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← Clarifying on The Law of Christ: Charles Leiter Interview

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Showing Revision 5 created 05/28/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Question: Do you deny God's moral law?

  2. Charles: There's no possibly way

  3. if you put Christ as your standard,
  4. there's no way you could be
  5. denying the moral law,
  6. because He is the highest revelation
  7. of the moral law that there is.
  8. The only explanation that I could have
  9. for why that would be misunderstood
  10. is that people so revere
  11. their reformed tradition
  12. and the things that they've been taught
  13. that they don't listen to
    what's actually being said.
  14. In fact, a lot of times,
  15. they're not even willing to listen at all
  16. because they have in their mind:
  17. this must be heresy.
  18. I've had similar things in my own life
  19. whenever I was a new Christian.
  20. I'd hear some term and I'd think
  21. that must be the worst heresy around.
  22. I'd find out ten years
    later that it was true.
  23. I think that's probably the reason.
  24. People don't allow themselves to listen.
  25. Interview of Charles Leiter on
    "The Law of Christ."
  26. Question: Why is the
    topic of the law of Christ

  27. important to understand?

  28. Charles: Well, first of all,
  29. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9,
  30. he says speaking of the Jews,
  31. he says to the Jews I became as a Jew,
  32. to those who under
    the law as under the law.
  33. And then he immediately says
  34. though not being myself under the law.
  35. So he's saying that he's not under
  36. the Law of Moses.
  37. And then he goes on and he says
  38. concerning the Gentiles,
  39. to those who are without law -
  40. that is, those without the Bible,
  41. without the law of Moses,
  42. I became as one without law.
  43. So immediately you have the thought,
  44. well, he became as one without law.
  45. Did he just become totally lawless?
  46. Immoral?
  47. And he immediately corrects that.
  48. He says though not without the law of God,
  49. but under the law or in law to Christ.
  50. So he mentions that his standard there
  51. is the law of Christ.
  52. Another question comes up for Christians.

  53. You'd have the question
    of what is my standard?
  54. What is my rule of duty?
  55. And Paul immediately
    says it's the law of Christ.
  56. And so the question comes up,
  57. what is the law of Christ?
  58. And why haven't we been taught
  59. about the law of Christ?
  60. Can I articulate what's
    the really big things
  61. for me to keep in mind as a Christian?
  62. What is the standard
  63. that the Lord Jesus Himself put forth
  64. as being the ultimate thing
    for me to remember?
  65. The guideposts?
  66. So, immediately we're faced
    with that question -
  67. the law of Christ.
  68. This works itself out in many areas.
  69. He said to those who are under the law,
  70. I became like one under the law.
  71. (incomplete thought)
  72. We even find him in the book of Acts
  73. taking a vow and shaving his head,
  74. so he's trying to reach the Jews
  75. who are under the law,
  76. but he says though not being myself
  77. under the law.
  78. So that was something he voluntarily did,
  79. but it was not required of him.
  80. So, a lot of questions begin to come up.
  81. And as soon as you become a Christian,
  82. you face this question of:
  83. how do I understand the Old Testament?
  84. I see these verses about homosexuality
  85. as an abomination to God,
  86. but then there's another verse that says
  87. eating pork is an abomination to God.
  88. And how am I to sort through all this?
  89. Tattoos - tattoos are mentioned.
  90. But right next to the verse about tattoos
  91. is "you shall not harm
    the edges of your beard."
  92. So shaving your beard...
  93. So it's a very practical thing.
  94. How do Christians relate
    to the law of Moses?
  95. How do we sort through all that?
  96. So these are things that
    the book deals with.
  97. What is the law of Christ?
  98. What is the Christian's relationship
  99. to the law of Moses?
  100. How are we to understand all that?
  101. They're very practical issues.
  102. I might just say a little bit more.
  103. Some people, they have the idea
  104. that the ceremonial
    laws as they're called,
  105. as we call them now as Christians,
  106. they have the idea that those
  107. are sort of like health food laws from God
  108. or health laws from God.
  109. And they kind of have
    in the back of their mind,
  110. well, it's bad for you to
    eat pork, for example.
  111. And some people don't eat pork.
  112. And they kind of have in
    their mind that that's biblical.
  113. That's more biblical if I
    don't eat pork than if I do.
  114. So there's divisions that
    come up between Christians.
  115. And those can be more or
    less extreme depending.
  116. All of those things are
    very practical issues.
  117. It keeps on going clear into areas
  118. of Christians being involved in war
  119. and there's all kinds of
    questions that come up
  120. about God commanding Samuel
  121. to hew Agag to pieces.
  122. And commanding the children of Israel
  123. to spare neither man, woman, or child.
  124. All of those things we have to try
  125. to begin to work through
  126. when you become a Christian.
  127. So it's a very practical area.
  128. Question: What would your response be

