Paul, the law, and the operations manual – 1

Anyone who has read even part of Hold the Faith, the novel, will have seen that  the Apostle John, his family, and the brethren kept the law. The book starts in 92 AD, which is well after the death of the apostle Paul.

Ancient writing implements
Reed pens and parchment

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Paul’s writings are confusing to many, contradictory to some, anti-law to others, yet careful studying and comparing all his writings demonstrate that Paul was NOT anti-law at all.

The best explanation I have heard is the one that I am ‘serializing’ here, by David Grabbe.

He starts in Galatians 3 which contains a number of verses that seem to suggest that as long as we have accepted Jesus Christ, we have no need to be concerned about the law of God.

Over to David…

Galatians 3:19 is one of those verses. It says,

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;

This makes it seem as if God’s law was only for a limited duration, and now that Jesus Christ has come, the law is no longer relevant. Before getting into what Paul is saying here, we are going to consider a hypothetical scenario. This example is not one I thought up, but it is an adaptation of a true account I’ve read.

Imagine…

You are on a trip, and have been driving all day. The sun is setting, you are worn out from sitting for mile after mile, and you decide to find a hotel to stay for the night. You see one advertised that seems like it will suffice, and pull off the exit to find it.

As you walk in the doors, you immediately know that you are in an exceptional place. TheStone Fireplace lobby is warmly lit, and redwood paneling reflects the red glow of the light onto beige, overstuffed couches. A long, dark wood table faces the front door, and on it rests a huge woven basket, overflowing with fresh fruit. Beside the basket is a massive bronze lamp, its burnished light bouncing off the fruit and giving a festive look to the room.  Against the far wall, in a massive stone fireplace, a roaring fire fills the room with the cheerful crackling of its burning logs. Everything about this entrance invites you in and welcomes you.

Behind the reception desk a woman appears, dressed in a freshly starched blouse and a deep red skirt that matches the coloring of the walls. A pin with the logo of the hotel atop a deep red ribbon decorates her blouse like a badge of honor, and a matching ribbon holds her hair back from her bright face. She smiles warmly and greets you, and in less than three minutes the bellboy has ushered you into your room, even though you did not have a reservation. The operation is smooth and efficient, and a delight to experience… and continues through dinner and the preparation of the hotel bedroom.

Having been so impressed with the attention to detail, the next morning you ask to see the manager to find out how he runs such an outstanding establishment.

You are shown to his office, and you tell him how impressed you are with the service you have received, and ask him how he makes it all work. He says, “What we do here is simple—anyone can do it.” He reaches behind his desk and pulls out a binder. He says, “This is our Operations Manual. It is simply a series of checklists. Each checklist itemizes the specific steps each person must take to do his or her job.

He continues: “There’s a system for everything we do here. The fact is, the owner worked it all out in advance. The whole thing was put together in a way the owner believed would make a positive impression on our guests.”

This example was based on an actual experience that one man had at a hotel..

When we read between the lines, we can see that the ideal guest experience was

  • Defined ahead of time by the owner,
  • Translated into specific actions for the employees to follow.

The operations manual was the product of the vision and intellect of the owner.

The owner was a man who clearly understood the hospitality industry, and the operations manual was the pattern that described how he himself would fulfill each specific role in order to produce the best experience for his guests.

Given that we started out talking about God’s law, you’ve probably already made the connection between God’s law and the operations manual.

The law of God…

… gives a standard of conduct in order to produce a specific result in His people. OpenBible12_thumbGod’s law is a product of His unmatchable intellect, and it provides a pattern that will yield predictable, positive results when it is followed.

We can see this back in Deuteronomy 4:5-6:

“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’

Just as the guests of the hotel were highly impressed by the result of the operations manual, so also Moses knew that the nations would be in awe of the wisdom behind God’s law, and what it would produce in His people.

David’s interesting message will continue in the next post. He presents his thoughts simply, as he draws conclusions.

Till next time

Shalom

Susan

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