God’s great moral law is unchangeable 

The foundation of the Sabbatarian error, is a false theory of the law taught by some other churches that led them into this sad error. For many years I was held in that “bondage.” Now that I have found my way out, if I can help others, I shall rejoice.

The following simple facts with regard to the law helped me out of Adventism and I have never known anyone to get out of it any other way. I believe it to be the correct answer to the Saturday Sabbath error. I write for candid readers. They will examine our arguments fairly and allow others to do the same, even if they should not agree fully with every position. Many years of investigation and discussion of the question have firmly settled me on the following propositions. They are in harmony with the best men and theologians of this and past ages; hence nothing original on our part.

Antinomianism

Antinomians, from ANTI, against and NOMOS, law, against law, is a term applied to those who maintain that Christians are under no obligation to keep the law of God or to do any good works. This is an abominable doctrine, subversive of the gospel; yet Seventh-Day Adventists brand all as Antinomians who do not agree with them as to what is the law of God. I am as much opposed to Antinomianism as they. We believe in strict obedience to law, in keeping the commandments of God (see there are over 1000 commands for Christians), and in the necessity of good works, as strongly as they do.

Luther vehemently opposed Antinomianism and yet taught the abolition of the Mosaic law & Sabbath. It is ignorance for Adventists to call people Antinomians who abhor that doctrine. We plead for a pure life, good works and obedience to God, as fruit of our salvation. Bunyan, Judson, and a host of such men have repudiated the Sabbatarian idea of the law, and yet have been holy men. We are not afraid to stand with them.

Even Elder Waggoner says: “As to whether the Saviour abolished the ten commandments and with them the Sabbath, is a theological question; it is only a matter of Scripture interpretation.” Replies to Elder Canright, page 164. Very well; then men may differ on this question and still be honest Christians. I will now lay down a few propositions concerning the law, which seem to me so plain and well supported by the Bible, that all must agree with them.

PROPOSITION 1. “THE LAW” EMBRACES THE WHOLE MOSAIC LAW, MORAL, CIVIL AND CEREMONIAL. The term, “the law,” when used with the definite article and without qualifying words, refers “in nine cases out of ten, to the Mosaic law, or to the Pentateuch.” Largely the Adventists use the term, “the law,” for the ten commandments only. This is their fundamental error on the law. We affirm that “the law” included the whole system of law given to the Jews at Sinai, embracing all those requirements, whether moral, civil or ceremonial, decalogue and all. Even Elder Butler is compelled to make this confession: “The term, “the law,’ among the Jews generally included the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical and civil.” Law in Galatians, page 70.

Now bear in mind this one simple fact, wherever you find the term “the law,” and you will have no trouble with Sabbatarian arguments on “the law.”

Take a few examples of the use of the term “the law.”

  • 1 Cor. 14:34: Women “are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Where does the law say this? Gen. 3:16. So Genesis is in the law.
  • Again: “The law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Rom. 7:7. Where? Ex. 20:17. So Exodus is in the law.
  • Once more: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Matt. 22:36. Jesus then makes two quotations from the law; first, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart.” This is taken from Deut. 6:5. So Deuteronomy is in the law.
  • Second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is from Lev, 19:18. So Leviticus is a part of the law.
  • And this: have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” Matt. 12:5. It is from Num. 28:9.

These then, embrace all the five books of Moses as “the law.” Observe a little where the law is spoken of and you will soon see that it refers indiscriminately to each and all of the books of Moses as “the law.” Of course any verse in any of these books is quoted as “the law,” because it is a part of the law. So then the ten commandments are quoted as the law because they are a part of the law.

Again, “the law” embraces all parts of the law, moral, civil or ceremonial.

  • Thus the ceremonial precepts: “The parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him after the custom of the law.” Luke 2:27. That is, to offer a sacrifice.
  • Moral precepts: The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers.” 1 Tim. 1:9.
  • Civil precepts: “Commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” Acts 23:3.

Notice that every time it is simply the law. “Gamaliel, a doctor of the law.” Acts 5:34. Of what law? Was he simply a doctor of some part of the law, as the moral, or civil, or ceremonial precepts? Every intelligent man knows that “the law,” of which he was doctor or teacher, was the whole Pentateuch, decalogue included. The law, then, is the whole Jewish law, in all its part.

This one point, clearly settled, destroys nine-tenths of all the Seventh-Day Adventist argument for the Jewish Sabbath.

The Two Laws

PROPOSITION 2. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS TWO SEPARATE LAWS GIVEN TO THE JEWS. To sustain their doctrine Sabbatarians have invented a theory of two laws given at Sinai; one the moral law, the other the ceremonial.

Adventists attach the utmost importance to their theory of two laws as well they may; for if this is wrong their cause is lost.

1. “Moral law,” “ceremonial law.” Adventists use these two terms as freely as though the Bible was full of them; yet, strange to say, the scriptures make no such distinctions, never speak of one law as “moral” and of another as “ceremonial.” Adventists severely criticise those who happen to use an unscriptural word or phrase; yet they themselves do the very thing commonly, as in this case. It would be amusing to hear one of them try to preach on the “two laws” and confine himself to Bible language! He could not possibly do it. If there were two distinct laws given to Israel, so opposite in their nature, it is strange that there is no record of it, no reference to it in the Bible. If one was abolished and the other was not, strange that Paul should not make the distinction when he has so much to say about the law. Why did he not say, “we establish the moral law”? or, “the ceremonial law was our schoolmaster”? No, he just says “the law” and leaves it there. He seems not to have been quite as clear on that point as Adventists are!

On this point Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Article Law, says: “Neither Christ nor the apostles ever distinguished between the moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, when they speak of its establishment or its abolition.”

2. The two laws contrasted. Adventists have drawn up a long list of things which they claim are true of the “moral” law and an opposite list which can apply only to the “ceremonial” law. These two they contrast and make out two laws.

Thus Adventists say: “Moral law:

  • “Was spoken from Sinai by the voice of God and twice written upon tables of stone by his own finger.”
  • “Was deposited in the golden ark.” “Related only to moral duties.”

Of course this was just the ten commandments, nothing more, nothing less, according to SDA’s. So here we have their “moral law.” Now here is the other one:

Thus Adventists day: “The ceremonial law:

  • “Was communicated to Moses privately and was by Moses written with a pen in a book. Deut. 31:9.”
  • “Was put into a receptacle by the side of the ark. Deut. 31:26.” “Was wholly ceremonial.” 

Hence everything not found in the decalogue belongs to the ceremonial law and everything Moses himself wrote in the book of the law placed in the side of the ark is “wholly ceremonial.” Deut. 31:26, reads: “Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark.” The decalogue was in the ark, the book of the law was by the side of the ark.

We enquire from Adventists, then, how much “the book of the law” contained? The answer is easy:

  • It contained all the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  • Thus 2 Kings 14:6, says it “is written in the book of the law of Moses,” and then quotes Deut. 24:16, as that book of the law.

Dr. Scott on Deut. 31:26, says “This book appears to have been a correct and authentic copy of the five books of Moses.”

So what Adventist call the ceremonial law contains scores of precepts as purely moral as any in the decalogue.

Read these:

  • “Thou shalt not vex a stranger.” “Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.” Ex. 22:21, 22.
  • “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Ex. 23:2.
  • “Ye shall be holy.” “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale bearer among thy people.” “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Lev. 19:2, 16, 18.
  • Thou shalt not discriminate people.” “Thou shalt be perfect.” Deut. 16:19, 18, 13.

Are these precepts, and scores like them, to be classed as ceremonial because God did not write them on a stone but gave them to Moses to write in a book? Surely not.

Then the nature of a precept was not determined by the way it was given. God gave them all at different times as it pleased Him.

As we have seen, “the law” embraces the “whole law.” Gal. 5:3.

Of course, in that law, some precepts refer to moral duties, other to civil, and others to ceremonial but all are only different parts of the same law, called, as a whole, “the law.”

Thus Jesus quotes from Lev. 19, as “the law.” See Matt. 22:36-40. Now read the whole chapter, Lev. 19, and you find moral, civil and ceremonial precepts all mingled together, and often in the same verse. Adventists, to sustain their theory, have to go through this chapter, as they do through the whole Bible, and cut and carve, and split hairs, and label one sentence “the moral law,” another “the ceremonial law,” etc. This is what is properly termed “the scrapping system or proof text method.” It does great violence to the Scriptures, wresting them out of their evident meaning.

In no place can they find their ceremonial law given by itself.

They have to pick it out here and there in scraps. The “book of the law,” which was placed in the side of the ark, Deut. 31:24-26, is pointed to as the ceremonial law. But this “book of the law,” as we see, embraced the whole five books of Moses, which had the ten commandments.

It contains all of the ten commandments word for word twice repeated.Ex. 20 and Deut. 5.

Adventist Elder G.I. Butler himself makes this confession: “The “book of the law,’ which was placed in the side of the ark, or at the side of it, contained both the moral and ceremonial laws.” Law in Galatians, p. 39.

That drops the bottom out of the theory that the moral law was “in the ark, and the ceremonial law in the side of the ark,” as they usually claim.

So, on close examination, every text on which they rely for two laws will fail them. That the “book of the law” did contain moral precepts is settled by Gal. 3:10: “It is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Where in the book of the law is this written?

In Deut. 27:26. Turning there we have a curse against images, verse 15, disobedience to parents, verse 16, adultery, verse 20; murder, verse 24; bribery, verse 25; then comes the verse quoted as “the book of the law.” So if the decalogue contains moral law, then the book did too. This shows the utter fallacy of their theory of two laws.

The following passage alone overturns the two law theory of Adventists: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law [Torah = 5 books of Moses] and the prophets.” Matt. 22:36-40.

Note that:

1. These two great commandments were “in the law.”

2. But neither of them is found in the decalogue.

3. Both of them are in what Adventists call the ceremonial law.

4. Neither of them was spoken by God, nor written by him, nor engraved on stones, nor put into the ark. Both were given by God to Moses privately and he wrote them with a pen in the book of the law which was placed in the side of the ark. And yet these two precepts are the greatest of all. Jesus said of the first one that it is “the first of all the commandments.” Of the two he said, “There is none other commandments greater than these.” Mark 12:29, 41. And on these two hang all the law.

