Teachings of Jesus

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Teachings of Jesus – The Purpose of the Old Testament Law
The teachings of Jesus include an examination of the Old Testament Law. Specifically, Jesus taught His contemporaries that God created the Law for their benefit. Human beings were not designed to be self-sufficient and live in a state of anarchy. If you prefer, human beings did not evolve31 to be autonomous. The Law intended to reflect the holiness of God and to strongly impress upon humanity the sort of behavior He deemed moral. As an omniscient God, He knew it wouldn’t take long for leniency to ensue. Yet it remained for Him to show mankind that a failure in even one small area of the law equaled a failure in all areas. If all of us today adhered completely to the moral law, as prescribed by God, we could all attain the greatest possible level of personal happiness. Of course, this will never happen on earth as we know it.

Theologians sometimes use Latin terms to express ideas, as do scientists. Theologians would define the state of mankind after Adam’s fall as non posse non peccare (i.e. not able not to sin). The sinfulness passed down through the gene pool of all mankind affects us all. However, in heaven we will become non posse peccare (i.e. not able to sin). Will this occur by a divine restructuring of our genetic material? Perhaps. It is reasonable to consider that, if God exists, He could omnipotently adapt individual components of His creation. However, the most visible means by which he changes individuals and adapts them for heaven, theologians call the process of sanctification. Marked by a consistent upward climb, like a graph of the growth in stock prices of a growing company, the believer has an increasing passion to live in obedience to God. Failure will occur as part of the growth process, like the occasional dips on a growing stock chart, but repentance will follow, along with the strength to carry on.

Teachings of Jesus – Law and Sin
The teachings of Jesus left no doubt that under the Law the penalty for sin is death. Paul spelled out the relationship between the Law and sin in his letter to the Romans.

    Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. - Romans 5:12-13
During Old Testament times, the Law became necessary to curtail the curiosity and sin nature of God’s people that God knew would result in their misery. In the New Testament, the Law points the way to forgiveness and salvation from the penalty of sin. Paul explains this a little further in Romans.
    But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. - Romans 5:20-21
Every man, woman and child alive is born a slave to sin, due to the inheritance of a sin nature. However, the only person capable of overcoming death, Jesus Christ, paid the penalty for that sin as our substitute. While the crucifixion may seem barbaric to you, it was born on the shoulders of God himself. This means that God not only created and enacted the Law; He bore the punishment for our crimes (even if we perceive them as mere peccadilloes), entirely in our place. Christians understand this as Christ’s atonement for our sins. He willingly paid the penalty we rightfully should have paid ourselves. Richard Dawkins finds this doctrine of the atonement sado-masochistic and repellant.32 Yet the atonement forms the core of the Christian concept of grace. This initial act of grace on Jesus’ part promises us forgiveness of sin and opens the door to a new life of grace. Henceforth we find ourselves no longer slaves to sin. As Paul says,
    Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? - Romans 6:16
But we can define grace as so much more than mere forgiveness of sins. It also provides an entrance into a life in which God actively participates. God, the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, works in the lives of believers to empower them toward living sanctified lives that reflect the moral teachings of Jesus.33 No one can truly understand this aspect of the Christian faith short of personal experience. Since you seem convinced that science offers no evidence favoring the existence of God, it will be especially hard for me to convince you that God actively intervenes in the lives of Christians! However, since I will thoroughly address the scientific evidences for God and Christianity in my next book, I would encourage you to await its publication expectantly.

Keep Reading!

Read Page 1 of Letter To A Christian Nation: A Response.


Footnotes:
31 My argument here is not with evolution, but I reserve the right to address the issue in the future.
32 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 252.
33 You may think, in light of the failures of prominent men who have laid claim to the Christian faith that this doesn’t ring true. Yet for every one fallen Christian leader there are dozens who are continuing to seek righteousness daily. We are not promised complete freedom from sin in this life, only God’s help in the struggle. See Romans 7.


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