  129. to those who might accuse you
  130. based upon the teachings in the book
  131. that you deny God's moral law?
  132. Charles: Well, of course, the statement

  133. that you've denied God's moral law,
  134. that comes from the idea
  135. that the Ten Commandments
  136. are the moral law of God.
  137. And of course, in the book
  138. what I'm presenting is that Christ
  139. is our standard;
  140. that He represents a much higher standard
  141. than the Ten Commandments.
  142. We can see that in several areas.
  143. For example, the Ten Commandments say,
  144. "you shall not commit adultery,"
  145. but yet men were allowed
    to marry multiple wives.
  146. King David had multiple wives.
  147. Solomon not only had multiple
    wives but concubines.
  148. And that was not considered adultery,
  149. but when David committed
    adultery with Bathsheba,
  150. that was treated in an
    entirely different way.
  151. It was totally different than
    him taking multiple wives.
  152. So, what that means is that the definition
  153. even of adultery under
    the Ten Commandments
  154. was a looser definition - more permissive,
  155. not as high of a standard
  156. as we have in the New Testament.
  157. Also, the Ten Commandments acknowledged
  158. or recognized the validity of slavery.
  159. And if we look at the kind of slavery,
  160. the standards of slavery;
  161. that God gave those different
    regulations of slavery
  162. in the Mosaic law,
  163. one of the examples is that you could
  164. beat your slave.
  165. If he lived longer than 3 days,
  166. then there wasn't guilt
    associated with that.
  167. Well, that's a much lower standard
  168. than to love others as Christ loved us.
  169. And so, it's not to say
  170. that the law of Moses was imperfect
  171. in any way.
  172. There was not one dot in the law of Moses
  173. that was not perfect.
  174. It was exactly right for the
    situation that it was in.
  175. But it's the same way with the commandment
  176. about divorce.
  177. Jesus said because of the
    hardness of your heart,
  178. Moses permitted that.
  179. The law of Moses had that written in,
  180. and it was basically a
    protection of women.
  181. There were many things like that
  182. where God in giving these laws,
  183. they were wonderful laws.
  184. No other nation had such laws
  185. as the nation of Israel.
  186. And God says they'll look at you
  187. and they'll see what a wise
  188. and discerning people
  189. and what great laws God has given you.
  190. And that was true.
  191. And all you have to do is compare
  192. the law of Moses with
    the code of Hammurabi
  193. and you can see how superior it was.
  194. But God was dealing with them
  195. on the level that they were in some way.
  196. And He's pulling people
    up out of a culture
  197. that's totally corrupt
  198. and preparing them more and more
  199. for the coming of the Messiah.
  200. (Incomplete thought)
  201. If you say the Ten Commandments
  202. are the moral law,
  203. then what that means is
  204. there's nothing higher than this.
  205. This is the highest thing there is.
  206. So what it means is there can be
  207. no greater revelation of man's duty
  208. than what we see in the Ten Commandments.
  209. And the life of the Lord Jesus
  210. and His commandments
  211. and the commandments of the apostles -
  212. all those things are simply viewed
  213. as footnotes to the Ten Commandments.
  214. And so if you read a
    lot of reformed theology,
  215. there's hundreds of pages
  216. written on the Ten Commandments
  217. trying to show that all the commandments
  218. of the New Testament
  219. are really there in the Ten Commandments.
  220. But if you look at, for example,
  221. "you shall not commit adultery,"
  222. that's a much lower standard
  223. than, "husbands, love your wives
  224. as Christ loved the church."
  225. We have a much higher revelation
  226. of duty and of law.
  227. Law in an expression of
    the character of God.
  228. And so it spells out for us
  229. what our standard is to be.
  230. The standard of loving your wife
  231. as Christ loved the church
  232. is a much higher standard,
  233. and it gives us a clearer picture
  234. of God's character than what you would see
  235. in the negative commandment:
  236. "you shall not commit adultery."
  237. I don't know, maybe there's more
  238. that I could say on this.
  239. Here's another problem.

