Monday, November 8, 2010
Why the didache does not square with the New Covenant
As we explore the possibility that current Christianity is in fact the result of the fulfillment of the Prophecy by Paul in 2Thess 2:11 forecasting a great falling away and, the strong delusion that would follow. It is beneficial to consider one of the early documents of the church... late first century or early second century... it is the a document known as the didache or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations (Gentiles.) If you read the document you will readily see that it appears to be a concise statement of church doctrine. In fact, I think that the doctrine of most evangelical churches would fall well within this document. There was a time in the early church that it was part of the scripture and a form of it is still canonical for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
However, when you examine it on a deeper level... while I admit that it is certainly an admirable standard of behavior and quite biblical at first blush... it is a written code set up for belief. This does not square with the New Covenant promises of Jeremiah 31:33-34 or Ezekiel 36:27. Likewise, it does not lend itself to the Spiritual transformation that is promised in the gospel. The main reason is that, while it states that love of God and neighbor are of first importance, it does not spend any time explaining the catalyst for producing this supernaturally, spiritually in the saint. This makes the didache no different than the Ten Commandments or the Torah. It merely becomes a written code that must be followed and does not provide the catalyst for obeying it.
We have suggested through out this blog that the catalyst for obedience is faith in God’s mercy, love and, grace. That is the first order of business and will produce love for God and each other when completely believed. This requires the obedience of faith. This requires a cleansed conscience. This requires one to be at peace with God by resting in his provision. This focuses on the importance of Hebrews, chapters three and four and, an understanding of the Sabbath Rest. In other words, one must be at peace with God from resting in his finished work. The didache does not even approach this concept. It is akin to the Sermon on the Mount which was spoken to Jews who were under the Law of Moses and served as an amplifier of the Law.
I am not suggesting that the SOTM is not a worthwhile goal. I am saying that if it was impossible for the Jews to be righteous under the law of Moses... how much more is it impossible for a Christian to be righteous under an even higher standard. Remember Jesus said that one should have a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:20.) Paul stated that as a Pharisee, in the righteousness that was from the Law he was blameless (Phil 3:6.) I ask then... what righteousness can exceed blameless? The righteousness of God imputed for faith of course!
Look at the promises again; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezek 36:26-27 And... “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jeremiah 31:33b-34.
The bottom line is that the transformation comes from believing the last part of Jeremiah 31:34, I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more. Grace and faith alone are the catalyst for the transformation. The didache can be informative in what the new creation will act like but, it will not create it. Only the gospel of grace and the finished work of Jesus can do that!
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