So, then, the greatest commandments are in the book of the law, not on the tables of stone. How utterly this demolishes their two law argument. It shows that the mere fact that the ten commandments were spoken by God, written on stone, and placed in the ark, is no proof that they were superior to those given through Moses in the book of the law.

We will examine a few more of their contrasts of the two laws as they arrange them. Thus:

“1. Moral: Existed in Eden before the fall. Ceremonial: Was given after the fall.

2. Moral: Was perfect. Ps. 19:7. Ceremonial: Made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19.

3. Moral: Contains the whole duty of Man. Eccl. 12:13. Ceremonial: “Stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances.’ Heb. 9:10.”

1. Where do they read that the decalogue was given in Eden? Nowhere. This they assume not only without proof, but against the plain record of Ex. 19 and 20 that it was given at Sinai. So their very first comparison is a failure.

2. The law is perfect, Ps. 19:7, and again, the law made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19. This they regard as one of their clearest proofs of the two laws. But where is the proof? Does it follow that if the law is perfect it will or can make sinners perfect? If it could, then, as Paul says, righteousness should be by the law,” Gal. 3:21, and “then Christ is dead in vain.” Gal. 2:21. The law could be perfect and yet fail to make anybody perfect. So there is no proof of two laws here after all.

3. Eccl. 12:13 is quoted as referring to the ten commandments alone and then it is asserted that these contain every duty of man. Both statements are fallacious. There are scores of duties we owe to God and men not even hinted at in the decalogue. Then there is not a particle of evidence that Eccl. 12:13 refers alone to the decalogue. It manifestly embraces all God’s commandments on all subjects. Look at the second quotation, Heb. 9:10. It does not refer to any law whatever but is speaking of the services of the priests in the temple, which service “stood only in meats, drinks,” etc. Read it.

Thus their “two laws” are made out:

1. By pure assumptions.

2. By misapplications of scripture.

3. By detached phrases here and there taken out of their proper connection. So I could go through their whole list and show that it proves no such contrast as they claim.

But they assert that such opposite things are said of “the law,” that it cannot be the same law all the time. This method of proving two laws by contrasting particular expressions about the law when spoken of from different standpoints would make bad work with the Bible if urged on other subjects.

Paul said he was “a Jew,” Acts 21:39, and again that he was “a Roman,” Acts 22:25; two Pauls?

So Christ is “a Lion” and “a Lamb,” Rev. 5:5, 6. “The everlasting Father,” Isa. 9:6. And born of a woman, Luke 2:7; Prince of Life, Acts 3:15, yet died through weakness, 2 Cor. 13:4; a child, Isa. 9:6; and yet God, Heb. 1:1-8; two Christs?

It would be much harder to reconcile the apparently opposite things said of Christ, than it would be the different things said about the law. There were different sides to Christ’s nature, yet he was but one person. So there were different sides to the law, but it was only one law for all that.

  • Viewed in the light of its ultimate design, viz.: to prepare the way for Christ, Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23-25, in its spirit, Rom. 7:6; in its righteousness, Rom. 8:3, 4; it was “holy and just and good,” Rom. 7:12.
  • But viewed from the side of its mere letter, Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6, 7; its numerous rites, ceremonies, penalties and rigorous exactions, it was “the ministration of death,” 2 Cor. 3:7; and a “yoke of bondage,” Gal. 5:1-3; Acts 15:1-10.

This is the true explanation of their “two laws.”

Further, it is not true that there was nothing ceremonial in the decalogue. The weekly Sabbath was the chief ceremonial of all the Jewish worship. The Bible is so clear on this. Jesus, Paul categorized Sabbath a ceremonial. Mainstream Jews believe it. Early Christians taught it. Early father’s who learned from apostles wrote about it. Luther, Bunyan and scores of other godly men preached it. In fact no moral law is called a SIGN in the Bible; but only the rituals and ceremonies such as Passover, Circumcision, & the Sabbaths.

PROPOSITION 3. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ALONE ARE NEVER CALLED “THE LAW OF THE LORD” NOR THE “LAW OF GOD.” Sabbatarians constantly use these two terms, applying them to the decalogue alone. With them “the law of God” and “the law of the Lord” is just the decalogue and nothing more. They are the only ones who keep God’s law, as all others break the Sabbath, the seventh day.

But now notice this fact which is simply the truth. The word law occurs in the Bible over 400 times, yet in not one single instance is the decalogue as a whole and alone called “the law.” It is never in a single instance called “the law of the Lord,” or “the law of God.” Of course the ten commandments are a part of the law of God, but only a part, not the whole. Examine a few texts:

Luke 2:22. “The days of her purification according to the law of Moses;” verse 23, “It is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth the womb;” verse 24, It is “said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves;” verse 27, “To do for him after the custom of the law.”

Here “the law,” “the law of the Lord,” and “the law of Moses,” all mean the same thing, viz: the law touching the birth of a son.

Again, sacrifices, offerings, Sabbaths, new moons and feasts are all required “in the law of Moses.” “He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to-wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the Lord.” 2 Chron. 31:3.

Scores of texts like these could be quoted, showing that “the law of the Lord” includes sacrifices, circumcision, feast days and all the Jewish law. So “the law of God” is not simply the decalogue, but the whole law of Moses. Read Neh. 8:1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 14, 18. “The book of the law of Moses,” “the law,” “the book of the law,” “they read in the book of the law of God,” “the law which the Lord commanded by Moses,” “the book of the law of God.”

The law of God, then, includes the whole law of Moses.

No Sabbatarian, therefore, keeps “the law,” “the law of God,” or “the law of the Lord,” for if he did he would offer sacrifices, be circumcised, and live exactly as the Jews did.

So all their talk about “keeping the law” amounts to nothing, for none of them do it.

Moreover in their attempt to keep a part of that law they thereby bring themselves under obligation to “keep the whole law,” as Paul argues in Gal. 5:3. But as none of them keep the whole law, they bring upon themselves the curse of the law, by constantly violating one part while attempting to keep another. This is the very point which Paul made against Judaizing legalists of his day. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: For it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to them.” Gal. 3:10.

That is, the person who keeps one precept of the law just because the law says so, thereby acknowledges that the law is binding on him. Then if he neglects some other part of the law, he thereby becomes a transgressor of the very law he professes to keep. This is exactly what Sabbatarians do. They keep the Sabbath because the law says so and thereby become “debtors to do the whole law.” Gal. 5:3. Then they neglect many things in the same law and so are under the condemnation of the law. Gal. 3:10. But Christians do this or that, not because the law of Moses says so, but because so says law of Christ as commanded through the commandments of Jesus and apostles in the New Covenant, that was established after His resurection.

PROPOSITION 4. “THE LAW” WAS GIVEN BY MOSES AND THE “LAW OF MOSES” INCLUDES THE DECALOGUE. Not that Moses was the author of it, but it was through him God gave it to Israel. This is stated so distinctly and so many times that it is useless to deny it. Thus:

“For the law was given by Moses,” John 1:17.

“Did not Moses give you the law?” John 7:19.

“The law which the Lord had commanded by Moses,” Neh. 8:14.

“God’s law which was given by Moses,” Neh. 10:29.

Law of Moses includes the decalogue.

Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother,” Mark 7:10. This is the fifth commandment. Again: “Did not Moses give you the law and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” John 7:17. The law against killing is here called the law of Moses.

In Heb. 10:28, it is said that “he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.” Persons were put to death for violating the decalogue. See Deut. 17:6. They were put to death for breaking the Sabbath, Ex. 31:14, blasphemy, theft, and the like. Hence the decalogue is included in the “law of Moses.” But in verse 24 they said ye must “keep the law.” So in one verse it is “the law of Moses” and in another verse it is simply “the law”: Hence there is no difference between “the law” and “the law of Moses.”

PROPOSITION 5. “THE LAW” WAS NOT GIVEN TILL THE TIME OF MOSES AND SINAI. The texts above quoted prove this. Thus: “The law was given by Moses.” John 1:17. “Did not Moses give you the law?” John 7:19. “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Rom. 5:13-14.

The entrance of this law is here located at Moses. Again it is located under the Levitical priesthood. “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received the law.” Heb. 7:11.

So the giving of the law is located “430 years after the covenant with Abraham.” “And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul.” Gal. 3:17.

This brings us to the very year the Jews came out of Egypt and arrived at Sinai. “And it came to pass at the end of 430 years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all of the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Ex. 12:41. Beyond dispute, then, what the Bible calls “the law” was not given till Moses, 2,500 years after Adam, or nearly half the history of the world.

PROPOSITION 6. THE LAW IS NO WHERE FOUND TILL MOSES. No copy of this law nor any reference to it can be found till Moses. Of course God’s great moral and spiritual law, condemning every sin and requiring every righteous act – existed from Adam, nay, from eternity. That’s how Adam and Eve sinned, Jospeh knew adultery was sin.

But what in all the Jewish Scriptures is known as “the law,” as drawn out in a code on Sinai, whether in a book or on the tables of stone, this certainly did not exist till Moses.

The whole dispute between Paul and the Judaizers of his day was over this law. See Romans, Galatians and Acts 15 and 21. The question was whether “the law,” that which was written in “the book of the law,” Gal. 3:10, and “engraved in stones,” 2 Cor. 3:7, was to be kept under the gospel. Paul said, No; they said, Yes.

Sabbatarians now stick for the national law of Sinai as did the Judaizers of old.

To say that the principles of the law existed before Sinai, does not prove that the law existed. These principles could have been taught to Adam and his descendants in a different form from the law as afterwards given at Sinai. But where do you find the law or even one of the ten commandments, as worded on Sinai, before that time? Nowhere.

The various principles and precepts, moral, ceremonial, and typical, which had previously been taught in different ways, were now gathered into one code and worded so as to adapt them, for the time being, to the circumstances of the Jewish nation. As thus worded, certainly this law had never been given before (see also Decalogue Examined).

