Posted by: stpowen | February 13, 2012

Attending Wholly Upon the Worship of God

Here is an excellent post from the Reformed Baptist Fellowship Blog.

With the decline in the belief in the Abiding Moral law of God (that’s the Ten Commandments to you and me!) has come the conclusion that attendance on the Lord’s day is some sort of optional extra.  Is it any wonder that God is no longer blessing our land in these days?



  1. Sometimes it comes from faulty theology that expresses a position that the New Covenant teaches that Jesus is the Living Church. I personally see it as ridiculous however some will fall for anything.

  2. Dear Martin,

    Jason Walter’s article on worship was a timely piece on which we can build further in understanding God’s full revelation in Christ.

    There is actually no such thing as the ‘Moral Law’. It is a pagan concept derived from a section of Aristotle’s theory of logic which was neither practicable, nor useful, nor logical nor Biblical. It has flowed into our churches from the putrid streams of Rome and the influence of the Presbyterian Counter-Reformation which saw Case Law as that which is testified to by the light of nature and the inner awareness of fallen man. This was a splitting up of God’s indivisible Covenant into the allegedly physical and metaphysical, giving us the bogus covenants of works and legal grace. This back-to-spiritual-darkness thrust of Samuel Rutherford’s Rex Lex Enlightenment philosophy greatly influenced Politico-Commonwealth Presbyterianism (which happily soon died out) with its dependence on Plato, Aristotle and the idea that the voice of man is the voice of God. The idea amongst modern Evangelicals that the Law is divided into so-called ceremonial, legal and moral parts is integral to this counter-Reformation propaganda still trying to suppress an all-round, comprehensive, synergistic view of God’s Covenant in our Protestant theology. It is the idea that God had a Pan A, the Material Law, which, when it failed, was substituted by Plan B, Legal Grace of the kind promised in the Solemn League and Covenant. God never needs a Plan B. God’s Plan A always works. The so-called Law or Old Testament is atoned (at oned) with the Grace of the New Testament. Both are needed to form the full Covenant of Grace alone through Faith (Christ’s Faith) alone. It was the Law which Christ Graced by dying under it. Law and Grace are both indispensable parts of the one saving gospel of the Everlasting Covenant.

    Our first generation Reformers rejected Aristotelianism as a system foreign to God’s nature and order. Sadly, Presbyterian Puritans, countered those they called disdainfully ‘Protestants’ by returning to a Roman Catholic view of law after trying out Peter Ramus’ system of logic which they had thought more ‘Reformed’ at the time but which led them back to Ramus’ master. It was the Post-Ramists amongst the Bacon, Herbert, Andrewes, Durie logicians that brought constructive thinking back to its Biblical position. Close to these men stood Gouge, Owen, the Nyes, Byfield, Baxter, Thomas Goodwin, Hall, Davenant, Bedell, Morton and Ussher with Meade at the periphery. It is a curiosity of modern Presbyterianism that they now classify rightly as ‘Puritans’ those whom they wrongly classified as ‘malignants’ when they (the Presbyterians) held political power in England.

    This means that the so-called Ten Commandments were never, ever, a law unto themselves to be used as a Book of Rules for Christian law-bound living. If you are within God’s Covenant, you accept the entire Scriptures or nothing. They are not up for free selection and editing. The Ten Commandments are merely a pointer to the entire scope of God’s Covenant with His Son. They are like a symbol which points to the whole. If you cut out the commandments from the rest of the Old Testament, you reject all the Covenant of God as the symbol is no use without the thing signified. Thus the commandments are not a system to be sacramentalised by an adherence to the letter but to the spirit of the whole gracious Law witnessed to in it. The Christian Moral Law enthusiasts have separated a fraction of the Law, which they call the Ten Commandments, from the entire OT history of God’s Covenant with His Son and introduced them as their narrow, Neonomian, and thus Antinomian Standard for Christian living. It is as if one would replace the real, precious, pouring out of the Spirit by formal baptism and the very Reality of Christ in His Church by the mere symbols of the Lord’s Supper. Those sacramentalists who misuse both ordinances take heed!

    Knowing this, we ought to examine the Ten Commandments only where they belong, embedded in the whole Covenant teaching of God which is called in the Old Testament – the Law of God – in its entirety and which every Christian loves as it breaths out Christ.