  240. First of all, the Bible does not
  241. divide the law into parts.
  242. It doesn't divide it into the civil,
  243. the ceremonial, and the moral.
  244. That's something that basically
  245. the reformers followed Aquinas in that.
  246. And it's a helpful
    distinction for Christians
  247. because as Christians,
  248. we can look back and we can
  249. pretty much sort out,
  250. this is ceremonial,
  251. this is civil.
  252. For example, a civil commandment
  253. would be what type of penalty
  254. is attached to adultery.
  255. Well, the death penalty
    was attached to it.
  256. That's a civil thing.
  257. Ceremonial - well, circumcision.
  258. But the problem is,
  259. how is that I know that circumcision
  260. is a ceremonial law?
  261. Well, I know it because Paul says
  262. in the New Testament
  263. circumcision is nothing.
  264. And no Jew would have ever said
  265. circumcision is nothing.
  266. In fact, if you wouldn't be circumcised,
  267. you'd be cut off from Israel.
  268. And Moses just about died
  269. because he delayed circumcision.
  270. His wife didn't like that idea.
  271. And you can see why.
  272. It's a bloody thing.
  273. But this was the sign of the
    covenant with Abraham.
  274. And to break that commandment
  275. was very serious.
  276. They would never have said
  277. this is just a light thing; it's nothing.
  278. And Paul says it's nothing.
  279. So when you say, well,
  280. why does a civil/ceremonial/
    moral distinction
  281. work as well as it does?
  282. Well, the reason it works
    as well as it does
  283. is that as Christians,
  284. we have that perspective
  285. and we can look back
  286. and look at those things through the lens
  287. of the New Testament.
  288. That's the first point.
  289. Those distinctions are not made.
  290. So when Paul talks about the law,
  291. for example, he almost always has in mind
  292. the Mosaic covenant;
  293. the old covenant.
  294. For example, he says,
  295. the law entered that sin might increase.
  296. Or he says until the law,
  297. sin was in the world.
  298. Death reigned from Adam to Moses.
  299. That's when he's talking about
  300. the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai.
  301. So, law is viewed as a unit -
  302. the Mosaic law, the Mosaic covenant.
  303. So when Paul says we're not under law,
  304. he means that whole thing.
  305. And when you get the
    civil/ceremonial/moral
  306. distinction in your mind
  307. and you practice it a little bit,
  308. you find yourself unconsciously
  309. reading into it.
  310. For example, "sin shall not
    have dominion over you,
  311. for you're not under
    the law, but under grace."
  312. And people read into it
    immediately in their mind.
  313. Well, I'm not under the
    condemnation of the law.
  314. I'm not under the ceremonial law.
  315. They'll read something like that into it,
  316. but Paul does not do that.
  317. In fact, he immediately says, what then?
  318. Shall we sin because we're
    not under the law?
  319. So he's thinking of moral things there.
  320. And he's thinking of the whole thing.
  321. So there's never this
    division that we make.
  322. All the law is viewed as a unit.
  323. So, there's all kinds of things wrong
  324. with the idea that you divide it all up.
  325. And the biggest thing wrong with it
  326. is that some commandments,
  327. we can't figure out whether they're
  328. partly moral or partly ceremonial
  329. or partly civil.
  330. There's a mixture.
  331. And back on the Ten Commandments,
  332. if you say they are the moral law,
  333. then what you're saying is
  334. these are the ten greatest,
  335. most important things for all mankind.
  336. They're binding on the
    Gentiles as well as the Jews
  337. for all time.
  338. So these are the big things.
  339. Well, concerning Sabbath keeping,
  340. right now, for example, I myself
  341. do not believe that the 4th commandment
  342. is enjoined upon Christians
  343. and somehow now we keep the Sabbath
  344. on a different day even though
  345. there's no commandment to do that,
  346. and that we don't keep it
  347. the same way that the Jews did
  348. even though there's no
    commandment about that.
  349. You know, all these things
    have to be added in.
  350. Well, if I don't believe that way;
  351. if I don't "keep" the Sabbath,
  352. and this is on par with adultery
  353. or stealing or murder,
  354. then you can't say this
    is a Romans 14 issue
  355. or you're welcome to be in our church
  356. or whatever even though
    we don't believe that.
  357. What you have to say is
    is that you're not a Christian.
  358. Just as we would say if a man
  359. was an adulterer or a murderer,
  360. and he continued on in that
  361. in an unrepentant state.
  362. So, it's a very inconsistent position
  363. to say this is the moral law,
  364. and then to say, well, we differ on this,
  365. but you can be part of our church.
  366. It's one way or the other.
  367. You can't have it be sort of a moral law.
  368. So the problem with that is that
  369. there are many inconsistencies in that.
  370. Question: So as far as those who say

