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How Jesus Transforms The Ten Commandments Paperback – April 12, 2007
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"Here Edmund Clowney writes simply but profoundly. Nobody had a deeper understanding of how all Scripture witnesses to Christ. I highly recommend this book for adult classes in churches, and for all who seek a better knowledge of the Lord Jesus." --John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando campus Author of the award-winning Doctrine of God
"The great expounder of biblical theology, Clowney guides us between the errors of lawless license and graceless legalism through this magnificent study of the Ten Commandments." --Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary Author of Christ-Centered Preaching
About the Author
Edmund Clowney was an influential pastor, theologian, and educator, both in church settings and several leading seminaries. The author of acclaimed works such as The Unfolding Mystery, Dr. Clowney completed How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments shortly before his death in 2005.
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Edmund Clowney, by way of introduction, discusses the confusion that the New Scofield Bible brought in the 1900s in its misapprehension of this divine disclosure - and it was great. 'We tend to think of the Law as rules to obey, but Jesus sees the Law as something to fulfill. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the prophets.' p 7 Calvin saw the law as more than just the Ten Commandments given to Israel, but a moral and internal law given as a rule to all people: "...the very things contained in the two tables...dictated to us by the internal law, which as already been said, is in a manner written and stamped on every heart." Institutes 2:1:3
When Biblical Theology maintains that Christ is the end of the Law, it does so because, in truth, is does not mean that He came to put an end to the Law, but that He is the goal [Gk: telos], or the end of the Law. When Jesus spoke the following words we see He was, by definition, summarizing the Ten Commandments - and re-affirming their import into the New Testament in Matthew 22:
37 "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second like it is: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'."
"The first and great commandment" Christ appoints in verse 37 is, in fact, a summary of the first four of the Ten Commandments that deal exclusively with our worship of Creator God and the sanctity of God's Person and holy Name. "The second like it" is the integration of the last six commandments that Moses delivered to the Israelites, whereby community life would be ordered, and here it is that Christ re-interprets the legalism of Judaism into love for our neighbor, without abrogating the moral law in the least.
Of surpassing measure to Reformed theology is understanding the one covenant of grace. The legalism of Judaism and its opposite number, the antinomian license of the flesh, are both guilty of diminishing the import of grace found in this covenant of grace, for it was through grace that God promised Adam and Eve a future redemption. It was by grace that the prophets brought word from God of a Servant whom would fulfill the demands of the Law and perfectly satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God. 'In Jesus we see how the law of love is transformed, for the perfect love of God is the love in which He gave His one and only Son to die for sinners. It is further defined as the love of the Son for the Father.' p 8 Of this Geerhardus Vos had to say, 'God could send no higher revealer.' Redemptive History & Biblical Interpretation ed. Richard Gaffin Jr p 194
Clowney is adept at sketching analogies between the Old and New Testament, e.g., between Moses, who delivered the Law to a sinning Israel after having come down from Mount Sinai, and Christ's transfiguration on the Mount, in the presence of Moses and Elijah, whom represent the Law and the prophets. When a voice came from heaven instructing the three disciples to "Listen to Him" (Luke 9:35) it was not an eleventh commandment, but Christ fulfilling the first commandment. God declares the supremacy of Christ over the Law and the prophets. The same God had announced in Exodus 3:8, "I have come down to deliver My people." This divine condescension is ultimately manifested in Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, God the Redeemer. 'And so we see that this first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me", is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, whom God identifies as His beloved Son. In "hearing Him", we honor the first commandment, for in worshipping Him we worship the one and only true God.' p 21
Clowney stops to absorb each of the Ten Commandments individually to encounter Christ not only fulfilled in each one, but how Christ fulfilled the law and transforms the Ten Commandments as He reveals to us an indisposable component of the covenant of grace - and insists on continuity (continuation and unity) between the Old and New Testament.
The book is divided into eleven chapters with an introduction followed by individual chapters for each of the Ten commandments. Clowney does a wonderful job of guiding the reader through each commandment, showing its original intent and then showing how it points to Christ and how Christ fulfills the law by obeying it and transforming it. One of the better short examples of how he does this is found in chapter eleven on the Tenth commandment. Clowney says, "When we consider hoe Jesus has transformed this command, we realize that Jesus is asking of us no less desire, but infinitely more! Jesus commands us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness with all our heart." What Clowney is showing here is that the original command is simply a command not to do something. If my neighbor has a boat and I don't have desires for his boat then I am following this command. Jesus expands this by saying it is not good enough for me to not desire my neighbors things, I should be desire God's things (His kingdom to come and His will to be done). This is what Clowney means by transforming. Just in case the reader comes away with the thought that they must work "extra hard" to keep God's commands, Clowney ends the book with a great conclusion:
Christian, take heart, Christ has accomplished the law for you, and it is in the confidence and the freedom that Christ brings you that you can, by the power of his Spirit, please God and live out in your own life what the will of God demands of you. You will not do this perfectly. But you need not fo it perfectly because God has looked on Christ and pardoned you. So reflect on all that Christ has done for you in perfectly keeping each of Gods commandments, and go out today rejoicing, ready to do the work that God has prepared in advance for you, knowing that you have already been prepared for that work.
This is a perfect example of how Clowney points the Ten Commandments to Christ throughout the book. How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments is written for all Christians. As a theologian Clowney shows his knowledge and as a Pastor, he relays this knowledge to people well. This is evident in How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments through its depth and clarity. The reader will be blessed by seeing Christ in all of Scripture.
I received a free copy of this book from P&R Publishing in exchange for an honest review.