God’s Law Today

PMT 2013-014b by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Below is a study on God’s Law’s is binding on Christians in the new covenant:

The Ten Commandments are a basic summary of the whole Law of God. A rigorously biblically-based Christian worldview holds to the continuing validity of God’s Law on the following principles.

1. God’s Law is binding. As God’s creatures living in God’s world and under God’s dominion, all men are obliged to obey God’s Law. It is God’s direct, propositional revelation which he has given to govern not only our personal actions but also our social and even political conduct. The Christian must see God’s Law as a guide for his own personal behavior. God’s Law is law, not suggestion. It is fundamentally obligatory, not merely recommended.

2. God’s Law is relevant. In that God is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful all that he commands is practical for all times and applicable in all situations. God’s revelation is not relevant simply within its own original time due to limitations in God’s understanding.

3. God’s Law is historical. The Law is not a body of abstract, idealized principles dropped down to man from heaven. Rather it comes to us through God’s supernatural inspiration of real men in history, and is designed to meet our historical needs. Thus, to properly apply his Law we must carefully interpret it by taking into account the full significance, purpose, and situation of the original intent of the various laws individually considered.

4. God’s Law is adaptable. To properly apply it we must recognize the divinely ordained and revealed flow of redemptive history. That is, we must acknowledge the new precepts revealed in the New Testament and give them their full significance. Advocates of God’s Law recognize that the New Testament is the conclusive revelation of God for man. If the New Testament repeals or annuls a particular element of the Law either by precept or by example that element is no longer binding in this era. But — and this is important — only God speaking in Scripture has the authority to do so.

5. God’s Law is multifaceted. God’s Law may be summarized in brief maxims, such as when God himself provides the Ten Commandments (Exo 20:1–17; Deut 5:6–21; cp. Exo 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4) as a summary of his fuller Law (Deut 4:13–14). Keil and Delitzsch call them “the kernel and essence of the law.” Christ also does this on an even more narrow scale in Matthew 7:12 and 22:40 when he teaches that the Law is epitomized in love.

Yet the Law’s details remain significant and are essential in that they form the fundamental components of the Law, as parts to the whole. We may not render null and void the details of God’s Law by preferring its generalized summaries. A forest requires trees. For instance, the love that epitomizes the Law has a specific character and content: it involves a behavior controlled by the moral strictures of the Law.

6. God’s Law is comprehensive. God intends for his Law to be equitably observed by man on the personal, social, and civil levels of human existence. It is not designed purely for internal (spiritual) or personal use, but for application to all of life. God himself is a social being (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and has created man in his image as a social creature (Gen 1:26–27). At the very beginning when he creates Adam, God declares: “It is not good that the man should be himself alone” (Gen 2:18a).

7. God’s Law is behavioral. By this I mean that God gives his Law to govern our behavior or conduct, including our way of thinking and planning. It is not and never has been redemptive. No amount of personal adherence to God’s Law meritoriously secures our right standing with God, our personal salvation from sin, or our ultimate entry into heaven. God’s Law is redemptive only in Christ’s keeping it in our behalf so that he and he alone might secure our salvation. Salvation is and always has been by grace through faith alone. Modern Judaism and Islam, along with liberal Christianity, are moralistic religions which promise salvation to those whose good deeds outweigh their bad. Biblical Christianity is a redemptive religion which promises to those who truly believe in Christ that they will be saved by his redemptive work alone.

These observations, in short, guide our approach to an ethic built upon God’s Law. Our cultural moral condition is such that we need to get down to the basics before we can discuss specific moral questions.


Helpful Studies

The Spiritual Function of God’s Law” (3 CDs)
by Kenneth Gentry

Three sermons on the spiritual implications of God’s Law. Underscores the continuing significance of God’s Law in the world today. The sermon titles are:

1. The Standard of Right
2. The Conviction of Sin
3. The Measure of Love and Faith


God’s Law Made Easy (book)
by Kenneth Gentry

This book is designed for lay use and is especially suitable for personal and small group Bible study.

We live in an age of accelerating moral decline which bodes ill for the future of our culture, society, and nation. The homosexual and transgender assault on biblical morality is making great strides to pulling down our nation. A stable, peaceful, and productive society requires a secure and righteous moral foundation. Man cannot exist without a moral code to restrain his sinful passions and to guide him to righteous conduct.

Contained within the absolute truth of God’s Word we find God’s solution to man’s moral confusion: God’s absolute standard for righteousness contained in his holy Law. Unfortunately, contemporary theological discussions too quickly write-off any consideration of both the legitimacy of God’s Law in the new covenant era and the applicability of it in the modern world setting.

