Biblical Law and Our Faith - RR179A2
The media player is loading...
Our subject this session is biblical law and our faith. The Moody monthly magazine has an advice page, which is conducted by the Christenson’s, recently they carried the following letter, and then gave a commentary on it. The letter read: “Dear Chuck and Winnie, does God forgive endlessly? I am disturbed by the rationalizing coming from Christian young people and lay leaders in full time Christian work. My wife and I active in our church, have children who acquaint us with many young people and their parents. One young man working for a Christian organization admitted he lives with a woman who is not his wife. He sees no conflict between his Christian ministry and personal lifestyle. Another Christian, a woman, said she spent her vacation with a male friend and shared a hotel room to cut expenses. When challenged with the propriety and reality of the situation she retorted “God will forgive.” We also know a pastor who fools around with several women in his congregation, but preaches week after week with no apparent remorse. Whenever we confront these loose moral standards, the usual reply is “we can always confess and God will forgive.” But no one seems ready to confess and change his lifestyle. God’s grace and forgiveness is precious, but isn’t there a limit to what he puts up with? What do you say to someone using the Lords forgiveness as a safety net for immorality?” Now the Christenson’s cited several bible verses but never the law in answering. They said a new way of life is necessary for a Christian, and rightly so. They even quoted our Lord to the effect that a tree is known by its fruits, but their basic counsel was this and I quote: “Restore, but don’t judge. Surround your conversations with prayer and weeping, don’t rebuke without compassion, speak the truth with love.” They add then rightfully that only the Holy Spirit can awake the conscience, but not once do they speak of the law of God being violated by any one of these persons, not once. Moreover, in confronting sin my tears are my anger, my compassion or my love or my hate, are minor facts, to stress them is humanism, it is putting emphasis on what our attitude can do. [00:03:09]
The important fact is in all these situations, Gods...
The important fact is in all these situations, Gods law is broken. How I feel and how the sinner feels is secondary, the central fact is that all sin is a revolt against God, an insult to Him, and a violation of His law. Antinomianism has related itself to a world of humanism, and to the priority of human feelings, and human needs, antinomianism has replaced Gods law with pious gush, and we cannot substitute tears and emotion for faithfulness unto the Lord. Recently in a major magazine, a candidate for the U.S. senate from an important state was interviewed about his candidacy and about the fact that he is a homosexual. The interviewer by the way was also a homosexual, the candidate replied when asked about the political and social significance of his candidacy and I quote: “Let that appear in the eyes of others, there are lots of other issues that are important, and that I think a lot more about than sexual orientation. My general instinct has always been in sexual matters or any other, rather more towards ecumenical than towards ghettoizing. I mean, if you really wanted to get me seriously and profoundly on the subject, I would have to say that I don’t really think that either heterosexual or homosexual exists, and that only in an insane society could ever have made a division like this, and those who think of themselves proudly on one side or the other are equally demented.” What this man went on to say then was that it was just a question of lifestyle, again that word. The concerned parents who wrote to Moody monthly used that word; we hear it on all sides, not only from the opposition but ostensibly Christian leaders speaking of what they should call moral laws, as lifestyle. [00:06:07]
And there you see one of the most dramatic instances...
And there you see one of the most dramatic instances of the devaluation of scripture that you can imagine, and it is commonplace today, we cannot reduce matters of morality to a question or questions of lifestyle, but there is an inescapable logic to all such usage, when we deny Gods law we also deny morality because law and morality are different facets of the same fact, and that same fact, that one fact, is holiness, Holiness. Holiness requires separation from sin to righteousness or justice, because righteousness and justice are one and the same terms, to God and His law, if we negate law or morality, we negate holiness. The antinomians are negating holiness, and this is why the kind of problem that is described in that letter to Moody monthly is so prevalent, and you had better believe it is. What is described there is mild compared to what I hear every time I travel back and forth across the country, antinomianism is resulting in very practical immoralism. Theological antinomianism will lead to moral antinomianism. Our Lord said “this do and thou shalt live”, and He meant that He alone can give us power to do his will as our savior, He gives life and He gives the laws of life. It is important for us as we consider the matter of biblical law and our faith to turn back to someone who made major contribution to our understanding of the subject, John Wycliffe. John Wycliffe said that truth and law are interchangeable, they are one and the same thing, different facets of the same fact. Gods every law word, every word of scripture is law because when God speaks His word is binding upon us. Wycliffe said and I quote: “Sacred scripture which is the law of Christ contains in itself all truth, since all law is truth, it therefor contains in itself all law.” [00:09:15]
All Christian life, he said, is to be measured by scripture...