  371. that you deny God's moral law?
  372. Charles: There's no possible way.

  373. If you put Christ as your standard,
  374. there's no way you could be denying
  375. the moral law.
  376. Because He is the highest revelation
  377. of moral law that there is.
  378. Usually what they're thinking there
  379. is that you don't believe
  380. that the Christian is under
    the 4th commandment
  381. of the Decalogue.
  382. And I would say that the Christian
  383. is not under any of the commandments
  384. of the Decalogue.
  385. We fulfill all those and far beyond.
  386. If you love your wife as
    Christ loved the church,
  387. you're doing far more than:
  388. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
  389. All those things - even the
    Sabbath commandment
  390. the Christian fulfills in
    its deepest meaning
  391. which had to do with resting in Christ
  392. and ceasing from our own works and so on.
  393. We don't deny any of the moral law.
  394. That's never an issue.
  395. If you had a group of people
  396. that were just like Christ,
  397. you wouldn't have to worry about
  398. any of them denying the moral law.
  399. They would be perfect fulfillments of it.
  400. But even in the Lord's life,
  401. He broke the Sabbath on some occasions.
  402. So, I can talk about a little if you want.
  403. I don't know if you had
    another question on that,
  404. or if I've said enough on this.
  405. Question: So what is the most

  406. misunderstood aspect of your position
  407. and could you clarify on it
  408. and why is it misunderstood?
  409. Charles: I think probably

