Does Sabbath require Worship Attendance?

Most Sabbatarians fail to comprehend the implications of the belief system they embrace. Much of what they ‘know’ about their beliefs is a highly sanitized version that is promoted by their church and pastors, and errors they learned from other churches. Few bother to read and understand what is written in the Bible or think critically about what the doctrine implies, or even understand history, writings of early Christians, church fathers, and Jewish culture and practice. 

Communal worship in Israel 

If we are to understand attending worship services for a Jew in its context, we have to know something about the manner of communal worship in Israel under the old covenant. The national corporate worship had to occur in the place that God designated as a central worship site. Originally, this was at the Tabernacle, and after Solomon’s time, at the Temple in Jerusalem. We can see an explicit instruction about the place to worship in Deuteronomy: 
“You are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go…” (Deuteronomy 12:4).
 
This command to worship only at a designated location is also seen in Deuteronomy 16, which lists the annual festivals. See verses 5, 7, 11, and 16, among others.
 
The reasons for this were numerous. One consideration was that Israel should not alter the worship format and purpose that God had given the nation; otherwise they would easily lapse into worship that was directed to pagan deities. We can see how this happened in the wilderness when Moses left the people to receive the stone tablets (Exodus 32), and when Israel broke politically from Judah and set up its own religious system, including new worship formats, places and times (1 Kings 12:25-33).
 
 
What made Sabbath “holy”? 
 
The essence of Sabbath-keeping was physical REST. 
Ex 20:8-10 ”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it HOLYSix days you shall LABOR, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall NOT DO ANY WORK
 
In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath command specifies rest from labor as the way to keep the day “holy.” There is no COMMAND or mention of going to a worship service each Sabbath for worship. 
Other passages in the Old Testament also define the Sabbath by rest (ceasing from labor), not by attendance at worship services. See Exodus 31:12-17, Numbers 15:32, Nehemiah 13:15-22 and Jeremiah 17:19-27. The latter two passages, though they refer to Jerusalem, do not mention anything about failure to attend worship services, but only work on the Sabbath as a desecration of this day.
 
An interesting study is to look up the word “Sabbath” in a concordance, find all the Old Testament references and then read those passages to see how this day was kept “holy.”
The conclusion will be that rest from labor is what made the Sabbath sacred time, not attendance at a worship service.
Most Israelites lived too far from the tabernacle to attend a worship service every Sabbath – and there is no evidence in the Old Testament that they did. And the law did not allow them to assemble anywhere else for worship. Nor do we find commands even for people near the Tabernacle that they had to gather for worship. The Sabbath was kept at home, by resting or ceasing from all activity.
 
Leviticus 23:3 ”Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your DWELLINGS‘. 
 
Hence, there is no indication in Scripture of Israelite’s going to worship services of one kind or another in their local towns and villages. 
 
Ex. 16:29, ”Understand that the LORD has given you [Israel] the Sabbath. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.”
 
They could travel to worship services at the Tabernacle only for the annual festivals. But they were COMMANDED by God to cease from labour in their living places, and EVERYONE was to not leave their place on the ritual Sabbath day. 
 
 
 
When did the Synagogue system come?
 
One might point to the New Testament and say, “But Jesus and Paul attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. Doesn’t this indicate that worship services were an essential part of God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy?”
 
Based on Scripture or Jewish history, there was no national system of Sabbath-day worship sites or places of communal instruction throughout Israel’s history in the Promised Land up to the captivity of Judah in the 530s B.C. and the return of a remnant to Judea a few decades years later.
There were no synagogues before the exile; there were no local meeting places in Israel before the exile, because there was no command for weekly meetings.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia,The synagogue as a permanent institution originated in the period of the Babylonian captivity, when a place for common worship and instruction had become necessary‘. 
The synagogue system allowed Jews to meet together in local towns and villages for prayer, the reading of the Holy Scriptures and for fellowship. The synagogue became a miniature sanctuary to replace the loss of the Jerusalem Temple.
 
Hence, Jews added the synagogue worship system, not based on biblical command, but on a sociological need, due to the loss of the Temple and the scattering of the people far away from the Promised Land. Nowhere in the Old Testament will you find a command to have local worship sites.
 
Now, there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the Jews setting up synagogues. They became an important center of fellowship and instruction in the Jewish faith. The New Testament does not condemn the practice; it is taken for granted. However, it is nowhere commanded, and no Sabbatarian group should command attendance at worship services as a way to keep Sabbath holy. 
For instance, even Christ did not consider it was important to have weekly meetings on the Sabbath while he was in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). 
So, when Jesus, Paul went to synagogues, it was actually out of a tradition of man (a custom that came about), and not a command of God.  
 
Hence, the Old Testament does not indicate that the Sabbath is kept holy through a meeting. Rather, it was kept as holy through rest (ceasing from labor and activity) by remaining in their dwellings.
 
Are modern day Sabbath keepers really Sabbath keepers? 
 
 
God is very specific about His Sabbath commandments and how to keep it holy. If anyone claims to observe the Sabbath ritual, they must comply with His specific commandments. If they don’t, they are Sabbath breakers. The following Sabbath commandments must be observed from ‘Friday sunset to Saturday sunset‘ (Leviticus 23:32) in order to claim holy Sabbath observance.
 
1. No work done at all (Ex. 20: 10; Lev. 23: 3; Jer. 17:21-22): By law if a person did not stop all types of activity in honor of the Sabbath, he was breaking the law. In Numbers 15:32-36 a man was caught collecting sticks on the Sabbath, and He was condemned as one who broke the Sabbath law.
 
2. Work shall be done for six days (Exod. 35:2): Do you or your congregation work for 6 days? Or 5?  The actual whole command is to work 6 days with only the 7th observed as a rest day. Many Sabbatarian’s observe Sunday just like Saturday except for the gathering in Church (which there is no command to do). So if you not doing this you’re still breaking the Sabbath, even if you take Sunday off.
 
3. Your servants, and friends must rest with you: “In it you shall not do any work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:12-14). If you have any friends over that are not Christian they must observe the rest day also. You can’t ask your servants to cook or sweep the floor on the Sabbath. 
 
4. No cooking or baking: SDA ‘prophet’ Ellen White wrote: “The command is, “Bake that ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; for tomorrow is the rest day of the holy Sabbath (Ex. 16:23)” That day is not to be given to the cooking of food…to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Bible Echo, February 13, 1899). 
 
 
5. No kindling of a fire (Ex. 35:3). No fellowship cookouts or barbecues. Adventists for instance annually meet up for camp meetings and cook food every Saturday for the entire congregation. They break the Sabbath law as a congregation at least once annually. 
 
6. No traveling (Ex. 16:29). Later the Jews added to this law, allowing only a half mile of travel on the Sabbath but the Jehovah given pure law says “stay at home.” Actually, If you kept this part of the law, you could not travel to your church gathering away from home. 
 
7. No buying and selling (Neh. 10:31; 13:15,19; Amos 8:5). Which means no eating out from restaurants or shops. Make sure you do no shopping whatsoever. If you run out of food or drink at home you failed to prepare for Sabbath (ceasing from buying activities). 

8. No carrying any sort of loads from your houses:  ”This is what the Lord says: not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy (Jeremiah 17:21,22)

9. No ironing of clothes: This goes out to Adventists specifically. These are the inspired words of their prophet, Ellen White. She was apparently ‘inspired by God’ to include ironing clothes as part of DO NO WORK even TODAY: ‘See that all the clothing is in readiness, and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked, and the baths be taken (EGW, the inspired prophet of God of the remnant Adventist church says you can’t bathe on the Sabbath). It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule, you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments (no stitching or ironing clothes on Sabbath), to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking (TV? playing in the park with children?), or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun, let all secular work be laid aside, and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 355, 356 (1901).
 
If you insist on the Jewish ceremonial Sabbath law as binding on new covenant Christians, do you understand what the law says? Are you who claim to observe the Sabbath, really a Sabbath keeper or a Sabbath breaker according to the Jehovah’s commandments? You decide.
Remember to break one commandment, is to break all (James 2:10). 
 
In the Adventist human definition of Sabbath keeping, Sabbath keeping is primarily going to church on Saturday, refraining from paid employment, and doing some good works, but that is not what the Lord commanded from the Jewish Sabbath, unfortunately.
By their Sabbath keeping definition, even my Catholics friends who attend church on Saturday evening must be Sabbath keepers as most catholic churches are now open for church services on Saturday. My catholic friends do not work on Saturday or Sunday, instead they go visiting their grand parents, and do acts of kindness. Even other Christians who attend worship services on Saturday or Friday evening would qualify for observing the ritual. Yet that is not Sabbath keeping as per the 4th commandment.
 
 
Sabbath law or ceasing from labor in the new covenant
 
 
The concept of “rest” is important in Scripture, and it has a deep spiritual meaning for Christians.
As Christians, we understand that our rest is in Christ, who is our Sabbath; He is the reality (Col 2:17). We enter this Sabbathismos today, daily, not on any particular day any longer. God’s ‘seventh-day rest’ (Hebrews 4:4), was ‘ready since He made the world’ (Hebrews 4:3), and the ‘time for entering his rest is today’ (Hebrews 4:7), not Saturday or Sunday.
When we rest spiritually in Christ, we present ourselves as the people of God before his presence in continuous sacred assembly. We are always the church, in his presence every day of the week, not just one.
 
