Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Friday, June 30, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey
to Broking's Comments on
Chapter Two

For those who have not read Down, But Not Out, the second chapter presents the biblical teaching on MDR as it is perceived in the historic and poetic books of the OT canon. It is a fairly lengthy chapter (8271 words) in which God's relationship through history with His faithless bride Israel is explored, culminating in His divorce from this adulterous spouse. We see Him turning to her sister Judah, a relationship or union from which would come the Messiah. This study covers many hundreds of years of biblical history.

The writings of Ezra and Nehemiah are also examined in some depth, including the heartrending account of the putting away of the foreign wives. There follows a lengthy treatment of the account of King Xerxes and his Queen Vashti, and the story of Esther's unique and theologically puzzling relationship with this pagan monarch. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the allusions to the topic of marital relationships in the Proverbs and Song of Solomon.

Considering the wealth of information presented in chapter two, I found it somewhat curious that Darrell chose to focus the bulk of his criticism upon a brief, passing reference to Jesus' remarks about David and his men eating the showbread. Don't misunderstand, it is important to discuss the points Darrell raised in his review, and I intend to do so, but some valuable foundational teaching from the OT with regard to MDR, with which I dealt extensively in chapter two, was passed over without a single comment. Indeed, it almost appears Darrell is more intent upon entering into a debate over my illustrations and examples than he is in discussing God's teaching on MDR as revealed in the inspired writings of the OT canon.

On the other hand, perhaps I should find some satisfaction and serenity in the possibility that his lack of criticism with regard to the foundational teachings themselves may well imply an inability to discover anything "out of harmony" with God's Word. Thus, in light of the fact that no solid evidence was produced from chapter two indicating any falsehood with respect to the teaching on MDR as perceived in the historic and poetic books of the OT canon, I can only conclude that the material presented therein is not "out of harmony" with God's inspired Word. Surely, if it had been, the evidence and necessary substantiation would have been quickly forthcoming. Therefore, I will simply have to content myself with responding to Darrell's criticisms with regard to my use of, and perspective on, passing illustrations and examples.

Near the end of chapter two I devoted six whole sentences to our Lord's example of David eating the showbread. I mentioned this historical incident in passing to illustrate the principle that God has on occasion set aside His law, or the guilt one might incur for violation of His law, in order to achieve some greater divine purpose, or to respond graciously to some legitimate need on the part of His creation.

Darrell has made some interesting comments with regard to this historical incident (I Samuel 21:1-6) and our Lord's comments about it (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5). I would like to address a few of those.

To begin, Darrell seemed very confident that David had NOT violated God's law by eating the showbread. Notice his own words: "He did not violate the law." Darrell further writes, "...neither Jesus nor David sinned. Al Maxey must assume that Jesus said that David was in error." Consider also: "God's law allowed David to eat the shewbread ..." and "...David's consumption of the shewbread was according to God's law." It would be interesting to know exactly which law that was, and where it can be found in Scripture. Perhaps Darrell will provide the specific book, chapter and verse for us.

Darrell says that David "did not violate the law." What does Jesus say? Luke tells us that Jesus said David "took and ate the consecrated bread which is NOT LAWFUL for ANY to eat except the PRIESTS ALONE" (Luke 6:4). Mark 2:26 also records Jesus as characterizing David's actions as "not lawful." Matthew echoes the same charge: "...he entered the house of God, and ate the consecrated bread, which was NOT LAWFUL for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the PRIESTS ALONE" (Matthew 12:4). Darrell says David "did not violate the law." What does Jesus say?!! Interestingly, Jesus uses the exact same phrase that John used when condemning Herod for taking his brother's wife --- "It is NOT LAWFUL for you to have her" (Matthew 14:4). In both cases, Jesus and John clearly spoke of those who were in violation of God's declared law!! And they used the exact same phrase, word for word.

In Leviticus 24 we clearly see what that law of God was. Sandwiched between God's laws concerning the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23) and the Sabbatic Year and the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25) we find various laws dealing with the tent of meeting and the sacred objects associated with it. With regard to this "most holy" bread, we are told that it was to be "for Aaron and his sons" and that it was to be eaten "in a holy place" (vs. 9). Biblical scholars down through the ages are virtually unanimous in their agreement that David's actions were a clear violation of God's law with regard to WHO could eat this bread, and WHEN and WHERE. Even Jesus Christ Himself called it "not lawful" since this bread (by virtue of God's law) was "for the priests ALONE" (Matthew 12:4).

With regard to our Lord's statement in the gospel records, Darrell wrote that Jesus "mentioned some of the facts recorded in 1 Samuel 21, without commenting positively or negatively about David's status." I think a careful reading of what Jesus said will demonstrate this to be false. Jesus made both positive and negative comments about David's status. He said his actions were "not lawful," but that he was "innocent." That's about as positive and negative as it gets with regard to one's spiritual status!

Yes, Darrell, David violated the law of God. Jesus said so, whether you agree with Him or not!! And the law he violated is clearly recorded in Scripture. What is also clearly recorded in Scripture is Jesus' statement that David violated God's law without incurring guilt!! You took exception to my statement in chapter two in which I declared our God has on occasion allowed "the violation of His Law, with no resulting guilt on the part of the violators." Indeed, you wrote: "If God said, 'thou shalt not' and later allowed or encouraged the violation of his law 'with no resulting guilt on the part of the violators,' then God lied. A God who lied about his law could not be trusted to save." I think in light of what JESUS has said on this subject, you might want to rethink that statement, Darrell.

You almost seem to contradict yourself with regard to the above, however, later in your post. You go to great lengths to stress that a God who would allow His law to be violated, with no resulting guilt on the part of the violators, "can not be trusted to save men." Then you turn around and say, but "some of God's laws contain exceptive clauses." What does that mean? It simply means that sometimes God allows "the violation of His Law, with no resulting guilt on the part of the violators."

There is a difference, however, in declaring that some laws CONTAIN "exceptive clauses" (clearly spelled out in black and white in the text of God's Word), and IMPOSING inferred exceptions to some law upon the Scriptures because it fits with one's personal preferences, perceptions or practices. What I'm saying, Darrell, is that nowhere does Scripture give an exception to the law about who may eat the showbread, and when and where. Had there been such an exception, then Jesus would clearly have not characterized the action of David as "not lawful." An exception clause to this law would have rendered our Lord's point invalid. His point was valid for the very reason that there was NO exception clause in Scripture to this law. Thus, David was declared guiltless NOT because of some "exceptive clause," but rather because of God's grace, love, mercy and compassion.

I think the Expositor's Bible Commentary makes an insightful observation on this very point, Darrell, if you will allow me one brief non-MDR quotation: "Jesus' point is not that rules admit of exceptions but that the Scriptures themselves do not condemn David for his action; therefore the rigidity of the Pharisees' interpretation of the law is not in accord with Scripture itself" (Vol. 8, page 280-281). This is the very principle I sought to convey in chapter two of my book. Some religionists have become so rigid in their regulation of God's people that they have left little room for the intercessory grace and compassion of God Almighty! God relates to His people through grace, not law. Indeed, to suggest the latter is to risk being severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

Let me move on to some of your other comments, Darrell. With regard to my above position, you observed: "Imagine a God upon whom men can not depend. A God who calls men into the riches of his grace, the depths of his love, the warmth and comfort of his mercy; only to say, 'I really did not mean it when I called.'"

"FAITHFUL is He that calleth you, who also WILL DO IT" (I Thessalonians 5:24). I have perfect trust and confidence in my God. He can always be depended upon! I can depend upon my God to be gracious, loving and merciful ..... even during times when I may not merit such. I can depend upon my God to step dramatically into my life, and even into history, and ACT for my ultimate well-being. I can even depend on my God to graciously choose not to impute guilt to my account, or even to supersede some provision of His law, if in His view it serves a greater purpose. Oh yes, Darrell, we CAN depend upon our God; we can depend upon Him to be just what He has declared and demonstrated Himself to be in His Word --- GRACIOUS!! ..... even when we least deserve it!! And thank God we CAN depend on Him for that, or we would all be without hope!!!

Let me give you an illustration of how I believe God may choose, in a more modern setting than that of David and the showbread, to exercise grace over law, evidencing mercy and compassion in judgment. A couple of years ago a brother was filling in for me while I was out of town. At the close of his sermon, as he was inviting people to come accept Jesus Christ, he sought to impress upon them the urgency of their indecision. The Lord could come at any second, and they needed to prepare themselves to meet the Bridegroom. All of this I agree with, obviously. However, he made this comment: "If you were standing here in the waters of baptism, having repented of your sins and having confessed Jesus, and the Lord returned one second before you were immersed, you would go to hell." And what was his reasoning? They had missed obeying a "law" by one second!! The condition of one's heart at that moment counted for nothing; faith, confession, repentance were all meaningless. They were "violators of a law," and as such stood condemned to the fires of hell, in this man's estimation. Darrell, I actually had a man tell me a few days later that he would have taken that statement even one step further. "I would have taught," he informed me, "that if that person had been lowered into the waters of baptism, and the Lord had returned before he had been raised from the water, he would still have gone to hell."

