Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Shema, human need and, the purpose of the gospel; should we completely reinterpret Paul?

Jesus agreed that the Shema (Deu 6:4-5) was the greatest commandment and, he said that Leviticus 19:18 was just like it. The greatest commandment was love God and neighbor. In order to look at how this affects human need it might be helpful to include both passages.
Deu 6:4-5 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Lev 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

In the above verses it is explained that one should (1) love God with ALL heart, soul and strength. Notice the word all. Proper love to and, for God requires a total commitment twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. The truth is that it is impossible to do this if one fears God. I believe that this is the reason that Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….beginning…not the end and entirety of wisdom (Prov 9:10.) The truth is that the Shema demands a standard that cannot be met by anyone. Further, look at Leviticus 19:18. It demands that one love his or her neighbor as they love themselves….think about the command…again a standard that is impossible for humanity to keep; Loving God in the way that the Shema demands would require total and perfect faith in the goodness and mercy of God and, a complete unending vigil. The truth is that no one except Jesus ever kept this and quite frankly no one else can.

This is precisely why God has imputed righteousness to individuals who seek him sincerely by faith and, why Christ Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness. There is a lot of merit in the Lutheran…Augustinian understanding of righteousness and I for one am a bit concerned about the rush these days to dismiss it.

There is an observable pathology in humanity. It is selfishness and greed and, education and awareness alone are not sufficient to eradicate it. In fact, it has not been eradicated throughout history. If we are to become really honest….if we look in the mirror and only confront ourselves in our own integrity and the presence of God, we have to acknowledge this pathology within. If it only exists in thoughts and, never materializes in action, it is still ever present quietly accusing us.

This is the reason that the scripture speaks about God doing two actions on behalf of the person of faith. (1) He does not impute sin (Psalm 32:1-2)….and (2) He does impute or accredit righteousness (Gen 15:6.) I find it interesting that the first mention of righteousness is Genesis 15:6 and the righteousness is accounted to Abraham by God because of his faith.

The fact is that there are many passages in the Old Testament that clearly show that righteousness is in fact imputed or accredited to humans by God. They come often in the many redemptive decrees. For example; Isa 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the LORD.”

Imputed righteousness and not imputing sin is an important aspect of the gospel. It is one that we should not eliminate. This concept is in fact the source of the Sabbath Rest that is available to all the people of God. It is believing that God is –not- imputing sin and, -is- imputing righteousness.

1 comment:

  1. One key ingredient in growing stronger in God is having the faith to know that God does forgive and that we should let go of self-condemnation. We will not grow in faith and in trust if we believe that our Daddy is angry with us and will not forgive us for what we have done or what we do.


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