Index by Subject

The Law Code of Hammurabi

One of the grandest facts about the ongoing findings of archaeology is that it never fails to produce unique and interesting finds that open up new proofs for conclusions previously unknown. One such find was the law code of Hammurabi. Hammurabi was the sixth king in the Babylonian dynasty and ruled from approximately 1792 to 1750 B.C. He was a great military leader, enlarging Babylon from a small city-state into a vast world empire, covering all the land from the Tigris to the Euphrates. However, Hammurabi is best known for his extensive list of law codes. Scholars date the code c. 1780 B.C. The stele on which the code was written was discovered by an Egyptologist named Gustav Jequier in 1901. The find was located in modern-day Iran, near the ancient Babylonian city of Susa.

The law code consists of an introduction stating that Hammurabi was chosen by the gods to record the code, followed by 282 statements of law, and concluded with an epilogue. What is unique about this code is that unlike other ancient findings, it is completely intact.

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Law

The concept of obedience to law is rather controversial among the religious today.  Because of the Holy Spirit’s teaching regarding the Law of Moses, as contrasted with salvation by Grace through Faith, some equate the idea of obedience to God’s law with the concept of meriting salvation.  This is not so.

Under the Old Covenant, or Old Law, salvation was not available.  Salvation can not come through Law, it must come through Grace.  As Paul stated in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” As “all have sinned” (vs. 23), and as redemption can not come through law, it was necessary that Christ give himself as a ransom for all.  This is grace.  This is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

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"What is Written … How Readest Thou?": An Amoral Basis for Law – It Won’t Work!

A few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled "that barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." On a 4-3 decision, four judges have taken it upon themselves to require the recognition of homosexual marriage as equally valid and deserving the same benefits as a marriage between a man and a woman. Their opinion is available to the public as a 75-page document. It is a textbook study of sophistry and the effects of institutionalized amorality. When one reads the whole ruling, it becomes clear how the pieces of our moral decline all fit together. Thanks to four judges overruling the origin of marriage, its legal definition for hundreds of years in English common law and common sense, we now face the very real possibility that "same sex marriages" may soon have the force of law to validate their acceptability. With this decision, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has arrived at the end many have warned was coming — an attempt to form a fully amoral basis for law and ethics.

Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": An Amoral Basis for Law – It Won’t Work!

"What is Written … How Readest Thou?": The Inward Conflict – Who Is Described?

Examining Romans 7:7-25

To say that this passage has been the occasion for much debate is an understatement. The fact that it is a difficult passage, regardless of the interpretation defended, is a truth to which all serious students would readily agree. In this brief study, we cannot raise all of the questions posed about this text, much less take the space required to reason towards answering all of those questions. We will, however, try to lay a foundation needed to properly understand the main points. For a detailed study, Whiteside’s commentary gives an excellent examination of this text.

The apostle Paul began the epistle to the Romans by affirming that the Gospel is God’s power to save those who respond in faith to that message. He then shows that all are in need of that salvation because all have sinned beginning with the Gentiles and then concentrating on the Jews (Romans 1:18 – 2:20). The next two chapters emphasize the themes of faith and grace as they relate to the justification of the sinner through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This point is also made with special emphasis to the Jews. Up to that point in the book, the writer stresses the need for, and nature of God’s action in salvation.

Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": The Inward Conflict – Who Is Described?

No Law

Authors:  Bobby Holmes and Mark Roberts

I. Error

    • 1. “We are under grace, not law. We must not depend on what we do, but on God.”
      1. Romans 6:14-15
      2. Galatians 3:11
  • A. Neo-Calvinists say:B. Passages Misused:

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Voices from the Past: “The Perfect Law of Liberty” (Cecil Willis)

The New Testament writer, James, said, “But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). There are several important lessons to be learned from this passage.

(1) IT IS A “LAW.” This body of truth which is the source of all pure religion is here called a “law.” There are some who would have us to believe that the Old Testament had law, but no grace; and that the New ,Testament has grace, but no law. They therefore teach that we should preach “the Man” but not “the Plan,” else we become legalists.

