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The Gift of a New Testament

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Flickr photo by: Grant MacDonald

In our last conversation, Bill mentioned a book by Gaylord Enns called Love Revolution. I remember reading it some time ago, finding it to be a surprisingly important book, and then forgetting about it.

So went to my shelves this past week, found it, and have been mulling over it ever since.

In this book Enns tells the story of how his life was changed by discovering a basic difference between the Old and New Testaments. While the author builds his case very carefully, here, in his words, is some of what he concluded:

“The two core commandments of the Old Covenant are rooted in my finite ability to love God and my neighbor… In contrast I realized in striking clarity that the two core commandments of the New Covenant are rooted in God’s infinite love for me.” p. 67, Love Revolution.

I think Enns sees an important distinction as he goes on to say:

The foundational and core commandments of the Old Testament are:

(1) To love the God who delivered Israel from Egypt with all of our heart, soul, and strength, and (2) to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The foundational and core commands of the New Testament are:

(1) To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 3:16) and then (2) to love one another, as he has loved us (John 13:34)

Both (1John 3:23) show up together time after time in the New Testament.

Building on this distinction,  Enns goes on to show that, according to what Paul calls the law of Christ (Gal 6:2) (Gal 5:14), and what James refers to as the Royal Law (James 2:8) and the Law of Liberty (James 2:12) — by the terms of the New Testament, it is not possible to love God without loving one another (1John 4:19-21).

Having said all of this, looking back from a New Testament point of view it’s clear that no one in either Old or New Testament eras has ever lived apart from the Divine energy and grace of God. Yet there is a stunningly basic and clear distinction between the terms of the Old and New Testaments.

So, I think it’s more than worth thinking together about whether any of us can reasonably presume to live in compliance with the Spirit of God by keeping his commandments—unless by that we mean (by his grace) (1) believing in his Son, and (in his Spirit) (2) slowly learning to love one another as he has so patiently, kindly, and mercifully loved us…

 


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70 Responses to “The Gift of a New Testament”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Had gotten up this morning at our usual time and seen the old subject still up with a question ask of me from Gary. Not wanting to quickly answer I went about my duties this morning, including measuring the overnight snow, and trying to encapsulate my thoughts so that when I answered it would best reflect my feelings of the matter.

    Then after looking in again I find Mart’s new subject zeroing in once again on the very basics of what I am trying to say in answer to Gary’s question.

    First off I would like to say that Gary is not solitary nor alone in his efforts to obey the directives of Scripture in living a holy life. So in speaking to his position it is not directed at him so much as a belief system that many have taken up for millennia’s.

    I want also to say that there is a difference, but with strings attached, to the Law of Moses and the commandments of Jesus and *directives* given all throughout the New Testament.

    Because of the late hour for me I will have to take this up later in the morning, but thank you Mart for giving me the opportunity to try and put to words my heart on this subject as it isn’t quite as easy as it may seem.

    Steve

  • Bill says:

    Good Morning Everyone!

    I’m looking forward to watching this thread unfold.

    But not going to add to it. I’d rather learn from others posting in reply to Mart’s topic this morning.

    Love to All,

    Bill