  410. the most misunderstood aspect
  411. would be for people to have in their head
  412. that somehow I'm saying that holiness
  413. is not necessary for a Christian;
  414. that a Christian shouldn't be concerned
  415. about holiness.
  416. And of course, I'm saying
    the opposite throughout,
  417. that Christ is the higher standard,
  418. and that the Christian
    should be like Christ.
  419. The only explanation that I could have
  420. for why that would be misunderstood
  421. is that people so revere
  422. their reformed tradition
  423. and the things that they've been taught
  424. that they don't listen to
    what's actually being said.
  425. In fact, a lot of times, they're not even
  426. willing to listen at all
  427. because they have in their mind:
  428. this must be heresy.
  429. I've had similar things in my own life
  430. whenever I was a new Christian,
  431. I'd hear some term and I'd think
  432. that must be the worst heresy around.
  433. I'd find out ten years
    later that it was true.
  434. And so I think that's probably the reason
  435. that people don't allow
    themselves to listen.
  436. In fact, they either would not
    make it through a sermon,
  437. really give it an opportunity to hear
  438. what's being said,
  439. or they wouldn't make it through the book.
  440. They'd put it down.
  441. They didn't like to even
    think about that possibility.
  442. In my own testimony,
  443. I'd been a Christian for over 20 years.
  444. I look back at this as to the time
  445. where the transition really took place,
  446. and it had been over 20 years
    that I'd been a Christian,
  447. and a lot of the things
  448. that began to make me change my mind
  449. were things that I already knew,
  450. but it was like they hadn't
  451. had their full impact in my life.
  452. (Incomplete thought)
  453. The situation where
    things began to change,
  454. I was speaking through the Gospel of John
  455. in a series and I got to John 5
  456. and the verses about how Jesus
  457. was breaking the Sabbath
  458. and how He defended His position:
  459. "My Father works until now and I work."
  460. And in the course of that,
  461. I began teaching the people
  462. the different views and so on
  463. and it began to dawn on me
  464. that the early church specifically said
  465. we do not keep the Sabbath.
  466. And the fact was that they worshiped
  467. early in the morning -
  468. the Gentile converts worshiped
    early in the morning.
  469. And of course, when they said,
  470. we don't keep the Sabbath,
    they meant Saturday.
  471. We're not resting on Saturday.
  472. But the Lord's Day - they said
    The Lord's Day we give to joy.
  473. So they worshiped early in the morning,
  474. and then they went to work all day.
  475. And sometimes they met again at night.
  476. So what other commandment would there be
  477. where we would say, well, you know,
  478. a man's got to do what a man's got to do?
  479. You've got to break one of the ten
  480. greatest moral laws of God
  481. because otherwise you'll get in trouble
  482. with your boss or whatever.
  483. No one would ever say that,
  484. and yet they went to
    work on the Lord's Day.
  485. And so that began to dawn on me.
  486. John 5 there also where it says
  487. for this cause, the Jews were seeking
  488. all the more to kill Him
  489. because He not only
    was breaking the Sabbath,
  490. but was calling God His own Father
  491. making Himself equal with God.
  492. One time I had a discussion
  493. with some Jehovah's Witnesses.
  494. And I brought up that passage.
  495. He was calling God His own Father,
  496. making Himself equal with God.
  497. They said well that was
    what the Jews said;
  498. that's not what He was actually doing.
  499. And I pointed out, no, this is
    what John said He was doing.
  500. That He was calling God His own Father,
  501. making Himself equal with God.
  502. And later it dawned on me
  503. that it was also John who was saying
  504. He was breaking the Sabbath.
  505. So what about this thing of Jesus
  506. breaking the Sabbath?
  507. That was very difficult for me to accept
  508. because I always had in my mind
  509. that He kept the Mosaic law
  510. in the letter of the Mosaic law.
  511. And I began to see that
    actually He broke it a lot.
  512. But He broke it in a way -
  513. not of someone who is less than,
  514. but someone who is sailing over it;
  515. He's magisterial in His approach.
  516. So He's touching lepers.
  517. You're not supposed to touch a leper.
  518. He touches them and instead
    of Him becoming unclean,
  519. they become clean.
  520. And it's just glorious stuff.
  521. They come and they say
  522. why are Your disciples
    doing what's not lawful
  523. on the Sabbath?
  524. And He doesn't say it is lawful.
  525. He says don't you see the priests
  526. in the temple, they break the Sabbath
  527. in order to serve the temple.
  528. What's that mean?
  529. Well, they're in there working
  530. and slaving away on the Sabbath.
  531. But then He says,
  532. something greater than the temple is here.
  533. So He's saying My disciples
  534. are breaking the Sabbath
    in their service to Me,
  535. but I'm so much higher than the temple
  536. that the Sabbath takes subservience to Me.
  537. And then He goes and says the Son of Man
  538. is Lord even of the Sabbath.
  539. And so, He was breaking the Sabbath.
  540. They were breaking the Sabbath.
  541. But He was keeping on the highest level,
  542. He was keeping love to God
  543. and love to your fellow man.
  544. And those two commandments
  545. are sufficient to totally fulfill
  546. man's obligation to God.
  547. A certain scribe came to Jesus and said
  548. what must I do to have eternal life?
  549. If you want to lay out the highest,
  550. if you want to talk about moral law,
  551. and the highest standard imaginable,
  552. (Incomplete thought).
  553. Jesus said what do you read in the law?
  554. What's it say? How does it read to you?
  555. And this guy must have been brilliant.
  556. He said well, two things -
  557. love God with all your heart,
    soul, mind, and strength,
  558. and love your neighbor as yourself.
  559. And Jesus didn't say, well, no,
  560. there's a lot more than that.
  561. You've got 613 commandments.
  562. He said you've answered correctly.
  563. You do those two things
  564. and you'll have eternal life.
  565. "Do this and you shall live,"
  566. and He quotes from Leviticus.
  567. And that's what Jesus did.
  568. And that's how He earned,
  569. merited righteousness for us.
  570. And Romans 5, we receive
  571. the gift of righteousness.
  572. It's His righteousness.
  573. Our sins are imputed to Him.
  574. He gets the curse that we deserve.
  575. His righteousness,
  576. His perfect fulfillment of the law,
  577. His merit is imputed to us
  578. and we get the blessing that He deserves.
  579. I kind of like to think
    of it like a time card.
  580. You know Paul says not having
  581. a righteousness of my own
    derived from the law.
  582. Well, there's the idea that
    if you keep the law,
  583. it will be righteousness unto you,
  584. and you'll live because
    of that righteousness.
  585. In other words, you fulfill it perfectly,
  586. you get its reward.
  587. He that does those things shall live.
  588. And Paul says I don't have
    any righteousness of my own.
  589. But Christ did have righteousness.
  590. He perfectly fulfilled everything.
  591. And so He made Him to be sin for us
  592. who knew no sin,
  593. that we might be made the
    righteousness of God in Him.
  594. And when you think of a time card,
  595. you go in every day,
  596. you punch your card.
  597. At the end of the week,
    you've got this card
  598. that has all these times on there.
  599. You fulfill your time.
  600. You put in your time.
  601. You're entitled to a reward.
  602. And that's what Christ
    gives us is His time card;
  603. His righteousness that He's earned;
  604. that title to eternal life.
  605. Question: So as you study
    John 5 and these things,

