Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

You Have Heard Is Said…

Matthew 5:21

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago

You’ve heard it said… This past weekend I stirred up a little discussion between a colleague of mine in ministry and a young student of the Bible (not that the colleague isn’t). I posted a meme that said – God is not going to rewrite the Bible for your generation. Stop trying to change Scripture when it’s written to change you.

A discussion or debate or argument ensued. The colleague proposed that Jesus rewrote the Bible – and that we can – through God’s leading I assume – rewrite and/or re-interpret the Bible today – to meet our current circumstance. The young student of the Bible believed the Bible was whole and what Jesus did was draw the people who heard Him back to the original meaning – rather that what they had come to believe. He believed the Bible was inspired by God – and God’s Word for us today and always. (either can correct me if I have express your views wrongly.)

I believe one either believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God or simply a good collection of books and letters that we can interpret as we see fit. Here’s what the Apostle Paul felt about the Old Testament or as some call it – the old covenant.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. I – personally believe that God meant this for the New Testament/Covenant as well – but that is my take.

In the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus made it very clear to me that He did not come to do away with or rewrite the Law – the Torah – the Old Covenant – the prophets – but rather fulfill it/them. He came to draw us back into the true meaning of the Law. The following text is long – broken into sections – but very useful to this discussion. I will highlight certain parts – as I understand them.

Matthew 5:17-20 – 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 tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law or Prophets – the Old Testament – but to fulfill it/them. If we set aside even the smallest detail of the commands of God – we will be called the least. Those who follow God’s teachings will be great in the kingdom of heaven. Then He explains a little more – by saying our righteousness needs to surpass that of the Pharisees (the law keepers and teachers of the law). He even says unless our righteousness surpasses the Pharisees – who merely followed the letter of the law rather than the heart of it – we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus begins to explain further what He meant in talking about murder and anger.

Matthew 5:21-26 – 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The Law said – don’t murder. Jesus called us to a deeper understanding of that Law than what was being practiced in His day by the Pharisees. Jesus tried to relay that it isn’t just the outer action (which the Pharisees were so good at) – but the heart was so important. Murder is the action – the outward action – but Jesus called us to refocus on the meaning of the Law and called us to consider the heart. He called us to not hate – to not speak ill of others – to be reconciled with one another before we try to be reconciled with God. He continued.

Matthew 5:27-30 – 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Jesus reminds us that adultery is wrong – according to the Law – but adultery goes beyond the outward action – He says – and enters into the thought process – the heart too. Jesus suggests that we’d be better off blind or without body parts if that is what it takes to keep our actions and thoughts pure. He didn’t change the Law or redefine it or rewrite it. Jesus clarified to a people who had gone astray – what the Law meant. Jesus was not rewriting Scripture – but rather drawing those who had ears to hear back to the truth and to a better walk with God. He was – in His words – fulfilling the Law rather than changing it.

That’s my two cents on the subject. I will post this link on my Facebook page where the discussion happened. I repeat what started this discussion. God is not going to rewrite the Bible for your (our) generation. Stop trying to change Scripture when it’s written to change you (us). I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. If our life choices or our theology don’t match its teachings – we shouldn’t try to change the Bible – but rather – ourselves.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

August 26, 2019 - Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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