THIS, Darrell, is the type of ludicrous legalistic attitude of which I spoke in chapter two of my book. This simply does NOT describe the God I read about in the Bible. I serve a God who would have welcomed that penitent believer standing in the water into His loving embrace, even though he had technically and legally failed to comply with the "law" to be baptized. Why? Because my God is a God who watches hearts and not a second hand on a stop watch. I know of an actual case where a woman died of a heart attack while walking down the aisle in response to the Lord's invitation. A God of grace, I have no doubt, will welcome that woman into His eternal abode; a God of rigidity will consign her to the fires of hell for daring to drop dead five minutes before being immersed.

This same principle applies to the cases of those people involved in the trauma of divorce and remarriage; cases we will be examining in the course of our discussion. That is why I have welcomed this opportunity to comment upon this principle to which you took such great exception, Darrell. We will have many more opportunities in our exchange with one another to see whether or not we serve a God of legal rigidity or a God of loving grace.

Darrell wrote: "Does God encourage legalism? If by legalism Al Maxey means obedience, then God not only encourages legalism, he commands it." There is no question but what God calls us to obedience to His will for our lives. Indeed, Christ Jesus "became to all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9). Even in the "great commission" we are told to make disciples, baptize them, and "teach them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). Yes, Darrell, we are called to obedience. But, let me ask you a question. Have you obeyed perfectly? Are you ever disobedient? Are you even aware of some of the areas in which you may be disobedient? Isn't it wonderful we have such a GRACIOUS God? One who is loving, compassionate, merciful, accepting ..... even to those who violate His law? "By works of law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:20), .... "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24). "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). We ought to praise God every moment of our lives, Darrell, that we can depend on His willingness to graciously deal with our violations of His law "with no resulting guilt on the part of the violators." It is a gift of grace to us emanating from His divine nature, and we perceive evidence of it repeatedly in Scripture, a good example being His dealings with David when he did that which was "not lawful" for him to do.

"Does God encourage legalism?" No! Quite the contrary! And by "legalism" I do NOT mean "obedience." Legalism is a mindset which seeks justification before God by the scrupulous binding and observance of a burdensome legal code; salvation via systematic religion. We must cross every "t" and dot every "i" just perfectly or we will experience the just wrath of a vengeful God. He is an angry deity which we can only "appease" through "faithfulness to law." The Bible is a legal code book, and if we can manage to get it all "just right" in every way, then He might let us into heaven. Making sure we don't eat in a building, or "spend amiss" from the treasury, or mix acts of worship, or use fermented grape juice in the Lord's Supper, or have children's worship, or sing with the aid of an instrument, or a thousand and one other tedious tenets of our tradition, so that we can "get it exactly right and be saved," is legalism!!! The pathway to heaven is not paved with pugnacious precision in practice, but by continuing commitment to Christ. We are justified by faithfulness to a Person, not to an ever growing list of precepts. It is relationship, not religion, that ultimately will prove redemptive!

One's mindset here will greatly impact one's interpretation of Scripture, and certainly how one views such issues as MDR. We can either legislate the spiritually wounded to death, or we can bind their wounds with the healing grace of a loving God. I choose the latter, Darrell.

Brother Broking stated "God's marriage law commands one man to marry one woman for life. That is God's law." He then states that I deny this "Bible doctrine ... to be truth." I don't know how many times I have had to repeat this during our discussion, or how many times I have included this in my book (perhaps someone would like to make a count), but I do NOT deny this biblical doctrine. I agree with it. Just because I do not agree 100% with Darrell's every interpretation of Scripture does NOT mean I deny biblical Truth!! It simply means that I deny Darrell's every interpretation to BE Truth. There is a vast difference here. Darrell seems to believe that if I dare to disagree with HIM that I thereby disagree with GOD. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Darrell is just a man; fallible and flawed like the rest of humanity. He has not yet achieved perfect insight, and he certainly doesn't have a monopoly on Truth! None of us do!! Thus, it behooves us to be a bit more charitable toward those with whom we differ. We just might be wrong. And, yes, that applies as much to ME as it does to Darrell.

Darrell again brings up Matthew 19:9 and comments briefly on the so-called "exception clause" contained therein. He wrote, "There is an exception to the law of one man for one woman for life, and that exception is God's law too." I disagree with Darrell in his interpretation of this passage, as will become evident when we reach that point in our discussion. I do NOT see this phrase ("except for immorality") as being some kind of "exception clause" in which God sets aside His IDEAL for a single scenario. In fact, the phrase "exception clause" is man-made and never appears in the Bible. I believe I can demonstrate conclusively that Darrell's interpretation of this so-called "exception clause" is false, and will seek to do so in great depth when we reach that point in our discussion. If you can't wait that long, then I urge you to read ahead to that point in my book. I think you will find that the "exception clause" is really no such thing.