  606. is that when your position
    started to change?
  607. Charles: Yeah, what happened was

  608. I actually left that series
    and I've told people
  609. that I didn't come
    back until a year later,
  610. but it was actually over two years later.
  611. And I came back to John 5
  612. a couple years later and took up again.
  613. And I had already prepared
    a standard message
  614. on the Sabbath.
  615. It was already ready,
    and I couldn't give it.
  616. And so the next morning,
  617. I don't remember what I gave,
  618. but I gave something entirely different.
  619. And another thing, I began to realize
  620. that all of my studies -
  621. all the theology and everything
  622. that I had read
  623. was from a couple
    centuries of church history.
  624. And I'm sometimes asked,
  625. this new covenant theology,
  626. it's a new thing and that's dangerous,
  627. which I agree with totally.
  628. But my response to that is that
  629. covenant theology is the new thing
  630. in terms of church history.
  631. You look at that and John Murray
  632. has a history of covenant theology
  633. and goes into where it really
    began to be developed.
  634. It's not the idea that covenant theology
  635. is some thing that's existed
    since the 1st century.
  636. A lot of people have that in their mind
  637. because that's all they've ever heard.
  638. And I had the standard view.
  639. I had those books about how
  640. the day has been changed
  641. and the Sabbath has been preserved
  642. and all of those things to try to explain
  643. how you could have the 4th
    commandment shift over.
  644. The early church, in church history,
  645. they never viewed the Lord's Day
  646. as fulfilling the 4th commandment
  647. until much later, like 700 years later.
  648. And so, the idea that we're under
  649. the Ten Commandments
  650. and the Ten Commandments -
  651. the 4th commandment we
    fulfill on the Lord's Day,
  652. even when they began
    resting on the Lord's Day,
  653. when Constantine made it a legal holiday,
  654. he called it the Venerable Day of the Sun
  655. (S, U, N.)
  656. And made that a legal holiday
  657. when Christianity became
  658. the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  659. And so they began having the day off,
  660. but even then, it wasn't thought of
  661. as we're fulfilling the 4th commandment.
  662. Those are things that came later.
  663. Question: When you changed your views,

  664. did anyone cut their
    relationship off with you?
  665. Charles: No, not at that time.

  666. A lot of these things were things
  667. that under the surface bother you
  668. as to how does this fit?
    How does that fit?
  669. But it never came down
  670. with real weight on me where I really saw
  671. that this is so inconsistent.
  672. It's like it kind of fell apart.
  673. Question: Did you at any point

  674. have a shift to where the Scriptures
  675. had a greater emphasis on your life
  676. in comparison with church
    history and confessions?
  677. Charles: I never was affected a lot