However, a law is simply a “rule of action.” If there is no prescribed rule of action (i.e., no law), then it would be impossible to sin, since sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The body of truth that guides us is elsewhere called the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21), the “law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:1,2), and here it is called “the law of liberty” (Jas.. 1: 25; 2:12). It is true, however, that we are not under the law of Moses (Romans 6:14), but this does not mean that we are under no law at all. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: “The Perfect Law of Liberty” (Cecil Willis)

Discussion on the New Law

Editor’s Note: The following material was written August 18-20 in the form of an email discussion between friends. Joshua Gurtler asked the initial question below. The answers he received, a follow up question, and final responses appear one after another. Each respondent is identified.

It seems to be popular these days to condemn the internet “out of hat.” Such discussions show the benefits of the electronic means of carrying a discussion. While the instantaneous means of communication has its drawbacks (people tend not to consider their words before posting), it is nevertheless a wonderful tool for communication and study. We commend these thoughts to you. The casual nature of the discussion has been retained.

Question #1

Dear Friends,

I’m studying w/ an individual who makes the claim that Christ NEVER instituted any of His new law while he was alive. Doing so would have been a violation of His own teaching of Mt. 5:19 causing Christ to make void the law thus sin. It is claimed that Christ only reiterated what the original teaching of the Law was. This individual was also quick to point out that all of Christ’s teaching still applies to us because he was teaching “eternal principles.” For this reason, Christ never taught that one must keep the Sabbath, per se, beacause that is not an eternal principle. Continue reading » Discussion on the New Law

“Not Under the Law, But Under Grace” (Romans 6:14)

The Law of the Lord is Good!
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, KJV).

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, ASV).

There are three clauses in our text: (1) “For sin shall not have dominion over you:” (2) “for you are not under law,” (3) “but under grace.” It is these three clauses which will form the divisions of our lesson. Continue reading » “Not Under the Law, But Under Grace” (Romans 6:14)

Who Are the Pharisees?

The Law of the Lord is Good!

Pharisees (1): Who Were They Then?The word “Pharisee” or a form of it is used 101 times in the New Testament. That those references are overwhelmingly negative is not news to anyone remotely familiar with the Bible. Our purpose in this study is to identify why the Pharisees were the repeated object of our Lord’s condemnation. To understand that, we must not turn to secular history to give us the answer, but to the Bible.

The most detailed statement from Jesus showing the reason for His condemnation of the Pharisees is found in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. Since Mark 7 explains the background more fully, let us see what it says:

And there are gathered together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of his disciples ate their bread with defiled, that is, unwashen, hands. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market-place, except they bathe themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels.) And the Pharisees and the scribes ask him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands? And he said unto them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is Corban, that is to say, Given to God; ye no longer suffer him to do aught for his father or his mother; making void the word of God by your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do (Mark 7:1-13).

This passage makes it clear that Jesus condemned the Pharisees because of their failure to adhere to the pattern of Scripture, instead substituting “the tradition of the elders” as being on a par with God’s word. The process by which they did so is made plain. Continue reading » Who Are the Pharisees?

Are God’s Laws Too Hard?

The Law of the Lord is Good!

It is important for us to note closely the question of this study. The question is not “Are God’s laws hard?” but rather it is “Are God’s Laws too hard?” Are God’s laws beyond our ability and do God’s laws demand more than man can give? God’s laws can be hard because life is hard and because of the constant temptations of the devil. Our task in this study is to consider the idea of whether God’s laws are too hard.

A. Life Is Hard. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground…”(Gen.3:19). Life on this earth was, at one time, truly to live in a “garden” (Genesis 2). Then, sin entered the picture. Man was punished with work becoming toil and labor and the woman with “sorrow” and travail (Genesis 3:16-19). Life on earth became hard for saint and sinner! How often do we hear some brother in his prayer mention the “uneven pathways of life” or that this life is a “vale of tears”? Life is not easy. We may not all face the same problems or carry the same burdens, but no one escapes the toils, heartaches, and trouble of life. The writer said in Proverbs 13:15: “The way of transgressors is hard.” But, David also said in Ps.34:19 that, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Is there a life on this earth that’s not hard and difficult? No. Continue reading » Are God’s Laws Too Hard?

Is the Law of God Understandable?

The Law of the Lord is Good!

