Jesus said he came to fulfill God’s Law.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”Matthew 5:17-18, ESV
Fundamental to the Christian faith and a constant theme throughout the New Testament is that Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s law on behalf of sinners. This fact is absolutely essential to the gospel. A “gospel” which denies Christ’s fulfillment of the law is not the Christian gospel, but another gospel. Unfortunately there are professing Christians, including Pastors and other leaders, who deny Christ’s fulfillment of the law.
Of course, you are not going to hear too many professing Christians come out and explicitly reject the notion that Christ fulfilled the law. If they were to do that, their error would be exposed rather quickly. Instead, their denial is implicit in their teaching.
This is the case with Bruxy Cavey. If you asked Cavey directly whether Jesus fulfilled the law he would probably answer in the affirmative. But what good is mere formal affirmation of this truth if in the rest of his teaching he directly contradicts his affirmation? Here are three specific teachings espoused by Bruxy Cavey that fundamentally deny Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of God’s law.
Cavey teaches that Jesus taught in contradiction to the law
In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus says multiple times “you have heard it said, but I say to you”. At times he quotes the traditions of the Jewish religious leadership and refutes it. At times he quotes Scripture directly. So does he refute Scripture and therefore contradict God’s law with his own teaching? No, not once. Every time Jesus quotes Scripture and says “but I say to you” he teaches the exact same thing the quoted text says while drawing out conclusions from the text, expounding the true spirit of the law, and refuting the traditional, false interpretation and understanding that was popular at the time. The Pharisees twisted and selectively utilized Scripture as to conform to their desire for outward righteousness – Jesus refutes their twisting. Jesus simply corrects false interpretations and applications of God’s law.
This should be evident by two facts.
- In the introduction to this section of the sermon on the mount Jesus explicitly says he has not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, and warns those who would even dare relax the law or teach others to do so. He says that not the smallest part of the law will pass away “until all is accomplished”. (Matthew 5:17-20)
- When one goes back into the Old Testament law Jesus quotes, Jesus’ words are completely consistent with the teaching of the texts he cites and the proper application of those laws throughout the Old Testament. There is no contradiction.
Bruxy Cavey explicitly denies and repudiates this. In this podcast (right at the beginning) Cavey says of this teaching:
“If I look at the Sermon on the Mount and the six antitheses, that is the six times that Jesus in Matthew 5 contrasts his teaching with the teaching of the Old Testament with the phrase “you have heard it said, but I tell you, you have heard it said, but I tell you”, six times he does this. Some people have said he’s just correcting their interpretation of Scripture, he’s challenging religious traditions, but he quotes in some of those cases Scripture flat out and says ‘you have heard this said’ and quotes Scripture and says ‘but I tell you’. People say ‘well, you’re not suggesting that Jesus is taking authority over Scripture are you?’ or ‘you’re not suggesting that Jesus is somehow teaching something different than what Scripture has already said’ and I would respond ‘Of course that’s what I’m saying!’Bruxy Cavey – “The 2nd course with Bruxy”, Inverse Podcast, March 4, 2019. Apple Podcast link HERE
Cavey doesn’t bother to prove that Jesus is contradicting the texts he cites, he simply asserts it. Nor does he interact with interpretations which would demonstrate the consistency of Jesus’ teaching and the law.
This is nothing new. Cavey has been teaching that Jesus refuted and contradicted the law of God for several years. But if Christ “takes authority over” the law, refutes it, contradicts it, and teaches others to break it, then how can it be said that Jesus fulfilled the law? Teaching contrary to the law of God is transgression. So it cannot be said that one who does this is fulfilling that law.
Cavey teaches that Jesus purposefully broke God’s Law and instructed others to do the same
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Exodus 20:8-11, ESV
God’s law demands the keeping of the Sabbath. Therefore, breaking the Sabbath is transgression of God’s law. One who is guilty of transgressing God’s law cannot be said to have fulfilled God’s law.
In John 5:2-17, we have the story of Jesus healing a man and instructing him to carry his bed on the Sabbath. The man obliges and carries his bed. In the story the Pharisees accuse both Jesus and the healed man of breaking the Sabbath. Of course, neither Jesus or the healed man were truly breaking the Sabbath, they were just breaking the Pharisee’s extra-biblical traditions surrounding the Sabbath.