 
For Israelites, the Sabbath was a day to rest at home, not a day to travel long distances and attend a worship service. The annual harvest festivals were the time for Israelites to enjoy communal worship and fellowship. Here is what the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (volume 2, page 623) says about Leviticus 23:3:
 
There is an emphasis here that the Israelite rested at home. There were special offerings given in the tabernacle (e.g., a double burnt offering), but the ordinary Israelite and his whole family rested. Presumably here was an opportunity for family worship and instruction in the law of God, but this is not specifically enjoined. What a boon a weekly rest must have been to the ancient laborer and farmer in his weary round of toil!
 
As did the Jews in their synagogue system, Christians find that regular fellowship and communal instruction is an important foundation of their religious life.
As Christians, we are free to meet together at any time of the day, any day of the week, and any season of the year (Romans 14:5).
We are also free to rest on any day, and one in seven days is a good principle. However, the Jewish Sabbath ritual was fulfilled in Christ, and is not longer a requirement or a command for new covenant Christians (Col. 2: 16,17), 
 
We are not limited to meeting on just one day, since no day has been specifically set aside by God for Christian fellowship and worship. This was the case in the old testament. This is the case in the new testament. We are always in the presence of God and worship him continually because he and Christ reside in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. At the same time, we can gather weekly (Saturday, Sunday, Monday etc) and seasonally in small groups or in larger communal situations to praise God, to recall Christ’s work of salvation and to fellowship in the Spirit.

A brief outline of Sunday meetings from the Bible and History: 

Lord’s day – Neither from Pagan or Catholics but from the Bible!


1 Century evidence:

Jewish Sabbath no longer a Christian obligation:

Col. 2:16, 17 ”Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

Christians can treat every day alike or consider some days sacred:

Rom. 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

A.D. 53 – Weekly giving commanded on Sundays for all the churches of Galatia:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 ‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

A.D. 60 – Christian met every day for worship, also gathered for communion on Sunday, the first day:

Acts 20:7 “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread”

Early Christians, church fathers met on Sunday for worship, communion, fellowship. Never on the Jewish Sabbath (No Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts) for it was abolished (see also: Sabbath is ceremonial!

Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. No more holy days, but Christians met for assembly on the first day since the time of the apostles before there was Constantine or Roman Catholic church. Sunday is not a pagan day for pagans didn’t have a weekly worship day:

2nd  to 3rd century evidence

AD 140 – Justin Martyr(Rome) wrote:

Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

AD 110 – Ignatius (Antioch) wrote:

”Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, chp 9. Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 62-63.)

Early Christians understood Sunday as the Lord’ day. John wrote:

Revelation 1:10 ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day

AD 180 – Bardesanes, Edessa (Asia) wrote:

“On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” Book of the Laws of Countries.

AD 194 – Clement of Alexandria (Egypt) wrote:

He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Vii.xii.76.4)

AD 200 – Tertullian in Africa:

“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI. “We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord’s resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business.” On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.

The New Testament does not give a single example of Christians conducting their religious services on the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ because Sabbath is abolished (See: No Sabbath in Acts).

For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. Dr. Schaff says: “The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its root in apostolic practice.” History of the Christian church, Vol. I, page 478.

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream. They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism (Jewish converts to Christianity) and not gentile churches. The Ebiionites are an example. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected in England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they (likes of the SDA’s, church of God) remain outside of mainstream today.

However, they have grown their numbers through the spread of false information (such as sunday is pagan, catholic church changed the Sabbath day in the 3rd century, Sabbath law is universal), conspiracy theories (sunday law etc), and a false understanding of the doctrine of law (see: Decalogue examined, Covenants).

Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles (see: Did they teach Sabbath is ceremonial?)
 Part of the above articles have been adapted from GCI.
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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.

Catholic Church Changed the Sabbath?

Adventists and certain Sabbatarians claim that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church, and Constantine during the 3rd century. This is utterly false both Biblically and historically, as the practice of meeting on the first day started with the apostles, and continued with the early church in the 1st, 2nd centuries, and it continues till today given the commands, and example of the apostles, and early Christians.
Adventist misquote certain recent century Catholic and Protestant quotes : Catholic & Protestant Confessions as proof that the Catholic Church changed it. But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, who started this practice of meeting on Sunday.
What about these Catholic and Protestant ‘Sabbath was changed’ quotes? 
Firstly, none of those quotes, whether from first or 20th century has any bearing on the Sabbath issue, because the New Testament has settled that the weekly ritual ceremonial Sabbath is a shadow, and is not binding on Christians. Christians can treat every day alike, or consider some days sacred (like the seventh day if you may). However, there is no command or obligation for Christians to observe the seventh day, or Sunday or any day  as a holy day or day of rest for that matter in the new testament (neither in Genesis).
Neither is there an example of Gentile Christians observing the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament. Of course Jewish converts to Christianity observed not only the Sabbath days, feast days, circumcision laws, purification laws and other laws of the law of Moses, as the Jerusalem church shows in Acts (obviously for valid reasons as they took time to transition out of that old system), until God revealed through the apostles that they are shadows and are no longer binding.
Sabbath was purely a Jewish ritual law, and  none of the Sabbtarians today observe the God commanded Sabbath laws which require not worship or church attendance, but ceasing from labor on the seventh day (Ex. 20:9-10), no travelling (Ex 16:29-30) , no cooking (Ex. 16:23) , no buying (Neh 13:15-17), not working others (Ex. 20:9-10) in any way, among other things. Based on these specific Sabbaths commands, most Sabbatarians are Sabbath breakers.

Secondly, no where in Scripture is it stated that the Sabbath was changed from the 7th day to the 1st day.

If someone (CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT) say that Sabbath was changed to 1st day from 7th, it is utterly false! Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. It was a day Christians gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, for communion (Acts 20:7), and give offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and they did not view it as the Jewish Sabbath, for they believed that it was abolished (Col. 2:16).
Justin Martyr, an early christian apologist, who was born 70 years after Christ wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

The belief that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday is an old error (puritans believed this Sunday Sabbath error, and some protestants still do; but we we disagree with).

The reformers, Calvin and Luther, were careful to state that the Sabbath was not binding on Christians as expressed in the new covenant, but they saw merit in taking a day for rest and worship. It was not until the English Reformation that the Decalogue Sabbath began being promoted. The chief proponents of this were the Puritans. They began to teach that the Sabbath (although they called Sunday the Sabbath) was not abolished, and they instituted strict rules according to the Old Testament regulations. This, of course, affected the other religious English groups, such as the Methodists and the Baptists. Many of these groups came to America, and New England became known for strict Sabbath (Sunday) observance.

WE BELIEVE THIS PURITAN INSPIRED CLAIMS ARE INACCURATE.

We believe what Jesus and the apostles taught was that the ritual Sabbath was a shadow that was fulfilled in Christ (not transferred to another day). These quotes by protestants do nothing to disprove or negate the teaching of the apostles that the ritual Sabbath was abolished!

In fact, this is exactly what some of these protestants that SDA’s fondly quote were also saying, ‘Sunday is not another Sabbath nor a day of rest nor a holy day‘, and neither were they promoting that the Jewish Sabbath should be observed and yet Adventists misquote these statements by ripping them out of their context, propagating that these authors supported the Jewish Sabbath day.

Take for example the quote SDA quote by the following protestant:

Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164. “‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell”
Absolutely true! The Sabbath was abolished, not changed to Sunday! Campbell taught that the Sabbath was abolished like most other protestant writers!
The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change.” (Alexander Campbell, First Day Observance, pp. 17, 19)

”Under the new constitution all disciples live if they knew it; and if you go back to Moses for a Sabbath, you may go back to him for a new moon, a holy day or what you please. And indeed we are, and must be confessed to be, either under the old constitution or the new. We cannot be under both. We cannot live under the English and American constitution at the same time. If I were to go to Moses for a “Seventh Day Sabbath,” I should not blush to take from him an eighth day circumcision or an annual passover. The Christian Baptist, Vol. 3 No. 1, August 1, 1825, pp. 177-178:

”He that keeps the Sabbath of the Jews is a debtor, to do the whole law (torah). The Sabbath could not be changed from the seventh day to the first day, for the reasons given for its observance; nor can the first day of the week be changed into a Jewish or Patriarchal Sabbath, for the reasons which consecrated it to the Lord. (Millennial Harbinger of 1837, p. 279)

So, the protestant quotes that SDA’s quote means nothing. They are misquoted!  Most of these protestants understood that the Bible teaches that Sabbath is a ritual law fulfilled at the cross, no more binding, and Sunday is not the Sabbath, but Sunday is a day for Christian common assembly.
What about the Catholic quotes?
Adventists assume and argue on the assumption that the “Catholic Church” began to be formed about three hundred years after Christ.  However, if the popes or Catholic Church, or Constantine did change the Sabbath (ex: 3rd century), the change could not have been made before that late date (ex:1st & 2nd century).  
Adventists find, and gladly quote, a large number of Catholic catechisms, Catholic priests, and Catholic challenges to Protestants, all boasting that the Holy Catholic Church changed the Sabbath.  Adventists say that this settles the question. 
 

But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, and that the change was made by them.  If Adventists accept one claim of the Catholics, then, to be fair, they should accept both.  But this would overthrow their argument.

We wish Adventists might see error and stupidity in presenting all these statements trying to prove their case and tell the whole truth! 