When Jesus had His conversation with the Jews in John 8:31-47, He told them, “If ye abide in my word, then are you truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To possess the Word of God and to therefore be able to know the Truth, is indeed a privilege beyond comparison in our lives. And yet man has been dealing with the question of “What is truth?” since Jesus was asked that question by Pontius Pilate (John 18:37-38). To those individuals who are willing to “…Fear God, and keep his commandments;…” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), this should not be any problem at all. We are totally able to “know the truth” and are absolutely confident in the assurance that “the truth will make you free”! Continue reading » Is the Law of God Understandable?

The Gentiles and the Law of Conscience (Romans 2:12-16)

The Law of the Lord is Good!

Romans 2:12-16 says: For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Romans 1 had established that the Gentiles are in sin and need salvation. The point of chapter two is to show that the Jews likewise are in sin and need salvation just like the Gentiles. The point of the above verses (vv. 12-16) is an amplification of the point in v. 11 (God is no respecter of persons). So, his point is that God will condemn those who sin whether they be Jew or Gentile. Those who sin without the law (Gentiles), God will condemn. Those who sin in the law (Jews), God will condemn. Continue reading » The Gentiles and the Law of Conscience (Romans 2:12-16)

Old Testament Law (The Law Given for Israel’s Good)

The Law of the Lord is Good!

While the Israelites were assembled at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1) God delivered through Moses the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1f). Moses was the Lawgiver. He received the Law from God and delivered it to the children of Israel. Even before the words of the Law had been put down in writing the Jews promised Moses, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” (Ex. 24:3). In the second giving of the Law, Moses clearly states that the covenant was not made with the Gentiles or even with the Israelites’ forefathers, but only with the nation of Israel whom God had led out of Egyptian bondage.

“And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: ‘Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive” (Deut. 5:1-3).

The Old Testament law was given to a specific group of people, the Jews and was never said to have been given to anyone else. The Law was never designed for Gentiles or even Christians. Where is the Scripture that shows this covenant was made with anyone else? Continue reading » Old Testament Law (The Law Given for Israel’s Good)

More Than Just a Love Letter

The Law of the Lord is Good

Introduction

“For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man,” wrote the apostle Paul in Romans 7:22. He was discussing the internal battle in every saint between the knowledge of what is right and the temptation to indulge what is not.

Paul expresses for us what ought to be the natural attitude of every child of God, an abiding affection and appreciation for the law of God which directs and chastens us toward good and away from evil (Matt. 6:13). It is commonly taught today that the New Testament of Jesus Christ is nothing more than a love letter from God to man. The supposition is that a love letter includes no conditions and so is devoid of anything approaching the concept of law common to the Old Testament.

Is this distinction scriptural? If so, what are its implications? Continue reading » More Than Just a Love Letter

God’s Rules Have Reasons

The Law of the Lord is Good

One thing that escapes many is the fact that God’s rules have a purpose or reason behind them. Unfortunately, many have the idea that if they follow God and the Bible then they will be “oppressed,” “held down,” etc. In other words, people are led to believe that if we follow the will of God then we are somehow giving up our “freedoms.” In fact, the opposite is true. When we follow God’s word, we will be free. Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). God’s commands, (the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots”) have a purpose behind them.

First and foremost, their purpose is to save men from sin. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). The goodness of God demanded His will be revealed to us so that we could be saved. The love of God motivated Him to send His Son to die for us (Jn. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). Having said these things, we ought to also realize that God’s laws have been given to us that we might not only enjoy spiritual blessings, but also physical blessings. Perhaps we have not thought in terms like this, but it is true that by following God’s will we can enjoy many physical blessings. Paul told Timothy, “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Godliness is the only truly practical way for a person to live. Paul says it benefits one in this life and that which is to come. In other words, it benefits the here and now and well as the hereafter. There is not a realm or relationship of this life that is not bettered as the result of one living a godly life. Even one’s general relationship in society is bettered when one keeps in mind the “golden rule” as it is called (Matt. 7:12)! Let us consider some of God’s laws and learn the physical blessings that come through obedience. Continue reading » God’s Rules Have Reasons

Theme Editorial: The Law of the Lord is Good

The Law of the Lord is Good

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”
In addition to Paul’s attribution of goodness of God’s law in 1 Tim. 1:8-11, the Psalmist praised the effects of God’s law upon those who walk in it. Consequently, those who keep God’s law are they who:

  1. Are considered undefiled because of their walk.
  2. Do no iniquity.
  3. Are not ashamed. Continue reading » Theme Editorial: The Law of the Lord is Good