    Thus none of the so-called Ten Commandments can stand for themselves but they stand for the eternal character of God in relation to His covenant church and His promises to her. They are not mere temporary or temporal but spiritual and eternal doctrines, elements which I see in synthesis with one another and which in no wise cancel each other out. They are valid for all eternity. This goes for the instructions in worship as well as the instructions regarding the Sabbath. The man who boasts he does not steal, besides missing the gospel point of the commandment, has thus no cause to say that he can accept one moral point in his personal wrong-motivated search for holiness but not keep the Lord’s Day holy (that is reserved specially for God’. The Scriptures make it plain that keeping the Sabbath is equally as important in its teaching as not lying or stealing. Besides, the eternal life promised us by the Gospel is accompanied all along by God’s teaching regarding why He worked and why He rested. If we are not constantly living in hope of our eternal Sabbath Rest, which signifies our atonement, we are not living at all but still dead in hopelessness. The Gospel is there to always remind us of our hope. This is why God calls His Sabbath in Lev. 16 a Day of Atonement and an everlasting statute. Your withstanding sin is Christ’s work not yours and your remembering to keep the Sabbath is to His atoning Glory, not yours. If you cast either of these out of your gospel, you cast out Christ’s work and cause sorrow instead of joy in Heaven.

  3. Hello George,
    It’s good to hear from you again. I am glad to see that we agree in our conclusions (I think!) although we come at the problem from different directions.

    I think it is hard to maintain that there is no such thing as the Moral Law. It is all over the Bible. Nor, I think, can it be maintained that the Decalogue has no special place in the word of God:-

    Deut. 5:22. ‘These words [the Decalogue] the LORD spoke to all your assembly in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me [Moses].’ The rest of the O.T. law was given to Moses by angels (Acts 7:53 etc.) to be relayed to the Israelites.

    The Decalogue is a summary of God’s eternal moral law. All the commandments can be found in the Bible prior to Exod 20. That God treats the moral law as more important than scrificial law is shown by verses like these:-

    ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams’ (1 Sam 15:22f).

    ‘I hate, I despise your feast days. And I do not savour your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them…………But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream’ (Amos 5:21ff).

    The passing of the dietary (Mark 7:18-!9), sacrificial (Heb 10:14) and legal (John 8:11; Acts 13:39) does not mean that the Ten Commandments have also passed. When the Psalmist declares, “Oh! How I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day!” He is not meditating upon the fact that he can’t eat shellfish (Lev 11:10), but on God’s holy moral laws of righeousness.

    However, when you write,

    ‘Thus none of the so-called Ten Commandments can stand for themselves but they stand for the eternal character of God in relation to His covenant church and His promises to her. They are not mere temporary or temporal but spiritual and eternal doctrines, elements which I see in synthesis with one another and which in no wise cancel each other out. They are valid for all eternity’

    I find myself in full agreement with you (unless I have misunderstood you somehow), which is always pleasant.

  4. Dear Martin,

    It is always a pleasure to discuss the Scriptures with you. I have not commented for some time, though I read your postings always, as recent contributions were a number too big for me and I am not in touch with the English scene very much. I only comment when I have something to say.
    Concerning the so-called Moral Law, it is the title rather than content that I dislike. It says too little and fosters misunderstanding. This is why the NCT is quarrelling over the term at present. If they dropped the term, they might know what they are talking about. Denominations mostly arise over quarrels caused by artificial terminology. ‘Morals’ as such are ideas cast in philosophy and not theology. As theology or the teaching of the Bible is so much broader and deeper than the mere ‘moral’, it reduces the width and scope of the Scriptures to descend to such mere morals. And any such discussion out of context is not very profitable. So, too, when we use the term nowadays, we tend to emphasise the personal legal uprightness and not the gracious righteousness of Christ.

    Of course, I agree with your quotes as they are our spiritual and practical food. As soon as you write ‘the rest of the law’ you agree with me. However, I do not think that the part of the law traditionally called the Ten Commandments merely expresses eternal moral law but they reflect the whole Covenant. Moral Law is hardly the right term to use. It does not cover the vastness of righteousness. Nor can the passages of Scripture you quote be tied down to the mere moral. They are too full of meaning for that.
    To say that the Commandments are more important that atoning sacrifice is an odd way of putting things. The way to following the law is through the atonement. They are not to be separated as part of God’s covenant truth. Otherwise, we are back to Aristotle and pagan logic. One cannot separate parts of the gospel from others. Parts do not save us but the whole. Surely God’s concern with a sacrificing people was not the sacrifice, which points to Christ but the misuse of it.

    Again, I would not use your terminology in isolating parts of the law from one another as then you reduce their sense and purpose. Inventing technical terms for part-truths has prevented many a seeker from finding the whole truth.

    To liken the righteousness imputed to us with ‘morals’ is way out and is the millstone around the neck of much modern Protestant Aristotelianism. Certainly the Commandments and what they signify are still valid and will be so for ever. The Law was never meant for case studies. These were brought in by the Sharia of the Presbyterians, the Scribes and the Pharisees. The Law was always a pointer to the holy character of God and the righteousness to be found in him.

    I feel we agree, though our traditions of speech and thought sometimes get in the way.

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