Who created the laws within the Law of Moses?

Are all the laws in the Torah directly from God, or did Moses create some?

I’ve always believed they were all from God, but there are some that I just can’t see God saying because they seem to clash so violently with Jesus’ teaching. For example…

There’s a law that tells what you can do with a guy’s daughter after he sells her to you as a slave.

There’s a law that lays out conditions for how to treat multiple wives.

There’s a law that says beating your male or female slave is not punishable as long as said slave can get to their feet in one or two days.

If a wife tries to help her husband who is being beat up by grabbing the testicles of the attacker, the wife’s hand must be cut off.

If a husband thinks his wife has been unfaithful, he is to take her to the priest. The priest will mix dust from the floor with holy water and then the woman must take an oath with a sworn curse. After that she must drink the water. If she truly was unfaithful, she will suffer terrible consequences.

If your brother, son, daughter, wife or close friend tries to secretly get you to worship another god, you are to kill them (all the others will help but you are to strike the first blow).

The usual explanation (sometimes called Divine Accommodation) is that God gave the Hebrew people laws that were meant to regulate existing customs and behaviors and we should not view them as characteristic of God’s moral will. And this may be true, but I see three problems with this view:

1. Yahweh doesn’t come across as one who is interested in regulating sinful behavior.
2. For thousands of years God’s commands defined morality and God’s character. For thousands of years slavery, misogyny, polygamy, and a legal system that left little room for compassion and mercy could fit within a godly, holy, and righteous life. It’s hard for me to accept that an omniscient, personal, righteous and jealous God would desire this kind of harmful ambiguity.
3. When the Pharisees pointed out to Jesus that Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife if he found something offensive in her, Jesus’ response was quite interesting. He said that going all the way back to the garden of Eden it was not that way and it should not be permitted (unless one’s partner is unfaithful). Then Jesus said that Moses permitted it to appease hard-hearted people (Mat 19:3-12).

Now maybe saying “Moses permitted you to divorce…” was synonymous with “God permitted you to divorce…” but it seems like Jesus is disagreeing with Moses and reaffirming God’s hatred of divorce.

What do you think? Did Moses ever interject his opinions (like Paul, 1 Cor. 7:12), or did all of the laws in the Torah come directly from God?

As I researched this topic I discovered that Marcion of Sinope (85-160 AD) was so bothered by how the Old Testament depicted God that he completely rejected the Old Testament.

Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose and Augustine all taught that the passages in the Old Testament that ascribed sinful behavior to God and holy men were not meant to be taken literally; instead they were to be read as allegorical.

Referring to the book of Joshua, C.S. Lewis said that when the goodness of God conflicts with the doctrine of inerrancy, the goodness of God must prevail.

How is faith a gift?

Since all humans, naturally, have the ability to exercise faith, in what respect is faith (pistis) a gift from God to believers (Philippians 1:29)?

In a general sense, faith is a gift simply because all good things are gifts from God (James 1:17). But when we are talking about saving faith, the kind that unites us with Christ, we recognize that if it were not for God’s prevenient grace, we would remain in the darkness. Through various means God has revealed himself to all people. Not only has he shown favor (grace) by providing evidence of his existence through creation (Romans 1:20), he also works in situations and circumstances to draw people to himself (providence).

I like the way William Burt Pope, a 19th century theologian, says it:

“Faith, viewed first more comprehensively as the condition of salvation, is a state or an act of the human spirit as under the influence of the Divine Spirit. The Divine and the human cannot be so clearly defined and separated as in the case of repentance. They may be united in relation to the belief, generally; the passive and active trust that enter into saving faith, and the assurance of acceptance and salvation which follow it in the regenerate life.
I. BELIEF, or the principle of faith generally, belongs to human nature: the faculty of perceiving the force of evidence and admitting as knowledge what is received on evidence or authority internal or external.
1. Man lives by faith, in this sense also. Belief is a primary condition of all reasoning; and all our knowledge rests on faith. Hence the propriety of Anselm’s CREDE UT INTELLIGAS, in opposition to Abelard’s INTELLIGE UT CREDAS: the two watchwords of Christian Faith and Rationalism respectively. All faith has in it an element of trust. The being of God, the guilt and punishment of sin, the mission of Christ for redemption, the Christian revelation as a whole, must be accepted by faith before the Person of Christ is trusted in for personal salvation. But the object of this faith, not yet a personal Saviour, is only generally apprehended: the compass of the Christian Faith is often embraced only after the experience of salvation. To whatever extent the truths of religion are known and embraced, faith in them is the healthy and legitimate exercise of the human mind, receiving the evidence, internal and external, which authenticates revelation.
2. On the other hand, this belief is Divine. A merely intel
lectual assent, such as rests upon tradition and education, is not enough: The devils also believe, and tremble. Seldom does this belief withstand the assault of skeptical attack. No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. A firm belief in the Christian revelation, and in Him whom it reveals as God and man, is the very precious gift of the Spirit, and is often made perfect in the exercise of personal trust. Sometimes the personal trust and the assurance of faith bring in also the full assurance of understanding as to the outward revelation: speculative or historical faith thus, through Divine grace, deepens into that spiritual faith, which in its last exercise is the gift of God” (A Compendium of Christian Theology, 461-2).

I think Rudolf Bultmann nicely sums it up:

“A faith brought about by God outside of [human] decision would obviously not be genuine [faith]. Faith is God-wrought to the extent that prevenient grace first made the human decision possible, with the result that he who has made the decision can only understand it as God’s gift” (Theology of the New Testament, 1:330).