PROPOSITION 7. THEIR FATHERS DID NOT HAVE THE DECALOGUE AS WORDED ON THE TABLES. This Moses directly states. Deut. 4:12, 13, says God spoke to them from heaven, and declared to them “his covenant,” “even ten commandments,” Chap. 5:2, 3, says: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us.” Then he repeats the ten commandments as spoken from heaven. Verses 4-22;

That the main principles and requirements of this code were taught to the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacon) in some way no one can doubt; but that the fathers had the law as worded and arranged at Sinai is directly denied by Moses, as above.

PROPOSITION 8. THE LAW WAS GIVEN ONLY TO THE JEWS. This is so manifest in every item of the law, that it needs no argument to prove it. Moses says, Deut. 4:8, that no nation has a law so good “as all this law which I set before you this day.” Then he names the ten commandments as a part of it. Verses 10-13. “This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel.” Verse 44. Before whom? Israel, not the Gentiles.

So again, Chap. 5:1. “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears.” Then follows the decalogue. So it is a hundred times over all through the law. It is addressed to the Jews and to them only. The very wording of the law shows it was designed for them only.

THIS IS A NATIONAL LAW FOR ISRAEL, NOT UNIVERSAL.

The decalogue is introduced thus: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods” Ex. 20:2,3. To whom is that applicable? Only to the Jewish nation. Neither angels, Adam, nor Gentile Christians were ever in Egyptian bondage. Then this law is not addressed to them. To whom was the law given. Let Paul answer.

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law.” Rom. 9:4.

It was given to Israel. “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” Malachi 4:4. The law was “for all Israel,” and them only.

All these things show that this was a national law worded to fit the condition of the Jews at the time.

PROPOSITION 9. THE GENTILES DID NOT HAVE THE LAW. This has been proved already; but Paul directly says so.

Rom. 2:14. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves.

This is too plain to need arguing. The Gentiles did not have the law. Paul says so directly and that ought to settle it, and does. To understand and obey the great moral principles of that law is one thing, to be under the letter, the exact wording of the law as given in detail on Sinai, is quite another, as we will see further on.

PROPOSITION 10. THE REWARDS AND PENALTIES OF THE LAW WERE ALL TEMPORAL. There are no promises of future rewards, nor threatenings of future punishments in all the Mosaic law. Every careful student of that law must be aware of this feature of it. The reason is evident: it was a national, temporal law, given for a national, temporal purpose. As a sample of all, see Deut. 28:1-19.

If they keep the law, they shall be blessed in children, in goods, in cattle, in health, etc. If they disobey, they shall be cursed in all these. Stoning to death was the penalty for theft, murder, etc. Hence that was the “ministration of death written and engraved in stones,” 2 Cor. 3:7, and “is done away,” verse 11.

Paul states that the promise of Christ and the future inheritance was made to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was given. From this he argues, and forcibly, too, that the keeping of that law was not necessary in order to obtain Christ and the inheritance. Verses 16-18. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

So to the Romans he wrote: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.” Rom. 4:13,14.

This plainly teaches that the law was not given with reference to the future inheritance.

Certainly Abraham did not keep a law which was not given till hundreds of years after he died. But Abraham is the father of all the faithful, and not simply of those who were “of the law.” Rom. 4:13-16. This point alone ought to open the eyes of those who contend so earnestly for the keeping of that law as necessary to salvation. We are the children of Abraham, Gal. 3:29, and “walk in the steps of our father Abraham,” who was never under that law of Moses. Rom. 4:12-16. We are under the covenant of promise made to Abraham 430 years before the law, Gal. 2:15-19, and not under the covenant of law from Sinai, which is bondage. Gal. 4:21-26.

PROPOSITION 11. GOD’S ETERNAL LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS EXISTED BEFORE THE LAW OF SINAI WAS GIVEN. This proposition is self-evident. God has a law by which to govern his creatures, both angels and men, long before Sinai. Long before he ‘made’ national laws for Israel. Long before he ‘made’ the ritual sabbath day under the national law. But “the law,” as worded in the decalogue and in “the book of the law,” was not given till Moses, 2,500 years after creation.

Hence universal moral obligation did not begin with that law, nor would it cease if that law was abolished. 

“All unrighteousness is sin.” 1 John 5:17. And “sin is the transgression of the law.” Chap. 3:4. This text is used by Sabbatarians to prove that every possible sin is always a violation of the ten commandments. But,

1. “The law” is the whole Mosaic law, not merely the decalogue.

2. A correct translation entirely spoils this text for them. The word law is not in the text in the original 1 John 5:17. The revised version gives it correctly. “Sin is lawlessness.” This is the true meaning of the text. Sin is lawlessness, a disregard for some law, but not necessarily always the same law. Thus: “The angels sinned.” 2 Pet. 2:4. But they did not violate the law of Sinai, for it was not given till thousands of years after they fell, and they were not under that law any way.

Adam “sinned” long before that law was given. So Paul says, Rom. 5:12-14. Cain sinned, Gen. 4:7. The Sodomites were “sinners,” Gen. 13:13, and vexed Lot with their “unlawful deeds,” 2 Pet. 2:8.

Surely none of these violated “the law,” which was not given till Moses, hundreds of years afterwards. To say that they must have violated the principles of that law is not to the point. When the Jews killed Stephen, Acts 7:59, they violated the principles of the law of Michigan, which forbids murder; but did they violate the “law of Michigan, USA”? No; for it was not given for 1800 years after. And they were not under it any way. So neither the angels, nor Adam, nor the Sodomites could have transgressed the law of Sinai, for it was not yet given. So Abraham kept God’s laws, Gen. 26:5, but surely not “the law which was four hundred and thirty years after,” Gal. 3:17.

All this clearly shows that God had a higher universal law before the code of Sinai was given.

Jesus, under the gospel 1500 years later, in naming the commandments, gives them neither in the same words nor in the same order as found in the decalogue. Further, he mingles with them some precepts from the book of the law as of equal importance with the ten commandments.

Thus: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. Mark 10:19. This shows that the mere form and order of the commandments is of no consequence as long as the idea is given. So the two editions of the decalogue in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5 vary much in the wording; yet one is as good as the other. This shows that the exact wording is not essential.

In whatever form or manner God chose to communicate his will to men, this would be “his commandments, his statutes, and his laws.” Gen. 26:5. Paul says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” Heb. 1:1, 2. A disregard for his revealed will would be lawlessness – sin. But to claim that God gave the patriarchs his law in the exact form and words of the ten commandments is a proofless assumption, contrary to reason and all the facts in the case.

PROPOSITION 12. THIS ORIGINAL LAW IS SUPERIOR TO THE LAW OF SINAI. When asked “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40.

Neither of these is in the decalogue; but that law hangs on this higher law.

These principles, clad in the panoply of eternal immutability, lay back of the Mosaic law and existed with it throughout that dispensation as they had existed before and exist now.

In its very nature this great law of supreme love to God, and equal love to fellow creatures, must be as eternal and everlasting as God himself. This law governs angels, governed Adam, the patriarchs, the pious Jews, while under “the law,” and gentiles without ‘the law’, and Gentile Christians now.

It is applicable to all God’s creatures, in all ages and all worlds.

Idolatry, murder, theft, selfishness and “all unrighteousness,” 1 John 5:17, are and always were violations of this supreme law of God. This great law might be worded in different ways at different times and yet the same essential idea be preserved. Thus Jesus stated the second great commandment in another form.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt. 7:12.

The idea is the same as “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The exact words or form in which this law is stated is not material so long as the idea is made plain. Evidently this supreme law must have been made known to Adam and to the patriarchs but in just what form we are not told. To say that it was in the exact words of the decalogue is to affirm what can in no wise be proved.

PROPOSITION 13. THE MOSAIC LAW WAS FOUNDED UPON THE HIGHER AND ORIGINAL LAW. Jesus directly affirms this, Matt. 22:40. “On these two commandments hangs all the law.” The principles of this great law were interwoven all through the law of Sinai, being the life, “the spirit,” or “the righteousness” of “the law.” Rom. 2:26-29; 8:4. As an example, examine Lev. 19. Here you have the second great commandment, verse 18, and the principles of every one of the ten commandments.

Thus: 1st commandment, verse 32; 2nd, verse 4; 3rd, verse 12; 4th, verse 30; 5th, verse 3; 6th, verse 17; 7th, verse 29; 8th, verse 13; 9th, verse 11; 10th verse 35. Mingled among these are commandments about sacrifices, verse 5; harvest, verse 9; clothing, verse 19; priests, verse 22; first fruits, verse 23; wizards, verse 31. Gentiles, verse 34, etc. All these (moral, ceremonial, civil) are founded upon this higher law of love and can be changed to fit circumstances without affecting the supreme law, which is ever the same.

The particular wording of the law as adapted to the Jewish age was “the letter” or “form” of the law for the time being. While the spirit of the law can never change, the letter of it must change to fit the changing circumstances of God’s people.

If a Jew loved God with all his heart, he would have circumcised his sons, offered burnt sacrifices, paid tithes, kept the passover, the new moons, the Sabbath, and attended the temple worship, for this was “the law of the Lord.” 2 Chron. 31:3; Luke 2:22-27.

But if a Christian loves God he will be baptized, Acts 2:38, take the Lord’s supper, 1 Cor. 11:24,  will not neglect meeting together for worship and fellowship (Heb. 10:25), will not judge anyone on the Sabbath whether they observe it or not (Col 2:16, 17), Consider all seven days alike, or some days sacred (Rom 14:5), and do much more.

Hence “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb. 7:12. This is both Bible and common sense.

Those who make the mere letter of the Jewish law an iron rule, and contend for the exact wording under all circumstances, and in all ages, miss the spirit of the gospel, and are in bondage to a system out of date. Gal. 3:19-25; 4:21-25; 5:1-3, 13, 14; 2 Cor. 3:3-15.

PROPOSITION 14. “THE LAW” OF SINAI WAS GIVEN TO RESTRAIN CRIMINALS WHO WOULD ONLY OBEY GOD THROUGH FEAR. Consider this proposition well. A failure to understand this simple fact is the cause of all the blunders of Sabbatarians and legalists in their extravagant and unscriptural praises of “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones.” 2 Cor. 3:7.

On this point hear Paul state why that law was made and notice that it is of the moral precepts of the law that he speaks. “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” 1 Tim. 1:9, 10.

There can be no doubt that he refers to the code of Sinai, that which prohibited murder, thefts, etc. This law he says was not made for a righteous man but for the lawless. Of this law in another place Paul says: “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions.” Gal. 3:19. Again, “The law entered that the offense might abound.” Rom. 5:20, and, “until the law sin was in the world,” verse 13.

Hence it is manifest that sin, offense and transgression existed before “the law” was given, and that it was given to prohibit already existing crimes. Evidently God put the race on trial from Adam to Moses under the same eternal law of right and love which governed the angels and holy men. But mankind failed shamefully. They did not live by that rule. They became lawless. Disregard of God and open violence towards men were increasing, till life and property were insecure. Then God selected one nation, the Hebrews, and gave up the rest to their own ways. Rom. 1:20-28.

Up to this time God’s people had not been a nation by themselves but had dwelt among other nations and had been subject to their civil laws which prohibited open violence and protected life and property. But as soon as they became a nation by themselves, it became absolutely necessary to have a national law of their own which would prohibit and punish open crime, such as murder, theft, adultery, etc. Life and property would not have been secure without this, because many among them were wicked, lawless men, “stiff-necked and rebellious.”

If all had been righteous, if all had loved God and their neighbors, there would have been no need of a prohibitory law with a death penalty. We can readily see the reason why Paul says “the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless,” These lawless ones would have robbed and murdered the righteous ones had there been no national, temporal law to protect them, for these, wicked men would have cared little about God’s higher law, which pertains to the future judgment. But as the Jewish government was a theocracy, one in which God himself was ruler, the law required and regulated service to him as well as duties among themselves.

Hence to this nation God gave the law of Sinai. Ex. 20:2. Would it have been given if men had obeyed God without? Paul has settled that point. “The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.” l Tim. 1:9.

Then the law was not made till man had sinned, Rom. 5:13, offended, verse 20, transgressed, Gal. 3:19, and became lawless.

This then is not God’s original law by which he prefers to govern men. It was a law largely of prohibitions, threats, pains and penalties.

Its object was to restrain open crime, protect men in their natural rights and preserve the knowledge of God in the earth till Christ should come. Gal. 3:19-25. In order to keep that nation separate from all others, many burdensome rites were incorporated into the law which made it a yoke of bondage. Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1, 3.

When Christ came, and the Jewish nation was rejected and dispersed, and their national law overthrown, and the gospel went to all nations, that law had served its purpose, and so passed away as a system. Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:24; Heb. 7:12-19.

Now Christians are not under the Aaronic priesthood, nor the Jewish law. Heb. 7:11, 12; but are under the priesthood of Melchisedec, verses 14-19, as was Abraham our father, Gen. 14:18-20, who never had “the law” of Sinai, Gal. 3:17, but walked by the higher law which governs angels and holy men, Gen. 26:5.

The Jewish law being removed, we now come under the same law by which Enoch and Abraham “walked with God.” The sermon on the mount is a beautiful elucidation of that law, the rule by which all Christians should live, and by which all sinners will be judged at the judgment.

Now, as in the days before Moses, God’s people are not a nation by themselves, but are scattered among all nations where they are governed and protected by the civil law of those nations.

Hence the New Testament provides no civil law for the government of Christians, no temporal penalties for criminals. It would be directly contrary to the nature of the gospel to do either.

All this is left to the rulers of nations wherever Christians happen to be. Open criminals, who will not obey from principle, the higher law, are now turned over to the civil magistrate. Paul makes this matter very plain and puts the question beyond dispute.

Thus: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.” Rom. 13:1-6.

There is where you find prohibitory law for “the lawless;” that is, in the civil law of the land where they live. This punishes their crime against society. Their offenses against God’s great law will be recompensed at the judgment, but the saints of God must be governed by the higher law, the law of supreme love to God and equal love to fellows. Such obedience can come only from a heart renewed by the Spirit of God, 2 Cor. 3:3, and “if ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.” Gal. 5:18.

Is any man a Christian who refrains from murder, theft, and adultery, simply because the law says, “Thou shalt not”? No, indeed, he must refrain from these from a higher motive than that.

Then surely he must be governed by a higher law than the decalogue. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom. 13:10. The dispute between Paul and the Judaizers then was over the nature and obligation of the Jewish law. The dispute now concerning the Jewish Sabbath involves the same point, the obligation of the letter of the Jewish law.

PROPOSITION 15. THE LETTER OF THE LAW IS NOT BINDING UPON CHRISTIANS AS A COERCIVE CODE. Little argument ought to be needed to prove this; for if the letter of that law is binding, then we must be circumcised; offer sacrifices, keep the seventh day and all the Jewish ritual, for “the law” included the whole law, Gal. 3:10; 5:3.

Notice in the following text that “the righteousness of the law” and the spirit of the law is one thing, while “the letter” and outward service is quite another. Notice further that a man may “fulfill the law” without keeping the letter of it, and thus condemn the formalist who keeps the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. Paul says:

“If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom. 2:26-29.

Paul argues that Christians must be circumcised, but not “outwardly in the flesh,” as formerly, but “inwardly in the spirit, not in the letter.” By this he illustrates the difference between keeping the law now and formerly. So, further on: “Ye are not under the law but under grace.” Rom. 6:14. So in the next chapter he says:

“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Rom. 7:6.

How can one misunderstand language so plain? Now, under Christ, we are delivered from the law of Moses; that law is dead, and we serve Christ in the spirit, “not in the old letter.” So again he says, urging this point: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” Chap. 8:4. Paul uses the word “flesh” for the outward “works of the law.” See Gal. 3:2, 3. We do not walk according to the outward form of the law, but we do obey the intent and spirit of it or its “righteousness,” as he here calls it.

The higher law of God, supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbors, upon which the Jewish law hung, was the “spirit,” “righteousness,” or real intent of “the law.” This “first and great” law Christians do keep, while free from the mere letter of the law, which was bondage. Hence to the Galatians who were being troubled with Judaizing legalists, Paul wrote: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Gal. 5:13, 14, 18.

How he reiterates the truth in all his letters, that Christians are not under the law; that they are called to a liberty which Jews never enjoyed. Notice how he states it over and over that all the law is fulfilled in this, Love your neighbor as yourself. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Rom. 13:8, 10.

This is not a liberty to licentiousness and self-indulgence; but it is a liberty from the forms and ceremonies of the law which bound the Jews.

In Jer. 31:3l-34, it was foretold that the Lord would make a “new covenant” with Israel, “not according” to the one he made at Sinai; for he would put his laws in their hearts and minds. This clearly indicated a change from the previous formal way of governing God’s people. Paul thus refers to that prophecy: “not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Cor. 3:3, 6.

Now the law for the Christian is not that written in the book or on the tables of stone. It was not the letter but the spirit of that law which the apostles taught. So Paul says. Then he says that “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, was” “done way.” Verses 7, 11.

Surely, then, Christians are free from the letter of that law; but it is still to be studied with reverence and its spirit carried out in Christian duties though in form these must differ from Jewish duties. The voluntary gathering on the Lord’s resurrection day meets the spirit of the fourth commandment. We are circumcised in heart, not in the flesh. Rom. 2:26-29.

Hence, the coming of Christ did not repeal any moral law, and the ceremonial law was not repealed, but fulfilled. All that was permanent, useful, or spiritual in the Mosaic economy remains, NOT IN THE LETTER OF STATUTES, but in the fulfilled and completed dispensation of grace.

The following, from Peter, is a fair illustration of the spiritual application of the old law which the apostles make all through the gospel: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5. The old temple, priesthood, and sacrifices of the law, now have a spiritual meaning as found in the church and its service.

PROPOSITION 16. THE LAW WAS CHANGED. Jeremiah predicted that under the new covenant, God’s law would be written in the heart and not as it was before. “I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.” Jer. 31:33. Paul refers to this when he says, Ye are our epistle “written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” 2 Cor. 3:3. So then God’s law is not now written on tables of stone as at Sinai. This is a square contradiction to what Adventists teach. They claim that God’s law is still on stones in heaven the same as of old. Paul says no, it is written by the spirit upon the heart.

This implied a radical change in the form of the law and the way it was to be taught. In Heb. 7:12, it is expressly declared that “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” The letter of the Jewish law is wholly unfitted to the condition of the Christian church. It can only be a guide to us as modified and interpreted by the gospel. But in the gospel there is no injunction to keep the seventh day or circumcision law. Hence the letter of that command does not concern us.

PROPOSITION 17. THE WHOLE MOSAIC SYSTEM ENDED AT THE CROSS. Surely this is so plainly taught all through the New Testament that no one should deny it. But we have clearly proved that “the law” included the whole code of laws given to Israel at Sinai, moral, civil, and ceremonial precepts, decalogue and all.

That entire system of law was framed to fit the Jewish age and could not possibly be applied to Gentile Christians in all parts of the world. Hence a “new way,” Heb. 10:20, a “new covenant,” Heb. 8:13, a new “ministration,” 2 Cor. 3:8, was introduced, so there was “made of necessity a change also of the law,” Heb. 7:12.

Examine carefully a few texts to which I will refer. “The law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. This teaches a change. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14. “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” Gal. 3:24, 25. “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ,” Rom. 7:4. “Now we are delivered from the law,” verse 6. “Christ is the end of the law,” Rom. 10:4. “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious.” “That which is done away was glorious,” 2 Cor. 3:7, 10. That ends the decalogue.

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” Eph. 2:15. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days,” Col. 2:14, 16, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” “For the law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope.” Heb. 7:12, 18, 19.

Read Acts 15:1-29 and see this whole matter of “the law” discussed by the apostles and settled in these words:

“Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, YE MUST be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment.” Verse 24.

