A New Commandment That Was There All Along

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There is a trick question I love to ask people. What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mount Everest was discovered? I get all kinds of answers, like “Mount McKinley “and so forth, but you know what the answer is? Mount Everest!

Mount Everest was the tallest mountain in the world (Now I know a lot of geography buffs are going to tell me there are even taller mountains in the depths of the ocean) even before it was discovered. Just like the Americas were here long before Columbus ever “discovered” them. But you know what? Columbus did indeed discover America.  And so has every person who has ever set foot on its soil! We all have discovered America!

But I digress. My point about the riddle about the tallest mountain is that Mount Everest was there before it was discovered.

Jesus tells the disciples He has a new commandment for them.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT

Jesus did not mean that the commandment had just been originated. The commandment had been there all along.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18 NLT

So like Mount Everest this commandment had been around since the foundation of the world. When Jesus said it was new, what He meant was it is new to you! It was new to the disciples who just moments earlier, were sitting around arguing over who was the greatest and refusing to wash each other’s feet. America may have been new to Columbus when he discovered it, but fact is millions already knew it was there! It was just new to Columbus!

So it is today. While many pray for a revival and wish the church would get back on track with their pet doctrine or tradition, Jesus reminds His disciples that the number one proof of revival and Godliness is:

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:35 NLT

I have seen people defend their theology and denominational traditions in some very barbaric and unchristian ways! Seventh-day Adventists pride themselves in their theology, but it is important to note that the Jews prided themselves in their theology and traditions as they crucified Christ!

Do you remember when God had Moses set up a bronze pole with a serpent on it? It was to point people to the Messiah and His sacrifice. Well problem is people started worshiping the pole instead of the Messiah it was suppose to point them to! In the end, Hezekiah had to destroy it.

“He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.” 2 Kings 18:4 NLT

Somehow the pole had become more important than the event it represented. Love for God and humankind had been supplanted by this love for a pole. So in a revival Hezekiah destroyed the pole because people were worshipping it and loving it more than they were worshiping God and loving their neighbor.

Before we have a true revival in our time are there some poles you need to destroy? We know God’s law stand firm forever and will never be done away, but have we become so wrapped up in our laws and theology that we have forgotten Who the laws point to, just like those worshiping the pole forgot Who it pointed to?

There are many issues facing our church, but there is nothing wrong with our church that can’t be fixed by what is right with our church, as long as we love one another and don’t let our personal pet denominational traditions become so big to us that we forget about our love for God and our neighbor.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

New Testament Grace In The Old Testament

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  Numbers 6:24-26

As I continue my journey through the Old Testament I continue discovering the same grace that is in the New Testament.

In Exodus 12 I read about the Passover and God delivering His people from the bondage of the Egyptians. In Exodus 19-20 God reminds them that they did not deliver themselves but that He delivered them by His grace, and as He goes on and gives the Ten Commandments, He in reality is promising to deliver them from sin by His grace.

When the children of Israel came to the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were chasing behind them  “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14 Here we see once again the grace of God delivering by His own hand and not by our might or power.

While the same grace found in the New Testament is also found in the Old Testament, the same law of the Old Testament is found in the New Testament. “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Luke 10:25-28 This was a quote from Deuteronomy 6.

Also the command to love one another is not a New Testament law to replace the Old Testament law. John is quite clear that the law to love one another came from the beginning. “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” 2 John 1:5-6 In Romans 12 Paul tells us that love helps us to keep the law and not hurt our neighbor through murder, adultery or coveting.

 

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I would like to invite you to experience this grace at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Brad Cassell Lead Pastor, and Pastor Claudette Aleman Associate Pastor. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.