Again, Cavey explicitly denies this. He is convinced that Jesus not only broke God’s Sabbath but instructed the healed man to do so as well, purposefully pitting his authority against the authority of the law of Moses. In speaking of this text, Bruxy Cavey says:
“Jesus knows what he’s setting up. He’s setting up a collision of authority here – whether people are going to obey the law of Moses or are they going to listen to the new Sheriff in town, who is Jesus”Bruxy Cavey – “The 2nd course with Bruxy”, Inverse Podcast, March 4, 2019. (19:19) Apple Podcast link HERE
Cavey explains that Jesus then proceeds to break the commandment of God regarding the Sabbath by healing the man, and instructs the healed man to then break the Sabbath himself by carrying his bed.
“Jesus responded to their persecution. In verse 17 it would have been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to say ‘Now listen guys, I don’t want you see this as a challenge to the authority of Moses or to the law itself, to Torah, to Scripture. I know it says not to work on the Sabbath, but let’s not consider this working. Healing is not working, healing is loving and so there’s no contradiction here. I live in full submission to the law of Moses. Please, let’s smooth this over.’ It would have been a great opportunity for Jesus to take that approach, and I feel some Christians want to paint Jesus as though that was his approach – ‘Oh no, I live in submission to the Torah.’ The Son of God incarnate does not have to live in submission to anything, and he’s establishing that fact right here! So his response is not ‘Oh please don’t consider this work’, his response is ‘well, my Father is always working until now so, yes, I myself am working.’Bruxy Cavey – “The 2nd course with Bruxy”, Inverse Podcast, March 4, 2019. (27:38) Apple Podcast link HERE
Cavey’s errant presuppositions regarding the relationship of the Old and New Covenants, his commitment to portraying the Pharisees as the equivalent of “Bible-believers”, and his incoherent distinction between and division of the authority of Christ from the authority of Scripture have forced him into a rather careless, even dangerous understanding of this text.
First of all, Jesus was specifically asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, and he said it was lawful (Matthew 12:9-14). If it is lawful, then it clearly cannot be contrary to the law of God! The Pharisees were wrong to insist it was, yet Bruxy Cavey affirms their error as true.
Second, in the same section of this podcast Cavey appeals to the prophet Jeremiah in an attempt to justify his position that Scripture forbids carrying anything on the Sabbath. Based on this he asserts that Jesus instructed the man to break the Sabbath in telling him to carry his bed. I’ll assume that Cavey is speaking specifically of Jeremiah 17:21 because he doesn’t cite a specific text in Jeremiah, but it lines up with Cavey’s assertion.
In the interest of brevity I’ll not get too detailed on the proper exegesis of Jeremiah 17:19-27, but I will direct anyone interested to examine it in light of the parallel passage in Nehemiah 13:15-22. An examination of these texts as well as an understanding of what happened at the gates of the city should suffice to make it clear that the carrying of goods forbidden in Jeremiah 17 is directly related to commercial activity on the Sabbath. The text in Jeremiah is not forbidding the carrying of anything for any purpose, but forbidding the carrying of wares for commercial purposes (ie. doing your work as forbidden in the fourth commandment). So Jesus was not instructing the healed man to partake in the very activity which stirred the judgment of God against the nation of Israel in Jeremiah 17 as Cavey would have us believe.
Third, it should be pointed out that ten chapters later, in John 15:10 Jesus specifically says that he has kept God’s commandments. Surely this includes the fourth commandment regarding the Sabbath.
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. “John 15:10, ESV
Of course, Cavey doesn’t bring any of this to bear on his interpretation. He simply takes for granted that the confused, traditional understanding of the Pharisaic false teachers is legitimately scriptural and that Jesus and the healed man both broke the Sabbath. In this way he is impugning Jesus with transgression of the law, taking the same view as the enemies of Christ, and contradicting Jesus who clearly said he fulfilled the law, kept God’s commandments, and that healing was lawful on the Sabbath!
Cavey teaches that God’s Law remains unfulfilled
Cavey’s denial of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is well documented. While he affirms that our sin was laid on Jesus, he explicitly denies that Jesus received the wrath of God against our sin or satisfied God’s justice by fulfilling the law on our behalf. Instead, Cavey has taught that Jesus simply “absorbed”our sin which, in turn, died with Jesus – that judgment did not come against our sins on Christ, they are just gone. Furthermore he has denied that the death of Christ was even necessary for forgiveness. You can see further documentation of this here and here, but here are just two examples of this teaching from Bruxy Cavey.