The, decision is positive and clear: the apostles gave no commandment to “keep the law.” It does not say “ceremonial law,” or a part of the law, but simply “the law.” Adventists say we must keep the law or “ye can not be saved,” exactly what those Judaizers said, verse 1, and just what the council condemned.

Circumcision was specially mentioned because it was the initiatory rite, the sign which represented the whole law. Thus when a Gentile would partake of the privileges of the nation, he had first to be circumcised. Ex. 12:48. To be uncircumcised was to be a heathen, unclean, and lost; to be circumcised was to be an Israelite, a member of the holy nation.

Hence circumcision represented the whole law of Moses in all its parts.

Elder Butler, Adventist leader, has to confess this. He says: “The term ‘the law,’ among the Jews generally included the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical, and civil. This as a system these Judaizing teachers desired to maintain. Circumcision was a sign of the whole.” Law in Galatians, page 70.

Never was a truer statement.

Circumcision was the sign of the whole Mosaic system, moral, typical, civil, all that was written in the five books of Moses, of which the decalogue was a chief part. The apostles decided that Gentile believers were free from this whole system of law. Put with Butler’s statement this from Elder Smith, another leading Adventist, and you have the whole truth:

That which was abolished at the cross was an entire system. God did not single out and abolish portions and pieces of some arrangement or system, and leave other parts remaining.” Synopsis of Present Truth, page 259.

Correct; the whole system ended at the cross.

PROPOSITION 18. NO PART OF GOD’S GREAT SPIRITUAL LAW WAS ABOLISHED, RE-ENACTED, OR CHANGED AT THE CROSS. Adventists make a great ado over the absurdity of the idea that God should abolish his law at the cross and then immediately re-enact nine-tenths of it. They say, as well cut off your ten fingers to get rid of one bad one and then stick nine on again. So they go on with a whole jumble of absurdities involved in the position that God’s moral law was abolished at the cross and a new one given. But this is only a man of straw of their own making and hence easily demolished.

We hold no such absurd position. God’s great moral law is unchangeable.

 But the Mosaic law was only a national one founded upon the principles of God’s moral law. Even while it existed it did not supersede God’s higher law, and when it ended it in no way affected God’s law, which continued right on unchanged and unchangeable.

To illustrate:

The state law of Michigan forbids murder, theft and adultery. In these items it is founded upon God’s moral law. Now abolish the law of Michigan. Does that abolish God’s law? No.

So with the state law of Israel. Neither its enactment on Sinai nor its abolition at the cross in any way changed God’s great moral law by which he will judge the world. The Advent absurdities grew out of their own false theory, that is all.

Adventists agree with us that the law of Moses, Acts 15:5, was abolished. Well, that law contained many precepts as purely moral as anything in the decalogue.

Here are some: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” Deut. 6:5. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” Lev. 19:11, 18.

Scores of such precepts are all through this law which they admit was abolished. They are just as moral, spiritual, and necessary as anything in the ten commandments, and yet all this law was abolished as they admit. But did that abolish the duty enjoined in these precepts? No, because they were inherent in a higher law.

Just so every moral principle involved in the decalogue existed in a higher law before that document was given, and so did not cease when that law expired.

Elder White himself makes this admission: “The ten commandments are adapted to fallen beings. As worded in the sacred Scripture, they are not adapted to the condition of holy angels, nor to man in his holy estate in Eden. * * * But the two grand principles of God’s moral government did exist before the fall, in the form of law. * * * These two great commandments embrace all that is required by the ten precepts of the decalogue.” Law and Gospel, pages 4, 5. Good and true.

Then the ten commandments are not God’s primary law. They are only temporary, while that containing all that is moral in them, and much more, continues always.

“The teachings of Christianity are facts and principles, not propositions and restrictions; its institutions are simple outlines, not precise ceremonies; and its laws are moral sentiments, not minute mechanical directions.” Pulpit Commentary on 2 Cor. 3:6.

This is the truth well put.

So the wicked who do not live by these principles, who do not love God nor their fellows, but who live selfish, corrupt lives, will be judged and condemned by these principles of God’s eternal law.

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The Decalogue Examined

The Decalogue Examined


With Seventh-Day Adventists the decalogue is the one supreme moral and spiritual law of God, than which there is none higher. It is the law which governs the angels in heaven. It governs all men in all ages, and in the world to come. These tencommandments cover the whole duty of man, so that there is no sin which can be committed that is not a violation of this law, while at the same time it enjoins every virtue. 

But these claims are extravagant and unfounded. A desire to sustain the seventh-day Sabbath has led to this false position on the decalogue. Twenty-five hundred years, nearly half the entire history of the world, passed away before the decalogue was given at all, as the Bible clearly says. This is strange if the decalogue is so all important.

Let us examine it. Moses says distinctly that all the words which the Lord spoke were written on the tables of stone:

“And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone, written with the finger of God: and on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spake with you in the Mount, out of the midst of the fire.” Deut. 9:10

This text is too decisive to be evaded. All that God spoke was written on the tables and was a part of the decalogue. Here are the first of those words: 

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” etc. Ex. 20:1-3. 

These words are as much a part of the decalogue as any of the rest of it. They were spoken by God from heaven, written by his finger, were engraven on the stone, and put in the ark. Now look at the law chart which Seventh-Day Adventists hang up as the “law of God.” Are these words on there? No, indeed. Why are they left off ? 

Because, if put on, they would spoil their whole theory of that law. They claim that this law is binding upon the angels. But how would this sound to the angels: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”? Were the angels in bondage in Egypt? Would not that sound a little queer to Gabriel and the seraphs, to be told that they had been in bondage in Egypt? Read it to Adam. That would have been news to him to learn that he had been in bondage in Egypt! Read it to a free-born American; read it to all the redeemed hosts in heaven. To whom are the words applicable? Just to the Jewish nation and to no others. For them the decalogue was framed and to them it was given. For years I searched to find one text stating that THIS law was ever given to any people but the Jews. I never found it. These first words show plainly that it was addressed only to them.

Seventh-Day Adventists assert that the Sabbath precept is the only thing in the decalogue that tells who gave it. Thus: “Aside from this precept [the Sabbath] there is nothing in the decalogue to show by whose authority the law is given.” Mrs. White, in Great Controversy, page 284

This is not true. The introductory words tell plainly who gave it. It was the God who brought them out of Egypt. Here are the name, signature and seal of that law in the first words of it. Here God stands before them as their *Deliverer*, rather than as their *Creator*. Their obedience to these commands is based upon this fact. See how plain it is. I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of Egypt, therefore thou shalt do thus and so. Egypt, not Eden, is pointed to. In the copy of the decalogue as given in Deut. 5:6-21, there is no reference whatever to creation, while deliverance from Egypt is made prominent. “To extend it further than its own preface is to violate the rules of criticism.”

What an unnatural and unheard of thing it would be, in giving an important document, to sign the, name of the author in the middle of it, as Sabbatarians say the Lord did in giving the decalogue! In our time the name is signed at the close of a document; but anciently, specially among the Jews, the name of the author was, always given first, in the first sentence of the document. 

Thus:

  • “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra,” etc. Ezra 7:12.
  • The vision of Isaiah,” etc. Isa. 1:1.
  • “The words of Jeremiah,” etc. Jer. 1:1.
  • “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” etc. Rom. 1:1.
  • “James, a servant of God,” etc. Jas. 1:1.
  • “Peter, an apostle,” etc. 1 Pet. 1:1. 

So it is all through the Bible, the name and authority are given first, then follows the body of the document. Just so the Lord, according to this ancient custom then in use and familiar to all, in giving the decalogue first announces his name, “the Lord thy God,” and his power, “that brought thee out of Egypt.”

This he does in the opening words of that law. Here, then, in the very first words of the decalogue, and not in the Sabbath precept in the middle of the law, is the name of the law-giver. Jehovah, who brought them out of Egypt. This settles it that this law was not given till then, was given only to the Jews and was designed for no others.

To illustrate: Opening to a law passed by the legislature of Michigan, February 16, 1882, I read: “Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the state of Michigan,” etc. Now suppose that some one should claim that this law was passed one thousand years ago and was designed for the whole world. Would not these opening words show that this law was not enacted till Michigan became a state and that it was designed only for the people of Michigan? Assuredly. 

Just so the opening words of the decalogue show that this law was not given till God brought Israel out of Egypt, that it was given to them and to no others. If any one will find a copy of the decalogue before this time, we will give up the case. All the way through it there are evidences that it was worded to fit only the Jewish nation in their peculiar circumstances.

Take the Sabbath commandment: “Thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Ex. 20:10

Think of that commandment being given to angels in Heaven! “Sons,” “daughters,” and “thy neighbor’s wife,” verse 17, when they neither marry nor are given in marriage! 

Again: “Cattle,” “ox,” “ass,” etc. Do the angels own cattle and work oxen and asses in heaven? So “man servants and maid servants.” This means bond servants or slaves, such as the Hebrews owned in those days. This is shown also by the tenth commandment, verse 17. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass.”

 These were his property, servants or slaves, oxen, asses, etc. But do the angels own slaves? Did Adam have servants in Eden? Will the redeemed own them hereafter? What nonsense to apply this law to the angels and to Eden and to heaven! This wording was specially adapted to the social condition of the Jews as a nation in the land of Canaan, and to no others.

Once more: “Thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Verse 10. As everybody knows, “the stranger” was the Gentile. “Within thy gates” was a common expression meaning within your cities or dwelling in your land. It has no reference to living on your farm or inside the gates that enclose your farm, as Adventists always explain it. The towns were walled in and entered by gates. Here is where the judges sat and all business was done. Thus: “All that went in at the gate of his city.” Gen. 23:10. “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates.” Deut. 16:18. To this custom of the Jews the Sabbath commandment refers. All the Gentiles dwelling in their cities among them must be made to keep the Sabbath. This shows it to be a national law, worded in all its parts to fit the circumstances of the Jews at the time.

This command, then, could not apply to any but the Jews there.

