Are the Mosaic Laws for Today?

TABLE OF CONTENTS  

I. God’s Laws from Calvin through American Presbyterianism………….1 II. Distinction and Interrelationship of Various Mosaic Laws……………..5 III. The Moral Law of Nature for Adam and All Men Everywhere……….9 IV. Calvin’s Detailed Exposition of the Moral Law of Nature…………….13 V. The Westminster Standards’ Exposition of the Moral Law……………17 VI. The Westminster Standards on the Ceremonial Laws…………………..31 VII. The Westminster Standards on the Judicial Laws………………………..37 VIII. Calvinism on the Legal Duties of Civil Magistrates……………………..55 IX. Summary Regarding the Mosaic Laws of Ancient Israel………………77 X. Conclusion – the Mosaic Laws for Today?…………………………………79 

 About the Author…………………………………………………………………….83

 

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I. GOD’S LAWS FROM CALVIN THROUGH AMERICAN PRESBYTERIANISM

Nearly half-a-millennium ago in 1537, John Calvin wrote the following weighty words in his Catechism: “Christ has been made for us not only righteousness but also sanctification. Hence we cannot receive through faith His righteousness, without embracing at the same time that sanctification. Because the Lord in one and the same covenant, which He has made with us in Christ, promises that He will be propitious toward our iniquities and will write His Law in our hearts (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).”1 Rather more than four centuries later in 1967, Rev. Dr. A.H. Leitch surveyed American Presbyterianism in the Twentieth Century. He declared that “part of the Calvinistic tradition” is “that the Law…as Law has its place. The Law is the framework within which and upon which love may work. Jesus said – in the Sermon on the Mount – ‘I came not to destroy the Law….’ He also said with regard to the Law, ‘Not one jot or one tittle shall pass away….’ “The Law is not to be dismissed; rather is it to have content…. The Christian is free, but he is not free to be lawless. Those who cry out against legalism, ought to be faced with the question: ‘Do you want, then, illegalism?’…. We cannot mean we have the right as Christians to do something less than the Law recognizes or allows…. The Christian rejoices in the Law…. “There is a ‘new morality’ abroad today, and it is based on the idea that in any situation one is directed not by Law but by love…. Paul…said: ‘Love is the fulfilment of the Law! We still need the control of the Law…, or the new morality can become just a new rationalization for the old immorality!”2 Only a short time ago, in 1975, the continuing Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) exalted God’s Law at the very beginning of its new Book of Church Order. There it uplifted “Jesus Christ, upon Whose shoulders the government rests” – and “of the increase of Whose government and peace there shall be no end.” It rightly claimed that the Saviour-King “sits upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice – from henceforth, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).” For Jesus Christ, “being ascended up far above all Heavens [so] that He might fill all things, …is…the only Lawgiver in Zion (or the true Christian Church). It belongs to His Majesty from His throne of glory to rule and teach the Church through His Word and Spirit by the ministry of men – thus mediately exercising His Own authority and enforcing His Own Laws unto the edification and establishment of His Kingdom…. The sole functions of the Church – as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil Commonwealth – are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the Law of Christ                                                  1 John Calvin: Instruction in Faith, 1537, (ed. Furmann [London Lutterworth, 1969]), section 17, p. 42. 2 A.H. Leitch: A Layman’s Guide to Presbyterian Beliefs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 1967, pp. 83-85.

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