All Christian life, he said, is to be measured by scripture, by every word thereof. No empire, no community, no realm, no family, no organization, can live without law. They must have law, and the only valid law for every area of life and thought and every area of man and his society is the law of God. Government require law to function, every aspect of life was made by God and is under God and hence under His law. Wycliffe then went on to speak of a particular law with deep biblical roots to which I will return very shortly, this was the writ of Cessavit, C E S S A V I T. Cessavit is Latin for he who hath ceased. It was introduced into law in England by Edward the first, there was a great demand for it, and it satisfied a moral demand in the people in a Christian society. What was a writ of cessavit? If a tenant who had received a grant of land or anyone who had received some kind of grant from a higher power, conditional upon the performance of certain duties, failed to perform those duties, after two years of faithlessness, a writ of cessavit could be issued against him, separating him from the land or from whatever it was that he had been granted. Centuries later, the writ of cessavit was abolished; the new age was hostile to it. In this country, practical applications of the same writ of cessavit, although it existed under other names, have been eliminated. Let me give you an example of the kind of thing that the writ of cessavit applied to in its day: a widow who together with her husband set up a foundation in this country not too many years ago, some time in the fifties, found by the late sixties that the entire had been alienated from the purpose for which it was created. Legally, she had no recourse, why? Because there was no functioning writ of cessavit in this country to recall any agency by law to its original purpose. Most of the foundations in this country were established by men who were Christian or conservative in the overwhelming majority of cases, and are now working to further revolution. [00:13:07]
I could document this, but there are numerous studies...
I could document this, but there are numerous studies that have been made concerning the dereliction and alienation of foundations in this country. Now, the writ of cessavit was introduced in order to recall an agency, an institution or a person, to his responsibilities, so that if a knight or a feudal tenant had received from a lord a grant of land for the performance of certain duties, and he proved to be derelict in those duties, after two years, he could be dispossessed. Now, Wycliffe was concerned with the application of the writ of cessavit to the church, and the church institutions, monasteries, convents, and the like, and he said: “anything that has been set up to do the Lord’s work and been endowed with funds by people or by the fathers or forefathers of certain persons, and has strayed from that purpose, must have a writ of cessavit issued so that it can be taken from them and restored to those who will fulfill the original purpose. Now Henry the eighth did not use a writ of cessavit because he did not want restore the monasteries and other foundations of his day to their Godly purpose, he wanted to seize their wealth, and at some points they falsified the charges against those monasteries. [00:15:15]
But Wycliffe felt that a writ of cessavit was basic...
But Wycliffe felt that a writ of cessavit was basic to society, why? What was his biblical premise? The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein, that everything man has, he has conditionally in terms of Gods law. That his possession of the earth, his possession of life, his possession of all things is conditional upon the law of God, it is upon this premise that we execute a murderer. In a sense, we, or, did in his day, in a sense what it meant was applying a writ of cessavit to a man and saying: you abused your right to life, and therefore it is revoked by Gods law, and to a thief: cessavit applies to you, you have abused your freedom under God, you have broken His law and therefor your freedom must be denied to you, and you must make restitution, or to a church that was faithless, you have abused your privilege as a church, you are no more a church and you must be dispossessed and what you have be given to another. Now those who followed Wycliffe took this concept, not always using the word of cessavit, and applied it to the state, to rulers saying: if you have departed from your function as a ruler, to bring justice to the people, to judge wisely, and to rob no man, if you have abused those privileges, cessavit must be applied to you, you are dispossessed and all men are relieved of their responsibility to you. Dr. Douglass Kelly spoke of the fact that he has translated Calvin’s sermons on Samuel, I think you will find it interesting to know that a number of historians all over the country have already borrowed chapters of that to use in forthcoming books because they are so important, they represent among the last things that Calvin worked on, his latter works, and his mature reflections on precisely what we are talking about. And his indictment of the oppression of the rich, and the oppression of civil rulers, we hope we can get them published and if any of you have the funds to subsidize it we will be very