Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Justin and Trypho: Justin Doesn't Follow the Old Law

I reflect on my past three years of teaching the children at Trinity EPC, and I swell with pride as I think that soon they will be in a real building and will have space.  They can play outside.  They don't have to negotiate with others to use the conference room.  They won't pay rent.  They are free.

What if, however, while still meeting in the office suites by Dollar General, someone came and said they have a building now, already paid for, and ready to use?  He gives them the key and asks them to follow.  What if they insisted on still meeting in the office suites and earning money to pay for a church building even though this man came and gave them the building with no strings attached?  That would be insulting.

This is what it is like when people insist on following old customs and rituals after the fact that Jesus has come and removed the need to follow the details of the law and insists that we simply follow him.  These people would rather eat a kosher diet, make animal sacrifices, do the purity rituals, but they will not leave them behind to enjoy life and to enjoy the Lord who has followed the law perfectly and cancelled the ritual laws.  He will write the law on their hearts, and then they can obey it, but they would rather have a million rules about what not to do on the Sabbath.

When we left Justin Martyr and Trypho, Justin had given a beautiful testimony about how he came to believe in Jesus.  Trypho's only response was to ask why he still does not get circumcised, celebrate Passover, and why he eats pork.

The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.  They have been taken in by idols before, and now that they follow the rules, the Jews fear being taken in so they won't be taken out.

Justin calmly explains to Trypho God's redemption plan in the Old Testament.  Only God led their fathers out of Egypt.  There is not just one God for the Jews, one for the Greeks, and one for the newly-formed Christians.  He is the same God for all people and this same God rescued the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery.  The Christians have not trusted any other God except the one in the Old Testament.  This same God gave his people a final and eternal law.  His name is Christ.  He was given.

Trypho reads Isaiah.  In Isaiah 51:4-5, God says that a law will go out from him and that righteousness draws near.  The people won't have to seek it.  He will come settle among them.  Trypho's other friend, Jeremiah shows how God promises a new Covenant and not like the one he gave the people when he saved them from Egypt (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

In Isaiah 55:3, God clearly tells his Israel that he will make an everlasting covenant with them.  Now he has sent Jesus, the only man who followed the law completely, and they killed him on a cross.  By doing so, they despised their holy covenant.

Isaiah did not say that one day the Jews would have a bath and wash off all their filth.  Water and soap can never clean a soul.  They will be cleaned by faith in the blood of Jesus.  His blood is perfect and has never been defiled.  Only he can give us the transfusion to where we can live before the Almighty Father.  Isaiah even foretold that God would go before them.  And so he has.  Jesus, the God man, completed the law before his people did, and that is the only way to salvation.

Christians might follow the old ritual laws, but they know why they were given.  Kosher diets and cleanliness practices were given to point people to Jesus.  They taught the people their inability to be clean before God on their own initiative.  When Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead, he put an end to those ritual laws, and now they are able to follow Him.  If people still follow those rules, then they do not know Jesus, the only way to the Father.

One day I talked to a young lady with piercings, tattoos, and a history.  She was raised by strict parents who told her it was a sin to get a tattoo.  I was even raised thinking shrimp was a sin, even though we have always loved seafood.  Among all those rules, those parents did not win their daughter to Jesus, but only led her away not believing in God at all.  Hopefully, now that I've talked to her, she will look to obeying Jesus because of him, not because her parents gave her rules.  God only knows.  He does his work and keeps reminding me that people don't need to be told to abstain from premarital sex, drugs, and alcohol.  They need to be told to love Jesus and to love people because they love Jesus.

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