Author Andy Stanley, the Evangelical preacher at the North Point Community Church in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, Georgia, has recently caused quite a stir among his peers and many theologians.
In a recent column in Relevant magazine, entitled “Why Do Christians Want to Post the Ten Commandments And Not the Sermon on the Mount?” Stanley argued that the ten commandments are not binding on Christians.
“The Ten Commandments played a significant role in God’s creation of the nation of Israel. It gave them moral guidelines and helped separate this new nation from their neighbors. This was part of the formal agreement (or covenant) God created with his people, but Jesus’ death and resurrection signaled the end of that covenant and all the rules and regulations associated with it,” Stanley wrote.
In response various religious leaders have called Stanley’s remarks, “dangerous,” “reckless,” and “confused.”
However, the Bible affirms the correctness of Andy’s observations, at least in this regard.
The apostle Paul repeatedly stated in his epistles that the old covenant has been replaced with the new covenant. In Colossians 2:14, he wrote that the old law was “taken away” and “nailed to the cross.”
In the Ephesian letter, Paul argues that the law separated Jews and Gentiles, but now through Christ both are one.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Eph 2:14-16).
The Hebrew writer constantly affirmed that the we are today under a “better covenant,” based on a “better sacrifice” with Jesus as a “better High Priest” providing “better promises” that offers us a “better hope” (Heb. 1:4, 7:19,8:6, 9:23). He calls the law “a shadow of good things to come,” that could not “take away sins” (10:1). And that Christ’s vicarious death on the cross took away the first law that He might establish the second (10:1-16).
Stanley’s point is well taken. “Thanks to the new covenant, we aren’t required to sacrifice animals to stay on speaking terms with God. Skim through Leviticus and you’ll discover a whole lot of things we aren’t required to do.”
“We need to stop mixing the old with the new,” Stanley warns. “The church has a terrible habit of selectively rebranding aspects of the old covenant and smuggling them into the new.”
Furthermore Stanley’s observations are in line with Jesus’ own statement about coming to “fulfill the law” and Paul’s explanation that “Christ was the end of the law” (Matt 5:17-18; Rom. 10;4).
“While Jesus was foreshadowed in the old covenant, he did not come to extend it. He came to fulfill it, put a bow on it, and establish something entirely new. The “new” Jesus unleashed made the faith of first-century believers formidable. Their apologetic was irrefutable. Their courage, unquestionable. And the results were remarkable.”
I would disagree with Stanley’s implication in his article that the command to “love one another” replaced all other commandments and is the only one we are to obey. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).
In fact, scattered throughout the New Testament 9 of the 10 commandments are restated as a part of Christ’s law for Christians (Rom 13:8-10;Gal 5:19-21). The only exception being “Remember the Sabbath (Saturday) and keep is holy” which is replaced with a new day for Christian worship on the first day of the week (Ax 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2).
While we are not under the laws of the Old Testament, we learn much from its teaching. Paul reminds us of its value. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
It is important to be reminded that neither Andy Stanley, evangelical theologians, nor Ken Weliever and ThePreachersWord are the absolute standard of authority in religious matters.
“Search the Scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman