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But I Say Unto You
by John G. Reisinger
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Our Lord used the phrase, But I say unto you, six times in the Sermon on the Mount. The meaning of this phrase as he used it in Matthew 5 is the subject of disagreement among many sincere Christians. Evangelical theologians generally adopt one of two possible interpretations: One, Christ is contrasting his teaching with Moses teaching; or two, Christ is giving the true meaning of Moses and contrasting that with the distortions of Moses by the Pharisees. Which of these positions is correct? The answer we accept directly affects our entire system of theology. This is no ivory tower debate among academics far removed from the life of the church and individual Christians. Its crucial point addresses the identity and content of the final authority over the Christians conscience in matters of morality. The thesis of this book is one of the foundation stones of a theological position called New Covenant Theology. We believe that our Lord is more than a scribe or rabbi who merely interprets Moses; he is a true prophet. He is that Prophet, promised as the new lawgiver who would replace Moses (Deut. 18:15-19). In the Sermon on the Mount, the new lawgiver contrasts his teaching, based on the gracious covenant he established, with the teaching of Moses, based on a covenant of law. As believers living under the New Covenant, we must look to Jesus Christ as the final revelation of Gods character and will, and allow him alone to set the standards that mark the life of the people of God. We must take seriously the Fathers message, This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him (Mark 9:7).
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