613 Old Testament Laws

Frequently I read or hear that there are 613 laws in the Old Testament. I’ve often wondered about that, according to who? Some debate what the Ten Commandments are, how can we agree on 613?

“613 Laws” comes from Rabbi Maimonides‘ counting of the number of commandments in the Books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy). His thoughts on Jewish scriptures are esteemed highly. Hard to argue with his counting then I guess, but I’ll do my best.

Based on my reading of Deuteronomy 25, there are actually 614 commands, Maimonides is heretic scum!

Religious Tradition and Comfort

“You have to find the religious tradition that fits best with you and stick with that.”

I’ve heard that sentiment a few times in the past week. When it is said to me usually I just nod. I have no idea what to say to that! I mean, I guess. It would be hard to argue against that for me since I’ve stuck in the religious tradition I’m comfortable in.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6 both tell folks to stick with their good tradition. At the same time, the Bible warns about tradition more than it approves (Colossians 2:8; Galatians 1:14; Mark 7:9 and others).

The Biblical idea is this: if your tradition comes from God: stick with it! If your tradition is the invention of man and ends up contradicting God: dump it.

Problem is that we can get subjective and judgmental. For instance, one religious tradition that bothers me is youth segregated churches, the idea that youth should have their own group even bugs me at some level.

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Evangelism and Sales

A sentence from a secular source I read this morning, “I learned more about sales, marketing, and evangelism” through my first job.

Evangelism is often lumped into selling, whether by churchy-folk or not. We treat God as a commodity and we have to meet our quota, keep the Boss happy with our performance. I just need a bite. Just sign your name so I can tell the Boss I’m a good salesman.

The problem with this view of the Gospel is that it completely contradicts Scripture. Jesus Christ continually turned people away. Several times He even refused to talk to some people. The Apostles would leave if a town rejected them. Then, of course, the most amazing of all evangelism stories, we have Jonah himself who was the most reluctant yet successful apostle of all time.

The problem with treating the Gospel as a sales pitch is that we then market Truth. Hardly anyone wants Truth, so to make them take it, to sign their name, to get you closer to your quota, you have to change Truth so they’ll swallow it. Do whatever it takes to turn the No into a Yes.

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Masculine Church?

Pyromaniacs rips on the modern “seeker-sensitive” movement and how it has succeeded in turning the modern church into a feminized collection of gooey-spined weenies.

I wholeheartedly agree.

The call is to create a more masculine church, but I’m not sure that conveys the right idea. The hottest church trend now is sex themed church services.

I suppose this would qualify as “masculine,” “taking a stand,” “telling it like it is.” But the call is not for masculine themes or manly shock sermons, the call is for Godly men to take a stand for Scriptural truth.

Railing on about it does nothing, everyone knows the issue and those who disagree will always disagree. The call is not for us to rah-rah each other because we agree.

The call is for us to know our Scripture so we can tell what is real and fight for it. Very practical. You’ll show your “manliness” by whether you actually do this.

Grace is what God says it is not what you want it to be

The Bible says a lot of stuff and we all think we know what it says. The problem is we don’t agree. So, either someone is wrong (i.e.–you), or the Bible is totally contradictory and near useless.

Here’s an example of a guy talking about Grace, I debate whether to name the guy or not, I have no problem with this fellow, I have no idea who he is personally, I know I like some of his music (hint, hint).

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff.

This is a classic example of what I’m talking about. What we think Grace is is not always the same as what God says it is. Grace does not cancel out “you reap what you sow” (2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7-9–including the warning “God is not mocked you will reap what you sow.”).

Grace is our means of salvation but it is not the way this world we live in works. If you skip work next week let me know how gracious your boss is.

Here’s more of his quote on Grace:

But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

So, OK, maybe he is talking about salvation alone. A man who truly has been touched by grace, however, is probably not going to drop an S bomb in his doctrinal explanation of it.

And, as a pastor, I can’t help myself but to add that Christ didn’t just take your sins to the cross, He took them to the grave and then rose again in triumph over them. Don’t forget the triumph part. Here’s where his Catholic side shows (hint, hint).

Seems to me this is classic “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow I get God’s grace” thinking. Something is off on this. It sounds good. I like certain parts of it but he’s too loose with Scripture.

I don’t know. What do you think?