We will begin with the very highest authority, in the Catholic Church – the Council of Trent. “The Catechism of the Council of Trent,” published by order of Pius IV, contains the creed of the Church.  Every member has to swear to this creed when he joins the Church, hence it is authoritative.  It devotes eight pages to the Sabbath question.  It says:

The Sabbath was kept holy from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh; the obligation was to cease with the abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part; and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of Christ. The apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it ‘the Lord’s Day’; St.  John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of ‘the Lord’s Day’; and the apostle commands collection to be made ‘on the first day of the week,’ that is, according to the interpretation of St.  Chrysostom, on the Lord’s Day;” (pages 264, 265).

Notice that this creed says the apostles consecrated the day; it was was called the Lord’s Day.  The Scriptures are quoted to prove all this.  This is the creed of the Roman Church.

Any Catholic priest or writer teaching differently contradicts the sacred creed of his own Church and violates his oath to believe and teach it. Only a misinformed, uneducated group of men, could misquote such statements!

The following is a decisive witness to the position of the Catholic Church as to when they say the day was changed and who changed it.  It is a comment on Acts 20:7, in the Catholic Bible itself.  Observe how they place the change:

”And on the first day of the week.’ Here St.  Chrysostom, with many other interpreters of the Scripture, explain that the Christians, even at this time, must have changed the Sabbath into the first day of the week (the Lord’s Day), as all Christians now keep it: This change was undoubtedly made by the authority of the Church: hence the exercise of the power which Christ had given to her; for He is Lord of the Sabbath.”

In 1913 Monsignor John Bunyan was the special representative of the Pope in America.  Next to the Pope, he was then the highest official authority of that Church in the United States, and what he says is authoritative.  “Why Sunday is the First Day” was the title of an article he furnished the Washington Times, October 11, 1913.  He says:

“In the New Law the time for the fulfillment of this [Sabbath] obligation was changed by the apostles from the Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, or the first day of the week, primarily to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, early in the morning on the first day of the week, arose, glorious and triumphant, from the dead.  Hence it is that in Scripture, the first, day of the week is called the ‘Lord’s Day’ (Rev 1:10).  It was also on this same day of the week that the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, and that the faith and law of Christ was for the first time solemnly published to the world by them.”

On this the Advent Review and Herald, October 23, 1913, says:

“As we read this article we should not forget that we are reading the deliberate declaration of the highest official in America of that Church which claims to reach back to Apostolic days.”

Here, then, by the highest authority deliberately stated, is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as to who changed the Sabbath and the time when it was done.  It was done by the apostles, in the time of the apostles.  All Seventh-Day Adventists certainly know this, for it was published by the editor in their official organ, The Advent Review.  Now will they cease teaching that the Catholic Church claims to have changed the Sabbath several hundred years after Christ without Apostolic authority?  PLEASE NOTE the question here is not whether the apostles really did make the change, and all their claims about the sanctity of sunday or if Sunday is the Sabbath, but what does the Catholic Church claim about it, and when they say they did it?  The papal delegate has settled that.

Cardinal Gibbons comes next in authority. Here is the answer:

Baltimore, Md.,July 1896

Dear Sir: In reply to your favor of the 20th inst., to his Eminence the Cardinal, I beg to say:

First.  The Catholic Church dates back to the day when our Lord made St.  Peter the visible head of the Church, and when St.  Peter established, first at Antioch, then at Rome, the seat of his residence and jurisdiction.

In these days and those immediately following, we find traces of the beginning of the custom of the Sunday observance.  You may refer to the Christian writers of that period.  (Confer Ignatius ad Magnes, 9; Justin Martyr, 1, Apol.  59; Tertul., Apol.  16.) All these writers speak of the Sunday as the Lord’s Day; no other more distinct trace has been preserved, and the mention which occurs in the following centuries rests on the fact of a previous custom more or less general.

After the Cardinal, the next highest dignitary in America is Archbishop Ireland.  In answer to our question as to when the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath, this high prelate answered as follows:

St.  Paul, March 1914

My dear Sir:

In answer to your question I would state that the Jewish Sabbath was simply a positive precept in the Mosaic law and lapsed with that law.  The apostles and early Christians instituted the Sunday as a day of special prayer in honor of the great mysteries of the Christian religion, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, both occurring on the first day of the week.

Very sincerely, JOHN IRELAND.

That is clear, positive, and directly to the point.  Here is another high Catholic authority, “The Catholic Encyclopedia on Doctrine,” Article, “Sunday”:

“Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning time, but for the Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in apostolic times as the day set apart for the public solemn worship of God” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10).

The same Encyclopedia, Article, “Sabbath,” says:

St.  Paul enumerates the Sabbath among the Jewish observances which are not obligatory on Christians (Col.  2:16; Gal.  4:9-10; Rom.  14:5).  The Gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2), and with the disappearance of the Jewish Church, with the Christian Churches the day was exclusively observed as the” Lord’s Day.”

Notice that Catholics quote the same texts as Protestants do to indicate the change.  They trace its origin to the New Testament and thus claim Scripture authority for it.  It will be seen that all these high Catholic authorities agree in locating the change in the days of the apostles and by the apostles.

The following is from “The Catholic Dictionary, the Universal Christian Educator, Containing Doctrine of the Church,” by Rev.  Wm.  A.  Addis and Thomas Arnold, A.M., both of the Royal University of Ireland.  Endorsed by Cardinal Manning and Cardinal McClosky.  There could be no better Catholic authority.  Now read, Article, “Sunday”:

The precept of observing the Sabbath was completely abrogated in the Christian Church.  In commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, the Church observes Sunday.  The observance does not rest on any positive law, of which there is no trace.  Sunday is of merely ecclesiastical institution, dating however from the time of the apostles.  Such is the opinion of St.  Thomas.  The Scripture given above (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10) shows that the observance of Sunday had begun in the apostolic age; but even were Scripture silent, tradition would put the point beyond doubt.”

I quote all these to show only one point; viz., the time when Catholics claim the change was made by the Church.  They all say it was made by the apostles.  No other date is given or suggested.

Now read the written testimony of two Catholic priests:

TESTIMONY OF A CATHOLIC PRIEST

“Having lived for years among the Seventh-Day Adventists, I am familiar with their claims that the Pope of Rome changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.  Such assertions are wholly unfounded.  Catholics claim no such thing; but maintain that the apostles themselves established the observance of Sunday and that we received it by tradition from them. The councils and Popes afterwards simply confirmed the keeping of the day as received from the apostles.” JOHN MEILER, Rector of St.  John’s Church, Healdsburg, Cal.

A leading Catholic priest of Grand Rapids, Mich., who readily signed it, as will be seen below:

“The Catholic doctrine of the change of the Sabbath is this:

The apostles, by instruction from Jesus Christ, changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost, both of which occurred on Sunday.  The change was made by the apostles themselves, and hence by divine authority, at the very beginning of the Church.  There are references to this change in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:1, 2; Rev.  1:10, etc.  Yet these texts do not state positively such a change; hence Catholics go to the statements of the early Christian Fathers, where this change by the apostles is confirmed and put beyond doubt.

Catholics also rely upon the tradition of the Church which says that the change was made by the apostles.  Catholics never teach that the change of the day was made by the Church two or three hundred years after Christ.  Such a statement would be contrary to all the facts of history and the traditions of the Church.

Even SDA top scholar Samuel Bachiochi proved that Ellen White is a false prophet and her denominations claim that Pope changed the Sabbath was false: I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. ( “Free Catholic Mailing List” on 8 Feb 1997)

Not just history, and the new testament, and even SDA scholars admit that all SDA claims about WHEN AND WHO DID THE CHANGE are wrong, and not to be trusted!

Here’s more:

“The Holy Catholic Church began with the apostles.  St.  Peter was the first Pope.  Hence, when they say that the Church changed the Sabbath, they mean that it was done by the Church in the days of the apostles.  Neither the Church nor the Pope, two or three hundred years after the apostles, had anything whatever to do with changing the Sabbath, for the change had been made ages before.  Catholics do not call the first day of the week the Sabbath, for that was Saturday; but they call it Sunday, or the Lord’s Day.  This above statement by Rev.  D.  M.  Canright is true and pure Catholic doctrine.” Rev.  James C.  Pulcher, Pastor of St.  James’ Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.

See how all these Catholic authorities agree.  Now come to the catechisms which Adventists are so fond of quoting.  This is from a ” Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion.” It is the one used by all students in the Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.  On page 294 I read, “The Church from the time of the apostles has changed the Sabbath into the Lord’s Day.” In the Advent book, “Who Changed the Sabbath?” page 9, the following is quoted from the “Catholic Christian Instructed.”

“Quest.  What are the days which the Church commands to be kept holy?

“Ans.  The Sunday, or our Lord’s Day, which we observe by apostolic tradition instead of the Sabbath.”

You see this catechism refers the change of the Sabbath back to the apostles the same as all other Catholic writers do.  The Church did this in the time of the apostles, Here follows another from the same catechism:

“Quest.  What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday, preferable to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?

” Ans.  We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.”

Here we are again referred right back to the apostles as before.

“A Full Course of Instruction in Explanation of the Catechism,” by Rev.  J.  Perry, edited and adapted to the present wants of Colleges, Academies, and Private Families, by a priest of the Mission.  It is endorsed by the Archbishop of St.  Louis, Mo.  Notice that this is the authority studied in families, high schools, colleges, and academies.  Is there any better witness?  Now read: “Third [Sabbath] commandment.  Its obligation transferred from Saturday to Sunday.”