Again, the fifthcommandment: “The land which the Lord giveth them,” verse 12, plainly refers to Canaan, which God gave them.

The ninth precept: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors” This does not relate to lying in general, but only to a false oath against a neighbor in court. See Deut. 19:15-19. A man could tell a hundred lies which would not be false witness against a neighbor. The command against lying is found in Lev. 19:11: “Neither lie one to another.” This is a moral precept much broader than the ninth commandment.

Every principle contained in the decalogue is also found time and again laid down in the law of Moses, either in the same or similar words. Thus, for example: Lev. 19 reiterates every principle found in the ten commandments, with many more besides. How erroneous, then, to call one (ten commandments) the moral law and the other the ceremonial law, when both are of the same nature, the decalogue simply being representative precepts from the law of Moses.

But the chief argument used to prove the superior nature of the ten commandments is that they were spoken by God’s voice, written by His finger on stone, and placed in the ark, while all the rest of the law was written by the hand of Moses in a book.

Why were these commandments thus selected out and given in such a manner if not to exalt them above all others?

The answer is easy: According to the custom of those times, any solemn contract or covenant was commemorated by selecting some object as witness or testimony of it. Thus:

  • Jacob erected a pillar as a witness of his vow to God. Gen. 28:18.
  • Jacob and Laban made a heap of stones as witness of their covenant. Gen. 31:48.
  • Abraham set apart seven lambs as “a witness” of his covenant with Abimelech. Gen. 21:27-30.

Just so when the solemn covenant was made between God and Israel at Sinai, the Lord gave them the tables of stone to be always kept as a witness or “testimony” of that agreement. Hence they are called the tables of testimony,” that is, witness. Ex. 31:18. 

So the tabernacle was “the tabernacle of testimony,” Num. 1:53; or, “the tabernacle of witness,” Num. 17:7. These tables of stone, then, containing some of the chief items of the law, were always to be kept as “witness” of the covenant which Israel had made to keep that law. Evidently this is the reason why the decalogue was given as it was, and not because it was a perfect and eternal law in and of itself.

Manifestly it would have been impossible to carry around the whole law if written on stones; hence only a few samples out of that law could have been selected and put on stones to be kept as a witness of that covenant. So the reason why God spoke these words was not because it was a perfect law, but to impress their minds so that they never would forget it. This is just what God says himself: “I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live.” Deut. 4:10. How much more simple and manifest these reasons are than the imaginary ones invented by Sabbatarians.

That the decalogue was merely the national law for the Jews and temporal in its obligation, is proved by the fact that stoning to death was the penalty for its violation.When death was thus inflicted upon a man, he had paid the penalty of that law, and all the penalty there was. But is stoning to death the penalty for God’s moral law? No, that is eternal death at the judgment. A man who is hung for murder has paid the penalty of the law of our land, the same as the Jew who was stoned paid the penalty of the law of his land. Will God judge a man the second time at the judgment by the law of our land after he has once paid its penalty by hanging? No, but he will be judged by another and a higher law, the great spiritual law of God. And so it will be with the Jews. They will never be judged the second time by the decalogue, for that was only national, but by the higher law, the one that requires supreme love to God, and love to man as to himself. A law without a penalty is a nullity; but stoning, the penalty attached to the decalogue, was abolished at the cross; hence the law also ceased there too.

Seventh-Day Adventists claim that the ten commandments are a perfect law, condemning every possible sin and requiring every possible virtue. But this is all assumption and contrary to the manifest truth. Which one of the ten commandments condemns pride, boasting, drunkenness, unthankfulness, love of pleasure, anger, filthy talk, impatience, variance, selfishness, and the like? 

Which one of the ten commandments requires us to feed the poor, to visit the fatherless and the widow, to suffer long and be kind, to be gentle, meek, temperate, to pray, to repent, to go to meeting, to forgive, and the like?

No, the, decalogue does no such thing, because it was made for no such purpose. It was merely prohibitory in its nature. The man who merely did nothing, who simply avoided crime, kept that law. But the law of God, by which a Christian must live, requires him to do, and to do much. He must love God, love his neighbor, love his enemies, visit the widow and the needy, suffer wrong, be patient, entertain strangers, and be active in every good work.

It requires unceasing activity and the consecration of all our energies to good works; but the decalogue requires nothing but to avoid open crime. The decalogue alone is never called the law of God, nor the law of the Lord, nor a perfect law, nor is it said that any one will be judged by it, or that it is binding on Christians.

 

Eminent Authors On The Decalogue

Many of the most eminent, devout and learned men of the church have held that the decalogue was abolished, though they were far from being Antinomians.

Among these were the apostolical fathers, Luther, Calvin, Milton, Baxter, Bunyan, Doddridge, Whately, Grotius, Locke, Sherlock, Watts, Hessey, Judson, George Dana Boardman, and a host of such men. 

Justin Martyr, A. D. 140, says: “The law promulgated on Horeb is now old and belongs to yourselves (Jews) alone: but this is for all universally. Now law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it.” Dialogue with Trypho, Chap. 11. On this Elder Andrew says: “That Justin held to the abrogation of the ten commandments is also manifested.” Testimony of the Fathers, page 43.

Tertullian, A. D. 200, says: “The abolition of the ancient law we fully admit.” Against Marcian, Book 5. Chap. 2. On the law he quotes Col. 2:16, and says: “The apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished.” Ibid. Chap. 19.

Luther says: “The ten commandments do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews. If a preacher wishes to force you back to Moses, ask him whether you were brought by Moses out of Egypt. If he says no, then say: ‘How, then, does Moses concern me, since he speaks (in the ten words) to the people that have been brought out of Egypt.’ In the New Testament Moses comes to an end and his laws lose their force.”

Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, says: “In its individual, or what is usually called its ‘moral’ aspect, the Law bore equally the stamp of transitoriness. It seems clear enough that its formal, coercive authority as a whole, ended with the close of the Jewish dispensation.” 

Says Dr. Dobbs, Baptist says this was the teaching of the protestant reformers : “Nor is this ‘new and dangerous teaching.’ It was the doctrine of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century’.

Rev. George Dana Boardman, D. D., the eminent Baptist divine, in his recent book on “TheTen Commandments,” says: “Although the decalogue, in its spirit, is for all lands and ages, yet, in its letter, it was evidently for the Jews. The very preamble proves the assertion: ‘God spake all these words, saying: I am Jehovah, thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ Then follow the ten commandments, based on the unique fact that Jehovah was the covenant God of Israel.” Pages 127-130.

John Milton says: “With regard to the doctrine of those who consider the decalogue as a code of universal morality, I am at a loss to understand how such an opinion should ever have prevailed; these commandments being evidently nothing more than a summary of the whole Mosaic law as the fourth is of the whole ceremonial law; which therefore can contain nothing applicable to the gospel worship.” Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chap. 7.

Adapted: Decalogue Examined by Dudley Marvin (Retrieved from: https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar18.htm)

The gospel & 1844: are they compatible?

1844

Why the gospel and 1844 are not compatible?

  • Seventh-day Adventist’s teach that in 1844, Christ began a work of judgment. This doctrine is their special gospel message to the world, and the reason for their existence. Ellen White said this teaching is the ‘foundation’ and ‘central pillar’ of the Advent faith (The Great Controversy, p. 409). Is this message compatible with the Biblical gospel?

Let’s see what the Bible teaches about the gospel

  • The gospel is called ‘the gospel of Christ’: It is about Jesus Christ’ (Romans 1:3).

  • The gospel is about Jesus Christ fulfilling the Old Testament: He fulfils its law and prophecy (Matt. 5:17).

He fulfils the law because He is the reality of all Jewish sacrifices and ceremonies.

His fulfils the law because His perfect obedience to God is the righteousness which the law demands of the human race.

  • The gospel is about a finished thing: His last words on the cross were ‘’It is finished’’. It is the good news of Christ’s finished work.

He ‘made atonement for sin’ (Rom 3:25), ‘destroyed death’ (2 Tim. 1:10), and ‘defeated the devil’ (Hebrews 2:14).  Man’s lost dominion has been restored in this one man, Jesus, ‘who reigns over all principalities and powers’ (1 Cor. 15:25).

  • The Bible presents the gospel as a historical thing that is done and finished.

‘Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached [past tense] to you before. It is this Good News that saves you. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said’’ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

‘He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross’ (Col. 2:14,15)

‘When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honour at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven’ (Hebrews 1:3)

The New Testament gospel is not presented as if it were an Old Testament promise of what God will do. It is message of what He has done. If anyone preaches about a gospel not already finished, it is not the gospel (Gal. 1:8).

  • The Gospel is a final thing: ‘Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son’ (Heb. 1:1-2).

God did everything for our salvation when He acted in Christ. Christ is God’s final word to man. For there is no hint that the New Testament Christians are waiting for the Spirit (latter rain), the sealing, the verdict of the final judgment. They only wait for the Son of God to come from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10).

Hence, until Jesus comes, there is no way to go on from hearing the gospel to some higher knowledge of the gospel message or some more profound experience of God (latter rain).

  • The gospel is a complete thing: ‘For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole counsel or teachings of God’’ (Acts 20:27).

We need to guard against the idea that since we are in the last days, we need to preach aspects of Christ’s redemptive work which were not proclaimed by the apostles.

  • The proclamation of the gospel of Jesus is a last day event:’But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice’’ (Hebrew 9:26).

Calvary therefore was a last day event. The outpouring of the Spirit to proclaim the gospel took place at Pentecost, which was a fulfilment of what Joel preached would take place in the last days (Acts 2:16, 17).

  • The gospel is an all-sufficient thing: It gives us eternal life (John 5:24; 3:16); it gives us the seal of God which is the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13); No new testament believer waits for the Spirit, but by the Spirit he waits for the Lord (Rom. 5:5). In Christ, believer is now perfect, without fault, blameless in God’s sight (Col. 1:20).

It is denial of the gospel to talk about a future character perfection, sealing, as if there is something above and beyond hearing the gospel that has already been given to the New Testament church.

