Jesus affirms, fulfills, and replaces the Torah

Reading through Matthew we are reminded of how fundamental the Gospel Commands must be for every disciple. Jesus opens His preaching of the Gospel with his gospel commands in Matthew 5.3. In these gospel commands "successful" people of the Kingdom are defined (Matt. 5: 3-12). Then Jesus implies that matching up to these commands as His disciples is like being salty salt, and "lighty" light (Matt.5:13-16). Jesus emphasizes the importance of these defining statements by speaking about His relationship to the Law.  The Torah (law) was sure and none of it would pass away without being fulfilled.  Therefore the words of Jesus, the one who brings the Torah to fulfillment...His words are even more sure and whoever neglects the least of them will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 5:17-19).  Later in Matthew Jesus will state "the law and the Prophets prophesied until John".  He will also say, "heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away".  Here, in this preaching of the Gospel often called "The Sermon on the Mount," Jesus will say that the legitimacy (righteousness) of the disciples must exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees(Matt.5:20). The Scribes and the Pharisees were dedicated to the Torah but did not embrace the person of  Jesus and therefore did not enter the Kingdom nor embrace the King's  New Covenant teachings.  To understand the rest of the New Testament it will be very helpful to understand what is presented to every disciple in the opening 7 Chapters of Matthew.

Jesus affirms the authority of the Torah.
Jesus fulfills the meaning and purpose of the Torah.
Jesus and His word of the Kingdom replace the Torah as the binding "word of God" for the faithful.
With this acknowledgment we are prepared to hear the next set of passages in the Sermon on the Mount.


A personal question: Am I "in the Spirit"?

To give a good answer for this question I may need to consider what the Question means biblically? I would especially like to know if I can think about whether or not I am "in the Spirit"  in a way consistent with a good, coherent, reading of the Scriptures.

Presently, my best reading of the Scriptures would allow me to expand the question to something like this: "Am I inwardly motivated to do the will of God in obedient loyalty to Jesus?"

A bit more complicated, but that is how I understand the question.  It could be made more complicated. For instance, We could try to include something about how the "inward motivation" is a gift from God, and so on.

Doing the "will of God" can seem to be an elusive concept.  Important for our understanding is our recognition that "doing the will of God" has been lived out before us by Jesus.  So what is "doing the will of God" for us?  To "do the will of God", is to have the attitude of Jesus, the regard of Jesus, and the response of Jesus, toward...the Father, the faithful, and the fallen world. I think it is in this kind of obedience that we find the place of personal communion with God. This communion is not sacramental mysticism, nor mere religious emotionalism. Rather, it is a dependence on Jesus Christ, who he is, what he accomplished on the cross, and what he is doing in creation.  This obedience in which we commune with Jesus...that is to say, "this being in the Spirit", is the place to be.  This "doing of the will of God", is the thing to be doing.  And the most nascent form of this obedience, or this spirituality, is receiving (loyally acknowledging) God and His son Jesus.  In this obedience, or spirituality, we press on to keep His way.  Maybe the most mature form of this obedience would be to have love and forgiveness for those misunderstanding you to death, while grasping for nothing but your Father's good pleasure.

As Jesus is presented to us in the gospel,  in his humble life, his authoritative words, and his obedient death; we must go on, in our confession and in our loyalty, to agree with the Father's resurrecting exclamation that this Jesus is Lord.  To do this we must be "in the Spirit".  We must be "inwardly  motivated to do the will of God in obedient loyalty to Jesus".  Let's press on to walk "in the Spirit", rejoicing that God would seal us as inheritors of the age to come by the same Spirit that lighted upon our Savior as a dove.  What an appropriate seal for our salvation, soon to be made complete.


The Loyalty of God

What does the loyalty of God look like? admittedly, if we maintain the standard modern meaning of "belief" or "faith" in the sense of "credence" then "the faith of God" is strange to the scriptures. What would we be speaking of? What would passages mean which use "pistos" to describe God? Most of these passages are translated with the word "faithful". Are we to understang these "faithful" passages to be saying "God is full of faith" in the sense that He really believes in man, or that God is full of confidence that Israel can save? No, what you will find as you look over the passages is that they speak of God being full of loyalty. He is "loyalty-ful" to his people even according to His promise to be their God.

I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people (Lev. 26:12).
And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,that they may walk in My statutes and keep my ordinances, and do them. Then they shall be My people, and I shall be their God (Ezekiel 11: 19,20).
See also Eze. 14:10,11; 34:24; 37:23 and Zech.10:6.

The apostle Paul would have all the remnant of God's people who are loyal to Jesus Christ know that God will be loyal to them. He wants these challenged disciples to know, not that God is full of Belief, but that He is full of loyalty.
...so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, throughwhom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord(1Cor.1:7-9).
See also 10:13, 2Cor.1:18,1Thess.5:24,2Thess.3:3.


semper fi

We are Re-engaging Matthew as a weekly reading for the SEMPER FI MISSION TO OCEANSIDE. We will be asking ourselves, "Is Jesus the the one worthy of all our loyalty?" We also want to consider the strongest objections to understanding the greek word group "pistos" as having a meaning which ranges from "loyalty" to "loyal-acknowledgement". Now this word group is usually translated "faith" or "believe" and we may do well to consider how the meanings of these words in English have evolved even while we consider what is at the heart of the New Testament teaching concerning our relationship to God through Jesus Christ by "faith". There will be more to come as we read through Matthew weekly. Please join in by reading and, as you are moved, commenting.