“What day of the week is the seventh day or Sabbath Day?” “It is Saturday.” “Then why do we not keep Saturday holy?” ” Because the Church in the apostles’ time transferred the obligation from the seventh to the first day of the week.” “Why was this done?” “In honor of Jesus Christ, and therefore the first day of the week is called the Lord’s Day (Rev.  1:10).  It was on the first day of the week (or Sunday) that Christ rose from the dead; that He commissioned His apostles to teach all nations; that He empowered them to forgive sins; that He sent down upon them the Holy Ghost; it was on this day that the apostles began to preach the doctrines of Christ and to establish the Christian religion “(pages 168-169).

But do not the catechism and Catholic writers, when controverting Protestants, assert that the “Holy Catholic Church” changed the day?  Certainly, but they also claim that the Catholic Church began with the apostles who changed the day.  Do not Adventists know this?  Yes.  Why, then, do they not tell the whole facts in the case? Let them answer.

Consider the high Catholic authorities quoted on this subject – the Council of Trent; the papal delegate, Cardinal Gibbons; Archbishop Ireland; the Catholic Encyclopedia; the Catholic Dictionary; written statements of priests; and the teachings of the catechism.  All agree that the change in the day was made by the apostles.  Beyond dispute, this establishes the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the origin of the Lord’s Day.  Not a single Catholic authority can be quoted teaching that the change of the Sabbath was made by the Popes or by the Papacy centuries later. 

That is purely an invention of Seventh-Day Adventists.  Here, then, is the testimony of the millions of Roman Catholics, all agreeing that the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day originated with the apostles.  Now if Adventists quote the Catholics, then let them abide by their testimony.

Now read “Rome’s Challenge,” “Father Enright’s Challenge,” and a lot of other Catholic “challenges,” which Adventists gleefully gather up and endorse and peddle the world over as unanswerable. 

Read them very carefully and notice particularly that not one of these Catholic “challenges” ever locates the time when the “Catholic Church” made the change.  In all these “Challenges” they adroitly leave this point out, and presume on the ignorance of the general public, which supposes that the Catholic Church began centuries after Christ.  Then Adventists take advantage of this popular idea of the Catholic Church and locate the change about 300 years after Christ.  Such deception is unworthy of Christian teachers.

The position of Protestants on the abolition of the Sabbath is so well known that no proof need be given.  All hold that apostles came together on first day.   Catholics claim just the same as Protestants do that the change of the day was made in the time of the apostles and by the apostles and quote Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10 to prove it just as Protestants do.  The only difference is that Roman Catholics claim that their Church goes back to the apostles, begins with them and includes them.  Hence, when the apostles changed the day it was done by the “Holy Catholic Church.”

That is the whole of it.  This is exactly what all Protestants teach, except that they deny that the apostles were Roman Catholics.  Adventists deny it too.  So as to when, why, where, and by whom the day was changed Catholics agree exactly with Protestants, and contradict what Adventists quote them to prove.  Reader, remember this, and that Adventist bugbear will frighten you no more.

Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Bible,” Article “Lord’s Day,” says, “When Jesus uttered the cry, ‘It is finished,’ the Mosaic dispensation virtually passed away.  His Resurrection, Ascension, and Outpouring of the Holy Spirit were successive affirmations of the great fact, and the destruction of the temple made it plain to all but the blindest.  But in the meantime nothing is more striking than the tender way in which the apostles and Christians of Jewish birth were weaned from the old religion.  The dead leaves of Judaism fell off gradually.  They were not rudely torn off by man.  The new facts, the new dogmas, the new ordinances first established themselves, and then, little by little, the incompatibility of the old and the new was realized which necessarily issued in the casting off of the old as apostles instructed these through divine inspiration.

“The old things of Judaism were made new in Christianity.  This, however, was not accomplished by a deliberate substitution of one ordinance for another; but first the old ordinances were simply antiquated, and their experience matured under the influence of the Holy Spirit, proved that the positive institutions of the new religion more than fulfilled those of the old.” “Jesus enunciated the great truths of the Gospel, and left them to germinate and bear fruit through their own inherent power”.

Adventists are very good at accumulating out of context quotes to uphold their view that the Sabbath was always the day Christians observed until the Catholic Church changed the day. 

Scripture shows that there is no Sabbath in Genesis, the Jewish Sabbath is a ritual done away, and Christians can treat every day alike. The only recorded times Paul went to the synagogue was when he was preaching to the Jews upon his arrival in any town. He preached on Sabbath until they threw him out; he did not go to the synagogue to worship because He was keeping the day holy. Rather, he was doing it to fulfill the Lord’s commission and his own commitment to preach to the Jews first and also to the Greeks.  

The Biblical record show that apostles met on the first day, and also the writings of the early Christians, church fathers, historians show that the first and second century Christians came together on the first (or sometimes called the eighth) day. So what nonsense it is to claim that a change happened in 3rd century when the change had happened already!

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream.  They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism and not gentile churches. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they remain outside mainstream till today. 

Adapted: Catholics and the Change of the Sabbath by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from: loudcry.org

Sabbath is a ritual law, not moral

The evidence for the Sabbath being a ritual ceremonial law is overwhelming.

The Bible is clear that the weekly ritual Jewish Sabbath is not the same rest as God’s seventh day rest in Genesis (Hebrews 4; see Sabbathismos).

The Decalogue had the ritual Sabbath (the only ritual law in the ten commandments), as a sign of the covenant only for Israel.

The uniform testimony of the prophets, Jesus, apostles, mainstream Jews, early church fathers, and the protestant reformers is this: Sabbath is a ritual ceremonial law. Let’s examine these things to see if they are so.

 

1) The Scriptures clearly state that the weekly Sabbath is a feast day.

Leviticus 23 is the one chapter in the Bible that lists all of God’s feasts – the weekly Sabbath as well as the other Holy Days. Weekly Sabbath is one of Gods’ appointed FEASTS!

Lev 23:1-24 “The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are MY APPOINTED FEASTS, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as SACRED assemblies. “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. “The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering..On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.'” The LORD said to Moses, “Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. ”  ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire–the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)  So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.

How clear can it be? It is claimed by Seventh-Day Adventists that the Lord here separates out the Sabbath from all other holy days, showing that it is of a different nature, in these words, verses 37, 38: “These are the feasts of the Lord: beside the Sabbaths of the Lord.” Yes, but read the whole verse, “Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your free-will offerings, which ye give unto the Lord.”

Not only the Sabbath, but gifts, vows and offerings are also excepted with the Sabbath in the same verse. The idea is this: the Sabbath, the gifts, vows and offerings are of regular weekly or daily occurrence, whereas the other holy days and special offerings were to come only once a year at stated seasons. When these yearly offerings and holy days came at the same time of the regular daily or weekly service they were not to take the place of the regular daily and weekly services, but must be observed besides all these. Any one can see that this is the simple meaning of the words “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts,” etc. The idea is not to distinguish the Sabbath above the other feasts, but to say that these must be kept in addition to the regular service of the Sabbath and the daily offerings. 

It’s very plain to see what the Sabbath of the decalogue belongs to. It’s a feast day, a ceremonial law, a ritual law.

Simply because Sabbath is placed within the Ten Commandments (location) doesn’t make it a moral law. The reason why Sabbath is categorized with feast days, and ritual law is because it is a feast day, a ritual law. The reason why it is in the ten commandment is because the ten commandments followed a similar pattern to covenant agreements made by people those days. Covenants contained three parts: Promise, Condition, Sign. For instance, a KING would make a covenant with his conquered NATION, not to kill (Promise), if they provide grain and food (Condition). The (Sign) was often arbitrary and could be an earring in the left ear, an ankle bracelet, or any other external sign. Similarly, the Sabbath was the ‘sign [of the covenant] between me [God] and you (Israel)” (Exodus 31:13).

Almost all Sabbatarian groups like the United Church of God, and many others accept that Sabbath is a feast day, and hence they keep all feasts including the weekly Sabbath, unlike SDA’s .

2) The expression “to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” is used throughout the Old Testament and it is used in ascending or descending order repeatedly and always refers to the weekly, monthly and yearly festivities. 

1 Chron 23:31 “And whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them.” (here weekly, monthly and yearly is stated).

a) God categorizes Sabbath with new moons and other festivals. Clearly, Sabbath is a ceremonial feast day, a ritual law!

Isaih 66:23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.

b) In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the weekly Sabbath, one of God’s feast days as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come.

Colossians 2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ 

In fact, “Sabbaton” is translated as “weekly Sabbath” 61 times in the New Testament.  Only here in Colossians 2:17 would sabbatarians want to desperately argue that “sabbaton” no longer means the weekly Sabbath day, but even prominent Sabbatarian scholars (including SDA scholars) have eventually concurred that the weekly Sabbath is referred here.

3) The Sabbath is not a moral law because the priests were allowed to profane it 

Matthew 12:5-8 Or have ye not read in the law, how that ON THE SABBATH DAYS THE PRIESTS IN THE TEMPLE PROFANE THE SABBATH, AND ARE BLAMELESS?

Sabbath was a law that could be broken, set aside, and profaned for various reasons without sin (blameless). Which moral law can be profaned? No moral law could be profaned or set aside under any circumstances . Christian are not above it, but are subject to those moral laws (see: Matt 12:5; Num 28:9-10; Josh 6:15; 1 Ki 20:29; Jn 5:10).

4) The Sabbath is not a moral law because Jesus broke the ritual Sabbath without sin (John 5:10)  just like priests could break it and be blameless. He also defended breaking it and gave examples.