Darrell wrote: "Sadly, some brethren fail to read the Bible and understand its truth. Some are 'ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth' (2 Tim. 3:7)." May I just add my hearty "AMEN" to this comment by Darrell. I couldn't agree more with his assessment!!

Brother Broking said, "Maxey fails to point out the fact that the Pharisees' traditions were not according to the law. This is the reason that their traditions were unlawful! Jesus rebuked the Pharisees' additions to God's law, not their adherence to the letter of the law!" Actually, this is not entirely true. Although my book is not a book exposing the errors of the Pharisees with regard to their views on law and tradition, nevertheless I do speak to the issue on several occasions. For example, notice the following examples just from chapter two:

Yes, Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees for their allegiance to tradition. "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3). "You invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matthew 15:6). "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Matthew 15:9). Jesus clearly addressed the problem of the Pharisees' devotion to their tradition.

However, the Lord, in His inspired Word, also addresses the problem of those who are obsessed with the "letter of the law." That too is a false trail which leads away from God. Paul stated, "But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter" (Romans 2:29). I appreciate the way the NIV renders Paul's thought in Romans 7:6 --- "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Notice also this thought: We are "servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (II Corinthians 3:6).

Darrell, I do not promote justification or salvation through compliance to a legal code. I am not a minister of the letter of the law; I am a minister of Christ Jesus. I bring people to HIM, not to laws inferred by men from the inspired writings. Jesus rebuked the religionists of His day for the same failure to perceive the Savior in the Scriptures; all they could see was the "text book" or "code book" and not the Teacher. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that BY THEM you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about ME, yet you refuse to come to ME to have life" (John 5:30-40). Eternal life is not in the "letter of God's law," eternal "life is in His Son" (I John 5:11-12). Many in the Lord's day, and in ours as well, are so intent upon searching Scripture and inferring law that they fail to perceive the Savior ..... the very one to whom the Scriptures point for salvation. Paul told Timothy, "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom THAT LEADS TO SALVATION through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). Salvation is not in the "letter of the law," rather it is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus "abolished in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations" (Ephesians 2:15). The "first covenant had regulations" (Hebrews 9:1), that is true, but they were "imposed" only "until a time of reformation" (Hebrews 9:10). Jesus has reformed the way in which we approach the Father. It is not through the regulations of a legal code, it is through the Son. If we fail to perceive this Truth it will greatly distort our view of the teaching of the Son, including His teaching on MDR.

Darrell wrote: "If a divorced woman feels that God could never love her because of her divorce, she needs to learn about God's love for her ..... If she was actually told that 'she was doomed to hell,' she was told a lie." I agree wholeheartedly with you, brother!

"On the other hand," Darrell interjected, "if she was told that if she chose to remain in an unscriptural marriage she was doomed to hell, then she was told the truth according to God's word." That is your opinion, brother, but it is far more than Scripture ever specifically states. Darrell goes on to point out near the end of his post that "Al does not believe the Bible to teach" the concept of "living in adultery." That is not entirely true. Yes, the Bible does speak of those who are continuously adulterous in their attitudes and actions. Jesus more than once referred to those about Him as "an evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38), but it was hardly sexual sin to which He alluded on those occasions, rather it was unfaithfulness of life to a covenant relationship with God. And yet they were indeed continually "adulterous."

What I deny, brother Broking, is that Jesus ever used the phrase "living in adultery" or "living in sin" to describe the remarriage of those previously divorced (whether innocent or guilty). Nowhere does Jesus employ this terminology. "Living in sin" and "living in adultery," when used with reference to second marriages, are man-made phrases and are NOT utilized in Scripture. This fact is undeniable, Darrell, and I intend to challenge you to try and prove otherwise when we get to our discussion of the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Darrell wrote: "In summary, ..... When one who lacks respect for Bible authority views a Biblical truth with which he disagrees, he will do and teach that which is right in his own eyes, not that which is right before God. Furthermore, his view on the historical record of the Bible will be developed around his misconception of God's law. Until men approach the Biblical text within its God given context and meaning, they are destined to grope in the darkness of man's philosophy." Again, I couldn't agree more, brother! In my estimation, Darrell, you have described your own condition, although I'm sure you intended it to be a description of mine. However, by the end of our discussion I'm sure the readers will be able to evaluate which of us has better perceived the light of Truth, and which of us is still groping about "in the darkness of man's philosophy."

May God richly bless you, brother Broking, and also all those who are carefully and prayerfully following this discussion.

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