The summary expectation of the Ten Commandments can be found in Exodus 20:5-6 with these words, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Luther explains the meaning to this in his Small Catechism when he says, “God warns that he will punish all who break these commandments. Therefore we are to fear his wrath and not disobey him. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore we are to love and trust him, and gladly do what he commands.”
We have been discussing what it means to “do what he commands,” and I have been emphasizing that it is not only a matter of refraining from something, but also acting positively in accord with the commandment. So, for instance, we are forbidden to murder, but in keeping with our neighbor’s wellbeing we are to assist him in his physical needs. Or, for yet another example, we are forbidden to bear false witness against our neighbor, but in keeping with our neighbor’s good name and reputation we are to speak well of him, defend him, and explain his actions in the kindest way.
God’s commandments are the surest way to know God’s will. Of course his directives are not confined to the Ten Commandments. He provides plenty of other demands and instructions in Scripture. All these let us know what God’s will is for our lives. But the Ten Commandments are certainly a summary of all the rest that God orders.
So when we want to know God’s will, we should study his Word, know what he commands, and ask for wisdom to apply his word to our lives. Don’t read tea leaves, or try to listen to voices speaking from within. God speaks to us in his Word!
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of The Ascension Day Commemoration?
Forty days following Easter the Resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, where as we confess in the Creed, he is seated at the right hand of the Father. The account of the ascension of our Lord occurs in both Luke 24:50-51 and Acts 1:9-11. As described in these passages Jesus led his disciples up Mount Olivet near Jerusalem where suddenly they witnessed his being elevated up into the sky until a cloud took him away from their sight. This signified his return to heaven where, as we confess in the Creed, he is seated at the right hand of the Father. This enthronement is a description of the all-inclusive authority he is given by the Father. Christ’s going away necessarily preceded his promised sending of the Holy Spirit. Other hints at the significance of his ascension have to do with his promise to go and prepare a place for his followers to be with him, and to serve as a High Priest interceding for his Church.