John 5:10. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO CARRY THY BED.

Jews were pointing to a law that the Lord Yahweh gave Israel. Note it is not a law that Pharisees or rabbis added to the Sabbath; it is a law God commanded Israel.

Jeremiah 17:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and BEAR NO BURDEN ON THE SABBATH DAY, NOR BRING IT IN BY THE GATES OF JERUSALEM

John 5:10 so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.

Whatever your interpretation or the interpretation of the Jews on NO BURDEN, the letter of the law said NO burden! While Jews had their rabbinic laws added to the Sabbath, however their accusation against Jesus for breaking the Sabbath law is not based on their added laws, but based on the Torah, THUS SAITH THE LORD (Jeremiah 17:21). This will be proven when Jesus defends Sabbath breaking from the Law of God itself (see point 5).

This is not the only incident. Similarly, Pharisees saw disciples going out and picking grain on the Sabbath as Sabbath law breaking because GOD (not their traditions) commanded Israel to stay in one place on the Sabbath, and prepare food on Friday (Ex 16:29-30). That was how they were instructed to observe Sabbath holy. Jesus once again doesn’t conform to the letter of these Sabbath laws. Moreover, Jesus broke ritual laws on uncleanliness without sin. He touched people with skin diseases, leprosy, blood flows (Leviticus 15:7–8; Matthew 8:3) when the law prohibited touching unclean people. Of course He did it for a purpose and to heal people. There is also a greater message here.

In these circumstances, Pharisees understood Jesus was claiming to be God, and breaking the letter of the Sabbath commandment of the Lord. Both accusations have weight:

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

What pharisees failed to see was that not only was Jesus claiming to be the divine Messiah, but the shadows (ritual Sabbath, Cleansing laws) loses their significance when they had the reality (Jesus). Jesus went on to say, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28). True rest is not found in a day but a person. That’s why Paul says Sabbath was a shadow, and the reality is Christ (Col 2:16, 17). 

5) When Jesus’ disciples were hungry on a Sabbath day, and they were picking some heads of grain in a field to eat them. They were accused of breaking the Sabbath: Matt 12:1-6 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.'”

Jesus defends His disciples and His Sabbath actions with 2 arguments:

  1. Matt. 12:3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.

Please ask yourselves: What type of law was David breaking? Moral or ceremonial? It is obvious, it was ceremonial. David was never above the moral law. He had to pay dearly for his sin with Bathseba!

2. Matt. 12:5 “Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?”

Again, giving precedence to the ceremonial priestly law over the Sabbath.

In both of these scenarios given by Jesus Himself, what category is the Sabbath placed under? Moral or ceremonial? 

If David could break the ceremonial law, if priests could break the Sabbath, and if circumcision could be carried out on Sabbath, then Jesus is over and above the ceremonial Sabbath law. Jesus is: Matt 12:8 “Lord of the Sabbath.” This was Jesus’ response and this further shows that he not only broke the letter of the Sabbath law without sin, but he defended breaking it citing Scripture and taught that the ritual Sabbath can be set aside, or broken without sin.

Now let me ask you another question. Could an Israelite kill someone in order to circumcise his child? Could a Jew steal in order to circumcise his child? Could a priest covet in order to do his calling? No, never. These ceremonial laws were never seen as being above the moral law! Why, then, could they break the Sabbath law in favour of their ceremonial law? Why is it that they could not break 9 moral commands in the ten commandments or thousands of morals laws in the Bible for any reason, but the law about the Sabbath could be broken in favour of the ceremonial law? Think about it!

5) Sabbath is not a moral law because the Israelites could honour their ceremonial laws above the Sabbath law.

Jesus Himself declared:

John 7:21-23 “Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”

Circumcision took precedence over Sabbath. The law of Moses stated that every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. If this day happened to fall on the Sabbath day, the child would be circumcised, despite the fact that this was working on the Sabbath day of rest and breaking it! Clearly showing Sabbath is ceremonial, and circumcision had higher value as a ritual more than Sabbath. The message was no one was expected to observe the rituals  like the Sabbath unless they became Jews first through circumcision, the entrance sign of the old covenant.

6) The Prophets treated Sabbath as a Ceremonial Law.

Isaiah 1:13: “Bring no more futile sacrificeincense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the SABBATHS, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts, My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.”

Here God counts all the SABBATHS along with the rest of the Ceremonial Law, when He tells Israel not to bother keeping it (even though He had ordained it), because it has no value to Him with Israel in sin. However God would never command Israel to stop keeping any of the Moral Law! The Sabbath is Ceremonial!

Hosea 2:11: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts.” 


Again God classifies the Sabbaths among the Ceremonial Laws, and who are we to do otherwise? According to this prophecy, it is God Who will cause Israel’s Sabbaths to cease for a period of time. That is, He will cancel His Sabbath Command to Israel. He fulfilled this prophecy by annulling the Old Covenant and bringing in the New Covenant for this Dispensation, which has no Sabbath Law or feast days.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Now it is not possible for God to cause His Moral Law to cease or pass away, as it is eternal and unchanging. Therefore all the things mentioned in this verse (including the Sabbaths) are Ceremonial.

8) The Law treats the Sabbath as ceremonial in nature by its requirements. 

Numbers 28:9-10 And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of EVERY sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

Sabbath was part of the ritual worship system of Israel, and when the priesthood change (Jesus is our high priest now), so did this ritual system of Sabbath law changed. It is not longer binding, not commanded in the new covenant, neither is there an example of Christians observing this ritual, but Christians have the liberty to observe it, but not to judge anyone if they don’t (Col. 2;16,17).

9) Whereas the MORAL Law of God is based on His nature and is eternal, transcending time and all covenants, circumstances and local conditions; the Sabbath Law, by nature and definition, is temporal and created, not eternal. It was given for the first time in Exodus 16 only to the Jews. There is no time in eternity, but Sabbath is based on earth-time, marking one day in seven, so it is clearly temporal and creational.

10)  A moral law, unlike a ceremonial or ritual law,  is in effect 24/7 (every nanosecond of time) and not merely once a year, season, month, or week. Also, moral laws are never trumped by any ceremonial laws (i.e., ritual circumcision on the eighth day, priestly sacrifices, weekly showbread placement, etc.), and they never allow any exceptions due to works of charity, mercy, or necessity for proper compliance. Surely, there is never a valid excuse to worship another god, to murder someone, to steal something, to commit adultery, etc.

11) Mark 2:27,28: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath”

Here Jesus was clearly correcting the error of the Jewish Rabbis who elevated the Sabbath above man. He points out that the Sabbath Law is not eternal, but that it it was made (created) for man. However, moral Law is before man and above man, but the Sabbath Law came after man, exists for man and so is under man, therefore the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath, meaning have authority over the Sabbath, and is above it!

Jesus makes the statement that He is Lord over the Sabbath, after defending that He can break it and still be blameless  just like David could break the ritual law be blameless:

Mark 2:24-27 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

11) Moreover the Sabbath started at Moses (Ex. 16) – if it was a Moral Commandment it would have applied from the beginning. If the Sabbath is part of the eternal moral character of God, it would have been observed in heaven in eternity past before creation. Instead, the Sabbath was created for man under the Mosaic law, and it is related to the rotation cycle of earth. Unless heaven and other planets have the same rotation cycle it is irrelevant. Revelation indicates that the day-night cycle will cease in the new earth (Revelation 21:25), implying that there will be no Sabbaths.

13) Natural law and the conscience do not reveal that a man should observe a day or seventh day unless it is commanded.

Rom. 2:14‑15 “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: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”

Think about this for a moment. Regardless of what country, what culture or language you were raised with we ALL have morality stamped within our conscience. Adolescent children all around the world naturally know it is wrong to lie, to steal, and to murder and commit adultery – this is how gentiles knew about the moral law of God even without the LAW. However no one naturally feels guilty about not resting 1 day in 7. That is the difference between a rule that is based on moral right and wrong, and a rule that is practiced because of a ceremonial nature.

Man’s conscience does not naturally tell him that he is being immoral, if he does some work on a Saturday, whereas it would convict him of sin, if he broke any of the moral commands. Therefore our God-given conscience tells us that by its very nature, the Sabbath is not absolute Moral Law.

14) If the Sabbath Law was Moral Law, it would have also been included in the New Testament, but it is not, in contrast to all the other 9 Commandments, and thousands of moral commands which are all clearly moral.

Although Jesus kept the Sabbath as a Jew who lived under the Law before the Cross, that is no basis for us to keep the Sabbath today. He also observed circumcision which is superior to Sabbath law and many other laws in the Mosaic law. Should we too?

Although He gave us many Commandments for the new dispensation, He never gave the Sabbath Law. Not only is it absent from the teaching of Jesus, but also from the teaching of His Apostles, and from example of gentile Christians (see no Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts). This would be a glaring omission if it were a vital moral Commandment that we had to keep. This is especially true, with all the Gentiles coming into the Church, who were not used to keeping the SabbathIf it was an eternal Moral Law, then it would be a major New Testament teaching, and one of the main things that would have had to be taught to new converts. If the Sabbath was Law for us now, it would surely be in the New Testament. The absence of the Sabbath Law in the New Testament is further proof that it is Ceremonial just like the Bible states it.

