Below is a link to my latest academic article, published in the Fall 2014 volume of the Evangelical Journal. The title is, “‘Imitators of God’: A Theocentric Approach to the Christian Preaching of Old Testament Law.”
For many pastors, the Old Testament laws are tedious, confusing, strict, arcane, defunct, or utterly irrelevant to the Christian life (except, perhaps, for the Ten Commandments and a few other so-called “moral” laws). Yet the Apostle Paul asserts in 2 Timothy 3:16 that every part of Scripture—including, presumably, each of the 613 laws—is of great value to the New Testament Christian. But declaring the law’s value is much easier than demonstrating it. Moreover, that it should be demonstrated “is by no means assured” among evangelicals. In this paper, we will explore why the law is seldom preached, and how we might go about doing so if we are persuaded that it should be. We will conclude with an example of the proposed methodology in action (Exod. 22:16-17).
Christians today will find much value in reflecting deeply on the ancient laws that God gave to Israel. By focusing on what those laws reveal about God and his ways, Christians will have access to a vast repository of theological insights that can enrich their devotion to God and provide an ethical context for the outworking of their salvation (cf. Phil. 2:12). Since Christ perfectly kept—and is the fulfillment of—the law (cf. Rom. 10:4), knowing the law more fully will give Christians some vital insights as to why the Father was so well pleased with his Son (cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5). It will also give them a moral framework for what it means to “walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6) and be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1). Ultimately, when I come to the law of God, I encounter the God of the law. My desire in this sacred meeting is to discover his character and then allow that character to shape my own by the power of the Holy Spirit. His law is not graceless, and his grace is not lawless.