by Doug Rehberg
In a few weeks we will be celebrating Pentecost. Some mistakenly believe that the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) is the birthday of the church. Others see it as the first time the Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples. Neither is true. The truth is, the Day of Pentecost was the first time the power of the Holy Spirit came upon 120 people who were empowered to proclaim the full Gospel.
One of the great communicators of the Gospel today is Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Years ago, his wife, Kathy, made a critical observation regarding her husband’s preaching. She said, “When you preach I see people all over the church taking notes. You are a very good teacher. You have a command of the subject and you communicate it with an adeptness that engages and instructs at the same time. But you know something? You never really preach until you get to Jesus.” And she is so right!
A few weeks ago Dr. John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus at Reformed Theological Seminary celebrated his 79th birthday. Frame was born in Pittsburgh. He grew up in Mt. Lebanon. He came to know Christ through the ministry of Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church. According to many, John Frame is the foremost systematic theologian alive today.
Last year Frame was asked to write about his nearly five decades long teaching career and some of the lessons he’s learned. Here’s what he said, “If all Scripture testifies of Christ, the love of God surely can be no exception. Yet for most the law seems to send the opposite message. I am convinced that nothing is more important to understanding Christ than to understand how the law testifies to His person and work. Indeed, ministers of the Gospel must learn how to preach Christ from the law.”
And then he elaborates by citing the Ten Commandments. He says that they present to us the righteousness of Christ. When we say that Christ was the perfect Lamb of God and the perfect example for the Christian life, we are saying that He perfectly obeyed the Ten Commandments. He never put any other god before His Father. He never worshipped idols or made a graven image. He never took the name of His Father in vain or violated the Sabbath, irrespective of what the Pharisees said. He displayed perfect obedience to the letter and to the spirit of the law. Indeed, His law-keeping reflected His perfect character.
Frame says, “More than that, the Ten Commandments share our need for Christ. They show us the depth of our sin and drive us to Jesus. Apart from Jesus Christ, the Ten Commandments show us who we are - idolaters, blasphemers, liars, thieves, Sabbath-breakers, etc. But instead of divine judgment, the Ten Commandments show us the nature of the righteousness that has been imputed to us. In Christ, the Father sees us as law-keepers. Thus, the law is one clear way God wants to show us how much gratitude we should give for Christ.
“Moreover, in giving the Ten Commandments God declares that obedience follows redemption. God tells His people that He brought them out of Egypt as a display of His glory, not because of anything they had done to earn His favor. In fact, law-keeping is the way God has ordained for us to express our gratitude to Him for a salvation He’s freely given.”
So, practically speaking, how does Jesus fulfill each Commandment?
#1 The first teaches us to worship Jesus Christ as the one and only Lord, Savior, and Mediator (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5).
#2 The second shows us that Jesus is the one perfect image of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).
#3 The third reveals that “Jesus” is the name of God—that name to which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10-11; Isaiah 45:23).
#4 Jesus is our Sabbath rest. In His presence we cease our daily duties and hear His voice (Luke 10:38-42).
#5 We honor Jesus who has bought us as His “sons” and brought us to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
#6 We honor Him as the Life (John 10:10; 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), Lord of life (Acts 3:15), the One who gave His life that we might live (Mark 10:45).
#7 We honor Him as our Bridegroom who gave Himself to cleanse us, to make us His pure, spotless bride (Ephesians 5:22-33). We love Him as no other.
#8 We honor Jesus as our Inheritance (Ephesians 1:11) and the One who provides for all the needs of His people in this world and beyond.
#9 We honor Him as God’s Truth (John 1:17; 14:6), in Whom all the promises of God are Yes and Amen (II Corinthians 1:20).
#10 We honor Jesus as our complete Sufficiency (II Corinthians 3:5; 12:9) to meet both our external needs and the renewed desire of our hearts.
No wonder James ends his letter the way he does. He says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wanderings will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
This is the final text in our series, “The Wisdom of James”, and amazingly and providentially we will be considering it on May 20th—Pentecost Sunday!