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FaithLifts

Get your daily dose of God's Word through today's devotion, and use the prayer to start your heart-to-heart talk with your Savior.  Check out the Faith Q&A for Biblical answers to questions of faith and practice or general information about WELS; it's like an online Bible Class with answers from trained theologians.
Today's Devotion
Faith Related Q and A
What is the role of the 10 Commandments for WELS Lutherans? For New Testament Christians? Does the WELS agree with Paul?

A starting point to your questions is that the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) are part of the Mosaic Law that God gave to his Old Testament people of Israel. The Mosaic Law had limited purpose and duration. Its obligations ended when Jesus Christ came into our world as the fulfilment of all the prophecies of the Messiah. We can see from the Mosaic Law wording of the third commandment (“Sabbath day”) and the fourth commandment (reference to the Promised Land) that not all the content of the Ten Commandments applies to New Testament followers of the Lord. So, how do Christians view the Ten Commandments? We rightly regard them as a summary of God’s moral law: his will for all people of all time. We do see Jesus (Luke 18:20) and the apostle Paul (Romans 13:9) restating some of the commandments in a different order from the Old Testament listing. (I am thinking this was your reference to the apostle Paul.) Presenting the commandments in that way illustrates how we, as New Testament Christians, are free from the Mosaic Law wording of the Ten Commandments and yet look to the Ten Commandments as a summary of God’s will for our lives. As a mirror, the Ten Commandments show us God’s demands for holy living and our failure to live up to those demands. As a rule or guide, the Ten Commandments lay out for us tangible ways in which we can express our gratitude to God for our forgiveness of sins. Jesus kept the law perfectly for us (Romans 5:19; 10:4; Galatians 4:4-5) and paid the penalty we deserved for not keeping God’s law perfectly (Isaiah 53:6; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Recently there was a news story about a bakery owned by Christians taken to court because they would not provide service for a wedding cake to a gay couple getting married. While every situation might be different, I was curious if that is how a Christian should behave. Didn't they miss out on an opportunity to show Christian love and speak truth while still providing a service? You wouldn't know someone is gay when it's a birthday cake. Aren't we supposed to love our neighbor? What is the correct biblical approach to social issues like these?

Christians do want to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) on all occasions. The truth Christians speak might contain a message of law. The truth Christians speak might contain a message of gospel. When it comes to marriage, Christians lovingly share the biblical truth that God designed marriage to be the union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:22-24; Matthew 19:5-6; Romans 7:2). When Christians operate businesses, they interact with and provide services for many different people. Their transactions with non-Christian churches are not endorsements of those churches’ doctrines. When they sell their products to individuals who self-identify with unscriptural practices or ways of living, they are not approving or sanctioning the actions of those individuals. If that were the case, then Christian bakers would need potential customers to fill out an application form so they would not be guilty of sanctioning heterosexual couples living together before marriage or unscriptural divorces by making cakes for weddings involving those people. Certainly a Christian will want to consider the role of conscience in this regard. If a Christian’s conscience says that it would be sinful to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, the Christian will want to refrain from sinning against his or her conscience (Romans 14:23). At the same time, that Christian will want to be aware of the potential legal liabilities that may result from withholding services from a customer. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is helpful in providing direction for Christians’ interactions with unbelievers: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” Those words come in the context of the apostle Paul directing the Christians in Corinth to take action with a church member who was impenitent over an incestuous relationship. The apostle instructed the Corinthians to do what Jesus said in Matthew 18: “If your brother or sister sins…” Church discipline involves those who profess to be within the church. We have no specific instructions from God on addressing personal sins in the lives of those outside the church. Certainly, those words from 1 Corinthians 5 do not mean that we close our eyes and ears to what is going on in the world. What those words do mean is that the church does not have the responsibility or divine mandate to discipline people who are not part of the church. So, where does this leave us? Yes, we want to love our neighbor, but because there is no manual that spells out in detail how best to live a life of neighborly love, Christians will wrestle with decisions in the questions you asked. They will seek to arrive at decisions that agree with biblical principles and that do not violate consciences. They will also seek to refrain from judging the motives of fellow Christians who arrive at different decisions.

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