happy to see you, we have a number of important things like that that we want to get out. But what Calvin and other of his day were saying was: there is a writ of cessavit against civil authorities, against the state when they violate the law of God, when they fail to do that for which they have power, because all power, whether of the church, or of civil rulers, or of husbands, or of leaders of business or wherever, in each of us with our conduct of others is conditional. Everything in this world is conditional upon faithfulness to God and His law, that’s what the law of God is about. It pronounces blessings upon obedience and curses upon disobedience because God issues a writ of cessavit against any man or nation or institution that is not faithful to His law. Thus Wycliffe and Edward the first when it was formulated in terms of the concept of the writ of cessavit, were simply applying in terms of civil statute, a concept which they felt was profoundly, thoroughly, and totally scriptural, and we have now because we are antinomian, abolished the writ of cessavit in every area of life. Recently on television, some people were being interviewed, they had given a guilty verdict which sent a man back to prison after a brutal rape, and they all seemed to feel guilty about doing it, after all they said, a man has a right to freedom, he has a right to life and being in prison is no freedom, no life, and they felt guilty. On another program a group of people interviewed all said that it was wrong to take the life of any murderer because every man has a right to life, unconditionally, but all that we are is of God’s creation and ordination, and all life, al property, all authority, all powers in this world are held conditionally under God, and God issues against every person and every economy a writ of cessavit in due time saying: cease! You’ve had it. [00:22:08]
Wycliffe’s work therefor was most notable, he developed...
Wycliffe’s work therefor was most notable, he developed his doctrine of the meaning of cessavit out of scripture, out of the fact that God gave to man in the garden of Eden a conditional use of the earth, and after the fall, again that conditional use was pronounced, that in the law it was so pronounced that our Lord repeated it when he said every branch that beareth not fruit is going to be cut off, excised from the vine and given over to burning. In some, as Solomon said, the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. One of the scholars of the reformation who’s area was essentially law, Elthusius, Johannas Elthusius, declared, summing up this doctrine centuries after Wycliffe: “All power is limited by definite boundaries and laws, no power is absolute, infinite, unbridled, arbitrary, and lawless, every power is bound to laws right and equity, likewise every civil power that is constituted by legitimate means can be terminated and abolished.” [00:24:02]
Man is under Gods law because he is God’s creation...
Man is under Gods law because he is God’s creation, Gods creature, and because of God’s covenant. When God made a covenant with man, that covenant was at one and the same time a covenant of law and a covenant of grace because every covenant is a treaty of law, and the superior party gives the law to the inferior, and every such covenant is also a covenant of grace because it is grace for the great and superior power to have anything to do with the lesser one. The puritan Peter Balkly declared that to be under the government of God’s law and to be in the covenant and to be a Christian are, he said, one and the same thing, to be a Christian, to be under the covenant and to be under the law, he said and the puritans were emphatic on this, one and the same thing. But the modern world has separated the state and law from Christianity as well as from education, and has said that the state and law and education can go their own way, but the humanists control it. Oliver Wendell Holmes made basic to his legal philosophy a sharp distinction between law and morality, a distinction which is totally irrational, totally illogical and impossible. When you pass any law, you say thou shalt not do thus, and so because we believe this to be morally wrong, to be bad. It may not be so from the standpoint of God, but a law is a moral declaration, and Holmes made a totally irrational statement when he said law and morality are two separate and totally different things. The most amazing face in the history of law is that the whole world of law welcomed his statement and bought it, and the churches bought it, and turned it into the doctrine of antinomianism, and allowed the state to throw out progressively everything that smacked of the law of God, they bought that argument, and no one asked: what sense can this make? How is it possible to speak in this kind of language? Holmes went virtually unchallenged in his statement, and the implications for our society have been deadly, Holmes represented Unitarianism and a militant humanism, a marked hostility to Christianity, he was a total relativist, he did not believe there was any good and evil, so when he was saying you cannot have law and morality meaning the same thing he was saying it’s because there is no such thing as morality, no such thing. [00:27:58]
The late Princeton philosopher, who wrote his book...
