Category Archives: Covenant and Law

Q. What is the lawful use of the law as stated in 1 Timothy 1:8?

A. This verse states, “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” Certainly, this is a difficult Scripture that would seem to contradict other New Testament Scriptures about the law. We know from these other Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17), that we are dead to the law (Romans 7:4), that we are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14). We also know that we can find no place where Christ’s servants preached the law. But we know that the Bible does not contradict itself. There is a danger when facing such a Scripture, however, to try to force our opinion on it, to read into it what we think it should say rather than accept what it does say. Keeping this in mind, let’s see if we can find out what God is telling us in this Scripture.

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What Is Legalism?

by Peter Ditzel

To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
Charlotte Brontë, Preface to the Second Edition of Jane Eyre

All one has to do is read posts on some Christian forums to know that the labels legalism, legalist, antinomianism, and antinomian are being shot back and forth like spitballs in an out-of-control classroom. But do those using these terms really know what they mean? From what I have read on these forums, it seems many do not.

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Q. What does Paul mean when he says that all things are lawful?

A. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is often responding to questions and statements the Corinthian Christians had written to him in an earlier letter. This is what he is doing in 1 Corinthians 6:12. So, he quotes what they said to him, and then he responds to it: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are expedient. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be brought under the power of anything.”

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The Transfiguration of Christ–“This is my beloved Son…hear ye him”

by Peter Ditzel

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Matthew 17:1-8

The account quoted above is usually called the transfiguration of Christ. It is also found in Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36. Many wonder why it happened and why it is recorded for us. In a quick survey, we see that Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain where they see a vision (Jesus calls it a vision in Matthew 17:9) of a shining Christ. Then they see Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Him. Impetuous Peter then sticks his foot in his mouth and says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Matthew 17:4). Oops. Not good. Why? That’s the point of this article, and, I believe, the point of the transfiguration itself.

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New Covenant Theology–When Did the Old Covenant End and the New Covenant Begin?

by Peter Ditzel

There has been much confusion concerning the New Covenant. Some might think that when the New Covenant began and when the Old Covenant ended is not important. I will show you that it is. Covenant theologians believe that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the same covenant that is also called the Old Covenant. Thus, believing it all to be one covenant, they don’t accept that there was an ending of the Old Covenant and a beginning of a truly fresh, New Covenant.

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New Covenant Theology–The Superiority of Jesus Christ and His New Testament Revelation

by Peter Ditzel

Christians rightly believe that the written Word of God consists of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. And, in theory, many Christians would also say that Jesus Christ is the most important figure in the Bible. In practice, however, many of those same Christians elevate Moses above Christ by stressing Old Testament law. But Jesus is not only superior to Moses, He is the pinnacle and goal of the entire revelation of the Bible; He is, in fact, what is revealed. The New Testament, being His New Covenant (“covenant” and “testament” are translated from the same Greek word) in His blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25) is, thus, the culmination of Biblical revelation and is the superior testament. This is completely supported by the Bible.

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Part 2–New Covenant Theology–The New Covenant and the Decalogue

by Peter Ditzel

In part 1, we saw that Catholic and Reformed theologians (as well as others) divide the Mosaic Law into three parts—civil, ceremonial, and moral. They then assert that, while what they call the civil and ceremonial laws are not binding on Christians, the moral laws are still binding. But the Bible reveals the Mosaic Law as a unified whole that cannot be divided. It is either all still binding—and we should be offering sacrifices, not wearing mixed fabric clothing, putting fringes on our garments, not letting bastards into our assemblies, etc.—or none of it is.

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Part 1–New Covenant Theology–The New Covenant and the Decalogue

by Peter Ditzel

I want to set the record straight concerning the New Covenant and the law, both Old Covenant law and New Covenant law. Several times, in just the past couple of weeks alone, I have had it made clear to me that many people simply do not grasp the relationship of the New Covenant to the laws of the Old Covenant, specifically the Ten Commandments. Even prominent theologians, who should know the distinctions of each system of theology, get this relationship wrong. Additionally, many even misunderstand the Christian’s relationship to the law of Christ. Possibly because of this weak understanding, there has now been a move to try to reach a compromise between New Covenant Theology and Reformed Theology.

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New Covenant Theology–Must We Obey a New Law?

by Peter Ditzel

New Covenant Theology teaches that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, and that by fulfilling it, He ended it. But Jesus also said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus also gave us a new standard of righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount, and the Bible also speaks of the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), the “law of faith” (Romans 3:27), the “royal law” (James 2:8), and the “perfect law of freedom” (James 1:25; 2:12). Is there a new law with new commands that Jesus has given us under the New Covenant? If so, must we obey these commands?

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