  • The gospel is a clear and certain thing: It is not a mystery or hidden thing. ‘’If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ..’’ (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

The clear message of the gospel is Christ is the promised one who died to take away our sins so that all who believe find forgiveness and life everlasting (John 3:16).

  • The gospel is a decisive thing: Those who obey the gospel are sealed and given life eternal. Those who disobey the gospel are judged already (John 5:24). This means that the final judgement is mysteriously present in preaching of the gospel (John 3:18). God doesn’t require any further judgement to decide who are his children.

1844 : does it match up with the Biblical gospel?

  • The date 1844 and the teaching on the two-phased ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary are the nerve center of Adventism. From this teaching comes a plethora of teachings like the investigative judgment, the remnant church, the special sealing, the latter rain, and Spirit of prophecy (Ellen White).

Because the gospel given to the apostles was a finished, complete thing, and no future addition to that gospel was implied, SDA teaching on 1844 actually denies the gospel. The SDA pioneers, and members do not appear to understand the gospel.

  • Consequently, even today, the SDA gospel is being preached as a promise of what God will do for us if we fulfil certain conditions, and not as something finished! For example, He will blot out our sins if we pass the investigative judgment that began in 1844. If we keep the Sabbath, we will receive the seal of God. He will help us overcome every character defect so that we can receive the latter rain.

It’s no exaggeration to say that SDA community has lived and continue to live as an Old Testament community with a gospel of promise than a New Testament community with a gospel of something already finished.

  • The Old Testament revelation God gave through Moses, Daniel was veiled. But this was revealed or unveiled in the New Testament because ‘God has spoken’ (Hebrews 1:2) the final word about the essential meaning of the Old Testament. This means we must interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament. SDA’s generally do the reverse.

When the New Testament declares Dan 7:14, ‘He was given all authority’ was fulfilled in Christ (Matt. 28:18), we must not go beyond God’s final word.

  • Since Aaron went into holy of holies in the earthly sanctuary, SDA’s reasoned that Christ must have gone into heaven to do the same. SDA’s do not get that the book of Hebrews contrasts between type (symbol) and antitype (real) more than the parallels. Unlike Aaron, Christ made atonement ‘once and for all’ and then went into the presence of God (Heb. 1:3). That’s why Hebrews says nothing about a two-phased ministration in heaven.

The book of Hebrews know nothing about a further ministration to prepare His children for his coming, because, ‘For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy’’ (Hebrews 10:14).

  • Christ’s intercession in heaven is not that of an Aaronic priest standing before God to offer the blood. His intercession is that of a king seated on His throne, exercising the rights and titles gained by His finished work.

The 1844 teaching implies that the apostolic gospel was not complete, that it did not contain all the light necessary to prepare the church for translation. All this is opposed to the gospel ‘once for all entrusted to the saints’’ (Jude 3), which was a gospel containing all necessary things to prepare people for the Christ’s coming (Rom. 5:1).

  • What can we say about 1844? It rests on one solitary text – Daniel 8:14. There is no New Testament confirmation of either the date 1844, or the new phase of Christ’s work in heaven.

The truth is SDA’s have not been able to convince a single recognised Biblical scholar that their interpretation of Daniel 8:14 is worthy of a second thought. There is not an adventist in ten who would feel comfortable ‘proving’ the 1844 doctrine from the Bible. Yet SDA’s have to hold on to it, because it alone justifies the existence of Adventism as a movement with a special message.

  • Instead of a pre-advent judgment beginning in 1844, the New Testament knows only one pre-advent judgment. It is the apostolic gospel (John 3:17-19). By this gospel, all men are tested and are thereby declared righteous or guilty.

It’s time for SDA’s to wake up, and embrace the true gospel. For the gospel is about Jesus, something He finished, therefore it is final, complete, an end time event, all sufficient, clear, and decisive!

Adapted from: Are the gospel and 1844 theology compatible? By R. Brinsmead

Is your view on sin narrow?

RepentCross

If your understanding of sin is narrow, then your understanding of God’s law, His grace, and your love for others will also be narrow.

Here’s the truth about the gravity our sin condition, the high standard of His law, the unfathomable depth of His grace and Christ’s sacrifice.

God’s definition of sin is broad

  • Everything that is not from faith is sin’ (Romans 14:23)
  • Turning away from God through unbelief is sin (Hebrews 3:12)
  • Not doing what you know is right is sin (James 4:17)
  • Doing wrong without knowing is sin (Leviticus 5:17)

Breaking God’s commandments is sin (1 John 3:4)

  • God’s commandments are not just the ten commandments, but all the moral commands stated in the Bible
  • The Rich Young Ruler thought he kept all the commandments of God, but Jesus said it wasn’t ‘complete’ because he did not care for the poor according to his financial ability (Matt. 19). Taking care of the poor is a moral command
  • The story of the rich young ruler shows the impossibility of earning one’s salvation by following a list of commandments (Mark 10:26)
  • James 2:9 states if you show favoritism or discriminate anyone, you have broken all the commandments

Even our human nature is sinful from birth

‘See, I was born in sin and was in sin from my very beginning’ (Psalms 51:5). Our sinful human nature can produce only one thing naturally. Sin! That’s why we need to be born again. More on this later

We cannot view sin as merely a list of dos and don’ts

  • Since, everything that is not from faith is sin, every action and attitude that we do without faith in God’s promises is sin
  • Therefore, we cannot view sin as merely a list of dos and don’ts
  • One of Satan’s most successful lies is that sin can be limited to a manageable list of dos and don’ts
  • This is so satanic and dangerous because it causes thousands of christians to think that things are OK between them and God because they avoid one list of don’ts and practice another (much shorter) list of do’s (ex: church going, returning offerings, not committing murder literally etc); but in fact may be sinning all day long

God’s standard of law is so high; no fallen man can measure up to it always

  • His standard of law is so high that it is humanely impossible for any fallen man to measure up. Perhaps occasionally, but not all the time. In Greek, Romans 3:23 is actually saying ‘all have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s standard’
  • It this standard of law that we have broken, are guilty of, condemned for, and deserving death (Romans 6:23)

His standard of love towards others is also high

  • A lawyer asked Jesus, what must I do to inherit life (Luke 10:25). Then Jesus recited the story of the good Samaritan. The lesson from the story was you must show perfect love to your neighbour, wherever, or whoever they may be all the time. This is humanly impossible to do all the time.
  • This parable teaches once again the impossibility of earning one’s salvation. The standard, which is perfect love, is too high; you can’t manufacture such God kind of love.

Narrow view of sin leads some to believe they can ‘do’ the law and inherit life

  • Because some have a narrow view of sin, and law, they like the rich young ruler, pharisees and that lawyer still think that they can DO the law to inherit eternal life
  • Only way to be saved by the law is to keep the law perfectly—every moment of every day for your entire life
  • “But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10)
  • People have a tendency to just cherry-pick a handful of things out of the law like the Sabbath (if you are a Sabbath keeper), offering giving, not stealing literally etc. But what Paul is saying, you can’t cherry-pick the law. If you’re going to earn righteousness under the law, it’s all the commandments (love others unconditionally, help the poor, don’t discriminate, every single one of them etc), and if you fail in one slightest detail ever in your life, then you are under a curse, and you are condemned.
  • If you think you can be saved by ticking a few commandments, you are in for a surprise. ‘Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23)
  • If we don’t understand the seriousness of sin, the standard of his law, and how we don’t measure up to God’s standard, we will never understand our dangerous-sinful-hopeless-condition, why Jesus came, why He died, why we need a savior, what he accomplished by His death, and how we can walk righteously.

Because we cannot pay for our sins, God turned over our sins to Jesus

  • Sin separated us from God, and created a bridge between us and Him (Isaiah 59:2), but Jesus took away our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). God punished Jesus for our sins (Isaiah 53:5), and ‘brought us back to himself through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:18)
  • Apart from Christ we are separated from God, condemned, lost. But ‘Christ united us with God‘ (Eph 2:6). We were united with God the moment we repented for our sins, trusted Jesus that He was punished for our sins, our death, our law breaking, and believed that His sacrifice is sufficient to save us.
  • When we repented, our sins were completely forgiven. ‘There is now no condemnation for them that belong to Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). The law no more condemns us because it already condemned someone else: Jesus. ‘You are complete in Him’ (Col. 2:10)
  • Since we have broken God’s law, there is no way our good deeds could offset our bad deeds. ‘For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die’ (Gal 2:21). Only Jesus can save us and He did save us from the punishment by taking the punishment for our sins.

In God’s plan, we receive righteousness on the basis of faith

  • I am “found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9).
  • We receive the righteousness of God apart from the law, meaning it doesn’t come from obeying the law. It comes from another place; it comes from Jesus Himself. It’s His righteousness.
  • God’s credits his Son’s righteous life on this earth as our righteousness by exchanging it for our sins the moment we repent, tell him we have messed up,  and confess we can’t measure up to His standard, and put our trust in Him! In that very moment, we are declared righteous in God’s presence as a gift of God’s grace (Romans 4:3). This is the good news! This is radical. This is grace. This is something only God thought up in his heart. Not man. Please don’t lower grace to your standard.

When you repented and believed in Jesus, you were born again

  • When we repented for our sins and our inability to save ourselves, and accepted Jesus as our perfect sacrifice, sin bearer, savior, Lord, He came into our life and we were born again. Jesus gave us a new birth, a new start in life. Our past is just that. Past. We can now look forward to living changed, righteous, and joy filled lives as we have Jesus living in us now.
  • ‘When we believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit‘ (Ephesians 1:13). This seal is the guratanee that tell us we are now God’s children, we are empowered, we have eternal life, we will inherit what God has promised us (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Without the new birth, you can’t enter the kingdom of God nor walk righteously

  • Unless one is born again, he cannot enter God’s kingdom (John 3:3).
  • We need to be born again, because when we were born into this world, we were born spiritually dead; this was the result of Adam’s fall. When they died that day eating the fruit (Genesis 2:17), they died in a real sense. Their spirit or spiritual nature died. Therefore, all Adam’s children are born into this world ‘dead’ (Eph 2:5) or with a dead ‘spirit’. They are dead to the things of God, dead to the voice of the Holy Spirit. They can’t hear God speak to them.
  • Nicodemus was a Sabbath keeper. Pharisees were Sabbath keepers. They kept a narrow list of commandments, and were satisfied that they met God’s standard. However, they were not born again. Their spirit or spiritual nature was still dead. That’s why they failed to meet the weightier matters of the law like justice, mercy, faith (Matthew 23:23), taking care of the poor, and helpless according to their financial ability. They didn’t even know they were sinning.
  • People who are not born again may keep a narrow set of laws and judge other people on external things like church going, offering giving, etc. but their hearts are far from God. They have an outward form of religion, but they have not changed from the inside out, because they were never born again.