Because of the nature of the modern debate and our special need for socio-political as well as personal norms, this book will focus specifically on the question of the relevance of the Old Testament Law today. Christians need to return to a whole-Bible ethic rather than a piece-meal it-seems-to-me morality. God’s Law Made Easy is a good place to start.

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4 thoughts on “God’s Law Today

  1. Steve Finnell November 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
    The Ten Commandments were given by God to the nation of Israel as a covenant. The Ten commandments were not given to those living under the New Covenant. Nine of the Ten Commandments have been restated under the New Covenant. The one commandment that has not been restated under the New Covenant is remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    New Testament Christians worship on the Lord’s Day, “Sunday.”

    TEN COMMANDMENTS GIVEN TO ISRAEL

    Exodus 34:27-28 The the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the Ten Commandments.

    The covenant was made with Israel. It was not made with those living under the New Testament (The New Covenant).

    NINE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE RESTATED UNDER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

    Ten Commandments with Israel. (Exodus 20:1-17)
    1. “You shall have no other Gods before Me.

    Restated in the New Testament. Matthew 4:10

    2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

    Restated in the New Testament. 1 John 5:21, Revelation 21:8

    3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

    Restated in the New Testament. Matthew 6:6, Acts 19:13-16, Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12, Matthew 7:21-23, Mark 7:7

    4. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8-11….9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you…..

    Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy has not been restated in the New Testament.

    5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

    Restated in the New Testament. Ephesians 6:1-3

    6. “You shall not murder.

    Restated in the New Testament. 1 John 3:15

    7. “You shall not commit adultery.

    Restated in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 6:9

    8. “You shall not steal.

    Restated in the New testament. Ephesians 4:28,

    9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    Restated in the New Testament. Luke 3:14, Matthew 15:19

    10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or any thing that belongs to your neighbor.

    Restated in the New Testament. Ephesians 5:5

    Christians under the New Covenant did not and do not worship on the Sabbath nor did they, nor do they keep it holy. Christians worshiped and worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week.

    Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and prolonged his message until midnight.

    1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

    Sunday is not the Sabbath, it is the Lord’s Day.

    The Sabbath that Christians should be concerned about is their final resting place.

    Hebrews 4:9-11 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has Himself also rested from works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

  2. Judith Ann Olive Maness November 8, 2013 at 12:30 am

    (mia ton sabbaton) means ‘one of the sabbaths’ NOT ‘first day of the week.’

  3. Kenneth Gentry November 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Actually the word sabbaton has two connotations. One refers to the Sabbath itself. But the other refers to “a period of seven days, week” (Baur-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, Greek-English Lexicon, 910). For instance the word is used in Luke 18:12 of the Pharisee who says: “I fast two days a week” (dis tou sabbatuo). Louw & Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1:651) agrees: “a period of seven days – ‘week.'”

  4. Kenneth Gentry November 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    For Steve Finnell:

    Thanks for your interaction. However, I disagree with your argument for the following reasons:

    First, the Law was not the covenant with Israel, it was given to Israel in covenant. Yet, Israel’s covenantal promises come to the new covenant church. We see this most clearly in God’s “new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer 31:31). Jesus establishes the Lord’s Supper for his church by citing this new covenant passage: Luke 22:20 “in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

    Second, the Sabbath was established at creation (Gen 2:2-3), not at Israel’s redemption from Egypt. It was included in God’s Law; it was not a special obligation only in God’s Law. In fact, it is mentioned as observed prior to the giving of the Law (Exo 16:23; cp. Exo 20). Indeed, the very Law of God links it to creation as a creation ordinance (Exo 20:9-11).

    Third, what principle requires that an old covenant law be re-stated in the New Testament for it to be binding? This is an ad hoc argument created for use by dispensationalists. We have no restatement of the law against beastiality, but surely that prohibition continues with us.

    Fourth, the Sabbath actually is mentioned in the New Testament. The Gospel record was written for new covenant Christians after the “church age” was established. And in that record Jesus says in Mark 2:27 “Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

    Fifth. Jesus declares that until heaven and earth pass away the Law will not pass away (Matt 5:17-19). He even defines love in terms of keeping God’s Law (Matt 22:39-40), as well as doing good (Matt 7:12).

    Sixth, the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, declares the Law is established: Rom 3:31 “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” And it is for the whole world: Rom 3:19 “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” And it defines that which is good, for “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:12).

    Indeed, its capital sanctions apply in the new covenant era as a function of the gospel obligation: 1 Tim 1:8-11 “We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

    Seventh, the Sabbath day has been changed to the first day of the week due to Christ’s resurrection, but the Sabbath obligation of rest and worship remains.

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