In fact, when the issue arose concerning what parts of the Law of Moses the Gentile converts should keep, there was a Church Council to decide the issue (Acts 15:1-29) and the Sabbath was not even mentioned. When the leaders gave the list of requirements for believing Gentiles to keep, the Sabbath was not included, in fact there was nothing specifically from the Law of Moses that was given for the believing Gentiles to keep. If God wants New Testament Gentile believers to obey the Sabbath then surely it would have been brought up in Acts 15.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that the weekly Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian.

Further, God condemned heathen gentile nations for murder, idol worship, child sacrifices but never for not observing the Sabbath in the old testament. There is no command or even an example of anyone observe the seventh day in Genesis. If Sabbath is so vital, we would have had plenty of instructions for violating. Instead, the WEEKLY Sabbath was GIVEN only to the Jewish nation, and its SIGN, RITUAL distinguished them from the rest of the nations. Moral laws are for all people and they are never a SIGN such as circumcision, passover, sabbath!

15) Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles.

Jesus taught that the Sabbath law is a ritual law unlike moral laws where people are not above it.

“The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)

Mainstream Jews taught that Sabbath was not a universal moral law given to everyone but just the Jews:

The Jewish Talmud says: “The children of Noah…were given seven Laws only, the observance of the Sabbath not being among them.” (Soncino edition, p. 131),Sanhedrin 56 a, b; and Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah 1:2(5) (Soncino edition, pp. 26-27).

Jews believe that Sabbath is a ritual law, not a moral law; the only ritual law in the Ten (See: Jewfacts.org)

Apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit taught that in the new covenant, no one should judge anyone on the Sabbath, Christian can treat every day (all seven days) alike, those who insist on observing days for any reason connected to meriting favor from God do not understand the gospel:

Col. 2:16 ”Therefore do not let anyone judge you..with regard to a Sabbath day”

Rom. 14:5 ”One man regards a certain day above the others, while someone else considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind”

Gal 4: 10, 11 ”You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain

Testimony of the early church fathers, some of whom who learned from the mouth of the apostles was that Sabbath was not kept before Moses, nor is it binding in the new covenant:

Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110): ”If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death (Letter to the Magnesians(shorter) Chapter IX.—Let us live with Christ [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr (AD 155): For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham (The Second Apology of Justin for the Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate. Chapter XXIII.—The opinion of the Jews regarding the law does an injury to God).

Tertullian (AD 203): “Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath..(An Answer to the Jews Chapter II.—The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]).

Augustine of Hippo (AD 400): When you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Reply to Faustus the Manichæan. Book XIX.-9)

Even SDA J.N Andrews admitted about early church fathers: “We must, therefore, pronounce Justin a man who held to the abrogation of the ten commandments, and that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution which was unknown before Moses, and of no authority since Christ. He held Sunday to be the most suitable day for public worship.” Page 44. This is the doctrine that the early church and fathers held. 

Martin Luther taught the validity of the moral law of the old covenant but saw Sabbath as ceremonial.

Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath day; for it teaches that since the gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of the old law can be omitted” (Article 28, The Augsburg Confession(1530)).

John Calvin wrote:

First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest…there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ (Col. 2:17),  Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God” ([From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].


Sabbatarians falsely argue that the Sabbath law is a moral law merely because it is in the ten commandments.

What does the argument: “because it is in the 10 commandments” prove? NOTHING! The Sabbath law is not “moral” just because it was numbered with the other nine commandments. They are assuming the point to be proved and this is circular reasoning! What’s engraved on stone (ten) and with ink (ten including law of Moses) is done away (2 Cor. 3:7). In other words we don’t go to stones tables or law of Moses to know if killing is wrong. We go to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles who reiterates all moral principles of God, but who clearly states that many laws have changed now in the new covenant like circumcision, Sabbaths, dietary laws etc.

Another false Adventist argument is that the Sabbath law is moral BECAUSE violation was punishable by death: Ex 31:15;35:2. Yet the truth is that all the following non-moral or ceremonial laws were punishable by death:

  • For touching the Ark: 2 Sam 6:7
  • Aaron’s sons, (Nadab and Abihu) priests were killed for violating ceremonial law when offering incense to Jehovah: Lev 10:1-5
  • for touching the mount Horeb: Ex 19:12-13
  • Unauthorized entrance into the holy place of the tabernacle: Lev 16:2
  • For looking into the Ark: 1 Sam 6:19
  • For disobeying ceremonial commands of any Priest: Deuteronomy 17:12-13; Exodus 31:14 “Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.”

Sabbatarians are falsely taught that the Sabbath is moral because spoken by God verbally and personally written on stone. Yet God verbally and personally spoke many “ceremonial laws”, and what’s engraved on stone is done away:

  • God verbally and personally spoke many altar, sacrifice and offering laws at exactly the same time he have the 10 commandments: Ex 20:21-26
  • Sabbatarians would admit that the “foremost” moral law, to love God and your neighbour as yourself, was not even spoken verbally and personally by God. Mt 22:36-40. This alone proves that the “verbal/personal” argument is invalid!
  • God verbally and personally spoke to many from Adam to Moses regarding burnt offerings: Cain and Abel’s offerings
  • God verbally and personally spoke the land promise: Gen 17:8
  • God verbally and personally spoke the law of circumcision: Gen 17:10
  • God verbally and personally spoke to all these: Job 38:1; 42:7; 1 Ki 19:9,12; 1 Sam 23:12; 30:8,10; Ex 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 5:3
  • The Bible nowhere teaches that things verbally, personally or handwritten by God are eternal! What’s one stone is out!

The Sabbath is moral and sacred inherently in itself?

  • Other than merely stating this, what proof do Sabbatarians offer??? None! But we can prove otherwise!
  • The First seventh day was sanctified not because it was inherently moral, but because God rested on that day! The seventh day was not holy because it was the seventh day, but because God declared it to be and MADE it holy above the other six days of the week after he rested on it!
  • [God made this specific day Holy, not every seventh day, and He did not command Adam and Eve to observe it! This day had a REST that was much bigger than a weekly rest as Hebrews 4 shows, and we can enter it every day, TODAY, as Hebrews 4 clearly states.
  • God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, but that does not mean that he required people to rest on it. As the Jubilee year shows (Lev. 25:8-12), time can be holy without requiring a rest.]
  • The day itself did not make it holy, resting on it did not make it holy, but God blessing and hallowing it did. Thus its holiness did not come from its own nature but from an act of God in blessing and hallowing it.
  • In this regard, the first seventh day is no more inherently “holy” than any of the other Jewish weekly Sabbath or other holy days that God blessed and set apart in the Law of Moses.
  • The Jewish weekly Sabbath was MADE in Exodus 16 for the first time, and was a shadow of God’s rest in Genesis.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that this weekly Jewish Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian. He explicitly states in Romans 14 that Christians are free to observe special days, and Christians are free to treat very single day the same. Paul says explicitely in Gal. 4 that saying a person is required by God to keep special days and times and so forth, puts the Christian back into the slavery he was set free from.

(The above has been adapted from LoudCry.org, and various Sabbath articles)

The New & Old Covenants

No other subject perplexes Adventists so much as the covenants. They dread to meet it. They have tried various ways to explain it away, but they are not satisfactory even to themselves. I have been there and know. The abolition of the Sinatic covenant carries with it the abolition of the Jewish Sabbath so completely that no authoritative trace of it can be found this side of the grave of our risen Lord.

Adventist Elder Smith said: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.” “This, therefore, becomes a test question.” Two Covenants, page 5. 

We will soon see the force of this. Jer. 31:31, 32, says: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

Here we learn these facts about the first, or old covenant:

1. It was made between God and Israel.

2. It was made when he brought them out of Egypt.

3. A new covenant is to be made.

4. It will not be according to the old one.

Adventists and all agree that this old covenant is found in Ex. 19 to 24. We all know that the ten commandments, how and why they were given, are the prominent things in those five chapters. We also know that they are called “the covenant,” that was given on Sinai or Horeb.

Thus: “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

“The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” Deut. 4:12,13; 5:2,3. Then follows the ten commandments as the covenant named. Again: “The tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9. So also, “and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:28. Surely this is plain enough for a common man. 

What is a covenant? As the decalogue alone is not a mutual agreement, it must enter into, and so become a part of, some agreement, to be called the covenant as it is so frequently. Examining, we find that the decalogue was the very basis of the covenant at Sinai; the chief thing in the covenant between God and Israel. This even Elder Smith owns: “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” The Two Covenants, page 10. Being the chief thing in the covenant, it is by way of eminence put for the whole and so called “the covenant.”

Opening to Ex. 19, we read: “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” Verse 1. It was at Sinai as they came out of Egypt. Moses was mediator.

Verse 3. The Lord sends him to say to Israel “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”

Verse. 5. Moses goes and repeats this offer to the Jews: they say: “All that the Lord hath said we will do.”

Verse 8. Here was an agreement, a covenant, between God and Israel. They agree to obey his voice. He agrees to bless them. Next they prepare to hear his voice. Verses 9-25.

In Chap. 20 God speaks the ten commandments and follows them with various precepts through Moses to the end of chapter 23, closing with a promise to bless their bread and water, to take away sickness from them, to drive out the Canaanites and give them the land

Chapter 24:1-8, relates how Moses then rehearsed to the people “all the words of the Lord and all the judgments.” Again they agree to obey.

Verse 3. Then “Moses wrote all the words of the Lord” in a book.

Verse 4. Assembling the people again, he read “the book of the covenant” to them, and the third time they say, “All that the Lord hath said we will do.” Verse 7.

Verse 8. “And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.’  