The late Princeton philosopher, who wrote his book Walter Kauffman, beyond guilt and justice, made the same point, he said the idea of justice is a relic of biblical thought, if there is no God there is no right nor wrong, and therefore no justice or injustice, and if there is no God, there is no guilt nor innocence. Try to imagine a society in which there is no guilt nor innocence, no justice nor injustice. That’s the kind of society the world is moving towards today, and that’s the kind of society that antinomian churches are inviting with their antinomianism. When men deny Gods law, when they become antinomians, Gods law is replaced by the tyranny of the totalitarian state, and with its new law, reasons of state, reasons of state. It bears other names; the general welfare, the common utility, and the like. A medievalist gains post has traced this doctrine which goes back to Greco-Roman culture, he has traced its development and how the monarchs and the emperors of the medieval era picked it up and sought through it to win their freedom from the requirements of the world of God’s law. Reason in terms of this doctrine was identified with the state, something which Rusoe did also, and therefore what reason required what the state required, was the ipso facto necessary for all of society, and there could be no disagreement with that purpose. [00:30:31]
Antinomianism contributed to the rise of the doctrine...
Antinomianism contributed to the rise of the doctrine of reasons of state, of the states right to lie, as Sylvester declared it, within our lifetime here in this country. “The state very early became, to quote Gains post, a supreme moral entity on earth, and it could demand the sacrifice of human lives for its safety.” The modern state therefore sees itself as the highest moral value, this is so conspicuous in all these trials that I attend, the obvious fact is that these Christian schools that are arrested, and they go out looking for the poorest school very often, so they can say here’s a horrible example of what Christian education is like. They used to test the students to prove that their education was inferior, but the worst they could get was a two year advantage on the part of these Christian school students, so now they bar such tests. Police officers have gotten on the stands and testify on the fact that they are never called to a Christian school, but someone from their precinct gets called to a public school every day, because of narcotics charges, knifings, drunkenness and assaults on teachers and so on. this evidence doesn’t mean anything to the state, it regarded as irrelevant because reasons of state tells them that the statist education is the best, and don’t try to use facts against us, we have no regard for them. [00:32:35]
According to Gain’s post, and I quote...
According to Gain’s post, and I quote: “Henry the second of England may at one moment have reached the logical conclusion, what nature permitted him to do was not unlawful.” This equation of the lawful with the natural, of course, was basic to the Kinsey reports, so that whatever was natural, such as child molesting and bestiality, was ipso facto moral. To quote Gains post once more in his study of the development of the concept of reasons of state: “Hence the highest reason of the safety of the state was itself a moral end. In the later thirteenth century, a philosopher actually argued that adultery committed by a private citizen in order to save the state from a tyrant was a lesser evil; and might even be licit. The commands of God for private morality could thus be compromised for the sake of a higher moral end, that of the state.” The illustration to which Gain’s post refers to is a common one that for centuries political philosophers developed and argued about, they would imagine all kinds of hypothetical cases where the only way the state could be save was is someone committed some kind of crime. [00:34:32]
Adultery, homosexuality, murder, theft, you name it...
Adultery, homosexuality, murder, theft, you name it, every kind of far out hypothetical situation, totally imaginary, totally impossible was nonetheless created, and then used as justification. It is possible that such and such a person doing such and such and such a thing could save the life of the society of the state, therefor all things are permitted when they are reasons of state, whether they have an actual or only a potential or a hypothetical role in preserving the life of the state. Thus, as Gain’s post makes clear throughout his work, what the state does is right, because the state is morality incarnate, whereas Hagel, the father of virtually every contemporary political philosophy held, the state is god walking on earth, this is what the modern state is. It claims to be god walking on earth, and what we need to do is to set forth the majesty and authority of the law of God, and to issue a writ of cessavit against the modern state saying: the authority which you have is only conditional, and in the name of God we declare that you have exceeded your authority, and unless you change your ways politically, economically, and in every way, Gods writ of cessavit will soon overtake you and overwhelm you, and destroy you. [00:36:57]
Babylon and Assyria and Rome are gone, and there is...
Babylon and Assyria and Rome are gone, and there is nothing about any modern state that guarantees that it is going to exist indefinitely, like a god. Not so long as the Lord God of hosts lives, and He lives indeed. Thank you. (applause) [00:37:36]