  678. by the confessions
  679. as much as I was affected by men
  680. that I admired theologically.
  681. And covenant theology has a lot
  682. of really good things.
  683. One of the dangers -
  684. and I don't want to identify myself
  685. with new covenant theology either,
  686. because I feel like there's extremes
  687. and errors - I may talk about that.
  688. James: That would be good to hear
  689. what some of those errors are.
  690. Charles: Well, covenant theology
  691. is founded on the idea that there are
  692. two basic covenants:
  693. a covenant of works and
    a covenant of grace.
  694. And the covenant of grace
  695. is this super-historical or a-historical
  696. thing that unifies this overarching
  697. covenant of grace.
  698. The Bible never talks about
    "the covenant of grace."
  699. And when the Bible talks about covenants,
  700. it's covenants that are made in time
  701. with specific people.
  702. And so this is a theological construction.
  703. And what happens when you bring in
  704. "the covenant of grace," -
  705. the theological construction -
  706. then you say, well, the Mosaic covenant
  707. was one administration
  708. of the covenant of grace.
  709. The new covenant is a
    different administration
  710. of the covenant of grace.
  711. And so you end up saying
  712. that the Mosaic covenant
    was a gracious covenant
  713. and basically similar to the new covenant.
  714. Rather than, contrasting.
  715. Paul says the opposite.
  716. He says the law was not of faith.
  717. He says the law has to do with works.
  718. The principle of law is:
    do this and you shall live.
  719. And so the Mosaic covenant
    was very gracious
  720. in that it had a gracious purpose
  721. and it was part of God bringing them
  722. toward the Messiah.
  723. But to say that the covenant itself
    was gracious misrepresents.
  724. It's not at all what Paul said about it.
  725. The Mosaic covenant represents
  726. this principle of blessing and curse.
  727. You have those there in Deuteronomy.
  728. Verse after verse after verse
  729. about all these curses:
  730. If you don't do...
    If you disobey...
  731. Curse, cursed, cursed, cursed.
  732. If you obey, blessed, blessed, blessed.
  733. And those things had to do
    with temporal blessings -
  734. life in the land,
  735. living along in the land
    and being blessed,
  736. having rain from heaven
    and all those things,
  737. victory over your enemies.
  738. But that represented a legal principle
  739. that is true in the realm of eternal life.
  740. And the way we know that for sure
  741. is whenever they ask Jesus
  742. what must I do to have eternal life?
  743. He went back and talked about things
  744. out of the law.
  745. And those were representative,
  746. like loving God with all your heart,
    soul, mind, and strength;
  747. loving your neighbor as yourself.
  748. That was a principle there
    that if you did that,
  749. you would have eternal life.
  750. Do this and you will live.
  751. And Paul does the same thing.
  752. He talks about this curse of the law.
  753. Well, the curse of the law
  754. ultimately it was not being
    kicked out of the land,
  755. but it was eternal punishment.
  756. And Christ redeemed us
    from the curse of the law.
  757. The Mosaic covenant is a
    legal covenant of works.
  758. Initially of works that they could do
  759. to remain in the land or not do.
  760. But then representing a deeper meaning
  761. of works in terms of
    meriting eternal life or not,
  762. and of course, no one ever
    did that for a moment.
  763. Except for the Lord Jesus Christ.
  764. That's covenant theology.
  765. Let me say a little more.
  766. (Incomplete thought)
  767. Covenant theology makes
  768. too little of a discontinuity
  769. between the Old and New Testaments.
  770. It sees too little of a shift.
  771. And so you have men like B.B. Warfield
  772. saying God put children in the church
  773. in the days of Abraham.
  774. It's a total anachronism -
    it's from back here.
  775. And a lot of covenant people
  776. view Old Testament Israel
  777. as basically the same as the church.
  778. And you have John Stott getting up
  779. and rebuking Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1966.
  780. Rebuking him basically.
  781. Lloyd-Jones was calling people
  782. to come out of these apostate churches.
  783. And he said, "Dr. Lloyd-Jones,
  784. both history and the
    Bible are against you.
  785. The remnant is not outside the church.
  786. The remnant is within the church."
  787. In other words, this remnant is believers.
  788. And "the church" is this big apostate mass
  789. like Anglicanism is
  790. where you can have an archbishop
  791. that denies the Bible
    and the virgin birth.
  792. So that's what he views as the church.
  793. And the remnant is inside -
  794. this little group of believers
  795. and they're supposed to stay in.
  796. Well, of course, the logic of that
  797. is that the reformation should
    never have happened.
  798. They should have stayed in the Catholic -
  799. "the church" - the Catholic church.
  800. And the remnant should
    have stayed inside there.
  801. And lo and behold, that's what happened.
  802. There was this shift and those
    men that believed that way
  803. there was a shift back
    towards Catholicism,
  804. both by John Stott and by J.I. Packer.
  805. So, in covenant theology,
  806. there tends to be this
    too little distinction
  807. made between the two covenants
  808. and too little of a contrast
  809. and too little of a break.
  810. In dispensationalism, it's
    the opposite problem.
  811. There's too many breaks
  812. and there's no continuity.
  813. And in the old dispensationalism,
  814. like with the original Scofield Bible,
  815. basically almost taught that they were
  816. saved by lawkeeping in the old covenant.
  817. And many wrong views there.
  818. Not enough continuity particularly between
  819. true believers in the Old and in the New.
  820. New covenant theology
  821. is closer to the truth on all of it,
  822. and of course, that's what my position
  823. would be categorized as.
  824. But the problems with it
  825. if you just identify yourself with that,
  826. there's a lot of things
  827. that I feel like sometimes they tend to
  828. react too much to covenant theology.
  829. There's many wonderful
    things in covenant theology
  830. and wonderful theologians
  831. that have taken those positions.
  832. If we study through in
    our men's theology time
  833. on Saturday mornings,
  834. if we study through a systematic theology,
  835. we're going to get one of these guys
  836. that is a really good covenant theologian
  837. because they're just better.
  838. But that doesn't make them infallible.
  839. And there are certain areas
  840. where you get into certain
    areas of their teaching,
  841. and they're floundering
  842. and pulling things out of the air.
  843. But other areas, they're very, very good.
  844. It's possible to overreact.
  845. That's the biggest danger I would say
  846. about new covenant theology.
  847. All of these things,
  848. we say that we're always reforming,
  849. but as long as you don't change anything.
  850. You're always reforming as long as you
  851. stick to whatever's accepted.
  852. And there's always a danger
  853. in trying to come up with a
    better definition of something
  854. or a little closer to the Bible.
  855. There's always danger there.
  856. That's what happened when Luther
  857. stood before the emperor.
  858. And the emperor said,
  859. "a thousand years of church
    history can not be wrong
  860. and one monk be right."
  861. Well, he had a great argument.
  862. The only trouble is he was wrong.
  863. A thousand years of
    church history was wrong.
  864. He had a wrong view of the church.
  865. That was the problem.
  866. Question: So in regards to those