That closed the covenant. We know that this was the first, or old, covenant, for the author of Hebrews, quoting this very verse, says it was. Heb. 9:18-20. 

Heb 8:13-9:5

8:13  By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lamp stand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

Notice that the Old Covenant included ceremonial aspects, and also the “stone tables of the covenant.”  It cannot be any clearer. That settles it.

How much did the covenant embrace? Only one truthful answer can be given, viz. All included in the record from Ex. 19:1 to Ex. 24:8, for this is the covenant in detail written out.

Is the decalogue included in it? As well deny that the sun shines, for there it is written out in full in the very heart of the covenant. Ex. 20:1-17. As Smith said above, “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” It was so prominent a part of the covenant that it alone is put for the whole covenant, as we often speak of seeing a vessel, a house, or a river, when we saw only a part of it. 

Hence:

  • The stones on which the decalogue was written are called “the tables of the covenant,” Deut. 9:9
  • The book in which it was written was called “the book of the covenant,” Ex. 24:7
  • The ark in which it was deposited was called “the ark of the covenant,” Deut. 31:26.

But Ex. 19-24, is only an epitome of the covenant; for all the subsequent teachings of Moses are only a further explanation of it and belonged to it. Indeed, it gave its name to the whole Old Testament, that is, Old Covenant.

This covenant was only national and temporal, given only to the Jews and referred only to earthly blessings. It made no reference to the future life. It was an engagement of God, to give Israel possession of Canaan,” etc. “It did not refer to the final salvation of individuals.” On Ex. 19:5.

Now notice how plainly and how repeatedly the ten commandments are called “the covenant,” which God gave at Sinai to Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.

  • “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deut. 4:13.
  • “When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9.

What covenant was on the tables of stone? The one the Lord made with them. Again he tells when it was made and what it was:

  • “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount), saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” Deut. 5:2-7. So He goes on giving the ten commandments. That ought to settle it. 
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:27, 28.

If that is not plain enough, what would be?

  • “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” “And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.” 1 Kings, 8:9-21.
  • “And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the children of Israel.” 2 Chron. 6:11.

This shuts off all possible doubt as to what the covenant was. 1) There was nothing in the ark except the tables of stone. 2) Yet in that ark was “the covenant of the Lord which he made with Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.” That certainly was the ten commandments. Elder Smith says: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.Two Covenants, page 5. So they are indeed as we will now see.

That Covenant Is Done Away

As we have seen, Jeremiah, Chap. 31:31-34, foretold that the Lord would make a new covenant not according to the old one. The author of Hebrews quotes this in full and says it is fulfilled in the gospel, thus: 

“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Heb. 8:6-13.

Notice the points in this. 

1. Jesus is mediator of a better covenant than the old. Verse 6. Then we have something better than the decalogue. 

2. The new is established on better promises than the old, which as we have seen, were all temporal. See Ex. 23:22-33. But the promises of the new covenant are all spiritual. They are

(1) God’s laws are to be in their hearts.

(2) All shall know the Lord, as only converted souls will be admitted; whereas under the old, every member of the nation, good or bad, was a citizen.

(3) God will forgive and forget all their sins, and so they will all be saints and heirs of heaven.

(4) Hebrews says that if the first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second. 

This shows that the first covenant was always imperfect. Hence the Lord says he will make a new one, not according to the old one. Then we cannot have the old decalogue right over again unchanged. Finally, Hebrews says the first is made old and is ready to vanish away. That ends the old covenant, the one from Sinai, the ten commandments as the Bible shows.

In 2 Cor. 3 Paul makes it even plainer still that the decalogue has been removed.

Verse 3. “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. verse 6. Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant] not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; 8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 13. And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14. But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ.”

Observe the following points: 

1. Verse 3 refers to the prophecy of Jeremiah that a new covenant would supersede the old one on stones. Now Paul says it is not written with ink as the law of Moses was in a book, nor on stones as the decalogue was, but by the spirit in the heart. The law in the book and on stones have both gone. 

2. Verse 6: he says the apostles do not minister the letter but the spirit. “The letter refers exclusively to *the law*.” “The context shows that by the letter he meant the old covenant and by the spirit the new.”

3. To put it beyond all doubt, as to what he means, Paul, in verse 7, specifies “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones.” Surely we know that this was the decalogue. This he calls “the ministration of death.” 

4. In verses 8 and 9 he calls the gospel “the ministration of the spirit” and “the ministration of righteousness” and says that it exceeds in glory the old ministration of death. 

5. To put it beyond doubt that he means the decalogue, he refers to the vail which Moses put over his face when he came down with the tables of stone in his hands. Compare verse 13 with Ex. 34:27-35.

6. Twice Paul directly names that which was “written in stone,” verses 3 and 7; once he says we do not minister the letter, verse 6; he says that that which was engraven in stones was the ministration of death, verse 7, and the “ministration of condemnation,” verse 9; then he says this was “abolished,” verse 13, and three times he says it “was done away,”verses 7, 11, 14. 7.

Compare verses 7 and 11. “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious” and “that which is done away was glorious;” the very thing which was written in stones in verse 7, is said to “be done away” in verse 11.

8. In verse 7 the ten commandments are evidently taken to represent the whole Mosaic dispensation. If these, the foundation of the whole system, are removed, then of course all the system must go with them. “The ten commandments thus written here represent the whole Mosaic economy.”

Adventists have tried to save their theory here by saying that in verse 7, “ministration” was not what was “engraven” in stones; but that “death” is what was written there. This will not do. In the Greek the word for engraven exactly agrees with *ministration* but does not agree with *death*, hence the decalogue is what is called “the ministration,” and that was done away. Dr. Adam Clarke says on this verse: “Here the apostle evidently intends the law.” “This ministration of death, the ten commandments, written on stones, a part of the Mosaic institution, being put for the whole, was glorious.”

The Pulpit Commentary on this verse says: “Literally, *engraved in* letters on stones (Ex. 31:18). The reference shows that, in speaking of ‘the letter,’ St. Paul was only thinking of the Mosaic Law, and indeed, specifically of the decalogue.” How can a candid man deny that Paul meant this very thing, the decalogue?

To the Galatians Paul also writes that the covenant of Sinai has gone. It will be seen that he uses “covenant” and “law” as synonymous, showing that the law was the covenant [cf: ”Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments (Mal. 4:4); ”The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb” (Deut. 5:2)].

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Gal. 4:21-24. Here the old law covenant of Sinai is declared to be “bondage” and he says “Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Chap. 5:1.

So in Heb. 12:18-24, Paul distinctly says that Christians do not go to Sinai and the thunders of the law, but they come to Jesus and the new covenantRead it all. Here are a few sentences:

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: But ye are come unto Mount Sion. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.”

Adventists are always dwelling upon the terrible scenes at Sinai at the giving of the law and pointing others there; but Paul says, No, do not go there; but to Mount Sion, to Jesus and the new covenant, to its teachings.

So Jeremiah predicted the rejection of the covenant in the ark and that instead of it, men would seek to the name of the Lord at Jerusalem where the gospel went forth.

“In those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, the ark of the, covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” Jer. 3:16,17.

Adventists are trying to revive the very thing the Lord said should be forgotten, “the ark of the covenant.” All their study and worship is centered around that just as of old with the Jews. But the effort is vain. God has said it. Since the cross Jesus and Jerusalem have been where all eyes have turned while the ark and old covenant are forgotten, just as the Lord said it would be. So Isa. 2:3; “Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There is where we now go for the law, not to the ark or to Sinai.

Adapted: Covenants by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from : https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar19.htm

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?

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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

SDA’s Twist Three Angel’s Messages

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Have SDA’s got the Three Angel’s Messages right?

The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is ”to proclaim the everlasting gospel embraced by the three angels’’ messages’ (Revelation 14:6-12).

Interestingly, most SDA’s do not have a clue about the meaning of the Three Angel’s Messages. Just talk to a lay member. Not just that. SDA’s have built a mission statement based on a twisted interpretation of Revelation and the three angels. Here’s how it goes.

What do SDA’s teach on the three angels of Revelation 14? 

  • SDA’s teach that the first angel’s message was proclaimed and fulfilled in 1843/1844, through those (Millerites) who  were preaching the soon coming of Christ:

Ellen White, SDA prophet, wrote: ”Prophecy was fulfilled in the first and second angels’ messages. They were given at the right time [1844] and accomplished the work” (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 235).

Further, when Revelation 14 says ”the judgement is come” (Rev 14:7), SDA’s teach that God began judging and investigating the righteous from 1844.

  • SDA’s teach that the second angel’s message is a call for Christians attending non-Adventist churches (referred to as Babylon) to leave those churches and join the true remnant church–the Seventh-day Adventists.

Ellen White wrote: ‘’As the churches refused to receive the first angel’s message, they rejected the light from heaven and fell from the favor of God(Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 134).

  • SDA’s teach the third angel’s message is a warning against receiving the Mark of the Beast, which is said to be worship on Sunday.

The Sabbath is the great test question. It is the line of demarcation between the loyal and true and the disloyal and transgressor. … It is the seal of the living God” (Ellen White, Selected Messages Book 3, p. 423)

Problems with SDA teachings 

Fulfilled in 1844?

  •  The Bible says the 3 angels messages were to go:

“…to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6).

  •  But the Millerite Movement in 1844 was largely confined to the Northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 followers in Britain, and a handful of believers in a few scattered places in Europe.

    How could a message that reached less than 1% of the world’s population–mainly English speakers–be a fulfilment of a prophecy that was to go “to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people“?