“Jesus takes our our sin, and we are given his righteousness. Our sin is killed with Christ, but there’s no mention of wrath being poured out on Christ, in fact what is mentioned here is that God is – you see verse 19 – God was in Christ reconciling. God was in Christ reconciling. If you think spacially at the cross where was God? God was not hovering above Jesus pouring out his wrath, God was in Christ pouring out his love.”Bruxy Cavey – Why Did Jesus Die? #1 – To Show Us God’s Love (27:15)
“Calvin felt that we had to account for where God’s wrath went and Jesus became the answer to that mystery. Again, it’s an interesting theory, it’s mechanically perfect, you know he balances the books well. But it says more than scripture says. What scripture says is Jesus became sin for us and gave us his righteousness therefore our future wrath on judgment day ceases to exist – it’s just not there anymore – we are no longer under wrath. To take that the next step and say ‘well where’d that wrath go? How did God vent that wrath or get rid of that wrath?’ is to ask a question that scripture doesn’t answer. So we could theorize and say ‘well I guess God vented it toward Jesus instead of towards us’ but is it also not possible that when Jesus took away our sin there was just no more wrath for that sin? God says ‘I’m going to punish you for your sin’ but now your sin is taken away and you are infused with Christ’s righteousness and God says ‘okay I’m not going to punish you for sin that has already been taken away from you’. So he doesn’t have to try and balance his own internal metaphysical books. Can’t God just say ‘alright, I’m not going to punish you’?… If a judge believes someone is guilty and then finds out actually no, they’re not guilty, they’re innocent then the judge says ‘oh, then there’s no sentence for you’. He doesn’t have to then say ‘but I had a sentence stored up to give somebody, where am I gonna put it?’ – there’s just no sentence anymore. Our wrath is removed through the death of Christ but not because God had to pour out wrath on Jesus but because became our sin, took away our sin, so there’s just no more wrath left over for us. There’s no need for it to go anywhere.”Bruxy Cavey –Why Did Jesus Die? #1 – To Show Us God’s Love: Drive Home (19:32)
This is another denial that Jesus fulfilled the law of God. If it is true that our sin was laid upon Jesus (it is), then to fulfill the law it would be necessary for Jesus to fulfill the law’s penalty for that sin. The penalty is just as much a part of the law as the commandments.
The Scriptures teach that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the curse for us (Galatians 3:13), that he became sin although he knew no sin so that we might become righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that he bore our sin in his body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). The law demands death as the penalty for our sin (Romans 6:23), but Jesus died for our sin in accordance with the law and prophets (Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3), he was obedient unto death on the cross (Philippians 2:8), was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquity which God laid upon him, his punishment brings us peace and we are healed by his wounds (Isaiah 53:5-6). In this way God remains just, and has grounds to justify the ungodly who put their faith in Christ (Romans 3:26). God has done in Christ what the Law could not accomplish – that is to fulfill the righteous demands of the law by condemning our sin in the flesh of Jesus (Romans 8:3-4).
God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:3-4, ESV (emphasis mine)
When Jesus voluntarily took our sin upon himself he fulfilled the law’s just demand for our sin by dying in our place. That is Penal Substitution. That is how Christ fulfilled the law in his death. And that is precisely what Bruxy Cavey denies.
Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the law of God is integral to the gospel message. Our only hope for having peace with God through faith in Christ hinges upon the twin realities of Jesus’ active obedience to the Law of God in his righteous life and passive obedience to the law of God in his vicarious suffering and death for the sins of his people. Without Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the law in our place we would remain under the curse of the law. Bruxy Cavey, in his teaching that Jesus Christ not only taught in contradiction to the law, but that he broke the law himself and did not fulfill the demands of the law for sin on our behalf, has gutted the gospel of this truth and has presented another gospel in it’s place. This is no trivial disagreement, and mere formal affirmation that Jesus fulfilled the law is insufficient to correct this.
Cavey is presenting another Jesus and another gospel. A Jesus who did not fulfill the law cannot save you.