God’s Hiddenness

“The relating triune God desires that we earnestly seek Him and His wisdom as “for hidden treasures” (Prov. 2:4)—with all our heart. All around us there are indicators of His presence and echoes of His voice, which are available to all people—whether of great intelligence or not. However, God honors human responsibility so greatly that He has configured His self-revelation to be accessible but non-coercive: He doesn’t compel or force belief—and love and worship—upon us. For whole-hearted seekers, God gives ample signposts of His grace and presence, but sufficient ambiguity for the half-hearted or the hard-hearted. He grants us breathing room to allow us to distance ourselves from God and resist His grace if we choose.”

~Paul Copan

Is it OK to “go to church”?

When we hear the word “church,” we usually think of a building that often has a steeple on it. But the Bible uses the word “church” (ekklesia) to refer to something very different. In the New Testament, the word “church” always refers to the whole body of Christian believers. It is used synonymously with “the body of Christ,” and “a spiritual house” made up of “living stones.”

Is it a big deal that we use the word “church” in a way that is so disconnected from the Bible’s usage?

Maybe, maybe not…

Some claim that it causes Christianity to be compartmentalized and causes a dualistic thinking. We “go to church” on Sunday for a few hours and live our own lives when we leave the building.

I tend to think it’s not a big deal. Word meanings often change over time and since the Bible gives God’s family many different names, the fact that one has changed its meaning makes little difference in my opinion.

Now if I hear people start saying, “I go to the First Baptist Body of Christ,” or “Do you know of a good living house in the area?” then I’ll get worried.

Why I don’t tithe…


Point to Ponder:
If the tithe were still in effect, followers of Christ would be designated to receive it, not give it since followers of Christ are now the temple of God and members of a royal priesthood! (Eph 2:19-21, 1 Peter 2:9)

Although the tithe is no longer in effect, Christians are to be generous givers! To read my post on New Covenant giving, click here: here: http://www.simmondsfam.com/blog/faith/2014/08/31/how-much-money-should-christians-give/

We are not born spiritually blind

People are not born spiritually blind; it’s a choice.

While the Bible and our own experience confirm that people are born with a bias toward sin, we are not born spiritually blind. In fact, the faith of children and youth is often superior to that of adults (Luke 18:17). In Romans 1 we are told that God has made himself known to all people and that his power and divine nature have been visible since the beginning of time so that people are without excuse. Spiritual blindness is not congenital! Instead, sin causes the eyes of the heart to grow dark, and over time, a lifestyle of continual, unrepentant sin leads to spiritual blindness (Rom 1:21, Eph 4:18). So repent now and walk in the light as God is in the light.

“Permit” does not mean “cause”

In his book Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, John Calvin wrote, “[I]t is easy to conclude how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice by the suggestion that evils come to be not by His will, but merely by His permission. Of course, so far as they are evils…I admit they are not pleasing to God. But it is quite a frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them.”

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Pursue Righteousness

In the Bible, the adjectives tsaddiyq (צַּדִּיק ) in the OT and dikaios (δικαιοι) in the NT, which are usually translated “righteous,” were used to describe those who “remained on the correct path.” From Genesis to Revelation the word “righteous” is used to describe both God and humans. In 1 John 3:7, we read that “the one who does what is right is righteous.

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Does God need our help during the Christmas season?

Here’s an excerpt from a great article by Stephen Ingram that addresses the heresy of “Keeping Christ In Christmas”:

At the core of the problem is that any time people of faith chant slogans or mandate parade themes like “keeping Christ in Christmas” or “Put Christ back in Christmas” we prove ourselves people of little faith. When these are our battle cries we reduce the presence and power of God to only be where a government or law allows God. When we do this we deny that God was there before us, is there with us now and will be there long after we are gone. When we try to force God on others we reincarnate some of the worst epochs of our religious history, and default on its core founding principles of Love, Grace and Hospitality.

To read the article in its entirety, click here: http://www.organicstudentministry.com/?p=61156

For fans of Left Behind…

Here’s an excerpt from a great article by Sam Storms that highlights some of the problems with Premillennialism:

My departure from premillennialism and embrace of amillennialism was gradual and came as a result of two discoveries as I studied Scripture. First, I devoted myself to a thorough examination of what the New Testament said would occur at the time of Christ’s second coming (or parousia). What I found was a consistent witness concerning what would either end or begin as a result of our Lord’s return to the earth. Sin in the lives of God’s people, corruption of the natural creation, and the experience of physical death would terminate upon the appearance of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, and the inauguration of the New Heavens and New Earth would ensue. But why is this a problem for premillennialism? Good question.

Scriptural Challenges for Premillenialists…

To read the article in its entirety, click here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-i-changed-my-mind-about-the-millennium

What is God like?

  • Do you believe God cannot be in the presence of sinful people?
  • Do you believe God can never really be pleased with you because you still sin?
  • Do you believe the only reason God loves you is that when he looks at you, he sees his Son rather than the sinful wretch that you are?
  • Do you believe the only reason he has a relationship with you is that when he looks at you, he sees his Son rather than the sinful wretch that you are?
  • Do you believe the only reason he hasn’t consigned you to hell is that when he looks at you he sees his Son rather than the sinful wretch that you are?

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What is Hyper-grace?

Hyper-grace says all of your sins—past, present, and future—were forgiven at the cross so there is no reason for believers to ever ask for forgiveness since God now sees you as perfect. It also says if you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit when you do wrong, ignore it because it must be from Satan.

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Salvation vs. Rewards

The Bible clearly says that we are saved by faith with works since faith without works is dead; however, faith is the means by which we are saved. Works done in obedience to Christ demonstrate that faith is genuine and show God’s love to the world. This demonstration is not to inform God; God knows all things, including our hearts, so if a person is unable to do good works as a result of a disability or some other reason, he need not fret about losing his salvation since he is united with Christ (“in Christ”).

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Are you righteous?

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left.

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