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Did the New Testament abolish the Old Testament Law?

No.

Jesus made it very clear that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. How do you fulfill the Law? By keeping it perfectly!

Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law” (Luke 16:17). The law is not going away. The next verse of that quote says, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This is not a teaching about divorce per se, but a reinforcement that the Law is binding and you can’t just divorce yourself from it! That is equivalent to committing adultery.

So, if the Law still stands, should we follow it?

No.

“What?? How can you say that?!”

The Law stands, but you don’t. This is part of the mystery of the gospel that Paul revealed to us, and it’s brilliant!

In Romans 7 Paul explains that the law has authority over a man or woman only as long as they are alive. But when Christ was crucified, somehow, in some spiritual way, according to God, “you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another” (7:4).

The first part of the good news is that we died! Stop and ponder that. Oh, the relief! Because if we didn’t, we would still be bound to a Law that we could never fulfill. But we were crucified with Christ, and “the one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom 6:7). Then we were raised a ‘new person’, which was “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24).

Obviously these things are not true about our physical bodies – we’re still mostly alive and kicking. But we are not just flesh and blood, but spirit, and this is true of us in spirit. This is why “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8), because they are still ‘alive’ and in bondage to the Law. If you’re hanging onto the physical realm and are convinced that that’s all there is, then you will eventually die, and that’s it. If you, through faith, have God’s Spirit  dwelling in you, then you are a new creation, freed from the law by death, and are now living in the spirit. Oh the depths of his wisdom and knowledge!

In short, the Law still stands. You died and were freed from the Law and are now ‘married’ to another.

But some will ask, “If we’re not under the Law anymore, can we just do our own thing and keep sinning?” That’s exactly what Paul was asked (Rom 6:15), so if the gospel that we proclaim raises the same difficult questions, it means we’re on the right track. The short answer to that is that if you sin, you will be enslaved to sin. Who wants to be enslaved to sin?

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6).

Remember, God is not withholding this from us until we do something – he already did this for us! That’s the good news! But if you are ignorant of it, you will just continue in your flesh, guilty of sin because the law stands, and you haven’t fulfilled it. By believing in God’s work through his son, you cross from flesh to spirit, from death to life, and in spirit you are perfect, holy and righteous. Praise God! The good news is that good.

Hebrews to music

Hebrews 3

This year I started putting the book of Hebrews to music as a memorisation aid. I’ve now done chapters 1-11 and only have 2 more chapters to go, and then the whole book will be put to music.

A few chapters into the process I started thinking that it would be really cool if other people could have access to the music so that they could either memorise it too, or just be blessed by listening to Scripture.

But since I’m in Tanzania and am a one-man band with just an acoustic guitar and a microphone, I need some help.

Does anyone out there know anyone who could help me record, produce and eventually distribute an album of Scripture put word-for-word to music? Any ideas at all? I don’t really know where to start.

I’ve attempted to record chapter 3 and do some mixing by myself, so here’s a taste.

For those who are curious about what translation I used, it is mostly my own. Before writing music for each chapter I went through the major English translations and made a few edits – mostly I was trying to make key terms a bit more consistent and make the translation a bit more transparent to the original Greek (I’m a Bible translator, I can’t help myself), so the result is a slightly more literal (and I think consistent) translation than something like the NIV. On principle, I did not make any changes to words for the sake of the music, so once the text was set I had to work with it as it was (which was sometimes quite a challenge – you try putting ‘Melchizedek’ to music!).

Here is the text:
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Juvenile hawk

I saw this bird in our yard today. I think it’s a juvenile East African Yellow Billed Kite (a type of Black Hawk I think, but my more bird-brained friends would probably know more). I’m guessing that its parents just kicked it out of the nest and the swooping is part of that, but I’m not sure. It was walking around our yard all day because it can’t fly yet. Is that normal, or is there something wrong with it?

Mature EAYBKs are mostly brown, and their beaks are yellow. This one has a black beak, with yellow behind it. Perhaps the beak changes colour.

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Broken arm

DSC_0265 (Large)We met this old man a few days ago. He said his arm had been broken when a motorcyclist hit him, then drove off. When I saw his arm it didn’t look good. His hand was really swollen, he couldn’t move his fingers much, and something was sticking out in an ugly way just below his wrist. He’d gone to the hospital and they said his arm was broken and they could re-set it for 100,000 shillings (about $60, or half a month’s pay).

I talked to him for a while about Jesus. He said he was catholic. I prayed for him and told him how much God loves him, and about 10 minutes later he was able to move his fingers. The swelling had gone down too. It was one of those things where you think, “Maybe it wasn’t so swollen before, because it doesn’t look that bad now.” By the time he left he could clench his fist.

This morning he showed up to say thanks (and to ask for a little more money to buy food). He had gone back to the hospital and they said, “Your arm’s not broken. Here’s some panadol.” There’s barely a bump now. Weird, I could’ve sworn there was a bone sticking out the other day….

2 + 2 = 4!

I was just reading the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and something clicked for the first time, and I feel a little silly that I never saw this before. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he waited two days before leaving the place where he was (the Jordan river). I’ve always thought that it was odd that he delayed, almost like he wanted Lazarus to die. Except when I just read it, I realised that when Jesus arrived in Bethany Lazarus had already been dead four days. The messengers who told Jesus probably left Bethany while Lazarus was alive, but sometime during their journey Lazarus died. If Jesus had left as soon as he heard the news that Lazarus was sick, Lazarus would still have been in the tomb for two days when Jesus got there. Jesus didn’t let Lazarus die. He let him stay in the tomb two days longer. Which is interesting in itself, and there’s probably more to it that I don’t understand.

In v15, after telling the disciples that Lazarus is dead, Jesus says to them, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Doesn’t this sound a bit strange? Why would Jesus be glad for their sakes? If Jesus had been in Bethany when Lazarus was sick, what would Jesus have done? I think he would have healed Lazarus from his sickness. He healed everyone that came to him in faith. But the disciples had seen Jesus heal hundreds (maybe thousands) of sick people. He was glad for the disciples sakes that they would be able to see God’s resurrection power working through Jesus to bring someone out of a 4-day sealed tomb. The Gospels are so interesting, and I see new things every time I read them…

More Jesus!

The Simbiti language team recently traveled to a Simbiti area to start checking their translation of the Jesus Film! Last year our team translated the Jesus Film into Kabwa and Zanaki, and on two beautiful starry nights we stood with hundreds of other people watching the first showing of the Jesus Film in those languages. Please pray for the Simbiti people – “how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Rom 10:14)”

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Much of the Simbiti area is on a peninsula accessible by ferry.

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In case you missed it, here are some pictures from the Kabwa and Zanaki Jesus Film showings:

AslanI have been contemplating this question for a while: When did Satan realise that the Cross was his demise? I’ve thought about it a lot, and have a few theories, but nothing concrete. So I was surprised to stumble across this quote from Ignatius, a first century believer who lived and died sometime between about 35-117 AD, and who wrote a letter to believers who were in Philadelphia (Turkey), in it saying:

And indeed, before the cross was erected, he (Satan) was eager that it should be so; and he “wrought” [for this end] “in the children of disobedience.” He wrought in Judas, in the Pharisees, in the Sadducees, in the old, in the young, and in the priests. But when it was just about to be erected, he was troubled, and infused repentance into the traitor, and pointed him to a rope to hang himself with, and taught him [to die by] strangulation. He terrified also the silly woman, disturbing her by dreams [Pilate’s wife? Matt 27:19]; and he, who had tried every means to have the cross prepared, now endeavoured to put a stop to its erection; not that he was influenced by repentance on account of the greatness of his crime (for in that case he would not be utterly depraved), but because he perceived his own destruction [to be at hand]. For the cross of Christ was the beginning of his condemnation, the beginning of his death, the beginning of his destruction.

1 Corinthians 2:8 – None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (ESV)

I’ve often wondered why Satan would participate so readily in an act that would bring about his own demise, but I don’t think he realised what was going on until there was so much momentum that he couldn’t stop it. As Aslan would say, he didn’t know the Deeper Magic…

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