also for­give you, 15 but if you do not for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, nei­ther will your Father for­give your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyp­ocrites, for they dis­fig­ure their faces that their fast­ing may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fast­ing may not be seen by oth­ers but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not lay up for your­selves trea­sures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for your­selves trea­sures in heaven, where nei­ther moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your trea­sure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of dark­ness. If then the light in you is dark­ness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two mas­ters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can­not serve God and money.

25 “There­fore I tell you, do not be anx­ious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than cloth­ing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they nei­ther sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heav­enly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anx­ious can add a sin­gle hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anx­ious about cloth­ing? Con­sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they nei­ther toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomor­row is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of lit­tle faith? 31 There­fore do not be anx­ious, say­ing, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gen­tiles seek after all these things, and your heav­enly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the king­dom of God and his right­eous­ness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “There­fore do not be anx­ious about tomor­row, for tomor­row will be anx­ious for itself. Suf­fi­cient for the day is its own trou­ble. (ESV)


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)


6:1 “Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trum­pet before you, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gen­tiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hal­lowed be your name.

10 Your king­dom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and for­give us our debts,
as we also have for­given our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temp­ta­tion,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, your heav­enly Father will also for­give you, 15 but if you do not for­give oth­ers their tres­passes, nei­ther will your Father for­give your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyp­ocrites, for they dis­fig­ure their faces that their fast­ing may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fast­ing may not be seen by oth­ers but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not lay up for your­selves trea­sures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for your­selves trea­sures in heaven, where nei­ther moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your trea­sure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of dark­ness. If then the light in you is dark­ness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two mas­ters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can­not serve God and money.

25 “There­fore I tell you, do not be anx­ious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than cloth­ing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they nei­ther sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heav­enly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anx­ious can add a sin­gle hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anx­ious about cloth­ing? Con­sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they nei­ther toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomor­row is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of lit­tle faith? 31 There­fore do not be anx­ious, say­ing, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gen­tiles seek after all these things, and your heav­enly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the king­dom of God and his right­eous­ness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “There­fore do not be anx­ious about tomor­row, for tomor­row will be anx­ious for itself. Suf­fi­cient for the day is its own trou­ble. (ESV)


“And when you pray, you must not be like the hyp­ocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the syn­a­gogues and at the street cor­ners, that they may be seen by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV)

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