There is more than forgiveness in God’s plan

  • When Jesus lives in us, He comes out in our actions, attitudes and affections. He empowers us to bear fruits of righteousness. He fulfills the righteousness requirement of the law in us (Romans 8:4) as His Spirit guides us.
  • The law tells us this. How messed up we are every time we look at it because it’s standard is so high (Romans 3:20). We have never kept its demand constantly, every moment, every day.
  • Those who have a narrow view of law will never see their true state from the law. The Pharisees never saw this. Therefore, they never really saw the need for a savior to take away their sins.
  • However, the Holy Spirit is our guide now, and not the law (Gal 3:25). We are ‘led by the Spirit’ (Romans 8:14). When the Spirit guides, He puts us in tune with all the moral principles of God. We become sensitive to others. We become gentle, kind, patient. We become more and more like Jesus.
  • The law may change people from the outside. But only the Spirit changes us from the inside out.
  • While the Spirit guides us, we will read and study God’s word to see if we are following all his teachings and not cherry picking a few things.
  • When you have Jesus, you have the fruit (singular) of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice, its not fruits, its fruit. When you have the Spirit, you have the entire basket of fruits: ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’.
  • Against such things there is no law means there is no law that can produce this fruit. There’s no legalism or external religious observances that can produce this. It’s a fruit of the Spirit.
  • If you only have one or two of the fruits, that means you were not born again! Probably you never understood how sinful you are before a Holy God, and his law! You didn’t truly repent. Therefore, you were not born again.

Conclusion:

  • If you are not trusting Christ for forgiveness and are not resting in his daily work on your behalf, then none of your actions comes from faith, but every one of them (even the most noble) is sinful and an insult to the infinitely trustworthy God.
  • Here’s the good news: Jesus took away your sins, and gave you new life. He died your death. His death wasn’t just a demonstration of love or death of a martyr. He died in your place so that he can take you home.
  • Following Jesus is not following a set of narrow laws. It is having a relationship with Him, trusting what he did on the cross, believing that His sacrifice is sufficient payment for your sins, trusting him daily to do what is right in your life, and making His word your authority for living. As you trust him, you are empowered to obey him, honour him, and live a holy life. No matter what life may throw at you, you can face it, because your future is secure in Him, and His finished work.

When you understand how high God’s standard of law is, and how sinful you are, only then can you really appreciate grace and the sacrifice of Christ.

When you receive His grace, only then can you really demonstrate the same kind of grace, love, kindness, and gentleness to others.

If you have not received Him as your Savior and the Lord of your life. Then:

  • Confess your great sin, how you haven’t measured up to his high standard and know you deserve to be condemned for insulting Him by your lack of faith, and thinking you could measure up.
  • Repent, turn to Him and believe now in Jesus, that as your Savior who died to bear you sin and punishment, so you could live forever and walk in newness of life.
  • Take him as your only hope of salvation and acknowledge him as your only Lord.
  • Thank him for his forgiveness and His promise to be with you, and in you, and to empower you to do his will.
  • Trust him to do what is right in your life.

Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient

Cross

If we want to know whether Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to save us, we need to know some things about our condition before a Holy God.

Firstly, we need to know the bad news.

The bad news is all have sinned, and continue to fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23).

This means a few things:

  • We are not good enough to be with God.
  • We cannot offset our bad deeds by good deeds: No matter how many good deeds we do, we cannot offset our bad deeds. No amount of truth telling can offset that one tiny lie. No amount of kindness can offset that one small outburst of anger.
  • We cannot pay for our sins in any way.
  • We must be punished. We are guilty. The wages for one sin is death (Rom 6:23).

Are you feeling lost and hopeless? That’s ok. Actually that is healthy. Only then can you really understand and appreciate the gospel, and the need for a Savior.

Here’s the good news. Anyone can be saved by trusting Jesus’ sacrifice (John 3:16). This is what God did:

Because we cannot pay for our sin, God turned over our sins to Jesus (Isaiah 53:5)

Paul stated the gospel this way:

The Gospel really is…this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it…that Christ died for our sins…and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Jesus’ death wasn’t a martyr’s death. It wasn’t just a demonstration of love. It is much more. He died in our place. He died our death. When Jesus said ‘It is finished’ and died on the cross (John 19:30), He paid the price for our sins completely.

Is this sacrifice a sufficient payment for our sins?

Yes, in Greek, it is finished means tetelestai. It is a banking term to mean debt is paid. Jesus paid our sin debt we owed God. He satisfied God’s wrath fully.  He met broken law’s demands completely. And when He rose, He earned the right to give life eternal to anyone who will receive Him and believe that His sacrifice is sufficient to save them (John 3:16).

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation (adjudging of guilty) for those who belong to Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Some believe it is still not enough

During Paul’s day, some Jewish Christians were teaching that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t really enough. The same issue exists today. The idea is Jesus’ sacrifice alone cannot save us, we also need to add others things. During Paul’s day it was circumcision, and other Jewish laws.  Today, some try to add kind acts, church going, Sabbath, offering giving, and other good works to His finished work to gain forgiveness and acceptance from God.

Paul’s says don’t even think about it

Paul warns that if you teach Jesus’ sacrifice is not enough, you are teaching another gospel, which is not a gospel at all (Galatians 1:6, 7). And he goes on to say the following things among other things about people who teach and believe in such a gospel:

  • They are cursed; literally should be destroyed (Galatians 1:9)
  • Trying to be right with God through obeying the law, which is impossible (Galatians 2:16)
  • Trying to receive God’s inheritance through keeping the law, and not by trusting Jesus (Galatians 3:18).
  • Trying to receive the Holy Spirit by their works, which doesn’t work (Galatians 3:2)
  • Do not and cannot even obey all the commandments all the time, and hence are under a curse, and prisoned (Galatians 3:10)

Don’t add, but show gratitude

Paul said, we are made right with God when we “believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Romans 3:25). If you repent for your sins, and inability to save yourself, and trust Jesus’ finished work is enough to save you, and receive Jesus, not only Jesus came into your life, He also forgave your sins, gave you a new start and empowered you to live a new life pleasing to Him.

Now you can show God your gratitude through your good works, not to gain or earn favor from Him, because you really can’t. Besides, you already have His favor. But in response to Jesus’s finished work and as the Holy Spirit who is in you leads you to do His will, obey and honor Him.

The power of grace and mercy

grace

Imagine you were pulled over by a cop for a traffic offense. You were guilty. You knew the penalty, the punishment. But wait. The officer turns to you, advises you to be mindful about traffic laws, and lets you off the hook. Just like that. It happened to me.

If something like that ever happened to you, then you’ve been a recipient of mercy. You were let off the hook, when you didn’t deserve it.

Mercy is when you don’t receive what you deserve: punishment.

Maybe you haven’t received mercy for civil law breaking, but if you’ve given your heart to Jesus, then you have met the God who is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4). What did He do? He let you off the hook when you didn’t deserve it. Paul wrote:

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5, NLT).

Grace: Even better than mercy

Instead of punishing and giving us what we deserve (Romans 6:23), He saved us from the punishment. That’s mercy. Isaiah said it this way:

“He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5, ERV).

Mercy is not cheap. It is expensive because it costed His Son’s life to set us free. And while, mercy is good news, just wait till you hear about Grace. Grace is much more than mercy.

Here’s the difference.

Mercy is when you don’t receive what you deserve: punishment.

But grace is when you receive what you don’t deserve: reward.

Do you get the difference? Read it again until you’ve figured it out.

What grace and mercy look like

Here’s a few examples of grace and mercy in action:

The prodigal son received mercy when the father accepted him. Grace when he threw him a party.

The thief on the cross received mercy when he experienced forgiveness. Grace when Jesus promised Him paradise.

We received mercy when God saved us from the punishment for our sins. Grace when He gave us eternal life (1 John 5:11); made us sons and daughters (John 1:12), and reserved an inheritance for us for eternity (1 Peter 1:4).

Mercy and Grace are amazing. That’s why we sing so many songs about them!

Not only is grace amazing. It is also the central theme in the Bible. It is about a gracious God who pursues, came for us, cared for us, and is coming again for us.

This is Amazing Grace

Here’s a few ways the Bible describes the grace of God:

Grace is God’s gift to me: “All of us need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:24, NCV)

Grace is for everyone: “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11, NLT).

Grace comes through Jesus: “For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, NIV).

Grace is received by faith: “God saved you by his grace when you believed.” (Ephesians 2:8, NLT).

Grace is God’s gift for all eternity: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Grace is God’s gift of forgiveness: “But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15).

Grace is God’s power to change: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).

The power to save a wretch like me … and you

Yes, grace changes people. The apostle made it clear that the gospel of His grace and mercy is intended to turn people to God and from their sins (Romans 2:4). Grace not only forgives; it changes, transforms, rewires everyone who enters into a relationship with Jesus.

There is more. When grace happens, gratitude happens.

‘And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:15)

You can live a life of gratitude to God, not because of anything you did, but because of what He did for you. If you have put your trust in His Son to save you, He says He has given you life, and has saved you:

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Like to thank God for His mercy and grace? Here’s what you can do:

  • Make a list of your grace and mercy experiences.
  • Talk with God over the list, and thank Him for each blessing
  • Share your experiences with your friends, and spread the joy
  • Keep the list, add to it and return to it when you need to remember His goodness
  • Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His grace!