You aren't saved by the law. You are saved by faith. So what is the purpose of the commandments in the Bible? Do we still need to follow the law? How does the New Covenant relate to the Old Covenant?
These are pretty loaded questions. They are also immensely practical too. If we are no longer bound to the law, how are we suppose to live? What is our moral imperative as Christians? How do we live holy lives? Covenant and Commandment: Works' obedience and faithfulness in the Christian life provides a biblical theology answering these questions. It is a great book and one that helped clarify my thinking in some of these matters.
Bradley Green, professor at Union University, starts chapter one by showing the necessity of works in the Christian's life from the New Testament. There really isn't anything groundbreaking here. It isn't up for debate. Nevertheless, Green treads through the material carefully, evenly and sets up the remainder of the book well.
Chapter two traces the theme of obedience in the Old Testament. Green focuses on Ezekiel and Jeremiah, showing how the texts on the New Covenant are used in the New Testament. This in term leads to discussing how the Old and New Covenant relate to each other in chapter three. What makes the New Covenant truly new? Green answers that in this chapter. He traces the flow of redemptive history and relates it to the New Covenant.
Chapters four and five deal with Christ's work on the cross and his union with believers. Green demonstrates that while salvation is by grace, works are still a necessity. He exegetes several key texts in his demonstration of this. Further, Green shows that now we are united with Christ good works should flow from us. Why? Because in one sense, our bodies are not ours but it is Christ working in us.
Finally, Green spends an extended amount of time looking at how judgment will play into our lives at the end of time. Green surveys Calvin, Owens and even modern perspectives on judgment (like N.T. Wright). It is an extremely balanced approach. Green shows his talent at both historical, biblical and systematic theology in this chapter. He writes, "If what God is doing in history is forming and redeeming a people who will praise him for all eternity, and who will be more and more conformed to the image of God, then of course this people will be marked by spirit-induced obedience." (142)
If you are looking for breakthroughs or new perspectives on obedience and works, look elsewhere. Green doesn't tread any new ground. What you will find is an intelligent, thoughtful and BIBLICAL perspective. I highly recommend this work.
*Thanks to IVP Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.*