  867. who would label themselves
    as new covenant theology,
  868. where do they take things
    too far to an extreme?
  869. Charles: Well, one example is

  870. that some have denied the idea
  871. of Christ's righteousness being imputed.
  872. Some have denied that Christ merited
  873. eternal life by His positive obedience
  874. to God's law.
  875. They say that the Bible only talks about
  876. the death of Christ and not about His life
  877. and not about what's
    called His active obedience.
  878. I think those things go too far.
  879. In that area for example,
  880. we have Paul specifically talks about
  881. through the obedience of the one,
    the many are made righteous.
  882. And I think he's talking about
  883. more than just the cross.
  884. It's this whole righteous life
  885. viewed as a unit.
  886. And it says that we receive
  887. abundance of grace
  888. and of the gift of righteousness.
  889. That's very clear there.
  890. We receive a gift of righteousness.
  891. That would be one area.
  892. Question: If they hold to that position,

  893. what does that lead to?
  894. Charles: Well, if you lose

  895. the imputation of righteousness,
  896. to me, that's a very big thing.
  897. If you lose the fact that we're saved
  898. not only by Christ's death,
  899. but by His obedience.
  900. I had one dear brother say to me
  901. Jesus could have died
    when He was an infant
  902. and it would have put away our sins.
  903. I don't think we see
    that at all in Scripture.
  904. Righteousness and testedness
  905. is something that cannot be concreated,
  906. that is, you cannot be
    created with testedness.
  907. That'd be like faking it.
  908. That's like God creating a tree
  909. that's already old and has rings.
  910. And it has a fake history.
  911. He had to pass through,
    He had to go through;
  912. He learned obedience through
    the things which He suffered.
  913. For futher study on this topic,
  914. you can listen to Charles' series
  915. on the Law of Christ.