Judgment of the righteous in Revelation?

  • There is not a hint anywhere in Revelation 14 of a judgment upon the righteous or any investigation of the righteous. This is a SDA invention. The judgment is a judgment of vengeance and punishment of the wicked. In the book of Revelation, the souls of the martyrs (righteous) are heard crying out for vengeance/judgment:

    ”How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:1)

  • Hence, the ‘judgement is come’ is not for the righteous, but the wicked. The Bible is very clear that believers will not come into condemnation: ”Whoever hears my word and believes him [Jesus] who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged [condemned] but has crossed over from death to life” (Jn 5:24).
  • True, the Bible says God will judge both the righteous and the wicked. Since, judgement is mysteriously present in preaching of the gospel (John 3:18), those who disobey the gospel are judged already (John 5:24). Hence, God doesn’t require any further investigation to decide who are his children.
  • If there is a time for judgement, it is at his appearing, and not before or from 1844. : ‘I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom‘ (2 Timothy 4:1)

SDA’s have no basis contextually to say that the judgement specifically in Revelation is on the righteous, and there is certainly no investigative judgement. The context points to a judgment of the wicked.

Are all the protestant churches Babylon?

  • In Revelation 18, Babylon ”is the great city as a woman who commits fornication with the kings of the earth” (Rev. 18:3).

The great city…is…where our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). All Christians agree that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, which is what the Bible refers to as Babylon.

  • Moreover,  speaking about “Babylon”, it says that “in your streets flowed the blood of the prophets and of God’s holy people and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world” (Rev. 18:4). Sound familiar? It should. Jesus Christ said:

As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time” (Matt. 23:35).  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers!” (Matt. 23:37).

The identification of “Babylon” leaves no room for any doubt. On the authority of Jesus Christ himself, “Babylon” was old Jerusalem, not some other past, present of future city or non-Adventist churches.

Sunday is the mark of the beast?

  • Contrary to SDA teachings, the third angel’s message warning on the mark of the beast has nothing to do with a day of worship (Saturday). Not once in the New Testament is Sunday ever referred to as the Mark of the Beast. The Seal of God is the Holy Spirit, not a sign of an obsolete covenant God made with Israel. “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit..” (Ephesians 1:13). Jesus and His Apostles emphasized that true Christianity is a matter of the heart. The Mark of the Beast are those who do not have the Holy Spirit. See: Sabbath in the Bible 

Seventh-day Adventism has elevated an obscure and easily-misunderstood passage in the book of Revelation to a position of prime importance to their church. Unfortunately, they have misinterpreted the meaning of this passage, resulting in a twisted and warped understanding of their relationship to other Christian churches.

SDA’s twist Revelation!

  •  John explains repeatedly in his book of Revelation that it deals with things that were about to happen shortly after the book was written.

”This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1). See also: Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 22.

  • In the SDA mind-set, all those inspired expressions become meaningless, since Adventists claim that ‘soon’ means exactly the same as ‘distant’, ‘remote’ or ‘indefinite’. Naturally, that’s utter nonsense. When God caused the false prophet Balaam to predict Israel’s future, he knew very well the difference between ‘soon’ and ‘distant in time’ (Num. 24:17), and when God told Daniel about the future, he specified that a significant portion of his prophecy was for distant times (Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9).

Revelation can be a daunting book

  • The author said ”Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book” (Rev. 22:10) because the events were shortly to come to pass, so I take him at his word that a good part of the book refers to 1st century events. However, I leave open the door for the latter half of the book to be more geared towards the time of the end. I also will acknowledge that some of the prophecies may have dual fulfilment—the first fulfilment being in the 1st century, and then a repeat and more complete fulfilment at the end of time.

Is your view on sin narrow?

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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.

God’s law is holier, and His grace greater

Law
We often describe God’s law with these words. Perfect. Good. Holy. Righteous. But there is another word the Bible uses. Broad. The psalmist wrote:

“Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (New American Standard Bible, Psalm 119:96).

For Christians, there are at least three implications for God’s law being broad

First, God’s law is broad in the sense that it captures not just your actions, but also your attitudes, and affections. Why is this significant?

Pharisees thought no sin was committed until you killed a person (Matthew 5:21-22), or committed the act of adultery (Matthew 5:27-28), but Jesus said your attitudes and affections matter. Understanding that God’s law is broad meaning it includes not just the letter, but also the spirit, help us to relate accurately toward God’s law, and avoid having a narrow view of it’s moral requirements like the Pharisees.

Second, God’s law is broad in the sense that it captures everything to do with our relationship to God, and everything to do with our relationship to people. Jesus said that this broad law of relating to God and people is summarized in two greatest commandments.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

From the story of the Rich Young Ruler, we understand that he failed to see what love for your neighbour obligated him to do. Here’s how the story goes:

In Matthew 19, Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young ruler responded: “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The Rich Young Ruler thought he perfectly kept the commandments of God, but Jesus said it wasn’t so. He failed to see that love your neighbour as yourself obligated him to assist the poor and needy according to his financial ability.

The Bible says there will be people in the last days who were satisfied and convinced that they kept the law of Christ, when in fact they didn’t. This will be God’s reply to such people:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:41-45).

We may keep the Sabbath, never take God’s name in vain, steal, kill, but we would still fall short of God’s broad law of love if we neglect other moral duties towards God and man that is revealed in His word. I cite a few of God’s moral commands toward our neighbour that are part of God’s broad law: accept one another (Rom 15:7), bear with one another (Col 3:13), serve one another (Gal 5:13), value one another (Philp 2:3), encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11), pray for one another (James 5:16), forgive one another (Colossians 3:13), help the needy (Proverbs 22:9), show no favoritism (James 2:9).

James stated that if we offend even in one point such as discriminating or showing favoritism against our neighbour, we break the whole royal law.

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9).

Attaining this high standard of righteousness is impossible for man. The disciples understood this enormity of law’s requirement after Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler.

“When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25).

Paul explained this to legalists who thought commandment keeping can save them:

“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)

Only way to be saved by the Law is to keep the law perfectly—every moment of every day for your entire life. People have a tendency to just cherry-pick a handful of things out of the Law like the Sabbath, tithes etc. But what Paul is saying, you can’t cherry-pick the Law. If you’re going to merit righteousness under the Law, it’s all the commandments (love others unconditionally, help the poor, don’t discriminate etc), and if you fail in one slightest detail ever in your life, then you are under a curse, and you are condemned.

The third implication of God’s law being broad is that it is impossible for man to meet this high moral standard of God’s righteousness. All our best efforts will produce righteousness that is below the law’s requirement and inadequate for salvation. Jesus warned:

But I warn you–unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 5:20, NLT).

God says the right actions we produce by ourselves are in fact filthy (Isaiah 64:6). Further, He says all have sinned, continue to fall short, and are guilty of breaking His law of love, and deserving death (Rom 3:23).

So what does all this mean? How do we attain this broad standard of God’s righteousness, if we need this righteousness to live with God forever?

How do we become right with God?

The gospel or good news is that we don’t attain or earn this righteousness, because we can’t. We receive righteousness of God as a gift on the basis of faith. Paul wrote:

“…and may be 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, NASB).

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. So, Paul is saying I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ, His righteousness. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Paul also wrote: “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” (Romans 3:21, NASB)

Paul also says this righteousness we receive is witnessed by the Law meaning God’s law witnesses this righteousness of God, and is fully satisfied that it is in harmony with itself.

So, we receive righteousness of God through faith in Christ, apart from counting on our own righteousness through obeying the law.

Two things happen to us when we receive this righteousness of God according to the Bible

First, when we repent of breaking His law and inability to keep it by ourselves and trust Jesus to save us, Jesus comes into our life, and He covers us with His righteousness. We are counted as if we were perfectly righteous, and we are declared innocent completely before God and His law. We call this justification, imputed righteousness – God declaring us righteous.

“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:5, NLT)

Second, when Jesus came into our life, we were born again, and He took residence in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Paul said it this way, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

When Jesus lives in me, He will come out in my actions, attitudes, and affections. This way, Jesus helps us to keep the broad principles of His law (Romans 8:4) and avoid producing inadequate righteousness of the Pharisees, and Rich Young ruler etc.

In other words, as I trust Jesus daily, His Spirit will guide me and tell me where to go, what to do, who to help, by giving me the power to be like Jesus; and I will become more and more like Jesus. We call this sanctification, imparted righteousness – God making us righteous.

Praise God for Jesus! Our acceptance with God is all because of what Jesus did for us.He took the punishment for our sins (Isaiah 53:5) on the cross in which he had no share, so we can be saved by His righteousness which we have no share (Rom 5:19).

Summary

God’s law is holy, perfect, good but it is also broad. It captures not only our actions, but also our attitudes, and affections. It encompasses all the moral duties and commands stated in God’s word and deals with our relationship to God and man. Its standard is impossible for man to meet; our righteousness is like filthy garments, and all human effort will produce righteousness inadequate for salvation.

The gospel or good news is we receive righteousness of God as a gift on the basis of faith, and not by obeying the law. When we place our faith in His finished work on the cross, and trust Jesus that He took away our sins on the cross, we are counted in that moment as if we were perfectly righteous. In God’s plan, there is more. God wants us to be like Jesus. When Jesus lives in us, and we trust Him, He helps us to do the right thing and bear fruits of righteousness (Philp. 1:11).

Praise God for the gospel! Apart from Christ we are condemned, but with Him we are righteous.